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Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle once; it was OK but we enjoyed the MDR more. Entertainment was good if not excellent; there were some but not many activities during the day, but most everyone was off the ship anyway, as we only had one day at sea, and on that day there were many activities at all times. Embarkation was easy, as was disembarkation at the end of the trip. The Veendam is a small ship, so the staff/guest ration is much better than on the larger ships. It is comfortable, and we much prefer the smaller ships for this reason. Sailing up the Adriatic into Venice was an amazing and beautiful ending to our voyage. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I ... Read More
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I bought 4 indulgences and packages and none were ready for us. We never received the excursion tickets or most of the Add-ons without multiple trips to Guest services. They never notified us of Port Valet services or shopping specials that were supposed to be delivered to room. HAL completely missed our anniversary. They were quick with ‘I’m so sorry’ but slow on resolutions. Missed several onboard events while waiting in line at Guest Services. They don’t answer the phone so don’t bother. MDR was nice but if you share a table, they may make you wait 30 minutes until the table is full. Lincoln Center Stage was the best. I wish they would let me throat punch the drunks and obnoxious passengers that walked by and disrupted the performance. Weather was rough 1 day (18’ swells) and passengers felt the need to vomit on the common area carpets instead of staying in their cabins. Everything is an add on. Better meals in MDR ($25+ extra), candid photos ($20 each or 5 for $60). Portraits at Gala, $40 each or $160 for 5). Bingo was about $40 plus the $2.50 dauber. Staff was always pushing drinks, pictures, spa treatments, etc. Had 2 of 8 days without problems and trying to get what we paid for. Well possibly travel on HAL again if they fix their problems. I’m a 3 star Mariner and have a long way until 4 stars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant decline in the entertainment. HA have introduced a new Step 1 dance company which didn't appeal to us. They were 6 dancers, with no singers, no band, and a poor sound system. This is no doubt another effort to reduce costs but not for us. We used to recommend HA to friends, but not now with this decline. Other on stage performances were an illusionist and a comedian which were both good. The BB King band on board was absolutely fantastic - this is what will bring us back to HA. Cherise and Steven were the vocalists and were terrific, and so were the other band members. The "Cruise Director" was very sweet, but not the ever present role of the previous CDs. There was no activities staff, no dance lessons, so Celebrity is way ahead in this area. HA claim the best perks at sea, but we dispute that as we get much better perks on Princess and Celebrity where we have similar status. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather ... Read More
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather easily..... -Booking was easy with Vacations to Go and Max Richardson (the agent) was friendly, professional and helpful. Our stateroom on board was # 1922 allowing a view to the outside but without balcony. The price difference was unjustifiable for the time that we actually planned to be in the room. However I recommend to ask for a fan, as the A/C was not sufficient to cool the room to our liking. With the fan it was perfect (and it helped to dry some of our minor laundry items!). Bed was comfortable (we also had extra pillows), bathroom and shower were fine and also was the water pressure. The room was adequate in size for our purpose. The stateroom was serviced by TRI and ANTON who did an extraordinarily efficient and friendly job. Food on board was plentiful, well presented, tasty and varied (although you should not expect "extravagances", Atlantic lobsters and/or Caspian caviar!) Service was outstanding (Our THANKS to JOJIT, EDGAR, RAT-TEE, GIOVANI, MICAH, NITTAYA, ANN, DAN, JASON,GUSTI, ANDRI (w/glasses!), FRANCISCO, WEMICK, etc, etc..... everybody on board went the"extra mile" to make us feel happy, and well looked after!) Our very special THANKS to HENRY and JANELLE and the harder worker on board, HIQMAL...(found mostly around the Lido pool) Entertainment was 50/50, some acts were good and some not so much .None were a Vegas act but they filled the time and were adequate.. Be aware that alcohol was extremely expensive! We drink very little so we did not "suffer" at all but we were a bit outraged at the prices on board.and some "drinkers" were quite upset and angry as Holland America does not allow anybody to bring any alcohol to the ship (So they make sure to sale their own!!) The trip went smoothly with minor waves and movement that I did not enjoy but were tolerable. Pool was small but fortunately not overcrowded, and there were no children! Lots of really elder people, but, I guess, that there are the ones with money....Regardless they were very pleasant and quiet indeed...! Time on ports of call were too short and did not allow for too much to do except buy souvenirs (which we do not do!). Some excursions were fine and, overall we had a good time. Maybe because communication was not a problem as between both of us we speak five languages! On the Volendam I was learning Indonesian, Tagalog and Thailand from the crew, and improving just about every day! Captain and officers were approachable and friendly and it was a pleasure meeting them........Our best regards to everyone and hopefully we will meet again..... Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The ... Read More
always wanted to visit Denmark, the homeland of my husband and since the cruise started in Copenhagen, this was our opportunity to do the Baltic Sea cruise. We always choose Holland America as the mid size ships are our preference. The HAL ships are always relaxing and comfortable. The staff is fantastic, very friendly, approachable and well informed. The safety of the passengers is very evident and welcomed. The captain of the MS Zuiderdam was very visible and hands on. Dined at the Pinnacle restaurant and the food was superb. The ship was very clean and the décor tasteful. We chose a balcony suite on the fifth deck and it was convenient located to access both the Explorers Lounge, Main Stage as well as the main dining room. Both the embarkation as well as the dis-embarkment went very smoothly. Look forward to our next adventure with Holland America, it is always a well satisfying experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea ... Read More
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea days, ports came fast and furious. There was no sea day between embarkation and Jersey. For folks flying directly from the States there was no time to recover from jet lag. If you get travel fatigue or suffer from jet lag this is something to consider. This itinerary also had 4 tender ports. Two of them (Jersey and Fishguard) tended in rough seas. Some people opted not to go ashore or could not because of disability. Other tender ports were Skye, Mull. We enjoyed all the ports. In Jersey we went to the Maritime Museum and while we hadn’t intended it, the museum took up most of our day, it was so engaging. We walked around town a little after the museum. In Falmouth we walked around town, went to the Maritime Museum and took the train to Truro. If you do that you may should know that there is a railway station at Falmouth Port, not just downtown. We walked to the downtown station, it was a nice walk, and returned to the port station.. In Fishguard we wanted to go to St. Davids, but because of the short port call we could not get there and back on public transport, so we took the HAL tour. It was worth it, with an engaging guide who was a natural story teller. St. Davids has a beautiful gothic cathedral, bishop’s house ruins. It is a charming small town where we enjoyed tea and scones before walking through the town market, In Greenock we visited with friends in Glasgow, but also took time to go to St. Mungo’s Museum, a museum presenting information and art from the different religions practiced in Glasgow. The art was inspiring but the exhibit I liked the best took us through the stages of life as celebrated by each of the religions covered, birth, coming of age, marriage, adulthood, elderhood and death. We arrived in Skye (Portee) on a Sunday so local buses were not running. We went ashore and found a skipper giving wildlife tours from a boat. When the tour was over some of our cruise mates who had booked taxis for a morning tour were back and we were able to take a taxi to some of the places outside of town that we wanted to see. Helen, our cab driver, was the last baby born in the Skye hospital before it closed down. She was full of stories and local lore. On Mull (Tobermory) we enjoyed walking around town, stopping at the aquarium where all the inmates are there only for a month before being returned to the sea. There was a touch tank and exhibitions on local sea life. The Tobermory distillery offers scotch tastings. The shops were multi-purpose, books and fishing tackle or iron monger (hardware) with wine and spirits. We lost ourselves in the book store for a while, got into conversation with the book seller, and the iron monger. We enjoyed scones and tea in a café that used to be a church. Dublin was a two day stop. The dock is away from downtown. There was a shuttle bus available for a hefty fee. It drops you off across from the Oscar Wilde statue in Marion Park. I recommend being on deck for the docking. The ship had to make some tight maneuvers interesting to watch. We pulled up close to downtown before turning around to face the mouth of the River Liffey when we docked. In Dublin we wandered the streets and when we saw something interesting, we went in. This included The Church, a bar set in the former St. Mary’s church which, appropriately, had been the family church of the Guinness family. We also had tea and scones in Brewley’s Café, which houses a luncheon theater, where we enjoyed a one act play. We found several small galleries and exhibits and wandered Temple Bar. When we heard music we liked we went in to listen. This was a relaxing way to see Dublin. It’s not our first time so we were not in a rush to see the Book of Kells and other well knows sights. After a much-needed sea day it was Zeebrugge. Since we’ve spent a lot of time in Belgium, we had no need to take the train to either Bruges or Ghent. Instead we bought a day pass on the tram that runs along the coast from the Dutch border practically to France. We could get on and off whenever we wanted. We had lunch in De Hann Ann Zee, a charming late 19 century beach resort where Albert Einstein spent some time after leaving Germany. If you’ve been to Bruges or Ghent this is a good alternative. Two days in Antwerp were not enough. We bought a mass transit day pass and enjoyed going the Art Nouveau neighborhoods. We also enjoyed the Cathedral, the Central Railway Station, Antwerp’s “second cathedral” and visiting churches filled with baroque art, including works by Rubens. We went to the Mas Museum and walked the old town and red-light districts. As much time as we had spent in Belgium we had never been to Antwerp. It was the most wonderful surprise of the cruise. We were tired when we arrived in Amsterdam because of the fast pace of the cruise so we took the tram to Central Station and enjoyed an hour-long cruise on the canals before getting on for the Norwegian Fjords Explorer cruise. When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS. Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks. May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Celtic Explorer there were 567 passengers on board, no lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido, no need to arrive early to get a good seat for evening shows, and for less hassle tendering. I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will be reading Cruise Critic Reviews to try to find an new favorite. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My husband and I are an active couple in our 30's/40's. Last summer, we took an Alaskan cruise on HAL's Eurodam. We really enjoyed that experience (https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=624622) ... Read More
My husband and I are an active couple in our 30's/40's. Last summer, we took an Alaskan cruise on HAL's Eurodam. We really enjoyed that experience (https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=624622) and wanted to repeat it. For this cruise, we got a good price with discounted airfare. We were even able to upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony for a fraction of the difference. Before the cruise, we spent 3 nights at an Airbnb in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. We had a fantastic time visiting the Ballard Locks and Discovery Park! This is a very walkable area, and it's tucked away from the downtown tourists. Also, it was a short drive to Pier 91. My feelings for this cruise were mixed, so I will divide my thoughts between pros and cons. PROS ~ There is only one designated smoking area, and it is located outside at the back of deck 9. For a nonsmoker, this was truly a breath of fresh air! ~ Our room was wonderful, and our stewards were excellent. ~ The fresh floral arrangements found throughout the ship are gorgeous. ~ We absolutely loved Lincoln Center Stage! On our previous cruise, we went to a few concerts. The musicians on the Oosterdam were even better. Besides being talented, they had a special chemistry that made their concerts extra special. ~ We enjoyed the food. There was decent variety, and waiters were able to accommodate special requests. For some meals, we pre-ordered from the vegetarian menu. The fruit selection in the buffet was great for a cruise (apples, bananas, oranges, plums, kiwis, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, melons, berries). ~ Each evening, there were a variety of drink specials (BOGO for $2, $5 wines, $4 cocktail samples). These are definitely a good value. ~ Each morning, we had room service breakfast. Unlike many other major cruise lines, HAL still offers hot breakfast items on their complimentary menu. Also, we would request other items not listed on the menu (e.g. grapefruit, plain yogurt), and these items were always included. Orders arrived on time, and it was relaxing to start each morning with breakfast in our room. ~ We did have one small issue with room service. One morning, the wrong omelet was delivered, and we did not discover the mistake until after the waiter left. I quickly fixed the situation by running up to the buffet and getting a new omelet. Later that day, I told guest services about what happened because I wanted to ensure future orders would be correct. To my surprise, we were sent a bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries. This was a small mistake, and HAL did a great job making up for it. Kudos for great customer service! ~ The Promenade deck was a nice place for walking. Even on rainy or misty days, we were able to enjoy long walks outside. ~ We liked the daily newspapers and puzzles provided each day on deck 1. CONS ~ Entertainment was lacking. Each evening, we would find ourselves wandering around after dinner without anything to do. We don't go to the main shows in the theater. We prefer listening to bands in lounges and dancing. Lincoln Center Stage ends rather early. BB King has talented musicians, but their venue is small and has a poor layout. It felt more like a concert than a dance club. Most nights, very few dancers came out on the floor. There was very little energy and excitement at night. ~ The atrium is tiny and dull. For me, the atrium should be the heart of the ship, but this area is lackluster and often deserted. ~ This is a small ship. When the weather was cold, the ship felt even smaller. There were very few public areas and most of them were clustered together. ~ During the day, there are not many scheduled activities. Computer workshops and cooking demos don't interest me. I prefer more active things, such as dance classes. ~ We did freestyle dining, and we usually went to the dining room between 7 and 8pm. I was surprised at the first set dining time. 5pm seems entirely too early. Since so many people were eating during the cocktail hour, it made time before dinner dull too. ~ The dress code is not enforced at dinner. On Gala Night, I saw people in t-shirts and guys wearing baseball caps. ~ The ports were wonderful, and Hubbard Glacier was awesome! However, the timing in most of the ports is odd. The all aboard for Ketchikan was 12:30pm, and we weren't allowed off the ship in Victoria until after 6:30pm. These short stops make it difficult to fully enjoy these ports. ~ The excursion prices are ridiculously expensive. We planned ahead and did our own thing in each port. If the excursions had been more reasonably prices, we might have gone on one or two. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise because the ports are beautiful and interesting. Shipboard life, on the other hand, proved a little too boring for us. We would consider HAL again if the itinerary is port intensive. If we do an Alaskan cruise again, we will try another line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches ... Read More
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches on embarkation and disembarkation. The lectures were informative and pleasing; the Kitchen at Sea was great as was the entertainment. We were the first passengers to enjoy the new carpets and the new chairs and the number of renovations on this ship! There will always be a place for these smaller ships in the industry. (1200 Passengers, but about 1000 on our crossing) the captain was all around the ship, available for questions, and very informative about the nuts and bolts of the ship and the navigaion. He was from Scotland and had the sense of humor, understated, and excellent rapport with his staff and of course the passengers! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our first Holland America cruise and we didn't know what to expect with the cruise line in general or our ship (Koningsdam). We have taken several cruises before with other lines (Princess, Celebrity, RC, and Carnival). ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise and we didn't know what to expect with the cruise line in general or our ship (Koningsdam). We have taken several cruises before with other lines (Princess, Celebrity, RC, and Carnival). This was by far the best cruise of them all from the itinerary, to the condition of the ship, to the service of our room attendant and wait staff in the main dining room. I would agree with some other reviews that getting in to see a show in the main theatre is challenging unless you arrive very early. We didn't, so we chose not to attend any of the main theatre shows. Instead we took advantage of the Lincoln Center, BB King's blues, and the Rolling Stone Rock rooms which were all very good. Our room attendant for our cabin (6184) did a fantastic job of keeping our space clean and coming up with creative towel animals each night. Jo and his assistant got extra tips from us for their efforts. Jo and his assistant were the first to call us by name after just a few minutes on the ship. The room was a standard veranda and was quite comfortable for two people. I really liked the large screen TV and the features that it offered. There are some enhancements that could be done to improve this (like broadcasting the main theatre performances), but overall there were lots of movies to choose from or some live TV if you wanted to catch up on events. The only issue we had was that ESPN's signal was spotty on occasion. The room was ready for us when we boarded and we received our luggage quite quickly as well as some flowers my in-laws arranged to celebrate my wife's birthday. There is ample storage room in the closets and different cubbies in the room. The shower is very large for a cruise ship with great water pressure and temperature. The food in the main dining room was very good to excellent on a far majority of the evenings. The exception being the 2nd gala night when the filet mignon wasn't cooked to the asked temperature. They offered a replacement quickly and addressed the issue. Service was attentive and we were called by our names after the first evening. The food on the Lido deck and some of the other areas of the ship were very good. I really like how the staff serve the food rather than allowing everyone to touch everything. I appreciate this is to prevent any shipboard illnesses and fully agree with this approach. The condition of the ship is very good. I actually went looking for rust and only find a very small spot on the main passenger areas. Clearly maintenance is being enforced and it shows. Well done. Our cruise director, Nathan, was what we were looking for on our cruise. He wasn't an over the top party boat director like other lines and did a good job keeping us informed on what was going on during the morning update without being too intrusive. The captain was the same person as the recently released Mighty Ship episode on the Discovery channel. He was quite funny and you can tell that he enjoys his role as master of the ship. Due to weather issues we weren't able to get into Santorini, but the captain found an alternative port in Crete (Souda) that was very enjoyable. He greeted passengers upon arrival in Souda as a way to apologize for the change in our plans. It was the right decision even though I was really looking forward to our visit in Santorini. The safety of the ship and guests would not have allowed us to tender in port easily. Overall we really enjoyed our cruise and will be travelling with Holland America again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time ... Read More
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time and arrived 35 minutes early into Rome. We met one of our fellow cruisers at the airport and had arranged a shared transfer to Civitavecchia. Despite some airport confusion, it all worked out. Note that after leaving through customs I did not find an ATM at the airport. They must be there, but not in the places they used to be! Our driver with Civitavecchia Shuttle Express was kind and professional. He did not talk very much. We were dropped off at our guest house, “MyHomeBLU” at about 10:40. MyHomeBLUE is an interesting guest house on the top floor of a condo building. It has some great views of the city as well as the Mediterranean. We went back to visit our new friend at her hotel and found an ATM. We attempted a walking tour I had downloaded from the port website. Streets are poorly marked, and while we found the two churches they were both locked and we could not enter inside. We were too late for the market. We stopped at a supermarket for two bottles of wine to bring on board and a small gelato container. The gelato became lunch. At 4:00 we met our new friend and went for dinner. Many restaurants are closed from 3 – 7 PM but along the seaside promenade several were open. The “New Gran Caffe” has a very nice upstairs dining room with views of the sea. My dinner was good although not what I expected. We walked along the sea for a while afterwards taking photos. Walking back to our temporary home DW said she was still hungry. There is a supermarket on the first floor of our building so we visited there and she bought some cheese and olives. This was very satisfying as it was enjoyed in the “Living room” overlooking the coast. At about 8:30 we called it a day! Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – embarkation We slept very well. We woke to my phone alarm to get ready for the day. We had a light breakfast in the MyHomeBLUE living room. There is cheese and olives left from last evening and that was helpful as little that was available met DW’s dietary needs. We took a nice walk to the town market. About half the market was fruits, veggies, seafood, & meats. The other half was an assortment of goods including clothing and electronics. We walked back and enjoyed a few minutes rest chatting with the proprietor until heading down for our prearranged 10:30 taxi. He was waiting for us at 10:25 and off we went to the port. We were in the terminal before 11:00. They told us boarding would begin at 11:30 and handed us boarding card #1. At 11:10 they called for #1. We had our photo taken for our last embarkation on Prinsendam, and headed to our cabin. It seemed a few things were not as cleaned as DW prefers but our room steward took care of everything. We sent away the soiled laundry from our travels and headed to the Ocean Bar. Here we found the maître’ de and discussed dinner plans. We handed him our prepared list of DW’s dietary restrictions and he kindly assigned us to table 143, a four top all the way aft. He also took a preorder for dinner. We also stopped at the Pinnacle Grille to preorder tomorrow’s lunch which we are having with several roll call members. Lunch was enjoyed in the dining room and all our special orders were very nicely taken care of. We headed to the cabin and our luggage was just being delivered. We unpacked and had everything stowed away prior to the 2:30 Mariner’s welcome aboard gathering. We attended the welcome aboard party and it was the best one we’ve ever enjoyed. The wait staff kept the beverages flowing freely and we had a great conversation with a couple we met in the elevator. After the party there was just enough time to shower and put on evening clothes before the 4:30 muster drill. The muster drill was pleasant enough with only about ½ the normal crowd as so many have stayed on from the prior cruise segment and they were excused. We were finished by 4:44. We headed straight to the Ocean Bar. At the Ocean Bar we renewed acquaintances with roll call members who we had shared tours with last year on the Iceland cruise. Other roll call members also joined us; it was a lot of fun. We went to dinner at 5:30 and had two sisters join our table. Conversation was very enjoyable and while I thought the menu tonight a little sparse my chicken was better than expected and the sisters both ordered the “Flank steak” but it looked more like a nice London broil. We left dinner with just enough time to stop in our cabin before the 7:30 welcome aboard show. Linda the cruise director was also CD on last year’s Iceland cruise. The Ocean Bar quartet is good with a strong vocalist. After the short show we visited the Ocean Bar to listen to the quartet but by 8:30 called it a night. Tomorrow is a busy day at sea and we are looking forward to it! Thursday, April 25 – at Sea After all our travels this was a morning to sleep in. We were up by about 7:45 but by the time we were ready to leave the room it was getting close to 9:30. With a 10:10 appointment with the future cruise consultant, we decided to head to the lido. To our delight the special of the day was Gingerbread Waffles with Orange Butter. I had asked for these on the Rotterdam recently and they did not know what I was talking about. DW ordered an omelet to her specific desire. To our further delight, Rosiato was serving in the lido. We got to know Rosiato last year on the Iceland cruise and she remembered us right away. We enjoyed breakfast with a couple from Australia and it was very nice. We were five minutes early for our appointment and she was ready for us. Knowing what we were looking for the booking was expeditious and quickly handled. We were also able to book a cabin for our friends who had asked to go with us. We finished just in time to head to the crow’s nest for the 10:30 Cruise Critic meet and greet. This was a tremendous event! Special thanks to cruise critic member KAZU for all her efforts in organizing our roll call and the wonderful name tags that remain on display in our cabin. Only one couple she had name tags for did not attend. We met many folks we have scheduled tours with and it was a super meet and greet. At noon we had a reservation with cruise critic members at the Pinnacle Grille. Our “Captains table” was delightful. The food was good and the conversation terrific. This was a busy sea day as at 2:00 we had our complimentary wine tasting session. This was really not as nice as the tasting we had on Rotterdam’s Christmas cruise. It had become very windy out on deck putting a literal damper on our hopes for a few laps on the promenade deck. All too soon it was time to get ready for gala night. We enjoyed happy hour in the Ocean Bar while the Ocean quartet entertained. On the way to dinner we found another crew member who remembered us from last year. As they say, Prinsendam is like a large family. We will miss the chance to sail her in the future. Friends from the Iceland cruise joined us for dinner. We had a very nice time. After dinner was the captain’s welcome toast in the theater followed by “Atlantic Crossing” by the cast. We have seen this show before but it was worth seeing again. The four vocalists are very talented. I’ve always felt the cast on Prinsendam are a cut above those on the other ships. After the show we went to listen to Daniel in the Crow’s Nest. We had a nice time but it was getting late so by about 9:40 we called it a night. Tomorrow we are in Alicante, Spain and have a full day tour scheduled. Friday, April 26, 2019 – Alicante, Spain The alarm went off at 6:45 although DW was up before that. Our tea order arrived at 6:55. We enjoyed a cup of tea in the cabin while getting ready. It is very sunny today so sunscreen is a must. We went to the lido for breakfast where I enjoyed one of today’s specials, a meat-lovers omelet. We were talking with a couple from Calgary during breakfast. The meeting time for our tour is 8:45. We watched the docking process from our balcony and then went to meet our group. The ship was cleared and off we went. Our tour was with Spain day tours with our guide David and driver Juan Carlos. First we drove to the historic center of Alicante (not very far). We visited the cathedral and the town hall. David took us over to the seaside promenade and introduced us to the specialty Alicante ice cream flavor which is honey and almond. We had just enough free time to walk down the promenade to the first leather merchant where I was able to obtain a ratchet style belt for 12 euros. Back to the van we were off to Guadalest in the mountains. It is about a 1 hr. drive mostly along the coast before crossing a mountain range. Guadalest is very photogenic being set among the hills. Leather and chocolate is produced locally and could be purchased, although we did not find anything that could not be passed up. One of the shops had purses at very good prices (at least so we thought). We returned to the van and headed back to Alicante to visit the castle. We certainly got our exercise climbing from the mini-bus parking area up to the top of the castle. This was a crystal clear day and being able to see everything around for many miles was quite a treat. No one will believe the photos were not enhanced as the color of the sea is just stunning. Back at the van at 3:30 and David and Juan Carlos had us back at the ship before 4:00 for our 4:30 all-aboard. We quickly got ready for dinner although missed happy hour. Dinner tonight was just all right. I was excited to see prime rib on the menu and having skipped lunch was looking forward to it. It just wasn’t juicy as prime rib should be. DW’s fish entrée was also just okay. We listed to the Ocean Quartet until they finished their set and then enjoyed the show. Yaniv Zarif gave a tremendous show with his interpretation of several Broadway and west end hits, in multiple languages. He was excellent and this was one of the best shows seen on a HAL ship in a few cruises. After Yaniv’s performance we called it a night as we have a long tour tomorrow and also King’s Day festivities on board. Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Malaga, Spain Prinsendam docked on schedule this morning in Malaga Spain. We enjoyed a quick lido breakfast with today’s special of Cinnamon & Bacon Waffles and a small ham omelet. We met our cruise critic group for our tour with Spain Day Tours to Granada and the Alhambra. This was a really great tour. We had plenty of time for our guided tour of the Alhambra and the gardens. We really enjoyed hearing of the 800 year history of the palace and fortress. From the Alhambra we were taken into Granada and had 90 minutes of free time. Our guide showed us where the department store and supermarket was, along with a variety of tapa bars. DW wanted shoes as her dress shoes were not working. We were successful in finding shoes. We then picked up a few apples and some local chocolate at a supermarket. The apples were “Lunch.” All too soon our 90 minutes were over and everyone was back on the bus. We returned to the port just after 6:30. After a quick stop at our cabin we went to the lido for the special “King’s day” Dutch dinner. DW’s special order dinner was delivered from the dining room, along with our wine bottle. I enjoyed many of the dinner options served, including poffertjes. The desserts were extra special with almond cookies, Dutch Apple Pie, and Ollie Bolen available. After dinner we enjoyed a little balcony time until we went to the showroom for “Authentic flamenco.” I always enjoy it when the cruise line brings local talent on board; in this case I just wish the troupe had explained the dances a bit. All in all this was an exceptional day and at 10:30 it was past time to call it a night! Sunday, April 28, 2019 – Gibraltar, UK Territory We enjoyed watching the Prinsendam wind its way to the dock this morning. “The rock” of Gibraltar blocked the sunrise. We docked on time and after a nice lido breakfast of today’s special Buttermilk and Corn waffles we met our tour group in the Ocean Bar at 7:45. We all made our way down to deck 4 at 7:50 and were allowed ashore at 7:55. We were the first group ashore and the first van leaving the parking area. This proved to be important. Our guide Rachel took us first to the Pillars of Hercules to view the strait of Gibraltar and in the hazy distance we could see the coast of Africa. From there we visited St. Michael’s Cave. We spent quite a bit of time at the cave. We’ve been to many caves over the years and this was impressive as I don’t recall ever seeing a natural open cave environment so huge. The sheets of limestone formations are extremely impressive. Outside the cave we had our first encounter with a Barbary Macaque Ape. This one was posing for photos and we enjoyed the opportunity. We were the second van to leave the caves and we made our way up the hill to the “Top of the Rock” and the upper Apes den. We spent maybe 30 minutes here watching the apes, taking photos, and being well entertained by the apes. Next we visited the Great Siege Tunnels. In addition to the natural caves, there is over 50 miles of man-made tunnels carved into the rock. These were made to move cannons and soldiers in case of war and siege. After exploring some of the tunnels, we visited and climbed the steps of the Moorish Castle, originally from 1160 and enlarged in the 14th century. This structure has withstood many wars and sieges over the centuries. We drove to Europa Point, the southernmost point of mainland Europe. This means we have now visited the northernmost and southernmost point of Europe. We drove the east side of the rock and Catalan Bay, with colorful houses along the beach. We crossed the active airport runway as the main road does to reach the border with Spain. This was a terrific tour and highly recommended. Back on Prinsendam at 12:10 we enjoyed the British Fish & Chips lunch being served at the Dive Inn pool grille. It was a gorgeous day to enjoy outside dining. DW had some fare from the lido. We met friends who joined us for lunch and had a similar tour. During the sail away we enjoyed watching the African coastline slide by from our balcony. I used the pool and hot tub for a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was a nice time in the dining room with a cruise critic member joining us. The show was “Sessions” featuring the Prinsendam cast singers. This was a very nice show. After the show we enjoyed the Crow’s nest piano bar and happy hour, before calling it a night at 10:30. All in all, another super day on Prinsendam! Monday, April 29, 2019 – Lisbon, Portugal We woke at 6:00 (after gaining an extra hour due to a time change!) and found we were already close to shore as we sailed towards the Lisbon cruise dock. As the sun rose we passed the Moor tower along the river and sailed under the Lisbon “Golden Gate” bridge. We enjoyed a lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar. Everyone was early so we headed out to meet our guide. Our group of six had booked the “Setubal Wine Tasting tour” with Lisbon Riders. This was a superb tour. We were met outside the cruise terminal at about 8:20 and our guide gave us a quick drive by of Lisbon and we twisted and turned our way towards the highway over the Golden Gate Bridge. He gave us the recent (and not so recent) history of Portugal on the way. We headed south to the wine region of Azeitao. We visited the small local family owned cellar “Quinta de Alcube” in the middle of the peaceful Arrabida Mountain. We tasted four different wines and visited their very nice shop. Bottles ranged from two to seven Euros each. We ended up buying one of the seven Euro bottles of White “Reserve” to hopefully enjoy on the balcony. From there, we crossed Arrabida Mountain & Arrabida Natural Park. We were always close to the sea and passed a number of beaches with azure waters enjoying the incredible views. Our next stop was the fishing town of Sesimbra. We enjoyed the oldest fish restaurant, owned by generations of fishermen. This place, called, Isaias, was outstanding. We would never have gone there without our guide, as from the outside it is a “Little hole in the wall.” They cook fresh fish, just off the boat, on a charcoal grille built into the exterior wall of the building. We both ordered Swordfish and it was both incredible tasting and a large portion. All meals came with a simple family style served salad, warm rolls out of the oven, and boiled potatoes. I enjoyed a “Lemon beer” and a coke zero while DW had a glass of white wine and bottled water. We all agreed to cover our guide’s meal and the total bill was just under 15 Euros per person. After lunch we walked down to the beachfront and went into the restored beach front fortress. Our guide went to retrieve the van and he took us to an overlook of the town for photos. From there we traveled back towards Azeitao for our second winery visit. Next we visited the oldest cellar of the region, owned by the same family for more than 7 generations. The Jose Maria de Fonseca winery gave a very nice tour and the wine cellars were impressive. We really enjoyed the tour and the samples of two wines, including a 16 year aged Moscatel. From here we headed back to the ship. This trip took longer than expected due to unusual traffic according to our guide. We returned at 4:30 for a 5:30 all aboard. The Lisbon cruise terminal makes you walk through a maze to get past security and it was 4:50 by the time we returned to Prinsendam. That gave us just 40 minutes to prepare for dinner but we made it. We enjoyed dinner and left port on schedule by 6:00. Sailing down the river I took a break to get photos of the Christ the King statue on the hillside near the Golden Gate Bridge. Later that evening we enjoyed a comedian, Rikki Jay. His routine was entertaining. We are exhausted from the last few days and called it a night after the show. Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – Porto, Portugal Prinsendam was just a little late on arrival to Porto today. Our 8:00 arrival became more like 8:25 by the time guests were able to disembark. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido, nothing special today but still a good start to the day. We met the one other roll call member on our “Off the beaten track” photo discovery tour with Pictuary photo tours. Jose was great and met us as we left the cruise port. He drove the three of us in his car to the end of the tram line where two Tuk-tuks were waiting for us. The first 2+ hours of our tour were by tuk-tuk. This was literally a little “Cool” but it was fun, and it sure beats climbing the hills of Porto by foot! We saw so much it is too much to list, but certainly one highlight is the six bridges crossing the Duro River. After one incredible viewpoint to another we bade farewell to our tuk-tuks at the Bridge of Luis 1st. This dual layered bridge was a pleasure to walk over. The top level is for pedestrians and trains. Beware the trains!!! The bottom level (much lower) is for vehicles. After a light lunch, we then rode the Rodonorte Funicular down to the river level. We walked along the river enjoying the sights and incredible buildings of the historical Ribeira neighborhood and went shopping in a 100% made in Portugal shop where DW picked up a handbag made of cork (from cork trees). To end the tour, we rode the #1 “Electric” streetcar back to where the car was parked and returned to Prinsendam at 3:10 for a 3:30 all aboard. DW shot over 200 photos and I took about 300. What a day! Back on board we ran into friends enjoying the lido sunshine and stayed there for sail away. Tonight is “Rudi’s Sel de Mer” at the Pinnacle Grille that we are trying for the first time. We met friends at the Ocean Bar at 5:30 for pre-dinner conversation. At the last minute, they decided to join us and the Pinnacle was happy to oblige changing our reservation for two to four. Sel de Mer was enjoyable and we would do that again on a future cruise. Dinner went for 2 ½ hours but the conversation was most enjoyable. After dinner we visited Daniel at the Crow’s Nest Piano Bar for “Sing along night.” By 9:45 it was time to call it a night. Tonight we LOSE an hour as we are headed to France which is in the European time zone. Wednesday, May 01, 2019 – 2nd day at Sea After five port days in a row a day at sea was most welcome. No alarm, no room service, just sleep. Sleep until 8:30 or a bit after! We got the day rolling by heading to breakfast in the lido. Today’s special was listed as “Dutch pancakes” but other than being made on a Holland America ship I’m not sure what was “Dutch” about them. We were invited to the 10:30 Mariner’s reception which was a nice event. About 20+ copper medallions, five silver medallions, and one gold medallion were handed out. The nibbles were nice and drinks ample, but I did not see wine being offered as an option. The mariner’s lunch followed and we were able to sit with several friends and one couple we had not met earlier in the cruise. The Prinsendam tiles were most appreciated and will be added to our collection. After a cabin stop to store our tiles we visited the lido for ice cream. The ice cream man was funny as he was really ‘pushing’ the macadamia nut ice cream with caramel. It was pretty good but neither of us found any macadamia nuts in our serving! We chatted with friends and before you know it the clock was at 1:45. At 2:00 KAZU from cruise critic had invited the roll call to her Neptune Suite for a “Wine tasting.” At least two dozen (likely more) from the roll call visited and we had great conversation along with lots of wines to try as well as a bunch of nibbles provided by the ship. My favorite was the Tempura Shrimp. Most folks stayed until nearly 4:00 when several, including the host, had an appointment with the Bingo game. DW was the winner of one of two door prizes, a hand-made wine bottle stopper / corkscrew donated by one of the roll call members. We truly appreciate this and will both treasure it and use it regularly at home! A brief cat nap (after all that wine) in our cabin brought us to 5:15 when we headed down to deck 5 for passport collection. For some reason, Bordeaux customs wants to inspect non-EU passports. These will be returned on Saturday. Dinner (and more wine) was enjoyed in the dining room. Prime Rib was on the menu and now having learned the ‘secret’ to ask for a “King’s cut” it was superb and very much enjoyed. The show tonight is “Dance” by the dancers. We have seen this before and decided to pass, just enjoying being on the ship with nowhere specific we needed to be. We caught up with the travel expert’s Bordeaux talk on the TV and called it a night. Thursday, May 2, 2019 – Bordeaux, France We awoke to catch a slight glimpse of Prinsendam sailing under a bridge as we approached Bordeaux. We docked on schedule and the ship was cleared at 7:30. Our tour is not until 10:00 so we had time for a leisurely breakfast in the Lido with today’s special of Gingerbread waffles. We met our tour group at 9:50 in the Ocean Bar and departed the ship. We met our guide from Ophorus Wine Tours right outside and off we went to the town of St. Emilion. During the 45 minute drive our guide told us about the area we drove through as well as about the development of wine in the area. St. Emilion is an incredibly original / restored medieval town centered around a church that was begun by St. Emilion. We toured the underground church – a very impressive structure considering the work was done with medieval age tools. The stones were quarried out and used to make buildings, and the church and catacombs were built in the resulting cave. Regretfully no photos were allowed and after the tour we could not find any postcards to be purchased of the underground monuments. After touring the underground our guide showed us the highlights of town and we had two hours to explore further and have lunch. We ended up at a suggested place for lunch, chosen due to the outdoors patio. We also stopped at Moulierac bakery for almond macarons. These small almond cookies are the closest to what I enjoyed as Dutch almond cookies when I was young. They have just three ingredients; Almonds, Egg Whites, and sugar. Gluten free even DW could enjoy them. After the village we toured two St. Emilion chateau/wineries. To be honest, we didn’t care for the wines. All St. Emilion wines are reds with Merlot being the dominant grape in the region. We returned to Prinsendam about 5:45 and had dinner in the dining room. One note I haven’t mentioned yet is that the dining room menus have been somewhat disappointing this cruise. I’ve eaten three times off the everyday menu, something I have never done in the past. This evening the fish entrée was not very good to my taste, although DW enjoyed hers. I then had the Wiener schnitzel instead. After dinner we left the ship and walked. We passed by the reflecting pool and took photos. We went half way out on the nearby bridge and took photos. We wandered around part of the old town until back at the reflecting pool. The wind was picking up and we became cold and thus returned to the ship at about 8:50. We were bushed and called it a day after watching the sun set from the verandah. Friday, May 03, 2019 – Bordeaux, France day 2 This morning we woke without alarms and enjoyed breakfast in the lido. Today’s special of a meat lovers Omelet called my name and it was nice. We met one other roll call member at 9:15 to head out for our 10:30 “Free walking tour.” We managed to figure out the tram system tickets and rode the tram to the meeting spot. The tour was enjoyable and ended up not far from the ship. We did want to walk the “Longest pedestrian street” in Europe, Rue St. Catherine, at 1.2KM. So we did. We stopped to look in one shop along the way but nothing else. We took the tram back towards the ship and stopped at a Patisserie recommended by the guide from the prior day. They had a Meringue cookie that DW could enjoy while I had a raisin bun and chocolate croissant. From there we walked back to the ship and reached the lido just as they were cleaning up lunch. DW was able to get some chicken and salad, while I ordered a Dive-Inn burger. We returned to our cabin and were entertained by the dogs playing in the park next to the ship. The crew gave one of the dogs a cup of water and that was a happy dog! It soon became time to get ready for dinner and sail away. Dinner was again a bit of a letdown. The Arctic Char was pretty good but the short ribs were overcooked, dry, and inedible. I certainly didn’t go hungry but if you are going to spend 90+ minutes in the dining room the food should at least be good. We ran into friends before the show and they stayed outside for sail away and had dinner in the lido. They said the lido had whole turkeys and delicious fish & chips. I ended up going to the lido to have two slices of turkey with gravy before they shut down. The show was different. This was the “Pianist with the hair” aka as Julian G. Classical piano is not my cup of tea but Julian made it entertaining in various ways so I would give his show thumbs up. After the show we enjoyed Daniel in the piano bar and called it a night at about 10:15. The Indonesian crew show was at 11:00 but there was just no way to stay up for this. Saturday, May 04, 2019 – Sea day #3 Prinsendam spent the day sailing leisurely through the bay of Biscayne with a still head wind but rather calm seas. With the wind from the northwest it was much cooler than our two days in Bordeaux. A 9:00 deck sale of previous port gear had us buying ‘South America’ cruising sweatshirts at 75% off. We’ve been there and are going again so this was a good buy for us. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido and spent 90 minutes talking with another roll call couple before leaving for the 11:00 “Ask the captain” session. No new information was shared during this 45 minute chat. We went with friends to lunch and even though not hungry after the late breakfast, they were serving Turkey again! Two slices with gravy made for a delicious light lunch. I had an appointment at 12:50 with the future cruise consultant to obtain future cruise deposits for a friend that texted me the prior day. We tried walking the promenade but the wind made it too cold, even with multiple layers. We also tried sitting on our verandah and in a sheltered area it was tolerable for a while. A friend made it to the final in the blackjack tournament so we went to support him. He was the third of five to be eliminated. It is a gala night so afterwards it was back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We met friends before dinner in the Ocean Bar as the time passed quickly. They joined us for the gala dinner. I will say without question this was the best dining room dinner of the cruise. After dinner we exchanged the tulip vase I had purchased earlier in the cruise for one more to DW’s preference. We enjoyed the show with the singers and dancers, “Concerto.” The Crow’s nest Piano bar was hopping with Daniel doing a tribute to the Beatles. At 9:45 the “Chocolate Surprise” took place and everyone had a few specialty chocolates. By 10:15 it was time to call it a day and prepare for our last port. Sunday, May 05, 2019 – St. Peter Port, Guernsey, UK. Last evening we received notice of a mandatory immigration inspection prior to going ashore in St. Peter Port. Well, okay, but they could have notified us much sooner. This caused a lot of concern with the private walking tour that one of the roll call members set up. As immigration began their process early, it all worked out, but this was just poor planning on the part of Holland America. We arrived ashore at about 8:45 and shortly thereafter began our walking tour with Annette Henry. Annette was one of the most interesting walking tour guides we’ve ever experienced with her bag of props and she told very detailed stories of Guernsey’s history. This was a very worthwhile 2.5 hours and we left her at the tour’s conclusion at the sunken garden. Annette gave us directions to the local flower garden, just a few blocks away. This was very nice and a tea room was open. We enjoyed a pot of tea and hot chocolate. While a beautiful sunny day it is cool so the warm drinks were welcome. I took a bunch of photos of various plant arrangements and we headed down the hill towards the harbor. We stopped in a few shops along the way and ended up at the pharmacy as we had a few pounds of coins to spend before leaving. This was successful! Back to the tender and we returned to Prinsendam for the very last time  just after 1:00. We went straight to the lido and enjoyed some lunch. We lingered talking to some folks before returning to our cabin at 2:30 to begin packing. By 3:30 with the majority of the packing complete we began getting ready for dinner. It became pleasant on the verandah. We ran into one of our roll call friends who just returned from a fantastic day exploring all around Guernsey AND taking the ferry for 90 minutes on one of the out-islands. We got to talking so we ended up skipping the Ocean Bar and heading right to dinner. Tonight one of my favorites “Sweet & Sour Shrimp” was on the menu. Scallops were an appetizer. Sorry, HAL, and no disrespect to the chefs, but these had to be about the worst scallops ever. The muscle was not removed and they just looked ugly and did not taste much better. But the Shrimp dinner was good. After dinner we wondered the ship a little and listened to the quartet in the Ocean Bar. Roll call friends stopped by to chat and we wished each other safe travels home. There was a one-time variety show at 9:30 but we did not stay up for that. I wish we could have paid Daniel a farewell visit to the Crow’s nest but with the last minute packing and setting out the luggage that was not to be. At a little after 9:00 we called it a night. Monday, May 06, 2019 – Dover, UK (Disembarkation and travel home) At 6:00 we were entering the port. It took nearly 50 minutes, and the help of a tug before we were securely docked. We enjoyed one last breakfast in the lido. No “Specials” today. We ran into roll call friends to bid them farewell. I’m sorry we never ran into a few others. They began calling for disembarkation right on schedule at 7:15 and with our 8:05 “Purple 1” tags we left the stateroom at 8:00 to head to the elevator. We went up to go down and left the ship at virtually exactly 8:05. By the time we reached the luggage only a part of the Purple 1 had arrived. We waited a few minutes and the cage with purple 1 was unloaded. We retrieved our bags and headed out to the bus. We were the first on the bus and with the luggage stowed underneath it was a pleasant enough ride out to Heathrow. The driver told us to expect it to take 2.5 hours due to “Roadworks” but we actually made it in two hours. I was tracking along with my Waze phone AP. From drop off until check in at the A1 lounge it was less than 30 minutes. We had a few hours to kill so I finished up this log and enjoyed some lunch and beverages. The flight itself was quite pleasant as the plane was far from full. We even landed in Philadelphia 30 minutes early. Then we sat for another HOUR and ended up being 30 minutes “Late” as there was no gate for us (???) By the time we picked up our car it was 7:00 so we had no traffic for the drive home. Conclusion: Oh Prinsendam, Prinsendam, we will miss you Prinsendam. This cruise was a log of fun. With all the ports (except St. Peter Port) new or ‘essentially’ new to us, we had a blast and saw so many things. Prinsendam is the opposite of the flashy new 4,000 – 6,000 passenger ships. The ship is NOT the destination. The trip is for the ports. I doubt HAL has another ship that could go up the river to Bordeaux and fit under the bridge. Is there another that can go to Porto, maybe? Prinsendam is showing its age without question. The new owners will have a lot of work ahead of them. Yet the crew is simply the “Best in the fleet.” I really believe that. We didn’t eat breakfast in the dining room once the entire cruise. Why? I generally dislike the lido. On this cruise, we enjoyed the lido as unlike the other ships, there are always crewmembers to bring tea, coffee, water, etc. And refill them! They help carry items when you are juggling two plates, and the ice cream man is funny and obviously loves his job! On the other hand, it seems that since last year, the lido service times have been further curtailed. I believe HAL is going in the wrong direction here. There is no more “Late night snack” either. If someone takes advantage of a late night or an overnight in port, staying out past 8:00, there is no food available other than room service. Lunch is over at 2:00. We came back one afternoon at 2:10 and while DW was able to grab some left-over chicken, the pickings were slim. We had two mornings that the water in the cabin was yellowish. We used the bottled water from the mini bar to brush our teeth. The front desk couldn’t tell us much about what was going on, but the last afternoon of the cruise they called to apologize and offered a small token as an apology. Customer Service needs a refresher course at the upper levels (likely in Seattle). We had a roll call group tour planned in St. Peter Port. Then, the evening before, the ship springs on everyone that there is a mandatory immigration inspection. Why not notify the passengers at boarding, or even earlier (like, when they changed the port) so those of us making plans outside of ship tours can plan accurately? Our cabin team of Agus & Heri was super, going above and beyond when some sticky substance got all over our hard sided suitcase between embarkation check in and stateroom delivery. They scrubbed it down the best they could. The laundry service is terrific even if at times things may not be as perfect as we like them at home. But they sure do press things to make the clothes so neat! Our dining room team of Setaji & Andrian took very good care of DW’s special dietary needs. The Wine Steward Theresa was great and found nice alternatives that were to our liking and fit within our package. Amin was outstanding both in the morning in the lido and after dinner always greeting us with a smile and a taste of ginger. All in all, the good ship Prinsendam on her fifth to last HAL voyage gets 3 ½ out of 5 stars for the cruise experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have done several cruises with Holland America and we really like them. The ships are clean and classy and they have itineraries that we like. We always consider every availability but frequently choose Holland America for these ... Read More
We have done several cruises with Holland America and we really like them. The ships are clean and classy and they have itineraries that we like. We always consider every availability but frequently choose Holland America for these reasons. The ports were excellent and the amount of time allocated for each port we thought adequate. We don't use the cruise ship tours. We prefer to find travelers we like and share tours / transportation with them once we reach port. This has worked very well for us. I am a vegetarian and the main dining room always has excellent accommodations. The have a full vegetarian menu available on request and I order from that a day in advance for dinner. The food, and service were both very good. The only criticism we had of this trip was the entertainment. The Rolling Stone venue is by far the best. The BB King venue is a close second, but the BB King lineup we had on the last ship was far better. The dueling pianos venue is terrible. No one we spoke to liked it and the typical response when bringing it up was an eye roll. Holland American used to have the classic piano bar setup which was a lot better in our estimation. We had Barry from Boston on that cruise and he is hands-down the best ship performer I have ever seen. And I was a recording engineer for 20 years. Barry Rocklin. If you get the chance to see him on a cruise, say Hi for me. He's incredible. Meanwhile, Holland America? If you're listening... The dueling pianos thing needs to go away. The gym is very nicely arranged and outfitted. I would like to see 2 or so more recumbent bikes and it would be nice to have it open at 5 AM rather than 6 AM, but those are very minor points. Overall the gym is excellent and it has a great view of where you're going. I am working on the full travel blog which will be on my website warrenharris.net Also, my YouTube channel (look for Warren Paul Harris) has numerous videos of our adventures on this trip as well as video reviews of the ship itself. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This is HA newest and largest cruise ship and we wanted to try it after having done the Volendam in December 2018. Happy that we did. Embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly. We arrived in FLL the day before, which allowed ... Read More
This is HA newest and largest cruise ship and we wanted to try it after having done the Volendam in December 2018. Happy that we did. Embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly. We arrived in FLL the day before, which allowed us to arrive at the ship about 1 pm when embarkation was just beginning, so it went smoothly. We miscalculated on disembarkation. We had booked a 8:50 AM flight from FLL to IAD. We took our luggage and rolled off the Nieuw Statendam at 7:30 AM, grabbed a taxi to FLL, but couldn't get our luggage checked in time, in time being 8:30 AM, and thus we couldn't get our boarding passes in time either. We got lucky; there was a 1:05 PM flight from FLL to IAD and we were able to check our luggage and get our boarding passes for that flight. The World Stage theater was very impressive, cutting edge, and entertaining. The décor of the Dining Room was somewhat spartan to our tastes. But the food and service and our table mates were all outstanding. The social interactions added so much to our cruise experience. The live music at the Rolling Stones and the B.B. King and the Lincoln Center Stage, and the twin piano players played to full houses. Our Vista Suite was obviously new and well designed. The tv screen was 55 inches. On the Volendam it was 30 inches. We missed the library that was on the Volendam, but was absent, or radically downsized, on the Nieuw Statendam. FWIW, we are Platinum members on RCCL, but now we prefer Holland America. It caters to an older demographics and Holland America knows how to appeal to us seniors really well. Read Less
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & ... Read More
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & Disembarkation Very easy. They have this process down very well . Rotterdam ship: Very nice ship, Teak wood upkept very nice. You see the improvements they have done over the years and it looks very nice and clean. Cabin: We had an outside Cabin which seemed very roomie for what it was. Very supprised with all the closet space. nice Touch with the free safe in the room. Bed was very comfortable and the Stewards always kept the room clean and always supplying us with clean towels Dinning: Lido Deck food was very good. Nice that the HAL buffet is served by staff and not a bunch of people reaching in and grabbing food. Food was always fresh and hot. Never needed to add salt to anything we got from the line. Burgers & Hot dogs were good from the Dive Inn grill as long as you didn't get the burger well done.. There Pizza grill did a great job with the NY style pizza. They did keep strange hours on the burger and Pizza service, as neither was 24 hours. Pinnacle Grill- In my opinion, the Main dining room food was better than here. We spent over 2.5 Hours in the Grill. Appetizers were good and hot. Main course I got the Porterhouse and Wife got the Strip Steak. We both asked for Medium Rare and both came back very Rare. I ate mine, but we sent hers back. We cut a piece off right away to check the temp. They took her's back for about 15-20 minutes and brought back the same piece of meat still under cooked (but hot this time) All of the sides came out at room temp initially. When they brought back her steak, they never refreshed the sides for her. For Desert we decide to bring back to the room as we were already there for over 2.25 hours. so she got the lollipop desert cakes along with the chocolates from the table. The waiter put them in aluminum foil and twisted the top.. It looked like one of those weights used to hold down balloons. So when we got back to the cabin it was just a big ball of chocolate. We had a 4 top table come in when She got her second try and they were getting dessert at the same time we did.. Ship services did eventually refund us the up charge and the Pinnacle manager called us to apologize and offered another try on the last night, but we already planned the evening. Entertainment and Activities: Comedians were very good. My wife Participated in the Americas test Kitchen and had a blast!! She said she would do that over and over again... Also, did the bar hop with Jeremy and that was an awesome time. There was never a shortage of things to do. Services: Room Stewards - These guys are great, never needed anything... Spa Services: Very Disappointed with spa services. First, My wife got a manicure. Her nails were chipping after 1 day.. Spa did redo the color, but talked my wife out of the color she wanted and the top of her nails by the cuticle look as if they were 1 week growth and her skin was peeling. The Facial she received left her with bruising and a sore/scar on her nose. She received the facial on the 1st sea day, so had the embarrassment the rest of the cruise. When addressed with spa manager she gave her a discount on the facial. She then gave a third chance for a massage and the tech kept going to deep after she said something several times. This left bruises on her back. Then the spa manager accosted her after her massage, because I had brought these issues up with the Ship services counter. They eventually took off the price of the facial. But during dining one evening another guest complained about being under the kitchen and got a 150 on board credit, so needless to say that was more upsetting to me. Ports and Excursions: Guatemala - We only went thru the bazaar. Prepare your self as they do not take no easily. You must walk away and not feel you are hurting feelings. Honduras: We went with Victor Bordon's Sloth and Monkey Tour - This was a lot of fun getting to touch the animals and see all the birds.. Relaxing at the resort was a really nice addition. Costa Maya, very nice and very clean port.. We didn't do much here as it was really windy ( 7-10 foot waves) made getting back on the boat a real challenge. Summary: Loved the ship and would probably give them another try. Hopefully the managers get a little training so that they stop trying to explain why there staff was making their errors and just fix things.. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because we had a great 21 night Caribbean cruise on the Koningsdam in 2018 and because we were looking for a longer duration European cruise that included a transatlantic crossing. Outstanding aspects of the cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had a great 21 night Caribbean cruise on the Koningsdam in 2018 and because we were looking for a longer duration European cruise that included a transatlantic crossing. Outstanding aspects of the cruise included the very high quality of onboard services and food quality. While not seeing the rationale of Holland America reworking some areas to provide private space for Club Orange, we did like other changes made during the late 2018 dry dock, including addition of the Rolling Stone Rock Room (good quality rock music performed several times most nights by an onboard cover band) and conversion of the space outside of the former Culinary Arts Center to nice tables for couples with great ocean views. We missed the early evening a-la-carte menu formerly offered in the Culinary Arts Center but tried and were impressed by the Nami Sushi area added to the Tamarind restaurant. The free onboard dining options, for the most part, offered very, very good food. The Lido Market was generally good but was overcrowded at times, some of the staff there were a bit aggressive, and I did get a reheated and overcooked steak there one evening. While the quality of espresso drinks at Explorations Café and the Grand Dutch Café remained very good, it was disappointing that the extra cost of standard tall drinks had increased by about 40% in just over a year. We noticed that the crowd seemed to be younger this year, than last, which is probably good news for the future of Holland America. This was particularly true on the second part of this back-to-back cruise which included younger families and a number of kids. The room stewards were absolutely incredible, consistently delivering superior quality service with a smile and friendly comments. We were a bit disappointed with the evening shows at times as there were no Broadway/ Los Vegas style shows (or onboard dance/singing troupe) as in the past. We found it strange that during the second part of the cruise, EXC port presentations were offered instead of evening shows and on days with late evening departure times, there were no shows at all. This may in part be the price of a music walk with 4 different acts. Overall, Koningsdam is a lovely ship and delivered a consistently high quality cruise experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
My husband and I have cruised on Holland America a few times. The last two were to the Caribbean although our previous trip was on a different ship. This cruise was wonderful. We loved the ports, the excursions, the crew, the other ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised on Holland America a few times. The last two were to the Caribbean although our previous trip was on a different ship. This cruise was wonderful. We loved the ports, the excursions, the crew, the other passengers, and the relaxing atmosphere. We remember the food being much tastier and more exotic in the past. This cruise had good food, but not fantastic food which is usually a large topic of our conversation when we come home. The souvenir glasses we received with the cordials (very tasty!!) offered in the dining room were high quality and the perfect size keepsake! We have never seen this option before and we loved it! The Oosterdam is on the older side as ships go and had areas of sewerage smell. Our room, thankfully, wasn't in those areas. The only thing we didn't like about our Verandah room was that the pillows really smelled. I slept with towels wrapped around mine. Other than that the rooms were great. The movie options on the television were top notch! Loved that option. During our visit to Holland America's island in the Bahama's we visited their bar only to be told that our drink package didn't include drinks on the island. We were very flabbergasted as this is Holland America's property. That was very disappointing and we left without purchasing a drink. I visited the spa and purchased "The Perfect Day" package which included a facial and massage. The facial was merely a face wash and mask. The massage focused mostly on the back and head. I was told afterward that my shoulders needed a lot of attention and I should book another appointment. Also, there was a lot of pushing of product. Not sure I would pay for that again. I've enjoyed massages at other locations during vacations that were far better. Onboarding was quick and easy. Disembarkment was easy, but the line through customs was extraordinarily long. For us it was no problem, but for anyone who has difficultly standing that long or someone who has to be somewhere quick, this is not ideal. All in all we enjoyed the cruise and would definitely sail with HA again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We arrived in Florida amid a flood of other cruisers. Definitely not accustomed to thousands of other confused people charging 0r standing around. We had finally located our luggage at a different.station, other than on the banner. At ... Read More
We arrived in Florida amid a flood of other cruisers. Definitely not accustomed to thousands of other confused people charging 0r standing around. We had finally located our luggage at a different.station, other than on the banner. At least Four cruise ships were departing on the same day..Holiday Inn at hollywood had a shuttle waiting for it and Candlewood hotel, we loaded up..Dispite them doubling their rates for rush at HI, they serve a decent breakfast, and accomadations were very nice.. Mind you there is not much else close here and 8 lanes of high speed traffic in front if you want to cross the hwy...I believe one 4x4 pu tried to see how close he could get, defintely did NOT slow down, There is NO crosswalk for protection. Ok, we paid $15.00 each for the ride to the port #21. and tipped the driver. I was satisfied with the process of checking in and forming groups to board..We were in a SY suite for our cruise and it was nice too, except for the heavy deck doors. the one next door #8076, closed loudly and disturbed me in the evenings. I turned in a request to have their closer and shock tested and repaired, but Hal did not fix it.So it reminded me of a cheap thin motel room when slammed..They were seniors next to us and I did not speak with them about it. The hot water controls were great in the Jetted tub and shower, you could get very hot water if you soaked. I did use the hot-tub on the rear of the ship, there were about 5 . The food was hit or miss after breakfast, which was great and so was the room service. By this I mean you could get great Fish and vegs, but their pasta sauce was not flavored enough, simular to Ragu..Pizza and Pasta was there all the time and hot served any time. There was a huge salad available at all meals, built with care by an attendant and plenty of vegetarian food.Ice Cream was served all day and lots of flavors, Seniors Love their Cold deserts.The whole ships crew worked hard to please anyone..The Steelband performance was the best, and second was the Magician show.. The port stops were nice, we enjoyed Willenstad, Curacoa in the old dutch section...We stayed on board at the canal, and went exploring in beautiful Costa Rica. This was our Diamond anniversary, and we were recognised at Gala Dinner..Thanks to HAl and the crew, especially a very efficient Captain, We will book another cruise with them soon...Jonyyuma Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a ... Read More
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a different boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam is not quite as nice as the Eurodam. Of course, it hasn't been updated as recently, so that stands to reason. For the most part, they are almost the same-- same restaurants, same staterooms, same places to spend money. But there are subtle differences. The Nieuw Amsterdam has an identity problem in its decor. Here a little Art Deco, there a little quirky, and over there-- well, the main dining room, it looks like the twin of a fancy Chinese restaurant, all in red and mirrors. It is just missing lazy susans on the tables and a gigantic fish tank. No shark tale soup on any menu, though. So, let's talk entertainment. The blues club-- can't beat it. Fun, great music, great entertainers. The classical musicians-- same same. The pianists, well, I guess others liked them, but they didn't do it for me. Mainstage entertainment-- well, were it not for the parents who decided to allow their children to climb over me (literally) and then sit, screaming, it was pretty good. The first show, all dancing, was creative-- the lights became both a character and a prop, with them dancing with the dancers. It was something I haven't seen before. The second dancing show was okay-- one dancer was significantly better than the others. She was good, she wasn't great. But entertaining enough. The magician played to a packed house. I coudn't see it because there was no where to sit. The few minutes I did, it looked like fun. Dining was hit and miss, but mostly hit. Whoever was in charge of cooking the meat hit a home run each time. Whoever was making the sandwiches needs to learn how to spread butter. Other than that, it was the usual high-quality food we have come to expect from HAL. The main issue we had with the cruise was the behavior of the children. I like kids. In fact, I have spent a lifetime teaching other people's kids. When they are well-behaved, they add a great deal to a social occasion. When they are badly behave, they ruin it. Besides the children climbing on me, then screaming, there were packs of young and pre-teens running around (yes, running,) leaving pool towels in the elevators, using the adult pool, several times, complete with floatees to jump onto, splashing the guests, shouting and jumping into the whirlpools. Our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. And then there is the cell phone issue. Ours were on airplane mode the whole time. And yet we were charged for their service. So, we enjoyed ourselves. But we do feel like HAL has a few wrinkles to iron out. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because it worked out as a back to back cruise after we got off the Regal Princess at the same port. Also, we were on the Koningsdam (sister ship) last year and we liked the ports it was going to. As always, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it worked out as a back to back cruise after we got off the Regal Princess at the same port. Also, we were on the Koningsdam (sister ship) last year and we liked the ports it was going to. As always, the food was excellent in taste, quality and variety we experienced before on Holland America. The ship was extremely clean in the well appointed cabin as well as all the common areas. Staff, crew and officers were so very friendly, courteous and helpful. The entertainment in BB King's lounge and the Rolling Stones lounge were very good but so disappointed in the piano lounge duo who sang off key and their voices did not compliment each other. We saw such a better duo on the Koningsdam last year. We enjoyed the entertainment in the main theatre but it would have been so much better if there had been more use of the theatre throughout the week. The movies under the stars and in the staterooms were recent and a good variety but there really wasn't a lot doing after 10:45 pm unless you went to the Casino, which we did not. We were disappointed in the embarkation procedure in the terminal waiting room, which appeared to be quite chaotic with older staff not knowing what to do and not agreeing with other staff. Even though Holland America has a very good product, we have decided that we will probably not be sailing with them again as we found the cruise to be too boring for us. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Friends had planned their vacation and invited us along...We would go again in a heart beat. Our room was clean, we were catered to, there was plenty of food and so many choices. The staff made us feel catered to. Our cabin person PuTu ... Read More
Friends had planned their vacation and invited us along...We would go again in a heart beat. Our room was clean, we were catered to, there was plenty of food and so many choices. The staff made us feel catered to. Our cabin person PuTu was awesome!!! He brought us what ever we needed, answered our questions and kept us informed. PuTu was funny, sweet and so very accommodating. His customer services skills are golden! *We were invited on the cruise by our friends Norm and Teri, we invited my husbands brother and sister~in~law Richard and Paulette. We all had a blast! *Shore excursions we absolutely loved and had so much fun on the ConTiki. *The mini hummers were fun and educating our guide 'Johnny Depp' was fun and knowledgeable. *We went on an unplanned excursion in a young man who had a comfortable van asked us along and his prices were AWESOME! I wish I could remember his name, you wouldn't believe how much he knew. This person made us feel as if we'd been friends forever. *On our last stop we had pre-ordered a 'half shell?' with two lounge chairs. We couldn't find any available ones and the people we were instructed to look for, for guidance were no where to be seen. We just gave up and ended up not getting one because it felt like we were wasting our beach time looking for help. *(Just a thought, maybe those who pre-order get a ticket say "lounge shell #1" and tag the shells with numbers. when we get to the destination or somewhere along the way the tickets are given to the purchasers so they may just go to the preassigned shells. AND the 'half shells' are set up prior to our arrival...(I heard from some that they had to wait for someone to set things up when they got there, and they too had to follow behind a line of people and LOOK for available seats.) But the positive experiences far overweight the beach chair experience and we absolutely would love to go on another cruise. Thank you to all who made our first experience so very AWESOME! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
This was out first cruise so we were not sure what to expect. We had heard from our friends that Holland America was a very elegant and relaxing cruise line... and they were right! We loved having a relaxing atmosphere. The staff around ... Read More
This was out first cruise so we were not sure what to expect. We had heard from our friends that Holland America was a very elegant and relaxing cruise line... and they were right! We loved having a relaxing atmosphere. The staff around the ship was extremely friendly and polite. Our stateroom stewards would greet us by name, even when they saw us out and about on the ship! They always asked how our day was going and if there was anything they could help us with. Everything across the ship was sparkling clean, the food was amazing and a nice selection of entertainment. We preferred to go to the later evening shows, because the earlier shows filled up quite quickly. This ship definitely has a classic feel to it, and it appeared to cater towards an 'older' crowd, although all age groups were present. My husband utilized the spa services and raved about his experience. We recommend spending the little extra to get a balcony room- ours provided spectacular views and was a nice place to take a nap or enjoy a few quiet moments. We would definitely book another cruise with Holland America Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this ship because it was newer and we lived the itinerary and not too many sea days. (We have been on about 26 cruises) This is what we loved: 1. The ship is beautiful 2. Staff is attentive and friendly 3. Dinner in ... Read More
We chose this ship because it was newer and we lived the itinerary and not too many sea days. (We have been on about 26 cruises) This is what we loved: 1. The ship is beautiful 2. Staff is attentive and friendly 3. Dinner in dining room doesn’t seem rushed 4. Itinerary 5. Very clean 6. Despite reviews that say they don’t have an “unlimited” internet package they actually did. On our 10 day cruise it cost $179. This is what we did NOT love: 1. Theatre so small it does not accommodate guests. We showed up 40 minutes early for two shows and there was not one seat left 2. Formal night, a dance show is about to begin, ONE show, really? It starts at 9pm and we are waiting outside the theatre standing here at 7:50pm, we have a 1 hour 10 min wait. It’s day 9 of our 10 day cruise and we love the dance shows and this is the third one and if we get a seat it will be the first one we get to see. I think the theatre holds 300 people, I may be wrong. Smallest theatre on any cruise ship I have ever been on. They need 3 shows per night for the dance shows to accommodate the guests. Tomorrow night is the last dance show and they also have ONE show. So nope we won’t sail with them again. 3. Eating in the lido buffet is exasperating. You can basically not get any food by yourself, maybe you can serve yourself some fruit or a cinnamon roll AFTER they hand you a plate. What I’m trying to say is that the buffet is a lot of work. You have to wait in line. You can’t grab your own plate. There is say one person maybe two behind the glass at each food station. At one food station this one girl has to make crepes, spoon out oatmeal and cream of wheat into bowls, put bacon and sausage on your plate..it’s pretty crazy and slow. Then suppose you want toast or a bagel, now go to the bread food station wait in that line so that one person that’s runnjng that can take care of it. Then find a table and try to get coffee, it’s just an ordeal. 4. Then they close breakfast most days at 9:30am. 5. The food has been good but some meals better than others. Not every meal has been amazing. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and ... Read More
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and a few of my criteria. The Rotterdam was the cheapest for ocean view- and for Mariner members we got $100 off on HAL.COM. One thing to watch for on OV on some Holland ships- they are nice and big and have a couch- (and even a bathtub). But a top grade (HH) can be obstructed view literally on Lower Promenade. DW did not trust the one way glass tinting- as people could possibly see in as they walked by. We booked a specific porthole (1815) down on deck one “Dolphin” - and were amused to get three “urgent” upgrade offers back up to HH- starting at $69 pp and the last was $19 pp. We had one 110V outlet, one German (250V/50hz) outlet and 2x USB charging ports. Tampa is usually a low cost air destination for us. I saved a little and booked a connecting flight- why I asked myself after a four hour delay. Ubers are cheap and abundant. The cab from the airport asked for $26 not on the meter, six over Uber XL and DW rolled her eyes and tipped him poorly. The chain hotels were pricey the start of spring break. We tried the Tahitian. The reviews were mixed. The pool and grounds were good. It has a smallish main building with a 1970s motel out back. There is no one from chain headquarters to remind the owner he needs to write a check and fix stuff like beds, bubbling plaster and clock radios or lose his franchise. The little breakfast/lunch café inside was excellent- the Tampa Police eat there. There is a cute residential neighborhood out back. Embarkation at 11 AM was less than optimal. We were too early, yes, but Terminal Six has not enough chairs. So get there at 11:30 and you proceed to the gangway and not have to stand in line after your speedy check in. Actual boarding started at 11:40. The ship is lovely and being very aggressively maintained – new carpet, paint, piping etc. The crew was cheerful and the art is really top notch. Rooms were ready at 11:45 AM- who ever heard of that. We ate embarkation lunch in the MDR. The selections were just right. The Cajun items had un-spiced sausage but they did a good job on vegetables and soups. Dinners were also good- we had aft facing sharing tables for eight and the conversation was really great – four couples our age with 15+ cruises each. Note the average passenger age was up there. The wine prices were high to us- $9 is apparently the norm -but they had three IPAs. One was out of stock but they had a Florida one that was not bad. A few tap beers are available here and there. We were so excited to see the Oceans Quartet (sometimes or formerly called Neptunes) with four sets starting at 7PM or even 5PM. The dance floor is smallish (14 feet by 14 feet or so) but the band was very good- the guys are from Mexico and will be on the ship until May. Several couples were dancing. One of the dancers said they were playing all jazz the previous week but I went up and begged for some Latin – and it was amazing. A piano player was there in between sets. If you know the Foxtrot Box Step- it is handy on a small floor. Up the way there was a piano bar player- he was well regarded- Barry from Boston. The casino was packed and a bit smoky. There was no actual production show- this caused some grumbling– replaced by a movie. Others seemed OK with the movie. There was comedy a few nights. Both were good and one of the comedy shows had music (we won’t give it away). There was a musical show- Postmodern Jukebox that was only OK but way over hyped. If I was HAL I would being back a smallish production show. The reports on the Test Kitchen were positive. As I write this is it 5:45 AM in the lounge/coffee shop/library aka Explorations Cafe. There is no library on the deck plans but there are actual books, puzzles, board games and no piped in music. The coffee shop opens at 6:30. For a transatlantic or world cruise this is an excellent and large space- and very under-rated. We had our Cruise Critic unofficial meet and greet around a giant puzzle. They need a few electric outlets, and there is a wooden book sculpture that takes up a whole writing desk and needs to be recycled. I found a wireless laser printer which was good for boarding passes etc. The ship has an aft pool. These are nice and a good way to enjoy the sea views. Key West is a good port. On our third trip there we hunted for the free bus, which for us was like a unicorn and hard to find. Two important clues- it is called the Duval Loop and is a smallish city bus. There is a commercial trolley-bus and a wheeled train. The Duval Loop has red circular signs marking the stops. It was very full when we rode it and the commentary was safety vs tourist focused. The Southernmost Beach Café was again excellent and we found Turkish trivets and key lime jelly beans on Duval. The funny and interesting port talks downplayed Porto Tomas in Guatemala. The message was, over and over, buy a shore excursion or else you will be bored and disappointed. Some of us took the or else- many staying on the ship. There was hint you could walk out the gate of the container port by the craft market, go straight a block then right around the miniature naval station to some waterfront restaurants. At least one showed up on the online rating sites and can be seen from the ship. We dropped into Donde Pilo which seated us over the water on a thatched roof dock. They were sweet and friendly and recommending the large lobster seafood soup for $20. Some friends who arrived by power wheelchair had a huge fish. Divide all local currency prices by 7. We looked for and saw several crew. If they are trying to promote the port in the bigger picture I would humbly suggest to HAL and the Tourist Board to rent a few golf carts and shuttle guests over there. It is a similar look, feel and walk to Senior Frogs in Nassau. Pro tip- the local beer was $2. The craft market at the pier had pretty local crafts – I got two nice hand made belts for $20 each. Taxis to the actual town, a few miles away, were like $10pp round trip. Service in the MDR was cheerful but slow. Breakfast food was lovely – lots of choices- full English, waffles and even Asian. But they would take 45 minutes and ask for juice two or three times etc. We diagnosed the issue as “stay in your section” by the Head Waiters, vs “go and help the guests or supervise” – which is easy to fix and we dropped in a note to the Hotel Director. Dinner was slow but everybody was pitching in. MDR Lunch was efficient. They were not serving in the MDR on port days, so we tried “Dive In” by the covered pool – which has a taco bar also and a good chicken sandwhich. There were rumors of a shortage of limes aboard. I cornered a senior beverage person, who stated they have to use certified (food safety?) suppliers, such as those back in Tampa, so just racing off to buy a case of limes was just not possible. I complimented him on the wise decision to carry several IPAs. He hinted they would have more but there were issues with shelf stability. He did acknowledge the cost of them was also a factor, and that guests were “crazy for light beers.” The founder of our local (large) microbrewery at home, Summit, makes of big point of his decision to hire a chemist and build a lab to work on shelf stability as he tries to expand nationally. This may be a helpful clue as to why there not more craft beers on cruise ships. We were baffled by the real world dress code aboard. Yes the published one was easy to follow. Dress to Impress aka Formal Night was the big question. So, based on a sample size of say 100 people I noticed (this is valid sample size I think), the average for men was sport coat and tie. We saw a tux or two and quite a few business casual. Mahogany Bay is a dedicated cruise ship port. The Captain mentioned the entrance was narrow and challenging to back the ship into in high winds, but everything was just so. The grounds were manicured, the shops air conditioned and the beaches sandy. There were life guards and lots of security. We had a dip in the ocean. The online drawings and photos show the place as barren but the jungle has filled in and it quite pretty. There were lots of lounge chairs and shade available. We enjoyed the signs on some of the exotic (to us at least) trees and flowers. Costa Maya seemed the same and massively crowded. We stayed on the ship. The gentle rocking at the open sea pier made it like a sea day. We read books and went for several walks. MDR breakfast service settled in. I did some asking around – this is a happy ship- with high guest satisfaction ratings. I have noticed a correlation between happy ships and good ratings on places like Cruise Critic. You can tell if the crew is enjoying their (hard) work. We were impressed by the towel animals – Riston (covering the whole forward-odd side of Deck One up to about 1857) designed an amazing elephant, sleeping dog and monkey- the best we have even seen. They did not seem to use cleaning carts which can block the hallways. Getting off the ship could not have been easier. CBP had a lot officers on duty in Tampa, which helped. There were no lines at all at 8:40. Just before leaving we had a walk on the all-around promenade deck, then ordered eggs benedict and Belgian Waffles in the MDR. This was a good reminder of how well organized things are on the co-flagship of the line Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that ... Read More
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that there was so good ratings with HAL with travelers with similar preferences we did not hesitate to book this trip, our first on HAL. Our preferences were quite traditional: Piece and quietness, well mannered co-passengers, dining experiences with lots of choices and styles, civilized onboard activitities and entertainment, interesting excursions, kind and friendly staff and responsible shipowners with competent crew. Particularly we were not after activities some other latest cruise ships may offer for families and younger clientele, We tried to avoid cruse lines with all-day partying and noisy teens and kids around. As a summary HAL offered all this in very sophisticated way. Onboard staff exceeded any of our previous experiences. Based on recommendations on the CC HAL group, before boarding we visited at the Total Wine iand picked up a 6 bottle box of selected wines based on their recommendation of "a taste of America". However, after the trip found that the selections onboard was perfectly adequate, if not US-centric. Check-In Fort Lauderdale was done in breeze by very helpful officer, particularly noticing we were not that experienced cruisers on HAL. We boarded soon before noon and had a wonderful lunch served in the MDR after settling in to our cabin. The VD Class cabin was on the 7th deck with a veranda. It was not a suite, but spacious enough for two of us. For our surprise, there was enough storage space even for a much longer trip. There was absolutely no noise from neighboring cabins or from the corridors. Completely quiet, apart quiet hum from the AC. We found ship interiors very nicely designed and we felt being at home soon after boarding. Most of the fellow passengers were naturally from US and Canada, also quite big part, probably a few hundred passengers from Europe and from South America and Far East.. Based on the Skipper's, Jeroen van Donselaar's note, there were some 2100+ passengers and 800+ crew members onboard, so the ship was practically fully booked. Cruise itself offered everything and beyond we expected. For our surprise the seadays were anything but boring. The days were full of activities, e.g. starting from presentation of the ports we were going to call, Digital Workshops, recitals on the Lincoln Center, stand up shows and other performances after dinner at the Main Stage ending upto enjoying the B.B. King's Club. BTW, they played really well. About dining experience, we had dinners in all the restaurants, twice in the Pinnacle Grill, once in Rudy's, once in Tamarind, once in Canaletto and Lido, rest in the MDR. In general, we were fully content with the MDR, but Pinnacle offered us the something to remember for long time. My personal favorite was the Sole Meunier at the MDR, but it was available only once soon after departure, Based on our experience it's difficult to fully understand those who in CC HAL Forum have complained MDR being not upto their standards. Dover Sole in Rudy's; the Maine Lobster, Tartar Steak and Filet Mignon at the Pinnacle. Tamarind was excellent, but as have traveled lots in the far east, we found it a (little bit) too westernized. Sushi was available daily at the Lido. And now we still miss Hamburgers in the Dive In. They were special. Really. Shore excursions we pre-booked, were mostly as expected: In Cartagena the old town was really nice and worthwhile to visit, could have spend a lots of more in the town. Passing Panama Canal was a really highlight of the day. For an ex Sailor (Master Mariner), like me, this was a really meaningful event. We passed the Canal through the old locks, far more interesting than the new ones, which were apparently not that busy on our day of passing. In Costa Rica we chose an Exc to flower gardens up to the mountain having a magnificent view over to the Pacific. We managed to see a pair of macaws not too far away in the garden and a number of crocodiles on the way. It was most beautiful landscape. Time to visit there was far too short, again. In Nicaragua we had a trip to a banana plantation owned by a local prominent family, supplying their products to major brands. Lots of manual, minimally paid work needed before products can be shipped. Highlight of that trip was to see the landscape with active volcanoes on the way. Local people were extremely friendly with us. Really difficult to figure out how they manage to struggle with the average salaries paid in that country. We hope they will manage with their struggle with economy, e.g. expanding from agriculture to tourism. In Guatemala we had another trip to a Coffee Plantation and a small city on the mountain area. Was really beautiful, again. There were also two Mexican ports, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta on the way. Enjoyed both excursions to the country side. Street vendors in Cartagena and Guatemala were some degree of nuisance, but nothing unexceptional for 'seasoned travelers'. Before the trip we had concerns, e.g. how to cope potential 'cultural differences' during the two weeks with the fellow passengers mostly from US and Canada since we are not that extrovert. That proved to be a non-issue. With all people we spoke with were most friendly curious and knowledgeable what's going outside US. Quite a number of them had visited even to our home country, Finland, on their previous cruises or careers. So overall, would wholeheartedly recommend Panama Cruise with HAL anyone expecting a classy experience to pass the Canal, see beautiful countries with friendly people of Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, spend time with fellow most nice passengers on a well maintained ship with a stellar crew. Read Less
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