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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about ... Read More
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about cruises, on their misuse of obsolete maritime transport laws to create tax free tourist resorts. Or their bypass of immigration laws and hiring cheap labour from around the world. However, listening to enthusiastic cruise adepts, we expected that this trip will made us change our minds. On the positive side, we found the international staff very kind and helpful. But we did not meet many Spanish speaking staff. This HAL cruise surprised us by the very similar customers aboard: mostly white couples in their seventies. As cosmopolites, somewhat younger, we enjoy more age and racial diversity, and it was strange to be in such finely targeted crowd. There was a double talk when it comes to environmental creeds, which are emphasized by HAL especially when it comes to save money for the operation, like to remind you avoid changing your towels frequently. The plastic water bottles sold in your cabin are from Europe. Fortunately, there is little plastics items used for the food service. Food is not supplied locally, everything came from US, for the whole cruise. Quite some paper spoiled with the leaflets advertising for the shops aboard. To be serious about environmental virtues, we should bear in mind that this form of sea transport use four time more fuel per passenger than a modern airplane. The 750 litres of fuel used by passenger for this 2 week cruise correspond to what I use a year with a car. And worse, after the booking, I had the feeling to be framed in a well rehearsed marketing process, with an objective to make me spend a maximum as I spend time with this company. A lot of staff and accessible surfaces on the ship are meant to bring additional income. I would have preferred a better service. The number of additional charges, and the high price of them perfectly reflects this financial objective. The time to spend on shore is very limited and the excursions highly priced. Come on, why charge $120 pp for a short visit to San Diego zoo? Before the cruise The call centre did not properly answer our questions before booking, as we noticed later. The booking process is cumbersome, with too many computer glitches encountered with browsers (I tried Microsoft explorer, Edge and Android). Some beta testing by HAL would be beneficial. Even we booked long in advance, HAL’s website, contrary to claims, did not allow us to book an hotel in FLL. The only choice offered was at $12000 per night. We booked elsewhere at a reasonable cost. Due to a light handicap, HAL requested additional documents for the cruise, and the details about these documents was not provided by HAL. We had to consult elsewhere. Due to the same condition, we booked our flights directly, and had also to organize our own transfers. The web checking process difficult, again with too many issues with browser. And finally, the departure flight information was requested again by HAL on the ship. I had also to sign an abusive long contract, which I should better have read before booking. In a summary, it reads ‘HAL is not responsible’. Eg the amount covered for lost luggage are ridiculous low. Embarking Very noisy hall at FLL terminal, it was hard to sustain a conversation in it. Luggage handling was OK, but with some delay. At the counter, it took long because person there did not know how to handle our special documents. Finally, we were asked to go to customer desk to have copies of our extra paperwork (even they had to be emailed to HAL before the cruise) For doing so there was a long waiting line at the customer desk. The customer desk clerk made copies of these documents, but forgot to return one original. Glad we checked, so we could get it back. The dinner time requested at booking was changed by HAL to less favourable to us, without explanation or excuses. It was difficult to have it changed afterwards. Even so, we were surprised by the absence of hosting from staff, in the sense of grouping people by affinities or languages. The second day of the cruise the customer desk requested again these documents. We had to elevate the tone and threaten to file a complain about harassment before we suddenly got to talk to somebody reasonable. In conclusion, the customer desk staff is not competent for anything but routine. The coordination between headquarters and the ship seems poor. Too long waiting time to access the customer service desk. Ship More than 2000 passengers. A dining hall and a self-service restaurant (plus 3 speciality restaurants, accessible at an additional high charge). Large surfaces devoted to shops, casino, photography, spa, wine cellar and other income generating activities. Not much space left for sports. Outdated decoration, interior brass and gold plated, in fifty shades of beige. Display of art not curated. More than 800 employed on the ship. Seems quite a high figure, but a share of staff is in income making activities at casino, spa, jewellery shops, excursions. And there is also the sailing, navigation crew, and the maintenance crew counted in it, so we understand that the customer service crew or hotel staff was overwhelmed. As welcome drink, we observed the desk selling beers, bottled water and soft drink cans. One day as we returned to the ship we were offered a glass of water and a refreshing towels. The other days nobody was around. The number of elevators is insufficient with such high proportion of customers with mobility issues. Expect to wait. The best spots for seating outside on the deck are covered with a tent and named ‘cabanas’ and accessible only at an additional fee, and left empty most of the time. The Neuw Amsterdam is not so new anymore, and the maintenance was done during the cruise. Unfortunately, we were nauseated by the smell as the whole hull was getting a new coat in Puerto Vallarta, or as the handrails were varnished, or at sea when the upper part of the ship was repainted. More precautions should have been taken to avoid unhealthy solvent be pumped in the air-conditioning system. We had to vacate our cabin. And so, HAL saves on ship yard. Last day ‘at sea' we refused to leave the stateroom to allow for more scheduled maintenance, in that case, a wet carpet cleaning. On the day of arrival, we could not access the patio again, as the outside of ship was undergoing more M&R. Cabin (called stateroom) Small. Balcony (pompously named verandah) allows for two chairs. The safe was not ok, as its battery was low. We had to wait quite long in the room to have it fixed. Clean, except stained sofa, walls and bed cover. On windy days, to avoid draft and strong whistling, we patched the patio door joints with duck tape. Fridge hardly cold. TV entertainment not as good as on an airline. Sink with cracks. Cabin due for an update. As the weather got colder at the end of the cruise, we were surprised that the air-conditioning could not to be disconnected, even temperature went too low. With a non-responsive customer desk, it took 10 hours to be fixed. Food & beverages Generally speaking noisy restaurants. Room service at no additional charge for a limited selection of dishes or drinks, or with an additional charge for others. Breakfast was delivered half an hour before requested time, with the explanation ‘It is a busy day’. Slow on some other days. Breakfast time at restaurants should have been adjusted for early arrival at port of call. Dining hall The dishes served did frequently not correspond to the pretentiously redacted menu, with ingredients listed missing or substituted. Obviously, the cooks did not read the menu, or tried to do savings on ingredients. Eg Grand Marnier, truffles, half avocado, maple syrup. Meal after meal, the comparison of the dishes with the ‘fancy’ menu became a subject of laughter. We had fun with the leftover potato soup was renamed Sunchoke Soup on Gala Night. Generally speaking rather poorly presented dishes with bland taste. Service was kind, but staff overwhelmed. Not trained to handle dishes, bottle and glasses quietly. It generally took 1 ½ hour for a seated dinner. Nice white tablecloth and tableware, and even a flower. Too many breaded dishes like scallops, sweetbread, sole, chicken ‘pillard’. Large parking area for scooters. Self service restaurant Lido No available tables as many tables for 4 are taken by couples or singles, even for filling the daily (free) crossword. To choose your table, arrive early! Chairs adapted for high BMI. Large choice of food, put on a plate by the staff at the stations where you line up. Due to communication issues, we frequently got too large servings. By the end of the cruise we got the impression that some buffet dishes were left exposed too long, like dried out mexican rice or sour smelling beans. Exaggerated additional charge for speciality restaurants. The ginger lobster served at the ‘fusion’ Tamarind was excessively salted. We did not visit the two other ones, as we got the same feeling of pretence from their fancy menus (Escargots? canned or frozen?). Not much spices used and the bland food served is compatible with dentures, except short ribs or striploin. Selection of sugar free dishes. We did not have the impression that many clients had digestive troubles, but be prudent about complaining about it at the medical facility, as you may get quarantined. In short, pretentious menus and mediocre food. Drinks Drinks are highly priced and another service charge added on each bill, on top of the daily $15 pp obligatory service charge. Wine or beer billed at 5 to 6 times the market price. Water, tea or filter coffee are complimentary. Unlimited fountain drinks for $8 per day. Other daily passes for unlimited alcoholic beverages. Unfair and peculiar rules about these passes, as they have to be bought for the whole cruise, or that everybody in the cabin has to buy the same pass. ‘Enrichment’ activities onboard Quite a high proportion of activities with additional charges, e.g. Half an hour meditation for $12. Many activities are meant to showcase the shops, casino, bars or spa. Bingo cards at $5. The cycles at the fitness are only meant for cycling classes at 12$. No fitness instructors besides classes. Very slow internet access at an excessive price. At the arrival, on a day of disrupted air travel, it would have been kind to make the wifi free for everyone. The mainstage had some pleasant shows, by professionals, but they lacked spontaneity. As we travelled during Carnival week, we vainly expected some reference to it. The sound on the BBKing club and the mainstage is set so loud that if you do not wear hearing aids, you will soon need some. Better use protective ear plugs. Small shows with local dancers on the rear deck. We liked the dancing classes. Excursions Long waiting before departure. The EXC staff selling them seemed overwhelmed, and there was a long waiting line. Anyway, they could not provide us the practical information about where was the supermarket we needed or where to get a fast web access. We had an enquiry about an excursion, and were told that we will get the answer later… we did not get it. Generally speaking the excursions are highly priced. E.g. in Huatulco, a snorkelling tour was offered for $80 pp. We took a taxi to this same beach and rented the equipment for a total of 300 pesos for two. Unfortunately, in three ports of call the ship was moored along a similar sized cruise ship, the Coral Princess. This was not a smart, as it brought quite a crowd getting ashore. A port of call, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala was very unpleasant, as the ship moored in a polluted coal harbour. Taxis were not allowed to access to the ship there and we had to walk a mile way from the entrance of the port to the ship. The time allowed ashore was short, and we made the best of it with a local taxi or just by walking. So, we had the chance to practise some Spanish, and we could adapt to the weather and our envy. And got also quite some authentic memories or photos. Disembarking The announcement on the PA were not very audible, as the are mixed with music and static on TV. It was delayed, and service staff impatient to get to cabin. The questionnaire we received by email after the cruise did not cover all the sides of HAL’s services. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I had been planning this cruise for several years to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary as well as her completing her PhD. We had booked an ocean view cabin on Deck #1. We did not find out until out first night that we ... Read More
My wife and I had been planning this cruise for several years to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary as well as her completing her PhD. We had booked an ocean view cabin on Deck #1. We did not find out until out first night that we had a cabin under the B.B.King nightclub! Could someone please explain to me why a cruise line would put passengers in a cabin under a noisy night club! We complained to Guest Services several times and finally we moved to another cabin. 4 nights of a 10 night cruise spent in a cabin we could not sleep in! GRRRRR! I wrote to Holland America corporate customer service after the cruise to express my displeasure with their accommodations. They offered us $500.00 in Ship Board credits on our next cruise. So in order to avail ourselves of their offer we have to spend several thousand dollars. Not a good option. We also booked a Romantic Getaway Package. We were supposed to get complimentary pictures, casino lessons and credit at the casino, as well as flowers, sparkling wine, (upon entering our cabin on the first cruise day) and chocolate covered strawberries in our cabin. The wine was not chilled. We were told the florist was running behind. In order to get the pictures and the lessons and credit at the casino the letter with the package was not accepted. We had to go back to Guest Services and get a card showing that we should receive the services. We ended up doing this over several days as we tried to get our package services. So, basically we went to customer service on a nearly daily basis. GRRRRR! Holland America had many opportunities to make things right. Many of the onboard staff did a commendable job trying to resolve these problems. Corporate could have done a better job. The dining room staff and the Green House spa staff were great. The excursions were good. Overall I would have to say that when a problem arose the onboard staff tried to make the situation right. Holland America Customer Relations - Not so much. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
The cruise started with the worst embarkation situatin. We need wheelchair assistance to embark because of the long walks. Holland America's Ft. Lauderdale operation to have two wheelchairs used for a significant number of people. who ... Read More
The cruise started with the worst embarkation situatin. We need wheelchair assistance to embark because of the long walks. Holland America's Ft. Lauderdale operation to have two wheelchairs used for a significant number of people. who would be taken to a table top counter, processed and assigned to a holding area to await wheelchairs to board the ship. Never, in our 50 some cruise experiences, have we had to wait 2 1/2 hours to board a ship, NOT EVEN ON A MEGA SHIP! . If anyone thought this was an anomoly, debarkation was no better -- two wheechairs. It was quite apparent, from embarkation, no handicap assistance on the ship in the buffet or other area, and debarkation, the mobility challenged were treated as 2nd Class Citizens and Holland America was doing you a favor rather than providing service. It took three days for maintenance to fix the HVAC in our cabin as it went from FREEZING when we boarded ship to a SAUNA a day later back to Freezing. We asked at one point for Holland America to send us home from the first port stop in Curacao. New Years Night found the ship in a FREEZING mode with passengers wearing parkas and shipboard staff wearing sweatshirts and hoodies. And then, at midnight, the freezing became unbearably hot. Only one more day left -- thank goodness!!! Excursion vendors were not asked to accommodate the mobility challenged or handicapped. They were not asked to provide even step stools on high access vehicles. When I asked Sydney in Excursions about this she became belligerent and offensive. I discussed this with her supervisor, Abigail, who agree that vendors should be asked to provide easier access. I suggested Sydney would make great excursion director on a container ship. We were most surprised by the lack of service and accommodaion. Holland America has historically, and still does, market to more mature audiences. They were quality conscious and most considerate of the mobility challenged. We sailed with them on a number of occasions. Not anymore! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Panama Canal was on our bucket list, so we were really looking forward to this cruise. It's our third cruise with Holland America and the other two were perfect. Sadly, this was not the case for this cruise. I would definitely go ... Read More
Panama Canal was on our bucket list, so we were really looking forward to this cruise. It's our third cruise with Holland America and the other two were perfect. Sadly, this was not the case for this cruise. I would definitely go with another cruise/ship line. We had a balcony which was great for the canal portion. The drapes in the cabin were shabby and it took 4 days to fix curtain pull. We had fiberglass blowing out of the vent in the bathroom for 2 days. We lost the use of our toilet for one afternoon! The food was OK in dining room and service very very slow. A lot of lukewarm food. Ran out of our choice of red wine on our wine package so they substituted a cheaper red!! Wine manager said he didn't think that many people would order that wine ! Ran out of after dinner ginger the 3rd day of a 17 day cruise! Water dripping a lot in cafe lines; some table blocked off re dripping water from ceiling. The entertainment was just OK, but bar entertainment was great. Not a lot of activities on board unless you like cooking class and tea every afternoon. They were also varishing the decks everyday (so walking path blocked off each day) and once we had to leave our room because of the smell. They just said give them about 4 hours and they'll stop painting around our room. Front & rear camera was so dirty couldn't see. The shop (yes, only one) was a joke-very boring stuff and usual watches. This was the cruises reply to our concerns: We are grateful that you have shared your thoughts and observations with us, such as the condition and plumbing issues in your stateroom, the odor from maintenance work near your stateroom, the quality of the food served, and the availability of wine on board. We take your input very seriously and have made all appropriate senior management aware of your concerns and experiences for their review, consideration in future planning, and corrective action as necessary. If there is anything additional you would like to discuss with us or follow up on, please feel free to contact our Guest Relations team directly; you may reach us by email at guestrelations@hollandamerica.com or by phone at 1-800-599-8256. We thank you for your loyal patronage, and do hope to welcome you both back on board in the near future. Best regards, I feel this was just a standard reply with no recourse or compensation . Very disappointed with Holland America customer service Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We were advised that Holland America was the only way to cruise. This is a smaller ship which was just what we wanted and the Panama Canal had been on our bucket list for some time. We extended our cruise up to Vancouver bringing it up to ... Read More
We were advised that Holland America was the only way to cruise. This is a smaller ship which was just what we wanted and the Panama Canal had been on our bucket list for some time. We extended our cruise up to Vancouver bringing it up to 19 days in total. The crew were the best we have ever encountered on any cruise line and couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. Unfortunately the ship disappointed right from embarking in Fort Lauderdale. The first thing we noticed was the rust all round the glazed areas, not just the usual mooring scrapes that all ships suffer. The floor of our veranda was rusted and pushing up the non slip surface. Hand rails in corridors were falling off, the thresholds at fire doors were sticking up and frequently caused people to trip. Sections of the decking were either rotting or the steel floor beneath was rusting away. Deck furniture had wonky arms and legs though in fairness some of them were replaced during our journey. The wash basin in our cabin was badly cracked, the shower leaked and ran out on to the floor. The silvering was fading off the mirrors. General maintenance appeared to be virtually nil, even down to simple things like faulty lighting. Wall coverings were worn and shabby. The overall appearance of the ship was of a one time grand old lady in her death throes and her owners were not prepared to spend any money on maintaining her. Virtually every passenger complained about the cold in the public areas. Passengers would sit in the stage and bar areas with pullovers on and rugs around them. The food was excellent with a very good menu and was very well cooked. Unfortunately it was always cold by the time we were served and this was exacerbated by serving on cold plates. This would have been a wonderful cruise if it had been run by anyone other than Holland America. They couldn't even be bothered to clean the glass on the observation deck so the passengers could see the Panama Canal. This was despite their being a decked access area directly below it. They ask you to tell them about your experience so they can improve it yet they don't even offer an excuse never mind correct the problem. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad ... Read More
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad started. LIES, LIES, LIES after they get you money your just screwed. At one point of the cruise at port the closed the kitchen for hot foods saying the power went out. MORE LIES. There was hot food available for people willing to pay extra. The port times were really short and to far away from most things. Best way is to buy the excursion from the ship and shop on the internet before you go. They DO guarantee price matching. It was by for the best part of the cruise. Sad to say. The entertainment was crap. A talking dummy, ventriloquist. That's the best they could do. One night they even made the crew put on a show. SAD The pool in the back of the ship often got blasted with black blobs burnt oil from the diesel engines. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
Took a 21 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale. The ship is nicely decorated with some lovely flower arrangements & art & it is in relatively good working condition. Our cabin was well cared for but we found ... Read More
Took a 21 day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale. The ship is nicely decorated with some lovely flower arrangements & art & it is in relatively good working condition. Our cabin was well cared for but we found the pillows & linens to be in poor condition. Pillows had stains & no support. Stains on the duvet as well.Our bathroom shower curtain had black mold on it. It was replaced as soon as we notified the steward. Air conditioning worked great. We enjoyed the various ports on the cruise. Definitely must do a tour for Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Caldera, Nicaragua & Guatemala. There is nothing at those ports to do unless you take a tour. These are great places to get tours from to explore the country. The Nieuw Amsterdam must do something about the poor quality & quantity of food they serve. It was the most disappointing part of our cruise. Portions would not even satisfy a child. Food was overcooked or raw usually. Poor selection of food unless you like eating lamb or pork belly. They did have prime rib which came either raw or like leather. Soups lacked substance & taste. Service was beyond slow. 2 hours to get a main course is too long. Waiters had way to many tables to serve in my opinion. The only item we really enjoyed in the dining room was the fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. We eventually quit going to the dining room as the food & service was a disappointment. We found the ship deep fries a lot of it's food which we don't enjoy. Watch out for the turkey bacon. It actually should be called turkey jerky- it's deep fried! The buffet was slow & staff seemed unenthusiastic about working. Tables were left dirty & staff were slow to pick up dirty plates from our table or ask us about something to drink. Most items have to be served to you. With only one staff serving lines were long. They were often out of items such as crackers for soup, earl grey tea, spinach & parmesan cheese at the salad bar, skim milk unless at breakfast, meatballs for spaghetti & meatballs, eggs at breakfast, etc. No one had any explanation for why items couldn't seem to be found. Just a shrug of the shoulders. The pasta bar food is reasonable. The buffet has limited hours. If you think you can get something to eat any time of the day you can't unless you order room service which has a very limited menu. Pizza is very good as are the burgers. However, expect to wait a long time to get a burger (usually have only one person cooking) & they close at 5:30 pm. Tamarind is the only pay restaurant we went to. Food was fairly good; the setting peaceful & comfortable & service excellent. They should be open for lunch but they aren't. The Mariner's lunch had halibut with rice & peas on the menu. The halibut was so overcooked it was a solid chunk of fish that required a mouthful of water with every bite so it could be swallowed. The rice was disgusting & there were no peas. We were told the peas were mashed into the rice. Really- there were no peas anywhere. Dessert would fit on a tablespoon. This is supposed to be a place to see the Captain & Customer Services Director. Neither turned up. They did a crew drill instead. Afternoon tea is a joke. More unenthused & slow staff. Would have to wait & wait & wait for someone to serve the table. Tea is served in the Ocean bar which means sitting next to public walkways & never enough tables for people who wanted to have tea. Why on earth tea is served in a location like this was an unknown even to the staff who agreed it was a poor place to have it. Eventually people quit going, including us, as there was a lot of frustration about both the location & poor service. Pastries were overdone & dry. Room service was prompt. They made an effort to serve hot food but it wasn't. We did request a few items not on the menu (peanut butter & cheese slices) & they did bring them which was appreciated. You can get English muffins, ham & poached eggs. BUT, if you want plain eggs benedict that has these items, you pay $9.00 per person more! We didn't use the spa. I had enquired about a day pass & was told they don't sell day passes only passes for the whole cruise. For 20 days the cost would be $599 each!!! Photos were very poorly done. Staff at the photo gallery would pressure you to buy expensive packages of pictures & didn't listen when told no thanks. Happy hour is a time to get a second drink for $2.00. You also get some nuts & a small plate of about 4 appetizers. A few times these were tasty & others were terrible. It gets busy & service can be quite slow as a result. Again, there doesn't seem to be enough staff. Tours through the ship were pretty good even though the selection was limited & I could not use the onboard credit to pay for them when booking them before the cruise. I also had to pay in US dollars. The excursion desk was unhelpful when onboard. The assistant manager didn't know anything about the tours other than what I already read on line. The person you can talk to with "any question" about a port was available one hours per day & basically she pushed the ship tours rather than answering questions we had. Shops onboard cater to those who have big dollars to spend. Expensive & mostly jewellery & watches. The few items they have that the average passenger might need were ridiculously expensive. A small tub of toothpaste was $7.00 US. Entertainment was hit & miss. Mostly miss. Bailamos was fabulous. The Test kitchen entertaining. BB Club was a big letdown. Brand new band that never worked together before were brought on for the cruise. They did OK but played the same songs each night. They just didn't seem to have any connection with the audience which was evident in the fact that there were always vacant seats at any show. The experts that talked about the Panama & also the sea life were excellent. The Panama Canal movie about the building of the canal was great & very informative before we got to the Canal. The pamphlet the ship handed out about the canal was helpful but it would have been nice for someone inform us of where exactly we were in the Canal when passing through. There was a speaker who told us very little during our passage. I understand you don't want someone talking all the time but more information would have been nice. Be prepared for smoking hot & humid weather on this cruise. We had fabulous weather (we like the heat & sun) for almost all ports but for those not used to the high temperatures & humidity it can be quite uncomfortable. Front desk staff were friendly & helpful. They acknowledged any concerns but little they could do about things such as the food. We had a couple of unfortunate experiences during the cruise. A microburst storm in Hutualco which resulted in us getting stranded on shore for several hours & also a 4 hour delay with a tour in Costa Rica as we were forced to travel a mountain road due to problems on the main highways. In both incidences the ship kept the buffet open for people to have something to eat when they got back to the ship & greeted passengers back to the ship with genuine care & concern. The Captain did a fabulous job with his daily announcements & also with informing passengers of any delays & the reasons for them. The Q&A they had with him was very interesting. If the ship can improve it's food- and it needs LOTS of improvement & beef up it's entertainment it could make for much more pleasant cruises in the future. We know that passage through the Panama Canal is expensive for the cruise lines but the cost of the cruise was very expensive especially when the food was so poor. Read Less
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
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
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
This ship is so old that things are forever going wrong. The toilets throughout the ship did not work (fortunately not all at the same time). The ceiling in the buffet dining room needed to be mopped constantly or we would have been ... Read More
This ship is so old that things are forever going wrong. The toilets throughout the ship did not work (fortunately not all at the same time). The ceiling in the buffet dining room needed to be mopped constantly or we would have been rained on ( I don't even want to know where all that water came from). Our room and others had no air. There were no fans in the bathroom, so the whole room would steam up. I even resorted to showering by the pool on a couple of occasions. The railing on the back of the shop was missing for most of the trip, so there was no standing at the back of the ship at departures, which is tradition. The food was not great either. The meat was tough, chicken dry, and I don't even know how to describe the fish. And I hope you like bell peppers. I can't eat bell peppers and they were in everything! Friends had to change rooms because a pipe broke above their room and their room flooded. There were electrical issues too. The whole laundry room went out at once when every machine was full and of course it was when I was doing laundry. It too over an hour and a half to get someone to help us. I ended up spending over 3 hours doing laundry for one load. And to top it all off, one night the fire doors had an electrical malfunction and all closed. Everyone was stuck in place for almost an hour. Luck for us we were stuck in the buffet dining room with a bar (and no the didn't give us free drinks to keep us happy). This ship needs to be retired!!!!! I have been on another Holland America ship and had a wonderful experience. DON'T BOOK THIS SHIP! Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
The itinerary and time of year. Very very old ship ! Cabin smelled upon entering eyes watered and sinuses hurt after 24 hours. It took a total of 3 days for them to look into the filter going into the cabin. It was almost black !! ... Read More
The itinerary and time of year. Very very old ship ! Cabin smelled upon entering eyes watered and sinuses hurt after 24 hours. It took a total of 3 days for them to look into the filter going into the cabin. It was almost black !! After a fresh one put in the cabin smelled so much better !! Come on holland America you know the ship is old change all the old filters please. A fellow passenger a few doors down had the same complaint filter was changed and found filthy as well !! Food was extremely mediocre! Shocked !! I was told that holland America food was suppose to be excellent, found out it is not good ! Entertainment was fair . Their was nothing to do during the day ! I know that holland America caters to older folks but my husband is 82 years old and he thought that there was not enough happening during the day and of course at night as well. I have no complaints at all with our cabins stewards they were wonderful ! Also our dining table waiter and assistant were great also ! All 4 of them were the highlight of our cruise ! also please holland America you guys can afford to put newer tv's in the cabins ! This was our first time on the holland America line and our last ! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was my 7th Holland America cruise and probably the last. Holland America has become the Macy's of the cruise industry. They hope to attract Nordstrom clientelle while offering Penny's level service. First, let's ... Read More
This was my 7th Holland America cruise and probably the last. Holland America has become the Macy's of the cruise industry. They hope to attract Nordstrom clientelle while offering Penny's level service. First, let's start with the itinerary. There are far too many sea days on this cruise, especially when you are stuck on an old ship with zero in the way of onboard activities (unless of course you want a foot-print analysis or teeth whitening). The time in each port is also VERY short, so you don't have time to see anything. Where the ports are, you have to travel between 1.5 and 2 hours each way to get to anything. The excursions are limited and the companies HAL uses for them are sub-par. In keeping with HAL's extreme cost cutting, the ship goes very slowly between each port which is why the time on shore is so short. The Veendam is old and not well maintained. Parts of the ship were freezing while others were saunas. They never seemed to get the temperature controlled anywhere on the ship. The "Retreat Bar" on the lido deck does not appear to have been maintaned for several years and there is rust all over the swimming pool. Windows are not kept clean so views are diminished. Also, the key cards never worked for more than a day or two (no, I did not carry it near anything that would have demagnetized it - I made sure after the THIRD time). I had to have my card replaced 9 times. Service is decent and sometimes excellent WHEN YOU CAN FIND SOMEONE. Bars are poorly staffed. The main dining room is a nightmare. HAL seems to have cut the staff to the bare minimum resulting in PAINFULLY SLOW service and frequently cold food. If you did want to order a beverage, it was impossible to find the person to take the order. You would think HAL would at least staff the areas where additional income is generated. Service in the Lido was nonexistent. The food lines are staffed by non-english speakers who have no idea what is in the dishes they are serving. If you ask a question, you are given a blank stare. A strong word of caution to anyone with food sensitivities or allergies: there is no training for the staff on the dangers of cross contamination. The same utensils are used for everything. My mother and I both have celiac disease and got sick eating from the Lido. There are few if any activities on board. The culinary arts center is bare bones and the chefs who do the demos are difficult to understand. The culinary arts director, Samantha was very good, but limited by the ship and the other staff. I tried to go to a couple of the computer classes but they were always too full. The shops are small and poorly stocked. HAL has opted to "sell" boutique space to Levian and other big jewelry companies instead of offering items people may actually need or want. I needed to buy some hand cream and none was available on board. We were in one of the Neptune Suites and the concierge in the lounge, Jeanna, was very good. Her back-up concierges, however, were less than stellar. They seemed to want to sit and play on the computer rather than help people. Jeanna should run the training for this lounge. Our two stewards (Dwi and Andri) were wonderful. Friendly, attentive and so very helpful with everything. They were one of the good things on this ship. The Neptune Suites seemed smaller on this ship than on other ones. If you have it configured with two twin beds, the layout becomes odd. There are no drawers for clothes storage in the closet so you have to use the ones on the opposite side of the other persons bed. Some thought should be given to good room layout for people not sharing beds. I would not recommend this cruise or this ship to anyone. We enjoyed seeing the canal and hearing the commentary (commentator was wonderful) but the other days on the ship and on shore were more than disappointing. I would also not recommend Holland America anymore. Service and quality have gone down on all their ships (I have been on three HAL cruises in the past 2 years). If you are looking for a Panama Canal cruise, do your reasearch. Look for one with more ports and/or longer port stays. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Lets start from the first. I am Blind and travel with my wife, and guide dog. I booked the trip on the phone last minute with Holland America. I requested and was assured that our luggage would be taken direct to the airport, and it was ... Read More
Lets start from the first. I am Blind and travel with my wife, and guide dog. I booked the trip on the phone last minute with Holland America. I requested and was assured that our luggage would be taken direct to the airport, and it was included in the airport transfer. The airport was about 1 half mile from the port. When we boarded the ship it was older, and showed the age as one would expect for a 20 year old ship, but still nice. Our cabin nice, cool not cold, and clean. Crew was great as they usually are, First night in dining room our meal took almost 2 hours to be delivered, there were only 4 waiters for each side of the room. We later learned that this ship has less crew that any other ship with the exception of the Prinsendam. The dining room food was poor quality, the prime rib was tasteless and tough, I tried a steak and had trouble cutting it, you could tell they were no longer prime or choice cuts. Every thing went up in price while service and quality was cut. My wife tried throughout the cruise to take photos but you had to go to the open top deck as the windows had not been washed throughout the cruise, not even when we boarded. On day two our Air and all the air for the port side of our deck stopped working, this was never really fixed, we and every room on the port side were issued fans. The theater and crows nest were so cold even we could not sit there. Private contractors were in abundance on the ship. Pinnacle grill went up to 35.00 per person service and quality was good, no air on one night and was extremely hot in there with outside temps in the high 90's and humidity levels at 100 %. Lido food was of better quality and flavor than the dining room, staff in Lido was excellent, we had dinner at Lido most nights, ( best grilled lamb chops I have ever had) Mexican BBQ on Lido was great.  Ports on the Pacific side were not cruise friendly, real third world conditions with swarms of children begging for one dollar everywhere so that you could not get through them, sewage draining into the streets and passengers stopped getting off for fear of their safety. The canal was spectacular we entered late due to congestion and it was dark by the time we arrived at the Pacific locks, no fault of the ship. Cabo was nice. Excursions were few and not that interesting Bus rides around town, my wife was told by one driver that he was their security and do not leave his sight, rush through the people begging and get back on the bus, (it was that way in every port except Cabo). Our flight information was requested by the desk and we even checked to ensure that our info was submitted correctly,  again we were assured our luggage was going direct to the airport, tags were issued with the flight info and attached to the luggage. Our luggage is now in the possession of Intercruises San Diego, and is being shipped back to us at our expense, (My wife thinks the front desk supervisor was angry after she came to the room in a foul mood and said yes its hot in here, have a fan) as there is no longer a record of us having the airport transfer nor holland tags on our luggage. We were given $100.00 room credit total for 14 days without air, although half the ship had no air so I guess they couldn't give every one credit and still make a profit. The crew were friendly and helpful, the management on the level that passengers interact with had an I don't care attitude, we later found when our toilet would not stop filling at 4 am and the bathroom had a half inch of water in it that the only time an issue was even logged on our room was when we checked with the lower level desk staff wearing tan to see if they had finished working on it. Hours after reporting the bathroom flood, we had to find the room steward and ask him to clean it as they had not logged it, and had not informed him. The deck chairs on the promenade are reserved except for two on each side, I could no longer sit and enjoy the sounds and smell of the ocean. My wife who always said she could live on a cruise ship doesn't want to take another cruise too soon. All in all the consensus aboard was I can't wait to get off this ship. Holland seems to be nickel and diming passengers everywhere onboard. New uniforms for the staff are khaki pants a white casual shirt and an orange cloth belt, (the belt being the only way to Id them from guests) feels like a carnival cruise. Oh well that was our adventure, the Canal was great. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We went with another couple (dear friends) who had never cruised before. I made all of the arrangements, and therefore, felt somewhat responsible for everything surrounding this Panama Canal cruise. The embarkation process, the ... Read More
We went with another couple (dear friends) who had never cruised before. I made all of the arrangements, and therefore, felt somewhat responsible for everything surrounding this Panama Canal cruise. The embarkation process, the friendliness of the staff, and the condition of the ship was exceptional. That's where it stopped! I think the entire experience was that of "cheapskate". 1. They didn't have enough dining room staff to service the number of guests. One night, our dining experience took 3 hours! 2. The food quality was so-so. 3. The offerings at the buffet was the same every day, and very limited. One line on both port and starboard sides. 4. The entertainment was average. About half the time, the shows were with the "singers and dancers" of the staff. How many ways can you make a ham sandwich? I must say, the entertainers brought on board were quite good. 5. There was not enough time in the ports of Cabo San Lucas and Cartegena to enjoy ourselves. 6. The major cheapskate was offering a Mexican Fiesta on the fantail to watch the sunset. They piped in Gypsy Kings music (old and from Spain) over the loud speakers,, when for a few pesos, could have tendered a Mariachi band in to do it right. 7. Getting tired...I could go on and on, however, I think you get the idea. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Cruising the Panama Canal had always been on my bucket list and a year a go decided to book it with our friends. We chose this ship because it came back all the way to Seattle which is close to home. This was our 20th cruise and the 9th ... Read More
Cruising the Panama Canal had always been on my bucket list and a year a go decided to book it with our friends. We chose this ship because it came back all the way to Seattle which is close to home. This was our 20th cruise and the 9th with Holland America. While we liked the itinerary and the ship is beautiful the service and dining in the main dining room and the lido was poor. I cannot say enough good things about the Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto, and the Tamarind. All 3 offered superior menus and the food was well presented and very good. Would rate them 5 stars. The main dining room did not have a good selection on the menu unless you like duck, veal, and lamb. Several nights the only thing I could order was the Chicken selection. What I did order was good but just not enough to choose from. Also the helpings were very small. On the first Gala night I ordered the steak and shrimp. My steak was about 4 bites, not joking, and 2 tiny shrimp on top. The amount of time to get served and eat dinner would be one hour one night but nearly 2 hours the next. no consistency in the service. After a few nights we decided to eat in the lido and specialty restaurants. The Lido was the same food at lunch and dinner with changing out the meat. Everything was fried, dry tasting and just not very appealing. They did have Asian food available which my friends said was very good and a wonderful salad bar. The service in the dining room and Lido was by far the worse of any cruise I have been on. In general, the waiters in both areas seem to just be going through the motions. Nothing like I have experienced on my other Holland America cruises which all had wonderful service. In the LIdo no waiter asked if you wanted coffee or water. You had to get it yourself or ask them. I had 2 encounters with wait staff about clearing a table so we could sit at the table. both waiters acted like it wasn't something they needed to do but did do it although not happy about it. Completely amazed at the bad service as Holland America is known for its service. The Dive In (hamburgers and hotdogs) is outstanding and we ended up here eating lunch many times. Also The New York Pizza was very good and also open during the dinner hour. Embarkation and disembarkation went well. Cabin was nice, we had a balcony cabin on deck 5. We loved the location. Our cabin steward kept everything looking great. Entertainment was average. Went to a couple of shows but pretty much the same as all cruise ship entertainment. Ports and shore excursions were good. Our favorite was the coffee plantation in Guatemala which included lunch. I would not do this cruise again even on a different ship. While I enjoyed the ports, shore excursions and seeing Central America, it is a once in a lifetime trip for me. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We have been on 15 previous cruises and this one was far and away the worst. We stayed at the 17th Street Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale the night before embarkation and taxied to Port Everglades for a very smooth process of boarding ... Read More
We have been on 15 previous cruises and this one was far and away the worst. We stayed at the 17th Street Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale the night before embarkation and taxied to Port Everglades for a very smooth process of boarding our ship, Holland America's Zuiderdam. Cabin 8063 was clean, comfortable and spacious. The veranda was large with comfortable seating. Our luggage was delivered within the first hour. Cabin attendants were excellent throughout the 10 day voyage. We 3 had excellent meals in the Pinnacle and in Canaletto. That was the good stuff. Now for the not so good. The ceiling of our veranda was covered with rust, primer and peeling paint. This proved to be indicative of the dilapidated condition of entire ship. We participated in On Deck for a Cure and had to negotiate a path around three sets of scaffolding where workers were sandblasting (or some other noisy method of removing rust). Thankfully we couldn't hear the noise from our cabin. Perhaps the ship should go into dry dock for renovations instead of inconveniencing passengers. Within an hour of embarkation, our friend slipped on food in the Lido Cafeteria and broke her knee. She was not assisted by staff and after 10 minutes on the floor she was helped to a chair by two other guests. It took almost an hour for staff to bring a wheelchair and take her to the infirmary where a nurse diagnosed a sprained knee. The nurse insisted she attend life boat drill using just a cane. This was extremely painful and proved to damage her knee further. The doctor finally saw her that evening and confirmed a fractured knee cap. He put a brace on, said not to bend it, and gave her a wheelchair that held her knee straight out. That evening, the front desk staff tried to take the wheelchair away while we were in the Pinnacle Grill, trading it for a rental chair that did not support her leg. She was unable to go to any of her planned excursions, needed special arrangements to get to the airport and transfer luggage. The ship did well after the first three days, providing this needed transportation , flowers, an apology and another meal at the Pinnacle Grill. Our first shore excursion was a sunset sail. Very nice until one engine broke down and we were stuck on the water in a stiff wind. This ended by landing on a hotel beach several miles from our intended destination and being bused back to the ship too late to eat dinner. Second shore excursion was a small boat ride through the western part of Panama Canal. The Zuiderdam had entered Lake Gatun through the northern locks and that was fascinating. Loved it! Then we left the ship on a tender and took a bus ride to get on the small boat. This trip was supposed to last about 6 hours, but was nearer to 9 hours. We had to wait at each of the locks near Panama City until the slowest boat in the world entered each set of locks. After sitting in the heat and humidity for over an hour at each lock, the actual lowering of water was uneventful and boring. You could touch the sides of the locks, but our views were blocked by the big ship. Our tour guide tried to fill the time with information, but even he got tired of this process. Plenty to drink on the ship, terrible lunch, clean restrooms. Dining in the main dining room was always okay, never really good (except breakfast and lunches - very good). The staff was attentive, but had too many tables to help us in a timely manner. Food was adequate, not good. We tried to get reservations in specialty restaurants each night because food was so bad. Unfortunately, we only were successful on three nights. We plan never to use Holland America again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Everything you wish a cruise won't be is what this cruise was. The ship itself older but refurbished. Needs to be put out of commission really. Ports advertised were not ports we visited. Nicaragua was cancelled never knew why, ... Read More
Everything you wish a cruise won't be is what this cruise was. The ship itself older but refurbished. Needs to be put out of commission really. Ports advertised were not ports we visited. Nicaragua was cancelled never knew why, zihuanteneo cancelled because pier had been damaged in storm. New ports added hualtco and Puerto Vallarta. Main reason for choosing this cruise was to see Nicaragua. Dining room staff poor, food worse almost unacceptable. In the lido buffet, lots of mystery dishes often without names. Daily at least one elevator didn't work. Shellacking, polishing, etc done when at sea rather than in port. Smells were often unbearable. One day we needed to evacuate our cabin so staff could put air cleaner in cabin to remove odor. The entertainment was barely acceptable but it did give us something to do nightly. The ship had self service laundry which was great for a two week cruise. Overall, the cruise was disappointing. I've always had great experiences with RCCL and Celebrity. To ad insult to injury, our ship docked hours later than scheduled and most of the passengers missed flights home. It was never broadcast exactly why we docked late but our assumption was because we left our last port of cabo San Lucas hours late. Shopping on board barely existed. A movie theater was a good source of entertainment but wasn't offered during the days we were at sea. Only at night. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
We took a family cruise on 2/05/16 which consisted of my parents (mid-60's), my sister's family (early 30's with a three year old) and myself and husband (37 & 45). Even my parents said they felt extremely young on this ... Read More
We took a family cruise on 2/05/16 which consisted of my parents (mid-60's), my sister's family (early 30's with a three year old) and myself and husband (37 & 45). Even my parents said they felt extremely young on this cruise considering it seemed the average age was 85+. We have cruised Carnival, Norwegian and now Holland America, and I will never do another Holland America cruise. The main reason we booked this cruise line was their smoking policy (5 out of 6 adults smoke) and they still allow smoking on your private balconies. We will start with the pros: The Lido Buffet (breakfast, lunch and dinner) was fantastic! The staff was EXTREMELY friendly and helpful and the food was great. They had a good variety each night, and their standard pizza and pasta area was terrific. We ate here the majority of the cruise, one because you could stay dressed casual and two because what was on the menu in the main dining room was not appealing. We stayed in room 6048 which was nice. The rooms seem smaller on this ship, but the bathrooms are much more spacious then others. The balconies are good size, you can easily sit three people out there. One thing we really liked was the panels in between balconies can be opened, so since we had three staterooms together, we had them open those so we had one large balcony. Bingo was fun, although no one won the big jackpot at all since you had to get bingo in 46 #'s or less (virtually impossible). The casino paid out pretty well throughout the entire trip, both slots and tables. The Exploration Café had good coffee; I am a Starbucks frappacinno fan and they tried their best to get it as close as they could, and again, the staff was very friendly. We spent most of our time at the Sea View Bar poolside at the back of the ship (you can smoke here) and the bartenders and staff were great. Specifically Jimmy, Glenn and Roy were fantastic! They made great drinks, were very personable and would chit chat and dance. We rented a Cabana at Half Moon Cay that was great, even had a hot tub! Went on a 4x4 Land Rover Excursion in Aruba which was so much fun, Giovani and Jay were great! Did the Land & Sea in Curacao which was fun and did the Miraflores Railroad and Museum excursion in Panama which was good. I just liked riding the train, the museum had a lot of exhibits under construction and wasn't really that great. Due to weather we didn't get to finish at Costa Rica so ended up in Grand Caymen (which I love) so just plopped down at Margaritaville and had some Banana Margarita's (which are fantastic) and did some shopping. Now the Cons: First day we were walking outside on deck 10 looking around and realized we had spots all over our clothes. Apparently the stacks were blowing oil out and many guests were complaining because it was ruining clothes. The ship never addressed it or did anything about it. Although the Dive In Diner on deck 9 has great cheeseburgers and fries, the staff is horrible! Not one smile and we got snapped at "what do you want" anytime we went to order. Although we played in the casino, they would not open any blackjack tables that allowed smoking until 8:45pm each night. Mind you, they still allowed smoking at the slots, poker machines, etc. but would not open a table? We had a party of five that would have filled the table if they would've opened it, but even after daily requests, we were still told no. Then the very last night, they wouldn't open one until 10pm? That was a poor ending to our trip since we all like to gamble and they had dealers available. Made no sense to us. The main dining room menu never really had anything that appealed to us. The first time we tried eating there for dinner, my parents ordered Prime Rib and it was extremely tough and under cooked. My beef tips were just so-so. The second night we went on gala night for surf & turf and both the filet and lobster were very good. Those were the only two times we ventured there. This ship is not young kid friendly. If you have a child in diapers, they cannot go in either pool (even with swimmy diapers) nor can they go into the kids area unless potty trained. There were only five kids on this cruise, three of which were not potty trained, but they would not make an exception. We even said we would sit in there with them or sit right outside and would come in if a diaper needed changing, but they wouldn't budge. Luckily, no one ever used the basketball court, so we took the three year old up there and let him run and play with basketballs and soccer balls each day to burn off some energy. The ship is in need of maintainence even though it was just in dry dock April 2015. The balconies have a lot of rust showing which has dripped rusty water on the lounge chairs. There were numerous leaks from the ceiling throughout the ship (hallways) that had buckets to catch the water, and even in the Lido Buffet we would be sitting there and have water dripping on us. They said that was condensation on the ceiling, but strange only in a couple spots? One of our biggest complaints is our mini bar never got refilled with bottled water or sodas. We asked the room attendant and he said to call room service. Room service said to ask the room attendant. I finally complained to the front desk and they assured me that each morning it would be refilled. Three days later and it still wasn't. I kept having to call room service to send up four bottles of water at a time. This was just frustrating. The other complaint is we did Luggage Direct so we didn't have to deal with our checked bags the day of disembarkation, but the front desk knew little to nothing about it and just kept having us fill out more paper work each time we went down. We signed up for it ahead of time and already had a confirmation, but they kept having to ask supervisors and just kept having us fill out forms. Not sure what all that was about. There really wasn't much to do on sea days that interested me. I played Bingo, participated in Name That Movie Song, but that was about the extent of it. I had no interest in joining the knitting group, sitting and watching classical pianists and violinists or Juan Pablo the classical pianist. Some days I felt like I was on the Titanic! Everything so quiet and proper. The Northern Lights Night Club had some things that interested me, but didn't start til 11:30pm and when you peeked in there was little to no people in there. All in all it was nice to get away and have some fun with family, but I would not recommend this line for younger guests or guests with non-potty trained children. There is very limited activities and things to do. Next cruise we will probably go back to Carnival or try Royal Caribbean. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Having sailed numerous times (over 200 days) on Holland america I think I can safely say they have dropped from a premier cruise line to a mediocre line. Upon arriving I was told that I was only a 3 star Mariner and I could wait with ... Read More
Having sailed numerous times (over 200 days) on Holland america I think I can safely say they have dropped from a premier cruise line to a mediocre line. Upon arriving I was told that I was only a 3 star Mariner and I could wait with everyone else. Nice remark. I think I saw beef once on the 10 days. The line ha s changed over to pork, lamb, chicken and turkey. It does get old the same meats. They also pushed the Caribbean foods this is not my bad. As for the shows perhaps they need a new supplier. The two comedians were not that funny....The ships singers I did care for though they had great voices , you can't do a rock in roll show with operatic voice. The best show was the BB King. As for the ports we pulled into Bonnaire on a national holiday and everything was closed except for street vendors. In the ports of Panama and Costa Rico you did not dare go into town and they told you that. All tours were into the jungle to see the wild life. Not really my cup of tea. On the good side the crew (stewards and bar keeps) worked hard taking care of you Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2015
This was the 2nd time on Zuiderdam as mom wanted to see the Panama Canal AGAIN. Embarkation was a breeze, and right to our room at noon. The ship is easy to manuver around, but even with an update she is nothing special. All the ... Read More
This was the 2nd time on Zuiderdam as mom wanted to see the Panama Canal AGAIN. Embarkation was a breeze, and right to our room at noon. The ship is easy to manuver around, but even with an update she is nothing special. All the positives. 1. Oceanview room was nice 2. Entertainment was good.. singers and dancers, a comedian, A group called Synergy from America's got talent, B.B. Kings blues Club 3. The cruise director Rick is what made the cruise. 4. the Ports of call were great.. Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal, and costa rica 5. there were NO chair hogs 6. Debarkation was a breeze All the negatives 1. The ship was not decorated at all for the holidays,, nothing festive at all, EXCEPT they did acknowledge Hannukkah. 2. The stateroom attendant was non existant.. yes, he did leave us ice, and our daily chocholates, and the newsletter, but for 11 days never changed the bed sheets, no turn down of the beds, and our room was NEVER CLEANED BEFORE 1:00-2:00PM. i DID leave my tips, but he was really bad. 3. The food was awful and many people were complaining. We sat behind station 10, table 6 early dining. We watched them put clean dishes with food right next to the dirty dishes. The bread baskets with unused bread were put underneath a counter to reuse. GROSS. When we asked our waiter about breakfast in the main dining room, he advised us NOT to as it is extremely slow service. Nothing had flavor and all steaks had gravy on it. 4 nights we ended up in the lido deck as the food was a grade better. 4. Staff at the front desk were really good, UNTIL you had a problem. There are kiosks set up to check you account and we had to PROVE that we didn't use anything in the mini bar before they would credit it. during the early morning out on the bow, I turned around to take a photo of the front of the ship, when a security guard came up to me and told me I couldn't do it, and had to delete it. Like heck.. Yet the professional photographer had the same shot! Really rude. 5. Half the time the bathrooms on the lido deck were out of order or out for cleaning. 6. Public areas were freezing.. be warned! Not exactly a bad cruise, but not great either. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
Though this is a negative review, there were several highlights on this sailing and excellent staff members including Angeli and Monica at guest services; our stewards, Hasan and Bambang; and Lisa, the ship’s enrichment lecturer. In ... Read More
Though this is a negative review, there were several highlights on this sailing and excellent staff members including Angeli and Monica at guest services; our stewards, Hasan and Bambang; and Lisa, the ship’s enrichment lecturer. In addition, the friendliness of fellow guests; generally well-executed shore excursions in beautiful, somewhat difficult-to-reach ports in Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala; and the fascinating Panama Canal helped improve bad moods and even elicit some smiles. There were problems normally worth mentioning, but the glaring rupture was the ship’s condition. Missed ports and mechanical malfunctions might happen on any sailing. But based on the unscheduled dry dock last fall, continued operational issues prior to this sailing, and the more serious impairments on this sailing, HAL is not giving the Veendam the time and resources to make adequate repairs. Fellow passengers mentioned sailing the Veendam two years ago from Hong Kong and noted shocking deterioration on this voyage. Furthermore, according to an entertainment staffer, HAL plans to remove the Veendam from its fleet in the near future, which helps explain the lack of care. However, that's not acceptable. These are issues which cause health problems. I’m referring to recurring sewer gas smells, diesel fumes, brown water/plumbing issues, and according to fellow guests in other staterooms, inoperable air conditioning controls which led to breathing trouble or laryngitis. Sewer gas mishaps could be detected in different areas of the ship on different days as if they were rolling brown-outs. What will likely cause the most anger is HAL Corporate's utterly inadequate apology and compensation for the ship's disrepair leading to two missed ports and abbreviated stays at other ports. A 20% future cruise credit does not help passengers who cannot cruise again or, understandably, will not want to. Carnival, which is not a premium line like Holland America, but is HAL’s parent company, refunded $25 for missing Grand Turk for at least one sailing on the Magic. That wasn't enough either, but it means HAL clearly has the ability to offer options other than future cruise credit. Then why was Corporate so rudely inflexible? There’s more. According to Captain Eric van der Wal, the need to exchange Zihuatanejo for another port was known three weeks in advance (due to damage at Zihua’s tender port). Guests, overall, were not informed, meaning cancellation with private tours took much time and expense (e-mail at sea is very slow) than it should have. A preventable snag and one that's entirely HAL’s fault for not communicating. The worst, in my view, is that HAL’s policies and procedures put the Veendam’s staff in the line of fire. For example, fellow guests told me they’d cancel their hotel service charges because they were that angry. Guest relations faced long lines of furious passengers. The cruise director, chief engineer, and the captain bravely held a talk to discuss the ship’s situation. When asked what message they could give HAL Corporate to inform them they needed to do more, van der Wal answered he was very sorry, but he could basically do nothing to influence corporate policy. Holland America must realize that on top of this undue stress, sewer gas/diesel fume/plumbing-related health issues affect their crew more than anyone. They owe the Veendam crew an even deeper apology than the guests. Note, I am not saying “please.” They must do this. It would be wonderful to sail with this staff again, but I cannot recommend this ship. Dry dock apparently didn’t help. Holland America needs to transfer the Veendam's deserving crew to a quality vessel ASAP. This absolutely cannot be how “Abandon Ship” works if they want to have repeat business, to repair their formerly good reputation, and to keep their talented staff.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our 8th cruise with 5 different companies and was our worst ever cruise experience. I therefore wrote detailed letter to Mr Stein Cruise, President and CEO, and awaited a reply before commenting. The response from a ‘Special ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise with 5 different companies and was our worst ever cruise experience. I therefore wrote detailed letter to Mr Stein Cruise, President and CEO, and awaited a reply before commenting. The response from a ‘Special Adviser’ in the ‘Office of the President’ merely reiterated the trite and clearly unsatisfactory information we were given before and during the cruise. Boarding was delayed due to ‘Operational Concerns and Adverse Currents’ causing late arrival and departure. Navigation of the Caribbean has been well documented over five hundred years so there should not have been any navigational surprises. The first morning the water supply failed and brown rusty water appeared when the supply was restored. In our cabin the toilet then failed, flooding the bathroom with soil water which took all morning to fix. At midday the Captain announced that, due to our late departure, (2 hours only), our itinerary had been changed, delaying entry into the Panama Canal by a day and omitting a call at Puerto Chiapas, (Ixtapa), Mexico and confirmed this in a letter giving our revised schedule. I pointed out to the Future Cruise Adviser that there was a discrepancy in the information we had been given. To commence a 1,150 nM voyage with a passage plan that did not permit a half a Knot increase to the scheduled 18 Knots was not believable on a ship with an advertised speed of up to 22 Knots. The basis of any business has to be honesty and trust, which had clearly been compromised. Later, the Captain announced the decision to abandon the call at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico due to ‘Technical Issues’ which limited our speed. A confirmation letter followed with an offer of a Future Cruise Credit of 20% of the base fare of the current cruise as compensation. We select cruises on the basis of the most interesting itineraries with the least number of days spent at sea. The loss of a second port of call in addition to shorter visits to earlier ports and the addition of 2 extra days at sea were very frustrating. At a public meeting on board, the Captain and Chief Engineer explained that the ship had been operating with one of it’s five power units out of action, reducing our speed for the entire voyage. Considering all the circumstances it seems probable that the ‘Operational Concerns’, cited as a cause of the late start, was the same engine problem occurring on the previous voyage to Fort Lauderdale. Lack of power to run the desalination plant on the way to Fort Lauderdale would account for the fresh water tanks running dry and the sludge in the bottom of the tanks being disturbed when supplies were restored. At our age future plans have to be short term and dependent on our continuing physical capability. The offer of a 20% Future Cruise Credit is not compensation as was vehemently expressed from the floor at the public meeting on board. A cash refund, however small, is the only practical recompense for the disappointment and frustration that we feel. Both the Captain and the Cruise Director stated that they would like to do more but this decision was made by the Company Administration. The response from the ‘Special Advisor’ did offer an on board spend of $250 each in addition to the offer of a 20% Future Cruise Credit as a gesture for the plumbing difficulties we experienced in our cabin. However Holland America have proved themselves to be a company to avoid and we will not sail with them again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
First time ever cruisers so have only anecdotes from friends who are more seasoned cruisers and our own expectations to base our comments on. Staff and service were excellent, definitely a strong point for HAL. Entertainment was ... Read More
First time ever cruisers so have only anecdotes from friends who are more seasoned cruisers and our own expectations to base our comments on. Staff and service were excellent, definitely a strong point for HAL. Entertainment was plentiful and enjoyable. Food was very good. The Veendam itself is showing it's age. Perhaps mechanically as well. Problem 1. Late departure. We were held in a large hall for a few hours before being allowed on board. HAL had arranged transport to a shopping center for those who wished to take advantage of it. Supposedly the delay was due to wind and currents on the inbound journey. Bah! Sea conditions are well known to every cruise line and captain. Problem 2. Late arrival in Columbia, again supposedly due to weather. Shouldn't the weather that delayed arrival in Fort Lauderdale have been pushing on faster in the other direction? Not such a big deal, but as a result our call in Ixtapa, Mexico was cancelled. Problem 3. Cabo San Lucas port stop cancelled next due to a an issue with one of the 5 engines, that meant we were unable to reach the necessary speeds for a meaningful stop there. That meant all Mexican ports were cancelled (2 of the scheduled 6), so we spent 4 days cruising past that country. The poor rating for the shore excursions is because we missed one third of them. The excursions we took in the other 4 ports of call were all great, with great guides, and well worth taking. Problem 4. HAL said they would give a 20% discount of the base cost of this cruise to apply on a future cruise. Big deal. Discounts are always available. I think there were other, more immediate, measures that might have been taken to mollify upset passengers. Problem 5. HAL made this "discount" non-transferable and a new cruise needs to be booked within 1 year. Due to the age demographic of the passengers, and cost of cruising, many will not be able to take advantage of the discount within the time restriction, if ever. Problem 6. Due to other commitments and extended travel plans we were not able to answer their on-line passenger comments before the site was closed. Seems to us that they were rather quick to do this? Why? Virtually all passengers were annoyed with the treatment given by HAL. Some said they would send registered letters to HAL about this fiasco. We had to voice our displeasure via snail mail too. Annoyance 1. My wife felt there was too much emphasis on shopping, both in ports and on board. Kudos 1. The Microsoft seminars were excellent as were presentations on the ports and pirates. Kudos 2. Because this was a Panama Cruise we had Teddy Roosevelt on board and his portrayer was excellent with informative and entertaining programs. As we crossed the Canal Teddy was out there in character and his Panama suit. Well-done HAL and Medora/Teddy Roosevelt National Park! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
We returned to Holland America after several years of cruising with Celebrity and Viking River Cruises. We had sailed previously on the Maasdam, Noordam and Rotterdam. My wife approached a return to Holland America with some skepticism ... Read More
We returned to Holland America after several years of cruising with Celebrity and Viking River Cruises. We had sailed previously on the Maasdam, Noordam and Rotterdam. My wife approached a return to Holland America with some skepticism because she felt the cruise might be a bit geriatric for us. We were very pleasantly surprised. The ship was well-maintained, the staff friendly and efficient, and the shore excursions were appealing to all ages. We went zip lining in Costa Rica and horseback riding in the ocean on Half Moon Cay. Both excursions were well-managed and lots of fun. We ate regularly in the main dining room for dinner. The food was generally very good. ( Although, my wife's prime rib was a bit chewy the first night. The food got better after the first night. We also had two dinners in the Pinnacle a grill along with several breakfasts there. The food was excellent and the service friendly and attentive. The Pinnacle Grill is well worth the upcharge for a special occasion. The only criticism is of the wine package. We chose the Admirals Package and found ourselves disappointed by the quality of the wines offered. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
The Zuiderdam on this cruise was somewhat lacking. We were in a Signature Suite and the stewards were just OK.. I have had much better service on a Carnival ship. The people that brought the breakfast to the room could never get the order ... Read More
The Zuiderdam on this cruise was somewhat lacking. We were in a Signature Suite and the stewards were just OK.. I have had much better service on a Carnival ship. The people that brought the breakfast to the room could never get the order correct. There was always something missing. The entertainment was ok at first then got to the point of being very mediocre. The BB King blues club was a joke, they played songs from the Rolling Stones and recent songs from Eric Clapton. NOT BLUES. Also they slaughtered the songs on top of that they thought louder was better. Casino has some pretty tight slot machines. Food was good in the MDR but the Pinnacle steak house is not a 5 star venue, I have had better food at a Saltgrass or outback steakhouse. The steaks are horrible and this is coming from a person who loves beef. They need to get the beef from a new location like Iowa or Texas. Crowd on the ship was older, for the most part was a great group of people. Read Less
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