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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
Sail Date: September 2017
21 days - Price was right Very good Ports of Call. The staff were very warm friendly and welcoming and could not do enough to make my stay a very pleasant one. The Cruise Director Andy and the Shore Excursions lady Jessica Potter ... Read More
21 days - Price was right Very good Ports of Call. The staff were very warm friendly and welcoming and could not do enough to make my stay a very pleasant one. The Cruise Director Andy and the Shore Excursions lady Jessica Potter were so helpful - I would really like to thank them for making my lst Cruise a huge success. The quality of shows was very good. with a good variety Plenty of activities I was very busy for the whole trip. Actually I would have loved to have had MORE SEA days. The food was well presented, and good portions not too sweet, healthy.May be more Veggies, but there was always salads The Lido for Breakfast with Salmon and bagels or Omelet - well prepared by Mary and Noel were delicious. Waiters for Orange juice and coffee were very attentive Cabin Staff very friendly and extremely attentive to details. Front Desk, very efficient and warm and friendly. Excursions very good and reasonably priced.Transportation excellent. 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
4 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
4 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
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 ... 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 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
We stayed in a Neptune Suite on a Panama Canal Cruise. The ship left Fort Lauderdale just after the hurricane hit Florida in Sep. 2017 and there was very little communications from HAL about the status of the cruise. Embarkation was ... Read More
We stayed in a Neptune Suite on a Panama Canal Cruise. The ship left Fort Lauderdale just after the hurricane hit Florida in Sep. 2017 and there was very little communications from HAL about the status of the cruise. Embarkation was smooth, but not like the videos where someone shows you to your suite. We found it on our own. The suite was roomy with a nice veranda. The bath was nice except for having to climb into the shower over the bathtub. My wife had trouble with that. Some nice amenities come with the Neptune suites, including breakfast in the Pinnacle restaurant and the concierge lounge with very good snacks and helpful young attendees. I've seen comments about noise from moving deck chairs on the deck above. In the 14 days, we heard this, maybe twice and it was a non-event. Highs: Nice cabin, attentive crew, Pinnacle Restaurant, the actual canal crossing. The ship had excellent lectures and movies about the building of the canal and great vantage points going through the locks, including your own veranda. We enjoyed the stage shows put on by the Philipino and Indonesian crews. Each did one show. The lounge entertainment was very good and relaxed. Average: The service and food in the main restaurant were about 3.5 / 5, but it was 4.5 / 5 in the Pinnacle Grill. Regular shows were just ok, but this is a small ship. Lows: Internet is not free. This is a deal breaker on our next cruise because we spent a few hundred dollars on the Internet. We could not seem to get our in-suite refrigerator restocked and had to keep asking for more diet cokes. Most of the excursions were not very good. On one, we were on a bus with no shocks and even at about 3 mph, it bottomed out over little speed bumps. It felt very 3rd world. The guides on two of the excursions were very poor. On one that we did not go on, we heard that several people asked for their money back. I would sail HAL again once they get free Internet, but until then, I'm on other lines. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We embarked in Boston for an 18-day cruise to San Diego via the Panama Canal. Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida at the time while Hurricane Jose was setting sights on Puerto Rico. Captain Jutten navigated between the storms, never ... Read More
We embarked in Boston for an 18-day cruise to San Diego via the Panama Canal. Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida at the time while Hurricane Jose was setting sights on Puerto Rico. Captain Jutten navigated between the storms, never getting closer than 500 miles to either. We had 15-foot seas for one full day but the ship handled them well. Our interior cabin on the Lower Promenade Deck, #417, was spacious and comfortable. We loved walking the teak deck at four laps to the mile. Arriving at Fort Lauderdale, we found the city mostly without power and all shore excursions cancelled. We got a taxi to the beach but never made it there due to sand clogging the streets. We found a store running on a generator and got some supplies before re-boarding. Thankfully, the airport had reopened the day before and two dear friends were able to join with us for the remainder of the cruise. This was our longest itinerary to date and the first time cruising with friends. Maasdam is an older ship (1993) that is aging gracefully. She is well maintained and the perfect size for 1,200 or so passengers and 500 crew. We never felt rushed and didn't have to wait in a line for a single thing. Service from all staff was cheerful and attentive. Dining choices and food quality were very good. We had salads most days for lunch and went to the Rotterdam Dining Room most nights for dinner. We pre-purchased the Cellar Master Package, which afforded us several bottles of wine, two dinners in The Pinnacle Grill and two wine tasting events. The steaks were very good in Pinnacle but the Alaskan King Crab legs were even better; the premium wine tasting event was superior. The ship's entertainment was very good, with talented singers and dancers and an excellent comedian. About a week in, hotel staff advised that another passenger had designs on our stateroom, asking if we would mind relocating to a Vista Suite. Seems this other passenger was booked in cabin #417 for the next cruise, a 50+ day journey from San Diego to Sydney, and wanted to settle in as soon as possible. We were happy to oblige and super cabin attendant Joe made moving to balcony cabin #151 a breeze. What a great upgrade! The ten-hour passage through the Panama Canal was memorable. A local narrator came on-board for the 50-mile journey. That, together with excellent lectures and documentaries, really brought home the significance of this engineering marvel. Shore excursions were likewise excellent. Costa Rica's rivers and jungles, with crocodiles, poison dart frogs and exotic plants, Nicaragua and Guatemala, with smoldering volcanoes, bubbling mud pots and Mayan ruins and Cabo San Lucas, with its famous rock formations and snorkeling. Yet it was unassuming Puerto Chiapas, Mexico where we experienced the highlight of our cruise. On a small tour, we visited the modest but beautiful home of Josefina, a world-class chocolate maker with a wall of awards including #1 world's best chocolate as selected in competition at Perugia in Umbria, Italy. She served us an authentic Mexican breakfast on banana leaves, then demonstrated her art, picking the cocoa fruit, toasting the beans and inviting us to grind them up. She separated out the hulls in a wheat vs. chaff maneuver and packed the remainder tightly together for our tasting. We felt fully immersed in this wonderful culture. A tropical storm lay in our path on the last leg to San Diego, but the ship handled it with ease. We had a great last day watching sea lions in La Jolla and visiting Cabrillo Point, then on to our red-eye flight home. What a great cruise, made all the more special with the company of very close friends. It opened our eyes to how enjoyable longer itineraries can be, and we look forward to cruising with Holland America again soon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Always have wanted to Cruise the canal . Ship left from Boston , where we live so perfect. Captain had to miss several Hurricanes, which he did . A little rough but not bad . Ft Lauderdal was in tough shape so excursions had ... Read More
Always have wanted to Cruise the canal . Ship left from Boston , where we live so perfect. Captain had to miss several Hurricanes, which he did . A little rough but not bad . Ft Lauderdal was in tough shape so excursions had been canceled . Missed a few more storms and than clear sailing . Great tour in Columbia by a firm called Duran Duran . Booked it myself and we had a terrific time . We stopped in Costa Rica , Nicaragua, Guatemala , Puerto Chiapas , Cabo and San Diego . Every stop was an adventure Botanical gardens , coffee plantation , Banana plantations colonial capitals and a great thermal spa in the mountains overlooking the volcano's . Truly a great tour. as usual Holland staff were on top of their game . Great waiter, wine steward , bar staff just excellent . The concierge in the Neptune lounge was amazing , couldn't do enough . Everyday a new treat . Nicaragua left a lot to be desired . Leon is a few walls still standing that could have been a barbecue pit . The view to the lake was spectacular . but just not much to see . check in and disembarkation were like silk , just smooth . As always thanks Holland America Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We choose this cruise for the Panama Canal, which was an excellent experience. But the ship either needs three months in drydock for upgrades or to be target practice for the Holland Navy. The AC did not work in many staterooms. It ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the Panama Canal, which was an excellent experience. But the ship either needs three months in drydock for upgrades or to be target practice for the Holland Navy. The AC did not work in many staterooms. It usually was the discussion at dinner. It also either was not working in various public areas or they had the temp set in the mid-70s. Maybe for the Canadian sailings out of Boston that is fine but in the tropics it was pretty tough, especially for a more mature clientele. There were numerous water leaks from the galley on Deck 7 down to cabins on Deck 6. One couple we knew was moved because the water was so deep. The elevator bank was flooded and out of commission for one day but had a musty smell the rest of the journey. The food was uneven. Frozen food is tough to prepare when you want to show an image of high-end dining. But our lobster tail was burnt, and we had chewy prime rib. All in the main dining hall. We were told by others that if we want good steaks we need to the Pinnacle Grill, which is an upcharge. The Lido Deck food was terrible. One chicken sandwich was so tough I could not even cut through it. Dessert choices are limited. The ice cream bar was left unmanned twice. The spoons in the taco bar were constantly completely in the serving trays. Meaning the handles were submerged in the food. Basically, whoever handled them recently was fingering the food. Hour of operations are much fewer than Royal Caribbean and Carnival. I felt that if you are not willing to put your best culinary foot forward for everyone then you are really trying, especially after customers pay so much for these long cruises. The ship shimmies at about 15 knots or above, especially in the atrium and in the aft dining room. The main dining room has tears in the carpet, and some of the aft windows our cracked. We had any-time dining, so we had different wait staff.. Some were better than others. Some did not get orders straight. The maitre'd was excellent. Activities are limited to trivia games, jewelry sales, some decent lectures (but I did not go) and some odd movie choice for a cruise with a mature audience (a movie about Alzheimer's, a rescue of a sinking boat and Jaws (on TV)). Our room staff was perfect. They worked hard every day and was on top of everything. This was our first trip on Holland America. I would try them again but on one of its new ships. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was a 24 day Cruise. The Cruise started in San Diego through the Panama Canal. There was a choice to disembark in Fort Lauderdale, New York or Boston. I cruised this with my elderly father who uses a rollator walker. We decided ... Read More
This was a 24 day Cruise. The Cruise started in San Diego through the Panama Canal. There was a choice to disembark in Fort Lauderdale, New York or Boston. I cruised this with my elderly father who uses a rollator walker. We decided on this itinerary because I wanted to see the 9/11 memorial and have always had on my bucket list to sail in and out of the harbor in Manhattan past the Statue of Liberty. We also have family in Pennsylvania we see rarely. This gave us time to visit so we tacked on a 3 day road trip after the Cruise. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and flew to San Diego from SFO On Southwest Airlines. We took the 8:00 flight. We arrived in San Diego at approximately 9:15 a.m collected our luggage, tagged the luggage for the Ship, then proceeded to ground transportation and took the breeze shuttle to the port for $10.00 per person. We arrived at the terminal at approximately 10:15. They allowed us in the terminal but we could not check in. There was a big turnover in Staff in San Diego so we needed to wait till the Staff board the ship. At 10:30 check in went very smoothly. We were given a group number til we were ready to board. At 11:30 they announced that we could board the Ship. They announced that the cabins were not ready but we could go to all the public areas and the Cruise director would announce when the cabins were ready. My dad and I went to the lido. By 1:15 there still was not an announcement made that the cabins were ready. I started asking people in the lido if they had been to there cabin? Several people told me they had gone to their cabin. My dad and I proceeded to our cabin on the Lower Promenade Deck. We arrived at the cabin to find the cabin appeared to be ready. My gallon of distilled water was there for my CPAP machine and beverage card had been delivered. The extension cord for my CPAP had not been delivered yet but sometimes that does not come til later. My father needs a shower stool, which I ordered. I opened the bathroom to find out if the shower stool had been delivered. When I opened the bathroom door I found water coming from the ceiling and all over the floor. My dad called the front desk and they sent the plumber to fix the broken pipes. They cleaned up the mess. Housekeeping came and wet vacuumed the carpet. The head of guest relations came and told us they would need to put a blower in the room to dry the carpet. We figured that. The machine sounded like a jet engine. It took 3 days and two nights to dry. For the inconvienced we were compensated with a Canaletto dinner and onboard credit. Our cabin Steward really worked hard to get our cabin livable and get the mildew smell out. This really made a difference for the rest of our Cruise. We also encountered an A/C problem. They came to check it and gave us a fan which made it more comfortable. The fan was very quite. I have cruised the Maasdam twice before. But the old gal is getting old and showing her age. I last cruised the Maasdam last summer to Alaska and there have been allot of changes. I thought the food was good last summer but I thought the food was better this time. They changed the daily program to Then and There and halfway through the Cruise the name was changed to the navigator. I guess that was changed to correspond with the online version of the navigator. If you have a smart phone you can sign up for the navigator. You can book shore excursions, dinner reservations and view your bill. You can also sign up for the internet package. I signed up for 500 minutes for the 24 days. The internet was slow. I used it do download my email and then log out. The internet was very slow, sometimes it would take as long as 20 minutes. In port I would try and find free Wifi and spend more time and the internet was faster. Most of the time we ate in the dining room. One night it took almost 3 hours. Most nights it took 90 minutes. They did not show movies during the day and would show them at night. On the nights we would want to see the movie we ate in the Lido. I found I ate less in the lido and it would only take 45 minutes. It was easier for my father to eat in the dining room but some times the schedule didn't work out. The schedule of events were very weird. Between San Diego and Fort Lauderdale there were 8 sea days and they played bingo only 3 times and win a Cruise bingo the last sea day before Fort Lauderdale. The person running the bingo was usually late in showing up. Entertainment was hit and miss. I only went to a few of the production shows and they were OK. One entertainer I really enjoyed was a flutist. I spent time playing in the Casino. That has definitely improved since last year. The Casino host Robi made it fun. I have never played in a black jack tournament before. I ended up pacing fourth. I now have a very expensive tee shirt. Ports Puerta Vallarta - I have been there many times before so I just walked around and went to Wahlmart to pick up supplies that I didn't have enough room to pack for a 24 day Cruise. Manzillo - Took a Turtle Farm tour through Hal and after the turtle farm we had a lite lunch and walked around the beach area. Hualtucco - I took a Land and Sea Tour from HAL. Went out to several Bays and then boarded a bus to go around the area. Puerta Chippas - Took a tour through Hal Chocalate tour and Izapa Ruins. This was quite interesting. The tour guide took us through the market place where you could really feel the culture. We saw a folklore show. Then they should how the cocoa is turned into chocolate. We got to taste some. I purchased some but t was stale when I got home. It might have been stale when I bought it. Then we were off to the ruins Guatemala - Took the Shuttle over to the vendor area to a cafe with free wifi. Then did some shopping. Guatemala has beautiful things. almost wiped out my small bills here. I had enough left to tip the bus driver. Nigaregua- Took a tour of live traditions of Nigaregua. We went to a city into a Cathedral then drove through the market place. Went to a property where we saw a folklore show ate tortillas and beans and banana chips. Then saw pottery being made. Drove through a horse breeding farm where there were beautiful horses. We were getting reading to sail when the captain came on and announced that we had two passengers who had not returned to the Ship and the nigaregua would not release the Ship til they returned. The captain sent out security looking for them and found them in a bar. We were an hour late leaving. I guess they found them fast. Never found out what happened to them afterwards. The captain did announce the same couple had been late boarding in Puerta Vallarta. Costa Rica. I took a tour to San Jose which was beautiful but for the length of the tour we could not see much. Panama Canal. What can I say Awesme! Aruba- I took a countryside tour that was arranged by our Cruise Critic Roll Call. This is also a great beach and snorkeling place. Cuaracao - Took. A Hal Tour around nod the island. Toured the slave house. It was very interesting. Also went to different beaches on each side of the island. One was very windy and the other was mild clear and light blue great for snorkeling. Once we got back to the Ship I was going to go across the way and due some shopping but the heat really got to me. Fort Lauderdale - This was a lazy day. We needed to get off the Ship for immigration and could not get back on until everyone had been through immigration. The sail away was beautiful. Here I was surprised, that they did not board new passengers for a repositioning to Montreal. The Ship was minus 600 passengers til we reached New York. New York -Gorgeous view sailing into the harbor viewing the statue of Liberty. Took a panoramic Tour that HAL offered. The tour stopped at Rockefeller Center and the 9/11 Memorial. The day we were there there was someone who drove up on the sidewalk for three blocks in Times Square,killed one person and injured 22. It happened 20 minutes after we passed through Times Square. So traffic was a bear getting back to the Ship because they closed the whole area down. We lost 200 passengers in NYC and gained 400. The night before disembarkation we got a letter in our stateroom that the Ship heard at the last minute that all passengers disembarking in Boston needed to go through immigration again. No one would be able to get off the Ship til all disembarking passengers. We had to report. At the wayang Theatre at 7:50. Immigration didn't show up til about 8:15. Everyone showed up so they started disembarking at 9:00. Disembarking seemed to go OK til we got to n the terminal where there was chaos. We were in the 2nd group because we were taking a tour and transfer to the Airport to Rent a car to visit family in the Poconos. We then flew home to California from EWR. This was a great Cruise. The longest I have ever done. The service was outstanding. I like be the Maasdam but she is getting old and she has many caretakers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2017
The dinner food was good in the dining room several nights, and we always found something good at the Lido buffet. It was obvious that the activities crew was cut, as trivia and cuisine were about the only free activities. Often things ... Read More
The dinner food was good in the dining room several nights, and we always found something good at the Lido buffet. It was obvious that the activities crew was cut, as trivia and cuisine were about the only free activities. Often things like "play shuffleboard" were listed as scheduled activities instead of available facilities. Most ports in Mexico and Central America were ordinary, but excursions like river rafting, hiking, and zip lining can make any port an experience. The stops at Aruba, Curacao, and Grand Turk made it a great substitute for a Caribbean cruise. I'm not much interested in cabins and decor, but everything about these was fine for me. I think I need a larger ship for more free activities on sea days,. Entertainment was average, although the dancing in the theme shows was superior. Unlike most cruises today, there was some light classical music with a violin/piano duo that was a nice alternative. Service was good. Most passengers were over 65. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We selected the Maasdam Panama Canal cruise since the ship visited 12 ports over the 24 days. We were able to visit 8 ports we had never visited before. There was also no tendering at any port that was great and made the port experience ... Read More
We selected the Maasdam Panama Canal cruise since the ship visited 12 ports over the 24 days. We were able to visit 8 ports we had never visited before. There was also no tendering at any port that was great and made the port experience better. Maasdam is an older but well maintained ship. We did hear of shipmates that had some cabin issues but I believe these were few and isolated. This is a small ship with less than 1200 guests and over 500 crew so there was always someone there to assist in whatever was needed. The small ship experience is one that is going away and we really enjoyed the intimacy. The Maasdam singers and dancers were well polished and we enjoyed all the production shows. Our favorite guest entertainer was David Meyer who played an electric xylophone and had the energy of 3 people. We did this cruise for the Panama Canal experience and we were not disappointed. There were several lectures about the canal, some better than others. The weather was warm and sunny as we went through the canal. (we had sun all throughout the cruise). We transited the old locks and we did have a view of the new locks and large ships transiting there as we went through. All in all a great experience. We ate about half of our meals in the main dining room and enjoyed all of our meals. We found a good selection of appetizer's and entrees each night that kept changing so we did not "get bored" with the same selections. The service was great and we always had Fajar and Made for our service and they were wonderful. Lunch was usually at the Lido or the Dive In that had a good selection of dogs and burgers and a nacho and taco bar. The food there always was hot and fresh. We had an aft ocean view right on the Promenade deck which was great. Walked out of our door and out the door again and on the Promenade. Too bad this is a feature that is going away on larger ships. The activities were limited but we did make many new friends and we had a great time meeting up at different times and enjoying all that was offered. Again, the small ship experience so if you choose Maasdam don't expect all the bells and whistles, enjoy the cruise! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I am totally sold on Holland America - Just finished my 19 day Panama Canal Cruise - Started in Ft. Lauderdale. Visited Cartagena, Panama Canal , Corinto, Nicaragua, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Huatulco, Mexico Cabo San Lucas, Mexico ... Read More
I am totally sold on Holland America - Just finished my 19 day Panama Canal Cruise - Started in Ft. Lauderdale. Visited Cartagena, Panama Canal , Corinto, Nicaragua, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Huatulco, Mexico Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - San Francisco, Vancouver, and ended in Seatle. Embarkation went well - my cabin was ready - #3377 - Lunch at the Lido Market Buffet was very good. Food on the cruise was very good - they have the same food in the Lido Buffet as in the Dining Room - We didn't want to go to the Dining Room on Gala night for Lobster so we had Lobster in the Buffet (I had four!) I had an issue with my room - with water - and they changed my room - I was originally on the Promenade Deck with an obstructed ocean view - they changed me to the Dolphin Deck (Deck #1) which at first I wasn't too happy with - but my room was larger and there is very little movement when the ship is rocky. The staff is super friendly and very efficient. The ports were fine - I didn't do any excursions. Holland tries to make sure that anything you need is taken care of. The Microsoft classes are very informative! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was a good itinerary starting in Ft. Lauderdale, going through the Panama Canal up the West Coast to Seattle w/an Alaska cruise included. HAL calls this a Collector's Voyage. The Amsterdam is smaller than most medium sized ships ... Read More
This was a good itinerary starting in Ft. Lauderdale, going through the Panama Canal up the West Coast to Seattle w/an Alaska cruise included. HAL calls this a Collector's Voyage. The Amsterdam is smaller than most medium sized ships w/mostly an older crowd and other than an on-going problem with a persistent series of water leaks mostly on deck 5, the cruise went on w/o a hitch. We had an OV on the Main Deck which I would take again in a heartbeat. The only irritation w/the cabin [and just about everywhere else] was a continual vibration when the engine were going. Then crew worked hard to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. Many went out of their way for us. Esp. the crew in the MDR and Lido. The Lido was OK, the Dive-In was really good, and the MDR was excellent [not every dish was great, but many were really, really good]. Entertainment was just OK. The HAL Singers and Dancers [two troops as they were changed out during the cruise] did a very fine job. The best was getting to listen to "Island Magic" [Steel Drum Band] again. Had been entertained by them on the Zuiderdam. The excursions we took went from bad to great. Great was the Boeing Factory Tour in Seattle and a RIB ride out to a volcanic rock island in Sitka. Bad was a catamaran tour in Huatulco, Mexico cancelled by the Harbormaster before the boat could even clear the dock because one engine wouldn't run. The crew tried to get that boat out of the harbor but w/only one engine that big rig just won't turn. We hit several boats before being shut down. All-in-all, we will probably do this trip again someday. Only we will probably get off in San Francisco like many did for HAL sold lots of 3 day cruises on the Amsterdam from there to Seattle. Turned out to be a party boat for 3 days. :( The MS Amsterdam is a fine ship but she is need of a make-over. A refreshing would put this vessel in a 5 star category. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Trip was on our bucket list.Ship is old but in excellent condition. Our bed was under the window and since we like to look out made it difficult at times. The food and service in the main dinning room were excellent. Food in the Lido was ... Read More
Trip was on our bucket list.Ship is old but in excellent condition. Our bed was under the window and since we like to look out made it difficult at times. The food and service in the main dinning room were excellent. Food in the Lido was good and usually good choices.service was excellent. We were not thrill by the Pinnacle Grill, we were there for lunch and left a lot to be desired. The whole experience of the Panama Canal was more than we expected, from entering the Canal at 6am to the onboard narration by the guide to going through the locks and leaving the Canal at sunset(we were going NW. We took the ships tours in Cartagena Puerto Caldere, Corinto and Cabo, some were better that others but we did get to see each location and get a feel for each country. Disembarkation was fast and well organizes we were able to stay in our cabin until called Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
To be clear, there was much to like and enjoy on this cruise through the Panama Canal. To start, the food in the Pinnacle Grill and main dining room was excellent and the staff throughout the ship was super-friendly and helpful. However, ... Read More
To be clear, there was much to like and enjoy on this cruise through the Panama Canal. To start, the food in the Pinnacle Grill and main dining room was excellent and the staff throughout the ship was super-friendly and helpful. However, this was not their first voyage and there were annoyances that should have not occurred. For the first two days out of FLL, the phones did not work because noone would answer them - this is a security issue. The first dinner on board took three hours and the waiter got six of six orders wrong (he was just back from a month at home ??); a lot of the outdoor tables and deck chairs are worn and unsightly. Many of the chair pads are stained and ugly. The daily activities schedule was quite limited. According to the Cruise Director, Holland America is undergoing a lot of cost-cutting and the results were obvious. The Lido Buffet offerings were tasty but not as extensive as on other cruise lines. The on-board entertainment was generally enjoyable but the scheduling was strange and could not be fully enjoyed unless one ate dinner at their set seating times, (which half of the passengers do not). The production shows were pleasant but generally weaker than Celebrity or Royal Caribbean. The cooking programs were great and the culinary hostess was outstanding. Having mentioned all that, we still had a good time and will return to Holland America, but maybe not to this ship, even though she is undergoing significant renovation in the fall of 2017. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
First, let me just say, Nieuw Amsterdam is our favorite ship now. We’ve sailed Eurodam, Oosterdam and Noordam. All great ships but this one is awesome! The artwork and décor is very nice. The ship is in fantastic shape and the crew ... Read More
First, let me just say, Nieuw Amsterdam is our favorite ship now. We’ve sailed Eurodam, Oosterdam and Noordam. All great ships but this one is awesome! The artwork and décor is very nice. The ship is in fantastic shape and the crew was wonderful. Take a close look at the large mural of New York that is outside the Manhattan dining room, (across from Adagio) you will notice something quite clever. Fort Lauderdale embarkation was slow but normal. The time we could board was pushed back from 11:15 to 11:45. I’m not sure why. The staff handling things were very nice and pleasant. There were no free refreshments that I noticed but there were vending machines in the waiting area. The seats were comfortable enough and the A/C was working well. We had used the VIP Bags-service. They picked up our luggage from the carousel at the airport and it was in our cabin when we got on board. I had never used this service before and was a little nervous but they were great! Communication is very good and it is a very reasonable price for the convenience you get. We had cabin 6053. It is a signature Suite. It is close to the forward elevators which makes getting to the Crow’s Nest and gym pretty easy. In the Signature Suites, the large screen TV on the wall behind the sofa is actually a plus in our book. Sure, you can't watch it from the sofa now but it frees up a lot of space on the counter top and where the DVD player used to fit, not to mention you now have two more power outlets available. On the minus side, we didn't get any personalized stationery this time. I don't know if it was just an oversight or a permanent cut-back. Everything else in the cabin was great. No plumbing issues. For some reason though,, one of the A/C vent covers was completely blanked off with packing tape on the inside. After I removed the cover and stripped off all the tape the room cooled right down which was a good thing because it was miserably hot outside. I never did notice anyone smoking anything on the verandas. For that matter, smoking wasn’t much of a problem on board. The sea view pool area was never really too packed and I don’t remember smoking in the casino being too much of a problem although you could smell it in there occasionally. The Lido was very good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were many eggs benedict choices and the baked beans too every day. Plenty of juice choices and the coffee only ran out when too many people filled up their travel mugs at once. Lunch was good. You could still get custom made sandwiches and the pre-mades were very good and fresh. Dinner and desserts were quite good also. “The Lobster Fest” was good and the lobsters (I asked for two) were a pretty good size. I do feel like I kinda got snookered on the wine though. The wine steward came around while I was eating my lobster and suggested a glass of the wine he was holding (nothing unusual there) it was a Washington wine and he said it paired nicely with the lobster so I said sure. It was good but he failed to mention that it was $12.00 a glass! As opposed to the normal $8.00. I guess I should have asked. I bought an $18.00 glass of wine in the Pinnacle Grill because I didn’t have my glasses on and it looked like $8.00. And to tell you the truth, it wasn’t all that good. Food and service was very good though as usual. We also ate in the Tamarind and I have to say, that is probably the most exquisite service in a restaurant that I have ever received. Just spectacular! Entertainment on board was good. The singers and dancers do a great job and the comedian (John Joseph) was an absolute riot! Hamish the Cruise director is very nice and personable, he made things fun. Hammish even came to the vetrans meet to welcome us and say thanks for our service. That was a very nice touch. The Activities Director (not naming names) seemed a little lackluster and just going through the motions. He could have been much more “active” in my book. The Kid’s Club manager (Stephanie?)was always having fun with the kids. She did a great job. Andy form Scotland in the Piano Bar had ‘em packed in every night. He was a lot of fun too. In fact, all of the ships’ crew were fantastic. The front office even set up a “chess players meet” in the daily planner when they saw my note in the library looking for other players. How cool is that? The gym was very nice but the Captain likes to take most of the treadmills out of service at certain times for noise/navigation reasons so the wait can be awhile during those times. I've never seen that before. We went on three HAL sponsored tours. The aviary in Columbia was good, the aerial tram in Costa Rica was good, the “Mayan Ruins” in Puerta Chiappas Mexico was a complete waste of time and money. The tour guide told vulgar stories on the bus and then just took us to a shopping district (Said he wanted to “show us his city” where we were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes), then took us to a dilapidated old church where the ceiling was literally falling down on us and then finally took us out to see “the archeological site” which amounted to nothing more than a pile of rocks and some recreated building foundations. He tried to tell us that what we were seeing was 2,000 years old. Ya, right, they let kids climb all over them and chip off souvenirs to take home. What a gimmick. Disembarkation in San Diego was probably the easiest I have ever encountered. Customs literally just glanced at the outside of our passports and we were on our way. We were in the passenger pick up area on the pier and I asked my wife “Did we go through customs yet?” It was that quick and easy. This was another great Holland America Line cruise and we booked our next one while on board. We are doing the Voyage of the Vikings next. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because my Father-in-Law wanted to do the Panama Canal, and it was great. We loved the food, itinerary, hospitality of the crew and overall journey. Watching the ship go through the Canal was a real treat, but some ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my Father-in-Law wanted to do the Panama Canal, and it was great. We loved the food, itinerary, hospitality of the crew and overall journey. Watching the ship go through the Canal was a real treat, but some of the more obscure stops were also fun. Here are the itinerary highlights we enjoyed most: Half-Moon Cay (Private Island): Beautiful beach, fish in the shallows & lots of birds. A great day in the sun! Columbia (Cartagena): National Bird Aviary -- fun, but a bit sunny and hot Panama Canal: Watching the ship rise and fall powered by rainwater & gravity -- amazing! Costa Rica (Puerto Caldera): Mangrove river cruise -- like a Disney Jungle Boat cruise with real crocodiles & exotic birds. Nicaragua (Corinto): You MUST walk on top of the white domed church at the town center! Guatemala (Puerto Quetzal): Bus ride to Antigua was well worth it. Elevation made it cool, and the town architecture was fun to explore on our own. Mexico (Puerto Vallarta): Rythms of the Night show excursion was great. By luck of the draw we had front row seats. The performers were very entertaining (especially the more gymnastic ones), and the food was good and plentiful if not quite as tasty as it could be. We had some minor issues, but the crew worked hard in every instance to make things right. The two worth mentioning were some cabin noise from the BB King Lounge that lasted until about 10 most nights, and some slow service at tables for 10 during open-seating dining. The crew addressed the first with earplugs that worked great for me, and some proactive efforts by the head waiters to seat us at smaller tables where the service was prompt. They also offered a free meal at the Pinnacle which was very much appreciated. Overall, a great experience, and we'll be back on another Holland ship again soon. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Wanted to do the Panama Canal cruise for a long time. The staff on the Eurodam were excellent. Monika, a waitress that works usually in the Tamarind was just great and always with a beautiful smile. Vojo and Alex Fitness Supervisors were ... Read More
Wanted to do the Panama Canal cruise for a long time. The staff on the Eurodam were excellent. Monika, a waitress that works usually in the Tamarind was just great and always with a beautiful smile. Vojo and Alex Fitness Supervisors were excellent and very helpful. The massages were much to expensive. I mean $171.35 for a 50 minute massage that was not even good. I paid $166.75 for a manicure and pedicure and was charged $25.00 for a bottle of nail polish that the spa kept. Our signature suite was very nice except for the carpet was dirty. When I mentioned it, the housekeeping service would have had it cleaned but with all the stuff we had it would have been difficult to have wet carpets. All in all our cruise was nice. This was our second cruise with Holland America, and I would travel again and stay away from the Spa. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Very disappointed with Holland America. They were recommended to us, but were woefully lacking. No zumba/keep fit/water aerobics/dance classes/dancing, and if you wanted to do a yoga class it was charged for. They put on 4 of the ... Read More
Very disappointed with Holland America. They were recommended to us, but were woefully lacking. No zumba/keep fit/water aerobics/dance classes/dancing, and if you wanted to do a yoga class it was charged for. They put on 4 of the acts twice in the same week; never heard of that before. Totally boring and with only 2 generalist entertainments staff. When we asked about it, we were told that Holland are "moving away from activities and into more enrichment". The average age on this cruise was about 70, so maybe they are targeting an older audience. (Although I am in my early 60's, this was far too slow for me) The ship stopped for a full day in very poor ports in the middle of nowhere, but only half a day in two very lovely places. Panama Canal was a fantastic experience, but wish we had gone with a different cruise line. The food was only average, and being served by staff instead of a help-yourself buffet meant the portion control was enforced, and that was incredibly small. If you wanted more you were forced to ask for it. The choice of meals in the main restaurant in the evenings was poor; good on only a few days in 18, and the service was incredibly slow. Ship had an outbreak of noro-virus and lots of people had very heavy colds; including me. The suite was lovely however; we were delighted with our room space. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Sailing through the Panama Canal was on my "bucket list" and the timing and intinerary on this sailing seemed to fit the bill. This was my 3rd cruise with Holland America (10th overall cruise) and I have to say I was very ... Read More
Sailing through the Panama Canal was on my "bucket list" and the timing and intinerary on this sailing seemed to fit the bill. This was my 3rd cruise with Holland America (10th overall cruise) and I have to say I was very disappointed. As another reviewer stated, there were next-to-no activities unless you were a trivia fanatic and the food in the dining room was deplorable. While I found the portions to be perfectly satisfactory (I'm not a thin person, but how much does one really need to eat?), the quality was poor. With the exception of crab cakes one night, I found the food to be not only bland -- no flavor or seasoning -- but also not served hot. I had breakfast in my cabin most mornings, but found the in-room menu very limited. I usually ordered the healthy start (muesli, fresh fruit -- which was mostly unripe) or the continental (pastries, unripe fruit, yogurt). One morning I tried the bacon/eggs/sausage. Mistake! Scrambled eggs were a soupy scoop and the sausage was like the grocery-store/microwave variety. The toast (one slice of white/one slice of wheat) was cold and not very toasty. The ports of call were okay, but Manzanillo can be skipped altogether. (All day there was WAY too long.) Not nearly enough time in Cabo San Lucas or San Diego. A stop in San Francisco would have been better than Manzanillo. Nicaragua isn't ready for a port stop either. While the company touts the ship's art collection (mostly copies with no information nor is their advertised self-guided audio tour available), "art collection" is stretching it. The Eurodam is in need of some cosmetic attention, i.e. chipped cabin furnishings, seriously stained curtains and rugs. In short, I think Holland America has been "Carnival-ized." Too bad. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Our first ever cruise experience was in 2006 on the Noordam followed by a cruise on the Volendam. After that because of itineraries we have sailed on X. We returned to HAL for this cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. We were not ... Read More
Our first ever cruise experience was in 2006 on the Noordam followed by a cruise on the Volendam. After that because of itineraries we have sailed on X. We returned to HAL for this cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. We were not disappointed! Service from HAL crew was excellent throughout the only disappointments being the shop and photo staff who are third party contractors. Reading CC boards all lines have made cut backs and we did notice fewer activities which was due to fewer activities staff. That said we are not great activity participants but it would have been nice to have a greater choice. With the creation of the Music Walk there was less pre dinner music in the bars which was a shame. We were impressed with the service in the Lido buffet and the choice of food available. Similarly we had great service in the Dining Room from both our Waiter and Assistant and particularly from Flora our Wine Waiter. We have had far worse service on X. Despite others comments that food quality has declined I actually commented during the cruise that it was the best cruise food I had enjoyed. There was always a wide choice and everything I had was cooked nicely and was very tasty. As this was a longer cruise with a number of sea days, which we like, we did splash out on a Retreat Cabana. We were so very well looked after by Milo and Brian. It was worth every dollar!! All in all an excellent cruise and we would look at HAL first for future cruises. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because we love to end up at home, no travel day at the end. We had been on ship in January and you can view my rave review on this site. We loved the whole experience. It was an eye opener, all the changes in a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we love to end up at home, no travel day at the end. We had been on ship in January and you can view my rave review on this site. We loved the whole experience. It was an eye opener, all the changes in a couple of months and not is a happy way. The positives: The staff, the service, the cabin attendants, the food, and the entertainment all wonderful. Professional, attentive, and appropriate to audience. After that you may think, what more is there on a cruise that's important - well fed and entertained by genuinely engaged people. The issues: The se Asian/Dutch colonial culture has suddenly gone. The differentiation from other midstream carnival lines has gone away. Good food, good entertainment - princess or celebrity, or royal Caribbean. Holland has always had a little Dutch colonial kind of niche but it has gone. Since January! No more, are there curries or Indonesian entrees on the dinner menu, yes some times available at lunch on lido but ... no Indonesian or Phillip into crew shows., no modified chongsams on lady servers. No Indonesian lunch. Apart from the cultural shift - the activities - well, new "when and where" except it has a daily insert which really/sort of tell you what's going on- but it's not dated so if it gets mixed with the other paper you receive daily, who knows what's going on. The majority of activities were cash driven. Never seen so many sidewalk junk sales, spa seminars, jewelry eminars, slot tournaments, wine tastings and art auctions . But minimal enrichment, BBC earth was great, but no engineer or about the Panama Canal before transit?! No bridge, no crafts, no photo contest, not much of anything. There seemed to be midmanagement problems starting with cruise director, no culinary arts person, no mariner hostess. Cruise director - very personable but ... if holland still has gala nights, maybe the cruise director should have a tux to respect the passengers who like to dress up?, maybe he should announce when the ship is cleared instead of telling us to sit tight , maybe his staff should not be loud and rude in the show lounge during performances. In San Diego, the senior management including the CEO got on - one would expect a kick up in the ambience on board - not so much. Not one of them ever communicated with the guests - as a group they were loud, obnoxious and drunk in public. Next time go to Vegas where no one knows you! However that would align the significant cultural change, Botoom line, we are 4 star mariners and are wondering why choose holland as all lines have good food, good entertainment, and good service. It's the differentiators that make it unique. Read Less
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