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Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because it started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended 21 days later in Seattle plus we got a very large stateroom #8140 w a wrap-around deck on the stern. The first day for embarkation we felt the cruise line was not ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended 21 days later in Seattle plus we got a very large stateroom #8140 w a wrap-around deck on the stern. The first day for embarkation we felt the cruise line was not organized and although our luggage was labeled "priority" it was the very last on - not that it mattered but what did is we kept wondering if it would show up at all. But note that the disembarkation was very well organized and fast. Holland America has figured out how to make money - we paid $150 for water, $300 for internet (it is just $150 if you stick to social media only) and they must have saved a lot by purchasing low quality food. The Gala Dinner with filet mignon and crab béarnaise was the worst with crab nearly too spoiled to serve a piece of meat that was not filet mignon but some grass-fed animal's "surprise." Some meals were good but spaced well apart and the Lido food began to taste the same no matter what you took. The crew was very well-trained and friendly. Our Neptune suite was ok but I do not believe this ship was updated in 2017 or 2018 as it was worn pretty well including our suite. The ports of call were good and although many were shipping ports, I understand it is hard to find dock space for a ship sized like Oosterdam. The people we encountered onshore were very friendly. We will use another cruise line for our next cruise maybe we just expected better like we got on the Ruby Princess last year. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this particular Panama Canal cruise for the itinerary. The ship stopped in Aruba, Curacao and Costa Rica, in addition to traveling through the canal, which were all new ports for us. After reading reviews, I did not expect a ... Read More
We chose this particular Panama Canal cruise for the itinerary. The ship stopped in Aruba, Curacao and Costa Rica, in addition to traveling through the canal, which were all new ports for us. After reading reviews, I did not expect a "new" ship, but since it had been in dry dock less than 2 years ago, I figured it would be okay. My husband and I have taken about 10 cruises over the years, and this was our first Holland America cruise. The cruise before ours had a norovirus outbreak, and we received an email the day before embarkation alerting us to a late embarkation due to their need to sanitize the ship. A bit disconcerting to say the least, but we preserved. As a result, embarkation was a bit hectic due to the larger crowds boarding the ship at the same time. The embarkation agent forgot to give us the activities planner for embarkation day, which we did not realize until much later, when we did not find any information in our cabin. After asking our room steward for the activities information we kept hearing others speak of, it was only then that we realized we were missing information. That did not start us off on the right foot, but we let that go and had a nice evening. The first stop was Half Moon Cay, the private island of HAL. There was another ship on the island that day as well, so it was extremely crowded. The ship arrived around 8:30, and after disembarking and being tendered over at 10:00, the clam shells we had signed up for (and paid for) were nearly gone. We had to walk a VERY long way down the beach, speak with a variety of (grumpy and inattentive) personnel at stations along the way to continue to direct us to some open clam shells. We stayed on the beach for a couple of hours -- which WAS beautiful -- then decided to head back to the ship. The thought of fighting for a meal with so many on the island was unappealing. Not the most auspicious start to our much anticipated cruise. Recommendation for Half Moon Cay - many of the loungers are under trees and are nicely shaded. Save your money and do not get a clam shell. We would not have had to walk so far if we wanted a free lounger in the shade. The next day was a sea day, and we attended a wonderful wine tasting. The day was really relaxing and enjoyable. The following days at the various ports of call were fine and we enjoyed Aruba and Curacao. Going through the Panama Canal is an experience not to be missed. We THOROUGHLY enjoyed the experience, and we very happy with the day. We opted to get off the ship in Colon "just to say we were in Panama." We spent about 10 minutes there and got back on the ship. Not a nice place, to say the least. Unfortunately, it was POURING rain in Costa Rica. We did go on a canal tour, but honestly, it was pretty miserable due to the weather. It was raining so hard, it was hard to see into the jungle at times, and we were just plain wet. No one's fault, to be sure, but it did take much of the enjoyment away from that day. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, and we met some wonderful people with whom we dined with and enjoyed our time with on sea days. Our experience in the main dining room was EXCELLENT. The staff was warm and accommodating. We had anytime dining, and never had to wait more than 5 minutes to be seated. And as the cruise went on, we went to dinner with a group of other couples, and were easily and quickly accommodated. The food was varied and tasty. I think there was only 1 night that I was underwhelmed by the choices for the evening. The wine stewards were helpful and accommodating as well. We had ordered a wine package which we felt was a good value. However, there were some problems that HAL needs to address, and we did tell them so in our survey response to HAL. 1. Maintenance: It was VERY disruptive the amount of maintenance that was ongoing during the cruise. There was the smell of paint/varnish several times when sitting and relaxing on our veranda. Also, one day after arriving back on ship, we grabbed a meal in the Lido and went to sit outside to enjoy our meal. Amazingly, there was LOUD banging and sanding/sawing going on right above the area where the tables were -- so that option of where to sit outside was totally out of the question. WHY?? And to our shock, one day when we had just arrived in a port and were readying to leave our cabin, all of a sudden a man was on our veranda hosing down the entire deck, and he was opening all the dividers and washing all the decks on our side of the ship. No warning given at all by anyone. All the cushions were soaked, as was a beach towel we had left on a chair. We were flabbergasted to say the least! If maintenance such as this needs to be done - and it so disruptive to those of us who have paid a considerable amount of money to enjoy a vacation - this ship should spend a week out of rotation to be attended to. Much of this was "routine" maintenance, not something that broke while at sea. We found this unacceptable that we were forced to endure noxious fumes and "wet paint" as well as sanding/noise etc. on various decks. 2. Lido Dining: Okay, so Lido is the buffet/cafeteria style dining. I do understand one has to pack some patience for the buffet, We went there for lunch when on the ship, and for breakfast on days when we were heading out early for an excursion. . But the drink stations were woefully inadequate - there were only 2 for the entire dining room. That means only 2 water filling spots for a ship that had 1,700 people on board. Waiting in line for a glass of water, from machines that trickled out water (thus the line) and the ice machine that was frequently empty, was inexcusable. We did discover that the staff in the eating area inside would bring you water (they had pitchers), but they were busy with lots of folks, and it was hard to get them to focus to get to your table. We really did feel that we had to "work too hard" just to get a glass of cold water during dining times. Also, while in ports where we had early calls, they did open the Lido earlier than usual so we could get breakfast -- the problem was they only opened half the available stations, so the lines were VERY long, and the staff was fairly inefficient. This made for a stressful start to a vacation day - as we were on a time schedule to make our excursions. Fellow cruisers: We are in our late 50's and had plenty of company. There were very few younger than us, however, and there were plenty older. Disembarkation: We opted to take our own luggage and leave as soon as they allowed as we had a morning flight. This was the quickest disembarkation we ever experienced. From the time they let us off the ship to arriving at Ft. Lauderdale airport less than 30 minutes. No stress at all! Overall, in spite of some "head shaking" worthy circumstances, we really did overall enjoy our vacation. We chose to focus on the positive. Interesting ports of call, meeting wonderful people whom we hope to remain in contact with, and for the most part, very accommodating and caring staff. Was it the best cruise experience we ever had - no - but honestly, when we reflect back on the trip, it was a good trip overall, one that we were happy we took. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies ... Read More
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies between our cabin and our friends next door. We had a mag makeup mirror and a small note pad on the night table (which I used a lot). Our friends didn't have these things. We had the open dining and because of the great dining room hostess, had the same wait staff each night, whom we loved. Dining room food was usually ok. There was a meal or two we traded in, the red snapper being one. Great presentation, small quantity. We were disappointed that we were on one of 4 HAL ships in an experimental dining mode, charging $10 for a second entree. I hope this initiative fails as trying different foods is one of the best parts of cruising. We did the buffet twice for breakfast and a few times at around 3pm for a snack. We are never fans of the buffet. This one wasn't too bad though. TAMARIND is by far the best dining experience on the ship. Try it early on and go often. So pretty up there too, at the bar. Weak entertainment, disappointed at how poor most of it was. There were three nights of 14 in which we thought the Main Stage entertainment was up to cruise ship standards. BBKing All Stars consistently great in the BB King lounge. Gets people up and moving and happy. More activity choices needed, especially on sea days. America's Test Kitchen could be better with another cook/demonstrator. Same with the EXE talks by Jeanette, boring. Cruise director Nick also lackluster. This may all be by design as the clientele, at least on this cruise, much older. Many over 80. At 58 I was definitely in a minority decade represented by the guests. All services were *impeccable* EXCEPT for room service and the wait staff at both Canneletto and Pinnicle Grill restaurants. In fact room service breakfast on port days was as if it was the first day they ever offered room service breakfast on a port day. Many complaining. We had a snafu where we never did get any breakfast on a port day waiting for pre ordered room service which never arrived. I must mention they did make it up to us with hand written notes, a bottle of wine, follow up phone calls and priority delivery of room service breakfast the second (and last) time we ordered it. Loved the unlimited laundry service and they did a superb job. Passing through the Panama canal was wonderful, being served the Panama rolls and coffee throughout the early morning hours. I recommend you don't miss the early up at 5:30am to experience the canal at the beginning. I was going to skip it, BUT am so very glad I decided to get up for this once in a lifetime experience. We headed to the back of the ship on deck 9 by the pool as we left the first set of locks. Nice perspective, and not many thought of doing this. Central America hot & humid . Costa Rica our best day using a private tour company call Thumbs Up tours, their 10 in 1 day tour.Ten folks in a nice, cool van. Perfect. We loved our day at Huatulco, MX with the sandy beach and restaurants right off the ship. Great swimming cove. We did enjoy all ports. Did not do a tour in Guatemala, only walked around the "faux" town just off the ship. But with food, bars, entertainment and shopping, we had a great time there. This was my 5th cruise. Probably would use another line (Royal Caribbean again maybe) for our next one in a year or two. HAL was very good, but just a bit too low key for us. I would suggest another itinerary which may cater to younger guests or maybe not choosing HAL at all if under 45. Research it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the late winter or early spring when it was cold in the Washington, DC area. Celebrity no longer offered this cruise during this time of the year. So, we reviewed the ships that sailed during this time and decided that the Nieuw Amsterdam would be our choice. (Note: We did compare the Nieuw Amsterdam to the other Holland America ships that provided this itinerary. The Nieuw Amsterdam was reviewed best by Cruise Critic.) How did we like the cruise? Staff. The service staff in all areas of the ship were wonderful, especially their personalities and how they strove to accommodate all requests. Of course, we would only politely ask for something that our experience indicated was reasonable and also within the prevue of a particular service person. We particularly were impressed with the towel creatures left on our beds at night and learned onboard about how they were created and surprisingly how little time each one takes to create. Stateroom. We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few. Dining. We were pleased with the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Lido; although, we thought the choices and quality of the food were good, but not exceptional–choices and quality for breakfast better than for lunch. The poolside hotdog/hamburger and pizza options helped to make some of our lunches enjoyable. We were not so satisfied with the Lido evening dining because of the limited selection and quality of the food the one night we dined there. Of course, the staff was attentive and friendly. Our regular evening meals were in the Dining Room on deck 3. We thoroughly enjoyed the staff. However, there were only a few dishes that we truly enjoyed eating. We found most of the food unappealing, often inadequately prepared, and providing unsatisfying pleasure. The wienerschnitzel and the surf and turf were the two entrée selections that we found quite appealing. We particularly enjoyed the desserts which had plentiful choices and were mostly prepared well and quite tasty. The entrees we selected in the Pinnacle Restaurant, particularly the Alaska King Crab, was by far the best entrée enjoyed during the cruise. We would have expected that the regular Dining Room would have provided more of this level of quality. Entertainment. The performers in the Mainstage theater were just ok, especially in comparison to our Celebrity experiences. That said, the comic John Wing and the English piano player/comic, Brett Cave, were quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t want to see any of the other acts twice. The cruise’s backup band and the classical quintet were superb. Playing together on the Mainstage to provide the musical background for the featured nature film was a great way to highlight their talents. A particular performance highlight was the Columbian Ambassadors who provided a show on the Mainstage one afternoon. In our opinion, they provided the best performance of the entire cruise and should have had more exposure--perhaps an evening performance. Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance featuring members of the wonderful Filipino staff performing with great enthusiasm. Shore Excursions. We enjoyed the excursions we selected which included city highlights, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, zip lining, nature watching on a river, and an equestrian show. The only excursion we were quite disappointed with was the Lake Atitlan full day excursion which required a 2 ½ hour, extremely bumpy bus trip followed by a 45 minute boat ride across an average-looking lake to an unexceptional resort for a basically enjoyable lunch followed by a 45 minute return boat ride exactly the same as the first one, followed by a 2 hour return bus ride exactly the same as the first one, but a half-hour shorter because of driving downhill, and less bumpy apparently due to the lighter loads of trucks going toward the port. All in all, this excursion included too much traveling with very minimal enjoyment for the effort. We also noticed that the Holland America written descriptions of the shore excursions that we took were often not truly reflective of the actual experiences. That said, it was still only the one excursion mentioned above that was disappointing and perhaps a more accurate description of the excursion would have helped us to make a better decision. Informational and Cultural Lectures. In particular, the Shore Excursion informational leader, Jeanette, was superb. Her presentation describing the next day’s experience of sailing through the Panama Canal was clear and comprehensive, allowing an enjoyable understanding of the next day’s experience. Additionally, Jeanette’s other presentations providing information of what we’d see upon arriving in other destinations was thoroughly well done and appreciated. Holland America Onboard Internet. The Holland America onboard internet that provided information about daily activities and dining menus, person-to-person onboard texting, and enabled us to keep track of our own cruise itineraries was extremely effective, reliable and useful. That said, access from our cell phones were not up to the exemplary level of the in-cabin TV access and the technical staff should strive to make both access pathways equally effective. In Conclusion. The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary during the late winter or early spring. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam provided the desired itinerary. The stateroom, the Lido breakfast and lunch buffet along with the hotdog/hamburger and pizza poolside options, the shore excursions, the informational/cultural lectures, the Pinnacle specialty restaurant, and the entire staff were, in our opinion, quite good. The entertainment and the evening dining were, in our opinion, just average. Will we sail with Holland America in the future? Probably not, particularly because the entertainment and evening dining we’ve experienced on Celebrity ships—which we consider to be extremely important parts of the cruising experience—are much better. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and ... Read More
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and treatments way too expensive. Watch your bill - we had multiple charges for other people's alcohol and for things that were included in our beverage package. They did reverse the charges, but it took time away from our cruise to get the items corrected. The cabin was comfortable and clean and the cabin stewards were wonderful. We were on the 8th deck near the bridge and had no issues with rolling seas or noise from any of the entertainment. We did have to walk through the spa area every time we went to higher decks - odd set up. We are 60 and felt like we were the babes on this cruise. This appeared to be an older group that was in bed by 9PM. The first night at sea we expected to be wowed by the entertainment. Instead we got a movie on the main stage and the sound system was not good. We saw perhaps 3-4 entertainers that were good, but this was highly disappointing for a 14 day cruise. We arranged our excursions a month or so before cruising. The descriptions were somewhat misleading - "a motorized catamaran" was actually a booze cruise with 150 other passengers - not what we pictured. We thought we were going to a nice cove to swim where we could snorkel and see the native fish. After cruising with everyone else drinking we got perhaps 30 minutes in the water with no fish at all (didn't need to bring our snorkeling equipment or the rolls we took from breakfast to feed the fish). We did sign up for one excursion on the ship and then chose not to go because we were not feeling well. HAL has a 14 day refund policy - not very accommodating on a 14 day cruise. We couldn't get a refund but could trade to a lesser priced excursion, but still lost the money. We did have a wonderful time with our dinner table - table for 8 at the 8PM seating. Overall we did enjoy our cruise. We chose the itinerary for this cruise and not the cruise line. For a number of reasons we perhaps will not cruise with HAL again. They are way too focused of making a buck. For example - every cruise we've been on before with other lines we've been able to use all of the spa facilities on the day we had a treatment. Not on HAL. Everything had a separate price tag. As a last thought - we completed HAL's online survey after our cruise and indicated that they could contact us for clarification or comments. It's been a month and there's been no attempt on their behalf to follow through. Aside from the on board cruise staff, HAL needs a lesson in customer service. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because my husband wanted to sail through the Panama Canal and we had experienced an amazing transPacific cruise on the Holland America Noordam in 2018. This was a type of journeyman cruise compared to that on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my husband wanted to sail through the Panama Canal and we had experienced an amazing transPacific cruise on the Holland America Noordam in 2018. This was a type of journeyman cruise compared to that on a smaller, older ship with fewer passengers, amenities and activities. The shop’s air conditioning was faulty with many of the public areas kept at painfully cold temperatures. I talked to the cruise director about reading of this issue on earlier Volendam cruises and he admitted the frigid air conditioning was an ongoing problem which they had not resolved. There was also, perhaps not coincidentally a ship wide respiratory infection. The crouping, coughing etc. must have affected half the passengers. Everyone had the Volendam virus. My husband and i both came down with it and are still affected more than two weeks after disembarking. The good: the meals in the dining room and Lido were very good. The EXC tour director, Jude, was excellent and entertaining. The Adagio violinist and pianist were excellent as was the pianist at the Ocean Bar. The rest of the entertainment was mediocre. The crew were friendly and helpful. But the boat is so in need of updating and repair. The ports were fine but most everyone was interestedin the canal experience which was remarkable. Gatun Lake was beautiful. Cartegena was impressive. We liked Huatalco and the city of Antigua in Guatemala. The port of Corinto Nicaragua was not good. Costa Rica was interesting and we enjoyed the combination aerial tram and river rafting tour. The commentator thriugh the canal was excellent. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
First time for Panama Canal. Holland America received great reviews. The ship it self was like an ice box! When inquired we were told nothing could be done. Our cabin was never warm as was the rest of the ship. My wife received a ... Read More
First time for Panama Canal. Holland America received great reviews. The ship it self was like an ice box! When inquired we were told nothing could be done. Our cabin was never warm as was the rest of the ship. My wife received a bad rash and when we went to desk for assist they called doctor and I was informed there would be a charge to open the office and charge for any medication. After 9 PM the ship was dead. Staff very friendly, the one high point. Casino staff were great. Food was just average, nothing special. Tea at 3 was good, Shows were so so, One male singer who did Lionel Richey was very good. Magician was also very good. Rest of entertainment not very good. Sorry to say it let a bad taste for Holland America. I will never cruise Holland American again. I have been on 16+ cruises and this was the worst. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal partial passage.Getting on ,and back of the ship was handled efficiently. Food was reasonable. Our biggest ,and nastiest , problem was a liquid that kept coming up from the grout lines in the tile floor from the Lido buffet restaurant the first few days on the cruise.It was not adequately kept clean for quite a while.Cabin was sufficient and kept clean.Shows were good, especially the Steel band from Trinidad.Ship is clearly dated, lots of fogged up windows because of cracked panes and broken seals between panes.Crew were friendly and efficient. I would not cruise with HAL again, I had really expected a better experience. I would not recommend this cruise if you have young children, I believe the average age of the passengers was at least 65 years.The choice of shore excursions was extensive. I recommend the Canal experience excursion where you are taken by bus towards the Pacific Ocean and then go by boat through the locks on that side. It is pricey but I guess it is not cheap to go through the locks. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no ... Read More
There is a cruise vacation out there designed for sedentary people - the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. If you want to go, you should know that most of the good times will be experienced from a chair. No games on the private island, no band around the pool, little dancing, not even many slot machine players. Hardly anybody out after 9 pm, even though the late shows in the theater don't start until 10pm. And while the very good BB King Rhythm and Blues band was going strong until late just about every night, their audiences were small. My wife and I took this cruise because of the Panama Canal. We considered a trans-canal trip. But at the time I booked, their prices were going up. So we decided to jump in three months earlier than I have ever booked a cruise. I joke that the ship required me to show my grey hair before letting me onboard. But there were only five children on the ship. And one lady who said that her dark hair came out of a bottle. Everybody else - shades of gray. One of the strange things was the folks with walkers who step out in front of people in crowded hallways. There were lots of walkers on the ship. But not all their drivers were so rude. I don't see carelessness like this in the midwest, even with able bodied folks who want to walk quickly. Avoiding running over them on the ship kept me on my toes. I was expecting great food. It was not to be. Breakfast was fine. Other than that, the food in the main dining rooms was poor to middling. Toughest prime rib I've ever tried to cut. My waiter tried to give food advice, and I should have listened to him. The buffet restaurant was horrible, except for the Asian station which had some tasty Thai dishes. For some strange reason the whole buffet area was crowded at every meal. Speaking of pools. They are deserted on this ship. The mid-ship pool has a roof that was generally closed, and which made the area feel like a sauna (as if the tropics needs more heat and humidity). The rear pool was nice for relaxing, except for the clouds of cigar and cigarette smoke that waft across the waters from the smoking section. Our room steward did a good job cleaning up. But after opening the room door several days while we were dressing for dinner, he really should have learned to check the time. The waiters were okay. The assistant waiter was my favorite employee, but unfortunately his main job was to carry food from the kitchen to the wait station. Zuiderdam, if you are reading this, you need to promote Jaja. I don't go out to bars very often, but the bars on the ship were a lot of fun (though of course, sitting down fun.) Happy hour, one at 4:00 and another at 9 pm, had a buy one get one for $2. There was a wine tasting with an inexpensive glass of wine at 5:00. The hors d'ouevres were always interesting. The customers at the bars were the friendliest people on the ship. Yuliya the lady from the deck 1 bar and also the disco person, always had a story about hors d'ouevres; and she was one of the most genuinely happy and friendly people on the ship. Most of the entertainment in the main theater was uninspired. The ship dancers were a big exception - they were really good. And the highly entertaining steel drum band Island Magic played some excellent classical music (and other unexpected genres.) On the other hand, there were some acrobat/dancers who looked like they should have been on Ed Sullivan in 1965 (I see Topo Gigio every time I think about them.) The poorest evening consisted of some old movie. There was a comedian and a magician. The first night was an introduction to entertainment. And there must have been one other night that was even more forgettable. The ship had several other venues. The already mentioned talented BB King band put on a great show almost every night. There was also a piano/string quintet that was quite good. I really enjoyed the cooking demonstrations; they were full of information. Didn't see any of the Oprah shows, and cannot even imagine what they were about. There was a dueling piano show in the casino. And the casino itself was smoke-free, small, and uncrowded. I've got to tell you about the process of going through the Caribbean locks in the canal. Previously, we had been told to be at the front viewing room at 5 am. Then the schedule was changed to 6. I was there, ready to go, coffee and Panama roll in hand. And the windows were so dirty and foggy that they were hard to see through. But a narrator from off the ship came on to describe what we should have been seeing. His first revelation - the ocean is at sea level. It got no better from there. I went to an outside viewing area at the front of the ship, which was already full of passengers. I waited at the side for about an hour, until ship security ran off a bunch of us. Finally went back to my cabin and sat comfortably on the balcony, while the ship just sat in the lower canal. When the ship started moving, I checked out the view again from deck 3. There was nothing much to see; you had to be standing at the very front of deck 4 to even see the lock doors. I could see nothing other than the lock walls slowly sinking. The Zuiderdam cleared the locks about 10:00. We took a really unusual excursion on the canal. The best thing was that we could actually see the workings of the locks. The boat was running late because we kept having to wait for a container ship to catch up and join us in the locks. In the second to last lock, one of the gates opened and we got through, but had to wait for the container ship to get through. After about an hour, the stuck gate opened. The ferry was two hours late by this time, and the passengers got an outstanding sunset cruise in the Pacific Ocean. The private island had a great beach, but it was disappointing that the ship didn't even put up a volleyball net. Went to an Aruba beach that was pretty dirty, but we made up for that experience by having a great seafood dinner at a restaurant near the cruise port. No other excursions. We had a great time walking around Curacao. In Cartagena the heat was so oppresive and taxi drivers so irritating that we refused to leave the port; but that was okay because a small zoo with birds, monkeys and an anteater at the end of the dock was fascinating (I let a parrot climb on my arm, where he proceeded to dismantle my watch). At Puerto Limon, the ship people tried to scare us into not walking around town - we did so anyway, and it was interesting and safe though rather decrepit; we found a vendor selling fresh made empanadas, a park with a sloth high in a tree, a pretty beach, and the best straw-market of the cruise. I wasn't going to rate the exercise facilities. Then I remembered all those walks around the ship on the third deck. It was great. Never windy. Lots of people out walking. There is a running track on the tenth deck, but it is too short to enjoy anything except the act of running. Embarkation was weird. I had gotten an upgrade a couple of days before the cruise was due to leave. The staff on shore didn't seem to know about it, and wanted to give me the old room. Still, got it straightened out and we boarded the ship in plenty of time. Debarkation was great - we were off the ship maybe ten minutes after what had been predicted. Customs didn't even ask what we were carrying. Other non-cruise stuff. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Ramada Inn Airport - Cruiseport; it is a very clean, classic Florida motel from the 1960s, with impeccable shuttles running from the airport and to the cruise port. After the cruise, we rented a car from Enterprise, who seem no longer to claim that "we'll pick you up", at least not at Port Everglades. Drove down to Homestead to the world's best tropical fruit stand - Richard Is Here. Stayed in the downtown Ramada Inn in Fort Lauderdale, which was every bit as funky Florida as the first one. But like a reminder that nothing is perfect, we ended up enduring four hours on the torture devices that American Airline calls seats. The ports were by far the best part of the cruise. Although having cruised in the Caribbean many times, each of these ports was new to me. I would go back to any of them. Considering that I have paid less for a seven day cruise than what the taxes cost on the Panama Canal cruise, I probably won't cruise through the canal again. And if HAL wants me to go on another of their cruises, they will have to convince me that they have improved their food a whole lot. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We wanted to do the Panama Canal so chose this cruise. The ship cannot handle the hot weather, the AC when finally repaired (5 days no AC at all in rooms) was still not enough to cool the rooms!!!!!!!!!! Dinning room food was very good ... Read More
We wanted to do the Panama Canal so chose this cruise. The ship cannot handle the hot weather, the AC when finally repaired (5 days no AC at all in rooms) was still not enough to cool the rooms!!!!!!!!!! Dinning room food was very good as expected. As was the food in the Lido. Tours were not very well organized, the usual stickers were not used. We were told just to go to the dock and find one of the in many cases 3 busses which resulted in much confusion. Entertainment was the usual Holland American shows in the showroom. Not great but some of the entertainers brought on board were good. The Oceans bar had a quartet that were very good and I encourage Holland America to not discontinue this entertainment. The room stewarts worked very hard to keep the many rooms clean under their responsibility. Towel animals in the room at night was always fun. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of ... Read More
Spouse wanted to transit Panama Canal and this cruise was the right time, ports and price. However we found out Zaandam was coming out of dry dock for this cruise from Cruise Critic, not HAL. It was not ready. Our cabin reeked of construction adhesive for the while 23 days as the bathroom had been completely remodelled (looked great, smelled horrible but love the new shower which replaced the tub). The ventilation was hanging and the floor was covered with lumps of adhesive. A fine coating of dust covered the flat surfaces in the room, especially in the closets. Our toilet had issues of flushing fine and then overfilling, once flowing into the bathroom and flooding into the cabin. This seemed to be an issue in port. We became paranoid and would count to 5 once the flush took place to insure the overflow situation did not happen again so we could call immediately, although our phone did not always work. The service in the main dining room was at best uneven. We spent many evenings at a table for 6 at anytime dining waiting for the main course to be served. It did not appear to have enough staff in the dining room. Waiters seemed to have 6-8 tables to work on by themselves with no staff to assist. Food was uneven. My lobster on the first gala night was undercooked but rather than wait another half hour for a new one and delay my dining partners, I said it wasn’t cooked. The Lido Market food was also just okay. The fresh items, such as salads and Asian food, were fresh and flavourful as were the cooked veggies, but the other offerings were hit and miss. Trying to figure out hiw to get served was frustrating as lines were often confusing and non existent, if the server liked you or knew you, they would serve you, otherwise you could get told to go back to the end of what appeared to be an arbitrary line. At least a few times I had to go back to the meat line when all I wanted were sides. With no signage, it was confusing. The cruise director, who was moving to a new ship after this cruise was rarely present at the events we attended other than the beginning of the nightly shows. It wasn’t like many activities were ongoing during the day aside from an evening trivia which was emceed by the assistant cruise director as were most of the sports events. Cruise director seemed to loosen up toward the end of the cruise. The activities such as America’s test kitchen or nightly shows were okay, but once we reached San Diego started repeating for the last 6 days of the cruise. We had expected better. The singers and dancers were good but we had expected to see them more often. The galley tour and backstage tours were nice additions as we the coffee talks with members of the crew. The port talks were informative to a point but outside the venue, the person seemed somewhat disinterested in talking. No pool games aside from ‘swimming in the Panama Canal’. Celebrating Kings day was a disorganised mess at tea when many more people than expected showed up. I evnturally left. Shore excursions were as always overpriced with more time spent on the bus than at the activity. The where when which told the daily activities often had errors as did the online Navigator version for use on a cell phone. This free service allowed texting with others on the ship as well as access to the bill and NY Times for free. A nice try, but inaccuracies meant I often missed the start of activities. I really liked Curacao, (where we booked an independent tuk-tuk tour), Hualtuco (with a beach right off the ship and great snorkelling nearby), and Manzanilla, (with a great fresh produce/meat market within walking distance) best. We skipped Nicaragua due to political unrest which was fine. We did SAN Diego, SAN Francisco and Vancouver on our own and had a great time. The docks in these cities were close to local transportation. The gym was great with what appeared to be new equipment, except for mats. Pilates, yoga and cycling classes at $12 each were available but not for my pocketbook. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, ... Read More
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, verily thrice whupped by the Island Princess. Yet earlier, the Island Princess had been the butt of the jokes around his own ship. One of Westerdam lecturers was rash enough to show a map, pointing out: “The Island Princess had to go all the way round South America to reach Panama Canal. Yet it was almost on their doorstep in Fort Lauderdale.” But cliche though it might be ... it is still true that he who laughs last etc. So what happened? Well, the first hint of a reprisal came on the evening of March 16 when we were advised by a letter “there will be two ships in port and we will be sharing the same narrow pier to dispatch the tours”. Followed by a list of what NOT to do. So what happened? Although the Westerdam arrived first next day, the Island Princess had thoughtfully and craftily nicked all the best parking spots in advance for their tour buses in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The net result was that our tour was dispatched 45 minutes late. The following day, on the run in to the Panama Canal, the Island Princess whipped past us like Lewis Hamilton overtaking a backmarker. This meant, of course, they were tantalisingly ahead of us all day during the passage itself. And all the while there was great honking and tooty fruiting of sirens from both sides. Don’t know enough about ship points scoring even after 20-plus cruises to judge who won that battle. They were at it again in Cartagena, Columbia, where the best someone could do in the face of taunts from the Princess vessel was a rather pathetic sign saying: “Our balconies are bigger than yours.” Which was, fortunately, true. We had sailed on the Island Princess in 2015. The morning after our departure from Cartagena was accompanied by one of those freak weather scenarios where the wind was blowing so hard that it felt as though our balcony door was permanently locked. It took a massive heave from one of our cabin stewards to force it open. The floor of the balcony was littered with bits of detritus, including a pair of knickers. That very same morning Captain Mark was giving a sort of “My Job” talk in the theatre, followed by a question and answer session. Given the proximity of our forward balcony position virtually below the bridge we wondered whether it might be prudent to ask him whether any of his crew might claim ownership of the said undergarment ... or alternately, know who the owner might be. Eventually, after a discussion, we decided to spare him any further embarrassment. The excursions themselves were generally acceptable with the exception of the first rather humble one in a very crowded and noisy Puerto Vallarta. But, annoyingly, all the guides insisted on leading from the front at a pace which would have made them genuine contenders for a 10km walk medal in the Olympics, completely ignoring the average age of their charges. We were reminded of that on the very first day when we entered the Lido Market casual dining area to be greeted by a flustered senior woman steward, busily mopping the floor with tissues and informing us: “Please be careful where you tread. A lady has just peed on the floor.” Or the couple who arrived an hour late for an excursion, blissfully unaware that the time had moved another hour foward the previous night. The ship travelled 4,301 miles from San Diego where boarding was amazingly rapid. Less than an hour after being picked up at our pre-cruise hotel we were in our cabin. Praise was slighly tempered when the ship departed an hour late without a proper explantion. The odyssey ended in Fort Lauderdale where chaos reigned supreme and we parked next to a building site. On the way we visited Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Corinto in Nicaragua, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena (Columbia) and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we might have created a record by catching one ferry out and the next but one back. We admit we’re not beach people and there was no wi-fi on this private Holland America island. And talking of wi-fi ... we were sent pre-cruise data with their prices. The offer of $100 for 250 minutes seemed a fair deal but when we rang the desk to book it, we were told the offer had now been withdrawn. Yes. Thank you. Other niggles: Complete confusion over departure arrangements. We were sent Pink 1 luggage tags and told our approximate departure time. It was just as well we rang the information desk to check something. They then informed us we had been sent the wrong tickets. They should have been Red 1 and new ones were duly supplied with an apology and a different departure time. Plus note: We were were allowed to stay in our cabin and have breakfast there until we got the call. Departure from the ship was amazingly fast, too. It then took an hour to clear customs and and a further hour waiting in broiling sunshine for the coach to take us to Fort Lauderdale airport. Bad one Holland America! Good points: 1.) Sya, the ship’s towel folding star, and his mate Alan were our pleasant and capable cabin stewards. Hope they were happy with their tip. 2.) The courtesy throughout the ship was impeccable. 3.) Top-class live band in B.B. King’s theatre. Fair points: 1.) Entertainment quality rather mixed although we only once used those “bummer” seats next to the aisle in the Mainstage Theatre which enable people to leave without disturbance if the show is a bummer. 2.) We always eat in the Lido-style establishments. It’s quicker and there is a wider choice. It was on the whole, though, only marginally above average in quality. 3.) As so often happens on cruise ships, the temperature was far too cold in some places, particularly the Mainstage Theatre and some of the bars. *The ship was nicknamed the “Westerdram” by the heavier whisky drinkers in Gallery Bar. Not guilty, m’lud! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
We had not cruised with Holland America before so we gave it a try. The ship was quite, the bathroom was bigger than the shower rooms on other ships. There were no lectures or line dancing for my wife during days at sea which if it had of ... Read More
We had not cruised with Holland America before so we gave it a try. The ship was quite, the bathroom was bigger than the shower rooms on other ships. There were no lectures or line dancing for my wife during days at sea which if it had of rained there would not be much to do. The shows were not very good only the ventriloquist was worth seeing very funny. the food in the main restaurant in the evening was disappointing not much choice on the menu, the onion soup was disgusting. they only had one specialist coffee which was on deck 10 no coffee card. The on board shop was boring we had $300 dollar on board spend. The crew were excellent always polite and smiling. Very good embarkation/disembarkation but got us to the airport far too early 8 hour wait for our flight and 4 hour wait to book in. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. ... Read More
My wife and i had the panama canal cruise on our bucket list for sometime, so decided to finally take the plunge along with 2 other couples. The ship showed signs of its age, even though we were told it had recently been in for retro fit. Some the carpets were worn, and also we had concerns about coming upon water in hall ways and dryers being used to cleanup wet areas. We encounterd a storm that lasted about 18 hours as the ship was hit by high seas and strong winds, to the point that they had to close all outside doors, we were almost thrown out our bed during the night and could feel the whole ship vibrating. The staff tried their best to make us comfortable as possible.our friends had problems with their toilets, and there seem to be many other passengers complaining about the same problem, we were luck and didn't encounter any problems with our cabin. Found the ship small and with limited entertainment, with only the bb king all stars being the major drawing card (they were great), the casino was small, as was the shopping area. The diningroom was the standout, as we eat there for breakfast and dinner, and were treated to great service and food. We find the excursions ok but had one of our main ones cancelled due to a festival. The pool ares were small with one being in an area with a covered roof that was suppose to be retractable, but wasn't functioning properly. Also they were doing repairs to the ship while at sea, painting and in doing so cutting down on the promenade deck walking area, and this went on the whole cruise. We will not cruise with hal again! Also 4 of our group came down with the flu and contracted pneumonia and are still in recovery, not saying they got it on shipboard, but seemed that a large number of passenger had same symptoms. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in ... Read More
Our first cruise ever was on the MS Zuiderdam from Jan 7, 2018 to Jan 17, 2018. It was an initiation for sure! The weather was not the greatest to start with and progressively worsened throughout the cruise. After our second last stop in Colon, Panama the weather really turned nasty and the ship truly started to rock. The weather was so bad, that the captain decided that it was unsafe to dock at our last port of call Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. So we proceeded back to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the last part of our cruise on rough seas for 3 days. It was not much fun! To be fair, the weather was not Holland America’s fault and we and they attempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the most part, we did enjoy our cruise especially the stops at Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. However, the cruise through the Panama Canal was boring and if you did not partake of one of the many day excursions offered through EXC Tours then you were not allowed to disembark from the ship at Gatun Lake (there was absolutely nothing there). Some of these tours were expensive and exceeded on average 5.5 hours in time. Passengers who took the tours were picked up at Colon when the ship docked but were warned that the ship could be late because their return time through the canal was controlled by the Panama Canal Authority. They were told to stay within the terminal facilities until the ship’s return for the safety reasons as elaborated below. When the ship did return to Colon, we were allowed to disembark but were warned to stay inside the terminal premises as it was considered unsafe to venture past the terminal facilities. The shopping within the terminal facilities was somewhat limited and there was not much else to do but return to the ship and await departure. Personally, I would find another more inviting and safer port of call. Overall, staff and crew on the MS Zuiderdam were very organized, efficient, friendly and courteous. The embarkation and disembarkation were systematic and well controlled. Our room stewards Nugi and Chris were amazing and were always present should you require some assistance. Their positive vibes were constantly evident even when the last part of our cruise was not the best. I truly wanted to thank them in this review. Servers that also came to our attention were Joel and John Patrick who provided excellent and attentive service - again, making this a somewhat more relaxing cruise. Overall though, I am not sure that I would recommend this cruise for everyone. If the weather was inclement as it was for us, then the alternatives were small to nil with the exception of returning to Ft. Lauderdale. Would we go on a cruise again? – most certainly!! Sometimes you just have to rock and roll with the flow. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because it would cover the Thanksgiving Holiday. We have already done a Panama Canal trip but had not gone all the way to the Pacific Side. Embarkation was a a surpprising "snap" The ship was in excellent ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it would cover the Thanksgiving Holiday. We have already done a Panama Canal trip but had not gone all the way to the Pacific Side. Embarkation was a a surpprising "snap" The ship was in excellent condition for a ship the age of this one. and very clean The food was good,with nice menus. The Lido was not terrific for any meal accept for breakfast. The thing we noticed most from past trips with Holland was the lack of music in the bars at cocktail time,as well as very little live music around the ship during the day. The crows nest seemed to have a continuous tape that played over and over. Entertainment other than the HAL group was mediocre at best. Fresh flowers were hardly seen. As always the crew and all servers could not have been nicer. Beverages seemed to be priced fairly. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and it was amazing considering it was built so many years ago, and there are few changes. However, the ports left much to be desired. Most were industrial so you had to take a shuttle bus, or ... Read More
We always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and it was amazing considering it was built so many years ago, and there are few changes. However, the ports left much to be desired. Most were industrial so you had to take a shuttle bus, or walk a distance to get out of the industrial area. I walked into Nicaragua and walked three blocks and returned to the ship. It is dirty port with more street vendors then you can imagine. Cartagena is all grown up, but very crowded. The ship is tired..but clean, and the housekeeping service is wonderful. They kept it clean, and were available for all needs. The food is only average. Canaletto has some of the most gregarious staff, and the food was good. We did not go to Pinnacle this time as we have done it other times, and it is good, but over priced in my opinion. They have a hamburger/hot dog bar that is great with the best french fries! The food in the dining room was good, and the staff was excellent. A wine steward made wonderful origami for me after each meal. Would I take a trip again with this many days at sea? No, but I am a sightseer. We did enjoy our trip from Boston to Montreal, and the Alaska cruise. Read Less
3 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
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
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
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
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We brought my parents on a Panama Canal Cruise to Celebrate their 60th Anniversary and ended up bringing their best friends who were celebrating their 61st Anniversary. Getting on the ship was pretty easy since we had the Marriott guys ... Read More
We brought my parents on a Panama Canal Cruise to Celebrate their 60th Anniversary and ended up bringing their best friends who were celebrating their 61st Anniversary. Getting on the ship was pretty easy since we had the Marriott guys (SpringHill Suites San Diego) to help bring our 12 bags to the dock!! Overall the Cruise was good. We had a few issues. The ship is old so there were quite a few mechanical problems. Plumbing seemed to be a huge issue on and off through the entire 16 day cruise!! The smell in some of the hallways was intensely horrible!! Many times the public bathrooms were closed due to problems. Not a huge issue for us but an issue when older folk who have issues walking have to scout out a working toilet. The Lido Deck Buffet had issues with the ceiling leaking water. Sometimes water would drop on your head, arm or actually into your food. Not sure I'd want to eat food that has ceiling water dripped into it... but the food was good. I also LOVE the fact they do not allow people to serve themselves at the Buffet. Admit it, we've ALL seen people who have NO IDEA that others eat from the Buffet too. I see people licking their fingers and then grabbing spoons to serve themselves. Just gross. The main Dining Room had great food but the service was HORRIBLY SLOW. We'd have to plan dinner over 2 hours prior to a Show to make sure we wouldn't miss it. My Time or Any Time Dining doesn't work on this ship. It would take 1-2 hours to be seated unless you arrived about 30 minutes before the dining room opened. LOVED the Piano Guy Tom Wolf. He made our vacation quite memorable!! The Veendam Dancers and Singers were quite talented and we really enjoyed their shows too. The only complaints I heard around me was at times the music was so loud it was actually not pleasant and the room was like a refrigerator!! By the end of the cruise, many people were coming in with pool towels to use as blankets. I think our biggest disappointment happened at the end of the cruise. We lost an engine so it took 21 Hours to get from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale. We arrived safely so that wasn't an issue and the captain kept us up to date... but disembarkation WAS an issue. Once we discovered we'd be arriving so late, they opened the front desk to assist passengers with travel issues. This was poorly handled, with lines wrapped all around the 7th Deck and people waiting for HOURS to be helped. As you'd assume, arriving 6-7 hours late, most people had missed their flights home. We travel a LOT and we planned our flights for as late as possible. But, once we arrived, they still refused to let us off the ship!!! Now, a TON of people had already missed their flights, so WHY would they keep people who COULD make their flights, stay on the ship. I would think THEY would become priority. This issue was Holland America's fault so they were responsible for rescheduling missed flights and for putting people up in hotels for a night if flights weren't rescheduled for the same day. I waited as long as possible before going to the Front Desk and DEMANDING to be let off the ship. They finally gave us new numbers and we were able to get all 6 of us off the boat and JUST made it to the gate prior to our flight!! We enjoyed the fact that this cruise line caters to an older crowd. My husband and I LOVE children, we have 4, plus 6 grandkids and have had 14 foster babies... but sometimes we like to just get away from a bunch of running and screaming kids!!! (which is now the new normal because parents today don't seem to think their children should behave when on vacation) We only did one excursion since they were so pricey but enjoyed ALL of our stops. They made getting on and off the ship pretty painless. All in All we had a nice time but with just a few tweaks, it could have been a FABULOUS experience!! Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We sailed the first leg of the 2017 World Cruise, disembarking in San Diego. Overall experience was pleasant, but we had to overlook inconsistent food, a musty smell in our stateroom, and a toilet that malfunctioned three times. The ship ... Read More
We sailed the first leg of the 2017 World Cruise, disembarking in San Diego. Overall experience was pleasant, but we had to overlook inconsistent food, a musty smell in our stateroom, and a toilet that malfunctioned three times. The ship hasn't been refurbished in years, and it shows. Service was excellent, entertainment good. This particular cruise attracts a lot of old people, the majority of whom are 80+. I question the value received for the price paid. This was our second HAL cruise, the first being on the (superior) Eurodam. Was frustrated trying to watch NFL playoff games via satellite. The audio channel carrying the play-by-play call was not working. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Tours are expensive for what's offered. The majority of the passengers on the Amsterdam world cruise take the entire, 4-month trip. There were many repeat customers who apparently don't mind this ship's shortcomings but focus, rather, than on the socializing that goes on. Like other cruise ships, internet service is slow and expensive. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
First of all the ship itself was excellent if a little dated in places, food and choice was excellent. Ports of call, especially Cartagena and the Panama canal outstanding. My wife and i thought the entertainment was just OK,with the ... Read More
First of all the ship itself was excellent if a little dated in places, food and choice was excellent. Ports of call, especially Cartagena and the Panama canal outstanding. My wife and i thought the entertainment was just OK,with the Trinidadian Steel band being the best. The guests were of a more mature age which suited this ships style and decor, we had a stateroom with balcony on Deck 10, which was excellent and well maintained. Although we researched the cruise before departing we were still caught out with HAL on board pricing regime,alcoholic drinks are a little pricy to start with, $7-11 each, but then a 15% surcharge is added to each drink supposedly as"tips" for the bar and waiting staff!! Also there is a surcharge of $12.5 per. person per. day of the cruise for "housekeeping" of your stateroom!! this again is supposed to be shared out amongst the housekeeping staff at the end of the cruise, we are used the "tipping" as we go, if a waiter, bar tender or a member of the housekeeping staff are outstanding they are "tipped" accordingly,the HAL way means they do not have to try too hard to be rewarded, that said most of the staff we met did an excellent job. HAL front desk staff stated that the $12.5 per.person per. day surcharge could be adjusted at the of the end of cruise, this did not happen,and we were then informed it was not HAL policy to remove this!! HAL shore excursions and Spa treatments extremely expensive. All in all we enjoyed the cruise experience. but based on previous experience with other Cruise providers we will not be booking with HAL again as we did not find them good value for money, Read Less
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