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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We are experienced cruisers (a group of 4) but have not tried Holland America before. The cruise was chosen because we wanted to go to three specific ports, Kusadsi (Ephesus), Mykonos and Santorini. The itinerary turned out to be ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers (a group of 4) but have not tried Holland America before. The cruise was chosen because we wanted to go to three specific ports, Kusadsi (Ephesus), Mykonos and Santorini. The itinerary turned out to be everything we wanted and more, and the holiday was really lovely due to the places we went to. The ship was something of a mixed bag and the four of us we all have slightly different views so I will try and present a balanced picture. Cabins - probably one of the best we've had. A balcony stateroom on Deck 5, good size, nice touches (a fully stocked mini-bar, bathrobes, beach towels, umbrella, blankets for the balcony etc). What made the cabin though was the bathroom, slightly bigger than normal and with the best double shower to be found on any ship, it had a proper door (no nasty shower curtain here) and Elemis products. Comfortable bed, lots of electrical sockets and USB ports by the bed - which was a great touch. Cabin stewards were wonderful, attentive and very friendly. Food - Holland America prides itself on its food and other reviews on here often cite the great quality and variety. We did not find this was the case. The food was average to good but never excellent and on a couple of occasions, poor. The first two nights our food in the dining room was cold so I had a word with the Maitre d' who then personally served us every meal from then on, and there was a very big improvement. However, there was one night when he was very busy and unable to see to us personally and we were back on cold food! The wine waiters seemed absolutely incapable of bringing four drinks at the same time - in fact every single time we ordered throughout the whole holiday our drinks never arrived together. The single biggest fault with this ship was the food and beverage service throughout the ship - it left a lot to be desired. Entertainment - it was pretty much standard cruise fare - nothing awful, nothing wonderful. Pleasant would be the best word to describe it. Excursions - we arranged all our excursions ourselves before we sailed and saved a fortune in doing so. For Santorini we would highly recommend Black Pearl Tours run by Panos and Cristos. Great service at a fraction of the price. Embarkation/Disembarkation - have to hand it to Holland America here, the best experience we've ever had. Very smooth, no long lines, very well organised, top marks, couldn't be faulted. Fitness & Recreation - the gym was pretty good, not the best equipped I've seen but not the worst either. Public rooms/spaces - this ship, although quite new, lacked a certain wow factor. Personally we like a grand staircase and an atrium - a bit of glitz on a cruise ship is no bad thing but this ship doesn't have this and we thought it was slightly the worse for it. VfM - cruising with Holland America is going to cost a bit more and that's ok when one can feel the difference, I'm just not sure we did. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and HAL's reputation for food and service. We love all the ports: Argostolian, Kefalonia Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Split and Korcula, Croatia; Corfu, Greece; Catania, Sicily; ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and HAL's reputation for food and service. We love all the ports: Argostolian, Kefalonia Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Split and Korcula, Croatia; Corfu, Greece; Catania, Sicily; Valletta, Malta; and Naples, Italy. The schedule was port intensive and we could have used a couple more sea days. The ship itself is nicely decorated, with beautiful flower arrangements. Food in the MDR was very good and though we had anytime dining, we loved the team at table 336 (Sumardi, Yusi and Carlos) and made regular reservations to ensure we got them. We ate in the Pinnacle Grille twice, once for the De Librije specialty dinner. That menu was fabulous and the food interesting and delicious. Service for the standard Pinnacle menu was significantly better than service for the De Librije dinner. Entertainment in the theater was limited but the music made up for it. We enjoyed the quality of the performers in both the Rolling Stone Rock Room and BB King Blues club. The Lincoln Center stage was very good, but times did not always fit our schedule. We booked only private company excursions all of which were fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
Our 2019 Cruise, this will be our fifth cruise in our wish list of trying all the cruise lines with various star rating. Holland America Koningsdam was next on our list and our longest, 23 nights around the Mediterranean. Pure bliss. Best ... Read More
Our 2019 Cruise, this will be our fifth cruise in our wish list of trying all the cruise lines with various star rating. Holland America Koningsdam was next on our list and our longest, 23 nights around the Mediterranean. Pure bliss. Best value....two cruised joined together for just a little more. Many Pros about this stunning ship, but also a few extremely annoying unnecessary Cons. Pros: This ship is immaculate, spotless and well maintained, even though it is only three years old, it still looks new and they never stop cleaning. HAL’s still is classical cruising, so If you prefer a party or ship for children, this is not for you. Very relaxing. The ship’s captain, Werner Timmers has a great sense of humour, especially during his addresses during the day. The onboarding was fast, efficient and we even were allowed to board early and access our rooms, a first for us. The suites were spotless, excellent showers and shampoo, conditioner and body wash which were mounted on the shower wall, saving the waste of plastics bottles. Our balcony was huge and we just had a basic veranda suite. Bedding was also comfy with a large TV just in front of the bed on the wall, showing all the latest movies, for free! This was great when you just wanted to relax in bed at night. The “fill your laundry bag” for $30 US was brilliant for cleaned and pressed laundry. Another first for us, was the ability to chat with other cruisers via their cruise app. Brilliant, we were a group of eight and this made life so much easier. Pool area is bright and colourful, but on sea days, staff must be more vigilant and remove towels placed on beds and lounges for hours, while passengers were off somewhere else. The movies at night on the big screen near the pool were lovely along with the movie’s snacks The excursions were fairly priced and well organised and their daily talks with Andrea, one of their EXC were informative and more importantly, gave you many options to visit the ports on your own and how do via local transport, which was greatly appreciated, a true passionate travel gesture to the passengers. The food was EXCELLENT and even though my husband wasn’t keen on the buffets, as there were many queues in the morning and not self-serve, especially on sea days, it kept the messy fingers of passengers out of the food keeping the health standards up. But they should increase their staff as the waiting time seemed long at times and some of the staff don’t seem to be in any rush. ******The CONS: the first main con for us was the relentless smoking odour outside our stateroom, it welcomed us and those in our group staterooms each and every morning, noon and night. Sometimes so bad, you had to cover your nose. We became passage envy at other corridors that smelt nice. I complained on average, twice a day, met with the management, but nothing could be done. WE later found out, that there was a staff smoking room at the end of our corridor behind a staff door. When staff used the door (which they were not supposed to) the smell followed them. Either stop smoking there, or put in extractor fans, it did ruin our experience and was such a shame. The casino also allows smoking, which is ridiculous, as it is a contained area, we love the casino, but could only last 10mins, they do have non-smoking nights, but people still smoke, unless you report them. To avoid this smell, don’t enter the casino and avoid staying on level 4, bow. The second main con, is the constant over charging for drinks on your account. There were eight of us, all with different packages, four with only soft drink package as we don’t drink. At dinner, you would order all your drinks, all cards would be picked up and it was luck of the draw who got charged what. The quench packages ended up having wine or beer charges on their account as no care was given on who had what card. This happened daily. As soon as you checked your account on your app straight away to check, if you were over-charged, you would then show the waiter what had happened and they would ask you to see guest services, another battle at reception!! As they cannot reverse it. Reception would reply “but your card was swiped for that drink””, then the whole story has to be explained, right drink, wrong person, wrong card. This really needs to be addressed by the beverage team. Guest services were also unsure what drinks were included in each package, I had to actually correct then. We had over 18 charges that has to reversed on average. Staff just seemed not to really care sometimes and some not as friendly as other cruise lines. The ones that were, were exceptional, best at sea, especially the barista on level 12, Paula, best at sea. Dinner in the dining room was great, but disappointed that we could never get a window table, unless we booked dinner at 5.30pm which was too early or the same waiters. Tables were cramped in and it seemed there were a lot of new staff, as it was crazy on most nights. The shows were ok, but repetitive and no real wow factor. We were looking forward to the much hyped 360 surround screens showing of blue planet 2, but only three screens were on. Which was a shame. Shopping was not really that exciting, which is good, as we spent less! In all, a great relaxing cruise, we would go again, but re-think the drinks package and avoid level 4, or anywhere near smoking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this trip because of the itinerary. There was only one sea day and the port days were long so you didn’t feel rushed. It wasn’t a “relaxing” tour because we wanted to see everything, and we did. We figured we walked over ... Read More
We chose this trip because of the itinerary. There was only one sea day and the port days were long so you didn’t feel rushed. It wasn’t a “relaxing” tour because we wanted to see everything, and we did. We figured we walked over 100 miles all total, and many of our shipmates did more. Just lots to see! Embarkation was a little confusing if you were on your own getting to the port, but not bad at all. It was very quick. Of course, it was raining so the picture was taken looking like drowned rat! Disembarkation was a breeze. The Veendam is an older, small ship so the entertainment is lacking. We aren’t big at doing the shows and stuff, but if you are keep that in mind. We love trivia and it was there. The pool was never crowded. We didn’t eat in MDR, we did the Lido and the food was very good. The service was a little lacking everywhere, they seemed to need more servers everywhere. The people we encountered were all wonderful. Guest services was always helpful. The cruise director and the EXC director were great. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Our last cruise was on a Princess ship, which turned out to be a less than ideal vacation because it appeared that the average age of the passengers was at least 82, or maybe higher. We wanted to avoid that type of crowd, so we decided to ... Read More
Our last cruise was on a Princess ship, which turned out to be a less than ideal vacation because it appeared that the average age of the passengers was at least 82, or maybe higher. We wanted to avoid that type of crowd, so we decided to try the Koningsdam. The ship itself is not luxurious in any way; there are no interesting or unusual features that are often found on other lines. The atrium itself was especially dull. The food, however, was excellent both at the lido bar and at the two main dining rooms. The variety of food was exceptional at all meals. Other than the dining areas, the only other food offering was at a pizza place and a hamburger place. We would have liked to have more options for food, especially since the hours of operation were not that great at the two places. We went on four excursions, and had mixed results with them. Our main complaint about the excursions was that we were given very little time to stop and take pictures. The professionalism of the tour guides varied considerably. We did find out that at many ports you can hire a taxi to take you to the same sites covered by the excursion, but at a considerably lower cost. Our cabin had a balcony and the room itself was suitable in size and comfort. The folks who cleaned the cabin did a phenomenal job of making sure everything was in order and that the room was perfectly cleaned. We had no issue with the cabin itself. Our main disappointment was with the entertainment and activities. In essence, there really wasn't much to do on the ship. I'm not sure why the staff can't come up with something for the passengers to do. The entertainment was especially disappointing. The same music was played night after night at the various venues. If the ship can't have different groups playing, at least have them play different songs each night. The stage entertainers were OK, but some of them performed the same acts more than one night. The acts included a pianist, a singing group, and a juggler. Not much variety. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and loved all the port visits especially Kotor, Dubrovnik and Korcula. Embarkation and disembarkation were excellent, efficient and stress free. The two tender ports were also very well ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and loved all the port visits especially Kotor, Dubrovnik and Korcula. Embarkation and disembarkation were excellent, efficient and stress free. The two tender ports were also very well organised with no hold ups. Stateroom (4030) was clean and comfortable with great storage options but we travelled with our teenage daughter and found the ergonomics not so good when the pull out bed was made up. (Effectively blocked access to the balcony.) The bathroom is a good size (especially the shower) and very functional. The big negative with the stateroom was the noise level from the theatre productions, unacceptable for a new build vessel. In room entertainment offers a great choice of movies and information. Food overall was very good however the service in the main dining room was inconsistent and actually quite poor at times. The Lido buffet had good options but felt quite crowded at times and there were quite long periods where not much was available when changing between meal sessions. Service always very good in the buffet. My favourite was the Grand Dutch Cafe which offers great coffee, nice snacks (have to try the fries) and excellent service! Entertainment was not to our taste, the feature act was Vox Fortura whose singing voices were good but the show was aimed at a very 'senior' audience. The 'comedian' Chas Burnett was plain awful (had to escape after 10 minutes) The main theatre seemed too small for the number of passengers with many missing out on seats. We liked the music in the Rolling Stone Rock venue and the Blues Club but felt the sessions were cut too short. Overall the ship's public spaces felt to be too smal, I wonder if too much space has gone to pay restaurants and exclusive areas? On the whole she is a nice modern ship with an excellent crew but we felt our previous two cruises on Celebrity Solstice class vessels were far superior. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our first Holland America cruise and we didn't know what to expect with the cruise line in general or our ship (Koningsdam). We have taken several cruises before with other lines (Princess, Celebrity, RC, and Carnival). ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise and we didn't know what to expect with the cruise line in general or our ship (Koningsdam). We have taken several cruises before with other lines (Princess, Celebrity, RC, and Carnival). This was by far the best cruise of them all from the itinerary, to the condition of the ship, to the service of our room attendant and wait staff in the main dining room. I would agree with some other reviews that getting in to see a show in the main theatre is challenging unless you arrive very early. We didn't, so we chose not to attend any of the main theatre shows. Instead we took advantage of the Lincoln Center, BB King's blues, and the Rolling Stone Rock rooms which were all very good. Our room attendant for our cabin (6184) did a fantastic job of keeping our space clean and coming up with creative towel animals each night. Jo and his assistant got extra tips from us for their efforts. Jo and his assistant were the first to call us by name after just a few minutes on the ship. The room was a standard veranda and was quite comfortable for two people. I really liked the large screen TV and the features that it offered. There are some enhancements that could be done to improve this (like broadcasting the main theatre performances), but overall there were lots of movies to choose from or some live TV if you wanted to catch up on events. The only issue we had was that ESPN's signal was spotty on occasion. The room was ready for us when we boarded and we received our luggage quite quickly as well as some flowers my in-laws arranged to celebrate my wife's birthday. There is ample storage room in the closets and different cubbies in the room. The shower is very large for a cruise ship with great water pressure and temperature. The food in the main dining room was very good to excellent on a far majority of the evenings. The exception being the 2nd gala night when the filet mignon wasn't cooked to the asked temperature. They offered a replacement quickly and addressed the issue. Service was attentive and we were called by our names after the first evening. The food on the Lido deck and some of the other areas of the ship were very good. I really like how the staff serve the food rather than allowing everyone to touch everything. I appreciate this is to prevent any shipboard illnesses and fully agree with this approach. The condition of the ship is very good. I actually went looking for rust and only find a very small spot on the main passenger areas. Clearly maintenance is being enforced and it shows. Well done. Our cruise director, Nathan, was what we were looking for on our cruise. He wasn't an over the top party boat director like other lines and did a good job keeping us informed on what was going on during the morning update without being too intrusive. The captain was the same person as the recently released Mighty Ship episode on the Discovery channel. He was quite funny and you can tell that he enjoys his role as master of the ship. Due to weather issues we weren't able to get into Santorini, but the captain found an alternative port in Crete (Souda) that was very enjoyable. He greeted passengers upon arrival in Souda as a way to apologize for the change in our plans. It was the right decision even though I was really looking forward to our visit in Santorini. The safety of the ship and guests would not have allowed us to tender in port easily. Overall we really enjoyed our cruise and will be travelling with Holland America again in the future. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We are not cruisers.One 4 day disaster to the Carribbean on another line was all we had to go on. We were looking for a five star floating hotel to cruise the Greek Islands and spend a few days in Athens, and we found it in spades with the ... Read More
We are not cruisers.One 4 day disaster to the Carribbean on another line was all we had to go on. We were looking for a five star floating hotel to cruise the Greek Islands and spend a few days in Athens, and we found it in spades with the HA Koningsdam! Flew into Rome, were met immediately by HA staff, and transported seamlessly to the port. Our boarding was easy, and our cabin everything I had envisioned. Now for the trip itself. We NEVER waited for anything on board.The longest line we ever had was 5 people in front of us for an omelet. The Lido deck is a thing of beauty, with all food served individually, plexi-glass covering every station (phew!), and too many choices to take in. Silverware wrapped in cloth napkins at every place, beverages served by wait staff, and, oh..desserts to die for with a killer view! For dinner, we opted for the open seating plan, and are so happy we did. We chose to sit with other couples each night (you CAN sit solo), and met so many fascinating people. The wait staff had just won a HA award for service, and were working to live up to it. The food was 4 star worthy, and no one ever rushed us or forgot we were there. A wine steward approached us each night, but there was no feeling of being "sold" anything. We paid extra for the Pinnacle Room one night and loved it. The Canneletto disappointed only because of the location.The entertainment was top notch every night, and our stop at the BB KIng lounge--a must if you love music and/or dancing--ended our nights on an up note every time. I even got to play Pickle Ball on our sea days. Deck 12 was the lounge and internet cafe with private rooms for meetings like our CruiseCritic meet and greet the first day. The fitness room is extensive with the usual forward view. Two pools and many hot tubs for relaxing. We booked tours thru Viator, and one with CruiseCritic buddies, and loved every one. Met right off the boat, on time, just as advertised, with incredible guides. Heard nothing but raves about Viator tours...not so much about those booked through the ship. And Hop-on, Hop off in Athens, Rome and Naples worked great, as usual. Do not miss Ephesus. No words to describe it accurately. MInd blowing is all I can think of. And our guide was phenomenal. If you are thinking of this HA tour-- DO IT! For adults 50 and over. Ave. age about 55-65 Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time ... Read More
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time and arrived 35 minutes early into Rome. We met one of our fellow cruisers at the airport and had arranged a shared transfer to Civitavecchia. Despite some airport confusion, it all worked out. Note that after leaving through customs I did not find an ATM at the airport. They must be there, but not in the places they used to be! Our driver with Civitavecchia Shuttle Express was kind and professional. He did not talk very much. We were dropped off at our guest house, “MyHomeBLU” at about 10:40. MyHomeBLUE is an interesting guest house on the top floor of a condo building. It has some great views of the city as well as the Mediterranean. We went back to visit our new friend at her hotel and found an ATM. We attempted a walking tour I had downloaded from the port website. Streets are poorly marked, and while we found the two churches they were both locked and we could not enter inside. We were too late for the market. We stopped at a supermarket for two bottles of wine to bring on board and a small gelato container. The gelato became lunch. At 4:00 we met our new friend and went for dinner. Many restaurants are closed from 3 – 7 PM but along the seaside promenade several were open. The “New Gran Caffe” has a very nice upstairs dining room with views of the sea. My dinner was good although not what I expected. We walked along the sea for a while afterwards taking photos. Walking back to our temporary home DW said she was still hungry. There is a supermarket on the first floor of our building so we visited there and she bought some cheese and olives. This was very satisfying as it was enjoyed in the “Living room” overlooking the coast. At about 8:30 we called it a day! Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – embarkation We slept very well. We woke to my phone alarm to get ready for the day. We had a light breakfast in the MyHomeBLUE living room. There is cheese and olives left from last evening and that was helpful as little that was available met DW’s dietary needs. We took a nice walk to the town market. About half the market was fruits, veggies, seafood, & meats. The other half was an assortment of goods including clothing and electronics. We walked back and enjoyed a few minutes rest chatting with the proprietor until heading down for our prearranged 10:30 taxi. He was waiting for us at 10:25 and off we went to the port. We were in the terminal before 11:00. They told us boarding would begin at 11:30 and handed us boarding card #1. At 11:10 they called for #1. We had our photo taken for our last embarkation on Prinsendam, and headed to our cabin. It seemed a few things were not as cleaned as DW prefers but our room steward took care of everything. We sent away the soiled laundry from our travels and headed to the Ocean Bar. Here we found the maître’ de and discussed dinner plans. We handed him our prepared list of DW’s dietary restrictions and he kindly assigned us to table 143, a four top all the way aft. He also took a preorder for dinner. We also stopped at the Pinnacle Grille to preorder tomorrow’s lunch which we are having with several roll call members. Lunch was enjoyed in the dining room and all our special orders were very nicely taken care of. We headed to the cabin and our luggage was just being delivered. We unpacked and had everything stowed away prior to the 2:30 Mariner’s welcome aboard gathering. We attended the welcome aboard party and it was the best one we’ve ever enjoyed. The wait staff kept the beverages flowing freely and we had a great conversation with a couple we met in the elevator. After the party there was just enough time to shower and put on evening clothes before the 4:30 muster drill. The muster drill was pleasant enough with only about ½ the normal crowd as so many have stayed on from the prior cruise segment and they were excused. We were finished by 4:44. We headed straight to the Ocean Bar. At the Ocean Bar we renewed acquaintances with roll call members who we had shared tours with last year on the Iceland cruise. Other roll call members also joined us; it was a lot of fun. We went to dinner at 5:30 and had two sisters join our table. Conversation was very enjoyable and while I thought the menu tonight a little sparse my chicken was better than expected and the sisters both ordered the “Flank steak” but it looked more like a nice London broil. We left dinner with just enough time to stop in our cabin before the 7:30 welcome aboard show. Linda the cruise director was also CD on last year’s Iceland cruise. The Ocean Bar quartet is good with a strong vocalist. After the short show we visited the Ocean Bar to listen to the quartet but by 8:30 called it a night. Tomorrow is a busy day at sea and we are looking forward to it! Thursday, April 25 – at Sea After all our travels this was a morning to sleep in. We were up by about 7:45 but by the time we were ready to leave the room it was getting close to 9:30. With a 10:10 appointment with the future cruise consultant, we decided to head to the lido. To our delight the special of the day was Gingerbread Waffles with Orange Butter. I had asked for these on the Rotterdam recently and they did not know what I was talking about. DW ordered an omelet to her specific desire. To our further delight, Rosiato was serving in the lido. We got to know Rosiato last year on the Iceland cruise and she remembered us right away. We enjoyed breakfast with a couple from Australia and it was very nice. We were five minutes early for our appointment and she was ready for us. Knowing what we were looking for the booking was expeditious and quickly handled. We were also able to book a cabin for our friends who had asked to go with us. We finished just in time to head to the crow’s nest for the 10:30 Cruise Critic meet and greet. This was a tremendous event! Special thanks to cruise critic member KAZU for all her efforts in organizing our roll call and the wonderful name tags that remain on display in our cabin. Only one couple she had name tags for did not attend. We met many folks we have scheduled tours with and it was a super meet and greet. At noon we had a reservation with cruise critic members at the Pinnacle Grille. Our “Captains table” was delightful. The food was good and the conversation terrific. This was a busy sea day as at 2:00 we had our complimentary wine tasting session. This was really not as nice as the tasting we had on Rotterdam’s Christmas cruise. It had become very windy out on deck putting a literal damper on our hopes for a few laps on the promenade deck. All too soon it was time to get ready for gala night. We enjoyed happy hour in the Ocean Bar while the Ocean quartet entertained. On the way to dinner we found another crew member who remembered us from last year. As they say, Prinsendam is like a large family. We will miss the chance to sail her in the future. Friends from the Iceland cruise joined us for dinner. We had a very nice time. After dinner was the captain’s welcome toast in the theater followed by “Atlantic Crossing” by the cast. We have seen this show before but it was worth seeing again. The four vocalists are very talented. I’ve always felt the cast on Prinsendam are a cut above those on the other ships. After the show we went to listen to Daniel in the Crow’s Nest. We had a nice time but it was getting late so by about 9:40 we called it a night. Tomorrow we are in Alicante, Spain and have a full day tour scheduled. Friday, April 26, 2019 – Alicante, Spain The alarm went off at 6:45 although DW was up before that. Our tea order arrived at 6:55. We enjoyed a cup of tea in the cabin while getting ready. It is very sunny today so sunscreen is a must. We went to the lido for breakfast where I enjoyed one of today’s specials, a meat-lovers omelet. We were talking with a couple from Calgary during breakfast. The meeting time for our tour is 8:45. We watched the docking process from our balcony and then went to meet our group. The ship was cleared and off we went. Our tour was with Spain day tours with our guide David and driver Juan Carlos. First we drove to the historic center of Alicante (not very far). We visited the cathedral and the town hall. David took us over to the seaside promenade and introduced us to the specialty Alicante ice cream flavor which is honey and almond. We had just enough free time to walk down the promenade to the first leather merchant where I was able to obtain a ratchet style belt for 12 euros. Back to the van we were off to Guadalest in the mountains. It is about a 1 hr. drive mostly along the coast before crossing a mountain range. Guadalest is very photogenic being set among the hills. Leather and chocolate is produced locally and could be purchased, although we did not find anything that could not be passed up. One of the shops had purses at very good prices (at least so we thought). We returned to the van and headed back to Alicante to visit the castle. We certainly got our exercise climbing from the mini-bus parking area up to the top of the castle. This was a crystal clear day and being able to see everything around for many miles was quite a treat. No one will believe the photos were not enhanced as the color of the sea is just stunning. Back at the van at 3:30 and David and Juan Carlos had us back at the ship before 4:00 for our 4:30 all-aboard. We quickly got ready for dinner although missed happy hour. Dinner tonight was just all right. I was excited to see prime rib on the menu and having skipped lunch was looking forward to it. It just wasn’t juicy as prime rib should be. DW’s fish entrée was also just okay. We listed to the Ocean Quartet until they finished their set and then enjoyed the show. Yaniv Zarif gave a tremendous show with his interpretation of several Broadway and west end hits, in multiple languages. He was excellent and this was one of the best shows seen on a HAL ship in a few cruises. After Yaniv’s performance we called it a night as we have a long tour tomorrow and also King’s Day festivities on board. Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Malaga, Spain Prinsendam docked on schedule this morning in Malaga Spain. We enjoyed a quick lido breakfast with today’s special of Cinnamon & Bacon Waffles and a small ham omelet. We met our cruise critic group for our tour with Spain Day Tours to Granada and the Alhambra. This was a really great tour. We had plenty of time for our guided tour of the Alhambra and the gardens. We really enjoyed hearing of the 800 year history of the palace and fortress. From the Alhambra we were taken into Granada and had 90 minutes of free time. Our guide showed us where the department store and supermarket was, along with a variety of tapa bars. DW wanted shoes as her dress shoes were not working. We were successful in finding shoes. We then picked up a few apples and some local chocolate at a supermarket. The apples were “Lunch.” All too soon our 90 minutes were over and everyone was back on the bus. We returned to the port just after 6:30. After a quick stop at our cabin we went to the lido for the special “King’s day” Dutch dinner. DW’s special order dinner was delivered from the dining room, along with our wine bottle. I enjoyed many of the dinner options served, including poffertjes. The desserts were extra special with almond cookies, Dutch Apple Pie, and Ollie Bolen available. After dinner we enjoyed a little balcony time until we went to the showroom for “Authentic flamenco.” I always enjoy it when the cruise line brings local talent on board; in this case I just wish the troupe had explained the dances a bit. All in all this was an exceptional day and at 10:30 it was past time to call it a night! Sunday, April 28, 2019 – Gibraltar, UK Territory We enjoyed watching the Prinsendam wind its way to the dock this morning. “The rock” of Gibraltar blocked the sunrise. We docked on time and after a nice lido breakfast of today’s special Buttermilk and Corn waffles we met our tour group in the Ocean Bar at 7:45. We all made our way down to deck 4 at 7:50 and were allowed ashore at 7:55. We were the first group ashore and the first van leaving the parking area. This proved to be important. Our guide Rachel took us first to the Pillars of Hercules to view the strait of Gibraltar and in the hazy distance we could see the coast of Africa. From there we visited St. Michael’s Cave. We spent quite a bit of time at the cave. We’ve been to many caves over the years and this was impressive as I don’t recall ever seeing a natural open cave environment so huge. The sheets of limestone formations are extremely impressive. Outside the cave we had our first encounter with a Barbary Macaque Ape. This one was posing for photos and we enjoyed the opportunity. We were the second van to leave the caves and we made our way up the hill to the “Top of the Rock” and the upper Apes den. We spent maybe 30 minutes here watching the apes, taking photos, and being well entertained by the apes. Next we visited the Great Siege Tunnels. In addition to the natural caves, there is over 50 miles of man-made tunnels carved into the rock. These were made to move cannons and soldiers in case of war and siege. After exploring some of the tunnels, we visited and climbed the steps of the Moorish Castle, originally from 1160 and enlarged in the 14th century. This structure has withstood many wars and sieges over the centuries. We drove to Europa Point, the southernmost point of mainland Europe. This means we have now visited the northernmost and southernmost point of Europe. We drove the east side of the rock and Catalan Bay, with colorful houses along the beach. We crossed the active airport runway as the main road does to reach the border with Spain. This was a terrific tour and highly recommended. Back on Prinsendam at 12:10 we enjoyed the British Fish & Chips lunch being served at the Dive Inn pool grille. It was a gorgeous day to enjoy outside dining. DW had some fare from the lido. We met friends who joined us for lunch and had a similar tour. During the sail away we enjoyed watching the African coastline slide by from our balcony. I used the pool and hot tub for a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was a nice time in the dining room with a cruise critic member joining us. The show was “Sessions” featuring the Prinsendam cast singers. This was a very nice show. After the show we enjoyed the Crow’s nest piano bar and happy hour, before calling it a night at 10:30. All in all, another super day on Prinsendam! Monday, April 29, 2019 – Lisbon, Portugal We woke at 6:00 (after gaining an extra hour due to a time change!) and found we were already close to shore as we sailed towards the Lisbon cruise dock. As the sun rose we passed the Moor tower along the river and sailed under the Lisbon “Golden Gate” bridge. We enjoyed a lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar. Everyone was early so we headed out to meet our guide. Our group of six had booked the “Setubal Wine Tasting tour” with Lisbon Riders. This was a superb tour. We were met outside the cruise terminal at about 8:20 and our guide gave us a quick drive by of Lisbon and we twisted and turned our way towards the highway over the Golden Gate Bridge. He gave us the recent (and not so recent) history of Portugal on the way. We headed south to the wine region of Azeitao. We visited the small local family owned cellar “Quinta de Alcube” in the middle of the peaceful Arrabida Mountain. We tasted four different wines and visited their very nice shop. Bottles ranged from two to seven Euros each. We ended up buying one of the seven Euro bottles of White “Reserve” to hopefully enjoy on the balcony. From there, we crossed Arrabida Mountain & Arrabida Natural Park. We were always close to the sea and passed a number of beaches with azure waters enjoying the incredible views. Our next stop was the fishing town of Sesimbra. We enjoyed the oldest fish restaurant, owned by generations of fishermen. This place, called, Isaias, was outstanding. We would never have gone there without our guide, as from the outside it is a “Little hole in the wall.” They cook fresh fish, just off the boat, on a charcoal grille built into the exterior wall of the building. We both ordered Swordfish and it was both incredible tasting and a large portion. All meals came with a simple family style served salad, warm rolls out of the oven, and boiled potatoes. I enjoyed a “Lemon beer” and a coke zero while DW had a glass of white wine and bottled water. We all agreed to cover our guide’s meal and the total bill was just under 15 Euros per person. After lunch we walked down to the beachfront and went into the restored beach front fortress. Our guide went to retrieve the van and he took us to an overlook of the town for photos. From there we traveled back towards Azeitao for our second winery visit. Next we visited the oldest cellar of the region, owned by the same family for more than 7 generations. The Jose Maria de Fonseca winery gave a very nice tour and the wine cellars were impressive. We really enjoyed the tour and the samples of two wines, including a 16 year aged Moscatel. From here we headed back to the ship. This trip took longer than expected due to unusual traffic according to our guide. We returned at 4:30 for a 5:30 all aboard. The Lisbon cruise terminal makes you walk through a maze to get past security and it was 4:50 by the time we returned to Prinsendam. That gave us just 40 minutes to prepare for dinner but we made it. We enjoyed dinner and left port on schedule by 6:00. Sailing down the river I took a break to get photos of the Christ the King statue on the hillside near the Golden Gate Bridge. Later that evening we enjoyed a comedian, Rikki Jay. His routine was entertaining. We are exhausted from the last few days and called it a night after the show. Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – Porto, Portugal Prinsendam was just a little late on arrival to Porto today. Our 8:00 arrival became more like 8:25 by the time guests were able to disembark. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido, nothing special today but still a good start to the day. We met the one other roll call member on our “Off the beaten track” photo discovery tour with Pictuary photo tours. Jose was great and met us as we left the cruise port. He drove the three of us in his car to the end of the tram line where two Tuk-tuks were waiting for us. The first 2+ hours of our tour were by tuk-tuk. This was literally a little “Cool” but it was fun, and it sure beats climbing the hills of Porto by foot! We saw so much it is too much to list, but certainly one highlight is the six bridges crossing the Duro River. After one incredible viewpoint to another we bade farewell to our tuk-tuks at the Bridge of Luis 1st. This dual layered bridge was a pleasure to walk over. The top level is for pedestrians and trains. Beware the trains!!! The bottom level (much lower) is for vehicles. After a light lunch, we then rode the Rodonorte Funicular down to the river level. We walked along the river enjoying the sights and incredible buildings of the historical Ribeira neighborhood and went shopping in a 100% made in Portugal shop where DW picked up a handbag made of cork (from cork trees). To end the tour, we rode the #1 “Electric” streetcar back to where the car was parked and returned to Prinsendam at 3:10 for a 3:30 all aboard. DW shot over 200 photos and I took about 300. What a day! Back on board we ran into friends enjoying the lido sunshine and stayed there for sail away. Tonight is “Rudi’s Sel de Mer” at the Pinnacle Grille that we are trying for the first time. We met friends at the Ocean Bar at 5:30 for pre-dinner conversation. At the last minute, they decided to join us and the Pinnacle was happy to oblige changing our reservation for two to four. Sel de Mer was enjoyable and we would do that again on a future cruise. Dinner went for 2 ½ hours but the conversation was most enjoyable. After dinner we visited Daniel at the Crow’s Nest Piano Bar for “Sing along night.” By 9:45 it was time to call it a night. Tonight we LOSE an hour as we are headed to France which is in the European time zone. Wednesday, May 01, 2019 – 2nd day at Sea After five port days in a row a day at sea was most welcome. No alarm, no room service, just sleep. Sleep until 8:30 or a bit after! We got the day rolling by heading to breakfast in the lido. Today’s special was listed as “Dutch pancakes” but other than being made on a Holland America ship I’m not sure what was “Dutch” about them. We were invited to the 10:30 Mariner’s reception which was a nice event. About 20+ copper medallions, five silver medallions, and one gold medallion were handed out. The nibbles were nice and drinks ample, but I did not see wine being offered as an option. The mariner’s lunch followed and we were able to sit with several friends and one couple we had not met earlier in the cruise. The Prinsendam tiles were most appreciated and will be added to our collection. After a cabin stop to store our tiles we visited the lido for ice cream. The ice cream man was funny as he was really ‘pushing’ the macadamia nut ice cream with caramel. It was pretty good but neither of us found any macadamia nuts in our serving! We chatted with friends and before you know it the clock was at 1:45. At 2:00 KAZU from cruise critic had invited the roll call to her Neptune Suite for a “Wine tasting.” At least two dozen (likely more) from the roll call visited and we had great conversation along with lots of wines to try as well as a bunch of nibbles provided by the ship. My favorite was the Tempura Shrimp. Most folks stayed until nearly 4:00 when several, including the host, had an appointment with the Bingo game. DW was the winner of one of two door prizes, a hand-made wine bottle stopper / corkscrew donated by one of the roll call members. We truly appreciate this and will both treasure it and use it regularly at home! A brief cat nap (after all that wine) in our cabin brought us to 5:15 when we headed down to deck 5 for passport collection. For some reason, Bordeaux customs wants to inspect non-EU passports. These will be returned on Saturday. Dinner (and more wine) was enjoyed in the dining room. Prime Rib was on the menu and now having learned the ‘secret’ to ask for a “King’s cut” it was superb and very much enjoyed. The show tonight is “Dance” by the dancers. We have seen this before and decided to pass, just enjoying being on the ship with nowhere specific we needed to be. We caught up with the travel expert’s Bordeaux talk on the TV and called it a night. Thursday, May 2, 2019 – Bordeaux, France We awoke to catch a slight glimpse of Prinsendam sailing under a bridge as we approached Bordeaux. We docked on schedule and the ship was cleared at 7:30. Our tour is not until 10:00 so we had time for a leisurely breakfast in the Lido with today’s special of Gingerbread waffles. We met our tour group at 9:50 in the Ocean Bar and departed the ship. We met our guide from Ophorus Wine Tours right outside and off we went to the town of St. Emilion. During the 45 minute drive our guide told us about the area we drove through as well as about the development of wine in the area. St. Emilion is an incredibly original / restored medieval town centered around a church that was begun by St. Emilion. We toured the underground church – a very impressive structure considering the work was done with medieval age tools. The stones were quarried out and used to make buildings, and the church and catacombs were built in the resulting cave. Regretfully no photos were allowed and after the tour we could not find any postcards to be purchased of the underground monuments. After touring the underground our guide showed us the highlights of town and we had two hours to explore further and have lunch. We ended up at a suggested place for lunch, chosen due to the outdoors patio. We also stopped at Moulierac bakery for almond macarons. These small almond cookies are the closest to what I enjoyed as Dutch almond cookies when I was young. They have just three ingredients; Almonds, Egg Whites, and sugar. Gluten free even DW could enjoy them. After the village we toured two St. Emilion chateau/wineries. To be honest, we didn’t care for the wines. All St. Emilion wines are reds with Merlot being the dominant grape in the region. We returned to Prinsendam about 5:45 and had dinner in the dining room. One note I haven’t mentioned yet is that the dining room menus have been somewhat disappointing this cruise. I’ve eaten three times off the everyday menu, something I have never done in the past. This evening the fish entrée was not very good to my taste, although DW enjoyed hers. I then had the Wiener schnitzel instead. After dinner we left the ship and walked. We passed by the reflecting pool and took photos. We went half way out on the nearby bridge and took photos. We wandered around part of the old town until back at the reflecting pool. The wind was picking up and we became cold and thus returned to the ship at about 8:50. We were bushed and called it a day after watching the sun set from the verandah. Friday, May 03, 2019 – Bordeaux, France day 2 This morning we woke without alarms and enjoyed breakfast in the lido. Today’s special of a meat lovers Omelet called my name and it was nice. We met one other roll call member at 9:15 to head out for our 10:30 “Free walking tour.” We managed to figure out the tram system tickets and rode the tram to the meeting spot. The tour was enjoyable and ended up not far from the ship. We did want to walk the “Longest pedestrian street” in Europe, Rue St. Catherine, at 1.2KM. So we did. We stopped to look in one shop along the way but nothing else. We took the tram back towards the ship and stopped at a Patisserie recommended by the guide from the prior day. They had a Meringue cookie that DW could enjoy while I had a raisin bun and chocolate croissant. From there we walked back to the ship and reached the lido just as they were cleaning up lunch. DW was able to get some chicken and salad, while I ordered a Dive-Inn burger. We returned to our cabin and were entertained by the dogs playing in the park next to the ship. The crew gave one of the dogs a cup of water and that was a happy dog! It soon became time to get ready for dinner and sail away. Dinner was again a bit of a letdown. The Arctic Char was pretty good but the short ribs were overcooked, dry, and inedible. I certainly didn’t go hungry but if you are going to spend 90+ minutes in the dining room the food should at least be good. We ran into friends before the show and they stayed outside for sail away and had dinner in the lido. They said the lido had whole turkeys and delicious fish & chips. I ended up going to the lido to have two slices of turkey with gravy before they shut down. The show was different. This was the “Pianist with the hair” aka as Julian G. Classical piano is not my cup of tea but Julian made it entertaining in various ways so I would give his show thumbs up. After the show we enjoyed Daniel in the piano bar and called it a night at about 10:15. The Indonesian crew show was at 11:00 but there was just no way to stay up for this. Saturday, May 04, 2019 – Sea day #3 Prinsendam spent the day sailing leisurely through the bay of Biscayne with a still head wind but rather calm seas. With the wind from the northwest it was much cooler than our two days in Bordeaux. A 9:00 deck sale of previous port gear had us buying ‘South America’ cruising sweatshirts at 75% off. We’ve been there and are going again so this was a good buy for us. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido and spent 90 minutes talking with another roll call couple before leaving for the 11:00 “Ask the captain” session. No new information was shared during this 45 minute chat. We went with friends to lunch and even though not hungry after the late breakfast, they were serving Turkey again! Two slices with gravy made for a delicious light lunch. I had an appointment at 12:50 with the future cruise consultant to obtain future cruise deposits for a friend that texted me the prior day. We tried walking the promenade but the wind made it too cold, even with multiple layers. We also tried sitting on our verandah and in a sheltered area it was tolerable for a while. A friend made it to the final in the blackjack tournament so we went to support him. He was the third of five to be eliminated. It is a gala night so afterwards it was back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We met friends before dinner in the Ocean Bar as the time passed quickly. They joined us for the gala dinner. I will say without question this was the best dining room dinner of the cruise. After dinner we exchanged the tulip vase I had purchased earlier in the cruise for one more to DW’s preference. We enjoyed the show with the singers and dancers, “Concerto.” The Crow’s nest Piano bar was hopping with Daniel doing a tribute to the Beatles. At 9:45 the “Chocolate Surprise” took place and everyone had a few specialty chocolates. By 10:15 it was time to call it a day and prepare for our last port. Sunday, May 05, 2019 – St. Peter Port, Guernsey, UK. Last evening we received notice of a mandatory immigration inspection prior to going ashore in St. Peter Port. Well, okay, but they could have notified us much sooner. This caused a lot of concern with the private walking tour that one of the roll call members set up. As immigration began their process early, it all worked out, but this was just poor planning on the part of Holland America. We arrived ashore at about 8:45 and shortly thereafter began our walking tour with Annette Henry. Annette was one of the most interesting walking tour guides we’ve ever experienced with her bag of props and she told very detailed stories of Guernsey’s history. This was a very worthwhile 2.5 hours and we left her at the tour’s conclusion at the sunken garden. Annette gave us directions to the local flower garden, just a few blocks away. This was very nice and a tea room was open. We enjoyed a pot of tea and hot chocolate. While a beautiful sunny day it is cool so the warm drinks were welcome. I took a bunch of photos of various plant arrangements and we headed down the hill towards the harbor. We stopped in a few shops along the way and ended up at the pharmacy as we had a few pounds of coins to spend before leaving. This was successful! Back to the tender and we returned to Prinsendam for the very last time  just after 1:00. We went straight to the lido and enjoyed some lunch. We lingered talking to some folks before returning to our cabin at 2:30 to begin packing. By 3:30 with the majority of the packing complete we began getting ready for dinner. It became pleasant on the verandah. We ran into one of our roll call friends who just returned from a fantastic day exploring all around Guernsey AND taking the ferry for 90 minutes on one of the out-islands. We got to talking so we ended up skipping the Ocean Bar and heading right to dinner. Tonight one of my favorites “Sweet & Sour Shrimp” was on the menu. Scallops were an appetizer. Sorry, HAL, and no disrespect to the chefs, but these had to be about the worst scallops ever. The muscle was not removed and they just looked ugly and did not taste much better. But the Shrimp dinner was good. After dinner we wondered the ship a little and listened to the quartet in the Ocean Bar. Roll call friends stopped by to chat and we wished each other safe travels home. There was a one-time variety show at 9:30 but we did not stay up for that. I wish we could have paid Daniel a farewell visit to the Crow’s nest but with the last minute packing and setting out the luggage that was not to be. At a little after 9:00 we called it a night. Monday, May 06, 2019 – Dover, UK (Disembarkation and travel home) At 6:00 we were entering the port. It took nearly 50 minutes, and the help of a tug before we were securely docked. We enjoyed one last breakfast in the lido. No “Specials” today. We ran into roll call friends to bid them farewell. I’m sorry we never ran into a few others. They began calling for disembarkation right on schedule at 7:15 and with our 8:05 “Purple 1” tags we left the stateroom at 8:00 to head to the elevator. We went up to go down and left the ship at virtually exactly 8:05. By the time we reached the luggage only a part of the Purple 1 had arrived. We waited a few minutes and the cage with purple 1 was unloaded. We retrieved our bags and headed out to the bus. We were the first on the bus and with the luggage stowed underneath it was a pleasant enough ride out to Heathrow. The driver told us to expect it to take 2.5 hours due to “Roadworks” but we actually made it in two hours. I was tracking along with my Waze phone AP. From drop off until check in at the A1 lounge it was less than 30 minutes. We had a few hours to kill so I finished up this log and enjoyed some lunch and beverages. The flight itself was quite pleasant as the plane was far from full. We even landed in Philadelphia 30 minutes early. Then we sat for another HOUR and ended up being 30 minutes “Late” as there was no gate for us (???) By the time we picked up our car it was 7:00 so we had no traffic for the drive home. Conclusion: Oh Prinsendam, Prinsendam, we will miss you Prinsendam. This cruise was a log of fun. With all the ports (except St. Peter Port) new or ‘essentially’ new to us, we had a blast and saw so many things. Prinsendam is the opposite of the flashy new 4,000 – 6,000 passenger ships. The ship is NOT the destination. The trip is for the ports. I doubt HAL has another ship that could go up the river to Bordeaux and fit under the bridge. Is there another that can go to Porto, maybe? Prinsendam is showing its age without question. The new owners will have a lot of work ahead of them. Yet the crew is simply the “Best in the fleet.” I really believe that. We didn’t eat breakfast in the dining room once the entire cruise. Why? I generally dislike the lido. On this cruise, we enjoyed the lido as unlike the other ships, there are always crewmembers to bring tea, coffee, water, etc. And refill them! They help carry items when you are juggling two plates, and the ice cream man is funny and obviously loves his job! On the other hand, it seems that since last year, the lido service times have been further curtailed. I believe HAL is going in the wrong direction here. There is no more “Late night snack” either. If someone takes advantage of a late night or an overnight in port, staying out past 8:00, there is no food available other than room service. Lunch is over at 2:00. We came back one afternoon at 2:10 and while DW was able to grab some left-over chicken, the pickings were slim. We had two mornings that the water in the cabin was yellowish. We used the bottled water from the mini bar to brush our teeth. The front desk couldn’t tell us much about what was going on, but the last afternoon of the cruise they called to apologize and offered a small token as an apology. Customer Service needs a refresher course at the upper levels (likely in Seattle). We had a roll call group tour planned in St. Peter Port. Then, the evening before, the ship springs on everyone that there is a mandatory immigration inspection. Why not notify the passengers at boarding, or even earlier (like, when they changed the port) so those of us making plans outside of ship tours can plan accurately? Our cabin team of Agus & Heri was super, going above and beyond when some sticky substance got all over our hard sided suitcase between embarkation check in and stateroom delivery. They scrubbed it down the best they could. The laundry service is terrific even if at times things may not be as perfect as we like them at home. But they sure do press things to make the clothes so neat! Our dining room team of Setaji & Andrian took very good care of DW’s special dietary needs. The Wine Steward Theresa was great and found nice alternatives that were to our liking and fit within our package. Amin was outstanding both in the morning in the lido and after dinner always greeting us with a smile and a taste of ginger. All in all, the good ship Prinsendam on her fifth to last HAL voyage gets 3 ½ out of 5 stars for the cruise experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have done several cruises with Holland America and we really like them. The ships are clean and classy and they have itineraries that we like. We always consider every availability but frequently choose Holland America for these ... Read More
We have done several cruises with Holland America and we really like them. The ships are clean and classy and they have itineraries that we like. We always consider every availability but frequently choose Holland America for these reasons. The ports were excellent and the amount of time allocated for each port we thought adequate. We don't use the cruise ship tours. We prefer to find travelers we like and share tours / transportation with them once we reach port. This has worked very well for us. I am a vegetarian and the main dining room always has excellent accommodations. The have a full vegetarian menu available on request and I order from that a day in advance for dinner. The food, and service were both very good. The only criticism we had of this trip was the entertainment. The Rolling Stone venue is by far the best. The BB King venue is a close second, but the BB King lineup we had on the last ship was far better. The dueling pianos venue is terrible. No one we spoke to liked it and the typical response when bringing it up was an eye roll. Holland American used to have the classic piano bar setup which was a lot better in our estimation. We had Barry from Boston on that cruise and he is hands-down the best ship performer I have ever seen. And I was a recording engineer for 20 years. Barry Rocklin. If you get the chance to see him on a cruise, say Hi for me. He's incredible. Meanwhile, Holland America? If you're listening... The dueling pianos thing needs to go away. The gym is very nicely arranged and outfitted. I would like to see 2 or so more recumbent bikes and it would be nice to have it open at 5 AM rather than 6 AM, but those are very minor points. Overall the gym is excellent and it has a great view of where you're going. I am working on the full travel blog which will be on my website warrenharris.net Also, my YouTube channel (look for Warren Paul Harris) has numerous videos of our adventures on this trip as well as video reviews of the ship itself. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We did the 14 day Premier sailing of the Nieuw Statendam, from Rome to Fort Lauderdale. We spent 6 days prior to the cruise in Rome, and on December 5th headed to Civitavecchia to board the Nieuw Statendam. The ship was at the ... Read More
We did the 14 day Premier sailing of the Nieuw Statendam, from Rome to Fort Lauderdale. We spent 6 days prior to the cruise in Rome, and on December 5th headed to Civitavecchia to board the Nieuw Statendam. The ship was at the beautiful new terminal, and embarkation was wonderful. Very organized, not crowded. This was our first cruise as 4 star Mariners and we enjoyed the priority boarding. Our cabin was ready when we boarded. We had a regular balcony cabin on deck 7 aft. It looked identical to balcony cabins on the Koningsdam. The only difference we could see is that the toilet placement in the bathroom gives better legroom than on the Koningsdam. A definite improvement. We headed to the Lido for lunch, and again it is almost identical to the Koningsdam's Lido. There are so many options to choose from. We like the fact that the food is served by the crew as this lessens the chance of contamination. We thought the food in the Lido throughout the cruise was good to excellent. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Lido, and a couple of dinners. MDR - again, identical to the Koningsdam. On the nights we dined in the MDR we made reservations for a table for 2. Often it was only late times available, 8:00 pm or 8:15, as we didn't remember to call early for the reservation. The menu always had lots of choices, the service was very good and the food was quite good. Tamarind - this is our favourite place to dine. We ate there 4 times and loved it. The atmosphere is quiet and serene, the service is excellent and the food delicious. The maitre d' told us that when the ship is in the Caribbean, they will offer outdoor dining for the Tamarind (weather permitting). We also ate once at "Nami", the sushi bar attached to the Tamarind. It was quite good but we preferred the Tamarind. Pinnacle Grill - We dined here once and enjoyed it. Service and food were very good and the setting is nice. Canaletto - We dined here once and enjoyed it. Service and food was quite good. Other food options- Dive in, New York Deli, Grand Dutch Cafe - we tried them and liked them all. We did not go to the Sel de Mer so I can't comment on it, other than to say it seemed busy most nights. Club Orange - we didn't opt for it, but we did notice that it seemed mostly empty every time we walked by it. We missed how it was on the Koningsdam last December, when they had happy hour and great snack food in there with nice music playing. It will be interesting to see if this Club Orange thing is a success. The new Rock Room was a big hit. It was always full and lots of people were up dancing. They are in the space that used to be Lincoln Center Stage on the K'Dam. Their sets are opposite to the sets at the Billboard Onboard, which was always well attended. Lincoln Centre stage now shares the Queens Lounge with BB Kings. There is also a pianist in another lounge who plays for a few hours each night, Overall the music offered is great, with something for everyone. The World Stage has 2 brand new shows that are in partnership with One-Step dance studio. The shows are wonderful and use the LED screens in the theatre to their full potential. There was also a comedian/magician who was very good and very funny - he performed twice. A jazz pianist, Judy Carmichael performed twice and was very good. There was also a singing trio the Knights who were very good. There were a few other options that we didn't attend. Overall, we thought the entertainment in the World Stage was very good. We were a little disappointed in the guest lecturers on this cruise, and judging by the attendance, we weren't the only ones. In contrast, on our previous two transatlantic cruises on the Koningsdam, the lecturers were excellent and every session was standing room only. Speaking of standing room only - The 2 talks given by Captain Albert Schoonderbeek were fabulous. He is such a great speaker and so full of information and he has a good sense of humour. I love reading his blog and it was so nice to get the chance to see and hear him in person. We also attended a talk by Orlando Ashford that was well attended. He is also a good speaker. On one of our sea days we had an Orange Party. We were all asked to bring something orange to wear. HAL also handed out orange hats, wigs, beads, sunglasses etc. Most people had orange clothes of sort sort. It was fun and a sea of orange. As always, the HAL crew was wonderful. Always friendly, smiling, eager to please. They are what makes your vacation so enjoyable. Our three ports, Cartagena, Malaga, and Funchal were all enjoyable and our weather was good. In Cartagena we just walked off the ship as it docks very close to the city center. We did a HAL excursion in Malaga - a drive to the picturesque village of Mijas. We really enjoyed it. In Funchal we did a HAL excursion, "The Best of the West" that took us to different areas of the island. We saw a lot of the island and quite enjoyed it. Both of our HAL excursions were very good, on nice buses with guides that spoke very good English. Disembarkation was organized and easy. Over all, we had a great cruise and loved the new ship. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Food was great in the Dining Room, Lido Marketplace, Afternoon Tea, Canaletto, NY Deli, Grand Dutch Cafe, Gellato shop. Very few hiccups in the food areas. We mainly ate dinner in the Dining Room. We mainly ate breakfast and lunch at the ... Read More
Food was great in the Dining Room, Lido Marketplace, Afternoon Tea, Canaletto, NY Deli, Grand Dutch Cafe, Gellato shop. Very few hiccups in the food areas. We mainly ate dinner in the Dining Room. We mainly ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Marketplace. The food at these venues was really excellent! Can't beat the variety at the Lido Marketplace from crepes, bagels, omelets, etc. at breakfast to salads, pasta bars, carving stations, oriental stirfry, at lunch. We had room service several mornings (skip the scrambled egg option). There are many bars, our favorite was the Ocean Bar mid ships on Deck 2 where Roldan, Fern (Fatima), and Patrick were our servers for the whole cruise! They took excellent care of us! We had an inside stateroom on the Deck 6. Great size for 2 people We had storage space to spare. HAL was still working out some kinks with the TV information system. TV system included many movies; very few TV "shows"; limited news. But the Navigator available on your mobile device on their local intranet worked very well. You could set up the people you were traveling with and message them throughout the cruise (important on 9 continuous sea days). We did NOT get the internet package as we wanted to be relatively device-free. But many others around us still got decent internet service. Service was fantastic in all areas! Entertainment: four different music genres (Rock 'n Roll, Pop, Chambermusic (violins & pianos), and Jazz). Excellent! Especially loved Atlys (string quartet) with piano accompaniment. Good lectures. Trivia contests! We had a daily sea-day meet-up with craft ladies via a forum under Cruise Critic. We stopped at Cartagena, Malaga, and Madeira. No excursions, just walked off the ship. We took a taxi at Cartagena, but walked back with no difficulty. . We used the HAL provided bus (extra cost) at Malaga and Madeira--well worth it; too far for us to walk. Malaga just shopped and had lunch. Madeira--after the bus dropped us off, we walked to the cable car ride. Purchased roundtrip cable car ride and yellow-bus-island tour for about $56 Euros for 2 adults. DO THE CABLE CAR in the morning! The clouds started descending from the mountain tops around 1pm and the cable car stops running! Loads of shopping and cheap sandwiches (E2.5 for a Iberian ham hero) at the shops along the streets. If you want one of the wonderful Portuguese cork handbags (any shape or size), the best prices were actually in the Malaga port building--you could get off the ship and just shop right there within steps o the ship! I should have gotten my bag there, but waited for Madeira and paid more for one. We had BEAUTIFUL weather for the crossing! Stops went well. On the whole, truly a fantastic voyage. I would definitely go again and my husband is sold on HAL! I saw only a few children on board. They do have HAL CLUB, but I couldn't see what was in it. It's a controlled area, as it should be. Of course the spa was excellent and there were several "free" mini facials that were held during the cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my 12th cruise on HAL. I've been on every size ship in their fleet. While I still prefer smaller ships (RIP soon Prinsendam), I have made my peace with behemoths and really like HAL's newest iterations. Having been on ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise on HAL. I've been on every size ship in their fleet. While I still prefer smaller ships (RIP soon Prinsendam), I have made my peace with behemoths and really like HAL's newest iterations. Having been on the Koningsdam twice, there was no learning curve on the Nieuw Statendam. For a "premier" voyage (maiden is no longer used - wink wink), things went surprisingly well. Let's get the glitches out of the way first: - The computer system was loathe to recognize the Mariner discount when applicable - Service in Canaletto and Tamarind was very slow - One of the stationary bikes in the gym was out of order from the get go - Use of the World Stage for solo performers is not optimal Not bad for the first time out! Now for the really good: - Food was uniformly excellent. Our group of nine had the same table at 8PM every evening in the Dining Room, and service was stellar and convivial. BRAVO to Dede. He is wonderful. We ate in all four specialty restaurants as well. (I miss the Culinary Arts Center: Club Orange was always nearly empty when one passed by.) - The Pinnacle was exemplary and well worth the extra cost. Yum. - Shipwide, the staff were great. - HAL's emphasis on music continues to enhance the experience. Lincoln Center Stage now shares the Queen's Lounge with BB King's, and they often performed two or three times a day. The new venue is perfect for their wonderful concerts; I attended 17 times. (The piano quintet currently includes the stellar string quartet ATLYS.) Punctuating a 14 day crossing with these concerts: thank you. - Cabins and storage are just fine. Our port side balcony cabin had direct sun most of the crossing: I actually used it often (a balcony has never been a priority for me). Of course the weather cooperated fully: temperatures were 60-75F for the entire trip - in December! In summation: as wonderful as it is to be on a cruise where you have no extras on your account at the end (Azamara, Regent, Seabourn etc.), HAL still delivers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We had taken 4 cruises together as a couple, 3 of them on HAL. We were excited to book our first transatlantic and maiden voyage on the Nieuw Statendam. My parents were avid cruisers and their first was on the Statendam in 1972. Also, my ... Read More
We had taken 4 cruises together as a couple, 3 of them on HAL. We were excited to book our first transatlantic and maiden voyage on the Nieuw Statendam. My parents were avid cruisers and their first was on the Statendam in 1972. Also, my oldest brother and sister-in-law did the maiden voyage on the Koningsdam and raved about the experience. We didn't have many expectations as we like being open-minded travelers who are ready for just about anything! The ship, the crew and luckily, the weather did not disappoint in fact were impressive in every way. From embarkation at the lovely new terminal in Civitavecchia to disembarkation in Ft Lauderdale, we had no major issues, concerns or gripes. We really enjoyed the dining experiences on board. The only eatery we did not try was the sushi bar. Next time! Our favourite specialty resto was Sel De Mer. The seafood, service, plating and presentation were all amazing. The restaurant decor was also enchanting. The Tamarind was our next favourite. Beautiful setting and the menu was varied enough to earn repeat visits. The lack of a formal library was noticeable but not an issue. I was prepared and brought some books with me. The other issue is the wine package ordering process. It was not handled all that well at the onset of the cruise. We did get it sorted but took some doing. The crew was always smiling and always employing the right amount of attention whether it was toward the upkeep of our cabin or whilst at dinner. And very observant as well. The officers mingled nightly with passengers with the Captain was often spotted doing walkabouts in the public areas. The CD and ACD, Ross and Grant were also very involved with us passengers and Grant especially, supplied us with many laughs during Trivia and Bingo games. We really were impressed with the original stage production of Humanity. A show developed for the stage on the NS by a group from NYC called One Step. It used the hi-tech screens and lighting to great effect. The other groups, solos and entertainers were all appreciated. A bit of seasonal cheer came in the form of a twinkly Gingerbread House display outside of the Dutch Cafe. Complete with working model trains! Our cabin was quiet and relaxing with plenty of storage. And a roomy verandah. Deck 7 midships is the place to be! All the ports of call were interesting and enjoyed great weather at all 3. We especially enjoyed Funchal, Madeira. We hired a private taxi to take us on a 3 hour tour for 100 euros. Fantastic time! The 8 days at sea were wonderful. Great weather, endless ocean and sky vistas to enjoy and lots of comfy chairs to enjoy it from. We cannot wait until our next HAL getaway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We were booked for a cruise on this ship later and were fascinated by the idea of sailing on it the first time. After spending a week with family in Pennsylvania, we flew from Philadelphia to Rome and explored the city for about a week. ... Read More
We were booked for a cruise on this ship later and were fascinated by the idea of sailing on it the first time. After spending a week with family in Pennsylvania, we flew from Philadelphia to Rome and explored the city for about a week. Even that was not quite enough - so much to see! We stayed in the Hotel Santa Maria in Trastevere, which was lovely, and really well located. Embarkation in Civitivecchia was well organized. We took Bob's Limos, which dropped us off right at the entrance to the embarkation hall. There was no significant wait anywhere until we'd checked in and gotten our group assigniment. We simply sat and waited for our group to be called, and we were on our way. Once on the ship, though, getting to our stateroom was a bit of a challenge, since most of the elevators had been appropriated by the staff for bringing luggage to rooms. We had a bit of a wait for an elevator. Had we not had carry-on bags, we would have taken the stairway. The ship itself is beautiful. It is large, but not so large that you can't get around, and while I think it was pretty fully booked, never seemed crowdedl We never got to any of the specialty dining restaurants other than the Grand Dutch Cafe because, quite frankly, the meals and options in the Main Dining Room were wonderful. Our favorite spot from a previous cruise on the Eurodam was the Tamarind, but on the Nieuw Statendam, they'd elminated the Tamarind Bar, which we loved, and made the restaurant larger and much less initimate. They also did not offer a rijsstaafel, which was disappointing. As a native Netherlander, I couldn't get enough of the Grand Dutch Cafe. Between the bags of Dutch licorice and the Kroket lunches, I was in heaven. My only complaint is that one of my favorite Dutch treats is Bitterballen, which were only available between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m., which was right before and after dinner, when we weren't hungry. I went in a couple of times and got some to take back to my room for breakfast the next day. The cabiin itself is pretty typical of HAL ships. The bathroom has a shower (no tub), which was fine for us. The tubs on the Eurodam were pretty small, and by eliminating them, they made the shower a nice size and easy to get in and out of. We're not rock fans, so we didn't check out the Rolling Stones Rock venue, but did enjoy the other three. We really enjoyed both the Lincoln Center Stage musicians and the BB King Blues group. It seemed, though, like the sound in BB King kept getting louder and louder every night, to the point where we couldn't stand it. Next time, I'll bring ear plugs so we can enjoy the music and dance. The real disappointment was the gentleman who talked about history. He seemed to be reading Powerpoint presentations he'd written years ago, and displayed some real ignorance of his subject several times. His pronunciation of the names of people and places was atrocious. We went once, which was enough. Another painful disappointment was the "opera singer" in the Main Stage, who had some real pitch problems. Ouch! Since I am a singer and my husband a retired music professor with perfect pitch, this was particularly noticeable for us. Unfortunately, we were sitting right up front and couldn't really leave without being rude. One thing definitely not to be missed is the artwork. I was worried after seeing the promotions about it before the trip that it might be really modern, but it was actually really whimsical and interesting. We spent a couple of evenings walking around the ship checking out and photographing the artwork. Some of it you have to get up close and then stand back to really appreciate. We did not take advantage of excursions, since all of the ports were pretty walkable. We took advantage of the ship's shuttle in Funchal, but it really wasn't necessary. We could have walked downtown easily. The street art in both Cartagena and Funchal was really fascinating. A highlight of the trip was the stiching group we were able to organize though the Cruise Critic rollcall. We had as many as 30 people every sea day morning gathered in the Billboard Onboard area to knit, crochet, and stitch. After a couple of days, the staff got there ahead of us and arranged the chairs for us. Holland America itself has stopped supporting these sorts of groups, which is too bad. We were still picking up people around the ship who didn't know that we were meeting right up to the end of the trip. All in all, we had a wonderful trip and really look forward to our next voyage on the Nieuw Statendam. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My (German Jewish) family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, thanks to Holland America's ss Statendam, so we HAD to be on the maiden voyage of the Nieuw Statendam, both to "close the circle" on our family history but also to ... Read More
My (German Jewish) family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, thanks to Holland America's ss Statendam, so we HAD to be on the maiden voyage of the Nieuw Statendam, both to "close the circle" on our family history but also to personally express our gratitude to this next generation of Holland America. That said, by any metric, the maiden voyage was an overwhelming success and we feel sure that this great new ship - with its great new crew - will provide enormous joy and enrichment for all who sail with her. If you know/like the Koningsdam, the Nieuw Statendam is its (almost) identical twin, but with some revisions: the Crow's Nest/Explorations Central (deck 12) has been re-imagined into a giant, gorgeous, and inviting "living room" offering an intimate environment, to chat, watch the ocean, check the stats of the engine, ship location, etc., and engage in puzzles, cards, and much more. Moving Lincoln Center Stage to the Queen's Lounge put these great classical musicians in an environment fitting to their artistry and charisma, and the new Rolling Stone Rock Room (with its great band) is a HIT! Holland America crew's legendary warmth and dedication to excellence are evident in this hand-selected crew of 1,000 - for us, cruise veterans yet making our first ocean crossing - we couldn't have asked for anything more. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We previously crossed the Atlantic on the Koningsdam (west to east) and so we returned 6 months later. Nothing much had changed since my last review so it was still an excellent cruise with one big improvement. The duelling pianists on ... Read More
We previously crossed the Atlantic on the Koningsdam (west to east) and so we returned 6 months later. Nothing much had changed since my last review so it was still an excellent cruise with one big improvement. The duelling pianists on this trip were Paulina & Ivy who were outstanding.The other entertainment was also of a high standard. The food was also very good. Our cabin stewards were again top notch as were all the staff. The Maitre D in the MDR (RIAN) was outstanding. On the final night he took my wife's arm and said it was an honor to escort her to our table. I now have to be far more romantic with my spouse. The ship is very beautiful although some complained that it didn't feel like a HAL ship - not sure what they mean. We will certainly sail with HAL again as they offer a very good product at a competitive price. The cabin was extremely comfortable with excellent free movies on the television. And what more can be said about the shower? If only I could take it home with me. Dining in the MDR was again top notch, so much so that we were not even tempted to pay out for the specialty restaurants. All together another great HAL cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My husband and I had always wanted to do a Transatlantic together and we were looking forward to sailing on HAL's newest ship. Many years ago I had crossed the Atlantic from New York to Le Havre on the United States and my husband, in ... Read More
My husband and I had always wanted to do a Transatlantic together and we were looking forward to sailing on HAL's newest ship. Many years ago I had crossed the Atlantic from New York to Le Havre on the United States and my husband, in his Navy days, had crossed the Pacific. Let me first say something about the sea worthiness of the ship and seamanship of the Captain and his crew. Our first day out of Citavecchia we encountered a fierce storm that was punching hurricane force winds and high seas. The strong winds forced the ship to sail i However I never felt afraid. The stabilizers held the ship maintained the ship upright and occasionally with a slight list. My husband, who had been in the Pacific during a typhoon on an aircraft carrier taking water over the deck, was impressed with how well the ship handled. What made this experience so interesting is that once we got into the Atlantic, it was like we were sailing on glass, for the most part smooth and calm. We loved the new cabin design. Our cabin was on the stern so we had a 180 degree view from our Veranda. The bathroom did not contain a bathtub, which we never missed. The toilet area may feel compact especially if you are a large person. The artwork throughout the ship is very modern and somewhat edgy. It is definitely not the traditional artwork found on HAL ships. We took advantage of the specialized dining on the ship and here are our thoughts: Tamarind: Delicious Pan-Asian food. The wasabi-encrusted filet was excellent as was the lobster stir fry. Sel de Mer: Seafood to Die For. The best dish I have ever had onboard a ship was the lobster thermidor. The appetizer of three-tiered seafood salads was delicious. Culinary Arts Center: Loved the small plates. Everything we tried was delicious. Canaletto: The Italian food is not very different from what is served either in the Main Dining Room or in the Lido Market. NY Deli and Pizzeria: The deli sandwiches were very good. The pizzas looked good, but we didn't try them. The Lido Market has been vastly improved with the layout. Never had to wait more than a few minutes to make a selection. Since the Konningsdam has a gelato stand (for additional cost), they no longer offer ice cream throughout the day. The World Stage is awesome. By adding the large visual screens, it makes not only the live shows more spectacular, but the BBC Wild Planet shows come alive. This cruise offered Bridge instruction. I was very happy to take Beginner's Bridge each morning on the sea days. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
MS Koningsdam - A Review I cruised Koningsdam for 24 days from 10/18/2018 to 11/11/2018. She is about 2 years old and appears to be in very good physical condition and is well maintained. That said, Koningsdam is a mixed bag of good, ... Read More
MS Koningsdam - A Review I cruised Koningsdam for 24 days from 10/18/2018 to 11/11/2018. She is about 2 years old and appears to be in very good physical condition and is well maintained. That said, Koningsdam is a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly...in this writer's experienced opinion. THE GOOD By all appearances, the ship is being kept very clean. Wear and tear has not yet begun to show too much. Not much rust in sight. The theater (World Stage) is the best in the HAL fleet, and maybe in most fleets. Sight lines are excellent and there is hardly a bad seat in the house. Seating capacity is relatively generous and can fit about a third of the passengers at any one time (close to 800). That said, there were many occasions when the theater was totally filled and people were standing and/or sitting in the aisles (safety hazard?). The hi-tech stage uses a 270 degree computer controlled LCD screen as the backdrop and is the main apparatus of the otherwise sparse set decoration. Lincoln Center Stage is an outstanding plus for HAL. Koningsdam's venue for the very talented quintet is larger than other ships in the fleet and offers comfortable seating. Public seating is excellent and comfortable throughout the ship. The staterooms are a bit smaller on than most of HALs ships, but they are reasonable equipped. Electric and USB plugs are abundant and storage/closet space is good. THE BAD While Koningsdam is new and bright, HAL has done nothing to change the nickel-and-dime operation and product they offer. EVERYTHING they do is designed to get passengers to spend more money. Most of the daily on-board programs offered are for revenue and income production. Venues throughout the ship are too small for the large number of passengers, often filling an hour or more prior to a presentation. The Culinary Arts Center is the showcase venue for America's Test Kitchen, and it is very ill-suited for the purpose...very poor seating and sight angles. They also utilize this room for extra-cost dinning in the evening (much more suitable). The Mariners Program on Koningsdam appears to be treated more as necessary nuisance than as the customer building program it was originally designed to be. There does not appear to be a suitable venue on Koningsdam for a Mariners Reception, so only medallion recipients are invited, no matter how many medallions one has or how many cruise days you've logged. The multi-Star Mariners cocktail party is held in part of the Lido Pool area, while other people are in hot tubs on the other side. It's very clear that HAL management wants to change the demographic of its customers. They are looking for new, free spending blood. Staterooms are noisier than one would expect for a "new" ship. Even in slight seas there is creaking, rattling and banging...especially at night when you are trying to sleep. Fit and finish is not all that it could be. As an example, stateroom have a recessed "frame" for the wall mounted large screen TV. In my stateroom the TV was mounted well out of the center of the frame and lop-sided (one side higher than the other). There is no replay of the excursion or enrichment talks on available on Koningsdam's closed circuit TV system or on stateroom TVs. You can, however, book extra cost dining, spa and excursion options via the interactive TV system. What little "art" there is on the ship is far removed from traditional seafaring art. All is very contemporary and the artwork appears to be photo-shopped pictures. There is NO art in stateroom passageways. Passage fore and aft on public decks 2 and 3 is restricted to one side of the ship, ensuring exposure to every selling station onboard. Traffic flow is poor, especially outside elevator locations where they have planted large modern sculptures (?), creating bottlenecks. The Promenade Deck is quite narrow and there are no deck chairs thereupon. The walking gets very bottlenecked at the stern end of the ship, so if one is walking behind slow walkers or encountering walkers who insist on walking upstream, it slows everyone down. Not important enough to write Congress about...just a mention. THE UGLY Whoever designed the toilets in the staterooms should be fired immediately. One cannot sit "on the throne" straightaway. You have to sit sideways because the glass shower enclosure is in the way, and you can't get your knees to squeeze in...unless you're 2 or 3 years old. Very awkward and uncomfortable. DINING This is a very subjective area and not all tastes are alike. So offering comments about the food and service aboard the Koningsdam is treading on very dangerous ground. That said, HAL has put together a fine group of chefs in what they call the Chef's Counsel, to help Chef Rudy design a dining program for the ship's various venues. They have created offerings that, in their test kitchen, appeal to all the senses. Great food requires great ingredients skillfully assembled by craftsmen who love their work. Unfortunately, the Chef's Counsel is not on board to supervise the final product. HALs logistics program is complex and mainly designed to minimize costs and maximize efficiencies. They do not take advantage of the terrific local products as they cruise from place to place. So freshness of ingredients is sacrificed in favor of program convenience. They claim there are reasons (or excuses) for this, but others seem to be able to take advantage of local fresh product availability. That's all I have to say about this topic. Everyone has to judge for themselves. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This is my 27 cruise. My third on HAL. We chose this cruise for the great itinerary and Koningsdam being a fairly new ship. The experience was wonderful. The quality of the food and selection were some of the best we have had. There ... Read More
This is my 27 cruise. My third on HAL. We chose this cruise for the great itinerary and Koningsdam being a fairly new ship. The experience was wonderful. The quality of the food and selection were some of the best we have had. There are several dining options. We had "anytime dining" and never had to wait for a table in the main dining room. The lines in the Lido Buffet for breakfast and lunch moved quickly. Having a pizza custom made at "NYC Pizza & Deli" made for a great late night snack. Cabins are slightly smaller than other HAL ships. We had a "family stateroom" which was plenty of room for the two of us. Entertainment was Hit or Miss. The ships singers and dancers were good. Some of the quest performers were just okay. HAL is trying to give more of a contemporary twist with the new stage and format. If one likes classical music Lincoln Center Stage Live put on wonderful performances. BB King live was pop and Jazz music. There were enough music venues for anyone's taste. The staff and crew were as always very friendly and went out of there way to make our experience extra special. It is obvious the HAL executives are looking to attract a younger demographic with this new class of ship. This new Pinnacle Class is going to be competition for Celebrity. We would definitely consider taking another cruise on the Koningsdam. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We only took the 10 day cruise r/t Rome to Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Olympia, Athens, Santorini and Naples. We did not said back to Florida. We chose it because of the itinerary and because we like Holland (HAL). The port in Rome is far ... Read More
We only took the 10 day cruise r/t Rome to Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Olympia, Athens, Santorini and Naples. We did not said back to Florida. We chose it because of the itinerary and because we like Holland (HAL). The port in Rome is far from the airport and we went a day ahead so had to arrange our own transport. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and quickly. . Koningsdam is their largest ship but doesn't feel crowded. We ate in the main dining room every night. Food generally excellent and they made special meals for my wife who has some dietary restrictions. Only complain is that there were various international cuisine offerings in the Lido not available in main DR. Considering we spent five days in Greece, there were no Greek options on DR menu. Selections in DR fewer than on previous HAL ships. For breakfast in Lido the waiters pour juice and coffee/tea so there's less hopping back and forth to the buffet. Koningsdam Lido arranged with multiple stations instead of one longer line. Lots of options at breakfast and lunch. There's also a "Dutch Kitchen" offering Dutch pancakes and other items (free) but a charge for coffee. There are other free food options during the day--burgers, pizza. There's a charge for gelatto, but not for ice cream in the Lido. There's plenty to do on board with classical music, a piano lounge with two performers who were really good, and BB King band. Unfortunately the venues are too close to each other though. The singers/dancers were exuberant and the shows elaborate, but too loud. Dubrovnik: the walls as the most impressive feature, but can be strenuous if you aren't fit. This was an Oct. cruise. I wouldn't want to walk them in summer. In fact, I wouldn't do this itinerary is summer at all. Kotor was a surprise, smaller version of Dubrovnik and more quaint. Corfu larger. I'm sorry we didn't take an excursion out of the town. Olympia and Athens--we did the ancient ruins, incredibly impressive. Santorini was lovely. We took cable car up and back. The restaurants in the Old Port at the bottom are less touristy, cheaper. In Naples, took an excursion to Pompei and Amalfi coast drive. Booked two excursions through Viator, cheaper than HAL, and both were very good. Olympia booked with Olympic Traveler. Ship had an on-board consultant, Dorrine, giving advice on upcoming ports and how to get around. She was excellent. She wasn't pushing HAL excursions nor shopping. We used two of her recommendations for restaurants, both very good. The staff was exceptionally friendly, eager to help and to please. More so than on Norwegian. Overall HAL delivered a more elegant cruise with many more small touches than Norwegian or Royal C. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We came from New Zealand (7 of us - all adults) and boarded the cruise ship in Rome. The process was straight forward and ran smoothly, the staff were both welcoming and very helpful. Once we were on board we visited our rooms, to find ... Read More
We came from New Zealand (7 of us - all adults) and boarded the cruise ship in Rome. The process was straight forward and ran smoothly, the staff were both welcoming and very helpful. Once we were on board we visited our rooms, to find our bags arrive shortly after us. The rooms were very clean and tidy and well laid out. We had four rooms all next to each other, so they kindly pegged back all of the doors between our balconies for easy access. After unpacking we headed out for a look around the ship and were very pleased with what we found. The decor was probably pitched to the slightly older cliental, but it didn’t bother us at all. Before we left we had a compulsory safety drill which seemed pretty straight forward. The captain and cruise director both sounded very happy and welcoming over the speakers. They clearly had a great sense of humour and were a united front. We were always kept informed regarding our travel, weather and activities on board. Expectations: This was our first cruise and we weren’t too sure what to expect. We were worried being on a ship with 2500 people would be overwhelming but to be honest we never felt that way. The largest crowds we encountered (which weren’t that large at all) would have been in the World Stage, The Dining Room and the Lido Market - and even then it was nothing major. Everywhere we went on the ship there were always seats available or room to move and enjoy the atmosphere. We felt there were plenty of things to do, if you wanted to do them, or plenty of places to sit and enjoy quiet time. We never felt that we were expected to do things, we never felt rushed or like our holiday wasn’t in our control. We felt the ship was more like our moving hotel as we spent all day on shore at each port. Therefore our sailing experience was two days at sea and cruising every night between locations. This meant that we had little time to run out of activities. If you were going just for the cruise experience and expected the days to be cram packed with activities on board, then (unlike us) you might be disappointed. Having said that, we can’t imagine what else could be added to any cruise to change that fact. You either enjoy cruising or you don’t : ) Coeliac: I was the most nervous out of our group of 7 as I am Coeliac - which is a Gluten Allergy. Prior to coming on the cruise they said I was more than welcome to bring as many of my own packaged snacks as I needed - which I did. I ended up not needing them and I took the majority of them home with me. They also said they would look after me in The Dining Room. The Dining Room had a great selection on the menu that they could make gluten free for me - so each night after my meal I would get a sneak peak at the following night’s menu, and get to select my meal. They then made sure it was prepared carefully and 100% gluten free. I am very strict when it comes to eating gluten free and the few times I questioned something that they said was gluten free (and probably was gluten free, but I was concerned) they took it away and brought it back how I wanted it with no problems. For breakfast each day they would cook me a plate of grilled potato, bell pepper and 2 poached eggs - which I might add wasn’t on the menu. I never got sick at all. At the Lido Market they have a counter that says Gluten Free Station. This is great if you want some Gluten Free toast. This station is also great if you are just eating gluten free for any other reason other than coeliac disease. If you are coeliac, cross contamination is a major concern and alarm bells were ringing in a big way when I found gluten free and non gluten free options sitting right next to each other. Also what didn’t help is the staff behind the counter didn’t know what was or wasn’t gluten free, apart from the bread. This was a low point for me, I was disappointed that they didn’t quite get it. The last thing I wanted was to get sick (which personally lasts for 2 weeks for me) as that would ruin my entire trip. Later into the trip I was able to organise for my meal at the Dining Room to be brought to me at the Lido Market so I could eat with the rest of our group. After this, the manager at the Lido Market took me under his wing and said if I wanted anything cooked he would organise it to be done, in a safe environment specially for me. So I asked for a seared tuna steak and he called the kitchen and had it organised for me, knowing that the tuna being served in the Lido Market counter had soy sauce and was not suitable for me - so he knew his stuff. So the best thing to do is talk to the managers not to the staff behind the counters. The Pinnacle Grill was my favourite dining experience (went twice) and where I felt truely understood. Our waitress knew exactly what coeliac meant and knew cross contamination was a huge deal. She brought out my own bread with my own butter. She replaced my cutlery and pointed out what I could or couldn’t have on the menu. There was plenty for me to choose from and it was so yummy. She made sure I had my own side dishes as the rest of the table shared a bunch of them. If there were any questions she would not hesitate to double check it with the chief. I felt so safe and looked after there. Restaurants: The Dining Room - we dined here frequently - why wouldn’t you. We didn’t bother with a booking, we just showed up and the waiting time was never long, if at all. The staff were always happy and helpful. The food was yummy and had a great variety of dishes over the 10 day cruise. From beginning to end our dining experience took about 1 to 1.5 hours each night, which is great for 7 people. The staff were very efficient, always refilling your water glass, checking everything was ok - but also not over doing it and the night flowed nicely. The Lido Market - our group had breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner here. There were lots of options, always cooked freshly and well presented. The staff made sure this entire area was cleaned thoroughly every day, multiple times throughout the day/night. The standard of cleanliness was extremely high, plates, cutlery and glasses were always clean. We had tap water all the time on the ship with no problems at all. The handy water stations with ice machines were always in demand but never too busy to not get your water. You were welcome to fill your own private water bottles, you just had to fill a glass then pour it into your bottle. I recommend taking a bottle with a large opening, especially if you want to put ice in it, and one that stays cool. The Lido market was always busy at meal times but there were always tables available, or you could take your meal to the deck by the pool or take your meal back to your room if you wanted. The Pinnacle Grill - this is a much smaller, fine dining restaurant. We thought the meal was great value and of high standard. We made sure we had a booking each time we went as I believe it can get booked up. The staff were very attentive and knew the menu inside and out. If you have the steak be sure to add the lobster tail - yummy! Dive-in - a great little place midship by the pool. Personally I never ate here, being coeliac, but members of our group sure did. They loved the burgers and fries. Not crowded at all and great if you want something quick and easy. Bars: Well we sure did frequent the Crows Nest, which was great fun! The staff here knew their stuff and if they didn’t they would look your drink up and make it happen. 10pm Happy Hour each night became a bit of a tradition by the end of our cruise. The atmosphere was very relaxed and calm with laughter and staff members with a great sense of humour. Billboard onboard was a fantastic place to go and listen to some great music and have a few drinks with complimentary snacks available. The pianists were amazing, their singing was fantastic and the vibe of the place was wonderful. They took requests which were of all eras which kept the night lively and full of variety. BB Kings All Stars were a hit with everyone. A very professional top quality band who you couldn’t help but sing along to. There are plenty of options for a quiet drink or more energy - just take your pick. Shows: The ships dancers are wonderful. Very talented and energetic. The music was great but the singers just didn’t do it for me. Orpheus - The traditional greek dancers that came on board were awesome for a short period, then it became very repetitive, loud, and my hands hurt - because you didn’t dare stop clapping. The only thing that really changed was their costumes. I was going to leave early but I kept thinking it might get better - it didn’t. Planet Earth II in concert was amazing - totally loved it! Activities: Bingo - In my early 40’s and I’ve always wanted to play a game of bingo! What better place to give it a go. Lots of fun, Warren was a great host, and the participants really got into it. Trivia Games - Lots of fun - never did better than 12 out of 16 but we gave it a good go! Both Warren and Ben were great hosts - always helps when they have such a great sense of humour! Virtual Tour and Chat with the Captain - This was awesome! It was great the see what goes on behind the scenes of running such a large and successful ship. Guests got to ask the captain questions of which he knew all the answers. A very informative and funny event - well worth doing. There are lots of other activities on the cruise but we just didn’t have time to get to all of them. Pools: Lido pool - Great size pool for a cruise ship I thought and 3 hot tubs to boot. Best thing about this pool is there is a roof that they can close if it gets a bit breezy. Plenty of loungers and other seating, lots of towels and staff always ready to help with anything. The pool is nice a quiet early in the morning and late at night. The hot tubs are a great spot to watch the movie at night. Sea view pool - As if one pool wasn’t enough there is a second one! Out the back of the boat with the fitting name - sea view pool. What a great place to spend the afternoon, hopping from the pool to the hot tub and back again. Nice and relaxing, a drink and a hot tub to relax those sore legs from walking all over the place. Again there are more quiet times than others if you don’t want to feel like you are being watched. Casino: Best nights at the casino were the smoke free ones. I personally found it unpleasant even just walking through the casino on a smoking night. But each to their own, I just went on smoke free nights - perhaps one day they will have more of them. Lots of machines and tables to choose from. Gala Evenings: Time to get a little dressed up for old times sake. This was something we were a little worried about before travelling all the way from New Zealand - but we were totally fine. First of all the ironing service helped with all the creases in the dresses. Everyone made an effort and looked lovely. It wasn’t over the top, and it wasn't strictly tuxedo and ball gown. Tidy trousers and long sleeve shirt for the men and nice dress long or short for the ladies. I guess the cruise is happy to move with the times which takes the pressure off, thankfully. Perfect night to get professional photos while you are all dressed up. Room: We were on the Mozart level - Deck 6. We had a verandah room which was awesome and very quiet. The bed was comfortable and plenty big enough. The bathroom was spotless and the shower was spacious. Tricky to sit on the toilet straight if you are particularly tall, but nothing major really. The wardrobe had plenty of space with lots of hangers. There is a safe and minibar fridge in the cupboard. There are 3 drawers under the fridge and two big drawers under the bed. Plenty of space under the bed for suitcases. Aircon for your comfort, only two options for pillows, so if you are really picky about your pillow you might want to bring one with you. They supply warm lap blankets in the cupboards above the couch for when you are sitting outside on the verandah. Big TV with a good amount of movies and programmes you can watch. Also there are the ships cameras and travel info. Staff: All amazing! Always polite, always said hello, and always happy to help - what more can you ask for?! These staff have a very high standard work ethic, which I could tell comes from the top. I could tell the captain is part of the team not just running and commanding the team. Our room was always kept very clean and tidy and one of our highlights was coming back to the room each night to the wonderful towel animals that the staff had created - amazing! One thing we did notice and other guests also noticed was the lack of female staff. It would be great to see a little more balance but in saying that I can see one of the reasons. A lot of the men were there working hard for their families back home. Putting their kids through university or other studies and food on the table and supporting their wives who were back home looking after the kids. They work long days and nights and even by the end of the 10 days when you could tell they were tired, their standards never slipped. Still happy to help and always with a polite greeting - fantastic guys! Stops: Day at sea Dubrovnik - loved loved loved!! This is a wonderful place to visit and we highly recommend it. We went out and did a private Tuk Tuk Tour and it was the best! The old town was amazing, the shops, the history, the restaurants and the atmosphere - It’s a must see! Arrived 10am - Departed 11pm. Kotor - Wow this place was awesome! The view was breath taking. The old town was wonderful and our private tour took us to Budva which was also lovely. Lots to see here. We sadly didn’t make it up the hill, but they do say you should always leave something to do next time. Arrived 8am - Departed 5pm. Corfu - cute, but after seeing Dubrovnik and Kotor it didn’t quite measure up. It seemed very dirty in the streets, and run down. There are few things you can do here, one being the bus trip around the place which was great. The shops were good. We were back at the ship early on this day. Arrived 8am - Departed 6pm. Katakolon - tiny little place - very cute, not much to do. We had decided not to take a tour to Olympia but maybe we should have. The town was little with one main street of shops, and the museum was basically one room. So we spent more time on the ship this day which was actually really nice. It gave us a chance to have some down time before the next big day. Arrived 8am - Departed 4pm. Athens - where do you start?!? So much to see and do here - awesome! This was a very busy day for us, we saw so much but there was still more we didn’t get to. It’s a decent drive from the port to get to the major sightseeing locations. We took a private tour to cram in as much as we could. Arrived 8am - Departed 11pm. Santorini - everything I had ever hoped for and more! The pictures weren’t lying, this place is beautiful! You just have to visit this place. I didn’t want to leave. The cable car is great, nice and easy and well worth the money to save a donkey. Lots of places to go and see with history and atmosphere. Everywhere you look the views are amazing. Shops are great! Arrived 8am - Departed 6pm. Day at sea Naples - lots of options. We decided to head to the Amalfi Coast and the Pompeii. two places we loved - but just not enough time at each to do them justice. Pompeii is a must see. Arrived 8am - Departed 7pm. Overview: I would highly recommend this cruise and ship to anyone who wanted to visit so many bucket list places in such a short amount of time. The ease of a cruise was magnificent. The locations were great, and many of them were places I had always wanted to see. Travelling in mid to late October worked a treat for us. So many of our tour guides said we were so lucky as it was so quiet now and the weather was still good - perfect! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
The koningsdam is a newer ship that has many many wonderful things about it. I favor a ship that seems very professional with a good sense of priorities. There was a "safety first" feeling with mature decision making. I liked ... Read More
The koningsdam is a newer ship that has many many wonderful things about it. I favor a ship that seems very professional with a good sense of priorities. There was a "safety first" feeling with mature decision making. I liked hearing about all the experience the Captain had and enjoyed hearing discussion about his background and how the ship works. The ship was very clean (important to me). I very much appreciated and noticed how the staff had good working relationships. They all seemed to like their job. All of the staff on the ship were hard working, service focused, professional, pleasant to talk with; all positive. I cannot emphasize enough the good feeling of the cruise and excursions. We booked all of our excursions, every port with HA. I did not have a meal that we were not pleased with; loved their food. There was a priority from the staff to keep everything clean and not cross contaminate anything. There was also an awareness of an individual's allergies which I also noticed. My only complaint was about the attitude of a Holland American representative on a post trip at the Savoy hotel in Rome. I did not allow this insulting unprofessional person to ruin our good trip feelings. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We had a most enjoyable cruise on the Koningsdam, I would highly recommend visiting Europe in October as the crowds are less and the temperatures more enjoyable. A port-intensive cruise we only had two sea days to explore the ship. It is ... Read More
We had a most enjoyable cruise on the Koningsdam, I would highly recommend visiting Europe in October as the crowds are less and the temperatures more enjoyable. A port-intensive cruise we only had two sea days to explore the ship. It is obviously in very good shape considering it is only a year old. We enjoyed the many venues both in dining and entertainment. Dining service was quite good and the food was always warm when delivered. We could not ask for a better dining team who met us with smiles every evening. We are looking forward to exploring the many optional dining venues on a less port-intensive cruise on Nieuw Statendam next year. Entertainment was good throughout the ship and we really enjoyed the reimagined World Stage with its 270 degree LED screen backdrop which made cast performances very interesting. Our cruise was enhanced by the fact that our TA called us with an offer to upgrade from a VD to a Neptune Suite. Having never experienced the suite life, we purchased the upgrade and were assigned a fully accessible SA near the Neptune Lounge. While we enjoyed the extra room and perks, our butler remained invisible throughout the cruise. Never stopped by, but our two room stewards were great and met our every need and more. A real miss for HAL. We had a very bad experience on a ship’s tour to Chefchaouen, Morocco when a woman reaching for her passport that the guide was insistent upon having right then, was thrown into the windshield when the driver had to brake spider-webbing the window. The guide seemed unconcerned until we convinced him we had to take the passenger back to the ship. Upon arrival, we were met by the Hotel Director and others. He indicated that pax could not come back on the ship and had to be taken to the hospital since it was tour vendor’s fault. I was surprised since I thought one of the advantages of taking a ship’s tour was HAL would look after you. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Koningsdam suited us perfectly. We’d a private transfer from the airport to the ship which took about 50 minutes. Embarkation was easy and our luggage didn’t take long to arrive. Food was plentiful and delicious. Didn’t use any of ... Read More
Koningsdam suited us perfectly. We’d a private transfer from the airport to the ship which took about 50 minutes. Embarkation was easy and our luggage didn’t take long to arrive. Food was plentiful and delicious. Didn’t use any of the specialty restaurants, only used the Lido for breakfast & lunch and the open dining for dinner. No problem to get a table for two. Staff were all friendly and polite. Cabin was well appointed with plenty space in drawers and wardrobes. Bathroom was fine with a lovely large shower space with glass door and side. Theatre was large with 3 impressive screens. We didn’t the evening shows so can’t comment on them. The gym was well equipped with plenty of machines. Can’t comment on the spa as we didn’t use it. The crows nest is a lovely space but I do miss having a library and also miss having a self service laundry Read Less
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