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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
We hadn't cruised with Holland America for several years with the last one a 14 day Alaska cruise on the old Statendam. Leaving from the port of Vancouver was a plus for us as it was a short flight before embarking the ship. Things have ... Read More
We hadn't cruised with Holland America for several years with the last one a 14 day Alaska cruise on the old Statendam. Leaving from the port of Vancouver was a plus for us as it was a short flight before embarking the ship. Things have certainly changed over the years and not all of them for the worse. Embarkation was acceptable and we were able to get to our cabin in the early afternoon and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We opted for a balcony stateroom and thought it was plenty big and spacious for our needs. The bathroom was nice with a bathtub and shower combo. We also like the large flat screen TV on the wall. We tried to use the fitness centre as much as possible and unfortunately it doesn't have a rowing machine, but there are plenty of treadmills and elipticals. The food on board was quite nice and we especially enjoyed the salad bar on the lido. We had open dining time and our dinners in the MDR were quite good, albeit service was a bit slow and so one had to be patient. We didn't make it to the MDR for breakfast as we tend to eat light for breakfast - fresh fruit and yogurt - so the lido was sufficient for us. We tried all three of the specialty restaurants with the Tamarind being my favorite. The tiramisu dessert at the the Canaletto was delicious. At the Pinnicle Grill we ordered the halibut and sadly it was overlooked; however, we told our waiter and the maitre d' hurried over and they were intent on correcting this by ordering us another one. Unfortunately we ended up waiting awhile for our dinner but second time around the fish was cooked lovely. We did enjoy the lovely coffee and espressos in the Pinnicle Grill. The coffee in the Explorations Cafe was not brewed strong enough for us. We did enjoy happy hour in the Crow's nest bar most days from 4 to 5 pm, although the appetizers they served were largely deep fried so a pass for us. The Lincoln Centre Stage performances were wonderful, albeit you had to get there early for a decent seat. My husband rarely missed a performance. The shows in the main stage theatre were mostly very good. We spent a few sea days lounging around the pool on the Lido deck and didn't have too much trouble getting a couple of loungers. But the ship seems to lack in open spaces and walking through the lido deck was tight as you tried to manoeuvre around the tables and chairs and posts. One thing we did notice was how quiet the ship was (unlike Carnival ships!!!), which we enjoyed. But there weren't many activities to partake in onboard the ship during the daytime. We only did one shore excursion in Costa Rica - zip lining through a rain forest. The excursion was for 3 hours and we finished up after about 2 hours, but they had a sit around for 1/2 an hour before we were able to get back on the bus and return to the ship - I don't think they wanted us to get back early for some reason!!! We opted to carry off our luggage early in the morning when we disembarked in Fort Lauderdale and we quite liked this option as we were quickly off the ship and able to get a taxi to the airport without any waiting. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
If you are a family of 4 in a stateroom make sure 2 of the people are contortionists. The bunk bed is 2 feet from top of lower bed and covers half the bed length so at 73 getting our of bed a couple times a night was difficult. Also at ... Read More
If you are a family of 4 in a stateroom make sure 2 of the people are contortionists. The bunk bed is 2 feet from top of lower bed and covers half the bed length so at 73 getting our of bed a couple times a night was difficult. Also at least one of us woke up the others banging our heads on the top bunk as we turned over in bed. Best to take your bike helmet. We asked to change rooms but they said all their staterooms are like that. Who designed that??? Air conditioner was very loud but they did fix that. Buffet and Asian restaurant (extra $25US per person) was very good. At least 20 minutes at the counter to get checked in after a 2 hour wait in waiting room. Buffet closed for lunch so people were a little hungry and grumpy. Only ship in port. Great kids clubs. Lots of hot tubs and they left the pool open when it was a big rocky ... that was fun. Photos not delivered as promised so delay getting off the ship trying to track them down. Great staff. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We embarked in a timely manner in Vancouver....a retired couple on our 15th cruise, mostly on HAL and Royal Caribbean. This was a 19 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. There was some rocking of the ship for 2 days, ... Read More
We embarked in a timely manner in Vancouver....a retired couple on our 15th cruise, mostly on HAL and Royal Caribbean. This was a 19 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. There was some rocking of the ship for 2 days, until we got to San Francisco, but we were never uncomfortable. The dock area in San Francisco is a short walk to Fisherman's Wharf. We stopped at Trader Joe's and Goodwill to pick up some things we forgot. This is an easy stroll from any of the piers that HAL uses. Tourist information, taxis, restaurants are all easily available. The sailaway from San Francisco is exotic! In Puerto Vallarta we shopped in the Walmart and shopping center across the street from the pier. Free wireless in available there and you will see groups of staff members with their tablets, taking advantage of the free connection. In Puerto Chiapas, Mexico all shore excursions were cancelled. Parents and children had constructed a picket line at the port entrance, demanding timely repairs of their schools after a recent earthquake. Bravo to all the citizens who felt so strongly about public education. Bravo to HAL for respecting this picket line. Some passengers walked to town to explore. (Bad form for guests in a foreign country.) In Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala we took advantage of the free ship shuttle to the local market. This was the best place on our cruise that we found to purchase authentic "souvenirs"...and at the best prices. We met several Guatemala families and other merchants at the market. Recommended purchases include handwork like aprons, tea caddies, linens, bags or handbags. We found it easy to interact with the sellers and they were all respectful. In Corinto, Nicaragua we selected the tour of the banana plantation. I highly recommend this tour for its authenticity. It is not sleek, smooth or sophisticated. You get the real meal deal. You ride through the countryside, viewing the livestock and other vehicles that are abundant on the road. The presenters are sincere and thorough. I will never again take a banana for granted! In Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica we chose the excursion to the coffee plantation. Again the trip was as exciting as the plantation tour. The vehicular traffic is a contrast to the Nicaraguan road trip. There were more cars and fewer walkers, bicycles or cycle vehicles . The coffee plantation includes the whole process from the bean to the cup. The skyline of Panama City is exquisite! The commentary while transiting the Panama Canal is well done, as are the lectures and documentaries available on the ship. The Eurodam has big screen tv's in the balcony staterooms so I was outside on the balcony while the big screen tv projected the scene taken by the camera on the bow of the ship. Best view(s) possible. Cartagena, Colombia was hot and humid but worth the excursion that the ship offered. We felt that the cruise was long enough for us and we welcomed the opportunity to disembark in Florida. The Eurodam was at capacity for this cruise and it made for discomfort throughout the voyage. We were NEVER able to find a window table in the Lido. For some meals we were unable to find a table at all and we had to eat later, when the crowds had thinned. When we went to the shows in the evening it was necessary to go 30 minutes prior in order to get a good seat. The dining room waiters were rushed off their feet and the dining room had an atmosphere of haste about it. I attended over a dozen classes by the Microsoft presenter. There were only 20 computers so it was necessary to get in the lineup for the class at least 30 minutes prior. The lecture for the Panama Canal was standing room only and was delayed while the staff brought in extra chairs. The American Test Kitchen classes were over subscribed and you had to get there again, much ahead of time, in order to get a seat. Even the Trivia Contests were overcrowded and after the first day I felt it just was not worth the effort of getting to the Crow's Nest 30 minutes prior. There were no yoga, fitness or zumba classes offered unless you count the meditation at the pool at 7:00 AM. But let me end with my greatest concern: It Was Hot, It Was Cold. it seems odd to me that it is possible to put a man on the moon, yet we can't get the heat from one end of the Eurodam to the other. As I walked the length of the ship from the dining room to the show room, I would pass through 5 distinct atmospheric areas. The air was hot, then it was just right, then it was too hot, by the time I got to the show room, it was cold again. I had to constantly wear a scarf on my shoulders, then take it off, then put it on again. Seniors have trouble with their interior climate,making it difficult to adjust to quickly changing temperature extremes. This was our second cruise on the Eurodam and I would carefully consider how to dress if I were to take a third voyage. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This cruise was picked because of the ports and the length of the cruise. I thought a 21 day trip might be to much but we were ready to continue. The service from all the staff was top notch in all areas of the ship other than the Spa. ... Read More
This cruise was picked because of the ports and the length of the cruise. I thought a 21 day trip might be to much but we were ready to continue. The service from all the staff was top notch in all areas of the ship other than the Spa. They were always on the hunt for customers. It was a true all inclusive because we had everything we needed to make our celebration all we wanted. Embarkation was seamless and very quickly. he disembarkation was a little different because of the USA immigration process. the cabin was very comfortable and quite. The main deck was a great location. We will book again in the same location. The shore excursions were OK and covered all the desires of what people would want to see. We only did 2 through the ship and 2 on our own. The ones we did on our own were more relaxed. On the whole it was a good time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain ... Read More
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain “Waterfront” line to downtown Vancouver. $15 CAN approx for 2. Very easy way to get to Canada Place. A short 2 block walk to the cruise ship terminal - passing right by a handy wine shop to purchase our carry on wine allowance. Arriving in the terminal we proceeded through the maze of security and documentation checks with ease. We arrived around 12:30 pm and were onboard in less than 20 minutes. One of the first things we noticed upon boarding was that the staff onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam was noticeably more welcoming than the last cruise we took on NCL. Even more so than our last Holland America cruise a few years ago on this very same ship. You will never pass a crew member of HAL of any ranking anywhere in the ship without them greeting you with a good morning or evening. Cabin 4173 - This was our first guaranty cabin experience. We had no choice in matter. The 5 day segment did not offer specific cabin assignment at the time of booking. Our cabin was assigned approximately 1 week before sailing. We did write to HAL immediately after receiving our assigned cabin requesting a cabin on the starboard side and we were fortunate to receive a confirmation the next day that our cabin was changed. I’m sure this is not always possible, but we were happy to be moved from a port forward cabin to an aft starboard cabin heading Southbound to be able to enjoy the sunsets from our balcony. Cabin 4173 is almost at the aft end of the ship, but it’s close to an elevator and while not overly spacious and lacking HAL’s signature little bath/shower combination in this category - we just had a shower - it was more than adequate for our needs over 5 days. Cabin Attendent Our cabin attendent “Novi” found us wandering down the hall toward our cabin and quickly informed us that he would be putting our beds into the proper configuation after we put our bags away and headed out for lunch on the Lido deck. First Meal HAL Tradition After unloading our bags in our cabin we headed up the Lido deck for a bite to eat. One of HAL’s best quick lunches is the “Dive-In” located aft. Order your burger, they hand you a pager and a few minutes later you are enjoying a delicious burger, chicken sandwich or gourmet dog. This is becoming our ritual on HAL on embarkation day. Mandatory Emergency Drill Nothing to be alarmed about - unless you have sensitive ears. The blasts in the event of an emergency could wake a hibernating bear on another continent! Mustering was done quickly and efficiently and we were not required to bring our life jackets to the drill. Sail Away It was raining in Vancouver so we gathered near the pool area of the Lido deck and partook in a sail away margarita in the souvenir glass...(plastic nowadays). No live music - just canned tunes and a little too loud for our taste, but apparently loud music makes people order more drinks! Dining Reservations and Beverage Packages Prior to sailing we made (and paid for) reservations at Tamarind one evening. Once onboard we made another reservation for the Pinnacle Grill on the one Gala night. We also prepaid for a wine package. We chose the 3 bottle Admiral wine package for our sailing. We did not buy the all-inclusive beverage package for this short cruise. We just signed by the drink. Our bar bill (apart from the 3 bottle wine package we prepaid) was $261 - that breaks down to $26 per person per day. The cost of the beverage package is approx $50 per person per day and both have to have it -so in this instance we did better on our own. We had a few welcome aboard cocktails, usually a cocktail in the evening and occasionally a cocktail at a show or a Bloody Mary in the morning. Another thing is that this cruise was not a warm weather cruise with many sea days laying by the pool all day, which tends to jack up the amount of libation we would do. Entertainment around the ship Normally we love the Adagio duos. This sailing had a pair of handsome gentlemen vs the gorgeous ladies playing the piano and violin classical “hits” and favorites. This duo played without any connection to the music to each other or to the audience. The second night I jokingly asked them to “smile” and the one on violin obliged me with a smirk, then went back to looking like secret service agents. Maybe I have been watching too many American talent shows, but I think you have to do some degree of selling the audience by connecting to them or to your music. Cheers to the bartenders! From the margarita to the sidecar to the gin and tonic and vodka martini ... I think HAL does a good job of making their drinks worth the price. Comedian Mark Pitta Our first show in the theatre was stand up. An unknown to us. We went to the late show and I think the theatre was about 2/3 full. Some jokes were good and stuck with you. Nothing offensive, but nothing that knocked me off my chair either. Enjoyable. 1000 Steps Our second show in the theatre on Gala night. A song and dance show featuring some great dancing with enjoyable choreography, talented dancers and good singers. Not HAL’s strongest suit, but enjoyable nevertheless. Piano Bar Always lively and full no matter what sailing or demographic is on board! The singer this week was not our favorite, but did the job he was paid to do... keep the place full! Dining: Main dining room. Without a reservation it can be up to a 20 minute wait with a pager during peak times. The main dining room menu is adequate and had some variety, but nothing really special. Service was good but rushed as always. The wine stewards are very rushed in their order taking and delivery of the wine. Lack of personal attention when you don’t have a set dining time and have the same waiter all week. We had the Admiral wine package and the wines were ordinary. I think next time we will opt to bring on our own wine for a corkage fee or purchase wine by the bottle off the wine list (different from that of the package). Lido. Buffet. Great for breakfast and lunch. I love the Congee porridge in the morning or having an omelette made to order. For lunch there is great Asian food and a wonderful salad bar - most items served by the staff to reduce the chance of a norovirus outbreak. There were many types of other foods hot and cold available here - I only mentioned what I tried. The ice cream was not very good. PIzza. Aft deck Did not try Pinnacle Grill & Gala Night $35 upcharge. Dined here one evening on Gala night, however not many people were dressed for a gala! I’m seeing fewer and fewer tuxedos and evening wear. I love dressing up on cruises, but I have to say my husband was thrilled to just bring a dress shirt and sports coat this trip vs penguin attire.. shoes, cumber bun, tie, cuff links, etc. We boarded with only a carry on this trip! ..Back to the Pinnacle food and serivce. Far exceeds the food and service of the main dining room and there is no rush in the service. If you want a great steak, a slower meal this is the place. Sel de Mar (Pinnacle restaurant changes over 2 nights a week to this French Seafood dining experience for a hefty $49 per person charge) We did not dine here Tamarind My birthday dinner was here. Our second experience at the Tamarind on this ship. I found my first experience to be better, I think because it was less crowded and earlier the last time on a previous sailing. We did not get a good explanation of how the menu works this time. Last time we got hot towels before dinner. Our servers were adorable and attentive. The food in here is amazing - just be prepared to think outside the box and try new things. I think that is a safe statement on dining everywhere on the ship. Most of us, as a rule do not dine with menus as elegant as even the main dining room at home. But the dainty little portions and tidbits of appetizers take some getting used to in order to really savor the delicacy of them all. Lastly - our server forgot to recognize my birthday as my husband had requested so he told the maitre’d on the way out. But 30 minutes later back at our cabin - both our servers showed up knocking at the door with a birthday cake singing to me, asking to come in to give me a hug .. I was already in bed! Canaletto Italian fare in a cordoned off section off the Lido buffet area. I don’t like the location of this venue. It’s only a $15 upcharge but the location is a turn off to me. Didn’t dine here, but the menu looks good and we had it on our last cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. America’s Test Kitchen Something new on HAL. A cooking demonstration like the TV show with great tips and recipes. Only drawback is no tasting - the HAL exhibit kitchen is apparently not up to FDA standard of safety to pass out samples! BBQ Lounge (America’s Test Kitchen by day) Hands down this is HAL’s best entertainment on the ship. Great music for dancing and a stroll down memory lane of R and B music. The band: drums, keyboard, bass, guitar, trumpet, trombone and vocalists are amazing and entertaining and true musicians who often are strangers to each other until just before sailing and put together a repertoire of party hits. Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye .. and of course BB King. Bravo HAL. Ports Astoria: First time here. Walk a few clicks to the Maritime Museum and found a pub for beer, chowder and free wifi access! San Francisco: My birth city. Got up early to see the arrival in the dark. Took a bus to the textile district to try and buy a mattress at Tuft and Needle (seriously!) .. then a cable car ride from Powell and Market to the Hyde Street turnaround and had world famous Irish Coffee’s at the Buena Vista bar - then back to the ship for happy hour in the crows nest and sail away under the Golden Gate Bridge. Priceless experience. Avalon: Quaint little seaside town on the island of Catalina (once owned by Wrigley) off Southern California. We had a surprise visit from family who live in Longbeach, CA. They took the Catalina Express over to meet us and we saw the island in a 4 person gas powered golf cart, followed by some shopping on the wharf. The old “casino” (dance hall) was closed for the day by the time we got back so we did not get to visit inside. Fun day - only port we had to tender to. Exceptional Service: Diane at the reception desk. We had no plans to race off the ship for a tender as we were in dock from 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm. After we anchored, my husband turned on his cell phone to see if there was any reception. There was a voice mail from his brother who said “I’m here.. we took the ferry over and we are waiting for you on the island”. So my husband went down to get a tender ticket and found out we could not get off the ship until 4:50 pm. All the early tender tickets were gone. That would have been too late for us to meet our relatives because they had to be on the ferry home shortly after that. “Diane” at the reception desk realized our plight and was able to squeeze us onto an early tender. She escorted us down to the gangway and we cannot thank her enough for making our day. Lesson learned. Always get your tender tickets early. Novi our cabin steward in 4173 Novi from Indonesia found us on arrival day. Introduced himself and made sure our cabin was in order each and every day. By the time we returned from breakfast each day our cabin was immaculately tidy and ready for another day of fun. I realize this is their job, but some do it better than others. We felt compelled to leave him a little “extra” at the end. Chef at the Lido who took the time to write out a recipe for me for Bee Hoon Fish Soup. Gym: adequate and busier than expected. Saw grey whales on the elliptical trainer! Thermal Suites: did not participate this time. $109 per person for 5 days. Massage: Prepaid for a couples 50 minute massage. Very nice. This was one of our favorite cruises to date. We love HAL. Terima kasih 1st night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Embarkation from Vancouver There was a heavy line of approx 15 to put your name in - You are given a pager and we waited approx 15-20 minutes. We were escorted upstairs to the top floor because the restaurant was so busy. Normally the top floor are for those who make dinner reservations or who have assigned dining times. Our dining companions Ron and Ako were from England. We enjoyed hearing their cruise stories. They take about 5-6 long cruises a year. Food choices were adequate and while portions were small, they were more than enough to keep us happy. 2nd night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Astoria A shorter line than the first night and only a 5-10 minute wait for a table. Our dining companions were from Germany. We never learned their names, but they taught me how to say “have a nice evening” in German. (I think!) I cannot properly write it, but phoenetically it’s “eye-nin schroo-nen hav-en” while communication was not easy we had a enjoyable dinner. 3rd night: Pinnacle Grill Gala night - reservations 6:30 - Sea day 4th night: Tamarind Reservations 7:30 - San Francisco 5th night: Main Dining Room Final night Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
Took a 21 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale. The ship is nicely decorated with some lovely flower arrangements & art & it is in relatively good working condition. Our cabin was well cared for but we found ... Read More
Took a 21 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale. The ship is nicely decorated with some lovely flower arrangements & art & it is in relatively good working condition. Our cabin was well cared for but we found the pillows & linens to be in poor condition. Pillows had stains & no support. Stains on the duvet as well.Our bathroom shower curtain had black mold on it. It was replaced as soon as we notified the steward. Air conditioning worked great. We enjoyed the various ports on the cruise. Definitely must do a tour for Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Caldera, Nicaragua & Guatemala. There is nothing at those ports to do unless you take a tour. These are great places to get tours from to explore the country. The Nieuw Amsterdam must do something about the poor quality & quantity of food they serve. It was the most disappointing part of our cruise. Portions would not even satisfy a child. Food was overcooked or raw usually. Poor selection of food unless you like eating lamb or pork belly. They did have prime rib which came either raw or like leather. Soups lacked substance & taste. Service was beyond slow. 2 hours to get a main course is too long. Waiters had way to many tables to serve in my opinion. The only item we really enjoyed in the dining room was the fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. We eventually quit going to the dining room as the food & service was a disappointment. We found the ship deep fries a lot of it's food which we don't enjoy. Watch out for the turkey bacon. It actually should be called turkey jerky- it's deep fried! The buffet was slow & staff seemed unenthusiastic about working. Tables were left dirty & staff were slow to pick up dirty plates from our table or ask us about something to drink. Most items have to be served to you. With only one staff serving lines were long. They were often out of items such as crackers for soup, earl grey tea, spinach & parmesan cheese at the salad bar, skim milk unless at breakfast, meatballs for spaghetti & meatballs, eggs at breakfast, etc. No one had any explanation for why items couldn't seem to be found. Just a shrug of the shoulders. The pasta bar food is reasonable. The buffet has limited hours. If you think you can get something to eat any time of the day you can't unless you order room service which has a very limited menu. Pizza is very good as are the burgers. However, expect to wait a long time to get a burger (usually have only one person cooking) & they close at 5:30 pm. Tamarind is the only pay restaurant we went to. Food was fairly good; the setting peaceful & comfortable & service excellent. They should be open for lunch but they aren't. The Mariner's lunch had halibut with rice & peas on the menu. The halibut was so overcooked it was a solid chunk of fish that required a mouthful of water with every bite so it could be swallowed. The rice was disgusting & there were no peas. We were told the peas were mashed into the rice. Really- there were no peas anywhere. Dessert would fit on a tablespoon. This is supposed to be a place to see the Captain & Customer Services Director. Neither turned up. They did a crew drill instead. Afternoon tea is a joke. More unenthused & slow staff. Would have to wait & wait & wait for someone to serve the table. Tea is served in the Ocean bar which means sitting next to public walkways & never enough tables for people who wanted to have tea. Why on earth tea is served in a location like this was an unknown even to the staff who agreed it was a poor place to have it. Eventually people quit going, including us, as there was a lot of frustration about both the location & poor service. Pastries were overdone & dry. Room service was prompt. They made an effort to serve hot food but it wasn't. We did request a few items not on the menu (peanut butter & cheese slices) & they did bring them which was appreciated. You can get English muffins, ham & poached eggs. BUT, if you want plain eggs benedict that has these items, you pay $9.00 per person more! We didn't use the spa. I had enquired about a day pass & was told they don't sell day passes only passes for the whole cruise. For 20 days the cost would be $599 each!!! Photos were very poorly done. Staff at the photo gallery would pressure you to buy expensive packages of pictures & didn't listen when told no thanks. Happy hour is a time to get a second drink for $2.00. You also get some nuts & a small plate of about 4 appetizers. A few times these were tasty & others were terrible. It gets busy & service can be quite slow as a result. Again, there doesn't seem to be enough staff. Tours through the ship were pretty good even though the selection was limited & I could not use the onboard credit to pay for them when booking them before the cruise. I also had to pay in US dollars. The excursion desk was unhelpful when onboard. The assistant manager didn't know anything about the tours other than what I already read on line. The person you can talk to with "any question" about a port was available one hours per day & basically she pushed the ship tours rather than answering questions we had. Shops onboard cater to those who have big dollars to spend. Expensive & mostly jewellery & watches. The few items they have that the average passenger might need were ridiculously expensive. A small tub of toothpaste was $7.00 US. Entertainment was hit & miss. Mostly miss. Bailamos was fabulous. The Test kitchen entertaining. BB Club was a big letdown. Brand new band that never worked together before were brought on for the cruise. They did OK but played the same songs each night. They just didn't seem to have any connection with the audience which was evident in the fact that there were always vacant seats at any show. The experts that talked about the Panama & also the sea life were excellent. The Panama Canal movie about the building of the canal was great & very informative before we got to the Canal. The pamphlet the ship handed out about the canal was helpful but it would have been nice for someone inform us of where exactly we were in the Canal when passing through. There was a speaker who told us very little during our passage. I understand you don't want someone talking all the time but more information would have been nice. Be prepared for smoking hot & humid weather on this cruise. We had fabulous weather (we like the heat & sun) for almost all ports but for those not used to the high temperatures & humidity it can be quite uncomfortable. Front desk staff were friendly & helpful. They acknowledged any concerns but little they could do about things such as the food. We had a couple of unfortunate experiences during the cruise. A microburst storm in Hutualco which resulted in us getting stranded on shore for several hours & also a 4 hour delay with a tour in Costa Rica as we were forced to travel a mountain road due to problems on the main highways. In both incidences the ship kept the buffet open for people to have something to eat when they got back to the ship & greeted passengers back to the ship with genuine care & concern. The Captain did a fabulous job with his daily announcements & also with informing passengers of any delays & the reasons for them. The Q&A they had with him was very interesting. If the ship can improve it's food- and it needs LOTS of improvement & beef up it's entertainment it could make for much more pleasant cruises in the future. We know that passage through the Panama Canal is expensive for the cruise lines but the cost of the cruise was very expensive especially when the food was so poor. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this cruise as I've always wanted to go to the Panama Canal. I especially liked that it left from my home port. And, it was very close to a land mark birthday for me. Embarkation went well for one of my cabin mates and myself. ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I've always wanted to go to the Panama Canal. I especially liked that it left from my home port. And, it was very close to a land mark birthday for me. Embarkation went well for one of my cabin mates and myself. My friend needs a walker so we were able to get through the lines quickly. The 3rd person in our room found the embarkation to go well too. Dining was wonderful. The food was great and there was a lot of variety on the menus. I liked how the selections reflected where we were-Mexican food while in that are and Caribbean food when we were in that area, One complaint was that certain items hadn't had enough purchased to last for a 3 week cruise. Wine was one of those things. My mom had purchased a specific wine package ahead of time as it was the only way to get her favorite wine. It came with 5 bottles of wine. By the time she was ready for her 4th bottle not only was she unable to get the 1 wine she wanted but 4 included in the package were also out. We had a super wine steward many nights. Another thing that ran out were the cordial glasses that went with a nightly liquor drink. By the last week of the cruise they'd run out of 2 of the designs-the only 2 I didn't have. Yet at the last deck sale there were boxes of all the glasses. Skim milk also ran out in the Lido at least several days before the end of the cruise. We enjoyed each of the 3 specialty restaurants. Our favourite was the Pinnacle where we had dinner twice and lunch once. Tamarind was also great. We went to the Lido market for most breakfasts and lunch as well as a couple times in the evening. There was a lot of variety in the foods. I would have liked more only semi spicy Asian foods to choose from. The Pizza place was also very good. Breakfasts in the Lido (in my opinion) were better than in the main dining room. I'd get a whole bunch of fruit on top of my waffles in the Lido and just got 2 strawberries and a little sauce in the Main Dining Room. Our group of 3 weren't that interested in the entertainment although we did go to a few things. We would have all been interested in listening to the Adagio strings but the lounge it was in was always very cold. I remembered that about the same area on other ships I'd been on. The Frozen Earth film with music was great. I also enjoyed the 2 films on the Panama Canal. The Filipino crew show was very good and it was nice it was earlier on in the cruise and during the afternoon rather than on one of the last nights of the cruise very late at night. Service was wonderful. Everyone was so helpful and caring. As it was a 3 week cruise there was more time to chat with some of the people who helped us and to learn more about them. There was one area of the Lido Market area that we knew we wouldn't get as much service as the rest. We just avoided that area. Internet service was horrible. I paid $175 for 500 minutes and used all but 14 minutes. Most of the time I used was spent either waiting for sites to load and to deal with being logged off in the middle of doing something. For the type of service that is able to be found on ships there should be no charge or a very little charge. Ports: Astoria; Hardly seemed worth the effort of docking there. Previously when I'd been there on a cruise there was a nice craft market right next to the dock. This time there wasn't. I didn't feel like walking into town for their Sunday Market so just went back on the ship. San Francisco: Nice stop. One passenger in our cabin went on a city hop on hop off bus tour and enjoyed that. The other 2 of us went to Pier 39. That was fun. It was nice to be able to walk along the pier. We were too tired to walk all the way to Ghiardellis. I liked having access to the bow on deck 5 to watch us leave port and sail under the Golden Gate bridge. Avalon: My mother and friend got off as they like Tenders. It was quite rough so I stayed on board. They didn't find much of any interest on shore. San Diego: Again, my friend did a hop on hop off shore based tour and enjoyed that. My mother and I went on the trolley and went shopping. We've been to San Diego before so weren't really interested in any of the ship based tours. Cabo San Lucas: This is where my friend and I went on a Dolphin excursion. It was wonderful. It's too bad that the pictures are so expensive and there aren't less expensive options. Also, it was stated in the information on the excursion that we would go into waist deep water to interact with the dolphins. It was way deeper than that and over most people's heads. I was able to interact with our dolphin on a ledge with shallow water. My mother stayed on board. It was a nice day so I didn't mind the tender too much. There was a small market area which I liked. Puerto Vallarta: Nice port. It was very convenient having the Walmart right across the street from where we docked. At the Walmart we were able to get the pictures on the CD we'd purchased with pictures from our dolphin excursion printed. There was a nice small market right next to the ship and we bought several items. One of the items I'd purchased was found to have holes in it (shirt). The lady I bought it from was very good about taking it back and giving me something else. None of us did any excursions. Huatulco: Where our sudden and unexpected event happened. This was the day where a sudden unexpected squall came up and the wind broke the ropes at the bow of the ship. As soon as possible after it happened the captain came on telling people what was happening and what they were doing to rectify the situation.My friend had stayed on board. My mother and I were on shore. My mother had gone on an excursion on a fishing boat. Once the squall hit (it hit them before it came onshore) they made the decision to come back to port right away. I had just finished shopping at the very nice shopping area and had dipped my feet in the water when a huge gust of wind and sideways rain hit. I was able to find shelter under an awning behind a small cantina. At some point during those first few minutes we heard a huge bang. One of the people sheltering with us worked for the ship and found out quickly that the rope had broken. The people at the cantina were very nice and had all of us come inside. We were able to see the ship from there and could see it was no longer at the dock. Once the rain lightened off I started going from area to area to see if I could find my mother. It was confusing at first as several men were telling us to go to a hotel with them to wait until we could get back on the ship. At first no one trusted them as we thought they were just trying to sell us something. But, finally several HAL staff told us it was ok and to go to the hotel where we could dry off and at least get some coffee. I found my mother on the way to the hotel. We found the staff with the ship were tremendous. They kept us apprised of their efforts at getting us back on the ship. We were told around 1 (storm had hit at 11) that they would be starting to take people back to the ship by tender around 2. Shortly after 2 we were tod that there were 2 tenders but as there were over 1200 people on shore it would take a long time to get everyone back. No one wanted to stay at the hotel and all went out to join the long line to get onto a tender. There was one man from the ship who went up and down the line telling everyone what was going on. He said there had been nothing on their radar or in weather reports that had predicted the story. One of the tenders broke down but everyone was quiet and patient. Finally around 3;30 we were told they had the gangway back up on the ship so we could go back that way. We all took off right away. Once we were on the ship we were told the Lido had been kept open so we were finally able to eat. I was very impressed how the captain and his crew handled this event. They made sure everyone knew what was going on. Before the storm I'd been shopping. There was a small market right near the dock and then another one a block or so away. I found the people outside of the stores to be quite annoying and persistent trying to get you to go to their stores, go on tours, etc. Puerto Chiapis: My friend and I went on the excursion to a cooperative Banana plantation. We also visited a school and got to visit the children and then watch them do several dances for us. Then our bus went to the banana plantation to see how things work.It was very interesting. Then we went to a local church where we were served a tamale for lunch. For me, this excursion was almost as good as the dolphin one. I loved being with the children. I was given pictures drawn by a couple of children. I will treasure them. We learned a lot about how the Mexican government encourages education. My mother stayed on board. There was a small indoor shopping area just outside the port. From what I can remember there was no bartering in those stores. Puerto Quetzal: We had to dock at a commercial section of the port that was further away from everything than had been planned. HAL put on several shuttle buses that took us to the market area. I think it was one of the best at any of our ports. It was quite large-circular so I got lost of course but it had lots of different things. Lots of bartering. We only stayed onshore for about an hour. It was too hot. Corinto: Again, we were at a very industrialized port. There was a small market a short way from where the ship was docked. It didn't have too much although both my friend and I found a couple of things to buy. It was kind of interesting as this seemed to be the town market with fruit and vegetables as well as used toys and clothes. Again, we only stayed on shore for a short time as it was too hot. Puntarenas: This was another difficult day for the Captain and passengers. We were warned ahead of time that it was a narrow dock with 2 ships tying up. We had planned on going on a train ride and boat ride but my mother was ill so we cancelled. It turned out that the people on that excursion were among the greatly delayed passengers and that as the excursion had left late much of where they went was dark by the time they got there. As we weren't among those who were on the excursions we can't really comment on how it was all handled. I know many were mad about various things including waiting a long time in the hot sun for their buses to arrive. At 8 pm we were told that we were still waiting for 260 passengers. The ship had been due to depart at 6:30, The last passengers arrived on board just after 10. There was a market just off the dock. It was a long dock. The market was ok, .but very crowded. There were 2 ships in port at the same time. If the aisle in the middle had been wider it would have been easier for people to get through and look at each of the stands. There was a beach right next to the dock so I managed to dip my feet in the water there too. Panama Canal: What an awesome experience. The day before we went through it 2 movies were shown about the making of the canal. These helped us understand more of what an amazing feat it had been to build this so long ago. The bow on 3 decks was opened at 6 am. It was very crowded though. There was coffee and "Panama rolls" and pastries available on outside decks. I found a number of different areas inside and out to watch our progress. The best was up in the Crows Nest lounge. I actually found a seat right at the front-as long as I stayed in between rows of seats. I was able to watch the ship ahead of us go through the locks. And, watched us go through each of the first set of locks. During that time there was a deck sale of items from Panama. I got some nice hand made cloth panels with bright pictures embroidered on. During the first lake in between locks there was time to relax and have lunch. It was so nice to see all the ships waiting to go in the opposite direction of us and on the new canal. There was something to see out the window and from our balcony all day. Finally in late afternoon we decided to just watch the ship go through the last set of locks on the tv in our room. It was captivating. All in all a tremendous experience. Aruba: Our last port. We were docked a little further away from the shopping area than originally planned so there were shuttle buses to take us there. It was so hot that even waiting a few minutes for the bus was difficult. There was a nice shopping area including regular stores like the bamboo clothing store my mother had been looking for. And there was a long row of craft stalls where bartering was standard. We were onshore about 2 hours. It was extra hot with being on the pavement for so long. I had seen another street of craft stalls so said the others could go back to the ship and I'd come later. My friend noticed that my face was bright red. She picked up that I was showing signs of heat exhaustion. So, we left our last port with stores still unchecked by me but that was ok. I was fairly sick for several hours in the afternoon until I'd cooled down. And, that was our trip. I loved it. Yes I would go again-preferably from the opposite direction. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we ... Read More
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we complained again....and it fell on deaf ears. We weren't the only ones upset, as others on our excursions also complained. When Guest Services attempted to set up an appointment with Shore Excursions we were told it was not possible because they were inundated with complaints. Also, before we booked with Cruiseplus.ca, I asked the agent if this cruise line was popular with very senior guests. We did not want a disabled cruise, nor a senior cruise. I was told that it wasn't known for this. Not true! There were so many with walkers, scooters and canes. I am quite mobile, and felt that many of the excursions were likely geared for this clientele group. The evening entertainment was not even close to what I have experienced with Celebrity. We have been told that since Carnival bought out Holland America, Princess and I'm sure there are more.....that it hasn't been the same. Disembarkation was also a problem. Our agent had told us to take a shuttle, because then if we were late for our flight then the Cruise Line would have to look after this. The gal at guest services stated that we couldn't take the shuttle as our flight was for 12:05 and the shuttle could only be used by those with 12:30 or thereafter. She then told me to put our luggage out in the hall the night before and pick it up at the terminal in the morning. I knew that this couldn't be correct, as we wouldn't be able to disembark early in the morning, retrieve our luggage...get a taxi (which become hard to obtain when 2,000 people are disembarking), and get to the airport 2-3 hours before our flight. We likely wouldn't make it on time....and then of course the cruise line wouldn't be responsible. The girl behind the counter stated with attitude, "Mam, I'm trying to explain to you!". I gathered my papers and went upstairs to alert my husband that he was needed. We went back to Guest Services and were told by a different employee that we should select Early Disembarkation (Expedited), and bring all of our luggage with us. She agreed that retrieving our luggage at a later time from the terminal likely would have made us late for our return home flight. There were other rude employees, but most were very nice. Sad that one remembers the rude ones though. Costa Rica was a terrible excursion due to about a dozen of us not being able to locate the driver, tour guide for at least 3/4 of an hour. And once again it was an excursion that did not meet up with what was outlined...it was a huge lie. Regarding TIPS! Why would I want to give a gratuity to those that are rude, or to parts of the ship that I don't partake....such as drinking and gambling. Yet when one wants to say no from the start....you are made to feel guilty .... and you are still given a bill at the end of the trip with this included. The night before disembarkation we had to visit Guest Services again to have this removed. We couldn't. They have your credit card....so you feel that this hangs over your head the entire trip. The morning of disembarkation we finally had it removed and I rushed around with envelopes of money to give to those who deserved a tip! Went beyond the call of duty. Whether our stateroom attendants received this money.....I will never know. They had to disembark the ship and go through customs. I had to leave their envelopes in our room. SAD!!! We were extremely disappointed with this 21 day trip! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We decided to take this cruise as we wanted to explore the west cost of North and Central America and to experience travelling through the Panama Canal. We had a wonderful trip and we're not disappointed. The food, service and ... Read More
We decided to take this cruise as we wanted to explore the west cost of North and Central America and to experience travelling through the Panama Canal. We had a wonderful trip and we're not disappointed. The food, service and entertainment were excellent. We enjoyed all our HAL tours as well as the walking ones we took on our own. The meals in the Canaletto, Tamarind, Main Dining Room and Lido Market were top notch. The usual entertainment on HAL was very good, especially the singers/dancers, Adagio and of course the BB Kings. We enjoyed the talks on the history of Central America, Mexico and the Panama Canal. The talks about the sea life in the Pacific. Also, the BBC films with music from the HAL band. They had a Mexican troupe that sang and did traditional dancing from each area of Mexico for about 4-5 days (they were excellent). Captain Albert (from Captain Albert's HAL blog) was on board and he gave a talk on the history of Holland America which was quite interesting. I must say I enjoyed sailing on the Pacific as we saw so much wildlife (birds, porpoises, flying fish, sea lions and even a sea turtle). All we can say is that we were spoiled for 21 days and who could complain about that. This was a fabulous cruise vacation (except the heat and humidity, but we survived). We find a cruise is what you make of it, and we have never in our 16 cruises with HAL ever been disappointed. If you are disappointed, shame on you as you only have yourselves to blame, because HAL sure looks after you. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
General Please see my thorough review of the 9/23/2017 Niew Amsterdam 7 day Alaska cruise, right before this 5 day Repositioning cruise, for review comments relating to Enrichment Activities, Embarkation, Public Rooms, Service, Dining, ... Read More
General Please see my thorough review of the 9/23/2017 Niew Amsterdam 7 day Alaska cruise, right before this 5 day Repositioning cruise, for review comments relating to Enrichment Activities, Embarkation, Public Rooms, Service, Dining, Entertainment, and Onboard Experience which were identical for both cruises. This review will mainly concern the differences between the two cruises, comments related to the Verandah cabin (vs the Signature Suite we had on the Alaska portion) and the shore excursions. This cruise followed the last Alaska cruise of the season for Niew Amsterdam, which is the cruise we really wanted. This repositioning cruise was in lieu of flying home to Southern California. We cruised to San Diego and then we rented a car at the airport in San Diego and did a 1 ½ hour drive home to Orange County and turned the car in at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana. The 7 day Alaska portion of our cruise was in a Signature Suite. We switched to a Verandah for the second 5 day repositioning cruise, which was serious cheap ($499), so got a back-to-back Suite vs Verandah comparison on HAL. Embarkation Embarkation at Vancouver was very smooth for the repositioning cruise, but it had been an unmitigated disaster for the Alaska cruise before it. This was because three ships embarked Vancouver the day of the Alaska cruise, but only our ship for the Repositioning cruise. Please see my thorough review of the 9/23/2017 Niew Amsterdam 7 day Alaska cruise for details and tips on the Embarkation process in Vancouver. Value for Money The repositioning cruise was very inexpensive, $499 each for 5 days. Overall value for money was excellent. Read Less
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