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875 Holland America Line Southern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

First cruise on Holland America but 20th cruise overall. Wanted to see the Panama Canal and we selected Zuiderdam. I have avoided HAL for years and confirmed that this is not the cruise line for me. Embarkation went very smoothly in ... Read More
First cruise on Holland America but 20th cruise overall. Wanted to see the Panama Canal and we selected Zuiderdam. I have avoided HAL for years and confirmed that this is not the cruise line for me. Embarkation went very smoothly in Ft. Lauderdale. Ship is older and smaller than what we have sailed on recently but it is in very good condition. The ship has three sets of elevators where most now have only two. This decreased the distance we had to walk and the elevators worked fine and while busy, didn't have to wait too long. We had an obstructed view cabin on deck 4 forward and were happy to be able to see a little bit outside. Cabin was in good shape with two large drawers under the bed otherwise storage is tight. Were able to order a bottle of liquor delivered to the cabin. The price was high but I saved that much on ordering from the bars. Food quality was a little hit and miss. There is an Eggs Benedict station on the Lido Deck for breakfast with eggs poached to order. I had given up on Eggs Benedict on other ships as 9 times out of 10, the yolk was a solid as a hard boiled egg. Pancakes and french toast can be made to order but this seemed to be a timing issue. Lunch at the Dive In was pretty good but everything is cooked to order and pretty slow. The first few days they used beepers to let you know when your order was ready but these disappeared after a few days. Sushi is available at lunch but should be avoided. Not even grocery store quality. Dinner in the main dining room was pretty good with a few misses. You can order a medium rare steak but your chances of getting one are not good. Sent one back and would have sent the second one back but didn't want to be there for hours. There is no food available after 11:30 pm unless you want an apple. All the Lido stations close exactly when they say the will. Entertainment was also very uneven. Mainstage does not have any traditional singing and dancing shows and no condensed Broadway shows. Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy (name from the program, probably in his mid 50's) was by far the best. Two shows were BBC Nature documentaries with live music. Enjoyed the Lincoln Center piano quintet but the venue needs to be twice as big. Never saw a performance where the little side space was not totally full. Billboard On Board guys, Luke and Collin, were very good as was the BB King Band. However these two groups were the extent of the evening entertainment, and after 11 days, something additional needs to be available. Casino games have a terrible house advantage. Roulette wheel has a zero, double zero and a triple zero which is very bad for the player. Blackjack tables only pay 6 to 5 for a black jack unless you are betting over $15 a hand. I managed to make a little money but quit after about 8 days. Not sure what the deal was with America's Test Kitchen but this was non existent (no longer shown on the HAL website). EXC Talks are supposed to be like TED talks but they are presented by the cruise director reading a script. The one I saw was supposed to be about block chain and off shore banking which have nothing to do with each other. The history of off shore banking may have been correct but it was very confusing to a person with over 40 years of banking experience. Service was good, probably very good. Staff was very friendly from our room stewards, to our dining room waiters, bar servers and others. Liked Aruba and Curacao a lot. Cartagena reminds me of the ports in Mexico where vendors are trying to sell you everything. Very aggressive and unwanted. This was on an excursion called Less Shopping and More Walking. The amount of walking required on most of the excursions seemed to be much more than their descriptions indicate. Even Moderate activity means lots of walking. Panama is interesting and a great engineering achievement. However, going through the locks is like watching paint dry. We did not have an excursion on Canal day and this was a mistake because you will be bored to death sitting on the ship. The ship basically went two boat lengths into Gatun Lake and anchored to let off excursion passengers. Once the tender boats were back we proceeded immediately into the locks to go back out. Last two days of the cruise back to Ft. Lauderdale were the roughest of our 20 cruises. Not sure if this was due to malfunctioning stabilizers, the age and small size of the ship or other reasons, but we will not cruise on this size ship again. There were maybe 6 kids on this cruise. I felt sorry for them as there didn't seem to be much for them to do. Of course there was also not enough for me to do and I will not book HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
A group of 11 family and friends ranging in age from 60-80 decided to get together for a cruise. Holland America Koningsdam was chosen because 4 of the group who are experienced cruisers chose to try a different cruise line than they had ... Read More
A group of 11 family and friends ranging in age from 60-80 decided to get together for a cruise. Holland America Koningsdam was chosen because 4 of the group who are experienced cruisers chose to try a different cruise line than they had travelled in the past and the rest of the group agreed to join them. All agreed that this was likely our first and last Holland America Cruise due to the lack of fun entertainment as compared to other cruise lines and resorts. We were aware that Holland America caters to an older demographic but we were not prepared for the lack of activity and entertainment on this ship. I am not saying that it was all bad, and being a large group we were able to make our own fun. There were very few young people on this cruise and there was an abundance of walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. We flew from Canada to Fort Lauderdale and stayed overnights at Comfort Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport South & Cruiseport. It is a very nice hotel and well located but quite pricey ay $400 USD/night. They provide a free shuttle from the airport and it arrived quickly when we called once we had retrieved our luggage. They allowed us to use the breakfast area in the lounge to eat our take out food rather than going out for dinner. There are limited options for good restaurants within walking distance. They provide a hot breakfast which was your usual ‘breakfast included’ fare. We had to pay $10 USD for the shuttle to the ship the following morning. There are 2 departure times:10:15 & 11:15 depending on which ship you are boarding. We were assigned the 11:15 shuttle. This process was not very efficient and left us sitting in a very crowded lobby due to a long delay for the shuttle departure. It is a short distance from this hotel to the cruise port but there was a lot of traffic. Once we arrived at the cruise port our luggage was taken and delivered to our cabins but we had a very long hot line up prior to checking in. (A nice touch in this area would be the offer of a complimentary welcome beverage.) Once we checked in we discovered that our cabins were ready (approximately 2pm by now) so we were able to freshen up and drop off our carry on luggage before going to lunch at the Lido Buffet. My husband and I and my cousin chose to share an Oceanview Cabin vs a Verandah and opted instead for the beverage package which was close to the same cost. Our cabin was more than adequate for 3 people. We had a queen size bed and a 3/4 sofa bed which was comfortable. There was lots of storage space and additional hangers were available upon request. 3 robes, 3 beach towels and lots of bath towels were provided. The window in the cabin was plenty big and there was no sense of feeling claustrophobic. Our travel companions all had verandahs but most agreed that the verandah, for the amount that it is used is not worth the additional cost as their rooms were identical to ours except that we had additional shelving. The bathroom was small but efficient. The toilet was positioned on an angle but unlike other reviews mentioned there was no need to sit at an awkward angle. The shower was large and water pressure was good but the hand held shower flopped to an awkward angle and had to be held vs being left in the holder. The ship was clean and cabin stewards Ketut & Mario were extremely friendly and efficient. The cabin was located closer to the back of the ship and had good access to both the rear and mid ship elevators. The Lido Buffet was perfect for breakfast & lunch and there was sufficient variety to avoid monotony. Many dishes were prepared to taste from scratch with fresh ingredients as compared to most buffets where dishes are prepared in advance and left to sit for long periods. Freshly made omelettes and stir fries were a big hit with most of the group. There was always a good selection of fresh fruit and berries and stock was replenished quickly. There was a good selection of breads, buns & bagels and while there were occasional lineups the service was efficient. The food is served by the staff vs self serve and this seemed to be more hygienic. There was always adequate seating for our entire group to sit together at breakfast and lunch. Service here was good. We tried the New York Deli for pizza one day and all 3 varieties were a big disappointment. The toppings were floating in oily cheese. This counter also served deli sandwiches and both the Smoked Meat and Reuben Sandwiches were satisfactory. The wait for food at lunch in this area was quite long. The Dive In Counter has delicious burgers, hot dogs and fries. The Gelato Bar has a nice variety but there is a charge of $2.30USD/scoop. They pile on 2 scoops without telling you this and a charge of $4.60 appears on your account...not a big deal but also not OK! Meals in the dining room were overall satisfactory. There was decent variety on the lefthand side of the menu in addition to regular choices on the right hand side. The Salmon or Strip Loin Steak were always a good go-to if nothing appealed from the nightly menu. Items of note were the Coconut Shrimp and the Crusty Sweet & Sour Shrimp. The pasta selections were also good but the Surf & Turf on the 2nd Gala Night was just OK. We had requested to be seated at the same table and this was not the case the first night but was quickly rectified by the Maître D André by the 2nd night. The Gala nights were Nights 3 & 9 of our 10 day cruise. Special menus were prepared for these nights but nothing spectacular. One might expect a show with Baked Alaska or some sort of special presentation but none of that. The dress code for Gala Nights ranged from tuxes & long gowns to casual shirts & pants for men & capris and T-shirts for women. There were certainly more people in fancy dress than on non Gala nights but some people wore the same as other nights. They do adhere to the rule of long pants & collared shirts for men on all nights but sandals are permitted. Wait staff in the dining room were great and special mention should go to Gina the Wine Steward who had a knack for remembering our preferences and always appearing at just the right time to make sure that our needs were being met. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants due to cost although they did look very nice. There are 2 small pools and 4 hot tubs on the Lido Deck. The pool towards the back of the ship is open to air but the one mid ship is partially enclosed and stifling hot. We did not understand why they did not retract the roof a little further. The temperature of the pools was fine but the area was extremely crowded especially on Sea Days. It was difficult to find a vacant lounger right after breakfast. Table and chairs and sofas also filled up quickly. If you were lucky enough to find a vacant spot it was an OK place to be but there was absolutely nothing going on poolside. No live music, contests or animators. Entertainment in this area was sorely lacking. One side of the deck is reserved for smokers so this further limited our seating options. The bar staff were friendly and efficient and drinks were tasty. We were advised to try a ‘Wang Wang’ by a photographer on our first day and with it’s 7 spirits and 4 fruit juices it soon became a favourite. Our Signature Beverage Cards which cost approximately $520 USD ($700CAD) each allowed us 15 drinks/day with a max cost of $11/drink. This included bottled water for excursions and specialty coffees. This met our needs and never were we denied a chosen beverage because of cost. Different bars offered varying types of mixed drinks and cocktails but the Sea View Bar seemed to offer the best selection. They did not seem to strictly adhere to the one drink per half hour rule. Sharing with other passengers is technically not allowed but loosely monitored. Something to note is that all people in the same cabin must each purchase a beverage package. We 3 were like-minded in this regard but our other travelling companions had different preferences so it was not beneficial for any of them to purchase beverage packages. If you each anticipate having at least 7 drinks/day the Signature Beverage Card is worth the money...it allows you to enjoy that second glass of wine with dinner and an after dinner Baileys without a second thought. If you are considering the Signature Beverage Package make sure to order it at least 3 days prior to boarding as it is significantly cheaper than buying it on board. Keep an eye on your on board account as we were charged for all of our drinks on Day 1 and it took 3 or 4 days to resolve the issues on all 3 of our accounts. Guest Services staff were not very efficient and our story had to be repeated multiple times. Evening entertainment was lack-lustre. The shows on the World Stage were just OK...the Comedian was not funny and the Magician was just so-so. The musical entertainer Mark Donaghue was OK as were the dancers but none of the shows were breathtaking. Those who appreciate Classical Music said the pianist was good but I did not attend that show. We had all been on previous cruises where the entertainment was far superior to this cruise. We found ourselves gravitating to the Piano Bar every night where we were entertained by 2 very talented young men Sam & Anderson who played 2 or 3 sets for 8 of the 10 nights. They were endearing, comical & interactive with the audience but I have to say that their sets got old towards the end however we continued to go because there were few other appealing choices. Across the hall from the Piano Bar was a Rock & Roll Band that played alternately between Piano Bar sets. The sound was deafening even from where we were sitting at the Piano Bar but we dared not leave for fear of losing our spots for the next set in the Piano Bar which was always packed. The drinks and wait staff at the Piano Bar were fun & efficient. There was a Jazzy Blues Band down the hall that also sounded pretty good if you like that kind of music. We stopped in at the Casino a few times but the smell of smoke was so repulsive that it turned me off. Smoking should not be allowed in an enclosed area!!!!!! Daytime activities were not exciting and had limited appeal to most of our group. There were cooking demonstrations and Microsoft Seminars but nothing that we would call fun. There were afternoon games with a facilitator in the Crow’s Nest but these were not well promoted and as a result poorly attended. The Crows Nest and with the Exploration Bar was a nice quiet area to hang out and play games although most of us agreed that the staff in these areas did not seem to be as friendly or happy with their jobs as other wait staff. The Dutch Bar on the 3rd level is a nice little place to stop for a pre-dinner cocktail. We travelled during the height of Covid 19 and there was an awareness for increased hygiene precautions. There were several hand washing stations at the Lido Buffet and Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispensers at numerous strategic locations throughout the ship. We ordered the Internet Package at a cost of $143.99USD for the 10 days. A slight plus to this was the option to share the package with others allowing only 1 device on at a time. 4 of us took advantage of this and while it was very slow and required frequent reconnecting it met our needs for the 10 days. I would not take this service unless you can share the cost as the service is not good enough to justify the cost. We ordered it before we left because it was cheaper than waiting until we were on board. The jogging track on the 11th deck was never too busy but the Fitness Room seemed to be well utilized. The walking track on the 3rd level was not very appealing and felt confining due to the presence of the lifeboats hanging overhead. None of us chose to purchase any shore excursions and instead just got off and enjoyed the immediate port areas. More details will be provided in the Port & Shore Excursion areas of this review. Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. Luggage was collected by midnight the night before departure and we had time for breakfast at the Lido Buffet before 8am on departure day. We were then called down in groups to collect our luggage and board the shuttle for the airport. We were at the airport by 10am and our 3pm flight was delayed by over an hour so it made for a long day at the airport. There are limited restaurant options at Fort Lauderdale Airport and the Duty Free shop has less selection & is pricier than some of the Duty Free Shops at the ports so it is wise to purchase alcohol at a port and retrieve it upon disembarkation. Mandatory tipping is $14.50USD per person per day and is automatically charged to the credit card provided upon online checkin. There is nothing wrong with additional cash tipping to staff who provide exemplary service. Most of these people are from impoverished countries and are away from home for prolonged periods. They work hard and long hours for their salaries so a few extra dollars are always appreciated. There is no need to check out unless you prefer to settle up with cash. Make sure to closely monitor your onboard account which is accessible on the TV in your cabin. Mistakes have been known to be made and I imagine that it is easier to resolve these while still onboard. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Got a great discount for my casino play and we were offered Club Orange at half price on our 10 day Southern Carib. cruise. So we were very satisfied overall. Koningsdam is a beautiful ship - maybe the nicest of our 42 cruises on almost ... Read More
Got a great discount for my casino play and we were offered Club Orange at half price on our 10 day Southern Carib. cruise. So we were very satisfied overall. Koningsdam is a beautiful ship - maybe the nicest of our 42 cruises on almost every cruise line. The food was as good as you expect on Holland. The staff always delightful and cheery. New York Deli whipped up some interesting breakfast dishes. We had all of our dinners and most of our breakfasts in Club Orange. We paid the half price of $500 for the both of us for 10 nights and it was worth it but I wouldn't pay twice that. The staff in Club Orange was tremendous and attentive! Obviously among their best servers worked this small private restaurant. Cons: The shows were one night comedian and one night magic show. Just ok. and THREE nights with the same "modern dance" troupe. Ugghh. The average passenger would be bored senseless during the first show. And there were only a few nights with some live instrumental music before 6:30 pm - and even that was a 5:30 start. We remember HAL offering some great string quartets, etc after 4 pm to enjoy with your drinks. True to form, HAL hosted an older crowd. In fact, I have never seen so many motorized scooters There were several dozen lined up in front of the dining room very night. Thought they should have held scooter races a la Carnival's Belly Flip contests and such. A total of 6 kids on the entire ship, which was just fine with us. And an even smaller number of women who belonged wearing a bikini. So if you need the eye candy, HAL isn't for you. We are 63 and 58 so we felt like the youth group. Not a problem for us. We love oldsters and will be there with them soon enough., Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of ... Read More
I am positively sure that reading a review is one of the last things you would like to do, am I right? The experience we all are going through nowadays is very discouraging to say the least, that's why we need some kind of entertainment to put our minds at peace and that's my goal in writing this review; I hope I'm able to accomplish it! Together let's make the best of it! This 10 day cruise was aboard the HAL Koningsdam to the Southern Caribbean and started on February 23rd. ending on March 4th. We left Canada towards Ft. Lauderdale one day before departure; at that time we were slightly aware of that virus and the effect caused on board the Diamond Princess but as I said, "just slightly". something that in a way allowed us to enjoy the cruise fully. Passengers and staff were also behaving completely free of any kind of concern. Before starting with the overall review of that cruise, I want you to know that last June 2019 we cruised around Norway on board the beautiful Nieuw Statendam (pictures & review's titled "Canadians on Viking Lands") it was too short (7 days), visiting too many places for the first time (e.g. Amsterdam, Oslo and another three Norwegian ports) and not having enough time left to be able to enjoy that ship. That made us try to find another longer cruise with her; unfortunately time-wise it wasn't possible so we opted to go with her older sister, the Koningsdam. Our direct flight to Ft. L. left Ottawa quite late so it was a very late arrival, to avoid having to wait for the free shuttle the hotel offered, we decided to take a taxi that costs us +/- u$s 25.- The name of the hotel was "Roadway Inn Hotel" and though it was quite close to the airport it is not possible for us to recommend it. Very weird and undescriptive entrance and reception area and to get to your room you have to follow (no porters) different lanes through a large courtyard in different directions trying to find your room number. The room itself wasn't bad but not going back. The following morning we took their shuttle (u$s 10.-) and because there were so many ships in port, the driver had to divert directions many times to be able to avoid the huge amount of traffic. It would have been a big mistake to take a taxi. Anyway, we got there and found a very large waiting line and it was then that we got our first shock! Embarkation The people waiting in that line were in their 80's plus and not in good shape either; we really felt like teenagers!! and certainly we're not (early 70's but in good shape). Embarkation was smooth but slow caused by the slowness of the passengers; once on board we bought the Elite Beverage Pkg. (EBP) having previously checked it out on the internet; with offerings of wines up to $15.- a glass (more about this subject later). Celebrating that we were on the ship and because that transaction had taken place at the counter of the Ocean Bar, at once we ordered a fantastic gin (Tanqueray 10) and tonic mixed by Michael, the bartender who took care of all the paperwork when buying the EBP and by the way he was one of the best bartenders on board. The very close second best barman was J.R. at the Explorer's Lounge Mid ship D 2 above the Rolling Stone Rock Room, who made the best "Oaxacan Old Fashioned" cocktail; with the usual ingredients the Old Fashion has, tequila is added so we asked for the "Anejo (Old) Patron" , it was a sensational concoction. The different ratings between them has to do more than anything else with the personalities of the two; Michael was a very friendly and approachable guy, meanwhile J.R. was quite distant and very curt, at any rate both were outstanding in their craft. Then "in good spirits" we walked around, realizing how identical, minus art work it was to the Nieuw Statendam, so there were not too many surprises for us and if any it was mainly the passengers on this cruise not only because of their age and physical condition but their attitudes and demeanor, not all of them granted, but quite a large number. After walking around the ship we felt the need to eat! (more about places to eat in the "Restaurants" section). Now we will proceed the review of this 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise clarifying that what you are going to read was our personal experience on this specific sailing, regarding passengers, staff, officers, restaurants, etc. Restaurants That first night we had dinner at Canaletto on D-9, and enjoyed everything, food, staff and drinks!. Also we had dinner twice at Pinnacle Grill on D-2 which was also as good as Canaletto though the second time, service was quite poor. You could have lunch at Pinnacle for $15.- pp., we never did because we wanted to be outside as much as possible to enjoy the weather and the sun, and being Canadians we knew quite well what kind of weather we could find back home! There is a third Specialty Restaurant called Tamarind on Aft D-10. We were really looking forward to going there after the unforgettable experiences we had in the Statendam's Tamarind! So much so that we prebooked two nights with them! what a let down it was this time! It started right from the beginning, the receptionist was cold, absent, indifferent and unfriendly, she was talking to us, looking at the computer but never at us, the sommelier was a very sleepy looking woman who gave us the impression that she didn't know were she was and not even what she was doing and to make things worse the place was practically empty giving a very boring atmosphere. Our waitress was quite nice and the fillet mignon was one of the best I ever had but regardless,y that wasn't enough for us; the reason? we do believe though the food is indeed very important, if the staff around you are not up to standard, that's a place not to go back to again. And that's what we did the following morning - we cancelled our second reservation.. The Maitre'd (another negative point) called us a couple of times trying to convince us to go back even offering a free meal but we couldn't care less and did not accept it. Main Dining Room Fwd. on Decks 2 & 3 (though only opens for the majority of guests on D 2); the food offerings were quite diverse and quality, temperature and presentation were excellent and the servers, sommelier and staff in general were outstanding. It comes to mind that one of them whose name is Dennis was an exemplary server who went out of his way to help us when we had a small problem leaving the Dining Room. Both Gala Nights took place there (it’s recommended making reservations before-hand especially if you like a table for two) and we were happy to see that people in general were dressed accordingly and not like what happened on the Statendam; (if interested read our review on that cruise of June 19th, 2019.). Dive-in Mid-ship on D 9 close to the pool, opens only for lunch and offers great burgers (seven specialty ones or create your own), huge hot dogs and the best fries on the ship. Waiters/waitresses are all around ready to take your order. Very pleasant and tranquil area to enjoy a relaxing lunch, many tables to choose from with a lot of space between them, but....but....with a caveat, many times tables that were there clearly for eating purposes were taken up by a group of people playing cards or dominoes or even just having a drink; this is one of the things, among others, that those type of passengers were absolutely selfish with complete disregard for the other passengers; we saw many people coming with plates loaded up with food looking for a table to sit and eat, quite upsetting! It is a problem but with a very easy solution; just place a note on each table stating that the table should be used only to have your lunch and of course the waiting staff has to keep an eye out to make sure that the tables are used for eating not reading or gaming. New York Deli & Pizza On D 10 overlooking the pool deck and also the Dive-in eatery. This was the place we chose on embarkation day after walking around the ship; we knew already how good their pizza was and can highly recommend both the "Tribeca" and the "Central Park" they're awesome!, as much as their salads and sandwiches. The service is excellent with a waiters/waitresses going around taking your drink orders and also in the same area is a bar where you can go and order for yourself if in a hurry. In general we had lunch many times in these two places (NYD&P & D-in) because they are and feel very airy, giving you the sensation you are having lunch outdoors! But in actual fact, the glass roof was often ¾ shut which was often good because direct sunlight made everything very hot.The problem with some passengers occupying tables rather than eating only happened occasionally. Lido Market Buffet Located on Aft. D 9, between the Dive-in and the Sea view Pool and Bar. The selection of food was quite large and of great taste but the place was always very busy with too many line ups and my God! those chairs at the tables are ridiculously heavy and difficult to move! Regardless the huge windows all around you looking at the ocean and the sky, you still feel that you are inside a room and that was the main reason we were more inclined to have lunch at any of the other two (Dive in & NY Deli) venues. It was so easy to order or choose your food, there is more space between tables, very easy to move around, and chairs are manageable! But the most important thing was that you really felt you were having lunch outdoors. There is a fantastic feature that the Lido Market has and we think HAL should consider the possibility of installing them in all of the other eating places. There are hand washing machines, four of them located near the main entrances. Each unit is divided into two sections, one for each hand. You just introduce your hands all the way up to the wrists and then a circulating spiral like spray washes your hands for about 12 seconds. You have to be careful not to get your shirt cuff or watch wet but the system is most efficient. Then you use nearby paper towels to dry off. There is quite a messy area around both openings due to all the liquids that drip off each user's hands. So it's best to wipe down the area afterwards as a courtesy for the next user. A very good system which should help improve overall buffet hygiene. Grand Dutch Cafe Mid ship D 3 A lot of offerings are free of charge like regular coffee (but not espressos), pastries, sandwiches. Good service, kind of dis-attached, and the area where the tables and chairs are, we found it very oppressive and too close between them. We went there only once. There is another Specialty Restaurant called Rudy's Sel de Mer on Mid ship D 2, but we didn't care to go. Many times we went by and the place was quite empty, so..... As you can see there are a lot of choices, try to make the right ones! The place to enjoy a great view with a good drink in your hands is the Crow's Nest, Fwd. on D 12 where also you can order coffee and pastries for a fee. There are a lot of Lounges and Bars throughout the ship, it will be up to you to discover them! Small hint, a very good one is the Sea View and Bar Fwd. on D 9. Elite Beverage Package - is it worth it? At a 10% premium over the standard beverage package, it was not really worth the outlay but from a point of convenience and status I would have to say it fit our style. The biggest issue was with availability of high priced wines. The standard package covers up to $11 per glass or shot while the elite goes up to $15 and both are actually worth more as the service charge is included and added onto the above rates. Unfortunately there are not many offerings in the range of $12 thru $15 and most are 12 and the few remaining are 14 or 15. Added to that, we experienced shortages on our 10 day cruise. At the first Gala in the main dining room we enjoyed but one glass of an excellent French red and then had to switch. This also happened later in the Polo Grill. And even our favorite Pinot Grigio ran out in most bars by day 8 of the cruise. And it was only a $9 glass. So Holland American made some money on us. The best you can and should do make your own numbers. Koningsdam cruise staff They were all extremely helpful, polite, friendly and fun, inevitably there were a few exceptions but on the overall they didn't count at all. I will repeat again what I said at the beginning, all these are our own experiences and opinions of this specific cruise itinerary, date and ship. Some of those on our sailing might disagree and that's natural. I would like to mention something we noticed about the passengers on this cruise; besides the already mentioned age and physical condition, there was a huge number of obese and morbidly obese passengers that mostly weren't too old; I was observing them eating and well!!! It wasn't difficult to realize why they were so overweight. This observation made me conclude that unintentionally the cruise lines are promoting obesity as much as alcoholism. In my opinion, they should take this under consideration and try to find a solution to those problems. All this might sound ridiculous but it’s in the way I feel. The ship in general was in very good shape, considering that she sails constantly and passengers are not very careful using the premises. We had the feeling that the ship was overcrowded! during the day, even in port, it was difficult to find a table on the Lido, Dive in or Sun Deck & Bar (Fwd. D 11). Never happened to us on any of the many cruises we've been to, especially when the ship is docked in port. We are closing this review now and really hope you had an entertaining time reading it! and learned a few things. Right now, we are living in very frustrating times, when it is impossible to make any plans because we don't know what will happen next. My philosophy is to keep myself very busy around the house that happy to say I really enjoy doing, to think positively, to try not to pay too much attention to the news and to take care of yourself and love ones specially when leaving your house and to wear disposable latex medical gloves, face masks to cover your nose and mouth and to keep a safe distance between you and people around you and please! do not let your kids go running loose all over the place (e.g. food stores). I am sure you know all of this but I feel compelled to do so whenever I have a chance. Well dear readers, till we meet again in more happy times I am sure! Make the best of it and a very Happy Easter to all! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose this cruise for its length, reasonable price and nice itinerary. Generally, we were quite satisfied with the cruise. Of course there are always irritating issues on any voyage – in our case our television broke and the guest ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its length, reasonable price and nice itinerary. Generally, we were quite satisfied with the cruise. Of course there are always irritating issues on any voyage – in our case our television broke and the guest services staff noted that it could not be repaired or replaced. We requested Wi-Fi access so we could check the news the stock market. We were told this was not possible and we were instead given an access key to an empty cabin on the other side of the ship where we could watch TV. We thought this was an odd resolution. Our TV was replaced before too long, so the issue essentially became moot. However, we thought Holland America service staff could have been more accommodating since the broken TV was their problem, not ours. We also felt that onboard entertainment was not up to other cruise lines’ standards and there were very few daily activities. Our goal with this cruise, though, was to simply enjoy the sunshine and to relax, so the problematic issues we outlined were mere nuisances. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Late offering where and when we wanted to go, seemed like a winner, but food options not fitting our schedule. Formal dining each night at 8 pm was fabulous but prevented time to get to a y shows. And the lido banquet closed completely ... Read More
Late offering where and when we wanted to go, seemed like a winner, but food options not fitting our schedule. Formal dining each night at 8 pm was fabulous but prevented time to get to a y shows. And the lido banquet closed completely each morning for way too long, and long lines late morning at other food places made it tough for us to get a bit of breakfast. Ludo buffet always had a sign saying "Service continues on other side" but that was a lie as it all closed at the same time and was closed way too long. They failed to tag our liquor purchases onshore properly and so we were made to wait for a good portion of our last day in our cabin, and if I hadn't showed them my copy of our receipt from the shore store we'd probably still have nothing. Our package never got tagged and our tag was placed on someone else's package (had two tags). Again, should never have happened. Rooms were great and everyone was friendly and helpful except customer service, and we needed them most! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We celebrated two 40th wedding anniversaries on the 2/15-3/1/2020 Holland America Line (HAL) Eurodam Panama Canal Cruise. Wuhan China Virus: During the entire cruise, the staff did not mention the China coronavirus but they repeatedly ... Read More
We celebrated two 40th wedding anniversaries on the 2/15-3/1/2020 Holland America Line (HAL) Eurodam Panama Canal Cruise. Wuhan China Virus: During the entire cruise, the staff did not mention the China coronavirus but they repeatedly stated that everybody must wash their hands frequently. Eurodam made all passengers fill out a questionnaire certifying no prior travel to Asian countries; lots of hygiene disinfectant….on 3/19/20 [19 days after leaving the ship] the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper said one passenger tested “presumptive positive” but HAL has not informed cruise passengers who may have come in contact with the passenger. Checkin was orderly: took about 2 hours; got your picture taken, cruise ID card issued; waited an hour for our boarding number to be called; luggage was taken directly to our stateroom 5003. Onboard wi-fi: HAL onboard "Navigator" app was not iphone or ipad friendly; constantly drop connections; had to go to guest services. HAL Wireless Maritime Services did NOT work; paid $50 with AT&T and could not make any phone calls on our iphone 7 supposedly because we didn't sign up for "data", just 50 min talk and unlimited text; had to call AT&T CEO's office to get a refund; they said the "network is not an AT&T network" but gave me a refund anyway. Entertainment was fantastic and varied. On the Mainstage (largest and seats maybe 750; arm rests were too high couldn't rest your elbows (nit complaint but poor design); had excellent/funny Don Bryan master ventriloquist, four young extremely talented men singers called the Dutch Tenors; an entertaining mind reader Alan Chamo; fantastic shows by the Phillipine crew and Indonesian crew featuring native cultural songs and dances, and comedy impressionist Tyler Bryce; had hour long Ask the Captain. Captain Eric explained why (pilot error and gust of wind) the ship brushed the pier in Huatulco causing a 5'Lx5'Wx5"D gash in the starboard midship waterline section of the ship; otherwise he was a great captain, youngest in HAL. Fitness center: low ceiling 7', couldn't do full pullups; lots of free weights; treadmills w/ TV and about five other workout machines; bosu and workout balls; mats, towels, sanitizer spray; on the 9th deck in the bow with great view; fitness instructor and classes but very expensive ($150 for 14 days). Walking: you can walk completely around the outside of ship on the third deck (3 revolutions = 1 mile). Shore excursions: (a) In Cartagena, Columbia (90 degrees at Noon) for only 4 hours; did not do a ship sponsored excursion ($80-$100), walked off ship as soon as gangway opened, walked to end of pier past small touristy "bird zoo" and got very friendly cab ride 15 minutes to edge of old Walled City and walked through area; got their b/4 cruise buses and not crowded; people friendly, vendors not too pushy until near Noon when they knew ship was departing soon; safe; use a public bathroom costs $1 and have to pay or cop will arrest you. (b) Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; paid $100 each for 1 hour bus ride each way; Guide Andrea was informative and very good; but ship-sponsored "Walk in the Clouds" facility was disappointing/overpriced; had hummingbird feeders, did not see any other birds, walked over three "suspension bridges" built exclusively for tourists, had OK lunch of native food (would have cost $10 in US); waste of money. We did not go to San Jose since it is a two hour drive each way from the port to San Jose the capital city, and 2 1/2 hours from the port to the real Monteverde Cloud Forest biological reserve. (c) Corinto, Nicaragua; paid $70 each for our own private [not arranged by HAL] Julio Tours walking tour of old capital city Leon, 1 hr drive each way in small van; Rydder (lead tour guide) and Rojer (ass't guide) were excellent, fluent English, lots of interesting facts and info; toured open air market, art galleries, churches. Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala took the ship sponsored $110 each "Coffee estate and Antigua" tour; 90 minute harrowing bus ride from sea level to 5,000 ft on two lane winding road with heavy truck traffic and our reckless bus driver; once we got to Filadelfia Coffee Estate we had an excellent 1 hour tour of the grounds showing all stages of coffee production from the tree to the bagged product; their showroom is rdaltoncoffee.com; nice lunch; 2 hour walking tour with Rita Maldonado of Antigua churches, markets, squares; very nice courteous people; dry season Nov-Mar, temp 75 degrees; four stars. (d) Huatulco, Mexico; 1PM-7PM in port; paid $60 each for ship-sponsored snorkeling; after 30 minutes to walk to pierside snorkel shop, fitting mask & fins (good quality), about 100 people crowded onto two small boats, took 40 minutes to ride 1 mile (waste of time; could have driven to beach in ten minutes by taxi $10 and rented your own gear for $20); guide did not tell us where the best snorkeling was; had to swim around to find best area (near cliffside) and then saw amazing angel fish and other tropical fish; water temp 81 degrees; nice sandy beach; nice beachside restaurants; then wasted more time waiting for 40 minute boat ride back to pier; one star for wasted time, five star for tropical fish. (e) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: $80 ship-sponsored overpriced “All Inclusive Beach Getaway”; bus guide was worthless and pandered repeatedly for tips; resort did not have enough lounge chairs or enough beach umbrellas; resort staff treated the cruise passengers rudely; food was pizza and charred burgers. Food on Eurodam: Overall, the food was outstanding. Dining package: bought the $75 each dining package since dining in the Pinnacle, Tamarind, and Canaletto restaurants are not included in the cruise price. Lots of extra costs for better food if you decide to avoid the “free” but crowded Lido Market: beers $8.50 for Corona; lunchtime pool snack bar $15 for sandwich Had four “Gala nights” where you wear a nice dress or sportcoat and ate in the main dining room (no extra charge). Eurodam outstanding crew members: main dining expert wine steward Willie; Canaletto host Nelson for his humor and life experience stories even though he might be only 30 years old; Kristy, wine steward and outstanding Philippine “Tinikling” folk dancer; our room steward; and the entire crew who were welcoming, cheerful, and always helpful. Justin ran the Photo Workshop every day where he gave useful insights on how to take great pictures with a regular camera or with an iPhone or Android; HAL needs to continue Justin’s photo workshops. Highlight of the cruise was the Panama Canal passage; ship opened the fifth deck bow so you could get great view of the canal operations; fastest transit ever since there were virtually no cargo ships due to the China corona virus; canal designed, constructed by USA President Theodore Roosevelt with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supervision and 10,000 Caribbean island workers, opened in 1914. There is now a second canal for super cargo ships wider than 103 feet, built by Panama and opened in 2018. Our ship paid $350,000 for passage. Summary: ship’s crew was fantastic; ship-sponsored excursions were mediocre; ports of call were mediocre; rough seas for only two days, Panama Canal was fantastic experience. Total cost: $5,770 for stateroom for two; $670 for CF travel insurance, $350 for 14 days [$14.50/day hotel service charge]; dining package $150 for two; shore excursions $1000; tips $200; approximate total $9,140 for two. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We are a couple in our mid 60s who decided to cruise after a 12 year hiatus. We liked the itinerary and got a good deal on the airfare even though it was Super Bowl Sunday morning. The embarkation was delayed due to some sanitation issues ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid 60s who decided to cruise after a 12 year hiatus. We liked the itinerary and got a good deal on the airfare even though it was Super Bowl Sunday morning. The embarkation was delayed due to some sanitation issues supposedly caused by an uptick Norovirus illness on the previous cruise. The boarding time varied depending on which HAL rep you spoke to, but after a lengthy wait at the terminal we boarded at 1:30pm. Things got far better after we left an unseasonably cool Ft. Lauderdale. The Koningsdam is a beautiful well maintained ship that contrary to some posts is not difficult to navigate. Our cabin was an inside on the Main deck directly below the Music Walk which one might think would be noisy but we were not disturbed at all. The room was however was the smallest inside we ever had on any cruise with no seating but the bed which was very comfortable. The storage was OK but the bathroom and shower were ample. The ships amenities are modern and first rate. The fitness center has plenty of treadmills, elipticals, bikes, and weight machines and a splendid view of the sea. Directly above is the Crow's Nest bar which is the best appointed and roomiest on the ship and is one of the places where the most unbelievably competitive trivia contests take place. The bi-level Main dining room is located aft and has a whale rib motif and a bright airy feel. The 3 course dinners are well paced and the dishes are well prepared and presented.Don't miss the French onion soup. The 9th deck Lido buffet has stations that represent several cuisines all of which are served by the crew. The Asian stir fry station seemed to be the most popular, especially with me. Tip: find your table first then get your food as the buffet can be crowded at times and you don't want to be searching with a plate of food in your hand. The pizza and burger spots are not to be missed. With so many options we neglected to go to one of the specialty restaurants which other passengers were recommending but it's difficult to do everything in 10 days. The oft maligned entertainment is presented at the smallish semi-circular World Stage. The dancers and musical acts were very good with the Koningsdam show band deserving special props. The lighting and sound system is state of the art. Forget about the first show at 7:30 as it is hopelessly crowded and go to the 9:30 second show. With the exception of one crabby lady in the spa, the crew were polite and helpful and spoke good to excellent English. Our cabin stewards were outstanding. The ports featured the usual touristy terminals. The private island Half Moon Cay has a clean and roomy beach but the ship provided BBQ is a swing and a miss. I went on a snorkel tour in Grand Turk which which was good but the the snorkeling in Bonaire is the best. Curacao is the ABC island that has the most to offer in Dutch history and culture. The heart-lock sculpture located at the foot of the swinging Queen Emma bridge is where lovers can lock their hearts forever by placing an inscribed padlock onto the growing heart-shaped frame of locks. Men do not miss your chance as this simple gesture will raise your stock immeasurably and absolve a multitude of sins. This was the highlight of our cruise. Debarkation was smooth and efficient, much easier than embarkation. Would We cruise HAL again? An unqualified yes! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Hub and I booked a balcony cabin rather last-minute -- back surgery on his part necessitated us letting go a steal of a deal on Empress of the Seas and rebooking a different trip. We were looking forward to sailing on HAL again, as we ... Read More
Hub and I booked a balcony cabin rather last-minute -- back surgery on his part necessitated us letting go a steal of a deal on Empress of the Seas and rebooking a different trip. We were looking forward to sailing on HAL again, as we appreciate the relative calm on board (we drop the average cruiser age by 20 years when we embark) and had not been on a Dam ship in four years. (As background: I have 27 cruises under my belt and he has 24 -- on Carnival, Royal, Celebrity, and HAL.) Embarkation was smooth as we waited until after noon to come on board. We were puzzled when the port agent walked us to a HAL employee, who escorted us to our cabin: turns out they were afraid 'construction materials' might have been left on our balcony, which was not the case. As noted in previous reviews, the cabin (8020, just below the spa and down the hall from the bridge) could use more storage, but we made the most of the shelves in the closet. You can hear noise from the nearby stairwell/elevators, so take care if you're a light sleeper. (Also: no balcony lights at night for navigational reasons.) Having the sofa near the balcony rather than the entrance was really super. We found the bathtub more of a hindrance than anything, especially given the super-clingy shower curtain. Definitely bring a power strip, as the plug in the bathroom was especially persnickety as to what it would power, and you only have outlets at the vanity. The USB ports on either side of the bed were a godsend. And what do they use for wall/door materials? Certainly nothing a magnet can attach to, which was a bummer. As also noted, the TV channel selections were limited and puzzling -- no children's programming, but THREE news channels? -- but there was a surfeit of movies to watch should you choose to. (We didn't.) There were maybe 20 kids on the cruise from toddlers to teens, but: huh? Other than noted elsewhere, service was top-notch. If it fell short, it certainly wasn't the fault of the staff. The ship itself is tastefully done (as usual) in terms of finishes and whatnot. Internet/WiFI was ABYSMAL. The Navigator App rarely worked well right out of the gate -- we quickly learned work-arounds, but counted ourselves fortunate if we could go a day without bothering the Guest Services team to log on (which, by the way, is a terrible use of customer service resources). The first day at sea, the wifi was down altogether for over 12 hours, which created a great deal of consternation for husband trying to run a business where there is no cell service (that would be at home). It finally came up a half-hour before our second traditional dinner seating . . . and 12 hours BEFORE we were notified it was up and running. Guess who missed the first Gala dinner? This is the first time we've ever run into such inconsistent access. We'd gladly pay more if we could be assured it would work. Carnival and Royal have figured it out, so we're not sure why HAL can't. Food in the dining room was very hit or miss -- it's the first time I've not finished an offering because it was inedible -- and the menu very limited. We actually skipped our last meal for the Lido just so we had more options. Hub has unusual and life-threatening allergies, and it appeared that our waiter was stretched thin covering tables which meant we had to be on our game to make sure nothing slipped by. Entertainment is not our thing, but we missed having karaoke as an option. Trivia was REALLY tough. There was a lot of throwback activities -- bridge, mahjongg, flower arranging -- and pickleball, which pretty much says all you need to about the demographic. The Planet Earth presentations were almost always scheduled in the afternoon of a port of call, and we weren't interested in the Oprah offerings. We did catch the dance show one night and was very impressed. Casino slots, as usual, were tight. The pools were always full -- the 'Retreat' above limits seating -- and we never once spent time in the aft pool area as a result. Mixed results at the spa -- I had a masseuse assign me 'homework' of taking baths to reduce stress, which I have time for because I don't have kids. (Really.) I did get caught up on much recreational reading on our balcony, so there's that. Ports: we skipped Half Moon Cay as it lacks shade (unless you purchase it). Unfortunately, our whale-watching tour at Grand Turk was cancelled due to high winds. Amber Cove was a major disappointment -- the taxis are complete ripoffs, and we spent two hours in a car with a very well-meaning man who had very limited English skills -- and while the pool is nice, the shore is not at all attractive. It's hard to go wrong with Key West -- we've been enough times that we know who to visit and ask about new things, and got great recommendations for new galleries and a yummy place for lunch -- although we were disappointed that we docked west of Mallory Square and missed out on what sunset activities we might have watched as we left. All in all, while we love the general ambiance that HAL provides, there were enough hiccups that we will hesitate booking again, much to our dismay. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We've cruised with Holland America at least 4 times and chose them because of their excellent service. This cruise stopped at their private island first, then Grand Turks, Amber Cove and Key West. The service was excellent, as usual, ... Read More
We've cruised with Holland America at least 4 times and chose them because of their excellent service. This cruise stopped at their private island first, then Grand Turks, Amber Cove and Key West. The service was excellent, as usual, and the food was good. The entertainment, however, was sorely lacking. The first night, there was no show in the main stage area. For 6 nights, the main entertainment consisted of 3 evenings of the dance troupe performing, 1 night of a comedian who wasn't very funny, 1 night of a different comedian/mentalist who was really good, and then 1 night of both comedians performing, one after the other. The daytime activities weren't interesting to anyone in my group, so we spent a lot of time playing cards. They had several activities scheduled at 5 pm, but we had early seating for dinner (5:30) so we couldn't do any of those activities. Mass was scheduled at 5 pm every day. Having Mass in the morning would have made more sense. They also had Total Body Conditioning in the fitness center at 5 pm instead of in the morning. We took the Grand Turk Experience excursion for $44.95. It was worth about $20. The bus took us to the light house but to enter it was an extra charge. We stopped at a small market for about 20 minutes. I wouldn't recommend this excursion. The Amber Cove excursion of Mountain Views & City Sights was interesting and worth the $59.95 charge. Key West is very walkable and there's no need to purchase an excursion to see the sights. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Friends had enjoyed HAL before, as had we 11 years ago, over the past two years. However we found that we were slightly disappointed overall. First impressions of the cabin, and indeed the ship, were that it was in need of a refurbishment. ... Read More
Friends had enjoyed HAL before, as had we 11 years ago, over the past two years. However we found that we were slightly disappointed overall. First impressions of the cabin, and indeed the ship, were that it was in need of a refurbishment. The cabin carpet was sorely in need of replacement, and indeed looked grubby. No slippers were provided which would have been nice. Cabin had adequate hanging space but it would have been helpful if they had had sliding doors rather than opening doors which prevented the bathroom door being opened at the same time. The MDR.....we had anytime dining but were advised to book a time which we did . The first night was fine but after that it baecame a problem. Food was good and the staff serving in the restaurant were very good, but the dining reception staff left something to be desired. We ate twice in Tamarind, speciality restaurant, and found food there to be very good. Staff were excellent there too. Entertainment on board was not great, we went to main theatre only twice. However, the classical group recitals were very well attended. The only bad mark against that was the venue, the Lincoln stage. It was open, in the main gangway to the dining room, and was often over crowded as was the gangway to the dining room. I could not understand why the recitals were not held at a bigger venue. Especially as it was split into two areas....those seated in the back half were unable to see the performers. The gangway corridor was packed with people listening to the concert. Itinerary was good, we particularly liked Cartegna and Panama City. However due to swells we were unable to dock at Costa Rica which was a disappointment. Panama Canal transit was interesting. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Boarding: Not an ideal situation. The evening before our departure we received notice that due to norovirus our boarding would be delayed. Good news is we were getting a nice clean ship! They did NOT, however, delay departure. So ... Read More
Boarding: Not an ideal situation. The evening before our departure we received notice that due to norovirus our boarding would be delayed. Good news is we were getting a nice clean ship! They did NOT, however, delay departure. So when we arrived, hours later than scheduled, we had a LONG, LONG, LONG, and hot line. At least our room was ready when we got to the end of the line. Short and simple time at the counter. If ONLY they had delayed departure and staggered the arrival times instead of compressing all 3000 passengers into 2 hours. Room: Upon arrival the room as ready, clean, and as expected. We booked an obstructed veranda, to save a buck. DO NOT pick a spot between life boats, as the obstruction is LARGER on this ship. Looking over the lifeboats is barely obstructed in my opinion, and well worth the savings. Room was roomy with plenty of storage. Even drawers under the bed. Four pieces of luggage fit nicely under our bed too. The hall closet doors are an area of conflict. They do not fully open, and you can’t pass by them. Using the closet is a one-person proposition. Our friends oceanview was wider (and less money) - annoying. We had already heard complaints about the angled toilet. What we did not understand is you can’t sit on it at an angle. Your knee hits the shower wall. #stupid. But that shower was WONDERFUL - the largest of any we have had in almost 30 cruises. Our room stewards were FANTASTIC. Some of the best. THE AWFUL!!! Room was great UNTIL - we wanted, no NEEDED to go to bed at 10/10:30. This room is NOISY. And not just a little. I believe the ship has a defect. It is louder IN the room, than in the hall or the balcony. THUMP THUMP, BANG. Lasts until midnight or later. They must KNOW they have a problem. This room should NOT be sold - but be used by staff, or those sailing free. Perhaps a deaf person could be accommodated. IF HAL insists on selling the room it MUST come with a significantly reduced price - AND - a fair warning. Yes, we complained LOUDLY. They were NOT sympathetic, but The next to the last night we did receive $300obc. But since it was so late in the cruise all we could do is book one specialty dining the next night. IMO - this noise should have resulted in a 50% future cruise credit, as 50% of our vacation./sleep was ruined by the noise. But more importantly the situation needs to be addressed, and corrected. People don’t vacation to be bribed into happiness - they ask, expect, and demand a satisfying and relaxing time. fyi: there are COUNTLESS complaints about the noise on Cruise Critic and the Web. Buffet: GROSS. Too many people. This ship has hand washing machines, instead of sinks. That’s great but you get water sprayed all over you. At the start of the cruise you had no choice but to wash, because the norovirus police were standing by the machines. The last two days, they simply did not care, and the soap had run out (light indicator). Meaning HAL is only worried about the press from norovirus, NOT the health of their passengers. Hours were not great. It was VERY difficult to find a cheese snack or get an ice cream. They had a nice gluten free section, but it was NEVER open. AND, no other facilities had the gluten free products. Yea - you can get a snack at the pizza place till midnight, but NOT a GF cracker. Yea - you can get a morning bagel at the Dutch Coffee shop, but not on a GF bagel. Main Dining: Food was 4*, and typical of HAL. Basic dishes, well prepared, and well plated. Rather bland, and nothing unusual - which is expected on this line. We initially had late, fixed, seating. We asked for a large 8-10 person table. We received a 5 person table. Our service was TERRIBLE. Some of the worst we have ever received. Took 2 hours, and we missed the show the first two nights. Our table location was the WORST - just outside the queuing area. NOISY. Entire dining room was too noisy. We changed to anytime seating, which was easy. Our service improved. ONE night we had that 5* HAL service we expected. Only ONE of 10. While better, we never had exemplary Main Dining Room service. Guess you now have to PAY for this quality. Tamarind: We had a little OBC, so we splurged and visited the Tamarind our last night. As expected service was top-notch! We enjoyed two wonderful curry dishes. I had the red curry panang. My wife the fish curry. One disappointment was there were NO Asian Fusion drinks, or wine. Just the same-old, same-old. Grand Dutch Café: One of our favorite places..... Much due to the two young Dutch Gentlemen, and one gal that worked there. They “made” the experience. We visited here for an early morning espresso, and yogurt. My wife enjoyed the lox, but was bothered she could not get it on a gluten free bagel at this location. Dive In: A very RELIABLE HAL burger. Still one of the best burgers and fries on ANY cruise ship. Unfortunately NO gluten free bun (or lettuce bun) available. We ate bare burgers. Dive-In Sauce is great, but make sure to get 3-4 containers. New York Deli and Pizza: TOTALLY the worst gluten free crust EVER. Great pizza ingredients, but just scrape it off. This is the late night snack place, but they are NOT open late. You can barely make it here after the last band quits. Wings were tasty. They had a fantastic, ready to go salad. Bars and Drink Card: Our Travel Agent got us drink packages. Something we are not used to having. We throughly enjoyed the ability to get specialty coffee in the AM, and a bottle of water prior to bed. Bar service was all or nothing. The service at the Panaroma Bar was the best. The Sea View Bar was acceptable. One bar tender at the Ocean Bar provided great service. Service at the Music Walk was TERRIBLE. Especially when there was entertainment. Each night I would get my own drinks at least once. Drinks, and selection were VERY good. Although the ran out of the Pear Cider and Amaretto two nights before the cruise was over. Entertainment: STRANGE mix, and even stranger schedule. The main stage had only 3 dance shows in 10 days. NO big shows. NO live music. NO Broadway productions. Shows were difficult to get to if you have fixed dining. There were NO bands at sail-away, in the pool area, or any time other than at night. The quality, and volume was AWFUL!!!! The music walk is, in my opinion a STUPID idea. Only one band can play at a time. And they do. Each venue had (3) 45 min sets a night. No venue was large enough for the crowds, so you spent your time rotating from venue to venue. This simply does not work. On our cruise the rock band was the best attended, yet had the least space. Main stage had 3 dance numbers. They had an “OK” comedian. No jugglers, acrobats. There was a movie, with live music, of BBC’s Planet Earth. It was interesting, but seeing animals kill each other was not our idea of a relaxing or entertaining vacation. Guessing this appeals to the conservative crowd on this line that thinks they deserve their vacation, while children starve. In all the main stage was beyond disappointing. Lincoln Center Stage has classical music. Typically later afternoon to early evening. This is the largest venue, but poorest attended (other than main stage). It also doubles as BB King, hence why it is an afternoon venue. The classical is a VERY strange mix with the other genres. Disco. What disco. It is programed, but not used by this nursing home cruise we were one. Good thing, as per above, the rooms directly above receive noise from this venue. They should just abandon using this as a disco because of the noise generated. Piano Bar. We were graced by Gavin Rohrer and Sarah Angle. Sarah was a short term infill. Gavin had been on board almost half-a-year. Sarah was beyond talented. Gavin was 110% entertainer. Together they made for a fun and exciting evening - EVERY night. Much to my surprise Gavin CRANKED out Elton John’s Burn Down the Mission on night 1. Claiming only ONE person would know the song. Much to his surprise, there were 5 of us. Unfortunately HAL has yet to provide a quality sound system OR real pianos in the in the Piano Bar. Shame these musicians have to put up with this. OVERALL Entertainment: ALL the venues had excessively loud, and heavily distorted sound systems. There is NO excuse for this - NONE. The millions spent they need quality sound systems, AND skilled people to operate the system. Shore Excursions: We took only ONE HAL excursion. It was acceptably over-priced. A crowded catamaran. Fun time. GOOD drinks. “OK” snorkeling. First stop was cloudy, not their fault. But no much to see, as they kept us well away from the pretty corals and fish. Guess with this many novices you have to do this. Second stop, a ship wreck. Also cloudy - BUT, water was FULL FULL FULL of small jellyfish. They should never have allowed us to swim. My wife got out immediately. Others back on board stung. I was OK, with my long sleeve shirt, but not a fun experience. Reminds me of why we skip the Cruise Line Excursions. Ports of Call: WHY we booked this. Half Moon Cay = STUPID. Can’t even use your drink card here. Food is barely edible. We walked the remote path, as we had been here on prior cruises. Got started late, quit early, and did not eat here. Grand Turk. Love this stop. Our third time here. This time we caught a cab into town. Wandered about. Had a beer on the beach. Purchased some local art. Amber Cove. We used this stop to visit a friend living here. Used our connection to get Alfred for a cab. Enjoyed local food, and friendship. We went diving on Bonaire with the small private company VIP Diving. Our Dive Master Bart was FANTASTIC. We had a great time, and SMALL, 3-person dive group. And for LESS money than the HAL tour. ALL 3 of us came back un-harmed. Can not say the same of the LARGE group from the HAL Excursions. This is ROUGH, coral filled water. Glad we did our own thing here. Curacao. Self-guided wandering of the beautiful and quaint Dutch Port. The ONLY “Travel Like an Architect” stop. Don’t miss the rotating bridge. This was the surprise shopping stop. We got unusual, and cute clothing for ourselves, and our grandchildren. Aruba: Or snorkel stop with the HAL excursion, see above. NEXT time, something different. Overall: Ship is nice. A bit larger than we like. We were tired from all the stairs, and walking end to end to end each day. Nicely appointed. Basically clean and in good condition. Although at the start, when the noro-virus scare was in place cleaning was excellent. By the end of the trip it was poor. IF poor is typical, I am glad they took 2 extra hours to clean before we arrived. Single biggest complaint (after our NOISY NOISY room) was the AGE demographic. It was God’s Waiting Room on Steroids. My wife did comment “would you rather be dodging children or walkers”. I guess walkers and scooters is a bit easer to deal with, but the Grumpy Entitled attitude of many is simply a vacation downer. Next Cruise we are back on Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have been HAL fans; the Koningsdam was new to us. Let's begin with the big positive - she's a beautiful ship. The public rooms are really handsome and ooze old world elegance and warmth with occasional contemporary jolts. But ... Read More
We have been HAL fans; the Koningsdam was new to us. Let's begin with the big positive - she's a beautiful ship. The public rooms are really handsome and ooze old world elegance and warmth with occasional contemporary jolts. But lovely as she is at first she's not the easiest ship to navigate and it takes a little time to adjust to her layout especially as not all the upper desks are thru decks and some elevator banks will not bring you to the upper level you need to reach. HAL did a fabulous job on embarkation. Boarding was delayed two hours for extra sanitization of the ship due to an uptick of gastrointestinal issues on the prior sailing. All were excellent in expediting the boarding process, making it run smoothly and easily. Cabins were ready for all on boarding which was an added plus. Really good work all around. In apparently adding more staterooms HAL seems to have opted for narrower hallways which can create some little traffic jams. Also, the promenade deck, often a treasured shady spot to read and relax has lost her deck chairs (a fabulous old world touch) as they have narrowed the walking deck which is too bad as shady places where you can avoid strong sun and read are few and far between. And these deckchairs were also a big plus on windy days when upper decks might not be ideal. But it is still great to have the walking deck! Staterooms are beautiful but they tend to be small which means there was no space to spread out and storage is tight. In our inside cabin there was no room for a chair or settee, consequently room service is problematic. Eating in bed the only real option. Bathrooms are a challenge as they don't offer much room for maneuverability; that being said, the shower is roomy and terrific. The buffet in the Lido Restaurant presented some difficulties since we could not help ourselves but had to be served at each station; this had to do with the health precautions on board (we were told informally by staff it was due to passenger illness the ship was trying to contain). This lead to long lines at every station which generated lots of discomfort, congestion and frustrating wait times. The staff was not overly pleasant. This was not well handled as no one knew the reason the self service had been suspended; had folks been told I think they would have been more accepting. By day six or so some stations reverted to self service and the crowding eased. From a customer relations perspective this should have been addressed; it generated some unnecessary grumpiness. Let's applaud Lincoln Center Stage, an excellent addition. Unfortunately, the space is open and off a busy corridor which mean it's not ideal. People who enjoy classical music are really much more particular about ambient sound so passing traffic and chatter can be a distraction. If nearby sound (such as lots of talk generated in the adjacent shops and neighboring bar) is troublesome you will be less aware of it on deck two; on deck three it can be more intrusive. Nevertheless, this is a swell venue, well attended and much appreciated. No library! Ridiculous. Look at HALs demographic. They skew older and passengers like their books and this is a real disservice and disregards and disrespects them. There was a lot of discontent on this subject. Here's an old adage: you can add a new service and folks will appreciate it but it's tough to remove one they enjoy. And why? This sounds like the idea of a young person who doesn't know the HAL market. Not tough to rethink and correct this failure. Service has always been a hallmark on HAL. Staff has always been attentive, caring, friendly and kind but is some areas on this sailing that was surprisingly not the case; standards really seem to have slipped. Where was the small, the usual good cheer? Was the crew tired? Overworked? Overwhelmed with the additional sanitizing procedures? Were we short staffed? It was bewildering but they were certainly off their game. On more than one occasion a bathroom attendant should have been on hand, especially on a ship concerned with illness. Toilet bowl brushes in stalls were nowhere to be seen. You need a constant attendant or the means to clean up after yourself. Food in the pretty, contemporary dining room (Celebrity inspired?) is good but not at the level of excellence we'd expected and experienced on past HAL sailings; service inconsistent and sometimes forgetful. On the positive side, The Dive In, The New York Deli and Gelato stations were all great! Lunch, on one of our sea days, at Pinnacle Grill was outstanding. Tamarind is very, very good although the service can be sweet and a little cloying. The Crow's Nest is a delightful space. The entertainment we experienced at the World Stage Theatre was fine, polished and professional with strong production values. As passengers tend to to arrive early to claim their seats, it is best not to get there right at showtime as it might be standing room only - at least for the early show. The later show was less crowded. Other venues were lively and varied, performers top notch. Good to see that HAL has pleasantly upped the quality of its entertainment. All in all, this is a gorgeous ship but one with features that have not always been well considered which is too bad. Let's hope they address some easily correctable things (library, storage, bathroom size, cabin seating) when designing future vessels. And let's hope the drop in service was just an anomaly on this sailing. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
After being on many Holland America cruises we decided to try the Koningsdam....Ship was nice. After been told our cabin was big enough for 3 adults we booked it...Big mistake...The person on the sofa was 5"5...Her feet hung over ... Read More
After being on many Holland America cruises we decided to try the Koningsdam....Ship was nice. After been told our cabin was big enough for 3 adults we booked it...Big mistake...The person on the sofa was 5"5...Her feet hung over edge. Very uncomfortable. When the crew turned down the "sofa" for the night you couldn't move anywhere. No access to the balcony unless you crawled over the "sofa" We ate in the dining room 2x because we couldn't find anything that stood out to us. We dined mostly in buffet. Long line-ups. Many walkers, scooters, wheelchairs & walkers. Some very rude drivers I might add. The salad bar was excellent as for the rest mediocre at best. Entertainment or lack of it was quite horrid. Not a thing to do during the day. Evening shows were ok...We went every evening and can honestly say we enjoyed 2 of the shows. Very disappointing. We will not go on another Holland America cruise...at least for a very long time. Very very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This is a review for the 11-day South Caribbean Seafarer cruise. This is the third year my wife and I have sailed on the ms Koningsdam. Previously we sailed in Aug. 2018 (Norway) and Jan. 2019 (Caribbean). I’ll try not to duplicate ... Read More
This is a review for the 11-day South Caribbean Seafarer cruise. This is the third year my wife and I have sailed on the ms Koningsdam. Previously we sailed in Aug. 2018 (Norway) and Jan. 2019 (Caribbean). I’ll try not to duplicate information from my previous reviews of those cruises. This time we opted for a Verandah Stateroom, mid-ship on the Mozart deck, rather than a Vista Suite, because it was a better value—over 3000 USD cheaper. The room was smaller than a Vista suite, but it still seemed roomy enough for us. There was sufficient closet hanging space, shelves, and drawers for storing stuff in during the cruise. [Tip] We brought along magnetic hooks so we could hang hats and clothes on them. There were only 2 hooks in the room (on the wall by the bathroom) and 2 hooks on the back of the bathroom door. Mostly the cruise was well run. The weather was good. When sailing back towards the Bahamas (and Half Moon Cay), the sea was even calm and “glassy” smooth. It was a little rougher at Half Moon Cay: after lunch, there were 2-3 foot swells which I encountered when kayaking in front of the beach area. The kayaks are very lightweight and harder to manage when there are waves. Kayak rental at Half Moon Cay was $25.95 per person per hour for a single kayak, $49.95 for a double kayak, and $35.95 for a stand-up paddleboard. One downside to the cruise was the occurrence of norovirus (gastrointestinal illness [GI]) towards the end of the cruise. In my opinion, HAL was partially responsible for the problem. There was the usual “Guest Stateroom Health Advisory” in the staterooms at the start of the cruise: “wash your hands regularly with soap and water particularly before eating”. There were hand washing stations, with soap, at the Lido Market where buffet food was served. However, the stations were turned off on the 2nd or 3rd day of the cruise, because they ran out of soap. The soap could not be restocked until the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale (after 11 days). That seems to indicate inadequate management of inventory—to not keep enough soap in stock. A workaround (hand pump soap) was developed once the norovirus problem became more widespread on the 9th day of the cruise. At the entrance to the Main Dining Room, there used to be hand sanitizer stations that you could use before entering for a meal. However, HAL deliberately removed them. I asked one of the dining officers about this. I was told the hand sanitizer stations were removed “to encourage passengers to wash their hands before coming to eat.” On the 9th day of the cruise there were repeated Public Address announcements in the morning about an increase in the reported cases of GI illness on the cruise. HAL started taking corrective actions. Personnel had hand sanitizer or pump soap at the entrance to the Lido Market, and asked every passenger to use one or the other. You could not serve yourself at the Lido Market; you requested and a ship dining person served you the food. At the Main Dining Room, ship dining personnel had hand sanitizer dispensers, and they asked passengers to get some sanitizer before entering the dining room. At the BBQ buffet at Half Moon Cay, there was the same process for hand sanitizer and kitchen personnel served food to you; there was no self-service. These steps continued until the end of the cruise. Then all passengers, including those doing back-to-back cruises, had to leave the ship, because the ship was to be thoroughly cleaned (disinfected) before leaving on the next cruise. There were excellent performers during the cruise; however, overall, the entertainment was not on par with previous cruises. The Lincoln Center Stage (classical quartet) performers and the B.B. King’s All-Stars were excellent, as usual. The Billboard Onboard piano players were pretty good. The female piano player was excellent and always had a great voice. The male piano player had a great voice for many, but not all, songs. The Rock Room Band at the Rolling Stone Rock Room seemed to lack passion; I never saw the Rock Room packed like I did on my last cruise. There was no piano player in the Ocean Bar during the cruise, playing music before and after dinner. The StepONE Dance Company put on 3 performances at the World Stage; however, some of the dance numbers were repeats of ones I saw on my previous cruises. For other performers at the World Stage, the duo Eterni Amici, pianist Tian Jiang, and comedian Lamont Ferguson were outstanding. I was not impressed with the other performers. There were some slight changes since our last cruise. There was an “Officers on Deck” event one evening. This time, there was no formal introduction of the officers. The officers just mingled with passengers by the Lido pool. The LED screens were working at the Main Stage, and served to complement the dance performances. There was no piano player at the Ocean Bar for unknown reasons; I did miss listening to piano music before going to dinner. There was no Mariner lunch on the day of embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale; apparently that has been discontinued. You could still eat in the Main Dining Rooms for lunch in Ft. Lauderdale. The three different Sommelier Suite Cellar wine packages were offered again, with varying prices for 4, 6, or 8 bottles. You get a loyalty discount on a package if you are a 3-star or higher Mariner. Many of the wines seem to be the same year after year. It would be nice if more variety were introduced. You can also order wines from a James Suckling curated list of wines for meals in the Main Dining Room and in the specialty restaurants; there was good variety and quality, at different price points. New this trip was a Wine Aficionado Dinner for $89 per person. It was a 5-course dinner with wines selected by the host (Chateau Ste. Michelle guest Al Portney for this cruise). The wines didn’t seem that special, so my wife and I chose instead to go to a specialty restaurant and enjoy food just as good, at a cheaper price. There was a line for the first 3 nights at the Main Dining Room if you wanted to dine between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. But you would get a pager, and you could get a second drink for $2 in the Ocean Bar (but there was no piano player). The two Gala Nights were the evenings of the second and third At Sea days, once each week of the cruise. There were a lot of Mariner Society members on this cruise. I think that two of the planned events, including the complimentary Sommelier Suite Wine Tasting, had to be split over two days, because of the number of Mariners. I have been a Mariner for some years now, but I learned during the cruise that you can earn medallions for so many nights of actual cruising. For example, 100 cruise nights gets you a Bronze medallion. There are other levels like Silver and Gold. I don’t know if there are privileges associated with the medallions. My wife and I did receive timely reminder notifications about wine tastings, specialty restaurant reservations, and Mariner Society events during the cruise. This corrected a problem we had on the previous cruise. I did not purchase an Internet package for the cruise. I find the packages somewhat expensive, and Wi-Fi performance on the ship can be uneven. I also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with my Wi-Fi for privacy and security. So, I try to find free Wi-Fi at the ports of call. When I can’t, or the performance is poor, I’d purchase access for a nominal fee. At Sint Maarten, I went to the Telecom Boutique by the cruise terminal and paid $3 for 15 minutes of Wi-Fi; the quality was good, but you could only use the password for a single device. At Martinique, there was free Wi-Fi at the white tent/Tourist Info Center at the end of the pier: “FOYAL WIFI”. You just have to register to get 4 hours of Wi-Fi: first and last name, and some email address; you are provided a login name and password; just follow the easy-to-understand directions. The free Wi-Fi at the cruise terminal at Barbados (“FREE Cruise Terminal WiFi”) was very poor. At St. Lucia, I purchased some ice cream at the Pink Papaya Restaurant by the cruise terminal to use the restaurant’s Wi-Fi, which was good quality. At St. Kitts, there is free Wi-Fi after you leave the secure area at the Mapau Bar (or Mapau Casino) to your right. At. St. Thomas, there was free Wi-Fi at the USVI Tourism Info Center. Wi-Fi was good everywhere except at Barbados. I didn’t use the spa this cruise, with the exception of the free men’s sauna. An 11-day couples pass for the Thermal Suite and Hydro Pool cost $339. On days when the ship was in a port, you could usually get a day pass for $40 per person. There were quite a few spa specials on the last day of the cruise when the ship was at Half Moon Cay. For example, the cost of a 75-minute Bamboo Massage was reduced from $209 to $119. We have done multiple cruises with Holland America Line (HAL) in the Caribbean. We had previously visited all the ports for this cruise. With HAL, we repeated one of our favorite shore excursions at Barbados. In Sint Maarten, we decided to do a new tour—lagoon kayaking. I’m glad that HAL is start to offer more “active” shore excursions like kayaking. In St. Lucia, I opted for a kayaking excursion from the Shore Excursions Group. At other ports, my wife and I just wandered around or spent on the ship. At St. Thomas, we took a taxi (shuttle taxi, $8 per person, for 2 or more people) from the cruise pier to Magen’s Bay Park & Beach, paid $5 admission per person, and relaxed on the beautiful, sandy beach. You could rent lounge chairs for $8 per person (with $5 refundable deposit). At the Yak Shack, paddleboard rental was $30 per hour, single kayak rental was $20, and double kayak rental was $30. There was a restaurant at the beach. It was easy to catch a taxi back to town or the cruise pier. My wife and I both opted to do our own disembarkation from the ship. We were in the Expedited group (departure time 7:30 am – 7:45 am). We carried our own luggage off the ship. There was a long, long line of passengers waiting to get off the ship, both the Expedited group and the Luggage Direct group. Just be patient, because lots of other people may have the same idea as you for getting off the ship. I joined a Cruise Critic “Roll Call “ for the cruise several months before leaving. The Roll Call is a good place to get ideas about other, non-HAL, shore excursions that passengers are investigating, have booked, or have successfully used before. You can also share tips and ask questions about the cruise, the ship, port experiences, etc. You basically meet and chat with your future passengers. Two of the passengers on my cruise, Marina and Brian, volunteered to set up a “Meet and Greet” on the ship for those who were interested. We met in a private area by the Crow’s Nest on the day after we sailed. There were snacks, a get-acquainted game, and prizes (thanks to M & B). Several of us formed a Trivia team that played together throughout the cruise. If you’re taking a future cruise, I recommend finding and registering for a roll call for your cruise; start at the website https://www.cruisecritic.com/rollcalls/. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. For some reason, we didn't get assigned a "group" so we walked right on board. Most people, however, did have to wait. I cruised with my parents in a verandah balcony using the ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. For some reason, we didn't get assigned a "group" so we walked right on board. Most people, however, did have to wait. I cruised with my parents in a verandah balcony using the pullout couch. 3 adults got along fine so it would be very comfortable for a couple. Plenty of outlets and storage space for normal use, so don't bring a multi-port charger or hangers. Our shower started smelling for some reason but leaving the shower door open helped immensely. Must haves-bathroom spray and over the door (non flammable) shoe organizer (you'll probably use more pockets than you think). Overall, great dining. Lido desserts were average. The best deals? $15 Pinnacle lunch and $2 gelato. I loved Dive-in fries the best. My parents said Pinnacle dinner and Tamarind dinner were the best although they waited an hour before the Pinnacle appetizer came. Love that staff serves your food in Lido, to keep illness at bay. The self-wash stations at Lido were great. They broke down for 5-6 days and what do you know, some cases of gastrointestinal illness broke out. Was impressed with how staff handled it but those broken washers probably didn't help the situation. Those complaining about lack of things to do on sea/port days weren't looking hard enough or are jaded to HAL offerings and need to try another cruise line. I filled in my days very easily and was never bored. The one thing I agree on is the library. Pathetic. Bring a few good books or choose from the very good variety of first-run movies in your cabin. My two favorite entertainment/activities? Captain Q&A and Lincoln Center Stage. You know not the buy the internet when the staff jokes about it. The fitness room was great. The two negatives is it closes at 9 (it's dead from 7-9) and there's no time limit on machines. Plan accordingly. Regarding service, the staff and crew were fantastic. Our two room stewards knew our names by the 3rd day and always met us with the smile. Crew was very friendly and never did I see a frowning staff member coming toward me. Plenty of deck chairs to catch some sun and never did I feel crowded (minus disembarkation) but what can you expect? Lastly, steer clear if you want a more party cruise or have kids. I didn't see one drunk and only saw one kid the whole time. For me, a quiet cruise without these 2 things was bliss. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Cruise fit our timeline and location. Very clean elegant ship . Mostly elderly passengers. Great food and entertainment. Beautiful ship to walk around on and admire. Cabins are very comfortable. Staff are friendly and attentive. Pool ... Read More
Cruise fit our timeline and location. Very clean elegant ship . Mostly elderly passengers. Great food and entertainment. Beautiful ship to walk around on and admire. Cabins are very comfortable. Staff are friendly and attentive. Pool areas are well designed for swimming or sun bathing. There are lots of places to read or visit if you like. The world stage is incredible. Every seat is good. Easy to access for older people. The dining room was a relaxed pleasant experience with good selection . I can not think of any negatives for this ship. The outside walking track was great. Circle the ship three times and you will have walked a mile. I loved the aft pool area for happy hour. Nice shaded places to visit and have a few drinks. Ship seemed very stable in the waves so i did not worry about sea sickness. Over all i would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We left two older children at home and found as early 50 yo’s, we were some of the youngest passengers. No children onboard that I saw. We found most guests were from northern US or Canada, escaping the cold weather. We ate breakfast in ... Read More
We left two older children at home and found as early 50 yo’s, we were some of the youngest passengers. No children onboard that I saw. We found most guests were from northern US or Canada, escaping the cold weather. We ate breakfast in our room choosing from a limited menu. Our wake up “call” was coffee and omelets. Sometimes we opted to sit family style in the dining room so we met other guests, sometimes just a table for two. We are at all of the restaurants for additional fees - but well worth it. We abandoned our typical scuba, snorkeling, sailing, type excursions and instead took cooking classes and roamed rum distilleries. The service/staff was excellent across all departments. Servers remembered our names surprising us sometimes. The room always looked and smelled clean. Afternoon tea at 3 was always a nice treat with lovely sandwiches and perfect pastries. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This cruise was a getaway from grey winter in my Midwest city. I had a lot of choices and settled on this one for two new ports and totally warm weather. I'm an experienced cruiser, a solo traveler of 76, and this was my fourth HAL ... Read More
This cruise was a getaway from grey winter in my Midwest city. I had a lot of choices and settled on this one for two new ports and totally warm weather. I'm an experienced cruiser, a solo traveler of 76, and this was my fourth HAL cruise. I liked the same things on this cruise as on other HAL cruises: nice shipmates, great crew, pleasant experiences, fun shore excursions, lots to do, not very crowded, very comfortable ship. I liked the trivia games and their fun host, Monique. Every evening that I ate in the Dining Room I walked in without reservations and asked for a sharing table with 8 to 10 other travelers. I met 200 people in all 11 days. All of them were pleasant and interesting, and from many places. My room was a delight and my stewards the sweetest and nicest possible young men. I tipped them 50 dollars each, and the head housekeeper said that was lavish in the currency of their Indonesian country. But they earned it; my sons couldn't have been nicer to me. Of course, this was on top of the daily gratuity charge, much of which the stewards don't get. I really believe in abundant tips for good service, and I got it from Ari and Sya every day. I ate at Canaletto restaurant several evenings and it was superb; best of all the ship's food and service. This was only a $19 surcharge. The Dive In burgers were gorgeous, and the pizza bar wonderful too. Food is no problem on Eurodam! Another plus was great entertainment from the Piano Guys in the Billboard Bar, and the fantastic always energetic BBKing band and singers. A tip: in the back of the BB King showroom are curved banquette-type seats, and these are far more comfortable than the theater seats, and with a better view. As for the mainstage shows, I felt really sorry for the ship's dance crew of six dancers who had to fill a stage and give energetic performances to canned music and in lackluster costumes. The impressionist was good and funny, but I skipped other mainstage shows. One of them was actually the history of Holland America Line via a film. I much preferred the music elsewhere. The best advice I have is to FIRST don't get hurt on your cruise. Then, SECOND, get a higher floor than my deck 5 balcony cabin, because I had the gear for the lifeboats within inches of my balcony, and it kind of spoiled the view to look down on orange lifeboat roofs all the time. They also creaked and groaned during rough sea nights. I also found the balcony door so hard to open I had to do it two handed and if it had slammed on me, I know it would have knocked me down. I guess this is necessary, but it was really a daily problem. I really enjoyed my In Room coffee there on the balcony in the sunshine and my In Room continental breakfasts were treats: fresh fruit and tiny Danish pastries. Invariably, the In Room staff called afterward to see if I enjoyed my meal, and I did. On my last cruise on another cruise line, this kind of service for breakfast had a charge of $7, but on Eurodam, all In Room Dining 24 hours a day is included in the fares. One morning I didn't order breakfast and the manager called up to say, "Don't you want anything to eat?" They had the best warm chocolate chip cookies too, and I enjoyed these with afternoon tea after my nap. As a solo traveler, I have to pay two fares: my verandah cabin cost me what they call a supplement of 100%. A $1500 cabin is $3000. All cruise ships do this: I have no choice. But it doesn't put you in the mood to be mistreated, I can assure you. For my double fare, I expected and got a nice cruise that I enjoyed a lot. I can't fault Eurodam for anything a cruise should be for a traveler. I'm not a diva; I'll agree with anything that makes sense, but I expect my cruise for two cruise fares to be good. I always tell my steward exactly what I like and what makes me happy at our first meeting: with me, it's a lot of towels and a lot of ice. My cruise expectations were definitely met on Eurodam. But, there was a great big skunk at this picnic. This is the first cruise where I was ever hurt on embarkation -- or hurt at all -- and boy, did the gloves come off in the TLC department. The wheelchair assistant who was supposed to help me board the ship in Ft. Lauderdale actually rammed into my ankle with the wheelchair. . I reported it as an accident the instant it happened, before I got on the ship. My ankle was bruised, swelling, raising a big goose-egg lump, and it was plain for all to see. This only increased over the next days. I I could walk with only small discomfort, although I couldn't stand up for long, and I did the rest-ice-elevate steps faithfully for hours. The pain only got to be a problem after 6 days. My foot and leg were purple up to mid-calf. The ship's Guest Services Director was a charming man who wrote me a nice "sorry to hear about your accident" note and sent a lovely plate of chocolates. That was about all forthcoming from the ship. In the end, I got some aid, but I had to contact HAL home office and get a member of my care team at home to call too. I had to petition like a prisoner to a warden, and almost everything was refused at first, and only reluctantly given at last. I was refused gel cold packs, a medical exam, an xray, wheelchair for the long piers, and even some kind of bucket to soak my foot in up to my ankle. They told me at first I'd have to stand in line on and off in ports behind a hundred other people, although I just couldn't take it on my ankle. The ship claimed it didn't even have an ice bag or a bucket; they could only give me ice in a vegetable bag, like a baggie! They told me I'd have to pay for all medical services upfront and put in a claim later. It was just ridiculous. I lost my temper. Let me add that I eventually got almost all I needed and without charge to my account. I did get to bypass lines. But I had to fight like 20 armies to get it. I found out, sitting around the medical office, that a lot of people were injured one way or another; much more than I'd ever expect to see. Most complained about inadequate responses, so I wasn't the only one. An experienced tip: You have to know that rough seas are inevitable and you have to hold on to a rail, be near a wall, not use stairs if you can help it. You have to get to your feet and then pause to balance, then walk. A cruise ship is moving and you aren't: it's you who has to adjust. There's long walks on a cruise ship. it can be tiring to get around. You can be sort of lunged without knowing it from side to side, and it takes good balance to get upright again. Everybody looks kind of drunk sometimes, swaying around. Hold on! The pool decks can be very wet, and it's not easy to get in or out of whirlpools. I thought Eurodam didn't have enough signage. I was confused for days about going the right way or not. I did find that the glass elevators in midship are always fast to arrive: much faster than the central ones. But the decks aren't marked in the elevators except for numbers. You have to know, for instance, that Guest Services where we all wound up one time or other is on Deck 2. A clever idea from another traveler: they construct the public decks as models at home out of bits of paper and corks and things, and memorize them in the weeks before the cruise. I so wish I'd done that too. I was determined to enjoy all my prepaid excursions, ankle or not. I always take ship-sponsored tours. In Aruba, I had a great day sailing on a catamaran. By far the oldest participant, everybody was very kind and gentle, handling me off and on the boat. I didn't snorkel, but basked in the warmth and drinks and Caribbean music. I found in every port the people of the islands were very helpful and thoughtful. t the Pelican's Nest bar stop, the hostess wired up my wifi for no charge and took my photo. In Curacao, I took the country drive and enjoyed every minute. What an interesting place, with beautiful flora, birds, sea cliffs, nice beaches and salt flats. I loved it. The stop at the museum of a former black slave village was fascinating. I went crazy over the kind and variety of succulents: even saw fences made of cactus. In Cartagena, through a mixup, I wound up on the highlights bus tour but I enjoyed it and bought an inexpensive emerald ring in one of the Poveda shops. There again, the bus driver and guide were very careful and thoughtful about my disability. For the Panama Canal, which I'd done before twice, I stayed on my balcony and enjoyed waving and calling to the Canal workers who are very near the ship sides all day. I treated my swollen ankle with ice and heat and rest. You can view the bridge cam from the inroom tv, and see all the lock operations up close, with no need to stand on a deck. It was rainy, cool, and misty all day, so I felt very lucky to be sheltered. Leaving the Canal is just like entering the Canal, so you have two opportunities to see the operations, and by the afternoon one, almost everyone has cleared out and you get a great view from the bow. Also, the ship offered many shore tours to see the whole Canal, and most people took one of those. The ship was almost empty that day. My favorite stop, hands down, was Puerto Limon where I took the rainforest aerial tram, one of the top travel experiences of my life. Two hours there in heavy traffic, two hours in the rainforest with lunch and the tram ride, and two hours back to the ship, with our guide Christian talking the whole time with great enthusiasm about everything in Costa Rica. I'm definitely returning there. Here again, our tour guide did everything to see I got a front seat to myself with plenty of room to elevate my foot and to help me on and off all our transportation. This was worth the $149 cost of the day, completely. At the first day, we stopped at Half Moon Cay for a beach bbq and island stop, but it was sadly different than what I'd experienced before, and I wish I hadn't bothered. I would have never known there was some kind of transportation around the rather confusing complex if an employee hadn't casually mentioned it as I came in from the tender. We didn't have much time: by the time we tendered over and ate it was time to line up to go back by the 2pm deadline. I only played $20 worth of slots in the casino, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. Mercifully, it was smoke free unlike most cruise casinos which stink up the whole deck. I did have a beverage package card which my travel agent arranged for me at a huge discount from the regular $500+ cost, and I enjoyed Prosecco and cocktails of new varieties all the cruise. If you wait till close to your cruise and make your case, you can usually get a nice discount on those beverage cards. I didn't use any spa services, as they were outrageously priced.. They had a ladies' evening for about $90 which sounded like it could be fun, but I didn't take them up on it. The spa was attractive, and I thought of acupuncture, but my acupuncture at home is $40 a session, and $159 on Eurodam. They offered all kinds of silly things like analyzing your footprint, but I didn't do any of them. Bottom line of my long review: you'll like this 11 day Central America and Panama Sunfarer cruise as long as you don't get hurt. HAL will do a good job for you, but keep your back turned on that medical center. My ratings below are tainted by my injury, but I enjoyed everything I was able to do and you will too. Good cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Really nice mid-sized ship with excellent stops (Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena Colombia and Puerto Limon Costa Rica where we went zip lining. Entertainment was much better than expected, and food in Lido was very good although ... Read More
Really nice mid-sized ship with excellent stops (Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena Colombia and Puerto Limon Costa Rica where we went zip lining. Entertainment was much better than expected, and food in Lido was very good although we were disappointed in the in-cabin continental breakfast and limited dinner selections in the dining room. The only real disappointment was the relatively short time spent at the Panama Canal. If the Canal is your main reason for taking a cruise, I suggest you take a canal trip that goes end to end. Be aware that there are mostly seniors on this particular itinerary and although a few dress up for dinner, especially on the two Gala nights, most cruisers dress just enough to meet the requirements (e.g. no shorts in dining room at night). No lunch was served in dining room except once for Mariner members. It was our anniversary so we tried Tamarind on that night. The food was good but not exceptional although the service was special. All in all, a relaxing cruise that basically met our expectations.This was our second cruise on HAL (of six taken) and we would consider another one. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose Holland America because of th itineraries. We have sailed with HAL 7 times over 10 plus years. And I want people to know our experience. Firstly, we had ... Read More
We chose Holland America because of th itineraries. We have sailed with HAL 7 times over 10 plus years. And I want people to know our experience. Firstly, we had planned this cruise for our 42nd Anniversary. My wife is vegan and I am vegetarian. We planned the cruise for over 2 years, actually as soon as the 2020 itineraries came out. I had constantly been in contact with ship services in regard to my wife's dietary needs. We were assured on numerous occasions had there would be no problems. This was the first cruise in 5 years with Holland because they have failed each and every time we have sailed. We decided to give it another try because veggie menus are now very main stream , we figured they would have got the vegan thing figured out. It was abysmal. My wife and I went to fine dining one evening, after speaking to the head chef in regards to the menu's she could expect for the 21 days. On this particular evening she had ordered vegan tacos, when they got to our table, and my wife cut into them she found that is had sour cream. That is not vegan. To be honest, they didn't have any idea of the difference between vegan and vegetation. We had several sit downs with various chefs again, and the dining manager each time being assured they would make it right going forward. This wasn't the case, if she didn't eat salads every single day she would have starved. My advise to anybody thinking of sailing on any Holland America cruise that is vegan. Do not book with this cruise line. we have spent alot of money on all of these cruises in total. We have achieved 4 star mariner status, not that gets you anything worthwhile. They will take your money, and not do as they promised. For the most part excluding the food the cruise was quite nice. Some stops were very good other's were quite bad. Cabins, were quite nice. However seemed smaller than other ships we have sailed on with Holland America. I.e. Noordam, Amsterdam, even the Veendam. I would probably find another cruise line to cruise IF I ever cruised again. One thing for sure is Holland America, you have 100% lost 2 loyal cruisers. Also, somebody from Holland America offered us 250 dollars each because our holiday was ruined, which I found quite insulting. Shame on you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Boarded and entered our cabin to discover the bathroom smelled like a sewer. Immediately notified cabin attendant and he said it would get re-cleaned while we went to lunch. Slightly better but by next morning, we were back in the sewer. ... Read More
Boarded and entered our cabin to discover the bathroom smelled like a sewer. Immediately notified cabin attendant and he said it would get re-cleaned while we went to lunch. Slightly better but by next morning, we were back in the sewer. Informed attendant and guest services who promised someone would check the plumbing. Slightly better but on day 3 went and requested a guest service rep come to the cabin. They did and apologized that nothing had changed. I showed them pics of the mold on the shower walls. That afternoon the bathroom was sanitized, grout scrubbed, shower drain re-sealed. Vast improvement but it took 3 days before any serious effort to correct the problem. Sadly, this set the tone and lowered our expectations. Pluses were the food and the only worthwhile entertainment was Lincoln Center and B.B. King Blues. Main stage is vaudeville at it's worst. The internet was a disaster. The Captain, during the lunch for members of the HAL Mariners Club implored us: "Ask me anything about the ship but don't ask about the WIFI" As always, HAL food was excellent in the Main Dining, Lido and the Tamarind and Rudi's Sel de Mer. Decent cruise, nothing special. K-dam beginning to show her heavy usage. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
embarkation/disembarkation were smooth. cruise staff worked really hard. entertainment was disappointing. while the dueling pianos were terrific, BB King was monotonous and most other entertainment mediocre. very comfortable chairs ... Read More
embarkation/disembarkation were smooth. cruise staff worked really hard. entertainment was disappointing. while the dueling pianos were terrific, BB King was monotonous and most other entertainment mediocre. very comfortable chairs on deck 3 and towels always available. menus were varied; prompt and attentive service in dining room LIdo ran out of ice at lunch several days which was disappointing for ice tea drinkers (the sign on the ice machine that reads "do not fill up personal drinking tumblers" was largely ignored. sad that so many of my fellow cruisers are illiterate) Half Moon Cay - bathroom was out of toilet paper EARLY in the day and there was trash on the beach when the first tender arrived--so this debris was from an earlier ship. very disappointed in lack of cleaning. disappointed in the tour guide who boarded the boat for the trips through the Panama Canal locks. Could have easily been more informative and entertaining. room was very quiet (room 1111) and convenient. enjoyed a smoke-free casino. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We wanted to go to Panama. Looking at the itineraries, we chose the Eurodam. I was reluctant about Holland America because I do get motion sickness so I was concerned about HAL’s smaller ships, as compared to others we have been on. I ... Read More
We wanted to go to Panama. Looking at the itineraries, we chose the Eurodam. I was reluctant about Holland America because I do get motion sickness so I was concerned about HAL’s smaller ships, as compared to others we have been on. I only had a problem one day, when the weather was extremely bad. Also, they have a reputation for older clientele. It’s true, but not bad at all. I’d say mostly active older adults. I wished they had more exercise classes at better times, but it was a great experience. The Lincoln Center piano quintet was our favorite. They were very popular. It was like going to a professional concert every night. This will be a big priority on our next Holland America ship. Amazing performers and performances. If not for them, I would have rated the entertainment a 2. Meals were better than our other cruises. They had the Navigator app, but it was disappointing as far as the information about events. One negative was their lack of a convenient cafe to get better coffee. You have to go all the way to the 11th floor. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I am one cruise away from 5-star mariner status, so I consider myself an experienced Holland America 'expert' level passenger, lol. Starting with the convenience of sailing in and out of Fort Lauderdale (I live in Florida) the ... Read More
I am one cruise away from 5-star mariner status, so I consider myself an experienced Holland America 'expert' level passenger, lol. Starting with the convenience of sailing in and out of Fort Lauderdale (I live in Florida) the entire cruise was a real treat. The embark was a breeze, going by HAL shuttle bus from airport to cruise terminal, then right through security and right onto the ship. I was in a Signature Suite, which was spacious beyond necessity and had many lighting options, good temperature control, two-sink vanity, two desk areas, full sofa, big flat-screen, lots of places to plug things in. Midship was convenient to everything, and although I was in the suite adjacent to the glass elevator, (cabin #5093) I never heard a sound from it. The balcony was more narrow than most, because of the location the lifeboats directly under, although there was room for two reclining chairs, two ottomans , and a good sized table. Robes and slippers provided, and there was twice-daily 'turn-down-and-tidy-up service. I had a terrific table for two on the upper level main dining room, and had dinner there every evening, which after the first evening, only took one hour from appetizer to dessert. Breakfasts and lunches were always a treat in the Lido with such an enormous selection of foods, my favorite being the fresh sushi served daily. The entertainment was interesting enough, and as always, I had my own puzzle books, Kindle, DVD-player and DVDs to entertain myself. I very much enjoyed the dancers, and my husband liked the singers, and we both liked the comedian, who was hilarious, and we both liked the talks about the local history. Room service was always pleasant, and prompt. I have been to the Dutch islands many times, and always go to the casinos in Aruba and Curacao because they are walkable. I urge new cruisers to do research, and a lot of it before signing up for any cruise on any line. HAL's clientele is mostly the older generations, like myself, which is why I adore it. In 23 years of sailing HAL, I have NEVER seen a 'tipsy' passenger, and I have NEVER been kept awake at night by 'party animals'. This is what I like, al serene relaxing experience, and I always get that when sailing with HAL. There are nightclubs on board, and I have heard they are terrific, so if you like to stay up later, you can! And I have also heard that their kids' club is the best at sea. My tip for new cruisers to HAL would be to go places early whenever possible, for example, go to the Lido a few minutes before they open and you will easily find a table you like, and you'll be first in line at the buffet. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
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