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108 Holland America Rotterdam Cruise Reviews

Choose this cruise for its itinerary. Ireland / Iceland / Greenland, wow. All cruises have their plus and minuses. Major plus was the limited passengers (under 1700), and the route. Minuses was the disappointment in the food. ... Read More
Choose this cruise for its itinerary. Ireland / Iceland / Greenland, wow. All cruises have their plus and minuses. Major plus was the limited passengers (under 1700), and the route. Minuses was the disappointment in the food. Signature suite 6055 was nice and roomy. Entertainment good, services great (go find David in the Oceans Bar for the 4-5pm happy hour, he has great personality). Cabin stewards & Dining stewards were all great. Ports - 3 ports in Ireland all great, 2 ports in Iceland (somewhat disappointed), 2 ports Greenland - Prince Christian Sund is amazing. 2 Ports in Newfoundland, and 1 port in Nova Scotia. Embarkation in Rotterdam was the easiest I have ever had, Disembarkation in Boston was somewhat confusing ((no clue where/who to ask about wheelchair assist, managed to get off on our own. Then had the bus driver who could not help with luggage & did NOT know route to airport? Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
As always, this review will try to focus on the little things that might be missed, along with the details that may be overlooked in a broader review. This is especially true for the independent travelers who may wander off and do things ... Read More
As always, this review will try to focus on the little things that might be missed, along with the details that may be overlooked in a broader review. This is especially true for the independent travelers who may wander off and do things on their own in each location. Rotterdam Pre -cruise/ Embarkation: We flew into Amsterdam and took the train to Rotterdam. Sine there were four of us, I took advantage of the group discount tickets available online at the Dutch Railways website. This came out to 8 Euros per person instead of 13 euros per person if booked separately. The train station is inside the Amsterdam Airport and very easy to find. We stayed at the Hilton Rotterdam which is only a few blocks from the main Train station and centrally located for walking around Rotterdam. Rotterdam has a Saturday farmers market near the Markthal that if you are there on that day, is a worthwhile shopping event. The central shopping district and pedestrian streets were all close by. The RET Stadhuis metro station was right outside the back door of the Hilton. Only 4 euros one-way. There were escalators at both Stadhuis station and Wilhelminaplein station and the luggage was easy to roll-on roll-off the cars. It was three stops to Wilhelminaplein from Stadhuis and about 800 feet from the metro station to the Cruise Terminal. After dropping our bags, we went through security. I had a wine bottle in my bag for consumption in the room, and security never even checked it. My wife had a bottle of wine and a six pack of soda and security looked in her bag to ensure she didn't exceed the alcohol allowance. Note: In Reykjavik, my wife asked if she could take on a beer, and they said yes, as long as it was not more than six bottles. At other ports, I brought on beer and others were bringing on cans of soda with no problem. We arrived just after 1pm and received boarding group 9. Luckily Boarding group 8 was just finishing up so we were checked in within 5 minutes and walked aboard. Ship- overall very good- there were some spots in need of touch up/repair such as a broken bed lamp, a balconies badly in need of paint, and far too many cracked windows, but public areas were in good shape. I assume they are foregoing cosmetic maintenance items until dry dock. Even though we had some choppy seas for the first ten days the ship was very stable. Service was one of the best we have had on recent cruises. The HAL Navigator App (free WiFi on board for the App and HAL websites) had the daily menus in each dining area, including the Lido, posted. Also each day, an interactive activities list was available which duplicated the daily program so you could review and save your favorites. You can also book shore excursions on the App. No morning show. Never saw the Cruise Director until day 8. Jessica, our travel host was the face of HAL entertainment for the majority of the cruise. Most EXC lectures were scripted and did not provide a lot more detail than could be found online. Most of the port talks filled up the Main Stage at least 10 minutes prior with standing room only after that. Port Lectures lacked details regarding where we would be docked until the lecture was almost over so it was hard to reference the locations discussed during the lecture against the port area where you would be disembarked. The Orange party was at 10:30pm in BB King’s the day after the second gala night. Of course I fell asleep and missed it so can’t provide details. The Movie theater had comfortable lounge chairs but only played the same movies that were also on the In-room TV, so never saw the need to attend. The Gym was smaller than similar sized ships on other lines. There were plenty of treadmills, elliptical machines, and Dumbbells, but very little in the way of weight lifting equipment. One thing I really appreciated was Captain Bart Vaartjes announcing when Whales or Dolphins were spotted from the bridge. He also had a great sense of humor. About four hours out of Islafjordur on our way to Greenland I noticed in the room that it was suddenly very quiet. No engine noise and no air conditioner. Dead silent in fact.....30 seconds later the lights went out so we were now also in total darkness. The Capt. came on the speaker and said an engine had shut down and engineers were working on restoring power. After a few minutes power came back. For about 20 minutes we were drifting, but eventually the engine and air came back. We did not take a delay arriving in Greenland due to the outage. There was no real danger but it give us a little excitement as we drifted “powerless” for a short time. Upon leaving St. Pierre, the Captain announced that due to a Canadian law regarding the speed of ships in Canadian waters to protect the Right Whales that had changed June 24th (a month earlier) we would be arriving into Halifax two hours late. We were scheduled from 8am- 11pm so it did not infringe much on the time available in port, and we were not impacted since we didn’t have a shore excursion, but it was annoying that HAL didn’t mention this or adjust the itinerary when they knew about this over 30 days earlier. Food- Much better than my last HAL cruise. Lido Market (Cafeteria). The many individual food stations kept lines down. The only station that consistently had a line was the made-to-order pasta bar. Otherwise I never saw more then four people waiting in line at any food station. Most of the food items available each night in the MDR ( including Gala night) was also available in the Lido. There was hand dipped ice cream during lunch and dinner time. Typically there were three flavors available. Also soft serve was available on random days. Breakfast stations: The Bistro had made to order eggs, meat, and potatoes; Two Omelet stations, one with waffles and crepes, the other with a vegetarian and non-vegetarian Frittata each morning; Pastries; an Express Breakfast that was the same as the bistro but with no made-to-order eggs other than poached eggs and eggs Benedict, but also Fried Rice and occasionally Beans, Fried Bread and Tomatoes. Tip- any item can be put back on the griddle in the Bistro if you want it a little more done. This was especially popular in the morning for those that preferred crispy bacon. The Central Market in the morning had a selection of fruit, smoked salmon and cereals and Hors D'ouvres for lunch and dinner. Complimentary Drinks were ice tea, lemonade, coffee, hot tea, and water. The ice tea and lemonade were the typical flavored concentrates. However I thought the coffee was above average. Most days breakfast hours were 0700-1030 Lunch stations: Made to order pasta; The Bistro (one on each side) where you find the main courses, pre-made sandwiches plus a specialty sandwich each day, and two soups; Made to order Salads; Breads, Cheese, and the “Central Market” opposite the drink stations with small plates and hors d'ouvres. The Pasta and Salad stations stayed open until 5, although the Lido was only open for lunch from 11:30-2. MDR- Those with anytime dining were seated on deck 2. We never waited for more than a few minutes before being seated. I noticed that the 7:45 seating on deck 3 was consistently sparse with lots of open tables and many empty seats at tables with diners. Each meal was three courses. I am posting sample menus for MDR and Lido. In room dining was available from 1100-2300 with a selection of sandwiches, salads, soups, sides and desserts. There was also a limited selection after hours. Breakfast room service was a choice of omelets, scrambled eggs and meat/bread, pastries or cereals, with salmon Benedict or steak and eggs at additional cost unless in a Suite. Burger Bar items were also available for a $4.95 delivery charge. We had breakfast one morning and it showed up exactly on time, although lukewarm, which honestly can be expected for a delivery up to deck 7.. Typical mix of liquor and wine on board. Beer on tap was Heineken and Tiger. Bottles were the standard Bud, Heineken, Corona, Miller, plus Sam Adams and Lagunitas. We never ate at Canneleto or Pinnacle grill. There were two specialty nights towards the end of the cruise: Surf and Turf on the last Gala night, with Lobster available in both MDR and Lido, and New England night in the Lido when we were in Halifax with Salmon cakes, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Lobster rolls, and Pork pies. Finally, there was a late night spread from 10:30-11:30 with pub-type food such as pot stickers, chicken wings, egg rolls, nachos, potato chips, desserts, and the remaining Hors D'oeuvres. 'Dive In” Burger Bar- Made to order burgers and hot dogs. Place your order at the window and receive a pager for when your order is complete. Both the Burgers and coated fries were hot, fresh, and very tasty. Next to it is a Taco Bar, with beef or chicken and all the fixin’s and occasionally including fresh made guacamole. The only downside was the limited opening hours for both: 11:30am-5pm. This meant neither was open after returning from most ports. Summary: In the past, I have chosen HAL due to the itinerary, since they tend to stop at ports not visited by other cruise lines, and I just assumed the food and service may not be as good, but just considered this a fair trade-off. However, this cruise was head and shoulders above my last two HAL cruises. Until now, I couldn't understand based on previous cruises how Holland America was ranked as high as it was in some polls. Perhaps it is the inconsistency in service mentioned in some other threads, or perhaps it is just the Vista class ships have higher service standards. Ports: Lerwick- Tender port. We had to show our passports to Scottish Customs as we disembarked. Tender arrived at Victoria pier which is downtown across from the Anderson Wool store and Captain Flints Pub. We were scheduled to be there from 8-4, but the last tender back to ship was at 3. However, six hours was enough time to explore the town independently.  Most of the shops in town are close to the tender port, and easily walk-able from Victoria Pier. There is a Tesco Supermarket a mile and a half away along the water side trail where you can stock up on snacks. The Broch of Clickimin is close to the Tesco. This same waterside trail in the opposite direction also runs out to “The Knab” which is a nice walk with some great views. Reykjavik- Docked at Skarfabakki port about 2.5 miles out of town. There is a oceanfront walk from the port to town. Both Enterprise and EuropCar are within walking distance of the dock. If you overnight and have a rental car, there is ample free parking in the dock area. There is a large Icewear souvenir store at the port with prices similar to what you will find in town. We checked prices here first before going downtown, then did some last minute purchases here before leaving port. We never needed Kroner. Credit cards were accepted everywhere, and there was no problem accepting most US credit cards. There was a Port-provided shuttle to/from town for $20 round trip. We opted to rent a car and drove the Golden Circle, plus we also did the town Vik and the black sand beaches there and also made it to the Bridge America-Europe on day one. On day two we drove into downtown Reykjavik for some shopping. There was no problem finding parking downtown. Parking meters took credit cards and were in English, as was the self serve gas stations. The cost of the car, fuel, added insurance (which seems to be a “thing” in Iceland), was about the same as the cost of a private tour plus the town shuttle. The difference was flexibility and the options for additional stops. Driving in Iceland was easy for those who normally drive on the right side of the road. Lots of traffic circles/ roundabouts for those who struggle with such things. Akeyuri- docked downtown about a five minute walk from the Visitors Center. Just like in Reykjavik, there was another Icewear gift shop at the dock. If not doing a tour, most tourist shops are close by and it took us about 3 hours to browse most of the stores. We opted not to do the tours here as we had done the Golden Circle and Vik two days prior. (and have been to Yellowstone and Rotorua so this wasn’t our first volcanic area ). We found lots of spare time after doing the main shopping street so just wandered around the rest of the city until time to return. It was rainy, windy, and cold until about 2pm, then cleared up and became sunny. Islafjordur- Tender port, Very small town with some shops in the downtown. Tendered in at Njardarsund st., which is one block from the local microbrewery, Dokkan Brugghus. Like Akeruyi, it was cold and windy in the morning then was sunny in the afternoon. The shops were small and only one of these had “Islafjordur”-branded items. The whale bone Arch on the hill above town made for a nice picture and also provided an opportunity for a photo of Islafjordur with the ship and mountains in the background. Nanatolik- Tender port. We were dropped off across the bay from the visitors center, at the Havnevej industrial port, not the cruise dock next to the visitors center, so there was a bit of a walk for those with limited mobility. Most of the souvenirs in town were at the same visitors center so the small room filled up almost immediately and stayed that way all day with lines forming outside. The visitors center also sold tickets for several presentations by local entertainers. The Brugseni supermarket across the street also had some limited souvenirs. The Ravnefjeldet mountain directly behind town can be hiked up to different levels depending on ability. To get to it, follow the Tunuliaritseq road which turns into Islafjordurip road past the picturesque cemetery. The road ends at the trail. Reserve about an hour for going up and back to get some good panoramic pictures. On the sailaway, several Humpback Whales were feeding just outside the port. St Johns- Docked at Pier 10. Most shops and pubs are within the first three blocks away from the ship. We walked to the Quidi Vidi Brewery. It was a long 45 minutes walk through the suburbs. Nice to have a beer made with water from an iceberg, but not sure it was worth the time to get there. Signal Hill was encased in low clouds all day so there was no point in climbing up for a view. One odd thing was pushing our clocks back 30 minutes to match the local time zone, instead of the usual hour. St Pierre- Tender port. Dropped off at Quay Eric Taberly. Nice visitors center tent upon arrival with a band, free WiFi, coffee, OJ, danishes, and croissants. Most small shops were within three blocks of where we arrived. Point aux cannons lighthouse, The Battery, and Place Du General De Gaulle are all within a few minutes walk. Note that many stores close between 12 and 2. Sydney- Docked at Cruise Pavilion which had souvenir shops and a craft market. Nice waterside walkway that starts from dock with some shops and food trucks. There are several blocks of early 19th century houses across the street from the Cruise Pavilion. There are some small museums in several of these houses for only a few dollars admission. On Saturday there is the Cape Breton farmers market/ craft fair at the intersection of Esplanade and Falmouth streets. Halifax- Docked at Pier 20. Lots of shops inside the Cruise Terminal, plus a Farmers Market at the end of the Terminal building. There is a booth inside the Cruise Terminal as you walk in that sells HoHo bus tickets and various tours. There is also a visitors center booth as you walk in that can provide maps and suggestions for the day. They provided a walking tour map that we used to go though the high points of areas close by such as the Citadel, Maritime Museum, landmarks, and shopping areas. The boardwalk along the water was lined with shops, bars, food trucks and restaurants. We were here until 11pm, so there was ample opportunity to check out the local nightlife, but the Captain announced all passengers were onboard early, so we departed early as well. Boston- Disembarkation Customs was set up onboard the ship on deck 3 so there no need to clear Customs after disembarking from the ship. Consequently, we stayed in our room until just after our 9am group color was called and we went down to deck 3, showed the Customs official our passports, had our room key punched by HAL, and walked off the boat. It was a total of five minutes from leaving our room to arriving in baggage claim. Once in the cruise terminal, we located our bags that had been grouped by tag color, picked them up, and exited the Terminal. For those without a post-cruise Hotel, there were bus stops on the other side of the BCD building, or at the end of the Cruise terminal. The taxi line was directly ahead as we exited the Cruise Terminal. The taxi line was very long so we used a ride share which arrived within a minute. Nine minutes later we were at the Boston Airport. This was one of the fastest, most painless, disembarkation's ever. We left our room at 9:05, and were checked in and through security at Boston Airport by 9:55. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Ten years ago, 2009, my very first longer cruise was the HAL Voyage of the Vikings. It was 35 days RT from Boston on the Maasdam. It was exciting, and being from Florida, a real delight to escape the heat and see the North Atlantic. So ... Read More
Ten years ago, 2009, my very first longer cruise was the HAL Voyage of the Vikings. It was 35 days RT from Boston on the Maasdam. It was exciting, and being from Florida, a real delight to escape the heat and see the North Atlantic. So when I wanted to go back and do it again, I found that this cruise had become one of HAL's favorite and pricest itineraries, too rich for my travel budget. However, the Zuiderdam's 17 cruise from Rotterdam to Boston, which in fact was 1/2 half of the V of the V cruise, was a good deal. I booked an inside room, as most outside and better were sold out, and it got us there, thank you. With almost midnight sun part of the trip, the dark inside room wasn't so bad, but "it ain't no verandah" either. This review will be brief; This cruise was a dream. The Zuiderdam, at the ripe old age of 17, one year older than the Maasdam was at the time 10 years ago, is showing her age in places like the vista windows on the mid ship elevators, but was still very satisfying. Our room was fine. The MDR, we had assigned dining at 7:45 with a window side table, was excellent. Our waiter explained the offerings every night and his assistant remembered our preferences. Holland America has improved the food over the years and our seafood and beef selections were 5 stars. One complaint: the flowers have disappeared from the tables both in the MDR and the Lido. The enrichment lectures were excellent on the first half, not so good on the second. The officers greeted us at the gangway Portside on returning to the ship, unusual on a 1900 guest sized ship. They also were at every Gala night MDR entrance. We made every port this cruise and Captain Bart and Hotel Director Darren were visible and helpful as were many of the officers. We met a lot of wonderful people on this cruise, most of whom were well traveled and educated adventurers, some young, many older, from all over the world. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd ... Read More
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd combo...hopefully they will upgrade that. Elevators around the corner zip up to Lido and MDR. Food was excellent. Banana bread French toast was a fav in MDR for breakfast. Creme Brûlée, prime rib, French onion soup, any dessert all good. Pork roast was like Sunday dinner as a kid. Liked the trivia games and the happy hour in the Crows Nest. Lincoln centre stage was excellent. Gift shop was so-so... to many high end things and low end was gaudy. Embarkation and disembarkation was the smoothest I have experienced. The staff were the real stand outs. Always friendly , helpful, smiling and keeping things clean. They work so hard! Great ports mix of large and small. 24 hour sun was something to see! Did not do any shore excursions with HAL(to expensive)all were booked ahead of time online. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Note, this May 25, 2019 HA Rotterdam sailing (May 25 to June 8, 2019), was a 14 day Norway cruise, not 21 days. We booked this to see the fjords, scenery, certain tours, and go beyond the Arctic Circle to the most northerly point in ... Read More
Note, this May 25, 2019 HA Rotterdam sailing (May 25 to June 8, 2019), was a 14 day Norway cruise, not 21 days. We booked this to see the fjords, scenery, certain tours, and go beyond the Arctic Circle to the most northerly point in Europe. There were two key port downgrades due to tender maintenance issues...completely within HA control, and either an example of poor maintenance or an inadequate PM (Preventative Maintenance) Program. Neither of the substitute ports (Skjolden or Hellesylt) offered anything like the originally planned excursions that Flam and Geiranger offered. Flam and Geiranger were prime ports due to their excursions, and losing these ports was a major disappointment, all within HA control. There was very poor communications issues with port changes. Nothing when checking in, nothing from the room steward when handed the excursion tickets, about the missing ports / excursions. We had to call Guest Services as to why we were missing excursion tickets, and the communication was matter of fact that due to tender issues, had to change the two ports...lack of empathy or apology. The Captain's approach to dealing with the issue was very negative. I met with the Captain on behalf of a group of 25 Cruise Critics members re the port changes, expressing disappointment and asking for fare reduction, and instead of empathy, the Captain said that he would not tolerate any potential growing unrest, and that if the Cruise Critic group met again, that under Maritime Law I would be put off the ship at the next port. The Cruise Critic group was taking no unrest actions. The Captain's approach was an unbelievably negative experience. Other ship issues: Safety concerns associated with the drill and lifeboat changes / positions. When everyone was lined up at their life boat position, there was only about a metre of space to the railing, with people trying to walk by. If everyone was wearing their bulky life jackets, there would have been no space. We view that the life boat drill without wearing life jackets is not realistic and is an inadequate drill. Frequent toilet not flushing issues. Frequent Sat TV not working. General ship condition - rust, some cracked windows. No laundry room, with excuse of 'hygiene'. If that is real, then every laundry mat in the world should close. We suspect that the real reason is that the washers and dryers break and need regular maintenance. Food and food service was very good. Room steward service was very good. We outlined these issues to the HA President, and requested certain financial consideration. While HA indicated that they would follow-up on the issues that we raised, HA only offered a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, on a next cruise...wholly inadequate. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We picked this cruise for the itinerary because it went above the Arctic circle along with Flam and Geiranger. Soon after we boarded the ship on May 25th we were informed via a piece of paper stuffed in the “welcome package” that our ... Read More
We picked this cruise for the itinerary because it went above the Arctic circle along with Flam and Geiranger. Soon after we boarded the ship on May 25th we were informed via a piece of paper stuffed in the “welcome package” that our itinerary had changed. We were no longer going to Flam or Geiranger due to tenders not working. Ship Condition - showing major wear. Windows in dining room were cracked. A lot of rust around door frames in bathroom, bath tub, and out on balcony. Outdated decor. Food - overall we liked the food. We enjoyed the Dive in grill, pizza place, lido salad bar, and dining room(breakfast and dinners). Service - the crew is wonderful both in dining room and cabin stewards. Officers were aloof and not friendly. The Captain, guest relations, and Seattle office have made it very clear that HA is well within its rights to change ports at anytime. Absolutely no compensation not even a small gesture has been offered after numerous people have complained. Room - sadly we booked a guarantee and were placed over the Ocean Bar. So every night we heard music until 11:30 pm. Internet package was expensive and limited internet at times. Should not be charged when we can’t get service until 6:00 pm or later as we sail out of a Fjord. Entertainment - enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage venue and BBC movies, other entertainment was just ok(magician, comedian, sax player) We will not be cruising HA again. The issues on this cruise and HA’s response says it all for us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I were on the Rotterdam for 55 day in 2015 and liked it very much. The ship is very different now. There appeared to be a reduction in staff that resulted in frequent poor service in the Lido and often poor service in the ... Read More
My wife and I were on the Rotterdam for 55 day in 2015 and liked it very much. The ship is very different now. There appeared to be a reduction in staff that resulted in frequent poor service in the Lido and often poor service in the main dinning room. Seldom refills in the Lido and two and a half hours in the main dinning room. The employees in the main dinning room worked hard but there weren't enough of them. Many of the employees in the Lido appeared to be poorly trained and lacked proper supervision. The cabin boys were excellent and did every thing they could to make our stay as good as possible. The Food was often very bland and lacked proper seasoning. There were a lot of desserts with varying quality. When I ordered lamb chops I received only two which were quite small. Of the 21 days there were only two entertainers that were good. There was no duplicate bridge, no craft lessons, almost no expert speakers, The lectures on upcoming ports were obviously for selling excursions, It was a boring cruise Fellow cruisers read a lot of books and played games in the library. The price of the internet was outrageous with no reception most of the time. The ship shows its age with warn carpet with poorly chosen carpet colors. The design is confusing with an odd layout. We missed the two most important ports of the cruise. The excuse for for missing Flam was that several of the tenders were in operable. How did several tenders have problems at the same time? What happened to preventive maintenance. We had doubts about the life boats. The ports were advertised over two years ago, why had docking reservations made then. There were four other cruise ships in the port. We have well over 200 days of cruising but will never take another cruise on Holland American again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The ship. It had been two years since we sailed ms Rotterdam and the ship's inside public places were extensively done over in a very nice way. New carpets, new upholstery and a general new feel when walking around deck 4 and 5. ... Read More
The ship. It had been two years since we sailed ms Rotterdam and the ship's inside public places were extensively done over in a very nice way. New carpets, new upholstery and a general new feel when walking around deck 4 and 5. Inside our verandah cabin the couch was new, not leathery this time, and the cabin was clean with no defects. Airconditioning worked fine the whole two weeks. The washroom however was not updated. Everything worked, hot/cold water, flush, but the general condition of the bath, although clean, was bad. Apparently the area around the bath faucets was and had been leaking with a lot of rust as a result. This was painted over, but rust was already apparent again. This fortunately did not lesson the enjoyment of the cruise, but is something HAL should attend to as they will keep ships like Rotterdam for another ten years as told by the hotel director on the ship. Dining. Admittedly a subjective subject, we think the choice and quality of the meals in the mdr has improved greatly. I liked every course I selected, which has not always been the case, and it was never a problem to order seconds. There is no charge for a second main course. The lido was used for breakfast and lunch. Quality is good with lots of choices, italian corner, far lands (asian) corner, sushi corner, salad bar, fixed sandwiches etc. On the aft deck you can get made to order pizza, we did that once and it was good and in the covered pool was a snackbar with hamburgers and fries, also good. I sometime read about bad attendance by lido waiters but that is not the case here. Tables were cleaned in record time and they came around for water/koffie etc very often. It seemed like a full house and that reflected in a very busy lido, so to have a table of choice you would have to come early. We did not do pinnacle or canalletto. Crew. They were fabulous as ever. From cabin stewards, dining stewards, in fact everybody you met, it was all smiles and helpfullness. Itinerary. Due to strong winds the harbour of Warnemunde closed and it was not safe anyway to dock there. This was to be the start of Berlin tours and was a great dissapointment for passengers who had embarked on the previous cuise and had stayed on for this one, they had already missed two ports and this would be the third. So another seaday, but the captain announced already at noon that the next day's scheduled sea day would be replaced with an impromptu port stop at Riga and that turned out to be a great one! Rotterdam had never been there before, in fact only Prinsendam had. Every other, scheduled, stop was in general early to arrive and on time to leave. Overall. It was a great cruise, despite the unusual cold weather for the baltic. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our 30th cruise, and our 4th time on HAL. We chose this cruise/crossing since we had spent a month in Amsterdam and needed to get back to the States. The Iceland and Greenland ports were also attractive. We loved the extra ... Read More
This was our 30th cruise, and our 4th time on HAL. We chose this cruise/crossing since we had spent a month in Amsterdam and needed to get back to the States. The Iceland and Greenland ports were also attractive. We loved the extra space and design in our Neptune Suite, plus the additional Neptune features such as the lounge where we often got breakfast and received the friendly attentive services of the concierge staff. Also liked breakfast in the Pinacle Grill. We were a bit worried boarding the Rotterdam since it is older and smaller than some HAL ships. While it cannot be described as either luxurious or stylish, it is in good condition and tastefully attractive. It's big enough to have enough activities and public spaces that never felt crowded. We especially enjoyed spending time in the Crow's Nest The food was good. HAL does a good job in the Lido Buffet of serving casual food that appeals to North Americans, very good pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and stir-fry Asian cuisine. We ate most of our lunches in the Lido. We gave up on lunch in the main dining room since they sat us in the dark center when there were many window tables available and since drinks service was sketchy at lunch time. Dinner in the main dining room was good with lots of variety, although some dishes were misses. We had one dinner in the Pinacle, which was fine, although the portions were obscenely large. One dinner in the Canaletto which was mediocre. We did not understand the Canaletto since an Italian dish is on the menu in the Main each night. We bought the Elite drinks package because of the expanded wine-by-the-glass availability, which worked for us, wine drinkers. I spent a lot of time in the casino and found the staff and services absolutely terrific. Working out is an important part of my day and I found the fitness center full of good equipment and not very crowded. I was happy. We went to a couple of shows with featured entertainers. Enjoyed them, but it was the usual mass-market cruise ship entertainment. My only overall complaint regards the frequent announcements broadcast in the hallways. There was a speaker right outside our suite and the announcements were disturbing. No need for the Cruise Director to announce the day's activities since they are adequately described in the Where and When program. Does he think the passengers are illiterate? On the first day he made a loud announcement at 7:30 AM, waking us up. Tacky. We were happy enough that we booked another crossing on HAL for 2019. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We took the 18-day voyage from Rotterdam (coincidence) to Boston. The crew were great. The dining room food was fabulous. The ports of call were wonderful. But when it rained, the roof over the Lido deck leaked like a watering can. There ... Read More
We took the 18-day voyage from Rotterdam (coincidence) to Boston. The crew were great. The dining room food was fabulous. The ports of call were wonderful. But when it rained, the roof over the Lido deck leaked like a watering can. There were plumbing issues all over the ship, with leaks, toilets not working (ours stopped working 5 times) and hot water not available in some cabins at times. Cabin windows on decks 1 - 3 were streaked because water seals broke, letting in water and salt; visibility through many windows was reduced. The ship seems to be in disrepair and needs to be fixed if the company is going to charge the usual fare structure for its cruises. Positives for the ship are its crew and dining room cuisine. The Rotterdam has some of the friendliest crew I have met, and the food is simply superb. The ship looks good in public spaces, but the gremlins are hiding beneath. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The staff was the staff that answers your call from your credit card company. Staff: poor attitude, does the least Food: redundancy - bland, fried, salty, boxed, canned and not labeled with ingredients. Lots of nuts everywhere and ... Read More
The staff was the staff that answers your call from your credit card company. Staff: poor attitude, does the least Food: redundancy - bland, fried, salty, boxed, canned and not labeled with ingredients. Lots of nuts everywhere and same tongs for near multiple items. Food stations: salad bar, pasta bar & omlet bar: only one person one station and have you waiting for food for over 20 min. Why not add an additional station to actually accommodate guests? Salad bar was wilted and old veggies. Expreso bar: paid, also waiting Bartenders: no pep in the step to handle more than two people at the bar. Our bartender was 100 years old and working / sharing the same well with another bartender, so they would wait for each other to make drinks....so it was like having only one bartender, since there was another unused well in the same bar that could have been used to increase efficiency. They need a food & bev manager to regulate the staff, since they do whatever they want. One time we waited over 30 min to BUY our coffee from the expreso bar bc the front desk girls came up with an order for the front desk crew of 5 or 6 drinks. And they are on island time when it comes to tasks. Internet is per person in the room and is very expensive for being so crappy and it doesn’t disclose that it doesn’t work in all ports. Overall the staff really was bad. In attitude, in performance of job duties and in customer service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was a bucket list cruise for us, with St. Petersburg as our main destination. We had not used HAL before, so all we had to go on were comments on CC and other places Overall, it exceeded our expectations in most areas. Embarkation ... Read More
This was a bucket list cruise for us, with St. Petersburg as our main destination. We had not used HAL before, so all we had to go on were comments on CC and other places Overall, it exceeded our expectations in most areas. Embarkation - We left from Rotterdam; getting on was smooth and well organized.We got to the port around 10:30; by 11:30 we were boarding and our cabin was ready. We had lunch in the MDR, a nice touch since I really don't like buffets and prefer a sit-down meal. Cabin - We had an aft Vista Suite. It was roomy enough, had a nice over-sized balcony and a bathroom you could turn around in without hitting all four walls! Dining - Overall, the MDR offered very good food and exemplary service. I had one bad experience at breakfast with hockey puck pancakes; otherwise, no complaints. The Lido buffet was quite good - who can complain about a place that provides yummy sticky buns every morning and delicious bread pudding for lunch/dinner?! Made to order omelet, waffle and egg stations made breakfast enjoyable, plus the small size of the ship meant it wasn't too crowded. We did one dinner at Pinnacle Grill - excellent! I wish they had smaller cuts of meat, as I felt I was wasting an 18 ounce rib eye, but it was good! Be aware of one thing - early seating starts at 5:30, not 6pm. Entertainment - We went to one show done by the dance troupe; it was OK, but not enough to entice us back. The aerial act was very good; the pianist who was there for two nights was spectacularly good. Stryker in the MIX, the piano bar, is really fun. We made it a point to listen to him almost every night. A different movie was shown several times every day, either in the small theater or on the main stage. Spa - I had two massages, both well done. However the spa had run out of the one thing I ever buy and would not have any until the ship reached Boston in mid-July. On board activities - This is the one place where I felt HAL fell short, at least for me. There wasn't enough to do on sea days - no crafts, no hands on activities.There were lectures and nature videos, but not much else. There were a series of classes on Windows 10, but that was about it. There was a nice card room where the bridge players met daily and a game room well stocked with different games, but if you wanted to learn to play something, you were out of luck. If you want a casino, this is probably not the ship for you! There is a casino, but it is very small, with only 6-8 tables. It was empty most of the time! Shore excursions -We did not use HAL shore excursions. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised. There had been commentary on-line about the ship being in sad condition. To the contrary, I saw a ship that the crew took pride in and kept looking well! Problems were addressed immediately, the crew friendly, helpful and more fluent in English than often happens on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This cruise is about the unique Itinerary, and I think our captain did a great job getting us into Greenland and in/ around some bad weather. Greenland was beautiful, most of us agreed that cruising Prince Christian Sound was our ... Read More
This cruise is about the unique Itinerary, and I think our captain did a great job getting us into Greenland and in/ around some bad weather. Greenland was beautiful, most of us agreed that cruising Prince Christian Sound was our favorite day, but getting off and seeing a town was also a special event. (We missed one Greenland town due to weather). The crew was mostly energetic, smiling, and helpful except for the front desk crew who seemed overworked and stressed. This was my first Holland America cruise and I enjoyed learning about their traditions- the dinner bell, after dinner treat cart, etc. Celebrity would be the comparison for my line of travel, and I think they are pretty much equal, I would choose based on itinerary and any perks I have built up. The ship is showing its age. Most of it never bothered me- the carpets, floors all have some dinginess and areas of wear, but when water started appearing, it got a little comical. A bucket collecting water in the front row of the main theater (maybe this was from a cabin toilet overflow or something), but when it rained water also collected inside the windows of places like the Crow's Nest, and dripped into the Lido deck. I heard rumors some cabin windows had the same issue. My original cabin 1878 had a noise issue that took 1 week to resolve. Somewhere above or below this cabin is what I think is a crew door that slams, waking me up most nights. It would generally start at 0630 and would slam every 10 seconds in the beginning and end of the day. I eventually solved my problem by noticing that the cabin next to me was empty and I was eventually able to move. Otherwise the crew "had no idea" what door this was and kept telling me they fixed it, but it never changed (I could still hear it next door but it never woke me up). I heard from others that a lot of cabins were noisy- especially cabins with adjoining doors. The size of my Inside Cabin was nice, seemed like plenty of storage to me. Bathroom roomy though I was disappointed with a shower curtain with a stand up shower- I constantly fought with the curtain to keep water in the shower but not sticking to me! Food. I felt was very good, not perfect. I thought the buffet was better than most ships and I enjoyed the Asian section for lunch. Breakfast and lunch in the main dining room was unbearably slow, though it could be because I used shared tables. Afternoon tea was sometimes erratic, with people getting a scone but waiting 15 minutes to get jam and cream. Evening meal in the main dining room was usually the highlight- the staff was fast and food was good. I didn't use the wifi but I overheard a lot of complaints about cost and how slow it was. Wifi is only sold by the day, not minute. I had a European SIM card and for $20 I had it for the Baltic ports and Iceland, and it actually worked in most parts of sailing in the Baltic. I recommend buying one before you leave. I enjoyed the main stage entertainment, I saw all of the Rotterdam singers and dancers shows- even though on a 32 day cruise they repeated. I loved them! The guest entertainment was a hit or miss for me, but you can't please everyone every night, and I liked that the shows were 40-60 minutes, so you could make it through any of them! The EXC guide is a regular Holland America member who gives talks on the ports (not the tours), and local culture and history and I loved this part. The guest lectures we had in Iceland Greenland were so amazing, they packed the Main Stage when they did lectures on history and geology. One main complaint I had with the ship was the temperature! On our days at sea, I always had to wear multiple layers, and there were a few days I sat wearing gloves and a scarf while sitting in the library and in one of the bars to watch World Cup. People walked around she ship wearing puffy jackets and I would finally resort to going to my room and turning up the heat to be able to get comfortable. The dining room and occasionally the Main Stage would then be too hot with all of these layers. A lot of passengers told me that their rooms would not get warm enough and they were constantly trying to get warm. I did buy a few Holland America shore excursions and I was generally very happy. What I noticed as far as value goes, is that the guides were really good and often talked 100% of the trip- you feel like you get your money's worth that way, learning the most- and when the trips included snacks or meals, i was very impressed. Overall, their excursions seemed more expensive than other ships, and when I could I used outside companies for 1/2 the price. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was the second cruise I booked with HAL. I really enjoyed my first cruise which was also on the MS Rotterdam. Besides, this cruise had an overnighter in Stockholm, so when the price dropped a little in november 2017, I made my ... Read More
This was the second cruise I booked with HAL. I really enjoyed my first cruise which was also on the MS Rotterdam. Besides, this cruise had an overnighter in Stockholm, so when the price dropped a little in november 2017, I made my booking. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, no problems at all for me. My cabin was cabin 2517, a cabin with portholes instead of a window. I had one of the largest porthole cabins that are available. While traveling on my own it was quite large. The room was clean, and well tended to by the hut steward. Although the portholes didn't give a lot of light, it was very cosy and added to the ship-experience. The ship is one of the oldest ships in het HAL fleet, and yes, she's got some wear and tear. We didn't experience a lot of rain, so stories about leaking I cannot confirm. To me the ship is still classy and beautiful. Well furnished, a lot of space and a lot of places to sit if you want peace and quiet, even on sea-days. The entertainment was very good. I hang out in the pianobar for Styker was very entertaining. Theatre shows were good, I enjoyed it a lot and there was a lot of different shows, with dance, music, film and even an acrobatic show. The service was, as the last time, outstanding. I experiences a lot of vibration the first night and because of that I didn't sleep very well. I explained the problem at the frontdesk and they helped me as good as they could, giving me an extra matrass on the bed. The day after, they brought me flowers as an apology for the bad night. I thought that very friendly. Food was very good. Very rich choice at breakfast in the Lido and original meals at night. The food in the main diningroom was very fine. There was a lot of choices, ingredients were fresh and it looked very good on the plate. No complaints at all. I ordered breakfast in my room two times and it came well within the time I ordered it. All was hot and more than enough. The ports of call (Rotterdam on embarkation, Kopenhagen, Warnemünde, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Arhus, Rotterdam for disembarkation) were outstanding! But then again, I looked into that before I booked. In some ports we were at some distance from the city center. It was no problem though, for public transportation (Stockholm) was nearby and easy to access. At Arhus a free shuttlebus was arranged because we docked in a containerport. I did almost everything on foot, but in Kopenhagen I would recommend taking a hop on hop off bus. I lost a lot of precious time by walking and could have made more out of my stay if I had taken the red busses. While having a lot of time in Warnemünde, I took the train to Schwerin, the capital of Meckelenburg-Vorpommern. There's a beautiful castle there and I enjoyed the trainride. I took a taxi with some new-made friends (met them here on the roll-call by the way!) to mt. Toompea and could walk my way into the rest of the old town. Very beautiful city! St. Petersburg was amazing, so amazing that I'm going back to see more and have more time. Helsinki: nice, quite a walk to the town. I ended up in the ho-ho which starts and stops at the very cruise-terminal. I did this because the two days in St. Petersburg exhausted me. Stockholm was great because on the first day I met my cousin who lives there. He took me to all the sites and showed me some things for the next day. Get lost in Gamle Stan, the old town. It is fantastic with some very beautiful churches. The medieval museum holds the only piece of citywall of Stockholm that still exists. Arhus: it was very hot. Transportation to the city was well arranged by Arhus. I went tot the open air museum. One of the best I've ever seen! I would recommend it. I didn't book any excursion with the HAL company because I think they are way to expensive. Cities were easy to explore on my own. And in St. Petersburg I booked a tour with Alla in advance. They provide you with a group visa too! Don't believe the cruise company when they say you can only leave the ship with one of their excursions. Touroperators in Russia are specialized in working with cruise passengers and it is cheaper. All in all I had the cruise of my life. I enjoyed the ship, my fellow passengers, the dining and the entertainment. The crew treated me like a queen! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This is a smaller ship than we are used to and find that the activities on the ship are not as good as the slightly larger ships. We stayed in Rotterdam for a few nights prior to our cruise and it was great. Our hotel was next to the ... Read More
This is a smaller ship than we are used to and find that the activities on the ship are not as good as the slightly larger ships. We stayed in Rotterdam for a few nights prior to our cruise and it was great. Our hotel was next to the cruise terminal which was very convenient for embarkation day. Embarkation was not as smooth as others that we have done, could be improved. Disembarkation was the same. The ship is one of there older ships and could do with some refurbishment. The cabin was standard, but the door to the balcony was awful. It was not a sliding door, but a heavy outward swinging door and very heavy. To keep it open to allow fresh air, you had to jam something in to it. The entertainment was average and could be improved. The service was fantastic and wish all ships would do similar, especially in their bistros. The ports were fantastic and the reason that we booked this cruise in the first place. We would go again in a heartbeat, but maybe try a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. ... Read More
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. I’ll try to just stick with the basics and facts. First, the cleanliness of our cabin was horrendous. One of the first things we had to do upon getting into our cabin was pee, and that’s where I noticed blood on the shower walls from my view whilst on the leu. After that, I entered the main cabin and lamented to my gf there was blood on the shower / tub from the previous guests and that’s where I noticed stained walls from what looked like dried Coke that had sprayed all over the walls behind the couch. And I mean all over, like how could you miss that cleaning crew. So we called to have our room cleaned and that led to a whole other incident where we were locked out of our cabin for 3 hrs. mind you we just got there, wanted to shower and change after a 10 hr flight. So it was not ideal right off the bat. The staff was very laid back about everything, and not in a good way. No hustle to get us situated (that will also come up later) During the process having to walk back and forth over 10 times to the front desk - to see if this key worked and if that key worked they finally resorted to call a locksmith that leasurley came 3 hrs later. Our toilets backed up daily and our room smelled like poop well because there was poop floating in our toilets that wouldn’t flush. At the first port I went to buy some Lysol wipes and wiped the cabin down myself. Being grossed out from everything upon arrival. The blackness that came off everything was nauseating: the phone, the switches, door handles, all black and filthy. I was trying to be a good sport and not complain bc it was my girlfriends first cruise and I wanted her to have a good time. But it just continued to disappoint. The food was not great. Everything was heavy, fried and very salty. The staff in the lido deck didn’t really interact with you and didn’t listen to any requests. Like go light with the salad dressing, they would drench the salad anyway and hand it over miffed and just want to move on to the next person. Customer service in all the food areas were bad, staff had a bad attitude and pretty much just lazy. they had lines at certain stations for 20 minutes or longer, when they had plenty of staff and should have made adjustments for the busier stations, like open another omlet section or salad station. So when having dinner with your companion that ate something different than you, they would be done with their meal by the time you got yours. Never saw any food managers, either. The only thing healthy was the salad bar and the lettuce was often the “last day of lettuce” if you know what I mean. So cleanliness- very poor, food not great, staff - pretty over it and other things like the internet package is 100 bucks for 5 days, but they don’t tell you the internet doesn’t work if you’re in the fjords (that happened to be about 24 hrs or more) and your guest in the cabin has to buy their own internet so it goes by person - definitely felt ripped off that - and when I told them they should have a disclaimer when buying the internet that it wouldn’t work docked in the fjord, she just looked at me like I was speaking another language and had this expression like “oh well” and didn’t do or say anything else. So. Customer service also pretty bad. All in all I was very disappointed with the “management” of the ship. The last thing they messed up was our debark- we didn’t receive luggage tags and had to get them from the long line at guest services. Then they were late delivering our luggage to the luggage drop off center and it caused us to miss our transport bus, that we had to now wait for another bus that in turn had us RUNNING to catch our flight. We debarked the ship at 7:45 am and had a 8:30 am bus, but had to take the 10:30 am bus. So while we waited and waited- we watched the luggage handlers just take their time like no one had anything else to do that day. Very disorganized and very over their “jobs”. New management and new crew ASAP. The ship itself had a lot of cool artwork, and I liked the “antique” vibe - but that’s the best thing I can say about the ship itself and Holland America. There were just a handful of delightful people that do work there with a smile on their face but it kinda sucks the 95% of the bad staff was so bad that those 5% don’t really get the review. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day ... Read More
This was a charter of a group I belong to. I had been on land vacations to Norway twice & enjoyed the country very much. Thought a cruise would be another way to experience it. The best way to see Norway is on a land vacation w/day trips to the fjords, not a cruise. We only did 4 ports, Bergen, which we did not get to see because of extreme rain & wind, Geirangerfjord, if you have done New Zealand’s fjords this is very similar scenery, and 2 smaller villages. Did two ship excursions which were expensive & not worth while. The best excursions were taking the tourist trains in the towns on your own. There was a ships tour to an acquairium which was a waste of time & money. The ships tour on a speed boat through the fjords was also a waste as you saw the same scenery as you did from the ship although closer. The staff was great, the food very good, room service great & free. We had an aft balcony, 7067. If you look on the ship’s deck plan it appears this is the 2nd room in. It is not. The space next to it is a stairwell which staff uses. Therefore the balcony is much larger than usual and you only have one room on one side of you. The room was quiet. Our charter had its own entertainment for the most part so cannot comment on that except to say, the Adiago violin & piano duo was really great each evening. The casino did not have any of the newer machines so was boring & did not pay out often. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Background: After a 2017 made somewhat horrifying by having to confront a potentially life-threatening health crisis, I wanted to give myself something to look forward to, and planned it far enough in advance-- nearly a year out-- that ... Read More
Background: After a 2017 made somewhat horrifying by having to confront a potentially life-threatening health crisis, I wanted to give myself something to look forward to, and planned it far enough in advance-- nearly a year out-- that even if I'd needed to endure a long operation to have the offending organ yanked out, I would still have had sufficient time to recover to make the trip.  Fortunately, it didn't come to that, and the trip was fantastic-- real "bucket list" stuff, and all places I'd long wanted to visit but never had. Two friends from my area-- the mother in her mid-eighties, and her daughter, mid-fifties-- joined me in this adventure. (Because they made their arrangements much later, they wound up at different hotels and on different flights than the ones I'd booked, but we made it work, and spent most of our time together.)  I will get to the ship a bit later, and start with... THE TRIP: We began with a few days in Belgium-- Brussels, plus a day trip to Bruges.  (We're all fans of the dark humor of writer Martin McDonagh and his 2008 film "In Bruges", too!)  Belgium is of course a chocolate fiend's delight, and we brought back plenty-- in my case, several boxes of the same gianduja (creamy hazelnut chocolate) my late mother had brought back for friends and family when she had visited Brussels in 2003.  We also enjoyed a particularly wonderful dinner at Restaurant De l'Ogenblik, just north of the spectacular medieval / renaissance Grand Place. We next transferred to Amsterdam for a few days.  (In both Holland and Belgium, trains between major towns and cities are so frequent-- sometimes at intervals of as little as ten minutes-- that there's no need for reservations; just show up at the station and catch the next one, as you would a commuter train.  Just one caveat-- if you want to use the ticket machines rather than wait for a clerk, you'll need a credit card for which you know the PIN.  Tickets on the high-speed Thalys express cost no more than the slower ordinary trains if you order a few weeks in advance, so that's what we did for the longer Brussels-to-Amsterdam leg of our trip.  On about a third of the journey, north of Antwerp, the Thalys has its own dedicated track, and rockets along at close to 200 mph-- and yet with vastly less noise and vibration than Amtrak gives you when going about 75.  Makes me feel like our rail infrastructure is downright third-world by comparison-- will we ever catch up?  But I digress...) In Amsterdam, we had all pre-ordered the 72-hour version of the I-Amsterdam card-- $100.  We were thus able to enjoy unlimited public transportation and museum admissions (the Anne Frank House being the only major exception) during our visit, and loved the convenience.  In addition to the most famed attractions, (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House) we also got to some less frequently visited ones, such as the Old and New churches; Rembrandt's house; the Willets-Holthuysen mansion; "Our Lord In the Attic" (a townhouse with a small Catholic church hidden in the upper stories); the dramatically cantilevered EYE museum of film (a free ferry ride across the river from Centraal Station); the Gothic-style former post office, converted over twenty years ago into a spectacular shopping venue; the Amsterdam History Museum; the Poezenboot floating cat shelter; and the beautiful Vondelpark. My friends took a day trip to nearby Haarlem, the home town of Frans Hals, a painter from Holland's "golden age".  Culinary highlights included dinner at Olivar, a high-quality Spanish restaurant near our hotels, and another at Kartika, a superb place for authentic Indonesian rijstafel just north of Vondelpark-- highest recommendation! The night before the cruise, a quick train ride brought us to Rotterdam, where we enjoyed another outstanding dinner at New York Basement, in the Hotel New York, the Art Nouveau-era landmark that was once the headquarters of Holland America Line.  And, liner geek that I am, I spent the night aboard a vessel I'd visited back in the early 1970's during her working glory-- the 1959-vintage SS Rotterdam, now preserved as a floating hotel and conference center.  She's a splendid 1950's time capsule, and one of only a handful of classic passenger ships to escape being broken up for scrap. We boarded the newer (vintage 1997) Rotterdam the following morning, then I made a quick wine run to a nearby Gall & Gall liquor store (supplementing a couple of favorite reds I'd brought from home.)  Embarkation was very quick and painless. Operating in Europe is more expensive for cruise lines than the Caribbean, particularly so in Scandinavia.  So it wasn't a big surprise that the shore excursions were the priciest I'd ever seen.  Accordingly, we looked for privately arranged options on the internet, and were able to save a bundle. In Eidfjord, an excursion from gofjords.com (about $50 per person) took us to a nearby "Nature Center", which featured a sod roof with goats grazing on it, then inside, a vertigo-inducing film on the landscapes and wildlife of Norway on a giant screen; we then proceeded up to about 2000 ft to view one of the country's premiere attractions, the falls of Voringfossen, which drop nearly 500 feet in all. In Alesund, my friends took a private (Viator) all-day bus excursion including something called "The Troll Road", and lots of other fantastic scenery; I think it ran them $164 apiece.  In addition to lots of walking around on my own, visiting the Jugendstil Center museum, and snapping photos of the local Art Nouveau architecture, I devoted some time in the middle of the day to the one HAL excursion I wound up booking (about $105, as I recall, and handled very well for passengers who spoke a variety of languages.)  It divided its roughly three hours between some touring of the town, and a run out to the fine nearby aquarium, where the highlight was watching a diver--through a giant acrylic window wall about a foot thick-- send the various species in the tank into a happy feeding frenzy with a ten-kilo bag of shrimp bits.  After our return to town, I decided to be dropped off atop the Byrampen overlook, which is about 100 m / 330 ft up, and then stroll back down through the park and into the city before returning to the ship for dinner. In Geiranger, Sarah and I were driven all around in a car rented by a Dutch passenger (familiar with the area from previous visits) and his son; I had linked up with them via the Roll Call for our sailing some months prior.  (Sarah's mom took a HAL excursion, and visited a few of the same spectacular spots.) And last but not least, in beautiful Bergen, we had again arranged for an economical (about $30 apiece) privately arranged bus excursion out to the suburbs for us three music lovers to visit Troldhaugen.  The property features the home, composing hut, and final resting place of Norway's favorite musical son Edvard Grieg.  A piano recital by an exceptional native player is included; the striking sod-roofed concert hall overlooks the water and the composer's hut.  (Lunch is not included, but there's a nice cafeteria in the visitors' center for anyone who wants to have a quick bite to eat.)  The 11:30 to 2:20 excursion also offered plenty of time before and after to wander around the old heart of the city, soak in its lovely historic architecture, and browse the shops and galleries; we also made time to enjoy the funicular ride up to the thousand-foot-high Floyen viewpoint overlooking the city before returning to the ship. (Crowded because it's so popular, but the spectacular views were very much worth it!) After a final day at sea, we returned to the port of Rotterdam on the morning of June 9th.  Rather than simply hop a train to Schipol airport, I had decided to spend a day and night in Delft, just a ten-minute train ride north of Rotterdam, largely on the recommendation of an architect friend who'd spent some time in Holland.  The two friends I was traveling with were very pleased with this decision-- we all absolutely loved this pretty little town, and agreed that it was the perfect calming way to finish up our trip.  Once again, there were beautiful churches, quiet streets, nice restaurants, the Vermeer Center, and the Delftware factory about a mile north of the historic center.  (We all visited the Vermeer Center, even though it contains no actual Vermeer paintings-- they're all in major museums around the world.  But Delft was his home town, and the Center helps visitors learn a lot about his phenomenal talent and techniques, and his still somewhat mysterious life.  As for the Delftware factory, I did not accompany my friends to that one, but they enjoyed it very much, and found it a better place to purchase an actual Delftware souvenir than the tourist-oriented shops in the center.) And now I will talk about THE SHIP... I thought a few criticisms were in order.  I first sailed with HAL more than a decade ago.  Some slippage of standards, which I realize are common to all the major mainstream cruise lines over the same period, was evident.  Fresh-squeezed orange juice, which had once been served without charge at the Lido breakfast buffet, is now available only for a fee.  And where I recall a nice classical quartet playing on a Nieuw Amsterdam cruise in 2011, it's now down to a duo-- and the violinist frequently sent forth flat notes that were downright wince-inducing.  Any promising Julliard student would surely have done better; I know there are multiple European equivalents of that American institution. Buffet desserts were often lacking in flavor.  And while I love how HAL always features a section of the Lido Market lunch that offers dishes of a different Asian cuisine each day-- curry and beer is my recipe for lunch happiness!-- I was sometimes a little disappointed in the end result.  (Of course, to be fair, it would have been hard for any shipboard buffet to live up to that fantastic Indonesian meal we'd feasted on in Amsterdam!) I thought it was just great that you could go to the front desk and request one of more than 1,000 DVD movies of all sorts on loan...but the execution was REALLY lacking here, at least for me.  I could never get the attached DVD player in my cabin to work-- in fact, it wouldn't even play the music CD's I'd brought along.  I reported this to the front desk as I returned the movie, just minutes after having picked it up, but no offer of repair or replacement was forthcoming.  (My friends, in a deck 6 balcony cabin, were able to view one movie, but told me they'd also had a lot of trouble with the gadgetry.)  So, what should be a wonderful amenity becomes a moot point if passengers can't take advantage of it. Overall, though, I want to stress that our impression of the vessel, and its food and service, were very positive.  For one thing, the Rotterdam is just the right size for us-- big enough to handle weather well, and to offer a variety of entertainment and dining venues, but small enough to be easy to get to know and find your way around quickly.  And the ship was looking great after her drydock refurbishment a few months prior to our cruise.  My friends were very pleased with their spacious balcony cabin on deck 6.  Mine was forward on deck 3, and despite looking out on the wraparound teak promenade, (another much-loved feature of Holland's ships!) the only persistent noise that came into the cabin was a bit of bass boom from the theater upstairs when shows were being performed.  I saw a small leak begin to emerge from the lobby ceiling of deck 3 one afternoon, and alerted the front desk that they'd want to deploy a bucket or two-- but hey, the ship is 21 years old, and is going to have the odd plumbing issue here or there, drydock notwithstanding.  (Thankfully, no such plumbing issues affected either of our cabins!) As usual, apart from trivia, (our team, including that Dutch dad and son, won some beautiful Rudi Sodamin cookbooks toward the end!) I didn't spend much time in the theater watching the big production shows, but I spoke to many passengers who enjoyed them. What's more, my older friend developed a crush on the flamboyant piano lounge entertainer known as Sir Stryker, and left the ship having bought one of his CD's, which she has been playing in her car ever since! We felt no need to pay extra for dinner at Pinnacle Grill-- the main dining room did very good work, and the mostly vegetarian diet of one of our party was easily accommodated.  In addition to the two bottles of wine I'd brought from home, there were five in all brought aboard with the additional purchases made on sailing day; all of those were consumed in the dining room, and thus subject to the $18 corkage fee.  This is quite reasonable in comparison to most restaurants ashore, however, and it was more than worth it to have wines I knew we'd like. I found the front desk staff all very friendly and accommodating as well, even though I know they must contend with some chronically cranky passengers. The Bottom Line: I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the ship, the line, and this gorgeous itinerary to friends & family. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our 8th cruise, but first one with HAL. We thought this ship was an upgrade ( at least it was in price!) compared to to Princess or Royal Caribbean. We choose this cruise as it was the only Cruise line going all the way to the top ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, but first one with HAL. We thought this ship was an upgrade ( at least it was in price!) compared to to Princess or Royal Caribbean. We choose this cruise as it was the only Cruise line going all the way to the top of Norway at that time of the year, to Honigsvag and Hammerfest and we always wanted to go to the Northcape. Most cruise lines go only up to Trontheim and we really wanted to go all the way. Well, in hindsight we could have booked the cheaper cruises up to Trontheim, as we never got to the North. A couple of days before we were going North, the captain announced that we were in for some heavy weather. He told us that he would probably change plans and not go all along the coast, but through the Lofoten, which was a more sheltered route. Well, if that would have happened we would have been ok and happy with that. But somehow he changed plans, the weather deteriorated after Trontheim, but he actually went further west into the storm, without any explanation. It resulted in the ship just floating at sea for 4 days. We were pretty upset, together with many other passengers, and wrote a personal letter to the captain, asking why he did not go through the Lofoten. We never got an answer. Embarkation was smooth, no issue there, Cabin was good, spacious and clean. Cabin steward was very good and service minded. But I have to agree with other reviewers that staff in buffet and other restaurants was slow, not friendly and clearly missing strong management overseeing what is happening. In the restaurant we had a few disappointing experiences, but when we complained, no one really took it serious or did something to rectify. We never saw a headwaiter. And yes, even if there was a big row of guests waiting in line, staff would still act slowly and disinterested. Don't bother about a drink package, we love our wine, but all of them were very much overpriced and not worth drinking. Beer was a better alternative. Drinks were relatively very expensive on the ship. A bottle of wine which would cost us in Australia not more than $10 would set us back about $80 if you add the 15% surcharge iWe just came from a Baltic Sea cruise with MSC, where the wines were of much better quality and more reasonably priced. Although our cabin was clean, we found that the outside appearance of the ship and some areas inside were grubby. Windows were too dirty to look through and decks and swimming pool areas were not clean. Several Public toilets showed dust buildup on the floors. Benches along the perimeter of Crow's nest showed a thick layer of dust, on top as well as underneath. Again, lack of supervision probably. Excursions were also very expensive and not worth bothering about. In most places along the Norwegian coast you could easily take the same bus or train yourself or book through a tourist information at a fraction of the price. The most disappointing on this ship was the (lack of) entertainment. We have never been so bored on a ship. During the day there was absolutely nothing to do. No quizzes, no dance lessons or anything like it. Shows were OK, nothing special, but after the show there was again nothing to do. We love going for a dance at night, but forget about that on this ship. Average age was probably 80, so that might be the reason why management thinks this is OK and acceptable. Conclusion:Never again with HAL.MS Rotterdam Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included 8 countries. We were able to tour the Hermitage and the fjords, places on our bucket list. Also, we thought since the Rotterdam was a smaller ship, it would be easier to get around the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included 8 countries. We were able to tour the Hermitage and the fjords, places on our bucket list. Also, we thought since the Rotterdam was a smaller ship, it would be easier to get around the meet people. We were shocked to see the condition of the ship and our stateroom. We cruised on another HOL ship some years ago and loved it. But this experience was substandard. We heard worse stories from other passengers about their problems on board, so we knew it was endemic. We asked guest services to be moved to another room, but they said that wasn't possible. Of the 10 shore excursions we took, 8 were very good. But the "Historic Walk through Kristiansand" was led by a very boring guide who walked too fast. Many of the group left to tour on their own. The tour in Oslo, "Vegeland Sculpture Park and Viking Ship Museum" was terrible. Their were 50 people on this tour and we had no head phones to hear the guide who would start talking about items as soon as she was off the bus. We asked the guide, Maria Atlanta, to wait until all of us could hear her, but she just ignored the request. She spent too much time at the ski jump, then hurried us through the Viegland Park. She was rude to some of the guests. It was very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
The following are representative examples of the various problems that we encountered: 1- Shuttle from Amsterdam to ship: We paid HAL for shuttle transfer to take us from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. We were designated a location to go to ... Read More
The following are representative examples of the various problems that we encountered: 1- Shuttle from Amsterdam to ship: We paid HAL for shuttle transfer to take us from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. We were designated a location to go to get the shuttle. We went there and waited for three full hours from 9:15am until 12:15pm. With 1.5 hours waiting outside the hotel that you designated, unprotected from the cold, wind and rain, because the hotel refused to let us in, and contrary to what we were told there were no HAL agents available to help, no lounge in the hotel to go to, and the hotel had no information on anything. We have never been treated like this. The Park Plaza Victoria Hotel had no idea about the shuttle bus, and told us to go to check at the bus terminals on the street outside the hotel. We went to the ticketing booths which manages shuttle and tourist buses. They also did not have any ideas about the HAL shuttle. We had to call the concierge of the hotel tin which we stayed to contact HAL and check the correct information about our shuttle bus. It was a real mess that we had not expected nor experienced before. We were advised to go there at 9:00am or 9:15am. We were told that HAL staff would be there waiting outside on the sidewalk and also inside the hotel to check us in. It was truly bad experience and resulted in catching cold by both my wife and I, getting various medications by our friends from Germany and looking for and buying medications in both Helsinki and Stockholm, sacrificing our time that was planned to enjoy sightseeing locations, and with such cold that stayed with us until we departed we disembarked 2- Ship: We were told that it was recently fully refurbishment. This is not showing at all. Even the cabin bathroom door frames are full of rust and peeled paint. The interior details of the cabin itself are done without considering the functional requirements of the user. When I asked Marco, the hotel Director, about this and why rust was not treated within the cabin, he said that refurbishment was done for 2-week period only and thus it covered only cosmetics (some carpet, etc.). When I told him that I was informed that it was full refurbishment, he said that that was never the case. 3- Front desk: Many attendants are with poor communication skills. EX: When I called and asked for something, the reply was “OK” and the attendant wanted always to hang up before informing how, when, etc. 4- Housekeeping: Steward was nor responsive to our repeated calls. Finally he was replaced with another good steward, Wayan. 5- Food: Unusual quality. Many of the foods were almost always under cooked, without taste and/or too salty. Food service was bad. Waiter was changed, but without improvement. Finally we got a good waiter, Subrato, who proved to be very good. We were tired of the bad service in the dining hall. Thus, for example, for breakfast we decided to stop having it in dining halls and instead go to the 8F Lido buffet. 6- Shore excursions: A- We had a 12-hour Berlin, with 3-hour bus drive OW. The guide (Rene) was very good, while the conductor (Julia) was very unprofessional and with no experience (ex: a- when I asked if the bus has toilet she did not know, and when I indicated that its design shows that it has a toilet she replied saying that she does not know if it can be used, b- she only distributed sandwiches and water and did not say a word throughout 6-hour bus ride, explaining the surroundings and towns passed or anything. Irrespective, Rene’s coverage was very professional (content, timing, communication, keeping the group together, etc.). B- We had another in Tallinn, where the tour guide (Helle) was unprofessional and almost all her explanations was simplistic descriptions such as “this is a building made of concrete”, “this is a school”, etc. While she continued her emphasis on intensive talk of hatred to Russia, and neglecting that we are not interested in her political opinion, but are interested in the history, culture, churches, architecture, and sightseeing spots. C- Two more excursions we had in St. Petersburg (one with a guide called Marina): they were true fiascos. Totally unprofessional. Guides are with poor English ability. They seemed to have no experience nor preparations. Rambling most of the time. 7- Phone system: Bianca informed she left a voice mail. I had a voice message light blinking but there was no voice mail. A guest services attendant came to the cabin and got the voice mail function corrected. 8- Medical center: Contrary to Princess, they refused acknowledging receiving my ice packs (that I need to have frozen to keep my glaucoma eye drops refrigerated while travelling back to Japan). After I insisted, I received a receipt. Additionally, and also contrary to Princess, they refused to deliver it back to me early morning before departure, claiming that doing this before their work hours is not emergency and thus requires $45~$50 fee. 9- Transfer from ship to Amsterdam airport: After I inquired about the details, I was informed that I had to pick our #4 suitcases from the cruise terminal by ourselves, and carry them by ourselves together with our carry-on bags to the shuttle bus taking us to the airport. When I requested a logical explanation on how this can be done, they said that some porters there maybe able to help. When I said that “maybe” is not sufficient to me, they said they will ensure that a porter will help. They did not know if this will be honored, especially that the front desk manager said that “HAL is not obliged to help with this. However, they will do it as special accommodation. When I argued that I paid HAL for a cruise and transport and expect to receive luggage moved to shuttle as part of the service, they did not understand the simple logic of this. 10- Departing the ship and going to airport: I was informed that we should vacate our cabins and leave the ship to take the latest shuttle bus leaving latest 9:15am. If we do this we will end up with more than 8 hours at the airport with suitcases, as our flight is at 7pm. I asked to help with finding a day hotel at Amsterdam airport that charges per hour or half day, they said I can do this online by myself. When I explained that my cell phones don’t work in Holland, the internet connection is not reliable, and I don’t speak Dutch, after argument they finally helped reserving a day room at an Accor hotel for Euro130. When I inquired, I found that the Accor hotel is located within the transit area. This means we should do the check-in firstly, which is impossible because check in starts 2~3 hours before the flight. I requested to cancel the reservation and find another hotel outside the transit area. They reserved a day room at Sheraton for Euro 230. While doing this, I requested vacating the cabin early but staying at the ship with the luggage until around 4 hours before the flight, and then take a taxi to Amsterdam airport. They refused, saying that everyone has to vacate the ship latest by 9:15am. Although I did this long time ago in Hawaii with NCL. Can you imagine the hassle I suffered with most unprofessional front desk and front desk manager, in addition to paying Euro230 for a day room. 11- Hotel director: We met him. After we explained above issues we expected that he will help in erasing the bad feeling caused by the above mistakes. He even did not have the decency to apologize and react properly and professionally. Instead, we received a voicemail from the guest relations manager offering pathetic compensation of dinner for two at the Pinnacle (value $70), which we rejected right away. Because this shows disrespect to us, in light of what we suffered. We were told that the matter is conveyed to HAL corporate office. Thereafter, we were offered $200 shipboard credit ($100/person). It was useless to continue discussion with the hotel director who seemed not to understand the magnitude of the problem we encountered. I could not believe that a hotel director will behave in that manner. Conclusion: When I wrote several times to the president of the cruise line, stating all above issues, I received nothing except a cold reply and pathetic credit to use on future cruises within same cruise line, which I declined as I did not bother to respond to. No body there ever gave any impression that they care and that I decided not ever to use the same cruise line if I don't receive proper apology and compensation. They are totally out of touch of the reality that their mistakes should be corrected properly. Otherwise, by time they will have no customers interested in cruising with them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Chose this cruise because it went to Iceland and Greenland, two places we would never visit otherwise. What a wonderful experience on a wonderful ship. We took the HAL transfer from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. While it was a bit of wait ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it went to Iceland and Greenland, two places we would never visit otherwise. What a wonderful experience on a wonderful ship. We took the HAL transfer from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. While it was a bit of wait until everyone arrived, it was so convenient to watch our bags be put in the cargo area of the bus and then not see them until they showed up in the cabin. We were in a Neptune Suite which was in good shape. There are the little chips and nicks but it was very clean and well maintained by our stewards who would do their thing while we were away from the cabin. A twenty year old ship going in for a one-week update this fall. Wonderful Captain Hans Materboer who was "retiring" after the next cruise. Informative and friendly. We spent close at least 20 minutes on the bridge with the "Behind the Scenes" tour, talking with him and observing everything. (Luckily not much going on.) The only problem was that our Pinnacle Grill booked in advance had a time change without notice and our "Dine Anytime" reservation (which had been on our booking from the beginning and even on the personal itinerary I printed just before we left for the airport on July 11) was changed to the 8PM seating. Some notification other than just happening to observe the change on the PG card in the stateroom or just happening to notice the 8PM on our key card would have been nice. But we checked out the table in the Dining Room (upstairs, table for 4, in a nice quiet corner next to a huge window) and decided to try it. Turned out great as we were traveling with our adult daughters, we all went our separate ways during the day and had a wonderful time at dinner each night with Benny and Toni and Albert the wine steward. A blessing in disguise. This was a great cruise itinerary with about half port days interspersed with sea days. Greenland stops were all turned around since the sea ice blocked SE Greenland. We ended up on the SW Greenland side where we still had lots of icebergs to dodge and photograph. Each port was wonderful but I especially enjoyed St. John's Newfoundland. Port guide Barbara was excellent as were the other speakers. Usually at least three different special programs each day. Didn't do any of the shopping/future cruise programs. Unfortunately, although we were the first ship in Reykjavik and Halifax, Nova Scotia, we ended up at the farthest, least convenient docks. Both times another HAL ship got the closer dock. At least in Halifax there was a shuttle bus. Disembarked in Boston among the last off the ship which meant a long line for the taxi. All in all, a great cruise. Only reason for a 4 rating was the dining issues. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots ... Read More
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots of buckets on decks 1 and 2 .Lots of leakage . All kinds of not matching carpets to hide the fungus .One meter red , three meters with a patttern , 1 meter blue and so on. The pool on the outer deck was without water and filled with sunbeds . You wonder if the interior of the ship is so badly maintained ,how is the outside ? Is it save ? We had a complaint about the guest service .At guest service they asked to report our complaint after our holiday .No 8 weeks later ,we still not have a reply..After 6 weeks iasked if they forgot to answer . But no I had to be patient. The food and service in the restaurants was excellent .Compliments are due. Entertainment was poor , No big shows like Royal Caribbean . You had to pay for dancinglesses , fitness 12 dollar . And also for coffee after your meal The cruisedirector was a dispair .Did not do much good . Even introdeuced the captain with a complete different name. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. As always when we cruise with HAL we found the staff to be helpful, friendly and very hard working. Perhaps it's us but we have certain expectations in regards to a ship. This one was clean ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. As always when we cruise with HAL we found the staff to be helpful, friendly and very hard working. Perhaps it's us but we have certain expectations in regards to a ship. This one was clean and comfortable, but it was evident that it needs work. Many windows were cracked and there were leaks along many of them. We heard of plumbing leaks in certain staterooms, as well as seen leaks in the Lido and the Crow's Nest lounge. Our itinerary needed to be changed because there were too many icebergs in Prins Christian Sund as well as in one of the ports of call, which was fine with us since safety should come first. The Captain was great in finding us alternatives. As always the food was plentiful and of very good quality in the Lido as well as the dining room. We went to the Pinnacle Grill on three separate occasions and the food was spectacular each time. My husband and I rarely eat beef, but the filet mignon at the Pinnacle Grill was astounding. On board they had many talks about the ports of call and the areas in general. The ones we attended were very good. However, we found there were few other activities on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I believe Holland American Line only does this trip several times in the summer , and it is one of the few that includes the far Northcape of Norway. We took it primarily for the scenery, and we were certainly not disappointed! There was ... Read More
I believe Holland American Line only does this trip several times in the summer , and it is one of the few that includes the far Northcape of Norway. We took it primarily for the scenery, and we were certainly not disappointed! There was just the right number of sea days and time ashore, and cruising through the fjords of Norway was a beautiful experience. The Rotterdam is an older ship , and unfortunately our only real complaint was that the windows were very dirty . I understand the ship is soon to go into dry dock, so the problems with the windows goes beyond just simple cleaning. Hopefully that will improve the views from the public area . But being a mid size ship with interesting decor, we found it very comfortable. The passengers were certainly older, but most extremely well traveled. In addition to a wide range of activities and entertainment, it is one of the few cruise lines that had a classical option for those interested in that type of music. The dining experience was outstanding , and all of the personnel were most helpful and gracious . It also offered an afternoon tea that was beautifully prepared and served. Wish we were still on board! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
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