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Sail Date: September 2018
We booked this cruise on a whim as we had never been on a cruise and found a great deal. Seattle isn't far from Vancouver BC Canada (about 2.5 to 3 hour drive) so having this embark and return to Seattle was convenient. We drove ... Read More
We booked this cruise on a whim as we had never been on a cruise and found a great deal. Seattle isn't far from Vancouver BC Canada (about 2.5 to 3 hour drive) so having this embark and return to Seattle was convenient. We drove down in the morning at 7:30AM and parked at Seattle Cruisepark by 10:30 (we had enough time to stop for coffee). They have shuttles that take you to and from the terminal every 15-20 minutes so it was quite convenient. Embarkation was great and straight forward. A porter took our bags before hand and they were already in our room by the time we got on board. Our room was configured in a twin-bed setup, and after our concierge introduced themselves we asked them if they could change it to a single-bed setup while we roamed the ship. They happily obliged. We went straight for the Lido deck to eat as our morning drive and check in left us starving. It did not disappoint as there were plenty of foods ready for everyone as soon as the boarded. The ship itself wasn't particularly huge, but you didn't feel confined either. Memorable for us were the variety of shows on the main stage every night. You could gamble at the casino, go to some cooking demonstrations, watch movies in a theatre, swim, relax in hot tubs, drink in the birds nest or on the Lido rear deck; plenty to do. The main dining room is surprisingly elegant and huge, and the food was delicious there as well as the Lido Buffet. One night we had dinner at the Pinnacle grill. I swear, I had THE BEST 18 oz Ribeye Steak that i've ever had in my life (and this is from a guy who has eaten a fair share of steak!). One night we danced as the Birds Nest turns into a club with dance floor and nearby bar. Alaska cities were beautiful, and the time of year we went (1st week of September) happened to have warm weather at all of our stops. Juneau was 26 degrees celcius!!! Hubbard Glacier was nice as the boat engines were turned off and the only sounds were the calving of ice into the bay. The tradition of Pea Soup served to those on deck was neat, as I don't often have pea soup. In Ketchikan I got to see the Time Bandit (a boat from the show, Deadliest Catch) in port. Sitka Alaska didn't have much to do in town and we didn't book any excursions, so we took the day to relax while everyone went off-ship as well as do laundry so that we didn't have to do so much when we got home. Onboard there are a few laundry rooms with several washer/dryers. Washers cost $2.00 a load, and you can get change from the Front Desk. Soap is free, as well as the Dryers. We popped our clothes in and went to eat with plenty of time before going back to swap the clothes in the dryer and go back to the Birds Nest for some Pina Coladas. For a 7 day cruise near our home and for our first time, this cruise was excellent and we are itching to book our next cruise! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got into Vancouver a day early and absolutely loved the Pan Pacific Hotel which is literally part of the cruise terminal! This allowed us an opportunity to see one HAL ship sail away and for us to watch the Westerdam sail in! This was so special! We went to mass on Saturdaybat the Cathedral that is an easy walk and had a great dinner with a view at the Steamworks brewing company. Our HAL hotel package included a yummy buffet with a view of our ship and luggage pickup at our room so we just needed to go downstairs, check in and we are on the ship enjoying the buffet by 11:30. Rooms were ready soon after and we unpacked, took a ship tour, and we were ready for the sail away party. Loved the size and elegant ease of the Westerdam, very relaxing and good food. The shows and music venues were nice. The star was Alaska and all the wildlife. This was accented by the naturalist programs and the beautiful port adventures. Our first port was Ketchikan. We loved watching sailing in and out of here and all the ports from our balcony. We had a Totem Bight tour in the morning with a really informative guide. Then we had plenty of time to shop and explore the town. Guess what? No rain! We had sunny clear skies throughout this trip and really comfortable temperatures! So lucky! In Juneau we rented a car to go to Mendenhall Glacier. We walked out to the falls for some fantastic views and enjoyed the guest center. Then we picked up our friends, who did the helicopter ride out to the glacier (which they loved), had lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, then out to The Shrine of St. Theresa, which has beautiful views, and back to town for a little shopping. In Skagway we loved the luxury car on The White Pass RR! Instead of 50 people on bus like seats we had 14 big comfy leather swivel chairs, our own guide, drinks, the best coffee, hot and cold snacks, a large platform outside, and we were first car up and caboose back for great views. It was a splurge but well worth it for the experience. Do it! Then we went into town, had a drink and snack at the brewery, and met a local carving soapstone and bought a seal from this artist. Great day! Then the big day, Glacier Bay. I was so excited that I got up really early and we got to watch the park rangers come on board. With only a quick breakfast and lunch break, we spent all day on the deck and it was worth every freezing moment. We saw whales, orcas, bears, puffins, and the most beautiful scenery you could imagine including a giants glacier calving which I caught on video! I loved this whole day. Truly once in a lifetime experience! We had another sea day...did I mention that we saw whales spouting several times a day...keep your eyes on the ocean and always go out when the naturalist is speaking on deck 10. We were sad to end our cruise but excited to jump on a bus and head to Denali. On the way it was so clear that we saw Mt. Denali ( which is very rare) all the way there. We also saw baluga whales! We stopped at some scenic viewing spots and a Iditarod center and held puppies! We stayed at HAL lodge, had a great meal, shopped, and even roasted marshmallows. The next day we explored the lodge area and then went on about an 8 hour tundra wilderness tour. It was epic! The guide told us to relax and enjoy and remember that we aren’t going to get real close to wildlife...well, at the first stop, she said that we had already seen more wildlife than most people see the whole trip...and that was just the beginning! We saw 3 young wolves playing in front of and beside the bus, a moose also walked right by the bus, we saw several bears, elk, and clear as can be Mt. Denali the whole trip! Oh, then that night, we saw the northern lights! Wow!! Then we took the McKinley Exolorer glass top train back to Anchorage...again Mt. Denali was visible the whole way. The guide said that in 10 years he had never heard of the views and wildlife we got to experience. He said it was more than a picture post card day...he said we got the whole brochure! We stayed at the Westmark which was a fine hotel very well located to walk everywhere! We enjoyed dinner at The Glacier Brewhouse (everyone, but me, got a variety of their Mac and cheese which they loved). We had a late flight with transportation with HAL so we had a relaxing day, late breakfast at Snow City Cafe, and didn’t the day shopping and watching free movies at the Alaska Center in the Federal Building caticorner from the visitors center ( note, you have to get scanned for security so no ulu knife!). Felt like we did everything we set out to do and more...we saw it all and ate it all. Love cruising. Love Alaska. Oh, try the hamburgers, hotdogs and fries at the Dive In! Yum! You can see my trip info on YouTube. SSVacationista Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went ... Read More
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went on the River boat cruise and did the Gold Dredge eight which was a lot of fun, a great way to get started. Denali was awesome, we spent two days there before moving on. Rode ATV and did the Denali Tundra wilderness tour, which was eight hours but had the most amazing sights and we saw a decent amount of wildlife along the way. The weather was perfect for most of trip, rained first day and last day, other than that we had tons of sunshine and warm temperatures. The two lodges were very nice with a rustic feel, we really enjoyed them. Then we took the train to Talkeetna and the train was fun with great views, and good hosts pointing out highlights as we passed them. Saw two moose along the way as well. Bartender on board to make sure everyone had a good time, we certainly did. After spending the afternoon in Talkeetna a great little quaint town with fun people, from there we went to Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness lodge which gave us some amazing views of Denali as well. Off to Anchorage on a tour bus to the Westmark Anchorage, an older hotel but kept up nicely. Spent the evening, morning exploring Anchorage which is a very nice city on the inlet. In the afternoon we went to the wildlife preserve where we say many of the native animals up close. Then we went to Mt. Aleyska Resort to spend the evening in the town of Girdwood. The resort was fantastic, very beautiful, high end with endless scenery. Many chose to go into town, we to the tram to the top of mountain and spent the evening eating dinner up there and enjoying the view. Then we went down and spent time exploring the hotel and it's many bars. After an enjoyable evening at Mt. Aleyska we boarded a bus for ride to Seward to board the ship. We got to explore Seward for a few hours before we boarded the ship which was easy and painless. We had a Verandah room with balcony on port side. Nice room, loved view from balcony, had lots of storage for luggage and clothes. Suitcases fit under bed and closets held a lot of cloths. Our room stewards Anom and Novi met us upon arrival and were great guys who did and outstanding job. Wonderful guy and people. The entire staff on the ship were top notch not a complaint on anyone, polite, friendly, helpful and boy do they keep this ship clean. We had great weather and smooth seas as we left port heading for a day at sea before Glacier bay. Glacier bay was phenominal being on port side we saw everything, Captain did a full two rotations at Margie glacier so everyone could see the glacier, I know we saw some calving it think everyone did, what a great day. Most of the cruise we had breakfast in suite with room service, it was hot an delivered on time. We enjoyed sitting on balcony having breakfast while we docked or pulled into port. Our first port of call was Haines, we had an exscursion planned, Portage glacier so we only had a few hours to tour area around ship. The excusion had a wonderful boat ride to the area of the glacier a bus ride to a camp where we suited up with life vests, boots and an oar (boy was my wife suprised) and hiked a half mile to ten man canoes. We only had to paddle about fifty yards before they could use trolling motor on back of boat. then we went ashore about a hundreds yards from portage glacier for pictures etc. Decent tour not sure wife would do it again, it was rustic, the outhouses were terrible. Juneau was our next port we had time to explore before and after our Whale watching excursion, with Mendehal glacier tour. I wish we had more than an hour at the glacier, theres a water fall Nugget falls thats walkable but its a two mile walk, I got pictures but I would've like a closer view. We saw five whales on our cruise to Orca Lodge for a great lunch and shopping (yes more shopping & the only place they don't have gift stores is the bathrooms in Alaska). It was a nice excusion, very well executed and narrated. We went to red dog saloon, I had five Duck fart shots which were very good, wife didn't care for them. Walked around Juneau for the rest of the day before heading back to the ship for dinner. We only ate in the main dining room once and it was very nice and good. Most of the time we were busy and just hit the Lido buffet which had similar items as main dining room, but finding a seat was a chore sometimes. Food was getting cold by the time we sat down. From Juneau we headed to Ketchickan where we saw first day of rain in some time. We had two hours to look around before we went to Neets bay for bear watching via floatplane. I was worried they may cancel flight but it went off without a hitch. The plane ride was great on the way to Neets bay. At neets bay we saw three bear up close and personal at the hatchery, evidently we were at the end of one salmon run and very beginning of another. The bears were within 20 yards but we were on observation deck. On the flight back to Ketchikan our pilot took us over some of the Misty Fjords and then thru some spectacular scenery, saw seals on rock, Dall sheep on hillside it was a wonderful flight back. Once back on ship we watched two adult eagles with a juvenile down on the shore line. Upon leaving Ketchikan we headed towards the inside passage in the rain and some rough seas. Once we got to the inside passage the seas smoothed out. Woke up saturday morning watched us pull into Vancouver which is a beautiful city for disembarkment. We had breakfast in room as we waited for our group to be called, we had a 9-9:30 time and we were at the airport by 10:15ish very easy. Overall it was a marvelous trip, I'd do it again in a minute. Holland America was very organized and terrific. The Noordam was well maintained, clean and the right size. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We selected the Seattle to Alaska cruise for a special birthday. Four of us traveled together -- my husband and I and my parents. Holland America was not the cheapest, but had reasonably good reviews and a great route -- Sitka, Juneau, ... Read More
We selected the Seattle to Alaska cruise for a special birthday. Four of us traveled together -- my husband and I and my parents. Holland America was not the cheapest, but had reasonably good reviews and a great route -- Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria. We arrived late in the boarding window, so embarkation was easy. But, that's where the positive part of the experience ended. Our room was a nightmare. Although we paid a substantial amount to upgrade our room (to veranda, high floor, quiet location), our room was directly below the buffet. We had a ridiculous and stressful amount of noise -- pounding, rolling carts, etc -- from 6 am to midnight. We were finally moved after FOUR nights into a beautiful suite room but the thermostat was broken and we had cold air blowing on the bed for two nights. My parents' room was adjacent to another room where they were doing construction. The buffet food was mediocre. The dining room food was worse -- so bad that we stopped eating in there after two nights. We purchased one excursion but it was incredibly overpriced for the experience. We worked with the guest services staff during and after our stay. They were impatient, rude (and maybe overwhelmed since there seemed to be many unhappy customers on board) and clearly not interested in working to make us want to ever try Holland America again. For 6 really bad nights in our room, we received a $300 credit, and nothing more. My parents also received a credit but should have been offered a new cruise. We don't recommend Holland America and will not sail with any ship under the Carnival Cruise Lines umbrella. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our 5th cruise first trip to Alaska and on Holland. We booked last minute and ended up with a cabin on the main deck 2647. It was quiet with a walk in shower! We bought the spa pass and felt it was our own spa for the cruise. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise first trip to Alaska and on Holland. We booked last minute and ended up with a cabin on the main deck 2647. It was quiet with a walk in shower! We bought the spa pass and felt it was our own spa for the cruise. We used it in the morning after our exercise in the gym and it was empty. The service was top rate from room Stewart to dining to ocean bar. Everyone referred to us by name and were very attentive. The food was the best I have experienced on all cruise lines(carnival, celebrity,norwegian and royal caribbean). We were in the dining room for lunch and dinner and it was fantastic. We did 2 excursions: In Juneau we did the whale watching and Mendenhall glacier. The whale watching boats so crowded 150 people? Too many! In Sitka we did an ATV which was fantastic. There was only one other couple. We took a small boat to a volcanic island and saw 3 whales, sea otters and bald eagle. The ATV was fun and beautiful scenery. Afterward we went to town and the totem pole park. Hubbard glacier was breathtaking. In Ketchikan just walked the town. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday ... Read More
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday August 17. We enjoyed an uneventful drive to our reserved off-airport parking and they quickly took us to terminal B. There was no line at Aer Lingus check in and we dropped off our two bags. I noted they marked the bags for “Quick transfer.” The arriving flight was delayed and by the time we pulled away from the gate we were an hour late. Thanks to a brisk tailwind our arrival in Dublin was only 15 minutes late. We quickly transferred to our connection and were able to change our seats to an aisle and middle for the short flight to Amsterdam. This flight was also delayed and we arrived at our gate nearly 30 minutes late. It took about an hour to get through immigration and obtain our luggage, which was about the last ones off our flight. Schiphol airport has changed since our last visit and we had a time finding an ATM. The prior “Row” of competing ATM’s is gone and it seems ABN bank and Travelex now have a duopoly. We used the Travelex ATM and they now have a 2 Euro charge to use the ATM. That is still the least costly way to obtain Euros. We had a light, late breakfast at “Dutch and Delicious.” We obtained our Chip Kaarts (transit debit card) and left for the train to Amsterdam. We ended up on an express train with no stops. While that was fast, it was not as luggage-friendly as the regular train. We would take the regular train when we do the return. From Central Station, it is a 5 minutes’ walk to the Amsterdam Doubletree. We agreed to take a courtyard view room rather than our assigned harbor view in order to get an early check in. The courtyard room is actually quiet while any room with a view will have some noise from the trains immediately adjacent. We took showers and changed. We walked through town to DAM Square where we had pre-bought tour tickets for the Dutch Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is a very nice tour however with being so tired after about half the tour we had enough. We went looking for a late lunch / early dinner and ended up at the central library next to our hotel. The LaPlace restaurant we had enjoyed on our last visit has been replaced with another restaurant and we did not think it was as good. Our hotel stay included access to the executive lounge so we enjoyed beverages and snacks in the evening and called it a long day. Sunday, August 19 – Amsterdam We woke about 6:15 after eleven hours of wonderful sleep. Breakfast began at 7:00 in the lounge and we were there shortly thereafter. Omelets were made to order if desired and lots of nice coffees and teas were available. The city outside was very different on this Sunday morning (very quiet) as opposed to a very bustling Saturday! We took a short walk enjoying the quiet and snapped photos. We repacked everything we took apart at the Doubletree and began walking back to Central Station to catch tram #26. The tram pulled up just as we arrived. We took the tram for the short ride to the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal we followed signs for the Prinsendam (as the Koningsdam was also in port) and dropped our luggage. We proceeded through check in and joined the line for security. By about 11:40 we were on board and in our cabin #270 on Deck 7. We put our soiled clothing in a laundry bag and hung it outside the cabin. We walked down to our traveling friend’s cabin at 276 and to our delight they had just arrived! After a short chat we went to the dining room for lunch. Lunch was very nice and we had a great time catching up since we were last together15 months ago. We also spoke with the dining room host about possibly changing to a dinner table in the smaller dining room. We have enjoyed that on previous Prinsendam cruises as it is quieter. We walked over a good portion of the ship pointing out some of the unique features of Prinsendam. We returned to our cabins and found our luggage delivered so unpack we all did. Everything was stored away before the muster drill. We attended the muster drill and at its conclusion were told we were leaving as quickly as possible to make room for another ship docking early due to a medical emergency. The sail away from Amsterdam is very nice. We had a narrated departure and enjoyed seeing the various buildings and landmarks along the way. Part of the sail away is industrial but portions have nice residential neighborhoods as well. Along the way at times the water is much higher than the surrounding land demonstrating how the land has been reclaimed from the sea. While we were at dinner we reached to locks to the North Sea. The wind became very strong but regardless I walked around the promenade taking photos of the lock area. Dinner food was very good but service was lacking. It was 7:45 by the time we left the dining room, 2:15 after we arrived. Once we hit the open sea we could feel the movement of the sea in the 2.5 meter waves. This made for great sleeping and by 8:30 we called it a night. The clocks go back an hour tonight as Scotland is an hour behind European time. Monday, August 20 at Sea We woke and prepared for breakfast in the dining room. We were there when they opened at 8:00 as we have a 9:30 cruise critic meet and greet. Breakfast was very nice and prompt. We enjoyed our company. The meet and greet was a nice success with about 25 of the 50 on our roll call attending. Half is about what we expected and everything worked our nicely. We met our friends at the M&G and next went to the 11:00 destination talk on Edinburgh. The destination guide is very good and we enjoyed his talk. I walked around noting the sun has come out and taking photos. We met back at our cabin and went to the Pinnacle Grille a few minutes before our 12:30 lunch reservation. We were immediately seated and truly enjoyed our lunch. At 2:00 the ladies went to flower arranging demonstrations while I enjoyed the aft pool. The aft pool is salt water and it was a little brisk. After 10 minutes or so floating around the pool I moved to one of the hot tubs. It was very nice just relaxing in the hot tub before drying off and heading back to the cabin to ready for our invite to a 4:30 cocktail gathering hosted by our travel agency prior to the first gala evening. The first Gala Dinner tonight was not pleasant. Despite arriving on time, and a special request to our wait team to get us out before 7:30 so we could attend the captain’s welcome reception, this was not to be. They seem to be split between fixed seating and ‘as you wish’ dining. Being at table 105 is a distraction at best as we see the constant line of as you wish diners waiting for seating. DW’s special diet order was mixed up and one of our tablemate’s meals had been giving to another table making our main courses staggered. My water glass was empty for a long time and when enjoying my beef there was nothing to wash it down. By 7:15, DW left to go to the lido in search of something she could eat. I ended up meeting with the assistant DR Manager and expressed our concerns with the dining room service. He promised to get back to us on all matters. They tried to deliver DW’s meal to her in the lido but it again had issues. She made up a big salad instead. We did attend the welcome toast followed by the cast show “American Crossing.” While we have seen this on a prior cruise this is an excellent show and the cast did a great job. We returned to our cabin and called it a night. One of our friends attended the piano bar entertainer and told us he was very good. We will need to try this soon! Tuesday, August 21 – Rosyth, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK We were up early to prepare for a very long day of touring and excitement in Scotland! I did not go up on deck for the sail under the three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth as it was very foggy early in the morning. We had breakfast delivered to our room and it was okay. We met our touring buddies at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar and joined the line for UK Passport inspection. We were through the line by about 8:25 and off the ship to meet Helen, our tour guide with “Local Eyes tours.” We were off to the Central Highlands and must say we sure saw a lot. Helen began by driving us over the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge. She drove us through South Queensferry and we stopped for a photo stop under the railway bridge. We then headed out of town with our first stop being the Kelpies, towering metal horses from mythical Scottish legends. The visitor’s center provided a nice chance for a rest stop as well. Added to the tour at my request was a stop at the Felkirk Wheel. This one of a kind engineering feat allowed the reopening of a canal system into the highlands. We then toured Stirling Castle. Stirling is largely restored to as close to the original as historians can figure it out. After the castle we stopped in a nearby village at a market, used the ATM, and bought lunch items which we enjoyed in the park at Loch Lubnaig (Crooked Lake). Helen also provided samples of two very different Scotch Whiskeys for us to try. At the lake there was a coffee shop and nice teas were enjoyed. We drove to Doune Castle and enjoyed touring this mostly original and unfurnished landmark. Doune is rather famous of the castle used for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as well as the TV series Highlander. The audio guide is narrated by one of the actors from Monty Python. Finally, our last stop was the village of Culross, the best example of a 16-17th century village in Scotland. We enjoyed a walk through the village. We returned to the port at exactly 5:00. We had a quick dinner, with DW’s special order being delivered to the room and I obtained some excellent Prime Rib and good fish from the Lido. Then we gathered at 6:35 to head out and meet our driver from Capitol Cars to take us to Edinburgh for the Royal Military Tattoo. Our driver was delayed by traffic but we still made it into town with plenty of time to spare. Edinburgh is very crowded with both the Tattoo taking place as well as the “Fringe festival” with 5 stages of (mostly) free entertainment throughout town. The Tattoo performance is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. The Tattoo is simply incredible and very hard to describe. As US citizens, we were surprised by the amount of positive USA involvement, from the pipe and drum corps dressed as during the revolutionary war and the positive portrayal of George Washington, to the US Air Force Drill team’s performance. I can only wish everyone at home would be as supportive of the USA as the Scottish are. The final farewell before the fireworks was “Auld Lang Syne” and as the audience was standing we used that as an opportunity to exit before the crowd. We made it down to our pick up point and I let Capitol Cars know we were ready. Our driver and van were there within 10 minutes and we returned to the Prinsendam at 11:30, just as the late night Lido buffet was opening. We enjoyed some time to unwind with a snack and as the bus groups began arriving a little after midnight we called it a night. This was a very full day but well worth it! Wednesday, August 22, 2018 – At Sea We slept in this morning after the long day before. With no hurry on a delightful sea day we slowly began getting ready and after being dressed I was looking at the daily schedule to find that it listed the Lido closing for breakfast at 10:00 and it was now 10:05! I went up to the lido and an Omelet cook generously made me two omelets for myself and DW, who followed me about ten minutes later. We kept breakfast light as DW had special ordered a dining room lunch for 12:30. We attended the “Ask the Captain” session at 11:00. This was very nice and the captain dispelled the opinion shared on cruise critic that certain US requirements prompted the sale of the Prinsendam. Being the only ship of its kind in the HAL fleet simply makes it too difficult to maintain as it continues to age as all the other ships come from the same shipyard and despite major size differences share many components. He is sad to see it go but is looking forward to being the captain during the last four or so sailings next Spring. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room and then relaxed a bit as we were still tired from the day before. We attended the travel talk by Brett at 3:00 and then enjoyed happy hour and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar before dinner. Speaking of dinner, we have been moved, along with our friends, to table 27 in the small dining room! Dinner tonight was excellent with the main course complete at 6:40. This is so much better, relaxing, and enjoyable than where we were. The performer tonight was Scottish Soprano Elaine Gray. We sat near the back not knowing if we would enjoy an opera singer but she was very good and mixed up the style performed quite a lot. We listened to the Ocean trio and went with our friends to the crow’s nest for the late happy hour before calling it a night at 10:00. Tomorrow we visit Torshavn, capitol of the Faroe Islands. Thursday, August 23, Torshavn, Faroe islands We enjoyed breakfast is the Lido. Some of the servers know us and take good care of our needs. We had a ship’s tour to the Vestmanna Seacliffs. The provided motor coach was first class with just enough room to be comfortable. We stopped at an overlook on the hill above Torshavn for a photo stop. Across the road was a Hyundai dealership. The narrated ride was informative and the roads were in excellent condition. The Faroe Islands is greatly expanding its inter-island road network by building bridges (two) between islands and tunnels (two) with two more planned the longest of which will be 26 KM long with a small breather on a small island midway. Due to their weather the ferries are not reliable as storms often create unsafe conditions. We reached the town of Vestmanna and boarded a nice boat to sail to the seacliffs. The first 40% of the boat trip was magnificent. Regretfully the weather turned a few moments before reaching the main cliffs and with pouring rain I was not able to get any clear photos of these cliffs or the birds thereon. I nodded off on the way back but the weather did not improve much until we were almost back to the dock. We took a faster route back with the bus (through a new mountain tunnel) and we took the port shuttle to downtown. We walked around and took photos of the Danish Royal family yacht as they were visiting Torshavn. We also stopped in a few shops but made no purchases. Returning to the Prinsendam to our delight we found it was “Dutch lunch” in the Lido. Lunch was good and the desserts were incredible. Olle Bollen, Apple Floppies, Butter Letter and other wonderful Dutch treats were on all the dessert table. I would not need much dinner that night! Still recovering from our long day in Edinburgh, it was time to rest a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice although I kept it very light. After dinner we enjoyed the Ocean Band and were able to dance for a bit. The entertainer was Ruben Vilagrand, billed as a “Unique Illusionist & Visual Artist.” I will say it was unique. Ruben never said a word the entire performance. Not really my cup of tea but it was different. Immediately after the show we made it to the Crow’s Nest for Piano Bar Entertainer Steve. We enjoyed him so much we made it to 10:00 before calling it an evening. The seas are 6-9 feet and the Prinsendam rocked us to sleep. Tomorrow begins six days in Iceland! Friday, August 24, Djupivogur, Iceland This is our first tender port. With a 9:00 private group tour we had some concern over getting everyone off timely. We went to the 4 & 5 star waiting area in the Ocean Bar and were quickly dispatched to the tenders. Much to our surprise, our touring friends were already ashore upon our arrival. We met our guide, Hrönn Jónsdóttir, who led the group of ten on a tour of the area. We began by visiting the “Elves’ church,’ rock formations that sing from interaction with the wind. We next visited two beautiful waterfalls, each quite different from the other. Hrönn showed us a local farm and told us the value was about 90,000,000 Krone (about $900,000 USD). We made our way back to town where we walked along the harbor enjoying the ‘egg’ sculptures made of polished granite, each egg commemorating one of the local bird species. Our last stop was the best – the black sand beach with magnificent rock formations. We shot many photos here. The black sand is a fine powder and the contrast with the ocean and mountains is stunning. Hrönn returned us to town, dropping a few of us off at the local bank to use the ATM and bringing the rest of the group to the tender dock. Walking back to the tenders we stopped in a local souvenir shop but made no purchases. We ended up on the same tender as the rest of our group and enjoyed lunch in the lido. Just as Hrönn predicted, the last buses from the long tour to the glacier did not return until nearly 3:00 and Prinsendam finally pulled away at about 3:40. Dinner was very good with our wait team taking good care of us. We were done before 7:00 but lingered a bit talking. The performer in the show was Pete Neighbor, a clarinet player. Backed up by the band Pete played a tribute to many of the great leaders of the “Big band” era. Pete created some of his own scales as I certainly heard notes never before heard from a clarinet. After the show we were exhausted and called it a night. Saturday, August 25 – Akureyri, Iceland Prinsendam docked a few minutes early in pretty Akureyri. One thing that became very clear on this day was that if one doesn’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait a few minutes and it will change. We had a car rental reserved from Europcar, and they were literally right outside the port gate. I had to call and within a few minutes a young lady arrived with our keys and a credit card reader. No rental agreement to sign and off in a full size Toyota on an adventure with another couple we met on our roll call. We had planned five stops and five stops were made. Number one was the “Waterfall of the gods” (Godafoss) which was a wonderful sight. The name of the waterfall comes from the first Christian leader in Iceland who threw all his statues of gods into the waterfall. We hiked around to see the falls from several angles, made a brief rest room stop, and headed on to stop number two, the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations (Dark Castles) near lake Myvatn (mosquito lake). The Lava Formations are unique in the world and we certainly never saw anything like this. We also have seen nothing quite like the midges that swarm around any living thing when there is little wind. While they do not aggressively bite, they sure are a pest. This was the only spot we encountered a real midge issue and surely cut this visit a bit short due to them. Next we moved on the #3, the Namafjall Geothermal area. At Namafjall it certainly looks other-worldly. I can’t imagine that numerous Sci-Fi movies have not been filmed here! Between the bubbling mud pools and the orange mountain hue, craters and ridges, flowing heated water, this is something to experience! We walked around trying to avoid the worst of the direct Sulphur fumes and took many photos before heading to stop #4, our longest stop, at the Myvatn Nature Baths. We were ahead of schedule so we took a few minutes for a light lunch before changing to enjoy the baths. The water was delightfully warm and it didn’t matter to us if it was raining, foggy, cloudy, or sunny. During our 80 minutes in the baths, we experienced all four of these weather conditions. One thing that seems very true is that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five or ten minutes and it may change! This is a wonderful spot with very pretty views of Lake Myvatn but without the midges. Leaving the baths, we made stop number 5, the Skutstaoir Pseudocraters. We walked the 1.5KM trail around these unique volcanic craters, formed when lava interacted with lake water some 2200 years ago. There are many birds in the area and the breeze had picked up enough that the midges were gone. Next we drove back to Akureyri where we filled up the gas (3600 Krone, about $33.50) for a quarter-tank. We stopped to take a photo of Prinsendam at dock and dropped off the car. We returned to the ship through a gift shop (the only way into the port area) but carrying wet towels we did not stop to look. We were back on the ship at 4:30 giving us just enough time to get ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice and we were finished before 7:00. We listened to the Ocean Band for a while and attended the singers and dancers show, Stage & Screen. We are sure we have seen this before but it was a good performance. We left the show for the crow’s nest and enjoyed Stevie until about 10:10. We hated to leave as that left Stevie with an audience of two but we needed to call it a night. Sunday, August 26, Isafjordur Iceland No need to rush out this morning as our walking tour doesn’t meet until 10:20. We slept in and enjoyed breakfast in the Lido. We left the ship a bit early and walked around before finding our meeting spot. Four of the eight on this tour did not find the spot immediately so we did begin a little delayed. This was a nice tour of the industrial and historic part of town. It was billed at 90 minutes but it actually ran 2.5 hours. Our guide, Herbert, told us a lot about living in the northernmost town in Iceland. Isafjordur is surrounded by mountains and they are sheltered from the worst of the winds. Normally their temperature range is from -5 C in winter to +9 or 10C in summer. There is still snow on the higher mountain tops near the town. The tour brought us back to near the ship. An enterprising individual had set up a souvenir trailer with a “Last ship of the season sale.” We took advantage and bought Icelandic gloves and a hat with some of the Krone we had. Back on board we had a nice lunch, took photos of the surrounding mountains, and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon before dinner. We made arrangements for a Pinnacle Grill dinner near the end of the cruise and pre-ordered DW’s meal for the next evening’s Canaletto dinner. Dinner tonight was the best meal of the cruise so far. The Prime Rib was large and perfect. The sweet & soup shrimp (tempura style) were great. We left the dining room for the game show in the showroom; it was entertaining watching the proceedings. The show was a variety show. Regretfully they started with Ruben Vilagrand, who talked this time and put us all to sleep. Elaine Gray completed the show and despite a cold was wonderful with three numbers including Amazing Grace and Danny Boy. The highlight of the evening was certainly Stevie in the Piano Bar. He had a bigger crowd with lots of interaction. Samantha the cruise director also circulated among the guests. At 10:15 we called it a night. Monday, August 27, 2018 – Reykjavik, Iceland No rush this morning as our Golden Circle with Geothermal Bakery tour doesn’t meet until 9:15. A leisurely morning with breakfast in the lido was enjoyed. Prinsendam must have ‘drawn the short straw’ as we are docked 4.5 KM from Reykjavik town center. We need to take a shuttle bus (or walk three blocks) to the ship’s tour buses or a taxi or shuttle to town for 2200 Krone each. We met for our tour and walked the three blocks to the tour bus. This was a great tour, among other reasons we had a full size coach for just 24 guests, so we had lots of room to spread out. Our tour guide was very informative the entire time. We headed out of town first to Pingvellir National Park. Pingvellir is a Unesco World Heritage Site for two reasons. It is the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930 AD and was the capitol for many years. Additionally, this is the only place in the world where the North American and Eurasian plates are above sea level and the separation (by an inch a year) is actually visible. Leaving there, we headed to Laugarvatn to visit the “Geothermal bakery.” There, we witnessed the digging up of the bread pot buried in +100 C mud, where it baked for 24 hours. The bread was cut, spread with Icelandic butter, and then fresh local trout was added on top. There was plenty for seconds (and thirds) and this stop was greatly enjoyed by all. Third, we went to visit the Gullfoss (Golden) waterfall. The waterfall is actually a series of two falls. At that time the wind had become so strong that it literally ripped my glasses off my face. Fortunately at the time I was returning to the bus from the falls so they fell in a field and I was able to retrieve them. The last stop was at Geysir. Yes, this is the original Geysir from which all other Geysers are named. We watch two eruptions and caught them on video. We then drove back to the ship in a wind-driven rain. With no rain during our stops we were most fortunate with the weather as it rained in Reykjavik nearly all day. We stay docked tonight and tomorrow have a day planned in town, hopefully the weather will be better! Dinner tonight is late for us as we are eating at Canaletto, the Italian restaurant on board. Monday night the featured special is swordfish thus our choice of tonight. This also avoided a mad rush to make our 5:30 dinner in the dining room. Dinner ended up being less than great. In 20 or so HAL cruises this was our first time in Canaletto, and the only reason we went there was for the swordfish. Of course, once seated, they told us the swordfish had gone bad and they did not receive their new shipment today. We ordered Sea Bass, after double-checking that this was real “Sea bass” and not “Mediterranean sea bass.” It ended up being Mediterranean Sea bass. While it was okay it was not what we expected. We won’t return to Canaletto. There was no show tonight and it was late so we called it a night. Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - Reykjavik, Iceland Tuesday brought mostly sunny skies and we caught the first hop-on; hop-off bus. The Ho-Ho bus was less than satisfactory. The commentary was unreliable as the connections did not all work. We rode the Ho-Ho around to the stop for the famous “Church of the hill,” the Hallgrims-Kirkja. We took photos of the church and the Leif Ericson statue out front. From the church we walked down the main shopping street to downtown. We went by the parliament building and city hall, and toured the old harbor. We thought about having lunch in town but decided we didn’t want to drop $100 on lunch for two. We tried to find the Ho-Ho stop #4 but couldn’t find it so we walked to stop#5 at the Maritime Museum. After a rather long wait we rode the Ho-Ho back to the ship. If we had to do this again we would not have used the Ho-Ho as for the 16000 Krone the four of us paid I’m sure we could have gotten a taxi both ways. But better yet in Reykjavik, get out of town. There is too much to see outside of town. Back on Prinsendam we had a nice late lunch in the lido. They had wonderful cod and I made myself a fish sandwich. I enjoyed the hot tub and then started to get ready for the evening. Our friends had an appointment with the future cruise consultant, Sheryll. She could not match the pricing on a potential cruise in February that I received by e-mail from HAL so we just bought future cruise deposits. I even showed her the e-mail. Dinner tonight was great and every table was filled. There was a problem with DW’s special order (Dewa does a great job triple-checking it) and that delayed our meal a bit. Turkey and a rib-eye steak is hard to beat. After dinner the show was the singers in “Sessions,” covering a lot of popular music from the last 40 years or so. This was a very interactive show, kind of like the piano bar on steroids. Stevie had a night off so after the show we headed back to the room to call it a night as we have an early tender tomorrow at our last Icelandic port of Heimey, the “Pompeii of the North.” We had noticed the last two evenings an apparent wet spot on our rug in the middle of the room. At first I thought our cabin steward may have spilt some rug or other cleaner, but it seems to be getting worse. I wrote a note to drop off at the office tomorrow morning. Wednesday, August 29 – Heimey, Iceland Early in the morning the Prinsendam anchored off the coast of the Westman Islands. Despite a beautiful sunny day it was cool and the winds were still at 20 knots so getting into the tenders was a bit of a challenge. We went over early, at about 8:20, and there were only about a dozen passengers in our tender. This was a fantastic port! Upon arrival it was very quiet except for the ferry leaving for the mainland. Nothing opens in Heimey before 9:00 AM. We walked around and found the travel information office just as they opened the doors. This combination T.I., office supply store, and café offered a clean n/c WC. From there we walked the road into the lava field from the 1973 eruption. 400 homes were buried in lava and 1/3 the land area added to the island. There were no deaths or injuries as there was plenty of time to evacuate. There are many memorials in the lava field indicating the home buried beneath. This provided many other-worldly photos of the various lava formations. We also walked to the Norwegian Stave Church and meeting house, but we were a little too early for them to be opened to see the inside. Keeping a watch on the time we returned to town at 10:40 for our 11:00 Puffin and Volcano Tour with Eyjatours. This was a great tour featuring the tour guide demonstrating Sprangan, cliff rope climbing for bird eggs, Stórhöfði – the windiest place in Europe with loads of puffins, the golf course with more puffins on the sea cliffs, the mouse island formed by a recent eruption off-shore, and a demonstration of the different colors of lava rock and their sources. The tour ended at the small local aquarium which is also a puffin hospital. Local children rescue about 1,000 young puffins every year as they fly into windows attracted by evening lights. The next morning these puffins are brought here. They have two puffins, Thor, 4 years old, and, 2 years old, that sustained injuries such that they cannot be released. These puffins are used to people and pose for photos, they are so cute. We slowly walked downhill back to the tender port. A tender was just pulling in and we were quickly on our way back to Prinsendam. Back on board, we quickly dropped our bag and coats in the room, and found a large fan blowing on the carpet. We went to the lido for a bit of lunch and returned to the cabin to find a message from guest services. They claim the shower is leaking and they repaired the grout. Why a shower leak would show up in the middle of the floor is beyond me. In any case, they said we could turn off the fan when we are in the room but to please start it when we are leaving. Dinner tonight was great. Our wait staff is superb and Dewa outdoes himself taking care of us. The show is comedian William Caulfield. His show was decent and the comedy clean. Stevie was great in the Piano bar with a very interactive audience. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of his numbers are repeats from earlier in the cruise. Tomorrow is a well – needed sea day after seven port days in a row. We called it a night at about 10:30. Thursday, August 30 – Sea day With a time change losing an hour and being rather exhausted, we didn’t leave the cabin until nearly 10:00 AM. We had a very light breakfast in the lido as we were invited to the 10:15 Mariner’s reception in the showroom. The showroom was packed and about 30 or so folks received their bronze medallions for reaching 100 sailing days with HAL. No silver, gold, or platinum medallions were awarded, although platinum and president’s club member couples were both introduced. The reception was followed by the mariner’s brunch in the dining room. It was okay, but the table conversation was very nice. We attended Brett’s talk on Lerwick, the following day’s port of call in the Shetland Islands. We noted that about 80% of what Brett showed us was on our private group tour itinerary. Still being very tired, we both napped until our alarm went off at 4:00. This is the last gala night so we prepared accordingly. The “Gold Gala” dinner was most enjoyable. The chairs were covered with white slipcovers, very elegant. The surf and turf meals were delectable. I thought the turf part was exceptionally well prepared and very tender. The show was Iceland’s own Greta Salome. Greta was Iceland’s performer at the 2012 and 2016 European showcase of some sort. She gave the best show of the cruise. Just WOW! After the show we enjoyed happy hour in the Crow’s nest singing along with Stevie. At 10:15 we called it a night looking forward to our last port of call. Friday, August 31, 2018 – Lerwick, Shetland Islands The alarm woke us at 6:15. A peek outside showed blue skies with not a cloud in sight. The TV showed we were just off the southern tip of the ‘mainland’ Shetland Island. We had a nice lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:30. A nice surprise was that we are docked rather than tendering! We had a “South Island tour” booked for eight with Grant Redfern. This ended up being a great tour with the only downside being that two needed to squeeze into the front seat and I believe that couple was not entirely comfortable. We left the port and headed to an overlook over the town. From there we stopped at Fladdabister, an 1850’s Norse-style farm and crafters home. Two Shetland Ponies were in the front yard and seemed to enjoy photo attention. 1800’s Shetlanders must have been very short and the doorways were tiny. The house was authentically heated with peat in the fireplace and it was quite smoky inside. The next stop was Jarlshof, where 5000 years of Shetland History can be seen in a small area. Ruins from the stone age through the 1700’s can be seen here, in many cases one building built above the remains of another. We stopped in the hotel next door for lunch, which was just okay. Next we drove to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, the southern end of the island. This lighthouse in on top of sheer cliffs that are populated with thousands of sea birds. Regretfully the puffins are long-gone but other birds were happy to pose for photos. We drove north along the western side of the island stopping to look at a beach with seals lying in the sun. Grant said a few months ago there were many seals but some have left and others were eaten by Orcas looking for lunch. We stopped at a stretch of beach that connected the mainland to a small island. We actually saw someone swimming in the 54 degree water. Our last stop was Scalloway where we viewed the castle and the Shetland Bus memorial to the Shetlanders who risked all to help the Norwegians during WW 2. Grant took us back to Lerwick and drove us through town showing us the main sites including the very nice town hall building. We were brought back to Prinsendam at 3:33 PM. Returning on board we found that the fan was back in our room. After dropping our coats and bag, we visited guest services who were not sure what was happening and asked us to stop back later. We had ice cream from the lido and visited with friends. Happy hour was going on so we enjoyed the Ocean Bar and watched the scenic sail away from there. Stopping back at guest services they still don’t really know where the water is coming from. They offered to move us to a deck 5 cabin but with only one full day left in the cruise who wants to do that? We were told we would receive a letter tomorrow. We have a 7:00 Pinnacle dinner tonight so we began to get ready. The Pinnacle was a great experience and very enjoyable. The only problem with the Pinnacle is one always eats too much. After dinner we visited Stevie in the Crow’s nest until after 10:30 when we simply couldn’t stay awake any longer. We lose another hour on the clocks tonight to get back to Europe time. Saturday, September 01 – At Sea After being up until after midnight (after the clock change) this was a morning to sleep in. I left the cabin just before 9:00 to bring DW’s dinner pre-order to the dining room. There was a letter in the mailbox from guest services offering a modest amount of OBC for our carpet troubles. We went to the Lido at 9:30 for breakfast and walked around a while before finding a table that two folks had just vacated. After last night’s Pinnacle dinner neither of us finished our breakfast. At 9:50 Samantha the CD made her morning announcements. “On deck for a cause” is this morning and DW decided to participate. During that event I caught her on camera and also downloaded all the photos onto my laptop. We met our friends and enjoyed lunch together. That afternoon was the Filipino Crew Show, always worth seeing. This crew was exceptionally talented especially the group doing the dance with the colliding sticks. We did our last happy hour and got ready for dinner. This was a truly wonderful dinner in the dining room with both Prime Rib and King Crab Legs on the menu. We said our sad farewells to Big D, Dewa, and Giovanni. We saw Greta Salome at the Ocean Bar and after we asked she told us that she was to be the second performer in the variety show. We visited Stevie one last time in the crow’s nest departing at 9:45 to catch Greta’s show. William Caulfield ran a little long but once he was done we were able to get seats. Her performance was terrific and a great way to end the cruise. About 10:25 returning to the cabin, closing up the suitcases and putting them out for transfer to shore in the morning. Sunday, September 2 The alarm went off and we were already well up the canal towards Amsterdam. The Prinsendam docked right on time at 7:00 and we met our friends for one last meal together, a dining room breakfast at 7:25. Breakfast was great and we said our farewells, until the next time! We disembarked at about 8:40, quickly found our luggage and dragged it to the tram stop. A quick tram ride to Central Station (we saw many folks just walking the distance) and then the train to the airport. It was a long walk from the airport terminal to the Hilton. Upon entering the terminal we saw one cruiser from our ship. We checked in and our Hilton status helped and we were given the keys to our room and also invited to complimentary breakfast in the restaurant. After “Second breakfast” (which would double as lunch) we walked back to the airport and took the train to Rotterdam. We ended up in Rotterdam a little early for the 1:30 “Free walking tour” and ended up standing and walking too much before the tour. We found the tour guide and about two dozen folks showed up for the tour. We ended up leaving the tour at about the half-way point as it was too much standing. We did see some interesting sites including the “Cube houses” and the old harbor, as well as a war memorial. We took a tram back to Rotterdam Central and caught a train back to the airport, returning to our hotel a little after 5:00. We enjoyed the executive lounge and had dinner at the hotel restaurant, “The Bowery.” Portions were large and everything was very good. They accommodated DW’s dietary needs nicely. We returned to the lounge for a nightcap and called it a day. Monday, September 3 – return home We had breakfast in the executive lounge at the Hilton and then loaded our luggage onto a luggage cart for the walk back to the terminal at Schiphol. We found the Aer Lingus check in and it took about 20 minutes in line to drop our bags. The offered to check our overnight carry-on “For free” but we declined as all our meds were packed in there. Security was about a 10 minute line and passport control about the same. US passports can use an automated lane for departure. We made a necessary stop and spent most of our Euro coins at an airport shop on waters and chocolate for the flight. At the gate, I asked if we could be switched to an aisle & middle (from our assigned window and middle) and they have us two isles, across from each other. After the door closed, there was no one in the two seats next to me so I moved to the window and DW took my aisle seat. The connection in Dublin was a pain as we unexpectedly had to walk outdoors a good distance, and it was cold! I was dressed for the +90 degrees back home. Eventually we got through the passport check and we had enough time before US pre-clearance to use the airport lounge. We enjoyed some ‘lunch’ there and left for US Customs 90 minutes before our flight as instructed. Our Global Entry helped save us some time. Still, it was another long walk to the gate. We boarded on time. While we had a window/isle two seats the folks in front of us took no pity and reclined their seats to the max, so it was an uncomfortable (to say the least) seven hour flight back to Newark. We arrived on time and while we did not need to clear customs in Newark we waited an hour for the luggage. Park Plus picked us up very promptly and we were in our car within 15 minutes of luggage retrieval. Summary / Conclusion: All things considered this was a great cruise! After the dining room issues of the first two days the rest of the dining was flawless. “Big D” took great care of us in the lido at breakfast/lunch and in the dining room at dinner. The one lunch and one dinner in the Pinnacle were both wonderful. We will not do Canaletto again though. Our room stewards performed well and kept the room clean, although we literally laid eyes on them less than three times the entire two weeks! Entertainment is not Holland’s strong suit. The singers/dancers were okay but we’ve seen all those shows before. The guest entertainers ranged from incredible (Greta Salome) to pretty bad. But there was ‘something for everyone.’ We very much enjoyed Stevie in the piano bar and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar. We are not by any means big drinkers but we enjoyed the happy hours very much. Since HAL announced the sale of Prinsendam I was hoping we would do one more cruise on her. That seems very unlikely as the remaining Prinsendam cruises have had price spikes as they are mostly close to sold out. We greatly enjoyed the port calls; doing the “Ring road” in Iceland without the driving was terrific! The larger ships cannot get into all these ports so we are happy to do these while we could on Prinsendam. All things considered, this was another four stars out of five Prinsendam cruise. It might have been four and a half but the three days with the damp carpet in our cabin has to detract a half-star. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel ... Read More
We are Australians who were in Europe visiting family so we added this cruise to Norway leaving from Amsterdam. We were a little taken aback by the size and number of passengers but the public spaces are many and we didn't feel crowded except at breaksfast in the Market at 0900 or thereabouts. We loved the quality of the food - far superior to what we have had on cruises before - especially the rib filet steak and lobster tails - supurb. The dining staff were friendly, attentitive and efficient. The quality of the entertainment suprised and delighted us. Particularly the Lincoln Centre Stage classical quintet and BB King's jazz room. The cabin staff were wonderful and kept everthing tidy and clean. We took the cycling tour in Oslo and can highly recommend it. Only medium fitness is needed - we are both in our late 60s and found it easy. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise because it was HAL and all at sea, no land. We had done the land and sea Alaska cruise a year ago with HAL. Didn't like it. Too much land. Embarkation and debarkation were fast and easy. Neptune suite ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was HAL and all at sea, no land. We had done the land and sea Alaska cruise a year ago with HAL. Didn't like it. Too much land. Embarkation and debarkation were fast and easy. Neptune suite cruisers get a little extra attention. Vancouver customs was GNARLY!. Only 2 agents for a couple of thousand cruisers. Computers were down. Should have gone out of Seattle and not Vancouver to avoid customs. Main dining room food was excellent. Our waiters, Agung and Edi were two of the best waiters we have ever had with HAL. Tamarind was my wife's choice and she managed somehow to drag me with her. Food was wonderful. Neat dining experience. I recommend it. Best excursion was Tracy Arm Fijord and Glaciers. Boarded a head boat directly off the Nieu Amsterdam. Lots of icebergs. We got close to Swayer and South Sawyer Glaciers. On the way back to Juneau a pod of Orcas swam next to the boat. Two swam under the boat. Glacier Bay was also wonderful Ship managed to get real close for about an hour. No big bergs blocking our way. Weather cooperated for most of the trip. Only one rainy day which happened to be a sea day. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Meals were good, although some of the restaurants were extra, but we weren't told until the end when they asked for the room card. Poor communication. We don't mind paying for drinks (alcohol), but coffee? Daily hotel ... Read More
Meals were good, although some of the restaurants were extra, but we weren't told until the end when they asked for the room card. Poor communication. We don't mind paying for drinks (alcohol), but coffee? Daily hotel charge (tip fee) seemed high at $13.50US per day per person. Pay the staff more! Have it included in the price of the cruise. We always tip the staff and we did this trip, only to discover at the end that we were charged the above amount daily. This cruise is all about shopping and buying, which we were not interested in doing. The uniformed woman who is in charge of the diningroom staff referred to them as her children, which we found rather demeaning as these men and women are adults often with families. She is not their momma as she stated. This is our first and last Holland American cruise. We do not mind paying for an all inclusive cruise, just don't nickle and dime us for little extras! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We are a young Irish couple in our 30s and this was our first cruise. We sailed from Amsterdam and our itinerary consisted of Flåm, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with two days at sea. The Konningsdam exceeded our expectations as a ... Read More
We are a young Irish couple in our 30s and this was our first cruise. We sailed from Amsterdam and our itinerary consisted of Flåm, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with two days at sea. The Konningsdam exceeded our expectations as a ship. It was very luxurious and had some beautiful features - like art pieces, plush carpets and fresh flowers. The service was akin to a 5 star hotel - all of the staff were polite and said hello whenever and wherever you met them. We had an interior stateroom and it was much more comfortable than we expected. There was lots of storage room and it didn’t feel cramped. There was a safe, a minibar, a hair dryer and plenty of towels in the room also. The room was serviced twice a day. The bathroom was small but functional - the shower was amazing! Entertainment was of a very high quality - we loved the dueling pianos, and B.B. Kings was also fun. Our favorite performance was the Planet Earth show in the World Stage but we attended most evening shows. However, after a few days we found there was a lack of variety, the performances became a bit repetitive and we started to spend more time reading and playing board games. The movies on the lido deck was a nice option, but there was a really strange selection of movies for the week. Also, it was hard to hear the movie at times. The pools and hot tubs were very clean and well maintained but a little small and overtaken by children. It would have been nice to have a hot tub space just for adults. Food onboard was always fantastic. The selection and variety in the lido deck was exceptional and maintained a very high standard, even for a buffet. The process to get food at the lido was at times a little disorganized and chaotic but the food was good. The dining hall was beautiful and very enjoyable but it was difficult to get a reservation at a reasonable time - they usually only offered 5pm or 9pm. We didn’t feel the need to try the specialty dining options during our week as there was always a good, broad selection of offerings. However, if we stayed a second week we probably would have tried Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. Tea, coffee, water and juice were all freely available at all times in the lido deck. We didn’t purchase any of the drinks packages and think they would have worked out a bit more expensive. We didn’t do any of the organized excursions as we found them very expensive. With a little research and planning, its easy to have a similar experience at a fraction of the price - and may even be a more personalized experience! Outside of the entertainment, the other onboard activities didn’t really interest us. It seemed to be more tailored to an older, wealthy, American audience i.e. casinos, art gallery, tech info seminars, trivia nights and diamonds/jewels. We did find the Crows Nest to be a particularly special find - it was generally quiet and had some fun board games to play. It was also a lovely, relaxing and calming place to read and catch up. Embarkation and disembarkation were seamless and took less than 30minutes in each case. The days at port also offered an easy and comfortable transit - we could walk into the town center and return at any time. Overall, the ship and itinerary were perfect for first time cruisers. But for our next cruise, we will likely look for a larger ship with more varied of entertainment and enrichment tailored towards a younger demographic. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. ... Read More
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. HAL has priority over the vessels to cruise glacier Bay where 2 boats/day are allowed and docking privileges for a once a week ship at Haines. We booked the Neptune Suite and selected the drink package, upgraded restaurant 1 night and shipboard credits. We pre-cruised with 3 days in Anchorage and the pre-cruise train from Anchorage to Seward. Our introduction to HAL was minutes after the easy boarding process and entering our awesome stateroom. Absolutely WOW and a large balcony and enough closet/drawer space form many large luggage pieces. Our service stewards throughout the week gave us many WOW moments, from the afternoon snacks to towel animals greeting us in the afternoon. Service aboard was incredible from our stewards, concierge, bartenders, and dining room staff. Most notable is the Pinnacle Grill which serves breakfast to Neptune guests. The best food we experienced was clearly the Pinnacle Grill and then fooled by our lunching at the Dive-In hot dog and burger bar. Dining room and Lido buffet food was decent but nothing to WOW about and we would give it a C+ with some food much better. Never without an opportunity for food. The shipboard atmosphere was relaxed and only required pants and a collared shirt for men in best dining evenings...So no Tux needed! The wildlife experts aboard and the Crows Nest public area was fun as we constantly spotted some form of wildlife or a notable attraction. We loved the wildlife interaction and the day on glacier Bay was memorable with bears, otters, eagles, etc...and the glacier. Our onshore tours were very good with the Juneau helicopter to the glacier and2 mile sled dog mushing being a real 10+...expensive and worth the money...Our first day in Haines with the fast ferry to Skagway and helicopter to the glacier was interesting although not too exciting with a "wrote" pathway there/back and a limited opportunity on the glacier...at the end of that trip their helicopter service bus dumped us in town and told us to walk back to the fast ferry...poor. The third land tour was a fast boat to Misty Fjords and floatplane ride back...pretty nice. The cruise was everything se expected and more and everything we made it to be. We saw some show, listened to blues at BB King club and danced...and explored the entire ship where allowed. Some issues arose with our final night in the dining room whereby our sommelier ordered drinks and charged us overage for those that had been OK as we had asked/been answered by bar staff throughout the ship...A lively discussion with the beverage Manager was fruitless and not very nice...However one rotten apple....and we loved the cruise. Off-boarding in Vancouver and 2 days of sightseeing was wonderful and a great finally to our memorable cruise on Holland America...We will return. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise because of the date and route. While some cruises might have more bells and whistles, this cruise was perfect for what we wanted, quality family time. We were treated so well. Our 5 year old daughter was treated like a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the date and route. While some cruises might have more bells and whistles, this cruise was perfect for what we wanted, quality family time. We were treated so well. Our 5 year old daughter was treated like a princess. When we renewed our vows, they staff made a special bouquet of yellow roses. The ceremony was special for us and our guests. The food was pretty good. The first night wasn’t that good. But it got progressively better. The gala nights were amazing. As part of our wedding vows package we had dinner one night at the Pinnacle Grill. It’s worth the price. The quality of the lobster and steak was amazing. The route stops are all wonderful (except Sidney.) I can’t say which one was our favorite, because they all had spectacular places to see. Québec is wonderful, but make sure to make it out to the Falls. PEI was my favorite! My husband loved Halifax. I do wish we could’ve spent more time in the places. The worst downfall was that customs took place in Bar Harbor, and it cut part of the time we could’ve spend on land. Overall, we loved the cruise and would do it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our trip of the year for my DW me. 55 and 65. We cruise often but are more laid back and less demanding than other. One thing we enjoyed about this cruise was the age groups 50 -80. The lack of children was a big plus for us. ... Read More
This was our trip of the year for my DW me. 55 and 65. We cruise often but are more laid back and less demanding than other. One thing we enjoyed about this cruise was the age groups 50 -80. The lack of children was a big plus for us. I was very uncomfortable believing that the smoking would be an issue but I found next to none in the casino and only a whiff on my balcony. Service was great but the staff was slightly over friendly as I felt the need to return their greetings. I can't speak to the shore excursions as we did our own thing. The entertainment was top notch except for the horn guy.who was a real bore and did 2 shows on our 2 week cruise. The lounge groups were all really good as was the classical quintet . Loved the BB King lounge most though. The 2 piano players were good but sounded too much like banging at times. Food was good with tons of selection. Be sure to have the beef Wellington.. It is wonderful. Koningsdam is a beautiful well managed ship. We loved it and would book her again Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America ... Read More
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America provides easy access to Denali National Park via the Alaska Railroad. We were transported by a special train to the McKinley Resort at Denali National Park and to the ship in Seward via comfortable motor coach. Both trips are lengthy and are narrated. Brace yourself for the usual bad puns from time to time. The better guides limit themselves to a wealth of information of the area you are in. The best guide was the guide for the chartered Wilderness Tour, a 7.5 hour narrated ride on 60 of the 90 miles of two lane gravel road into the park. The return trip is on the same gravel road as it's the only one in the park. Those exploring on their own must ride the National Park shuttle. We saw the following mammals: Grizzly bear (a couple singles and a sow with 2 two-year-old juveniles); 3 wolves; about 10 Dall sheep, red fox, snow-shoe hares, and caribou. I'm not going to give a grade since the three transports are so different in scope. The Wilderness Tour should not be missed. BOOKING From conversations on-board, we got the impression that we spent less for some of the same amenities since we booked through Costco's travel agency. At the very least the large added on-ship credits added by Costco allowed us to skip paying for the drink plans which seem somewhat reasonable, but the idea of having access to 10-15 drinks per day was not something we would use. Through cruise-critic, we found out that our price went down about 4 months before the trip. Through the travel agency, we saved $500, keeping the same reserved cabin in the middle of the ship. However, we ended up with about $750 in combined on ship credit. No money is used on board, it's all part of your room key/credit card. Make sure you check your balance daily which is easily done on a machine near guest services. You can view it electronically or have the machine print the record. There is also access through the on-board app which runs on the free portion of wifi. You can purchase the slow, expensive Internet access if you wish to degrade your vacation time by being online when you "should" be enjoying the scenery. Grade: B+ CABIN I'd read reviews on cruisecritic.com saying the rooms were outdated. It appears that the Westerdam has gone through a recent upgrade. The photos on this site were no longer accurate. The condition of our room was quite good. What to ask for when greeted by your room stewards who will ask you if there's anything additionally you want after first viewing your room: Ask your room steward to explain how the shower works AND to put the single beds together as a (queen-sized) larger bed. By booking a half year early, we were able to reserve a cabin mid-ship and one level below the lido deck where the buffets are available nearly 24/7. Our cabin was smaller than a hotel room, but since you don't spend much time there, that is hardly a problem. There were two single beds that the room stewards put together as a queen sized bed on the first night by request. The head has a toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower. There was a 3-shelved medicine cabinet for storage. The balcony was a bit bigger than I expected. The suite includes 2 end tables with two drawers for storage, bed with able storage for suitcases below, love seat with small table, desk with small refrigerator and two more small shelves. One includes a hair dryer for your use. The room stewards automatically clean twice a day and replace towels during those two visits. More visits may be done by request. Grade: A DINING The buffet area on the lido deck is very clean. It's easy to access hand disinfectant at various places near the food service. Used dishes are quickly picked up by friendly staff. Tables are also cleared quickly so it's not difficult to find a place to sit near the buffet or near the pools. Most areas have attendants preparing made-to-order items or simply ladling food into bowls and onto plates. This isn't your average buffet. It's mostly fine dining quality food which is easily accessible. You could easily take all your meals here, but I'd suggest using the dining room most evenings and as often as possible for breakfast. You will be seated with others on-board unless you request otherwise. I'm not much on meeting new people, but I'm glad we chose to eat with new acquaintances each time we went for breakfast in the dining room. We were seated with the same couples at night, but if someone chose to eat in the specialty cafe or lido buffet, their seats were empty. Gala nights are a step up in quality of environment, but the the food is always exquisitely prepared and served. Meals in the dining room last about 2 hours, which surprising goes quickly if you simply talk about what you did during the day with your table-mates. On those evenings we ate at the Lido Market (buffet) we made separate trips for appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert, much like those served in fine dining. Drinks are served by request in all areas. The dining room attendants are numerous and very attentive learning your name quickly. You will most likely find that nearly every person associated with the dining room make your voyage amazing. From our viewpoint, the small added cost dining areas, such as the Pinnacle Grill, are not necessary. However, those we talked to reported being very pleased by their meals there. Grade: A+ ENTERTAINMENT VENUES The entertainment venues that we attended after dining: BB King Stage (Rhythm and Blues and Soul), Lincoln Center Stage (violin, cello, viola, and piano), and Main Stage which included hour long performances a comedian, illusionists which we attended as well as some song/dance variety shows (which we didn't but heard were good). Drinks are served by request. During the day there are various activities available from card playing to trivia to afternoon concerts. The BB King Stage was transformed to a cooking show by PBS's America's Test Kitchen, now in its 18th season(see episodes at https://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes or teasers on youtube such as the following: https://youtu.be/mpnshdmtE2Y ). Carla, from the youtube link was the host on this ship. This cooking show was very well done. I loved Carla's dry sense of humor. The technicians could do away with the canned applause, though. Even if you don't prepare meals, make it a point to get to at least part of a 45-60 min. presentation. You are given the recipes to the items prepared so you can follow along. Get to the Main Stage show about 20 minutes early or you may not find a seat. It's ok to send one of your party to save 3-4 seats while others wait to enter spending $$ in the nearby casino or have a drink in a nearby lounge. We were surprised to find a lack of interaction between audience and musicians in the BB King Stage. However, the quality of the music was quite high. The classical musicians at the Lincoln Center Stage were quite accomplished in many different styles of music (not just classical). There was a small contingent of hearing impaired guests. An ASL interpreter was at the Main Stage. I don't think the ship supplied interpretation, but the signers did a good job for those they served. I appreciated that the comedienne interacted with the interpreter and indirectly with those they served. Grade: B+ OVERALL SERVICE One of the supervisors at the guest services mentioned that Holland America is not for the rowdy and you won't find lots of children. There were families with with children, but the kids had an access area on the 10th deck all their own and could play basketball, paddle ball, table tennis and have other activities without being bothered by adults. It sounds like Carnival (corporate owner of Holland America) is more of a ship for kids/young families. We found that on a ship of over 2000 people, we did not feel crowded until disembarkation morning and that's only because breakfast was only available on the lido deck. Still, the staff did an excellent job keeping tables available for those later arrivals. If you abhor cigarette and cigar smoke, stay off the aft area of the lido deck. That's the only place for smoking. Generally, the smoke is blown off the back of the ship while moving. In short, the diverse staff, representing some 80 different countries and regions, was outstanding. If you are on board, you are treated like family (except for the family squabbles). Grade: A OVERALL EXPERIENCE We imagined our first cruise would be very good with some pitfalls due to not having cruised before. It was much better than we could have imagined. The Westerdam's crew and staff's grade: SUPERIOR. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All ... Read More
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All those points were not met. Good thing: no disaster happened with us. We safely came back with a lot of photos in the camera. The rest was not so shiny as we expected. No hard feeling leaving the ship! 1. Room Service. In general it was fine. No big complaints but it was not excellent. Few strange spots on a bed linen, few spots on bathrobe. No slippers included. Dirty windows and balcony glass. We asked steward to clean a glass surfaces but he did not make it well. 2. Embarkation. The ship departed from Amsterdam Waterland Terminal with no connection of public transport. I wish HAL could offer a free or at least very cheap transportation to the terminal but the did not. It was a huge queue for check in when we arrived. No water, no snacks were provided (sorry I still expect that little things for the price I paid). Just a huge hot hangar full of waiting people. Nobody provided us a clear instructions on what to do and how long to wait. We spent around 1 hour there. Not nice start of a journey. 3. Dining Service. Bad if not terrible. Very long waits. Breakfast or dinner takes 1 hour in average. Food is served on broken/chipped plates and cups and old dirty cutlery. One time we found a hair in the bread basket. The staff on the dining room reception does not try to get a good table for you. One time we were followed to the table for 4 in the corner even two nice tables for 2 were available just few steps next to us with a nice windows. Waiters always ask for a paid drinks and forget to offer you a free tea. They do not give you a chance for a water without ice but serving you an ice cubes. The food quality was average: during all 7 days I did not find something really tasty. They even served us a lobster tail but it was prepared in a simple and not tasty way. Starter soups were definetely terrible. 4. Entertainment is limited with a concerts. The concerts were nice. I would like to mention the BB King Blues and the classical musicians. They were awesome! My wife also enjoyed Bilboard on board where the two guys played piano and sing popular songs on requiest. Those things happen in the evening. During the day activities are limited to a "seminars" where the staff tries to sell you insole for 190 bucks or expensive watches or brilliants or strange paints. Who buys all of that? We might expect some educational program like TED or knitting courses or yoga lessons included in the cruise price. But HAL wants to earn every extra penny on you. Do not go on HAL seminars - it is brainwashing and sometimes rude sales activity (nicely named). 5. Security at gates. Rude and unwelcoming. 6. At the evening of last day crew blocked two elevators out of four just because they need to carry a luggage downstairs. Obviously it was comfortable for the stewards but not the guests. That also shows staff attitude towards the guests. 6. During the cruise we received NOTHING complimentary. No free drink, no badge or magnet, no free 10 minutes massage and no PERSONAL attitute from HAL personnel. Again we paid a lot of money for the cruise and we expected something on top of the "below average". 7. That's is funny but with that kind of service HAL automatically includes 15% service surcharge on all onboard purchased. And 13.5 dollars per person per day as a "Hotel service charge". Crazy guys! Fortunately you still can adjust the last point at the end of cruise. So we did. 8. HAL shore excursions were 5 (!!!) times expensive that you could book ashore or just travelling the same route using a local public transport! 9. Port times were inconvenient. Ship arrived early morning at 7 am in average. People wake up slamming the cabing doors with no chance for a good sleep. Ship departed at 5 pm so you basically have a very short time to explore the port. To summarize: that was our first cruise. Norway is beautiful. Cruising is fantastic thing to do on vacation but never again with a greedy HAL. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Nice ,new ship.balcony stateroom pretty nice,but on the small size.cramped bathroom,not well designed,difficult to sit.shower head didnt fixed well.first and secod day,steward didnt come to clean the room untill 3p.m,we went to complain ... Read More
Nice ,new ship.balcony stateroom pretty nice,but on the small size.cramped bathroom,not well designed,difficult to sit.shower head didnt fixed well.first and secod day,steward didnt come to clean the room untill 3p.m,we went to complain and after this no problem.Molde port,I think was choosed to give expencive trips.staff in dining room pushed to order drinks,not always in good manner.But all in all nice experience,mainly because of new ,and well organized ship and crew.good port of calls,exept Molde,I think to push you expensive excursions.Super Geiranger and Bergen.embarkation and dis..well organised. Tender in Geiranger good .In dining room crew pushed you yo order drinks ,expensive.Super restaurant Tamarind!!nice experience delicious food also in dining room.In north cruises I think not to order balcony room next time.bit cold to seat.Just ocean view enough.A lot of disabled on board,somrtimes feeled like in reabilitation hospital.but its not much to do.It was world cup and they translated it at the big screen near the pool.by the way jakuzzi near the pool always occupied by children.a problem if you want to seat there Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
CRUISED TO ALASKA - SIGNATURE SUITE 10005 This was a terrific experience all around! Embarked at Pier 91 in Seattle. Arrived by hired car (cheaper than a cab) around 12:15p...processed through and on the ship in under 20 minutes! ... Read More
CRUISED TO ALASKA - SIGNATURE SUITE 10005 This was a terrific experience all around! Embarked at Pier 91 in Seattle. Arrived by hired car (cheaper than a cab) around 12:15p...processed through and on the ship in under 20 minutes! Fast and friendly at every point. The ship was elegant and very much geared to the older crowd. We selected the Signature Spa Suite -- the room was VERY LARGE (see pics) and very comfortable. The room was different than described (jetted tub removed during renovations in 2017?) - but close to 450 sq ft...my estimate. Highly recommend the Panorama Deck - (10) - low traffic (not a lot of Staterooms) and easy staircase access to the Observation Deck (11) above - particularly the bar/coffee bar. (We got the drink packages and enjoyed a lot of cappuccinos and beers!) The Tamarind Restaurant was our favorite (went 2x) and service was fantastic. Food generally was VERY good in every venue...and nice variety at Lido Buffett. We went to the America Test Kitchen shows and the evening entertainment (Magic Show; comic; small orchestra)...enjoyed them all. The service by the staff was 10 out of 10 in every venue...stewards; help desk; dining...all top notch. Excursions were all exceptional as well. Felt like money well spent throughout! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, ... Read More
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, I wouldn't hesitate booking this ship/itinerary based on our experience. For the most part, it was all very good. We did our own air and stayed at the Auberge Vancouver both pre and post stay. I would recommend this hotel for this purpose. With four-wheel luggage, it was easy to walk from the hotel to the cruise check in - even in a slight misty rain. The hotel is in a tall mixed-use building that includes condos, retail, and the hotel. There is no room service, and the free breakfast offered is limited--but for cost/convenience it was the right choice for us. (The others being the far pricier Fairmont or Pan Pacific.) Front desk folks were very helpful. Embarkation was very confusing to get our luggage dropped off. Granted we tried to board early and the offloading was still going on. Based on what pier workers told us there isn't a set place for each ship/sailing to drop off luggage - which sounds crazy given this ship makes the same trip every week. But once we found the location to drop off the luggage the rest was pretty well managed by HA. Just bring your patience with you. We were onboard by 11:15a or so, and our cabin was ready before noon. Lunch in the main dining room was the way to go, as the Lido was a zoo. We rented two Lido Cabanas for this trip (two couples), which was a great choice. It gave us a place to hang out and our steward was excellent. Granted we tipped him well at the start and throughout the cruise, but he waited on us like kings. For Alaska, I would do this again in a heartbeat. (Cost $199 per cabana for the week.) I didn't see anyone in the Retreat Cabanas all week. Food in the main dining room was very good. We ate at the Tamarid the first night (catch the first night 'special' when you get onboard at 25% discount.) The Pinnacle was good, but not as good as our memory of the meal on the Eurodam a few years ago. The Pizza, burgers, and hot dogs all got good reviews from our group. I think the best options for Lido is to get a customized food (ommlete, salad, etc.) made to order. Otherwise, the food we had was just fair. Be sure to at least order coffee via room service, as it is so nice to sit outside sipping your coffee in the morning. (Room Service breakfast was very good too.) Entertainment: We only saw the Billboard night production, which was just OK - but less than you will see on most ships. We missed the illusionist and comedian, so can't comment on that. The orchestra played the score of an Alaska nature movie one night, and it was very good. BB Kings and the dueling pianos were both excellent. We went to the pianos (Billboard) every night. Lots of fun. I also loved America's Test Kitchen classes they had on sea days. The bar drinks were disappointing, and never found the bar or bartender that could whip up something great. Our best bar experience by far was in the Tamirid Bar--as far as quality of drinks - but it was also the worst service. We finally just started going to the bar ourselves rather than have the bar waiter take our order. The Tamirid Bar isn't crowded and has incredible views. The Crows Nest has been ruined with all the new junk they have up there. This space in the past was our 'go to spot' in the past, but not anymore. #fail Holland America. Drink specials were only in two bars at 4pm and 11:30pm - BOGO +$2. Why bother having one at 11:30p on a HA ship?? As many have commented, everything seemed to be a ploy to get you to spend more money--which I don't think is unique to Holland America. The info left in your rooms about buying jewelry was overwhelming and the only port info was a push to go to cruise stores in port. Sad it has come to that. Our shore excursions (not with the cruise line) were with Harv and Marv in Juneau in the 6 person boat. Excellent!! We did a taxi to Mendenhall in Juneau. Excellent!! We did the White Pass (one way to Frasier) in Skagway and stopped off at the Skagway Brewery for a post-excursion drink. Both were great. All that said, I would go again tomorrow -- and would recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose the Rome to Venice Twelve day itinerary for the ports of call in Greece. Boarding and departure were handled very well with lots of directions and assistance. Food was very good but the main dining room was dark, chilly and quite ... Read More
We chose the Rome to Venice Twelve day itinerary for the ports of call in Greece. Boarding and departure were handled very well with lots of directions and assistance. Food was very good but the main dining room was dark, chilly and quite noisy. We preferred the buffet on the Lido deck with lovely views from the window tables or the after deck open air tables. The servers here were very helpful and down to earth friendly. Our Upper Veranda Deck cabin was not as clean as we would have liked and we got house keeping in to redo. Major dissatisfaction with ship sponsored Exc Tours. Not enough information available shipboard and very limited access to staff. Much more information on each port and tour could be provided on the room’s TV. If you take these tours, do your research in depth ahead of time. Which leads to the second major problem, shipboard WiFi. No where in their sales information do they disclose the ridiculous slow speeds that can be expected AND they sell this to you by the amount of time connected, not by the amount of data downloaded. I measured download speeds throughout the ship and it averaged about 1.6 mps. That’s worse than your crowded coffee shop. Unless you also have enough money to shovel over the side, don’t bother with ship’s WiFi. Get a roaming package for your cell and do your surfing when linked to shore towers. Shipboard main stage entertainment was pretty sketchy. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
My husband and I just turned 40, so we decided to celebrate by booking a Mediterranean Cruise! We had a great Alaskan cruise with Holland America a few years ago, so we decided to go with them again. And we're glad we did! We also ... Read More
My husband and I just turned 40, so we decided to celebrate by booking a Mediterranean Cruise! We had a great Alaskan cruise with Holland America a few years ago, so we decided to go with them again. And we're glad we did! We also really liked the itinerary: a 12 day cruise starting from Rome, traveling to a variety of Greek islands, and then arriving back in Venice. The Oosterdam was a lovely ship! Everything was very clean (public spaces and cabin). We stayed in an interior room, and we thought the room had plenty of space. With such a port heavy itinerary, it didn't seem to make a lot of sense to pay extra for a balcony as we weren't on the ship during the day. Plus, there were plenty of sun beds available, and the Lido and the Crow's Nest were great places to relax and watch the sea. The food was good! It was easy to find something to eat for breakfast in the Lido, and we also really enjoyed ordering room service. The servers in the main dining room were also personable and provided fantastic service - we enjoyed the variety of options for dinner, especially dessert. The baristas in the Crow's Nest also made a pretty good latte. As for entertainment, we spent every night in the BB King Blue's Club. We thought the band was good, and we both love to dance, so it was perfect for us. The place was packed most nights! We did three shore excursions with Holland America (tour to Pompeii, Bus Transfer to Oia, Santorini, and Kayaking trip in Argostoli). The Pompeii and Kayaking tours were reasonably priced and we really enjoyed the experiences! The cost for the bus transfer to Oia was ridiculous, but it was the only way to enjoy Oia for a couple of hours without the insane crowds. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. Overall, it was a great cruise! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 12th cruise and our first with Holland America. (Our previous cruises were on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess.) I will start at the end by saying that we were impressed with HAL and we loved our cruise. The thing ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise and our first with Holland America. (Our previous cruises were on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess.) I will start at the end by saying that we were impressed with HAL and we loved our cruise. The thing that stood out above all else was the service. Everyone, no matter what their position, greeted us whenever they passed. Our cabin stewards made me remember what good service really means! They were phenomenal. The staff in the main dining room and the Lido buffet were unfailingly cheerful, no matter how busy they might have been. To other cruise lines: this is how it’s done! On most days, we had breakfast and lunch in the Lido and dinner in the main dining room. The food ranged from good to great, and overall it was a notch up from most of our previous cruises. We looked forward to mealtimes. The entertainment was the most professional of any of our cruise experiences, with the standout being the incredible Duo Yalba. We saw several other good performances on the main stage, including the very talented ship dancers and an amazing pianist. In addition, HAL partners with the Lincoln Center and there were wonderful concerts throughout the day. The performers in both the Billboard Onboard bar and the B.B. King Blues Club were very talented and fun. HAL has also partnered with America’s Test Kitchen and BBC Earth so that there is a definite “learning” emphasis in their activities, although they still have fun favorites like Bingo too. HAL handled our air and since there are no direct flights to Copenhagen from our location, we had to make connections; however, there seemed to be just the right amount of time between flights. Embarkation and disembarkation were among the smoothest we have experienced. Regarding the ports: COPENHAGEN - This was our embarkation point and for the lucky people who stayed aboard for the second leg of the cruise, it was also a regular port stop. We came three days early to explore and we loved it. We booked our own accommodations rather than going through HAL. We couldn’t recommend the wonderful Hotel Andersen more highly for service, location, and style. It was easy to get around Copenhagen (we enjoy walking) and the people were the nicest we have ever encountered. Tivoli Gardens, Rosenborg Castle, and Christiansborg Palace were highlights of our visit. TALINN - Easily walkable from the ship. The old town is beautiful, picturesque, and compact. ST. PETERSBURG - We did a two day excursion with Alla Tours and it was phenomenal. I was not prepared for the grandeur of the palaces, churches, and museums. I still dream about it. Definitely my favorite port. HELSINKI - HAL had shuttles into town for 10 euro round trip. We took an enjoyable 90 minute panorama bus tour with audio guide through Stromma tours, with a stop at the Rock Church. You can pre-book with Stromma online or find them near Esplanade Park. Afterward we strolled the area and bought delicious grilled salmon from a vendor at Market Square for lunch. Very nice people in Helsinki and a lovely city. We wished we had more time there. STOCKHOLM - We did a three hour HAL excursion that included the fascinating Vasa museum and an overview of the city. It was a good tour but the guide spoiled it at the end by making unsolicited and unnecessary political comments. This caused like-minded passengers to start chiming in. One minute we were learning about this beautiful city and the next we were forced to listen to divisive commentary. That is not what I paid for, and it really tainted the experience. Hopefully it was a one time event because as I said, otherwise it would have been a great tour. We returned to the ship for lunch, then went back into Stockholm on the free HAL shuttle. It’s a lovely and easy place to walk around except that it was extremely crowded and when it was time to return to the ship, there were so many buses that the HAL bus was unable to park to pick us up. We must have waited an hour before HAL finally arranged for a P & O bus to bring us back. Perhaps this too is not an everyday occurrence because I have not seen many references to it in other reviews. WARNEMUNDE - We took the HAL excursion to the charming, historic town of Wismar which included a stop for beer and pretzels at a beer factory. We had already been to Berlin, another option for this port, so we chose something fun and relaxing. After our return, we walked into Warnemunde, visiting shops and strolling by the water. I enjoyed seeing all the German families on their vacations. KIEL - We planned to take the ferry to the u-boat. You can get information about this at the TI in town. Unfortunately it did not return until 2:00 and we were supposed to be onboard at 3:00. We were uncomfortable cutting it that close, because if we missed the ferry, the next one would have been too late. Instead we walked around the city and strolled the waterfront promenade. It was fine but we were disappointed about our original plans. A few other pros and cons: *The onboard Internet is poor. We ended up buying it on the at sea days and using free WiFi in port. *The HAL laundry service is amazing! Don’t hesitate to use it to make your packing lighter. *This is a small thing but we really appreciated the way they did happy hour. Rather than a drink of the day at a special price, you order what you want and the second drink is $2. They serve the drinks with delicious complimentary snacks. In summary, we loved Holland America , the Zuiderdam, and the Baltic. It was near perfect. I just wish they hadn’t made us get off at the end! :) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We love the fact that Holland America is not over commercialised. Unlike some 'other,' cruise companies HAL are not trying to 'nickel & dime,' one at every opportunity. We like the small-medium ship scale of the ... Read More
We love the fact that Holland America is not over commercialised. Unlike some 'other,' cruise companies HAL are not trying to 'nickel & dime,' one at every opportunity. We like the small-medium ship scale of the Holland America fleet, and love that most staterooms have a bathtub, (great to relax weary bodies after a busy day ashore). Our Holland America itinerary was the perfect balance of ports and places to visit. Highlights of our travels were snorkelling between the European & American teutonic plates in Iceland, and discovering the breathtaking wonders of Shetland! The service in the main dining rooms and speciality restaurants was excellent. Sometimes we had to wait perhaps a little too long to order wine via the wonderfully knowledgeable Sommeliers. Perhaps HAL needs to employ more sommeliers..... I am always a little disappointed that HAL only offers 'Windows' workshops.. Most of the passengers I spoke with were MAC folks, even using their iPhones instead of traditional cameras. More attention to enrichment workshop diversity would be a good thing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need ... Read More
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need Indian vegetarian meal. I was clearly told yes Holland America is best vegetarian friendly. On coming the same turned to worst nightmare On first day of lunch it was told that there were less supply as new supply is being refilled and from tommorow you will get variety of food. Told ok no problem. Let's manage a day while all other had there full option to eat. From 2nd day the same is situation till day 6.either something is over or we will do tommorow but there is no tommorow than. Had Worst experience where I had taken a naan and just yogurt to each and tried to break naam with hand and in couldn't and than with teeth than too it was unbreakable. Given it to chef MR mani who told me this is hard one requested by guest but no guest request a UNBREAKABLE NAAN as it is to eat and not a sovenier at the room I was told daily to contact Mr mani and he will make seperate but my simple question is why we are not provided quality food and substandard is done between guest who complains and some they are normal and no complain gets the unbreakable naan. Matter reported to charnea guest manager at lido market. Most Indian on cruise if asked are satisfied than you can see the reply 15 are there in my group. The best person who eats in to most item in our group it wss also now fed up. There are no variety. I had complained on day 3rd breakfast where I had waited 1 hrs for a menu item before the steward came to me and told item is wrongly written and had complained to Denise who was manager for in room dining and she called chef Mr siva Kumar who says he is only one Indian chef and have 120 people to handle alone. There is no fault of him seems and so called Denise in front of Mr siva Kumar and told her what Mr siva said as this is fault of Holland America side that enough staff was not provided though clear booking was done with passport details nationality and even telling our food preference to booking agent. Even in Indian item. Name tags are not being put and the same counter is mixed with non vegetarian. 2nd greenhouse spa Offered hydro pool and thermal suite package at 219 per couple and was booked by me immediately on the day of embarkation and was told only last 4 space left 35 couple. 70 person is the max allowed. All good for 2 days and than came the day of skagway where board was kept for the same thing of 130 dollars which was only for skagway joining passengers but to my surprise they took booking from all the guests who boarded from Vancouver too and with bargained price of 90-100 dollars for couple. Right now there are much more than 70 persons and had told first day that I would only do it if the max cap of 70 is maintained. It is like public pool now and also with this bargain thing totally dissatisfied with working and demand a strong refund for the same. Also all general public is entering the hydro pool as the door is not kept closed 3rd room shower had fallen when it was turned on leg on first day of cruise which can't be allowed as it was not checked 4th room ac not working properly complained on first day is not resolved till date. 5th highly overcharged from exc tours. Don't buy they don't care for us Team to my surprise I found that white pass railway done by me through exc tours is also price higher than the price given on its official website Matter report to Mr lyron who was not ready to agree the fact first that it's overpriced. After giving him proof he have taken time and than comes with terms and conditions no where published. Mr lyron says this offer is only for online purchase and sent letter of terms which wasn't available online. no where that terms are published online Also if its for online only it should have been clearly written on main page This is program with Holland America that you try to earn 10 dollars more for anything and everything after normal profit and than just tell to read terms where nothing was told to us like this. Point 1 reported to Denise and charnea as well as guest manager Mr Jorn Point 2 reported to mr jorn who committed me to get back to me within next 24 hrs. Point 3 and 4 reported to housekeeping Point 5 reported to lyron exc manager on board Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We live in RI & had not yet visited Bermuda. I had been watching HLAV “deals” out of Boston, published by HLA, in the past and then heard the ship would be changing their IT BOS-Bermuda out of Hamilton. We grabbed the last sail ... Read More
We live in RI & had not yet visited Bermuda. I had been watching HLAV “deals” out of Boston, published by HLA, in the past and then heard the ship would be changing their IT BOS-Bermuda out of Hamilton. We grabbed the last sail & spent a wonderful 3 full days, 3 nights on this lovely island. The Bermudians are kind & friendly, Hamilton is near center of either end for convenience & the Veendam has wonderful staff, clean & well maintained, nice variety of entertainment throughout the evening (DJ in Crowsnest late night, classical in Explorer lounge day & evening, jazz in the Ocean lounge and popular/sing along in another. The shows in the comfortable, soft seating theater were very well done & included fantastic magician, comedian, singing & dance broadway caliber which I did not expect for a smaller ship. We dined on the main dining room every night and always had a very good dinner with extensive variety to choose from. Everyone at the table seemed pleased with their order. The Lido Market buffet is served by servers and there was very little wait to get anything in any amount you desired. I feel strongly that the buffet servering keeps ships illness down. The buffet has plexiglass in front of the food choices so that passengers do not handle or breath on the food. Great way to do it. Hand sanitizing dispensers all around the ship! Our inside cabin was quiet & plenty of room for 2. We did not have food down beds on the walls so that opens it up. Shower was fine with shampoo, conditioner & body wash on the wall. Upon arrival the phone in the cabin was on the blink & was changed out. There was plenty of lighting, a TV with a few news channels, ship’s related channels, movie channels, etc.. A book in the room listed 200+ Popular movies you could plug into the DVD player. You got your next days ship’s IT nightly (with a little chocolate & animal towel design). Wonderful robes ready to use, plenty of closet space and I brought a combo of at least 25 outfits! Not that you need it but was not sure about the weather & wanted to be comfortable on ship’s promenade deck where we lounged on the traditional teak chairs (which could use thicker cushions). We did 1 excursion & toured Bermuda & beaches by bus. Embark & disembark well organized. Captain very personable. Fitness room state of the art, programs free & interesting. Veendam has a dedicated card table room for bridge & other table games which I have not seen on larger ships. I was very happy my husband could find a few bridge games. There is also a large open room dedicated to games, puzzles & CHESS already set up 4 chess tables not to mention a GIANT CHESS game set up in the large pool area! An adult hot tub area is on ship’s AFT as well with a bar, seating & handmade NY style thin crust pizza! Delicious! Given it’s an older ship, it is well maintained, great size to navigate around and stylish. Ready to go with you to Venice Italy when you get there! Veendam has all the small ship personality you could hope for plus big ship activities & entertainment. It’s a classy operation & the passengers love Holland. No, We so not work for or with them, yes We paid for my trip and absolutely gave our fabulous stewards a healthy tip (on top of the mandated ship’s tips) because they were in that cabin 2-3 times a day making the cruise a very special experience! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary which included six European countries and possible visits to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and the races at Royal Ascot. It also included stops in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bruges, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of it's itinerary which included six European countries and possible visits to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and the races at Royal Ascot. It also included stops in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris (LeHavre), Normandy, Gurnsey, Southampton, and two in Scotland. So overall this itinerary was excellent. We read several reviews that were disappointed in the condition of the ship. We did not find this to be an issue. For sure it is an older vessel, however, it had recently undergone some cosmetic updates and presented itself in decent shape. The crew onboard were generally excellent. In fact, most of the servers were from Indonesia and were very pleasant ... in contrast to some cruises we have taken where Eastern Europeans were less than happy to be serving us. Our major issues centered around Food, Menus, Quality, and Dinning Times. We have sailed many times on most of the major lines including Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Celebrity. The food offerings and quality could on the Zuiderdam could not begin to compare with any of those. We have moved away from eating in the main dinning venues most days on a cruise like this where the tours were very lengthy and we often returned late and exhausted. So, our only option was the Lido Buffet. Absolutely terrible! Most nights there was nothing edible to eat. So, it was pasta, pizza, or salad. We are early risers and it was impossible to get anything for breakfast until 0700 most mornings unless the ship had some early departure tours. I mean nothing .... no pastry, doughnuts ... nothing. Other days we returned to the ship exhausted from our tours around 1700 (5 P.M.). We were hoping to grab a quick dinner and settle in for the night. No way Jose! No food available anywhere. We've never been on a ship where you couldn't get something to eat 24/7. And most offerings are the cheapest they could offer ..... pasta, Asian, etc. Oh, well. I'll close with another warning we had ..... that HAL tends to attract an older clientele. That's not really the problem as we're up there now ourselves. It does mean, however, that many of the cruisers had serious ambulatory issues. I've never seen so many wheel chairs, walkers, and motorized scooters on a cruise before. Let me make it clear that I'm happy these folk are still cruising and living their life to the fullest. However, it did tend to really slow down walking, getting food service, etc. We were also nearly run over several times by the motorized ones. A much more serious problem developed with the gentleman in the cabin directly opposite us. His walker was way too big to fit through his cabin door and he was not able to fold it up and make his way into the cabin. As a result the walker stayed out in the hallway most of the night and anytime he was in his cabin. I'm sure most of you know how narrow the hallways are to begin with. A real safety issue that was not corrected by the ships staff. In closing .... despite the itinerary, we'll be sailing on one of the other lines from now on. Read Less
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