1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Holland America Line
  4. Holland America Line Cruise Reviews

802 Holland America Southern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

We had a sort of family cruise. Ended up only being 5 of us. This cruise was a good value for 11 nights, onboarding very easy, although I arrived on a red eye so first in line does help. First cruise with Holland, 10th overall, ... Read More
We had a sort of family cruise. Ended up only being 5 of us. This cruise was a good value for 11 nights, onboarding very easy, although I arrived on a red eye so first in line does help. First cruise with Holland, 10th overall, Princess, NCL, Carnival, Royal Carib.I'm mid 50s but it was like an Alaska Cruise, I felt young and thin Manicure/pedicure was great. Young gal said this was actually the youngest group she'd seen in 4 months. I did miss the energy of the other boats but Everyone was super friendly, staff and cruisers. Room was large. Ship is going in for refurbishment and that is good. It's needed. Now to food. Honestly, it was ok. I didnt like the Lido because there was a line for everything. I get cutting down on germs but it was a pain waiting to ask for most anything hot. Not just omelettes and waffles. Dining rooms always better. My favprite breakfast dining room is still Carnival, go figure. Dinners were nice, but not as good as Princess, Carnival or Royal. Similar to Norwegian. Workout area was also subdued machines weren't individual tv/music, so not at nice. Would I go again. Entertainment was nice. Not as lively again and not as much to do, but you can only do one thing at a time anyway. Would I go again. Sure. What's not to love about doing whatever you want , someone cooking for you and chocolates at night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise because of a special promotion and it being a Panama Canal cruise. The ship itself was well maintained and the overall service was good, at best. The Captain and the crew were quite visible during the ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because of a special promotion and it being a Panama Canal cruise. The ship itself was well maintained and the overall service was good, at best. The Captain and the crew were quite visible during the cruise and friendly. Service in the Lido Market was quite remarkable as compared to the dining room where if you arrived 45 minutes late, you weren't served. This is in light of the fact that the next seating was 2+hours away. Instead you're relegated to the open dining and wait another hour to be served. The quality of food throughout the ship started out very good and progressively deteriorated day to day. Squash and red peppers were mixed in everywhere and it was apparent that nothing went to waste because it kept turning up. Horrible combinations like sweet potato and apple soup! Except for pizza, there was no quick food available at dinner-anywhere. All of the food was portioned out by servers and you basically had to beg for extras. Very little cheese offering and no antipasto selection. Black olives only and dished out by the teaspoon. Off ship, the excursions were overpriced and undervalued but that seems to be industry wide. Tired of hearing guides lament how poor they are and rely on our tips. Guest entertainment was good but the "house" shows were quite boring. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We arrived in Florida amid a flood of other cruisers. Definitely not accustomed to thousands of other confused people charging 0r standing around. We had finally located our luggage at a different.station, other than on the banner. At ... Read More
We arrived in Florida amid a flood of other cruisers. Definitely not accustomed to thousands of other confused people charging 0r standing around. We had finally located our luggage at a different.station, other than on the banner. At least Four cruise ships were departing on the same day..Holiday Inn at hollywood had a shuttle waiting for it and Candlewood hotel, we loaded up..Dispite them doubling their rates for rush at HI, they serve a decent breakfast, and accomadations were very nice.. Mind you there is not much else close here and 8 lanes of high speed traffic in front if you want to cross the hwy...I believe one 4x4 pu tried to see how close he could get, defintely did NOT slow down, There is NO crosswalk for protection. Ok, we paid $15.00 each for the ride to the port #21. and tipped the driver. I was satisfied with the process of checking in and forming groups to board..We were in a SY suite for our cruise and it was nice too, except for the heavy deck doors. the one next door #8076, closed loudly and disturbed me in the evenings. I turned in a request to have their closer and shock tested and repaired, but Hal did not fix it.So it reminded me of a cheap thin motel room when slammed..They were seniors next to us and I did not speak with them about it. The hot water controls were great in the Jetted tub and shower, you could get very hot water if you soaked. I did use the hot-tub on the rear of the ship, there were about 5 . The food was hit or miss after breakfast, which was great and so was the room service. By this I mean you could get great Fish and vegs, but their pasta sauce was not flavored enough, simular to Ragu..Pizza and Pasta was there all the time and hot served any time. There was a huge salad available at all meals, built with care by an attendant and plenty of vegetarian food.Ice Cream was served all day and lots of flavors, Seniors Love their Cold deserts.The whole ships crew worked hard to please anyone..The Steelband performance was the best, and second was the Magician show.. The port stops were nice, we enjoyed Willenstad, Curacoa in the old dutch section...We stayed on board at the canal, and went exploring in beautiful Costa Rica. This was our Diamond anniversary, and we were recognised at Gala Dinner..Thanks to HAl and the crew, especially a very efficient Captain, We will book another cruise with them soon...Jonyyuma Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because of timing as we wanted to cruise in April. We were a little worried about cruising with Holland American because of their reputation of being geared toward a much older crowd then we were used to. Yes the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of timing as we wanted to cruise in April. We were a little worried about cruising with Holland American because of their reputation of being geared toward a much older crowd then we were used to. Yes the average age was much older, but don't let that deter you as the cruise was excellent. Accommodation: We had a balcony room on the 10th deck. The room was about average as far as size and comfort goes. However, the room stewards were the best we have ever had. Our every need was met instantly and with a smile no matter what time of day. Our room location was perfect as it was above the lido deck so all that noise was below us and the crows nest was right outside our room. The crows nest is a bar with panoramic views at the bow of the ship. Dining: Lido deck buffet: great selection of food. There was italian, asian, mexican, sandwiches, pizza, hamburger\hotdog grill, a great salad station and of course deserts. The food quality was very good compared to other cruise lines and we have been on quite a few cruises. Main Dining room: the main dining room was pleasantly designed. The diner food quality and selection was outstanding. I would rate the quality better then other cruise lines, but not by much as we have experienced good main dining room food on other cruise lines. The waite staff were exceptional. We are breakfast in the main dining room but I would recommend the buffet as the selection on the buffet was better. Pinnacle Grill ($ dining ): we dined at the pinnacle grill twice during the cruise. The food, in my opinion, was not worth the $35.00 charge. Don't get me wrong the food was good, but not $35.00 better then the main dining room. However, David, our waiter was outstanding. On board experence: Days at sea got a little long as other cruise lines offered more events to occupy your time. Biggest complaint would be the lack of music in the pool areas. Holland American is in partnership with American test kitchen and offer many cooking shows and they were outstanding. The BB King lounge was the only choice you had for live dancing music. The band, B B King All Star band might be the best band I ever heard on a cruise and they played every night. Excursions: All I will say is you should book your excursions from a site such as Viator. The excursion we booked from the ship was poor. However the excursions we booked through Viator were outstanding. Shopping on board: same as all cruise lines. Overall experience : Outstanding! This is the smallest ship we have ever cruises on and I doubt we will ever cruise on a large ship again. The personal touch you receive on a small ship is remarkable and something everyone should experience. Holland American does personal touch better then any other ship we have been on. DO NOT let the average age deter you as it is something we did not even notice nor did it effect the fun we had in the slightest. If you are a 20 - 35 year old party animal this is not the ship for you! We are in our 50s and we had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is about our 12th cruise, we previously cruised on Carnival and Disney, but mostly with Royal Caribbean. We had just tried Disney in 2018 but found that their experience just did not warrant their more expensive pricing. We cruised ... Read More
This is about our 12th cruise, we previously cruised on Carnival and Disney, but mostly with Royal Caribbean. We had just tried Disney in 2018 but found that their experience just did not warrant their more expensive pricing. We cruised many times on Royal and consider the Allure our "home" ship. But nothing on Royal really appealed to us, so we decided to branch out. We were celebrating our 33rd anniversary on this cruise, I'm 57 and my DW is 60. We stumbled up this cruise when I searched for Panama Canal. This cruise leaves from Florida, reached the canal, goes through the Gatun Locks and then returns to Florida. We have seen the original canal, but were very interested in seeing the new one. I also saw an excursion for a dome car train journey across the isthmus and that sealed the deal, Zuiderdam here we come! We were also excited to re-visit Aruba and Curacao and thought 5 days at sea would be some nice time to relax. We had no interest in Puerto Limon. Overall, i'd give it 3.5 out of 5. There was many great things about the cruise, but a lot of misses too. We had Neptune Suite 7069, midship near the Neptune lounge. It would compare to a Grand Suite on the Allure, It had plenty of space, lots of closet space, not so much in drawer space. The balcony had a table & 2 chairs and 2 loungers. We spent a lot of time out there. It has a flat screen TV with a few live TV channels, mostly news and ESPN for the Caribbean, not the US (think soccer, soccer and more soccer). Lots of movies and a few TV programs you can run like a DVR with no charge. Several Marvel and DC Movies, Mary Poppins Returns, Coco, Frozen, and come classics like Romancing the Stone. Lots of BBC Planet and the last 2 seasons of Big Bang Theory. This ship also had 2 documentaries on the Canals. Embarkation was a breeze, we were on the ship right at 11:30. Now, and we were aware of this, the age demographic for HAL is actually older than we are. This means you will encounter people who just aren't mobile and you need to bring your patience to deal with canes, scooters, wheel chairs and crowded elevators. If you are expecting to spend lots of family time on pool activities, and those sorts of things, then HAL is not for you. I think that is what I missed the most, there were times when there just wasn't enough things to do, other than trivia and bingo. By the 5th sea day, we were kind've bored with not a whole lot to do, and thus, things like America's Test Kitchen were so crowded as to be uncomfortable or you had to be there 45 minutes in advance and just sit there waiting for it to begin. Alright, let's talk food. Now, I know, food is very, very subjective. We rated it fair. We opted for My Time Dining. Several nights we didn't even try the dining room as service was very slow and/or nothing on the menu was attractive. We led us to the Lido or to Room Service. The Lido was hit, mostly miss. Breakfast was okay as you could order eggs specifically for you. Lunch was okay, really, nothing memorable comes to mind. The Dive In bar had great burgers and hot dogs, but their fries were embarrassingly bad. If you have to coat a potato to get a crispy fry then you don't know how to make fries and the Dive In fries are coated and I don't like those. And, really, how often can you have that for lunch? Once or twice was okay, but that was all I could stomach. The dining room food was just okay, as was the service. On the 2 nights we were sat by ourselves, the service was almost non-existent. It would take between 20-30 minutes between courses, and when our entree was served, they never came back and asked us how we liked it. Twice on My Time Dining we arrived at the dining room only to be told it was a 45 minute wait and that we should have made reservations! Really, "My Time Dining", see the My Time part of that? This means we don't know in advance when will dine! Never had this issue on Royal, we would show up and be seated within 10 minutes. And, as I previously said, if you seat us at a table for 2, this does not mean you can just serve us at your convenience. We had much better service when we were lucky enough to be seated with 4 to 6 others. The evening entertainment was very, very good. HAL has the "music walk" and all three stages are worth visiting. Our couple of Megan and Ethan in the Billboard Onboard lounge were really outstanding. We went every evening they performed. Lincoln Center stage had great musicians too. The evening stage entertainment had more hits than misses (one night it was just a movie), but we enjoyed the 3 singer and dancing shows. Island Magic Steel Drum gets a special mention too, wow, they blew us away. The service from our room attendants was spotless. We took one excursion, the dome car train ride across the isthmus. This included a stop at the new visitor center where we had the good fortune of catching a ship just entering the top canal on it's way to the Atlantic. The train ride was amazing. What wasn't amazing was that after the train ride we were unwillingly dragged to a mall with a duty free store that no one wanted to visit and where no one brought anything and it added 2 hours to our trip. This stop was not in the tour description and left us with a bad taste after what had been a truly memorable time. We did things by ourselves at Aruba, Curacao and Limon. Half Moon Cay is a great stop, too bad on board time is an early 2:30 so you don't really get a whole lot of time there, especially since it is a tender port so you have to allow transit time. We had great attendants for our room, no problems there, If you are Catholic, both Sundays offered mass, actually, mass is offered daily. Disembarkation was a breeze too. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is our third cruise on Zuiderdam so we knew what to expect from the ship and were looking forward to seeing the Panama Canal up close and personal. We were given the opportunity to upgrade from our usual Neptune Suite to the Pinnacle ... Read More
This is our third cruise on Zuiderdam so we knew what to expect from the ship and were looking forward to seeing the Panama Canal up close and personal. We were given the opportunity to upgrade from our usual Neptune Suite to the Pinnacle Suite and jumped at the chance to experience this once in a lifetime deal. It did not disappoint. Embarkation and settling into our suite as a breeze. There are lots of activities on the ship from the Microsoft classes to musical performances to the EXC presentations. You can find something to do or do nothing with ease on this ship. There are a number of areas of the ship that we have found that were quiet and comfortable for relaxing and reading during the sea days. We occasionally visited the casino and really enjoyed the fact that it is one of the only HAL non-smoking casinos. We purchased a couple of excursions from HAL and both were well put together and done perfectly. Panama Canal transit was narrated by a naturalist with lots of facts about the history of the canal. We stayed on the ship for the whole day, most of it spent on our balcony, marveling at the engineering of this historic endeavor. Disembarkation was also perfect as we were escorted off the ship by the Neptune Lounge staff with our luggage waiting for us. Grabbed a porter and went through customs and to the garage and were on the road back to Ohio by 9am. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Overall, we loved our cruise. We took advantage of $49 for 3rd and 4th guests to take two of our grandchildren, ages 11 and 13, and along with cruise credits obtained via CCL stock ownership and monitoring price reductions on our cabin, ... Read More
Overall, we loved our cruise. We took advantage of $49 for 3rd and 4th guests to take two of our grandchildren, ages 11 and 13, and along with cruise credits obtained via CCL stock ownership and monitoring price reductions on our cabin, the final price including tax and port fees was very reasonable. This was our 15th cruise, our third on Holland. The kids adapted well, even though there were few children on board, and they were well behaved and popular with the crew and other guests. The cabin was a little crowded, but functional. Pros: Service was outstanding. Our room steward Frank was very smart and talented— always smiling and a very hard worker. He was fluent in English, impeccably honest and the best towel animal maker we have seen. He was assisted by Ami, who was not so communicative but a good worker. Food service people were terrific. On the breakfast Lido buffet, the cooks were attentive and consistent. Our granddaughter is gluten free, and Sous Chef Antonio personally attended to making pancakes for her. The Burger joint was consistently good. The grandkids liked it and loved the pizza place where our granddaughter got gluten free pizza without any trouble. Nearly every evening, we went to the main dinning room. The staff was fantastic. Our wait staff included Samuti and Heri of Bali, both excellent servers and just great guys whom I would be proud to count as friends. The Maitre d’ and Assistant were also very attentive and made sure everything operated well. Consistently, the food was excellent. We had one lunch in the Pinnacle Grill and the food was also very good, but the service was a little slow compared to what we became used to in Main Dining. I might add, the kids loved the ice cream, sorbet, etc. We did the kitchen tour, and it is impressive how they maintain such high quality for so many. On the Spa staff, I recall Anina of the Republic of South Africa who is a good communicator and a fine young lady with a beautiful spirit. I enjoyed our conversations. On the Excursion Desk, Lannay of the Netherlands was excellent. She helped us as we needed it. and assisted in a matter that should have been resolved by Guest Services. The only truly incompetent person we ran into was a woman in Guest Services. We asked for clarification regarding credits we should have received for my wife as a CCL shareholder. The woman kept concocting nonsense about us trying to claim credits through a travel agent or a previously booked cruise— simply not true. We finally got clarification from her boss, a ship officer Joras of the Netherlands, an excellent officer. We received all the credits we believed we were due, and our faith in Holland service was restored. Some people asked us if our grandkids could have a good time with so many older people aboard. This was not a problem. They are homeschooled and have learned to get along with all age groups and even made friends with kids their age aboard, playing chess, ping pong and puzzles. They also really enjoyed the entertainment, including the Musical stage presentations, the magician James Cielen (talented and funny with cute dogs) and the master pianist Hyperian Knight whom my grandkids liked a lot. Also, the Lincoln Center group was great, a very talented group of young people. I personally liked BB King Blues Club and many others. We did two excursions, the Caves of Curacao, much better than expected, and the Costa Rica Tropical Rain Forest, the favorite of the kids. Perhaps my only complaint is that the morning “news” was provided via a summary of the New York Times, which I had not read for years. It is a shameless totalitarian socialist propaganda rag. So I chose to ignore it, and my days were happier for the absence of news. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The quality of this cruise line and the ship speaks for itself. My wife and I from Florida Have sailed 7 different cruise lines. The Oosterdam in December 2018 was the first HAL which we so enjoyed. The crew from the Captain from Canada ... Read More
The quality of this cruise line and the ship speaks for itself. My wife and I from Florida Have sailed 7 different cruise lines. The Oosterdam in December 2018 was the first HAL which we so enjoyed. The crew from the Captain from Canada , who was informative in the Q and A session, the cruise director, Nathan from Texas, who was the CD on the Oosterdam and remembered us as we boarded the ship ,to the assistant director, Ines,from Portugal is what made this Trip so much fun. We enjoyed Lincoln Center Stage, played Pickleball, played trivia, where we met friends that we played trivia with the whole cruise .We did morning stretching, went to afternoon tea and evening shows. We did not use the casino,or the computer classes this time. We ate in the dining rooms and buffet, which was very,very good. We used the thermal spa. The room was fine and our steward wonderful.We encountered NO ONE that was not polite,friendly, respectful and fair. We look forward to our next visit cruise, that we booked on the ship , to New England/ Canada. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Sail Dates: March 27, 2019 – April 7, 2019 Cabin: 6177, Verandah Stateroom Ports: Leaving out of Fort Lauderdale; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia with a Cruise of Soufriere Bay; Bridgetown Barbados; ... Read More
Sail Dates: March 27, 2019 – April 7, 2019 Cabin: 6177, Verandah Stateroom Ports: Leaving out of Fort Lauderdale; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia with a Cruise of Soufriere Bay; Bridgetown Barbados; Fort-De-France, Martinique with a Daylight Cruise Passed Mount Pelee; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Captain: Darin Bowland Cruise Director: Nathan Hinojosa Hotel Director: Mustafa Galbahar Our Cruise Experience: First with HAL; 40 total Pre Cruise Stay: We decided to stay in Fort Lauderdale the night before so we booked a room at the Rodeway Inn Airport. They provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel to the cruise terminal, which you have to reserve when you check in. We arrived around 4:00 and found the waiting area for shuttles, called the hotel and the shuttle arrived within about 20-30 minutes. After we got into our room, it was close to dinner time so we decided to try Marina84, the hotel’s restaurant & bar. We’d read some reviews on it and they were mostly good. Since we didn’t have a car to go anywhere else, this was as good as any place. It was already doing a pretty good business when we went in and sat down. My husband ordered a hamburger and I ordered the French Dip…wish I’d ordered the hamburger! He said it was good and it looked good. My French Dip, however, was pretty bad. After dinner, we walked around checking out the hotel. It has a business center, which consists of two computers and I think a printer, located around the corner from the lobby. It has a shop in case you forgot something or want to buy other items. A pool of course, and the restaurant. Our room was nice with two full beds, TV, fridge, and a coffee maker. After we settled in for the night and were watching TV, the power went out. Once I found our flashlight, it came back on. Apparently lightening from the storm had struck a substation and caught the lines on fire causing the outage. It wasn’t out very long, but the next morning when I was getting ready for breakfast, it went out for a few hours. I was just getting out of the shower when it went out, and I had to put my makeup on with the trusty flashlight and couldn’t dry my hair. When the power finally came back on, we went for breakfast. I was not in a good mood, and breakfast took forever because everyone was so slow getting what they wanted. It’s one of those typical hotel breakfasts that has cereals, fruits, pastries, make your own waffles and pancakes, etc. As I said, I was not in a good mood with the power being out and this man walks in dressed as a yacht captain making jokes like this… “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking”. “That’s it, just your captain speaking.” Well some people thought it was funny, I, however, did not. He walked around the room making jokes with people and fortunately for him, he did not stop at our table. Shuttle time…we had reserved seats on the first shuttle to the terminal which left a little after 9:30. It was supposed to be 10:00, but we were ready and actually glad it was leaving earlier. I hope no one missed it! Embarkation: We really didn’t have to wait very long before they began boarding and we were on board around 11:30. We had read on Cruise Critic that the main dining room was open for lunch on embarkation day so we threw our carry-on in the cabin and headed there for lunch. I’m glad we did, it was so much nicer than trying to fight the crowds in the buffet. It was a nice relaxing wonderful lunch. My husband had a steak sandwich that he liked and I had the fluke shrimp butter; not sure why it was called that, and my husband had the peanut butter silk pie. The dining room is pretty with everything in white with red and white lights. The waiters’ stations are in rooms along the outsides of the dining room so no tables are by the stations. I liked that. Our Cabin: We liked the fact that our luggage had already been delivered to our cabin when we boarded and we were able to go to our cabins right away instead of waiting until 1:00. That was a good thing! We had cabin 6177 with a verandah. The verandah was a nice size with two adjustable semi-lounge chairs, one with a foot stool, and a small round table. We spent quite a bit of time on the verandah. Another good thing. The layout of the cabin was good. As you walk in, the the bathroom is on your right with closets adjacent on your left. The bathroom shower has glass doors and was a good size, but it didn’t drain well at all. The toilet is squeezed into a corner facing the shower, so if you have long legs, be prepared to sit sideways…a bad thing. There is plenty of closet space with shelving and the safe is inside another closet-like space. You will program in a four-digit number to lock and unlock it. The beds were pushed together to make a king size bed and it was very comfortable; you couldn’t tell where the crack was! A good thing! We had four pillows, two small ones, and two queen size ones. It took a couple of nights to find the ones we each liked. There is a sofa with two cabinets above it, and a small table that can easily be moved around – a good thing – since you had to move it to use the desk that was across from it. The desk had three drawers for storage. There seemed to be plenty of lighting over the desk, but for applying make-up, it cast a shadow so it was hard to really see. A bad thing. One thing I loved was on the wall under the TV is an area that seemed to be recessed into the wall with wire cables. It was great for storing books and my pocket folder with all of our cruise info. I have a folder for cruise docs, airline info, each port with confirmations, etc. in it, and that was a really handy place for it. A good thing. There are plenty of outlets, both European and U.S., along with a USB port for charging your cell phone at the desk, and one at each night stand along with U.S. outlets. A good thing! To keep your lights on and the A/C running while you are out, keep a card of some type in the holder at the door. I used an old Blockbuster card. We always turned the lights off, but want the A/C to stay on. The temp in our room usually stayed around 68, but some nights it did get up to 72 or 73. I had ordered a fan for my asthma for sleeping and that helped as well. After lunch, we went back to the room so I could get everything hung up to minimize any wrinkling, and get everything in its place. I brought magnetic clips to put up our itinerary and any invitations or anything else important that we didn’t want to lose. I also brought strong magnetic hooks for hanging pants, pool bag, etc. Food: Food options were plenty around the ship, but we ate most of our breakfasts and lunches, and all of our dinners in the main dining room. No complaints on the food here except for the red snapper at dinner one evening. It was pretty bad and I couldn’t eat it and didn’t want anything else from the menu. The MDR’s menu selections were good, I suppose, but we are the meat and potatoes kind of people so we did have some challenges. Most everything we chose was good and all of the soups were very good. Main Dining Room: For dinner we had anytime dining, and eventually ended up with a wait team that we liked and had the rest of the cruise. They were Swedana and Al Rey. A very good team, always getting our food out right away and making sure we finished in time to get to the 7:00 show. The Maitre d’ actually assigned us to them after my husband spoke with him one morning about his eggs. They made sure everything was perfect with us from that day on. A good thing! Breakfast: I ordered egg white omelets with peppers, onion, and cheese every morning and it was always perfect. It comes with a little hash brown that is scrumptious, but I had to be careful with that. My husband would order his eggs over medium and they were always overcooked. We figured they continued to cook inside the cloche from the galley to the table. Once he began ordering them over easy, they were perfect. Dinner Apps & Soups: Shrimp and chicken croquette, crab & and daikon cakes, jumbo shrimp cocktail, hazelnut crusted brie, Caribbean island fritters, crab and shrimp Louis, wild mushroom with Thai red curry, spring rolls, shrimp cocktail with mustard sauce, scallops, and traditional shrimp cocktail. Wish I’d gotten two of all of these! The flavors were so good of each of these apps. Soups were all delicious and included French onion, cream of mushroom, Thai shrimp bisque, potato and leek soup, tomato and zucchini soup, corn and something soup, sun choke soup with toasted pumpkin seed, and butternut squash soup. Each soup was very flavorful with a rich creamy texture (except for the French onion) and left you wanting more. The French onion was the best I’ve had anywhere, except for one night when I had no onions, only the crouton and broth! A bad thing…but when it had the onions, this soup was excellent. The crouton was excellent and covered the entire bowl. It was only super hot a night or two, which was okay with me because French onion soup is usually so hot you can’t eat it. Again, all of the soups were delicious…another good thing! Dinner Entrees: Entrees included shrimp Diablo, prime rib, tenderloin and shrimp, spaghetti, pot roast, red snapper, red wine brisket, petite tenders, parmesan crusted chicken breast, surf & turf (filet mignon and lobster), and sweet and sour shrimp. We enjoyed the entrees we got with the exception of the red snapper. All dishes were beautiful and tasted wonderful! The waiter takes the lobster out of the shell for you – a good thing! We are hit or miss on that detail from cruise to cruise, as some do and some don’t. Desserts: All of the desserts were good. They were scrumptious, but I couldn’t eat too many being diabetic. Desserts we got are, peanut butter silk pie, cheese & fruit plate, chocolate soufflé, Nutella cheesecake, rum cake, cheese plate, almond & orange cake, warm flourless chocolate cake. I got sorbet a couple of nights, but I have to say the fruit and cheese plate was very good. NY Deli: Most days for lunch I would get the New Jersey Turkey Club Decker sandwich. It was very good and I would order it without lettuce and remove the middle piece of bread, you know, to cut down on calories – really, don’t laugh! The bread is buttered and toasted just the right amount and the turkey is shaved and piled on with a tomato and cheese, emmm…just thinking about it now makes my mouth water! They also have pizza here, but you can’t get it by the slice – a bad thing – so you do have to order the whole pizza. It’s about the size of a medium pizza. In the evening my husband would get wings here and I would get the sliders, nachos with cheese, or popcorn. The popcorn is not available until just before the movie starts. Dive-In: My husband got a hamburger from here at lunch one day along with some fries. He liked the food he got from here. I think the fries were double fried and looked scrumptious! Buffet: We didn’t eat from the buffet often because they serve you and it is slow getting through it. Another reason was that it wasn’t open when we wanted something. A bad thing. The hours are 6:00 a.m. – 9:00, 11:30 a.m. -- 3:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. -- 10:30 p.m. Every time we went there they were closing up. We are used to buffets being open later than 10:30 so we were forced to go to the NY Deli for snacks after 10:30. A bad thing. Items we did get from the buffet were shrimp stir fry from the Asian station, brisket, shrimp cocktails, but they don’t have cocktail sauce, and desserts. My husband went up after dinner and said they had lobster on lobster night and he was able to get three. The buffet pretty much had whatever the main dining room served at dinner, so that was a good thing! Star Mariner Lunch: We had an invitation to attend the Star Mariner Lunch on the first sea day; we started with one Mariner Star because we have many Carnival cruises under our belts. They did not take up invitations, so I kept ours. We were seated at a table for two that was beautifully decorated with glasses of champagne and beautiful exotic flowers. Lunch was a choice of chicken and Andouille gumbo, Caribbean Montego pepper steak, Cobia and grilled shrimp, and pasta pasta. My husband had the gumbo and liked it. I think he got the pepper steak, but can’t remember now. I got the Pasta Pasta and it was very good. It had a very smooth and flavorful consistency that almost melted on your tongue. We didn’t get dessert. On the next sea day, we headed to the MDR for lunch and when we got off the elevator a huge crowd was going into the dining room. We merged in and wondered why the Captain and ship’s officers were there. Once seated, we realized it was a second Star Mariner lunch, exactly like the one we had the day before! That’s what happens when they don’t take your invitation! Ports of Call: Phillipsburg, St. Maarten: Our first stop was St. Maarten. Since we have been here so many times, we stayed on board and enjoyed getting a chair by the Sea View pool and soaked up some rays while most everyone else was in port. If you have not been here before, I recommend a tour with Bernard’s. Castries, Saint Lucia: Again, we’d been here so many times we opted to stay on board. I think we did get off and walk around the terminal and got some great shots of the ship and the water. If you haven’t been here I recommend a tour with Cosol. We’ve taken his tour twice and you will see lots, eat lots, drink lots, and do lots! You can get a mud bath, you will see the Pitons, you will see a waterfall, botanical gardens, and eat a local lunch. As we were leaving St. Lucia, the ship took a slow tour around the bay and we were very close to the Pitons! You could see them so well; usually it’s cloudy and we can never see them, but we got some beautiful shots of them as we sailed through the bay. A good thing! Bridgetown, Barbados: Once again, been there done that so we decided to take a taxi to Rascal’s and enjoy the day at Brandon’s Beach. When we arrived, we checked in with Leigh and for $20 we got two chairs on the beach with umbrella, and a complimentary rum drink each. We got our chairs and walked along the beach. It was a beautiful, sunny day. After a nice walk along the beach, we headed back to our chairs to bask in the sun awhile. Since it was a week-day, it wasn’t crowded with locals, but by around 11:00 more and more people began showing up. We had told our taxi driver to pick us up around 1:00 so we packed up around 12:00 and went to the bar for those free drinks! Yes, they had plenty of rum in them! They were very tasty with nutmeg and other spices. My husband bought one more for the road and while we were sitting there relaxing, our taxi driver walked through looking for us around 12:30. It opens at 9:00 a.m. even though the signs reads 10:00. Brandon’s Beach is beautiful and this was a very nice, relaxing day for us. Leigh, Corey, Carson, and Michael will take very good care of you. Fort-de-France, Martinique: This port was the only one we had not been to and were excited about our visit. We had booked a tour with Krambole Tours, and Christelle, our guide, was excellent. Instructions were to meet her at the pier at 9:00. While we were waiting, it began to rain…oh, no! She arrived precisely at 9:00 and said that this was the first rain they’d had in months and they were glad to see it. Van loaded, we began our journey to the top of the mountain. First stop was a Catholic church that is magnificent. It’s an old beautiful church that has some rich history. There are also restrooms here that are the last ones for a while. We left the church and headed to the rain forest. We saw the Alma River, and while most walked down to the Saut Gendarme water fall, I and another lady opted to stay in the van since it was raining and the steps to the falls were steep. I didn’t want to chance slipping and breaking something -- like my pride! From here we visited the ruins of an old theater in St. Pierre, the DePaz Rum Distillery, and on to Grey Sand Beach, our last stop. We also saw Mt. Pelee. At each stop, Christelle would present us with tasty local treats that she had prepared for us. The trip takes extremely winding roads so if you have motion sickness, I would recommend you take whatever you use for that before the tour. Christelle has something she can give you, but I wished I had taken my Bonine! This tour costs 65 Euros pp and she prefers you pay with Euros. They are easy to order from your bank and have within a few days; otherwise it’s $85 pp. You may also pay with a credit card. We enjoyed this tour. As we were leaving, the ship sailed passed Mt. Pelee, but we were at dinner and couldn’t see it from the ship. Basseterre, Saint Kitts: Again, been there done all that. We had reserved chairs at Palms Court Gardens and Restaurant here. It is a short taxi ride there and you can walk it in about 15 minutes if you’re up to that. We arrived early and our chairs were waiting for us with our name on them! They were located at the edge of the pool overlooking the beautiful blue ocean with a wonderful view of the ship. They offer free Wi-Fi, but be aware that it doesn’t work for every phone and wouldn’t work with ours. The gardens are beautiful with a lot of gorgeous tropical plants and flowers. The pool is very nice, large enough and extremely clean. There is a hot tub there as well. There is no beach here, just the beautiful view of the ship and gardens around the resort. We did not eat lunch here, but my husband did order a Toilet Water drink. I tasted it, and it was very strong… The ships’ crews also like to visit here, so soon after lunch time they began arriving and the peacefulness and quietness of the pool and surrounding area became noisy and not as enjoyable, so be aware of this as well. Around 1:00 we decided we’d had enough of the sun and asked them to call us taxi so we could head back to the ship. I would recommend this place if you can get there early (it opens at 9:00), if you would like a quiet, beautiful day. The day pass is $12pp and if you take the taxi, that is $10. Be sure to use a good sunscreen because it is very hot and with the nice breezes, you don’t realize how much sun you are getting. If you prefer a tour, Grey’s does a good tour here. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but again, been there done it all. We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the peacefulness of the Sea View pool. Several years ago we took a snorkeling tour with Rumbaba and I think they are still in business with new owners. That a was a great day and I would recommend it. Island tours are always good as well. Half Moon Cay: Been here several times and it always has been our favorite day. Half Moon Cay is so pretty with its pristine beaches and beautiful views of the water and our ship. This day, however, was not so enjoyable. This was our first time visiting HMC on a HAL ship and HAL decided to add this port to its new ship, the Nieuw Statendam as well. This small private island is not big enough to handle two large ships on the same day, in my opinion. The Koningsdam arrived first which was good. We were able to get some good chairs in the sun near the pirate ship. After the Statendam arrived, it began to get quite crowded on the small island. Lunch was not good at all. Our other times here it has always been a good lunch. It was very crowded trying to get lunch and the hamburgers weren’t cooked enough and neither was my hot dog. The chicken was not that good either. Thank goodness for fruit! We left around 1:00 and the line for the tender was extremely long. People would cut in line by going under the ropes instead of snaking around and through the maze of rope. We sat on the tender for at least 30 minutes while they filled it up. Once full, the tender had a hard time trying to back away from the pier. After several tries we finally made it, turned around and headed for the ship. I quietly wondered if we would sink on the way to the ship... We were disappointed that they put two large ships here on the same day. I would call this day the ugly. Entertainment: We were disappointed in entertainment for an 11-day cruise. The ship has what it calls the Music Walk, consisting of a BB King’s Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard on Board, and RollingStone Rock Room. We enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage with its classical musicians, but the times they were on stage was when we were at dinner. We managed to catch the tail end of their performances a couple of nights and I really liked them. We went to BB King’s three nights and liked the band, they were really good, but after three or four nights, we got bored with it. The female singer was much better than the male singer, but I like listening to them both. The same thing with RollingStone Rock Room…we went there three nights and after a while got bored with that. The lead singer wasn’t that good, but the band itself was. We didn’t even listen to the Billboard on Board because just walking passed it was enough; we couldn’t take an hour of them. There was no entertainment the first night in the World Stage theater, but the second night we had a comedian, Kira Soltanovich. She was funny talking about her Russian mother. The second night on the World Stage was StepOne Dance Company presenting “Humanity”. That was the best in my opinion. The walls in the theater are millions of tiny LED lights. This performance was really professional and beautiful with the incorporation of the laser lights and the use of the walls. This should not be missed and they performed this show twice during the cruise. The theater is quite small for this size ship, but the Humanity show wouldn’t work well if the theater were larger. StepOne Dance Company’s performance, “Stages”, was the ugly in my opinion. It was about three couples and the different stages of their relationships (no talking)…not a good performance at all and some people did walk out during this performance. Other shows on World Stage included BBC Earth Presents: Blue Planet II; another ugly. We could have watched this in our stateroom. It is comparable to a National Geographic movie, only not as good; another comedian, Kelly McDonald; an illusionist, Ruben Vilagrand who was really good and shouldn’t be missed; a master mentalist, Jon Stetson who was very good; singer, Petrina Johnson, who was good; and one night they combined the mentalist and Petrina Johnson calling it a variety show. In the evening there was also Majority Rules Game Show, and music trivia, if you like those types games. The casino was another option. There were options during the day, but when not in port, we were at the pool. We would go the Crow’s Nest in the evening for happy hour and hang out there for a while. There is a little café outside the Crow’s Nest called Explorations Café, but it was only open one night we went there. Our When & Where paper says it’s open from 9:00 a.m—8:00 p.m.; guess we went early one night! Disembarkation: Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation. We had a disembarkation time of 8:15, but they called us earlier. We found our luggage right away and getting through Customs was a breeze. We got a taxi right away and were at the airport in plenty of time for our flight, which happened to be an hour late! One thing they give you is a summary of the entertainment for the whole cruise so you can plan what you want to do at a glance. I noticed that they showed us in Half Moon Cay on March 16th. Problem was, the cruise didn’t begin until March 27th. Oops! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This cruise left Ft Lauderdale March 27 2019 - April 7 Neptune Suite. There is no priority tender service for Neptune Suite passengers as has been stated in the summary on this site and in others. In 5 cruises on HAL ships I have ... Read More
This cruise left Ft Lauderdale March 27 2019 - April 7 Neptune Suite. There is no priority tender service for Neptune Suite passengers as has been stated in the summary on this site and in others. In 5 cruises on HAL ships I have never found a place to board or depart separate from other guests, except during home port embarkation. I have asked. They seem amazed that I would ask about it. The newly designed Koningsdam Neptune suites are less user friendly than on the other ships. Smaller, it seems, with fewer closets, less storage space and worst of all, the "water closet" is separated from the rest of the bathroom by a door. The area for the toilet measures 8 ft 5 inches by 46 inches. Once reduced by the sink and counter, I believe you are left with about 5 ft by 40 inches of space, minus the toilet itself. which is ok, except that TWO doors enter into this area. One opens inward and comes within 2 inches of front of the toilet seat. In an otherwise luxurious suite why have they designed the bathroom this way is beyond me. Those issues aside, it was a great trip. The bed is comfortable, the service perfect. We ate in the new Orange Dining Room (Neptune Suite, Pinnacle Suite passengers and 4 Star Mariners) every night except when in the Pinnacle Grill. We made use of the free laundry service for Neptune Suite passengers, room service for breakfast on days when we had an excursion planned and one night for a late night snack. All these services were wonderful. Entertainment on HAL still is not anything to write about, so I won't. The ship is only about 2 years old and is being well taken care for. The staff is welcoming and friendly. The Hotel Director seems to be everywhere making sure all runs smoothly. Even on the tender to Half Moon Cay. That stop, by the way, is a really nice way to enjoy a day at the beach. Be sure to reserve a "clam shell" which is a shaded spot for two beach lounges, before you leave on your trip. On a sunny day you will fry out there without one and things move much more quickly when you land if you already have your ticket in hand. We have enjoyed every single one of our voyages on HAL. This one was particularly fun because in two ports we berthed along side our sister ship, The Niew Statendam. We made friends with Niew Statendam travelers when we ended up on some the same excursions and spent the day at half Moon Cay. It was noisy and fun when The Konningsdam pulled out of port in St Thomas just a little ahead of the New Statendam. As they were side by side the ships signaled each other with those long blasts, and passengers stood on decks and waved and cheered. A good memory. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Everything was wonderful! The food was xlnt. The main dining room wasn’t as noisy as some previously stated. The portions were ample and presented well. All servers were friendly and courteous and we found this true throughout the ship. ... Read More
Everything was wonderful! The food was xlnt. The main dining room wasn’t as noisy as some previously stated. The portions were ample and presented well. All servers were friendly and courteous and we found this true throughout the ship. Our balcony stateroom on deck 5 was perfect size and always clean and fresh. The bathroom was fine with an excellent shower. The toilet is close to the shower, but it’s no big deal. The bed is very comfortable and the pillows aren’t “hard as rocks” as previously stated. The lido dining was very good and we thought that having the servers fill our plates rather than ourselves worked out very well. One might stand in a line for 2 minutes to get some fried eggs or an omelette but I never thought the lines were exceptionally long. We were always able to find a seat; either inside or out by the pool. Breakfast in the main dining room also was very nice without the lido hustle and bustle. Yes, the chair saving by the pool was evident; I don’t think that will ever change. Most of our time was spent at the aft pool. Half of this section is used by the smokers but surprisingly didn’t bother the other half. Plenty of drink servers and guys clearing tables. Can’t figure out why the pool water was green and the jacuzzis were blue. Loved the Blues and Rock venues. Saw a comedian and a mentalist both mediocre. Every time we went to the main theatre we walked right in at about 8:40 for a 9 pm show no problem. Embarkation and disembarkation we among the smoothest we’ve ever experienced. Maybe 45 minutes for each. My guess at the average age of cruisers would be late 60’s and above. LOTS of wheelchairs and scooters. Probably only about 15 kids total. We didn’t take any ship sponsored tours as we felt they were too expensive. The biggest disappointment of ports was Half Moon Cay in that there were 2 ships in port for a total of about 5000 people on the beach. Probably would have been pretty cool with half that as it is a very beautiful location. We thought some Caribbean music out by the pools in the afternoon would have been nice, but it never happened. We are looking forward to cruising with HAL again soon! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Our family chose the Panama Canal 10 day cruise with Holland American. We had 6 adults and 3 children. We planned this cruise a year in advance. When we got to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale 2 of us had passport cards and were not ... Read More
Our family chose the Panama Canal 10 day cruise with Holland American. We had 6 adults and 3 children. We planned this cruise a year in advance. When we got to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale 2 of us had passport cards and were not allowed to board the ship. The passport cards would not work, so if you are planning a cruise that requires a passport do not get the passport card and note you can not fly internationally with the card. Holland America does not post passbook cards are not accepted for international cruises. There were a least 5 couples that had this issue and were not allowed to board. If this situation happened with just myself and husband we would have cancelled and got 100% refund for the cruise. This totally ruined the cruise for us. We had to go to Miami Passport Agency the next day with a 8 hour wait for emergency pass port book, then fly to Aruba to catch the boat there. With hotel expenses, fees for the pass books, air fare $1600 later. We got assistance from the Port Director not Holland American. It was on a Sunday and you could not get a hold of anyone at HAL. It was very frustrating. The Port Director was fantastic, she told us step by step what to do, so we follow her directions to the T. She called us everyday to check our progress. We did not hear one word from HAL, at that point they had our $6,000 and did not care at all. When we got to the Port at Aruba we still were not listed on the manifest to enter the ship. We had to wait for the Port to get all the information to them. Never again will we cruise with HAL. The ship was clean, the crew was fantastic but the management at HAL could care less once they got your money. Buyer beware. Also make sure you check your bill after the cruise.We found discrepancies, so unless you check thoroughly you will be billed for additional items or not get refunds from drink cards. Also we were charged $14.50 per day for gratuities that we were not aware of. I felt like we were nickle and dime for everything. Just include it in the cruise price. Holland American totally ruined cruising for us in the future. Very sad because they were a great company 6 years ago. I am a very positive person and I always shake off any hurtles I experience, but this one was more than I could gut. Aruba was beautiful, safe, very friendly and the family had a great time there. We will do a family vacation there. Please be very aware if you plan a cruise with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We went on a Panama Chanel Cruise in March 2019. Here are our good and less impressive experiences from our trip. Stateroom: We lived in a veranda on the 10th floor. Beautiful view. The stateroom was really nice. We were supposed to be ... Read More
We went on a Panama Chanel Cruise in March 2019. Here are our good and less impressive experiences from our trip. Stateroom: We lived in a veranda on the 10th floor. Beautiful view. The stateroom was really nice. We were supposed to be 4 people in our cabin why they arranged 4 beds the first evening – 2 regular beds, one bed coming down from the ceiling and the sofa was changed to a bed. The last bed made it difficult to get to the veranda but it was only arranged as a bed at night time – not optimal but I prefer that solution compared to the solution with 2 beds coming from the ceiling as we have experienced before as you almost need to be an acrobat moving back and forth in the stateroom. As we were only 3 they only arranged the bed from the ceiling at night and moving around even at night was no problem at all. The bathroom was great and big with a nice bathtub. There was a nice TV with plenty of both life TV, movies and more available. The TV was somewhat small but did it’s purpose. The staff was friendly but not very effective e.g. they never removed dirty dishes from the room – we needed to put them outside the stateroom to avoid the smell and have our small stateroom properly organized. Dinning: The food was generally okay – great during gala nights but below expectation other nights. It was a big disappointment we were charged extra on gala nights to get an extra serving!! We ended up with anytime dinning but ended up eating most night at the same section i.e. getting the same servers which was nice. The afternoon tea in the dining room was really nice The buffet on the Lido deck was nice but that section was severely under dimensioned. At most meals we had to walk around for a long time to find a table. It was also understaffed, or the staff was not properly trained – you were lucky to get a drink 5 minutes after asking. Resulting in us going after our drinks our self. The drink section was poorly arranged making it difficult to get a drink – had they swapped the drink machines and the glass/cups then more people would have been able to get drinks at the same time!! In our opinion then they utilize the boat poorly – there are many areas where there was almost nobody – why not remove many of the redundancies at the buffet, make more tables and then more food options other places on the boat?? My son went many times disappointed to get an ice cream – the ice cream shop opens and closes with the rest of the buffet – why??? The had a great Dive-In shop with fantastic burgers and hot dogs – my oldest sons favorite. Unfortunately, the Dive-In was next to the buffet so no seats Entertainment: We were disappointed by the entertainment. Some of the shows at the main theater were spectacular others were okay but disappointing they substitute an evening with a movie shown in poor quality – really!! The varieties of activities were below expectations – everyday was almost the same which is nice if you like bingo, trivial and cooking show but … They had some sport activities which we liked to join – some of them were great and some of them – yeah it seems like they forgot – nobody showed up to organize. We somehow got an activity going but … We knew Zuiderdam is a smaller boat, but the entertainment director could have done better e.g. ice sculpturing, magic show, parrots, juggler and a lot more. Amenities: The two pools were nice and deep enough to swim and play though small. There were many hot tubs which we enjoyed as well They had a giant chess board – we played it once risking our health – the board was not properly fastened and very slippery – again one of the many small but important details which would not cost them much to ensure was proper, but it was not taken care of Two nice table tennis located in a corner giving as little wind as possible – very nice The Explorations Central on deck 10 was impressive. Great view, games, books, monitors showing details about the boat and how it was operated. Large interactive touch screens showing highlights of the destinations and tour description. We really enjoyed that a lot. The HAL club was nice – fairly small but there were less than 10 kids on the boat so it did its purpose at our trip – not sure how it would work on a trip with more kids?? The staff there were amazing. My boys did not spend much time there, but they were always in the middle of some activities they were excited about when I picked them up. I enjoyed staying there for a little while following the activity waiting for a good time to break off – big respect for the staff there They could easily have utilized areas almost vacant throughout the cruise for more exciting activities – a strong recommendation from us. Overall: A nice trip with interesting destination but too many shortcuts from Holland American making the trip overall disappoint and not worth the money – we will search other cruise lines for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We recently returned from a partial Panama Canal transit aboard the Zuiderdam. This was our tenth cruise on a Holland American vessel and as always we were very satisfied with the voyage and especially the service. On the one occasion ... Read More
We recently returned from a partial Panama Canal transit aboard the Zuiderdam. This was our tenth cruise on a Holland American vessel and as always we were very satisfied with the voyage and especially the service. On the one occasion when we complained of an issue, after resolving the issue, Holland America staff made multiple attempts to follow up to ensure we satisfied and even sent a complimentary bottle of wine as an apology. We had a very large Vista suite cabin #6076 midship on the port side. From our spacious balcony we seemed to always be on the side with the port view so the view was much more interesting. I also must note however the continual creaking of the boat when there was any sort of sea motion. It did make a good night’s rest a little harder. Highlights of this trip was the cave excursion in Aruba and the train trip across the isthmus of Panama, which included a stop at the visitor centre for the new larger lock complex. We appreciated that the captain periodically opened the bow area for passengers to get a better view of what was ahead when sailing. Food and service were up to the usual HAL standard. We were a little disappointed with the entertainment as many of the shows were the same as we saw on our last cruise a year ago. However, I must single out the steel band that performed twice during our trip as being excellent. We very much enjoyed the performers on the Lincoln Centre stage, though the Billboard pianists were nothing special. There were many other interesting shipboard activities during the several sea days, most particularly America’s test kitchen and the lectures done by members of the excursion team. As always, the excursion team themselves functioned extremely well for the duration of the voyage. We ate most nights in the dining room, with two nights at Pinnacle. All meals were very tasty but in most cases not too much food. We used the Lido only for breakfast and lunch but most times went outside as the inside dining areas are both crowded and noisy. I heard some people complaining about the relatively sedate nature of evening activities during the voyage, but if you want dancing and late night entertainment, you are best served by a line such as RCC or Disney that caters to a younger demographic. HAL has changed their internet packages to be based on data used rather than time online. I liked this approach better as our data needs are low. Prices have also been reduced though response time still needs improving. We have booked three additional cruises on HAL ships over the next 18 months so I think that tells you all you need to know about our ongoing satisfaction with this line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this ship because it was newer and we lived the itinerary and not too many sea days. (We have been on about 26 cruises) This is what we loved: 1. The ship is beautiful 2. Staff is attentive and friendly 3. Dinner in ... Read More
We chose this ship because it was newer and we lived the itinerary and not too many sea days. (We have been on about 26 cruises) This is what we loved: 1. The ship is beautiful 2. Staff is attentive and friendly 3. Dinner in dining room doesn’t seem rushed 4. Itinerary 5. Very clean 6. Despite reviews that say they don’t have an “unlimited” internet package they actually did. On our 10 day cruise it cost $179. This is what we did NOT love: 1. Theatre so small it does not accommodate guests. We showed up 40 minutes early for two shows and there was not one seat left 2. Formal night, a dance show is about to begin, ONE show, really? It starts at 9pm and we are waiting outside the theatre standing here at 7:50pm, we have a 1 hour 10 min wait. It’s day 9 of our 10 day cruise and we love the dance shows and this is the third one and if we get a seat it will be the first one we get to see. I think the theatre holds 300 people, I may be wrong. Smallest theatre on any cruise ship I have ever been on. They need 3 shows per night for the dance shows to accommodate the guests. Tomorrow night is the last dance show and they also have ONE show. So nope we won’t sail with them again. 3. Eating in the lido buffet is exasperating. You can basically not get any food by yourself, maybe you can serve yourself some fruit or a cinnamon roll AFTER they hand you a plate. What I’m trying to say is that the buffet is a lot of work. You have to wait in line. You can’t grab your own plate. There is say one person maybe two behind the glass at each food station. At one food station this one girl has to make crepes, spoon out oatmeal and cream of wheat into bowls, put bacon and sausage on your plate..it’s pretty crazy and slow. Then suppose you want toast or a bagel, now go to the bread food station wait in that line so that one person that’s runnjng that can take care of it. Then find a table and try to get coffee, it’s just an ordeal. 4. Then they close breakfast most days at 9:30am. 5. The food has been good but some meals better than others. Not every meal has been amazing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
this was our 5th cruise with HAL and 2nd on the Koningsdam in the Caribbean. We loved the 10 day cruise to the ABC islands. We go on cruises to explore new ports and relax and love the HAL experience complete with gala nights. That is ... Read More
this was our 5th cruise with HAL and 2nd on the Koningsdam in the Caribbean. We loved the 10 day cruise to the ABC islands. We go on cruises to explore new ports and relax and love the HAL experience complete with gala nights. That is one of the reasons we book with HAL. Early runs in the morning on deck are lovely after a long winter and the spa experience was great as well! The addition of the rolling stone band is a great entertainment venue after dinner. We feel overall the main dining room experience is going downhill a little in the past 7 years, so we booked a few more of the specialty restaurants. the pinnacle and tamarind are absolute favourites. Diving and snorkeling excursions were wonderful. Great staff that go above and beyond. Our cabin had an oversized veranda and we booked the unlimited laundry which is super to have as you can take a few less things. One thing we completely avoid is the LIDO market. Why stand in line when you can get everything much better in the dining room? We arrived early in the morning and check in and embarkation was seamless. We definitely will go again but may chose a smaller ship next time to see if we can experience again some of the reasons we like to go with HAL in the first place, which is excellent service, excellent dining and super friendly staff. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I am not a person who feels that a vacation should go perfectly. I expects some bumps along the way. In saying this, I am bothered by the bumps that are preventable. The issues that I have detailed below in the 'Cabin Review' ... Read More
I am not a person who feels that a vacation should go perfectly. I expects some bumps along the way. In saying this, I am bothered by the bumps that are preventable. The issues that I have detailed below in the 'Cabin Review' were preventable and it is my hope that the creaking room is repaired before others experience sleepless nights on their vacation. We found the crew as wonderful as ever. Aside from the creaking room, we were looked after very well. I was quite worried about the entertainment after 4 nights. Post Modern Jukebox was not good. The theater was full when this group started and at least one quarter of the people left the first night before the performance ended and less people showed up for the second night performance. There was only polite clapping during the performances. With the second performance they gave themselves an encore when no one was clapping and people were leaving. Some awkwardly sat down while others just left. One of the singers had an amazing voice. I hope she finds another company. The entertainment got better. There were two dance performance nights and they were very good with well deserved standing ovations. The live orchestra performance to Planet Earth II with the wrap around screen was great. Karen Grainger (female impressionist) was very good. We enjoyed quite a few Lincoln Centre performances, wonderful! We would have attended more but our early dining time conflicted with performance times. We went to 2 Rolling Stone Room performances and the band was great. We watched a few songs from the BB King room and again this was good. We liked the music walk. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and ... Read More
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and a few of my criteria. The Rotterdam was the cheapest for ocean view- and for Mariner members we got $100 off on HAL.COM. One thing to watch for on OV on some Holland ships- they are nice and big and have a couch- (and even a bathtub). But a top grade (HH) can be obstructed view literally on Lower Promenade. DW did not trust the one way glass tinting- as people could possibly see in as they walked by. We booked a specific porthole (1815) down on deck one “Dolphin” - and were amused to get three “urgent” upgrade offers back up to HH- starting at $69 pp and the last was $19 pp. We had one 110V outlet, one German (250V/50hz) outlet and 2x USB charging ports. Tampa is usually a low cost air destination for us. I saved a little and booked a connecting flight- why I asked myself after a four hour delay. Ubers are cheap and abundant. The cab from the airport asked for $26 not on the meter, six over Uber XL and DW rolled her eyes and tipped him poorly. The chain hotels were pricey the start of spring break. We tried the Tahitian. The reviews were mixed. The pool and grounds were good. It has a smallish main building with a 1970s motel out back. There is no one from chain headquarters to remind the owner he needs to write a check and fix stuff like beds, bubbling plaster and clock radios or lose his franchise. The little breakfast/lunch café inside was excellent- the Tampa Police eat there. There is a cute residential neighborhood out back. Embarkation at 11 AM was less than optimal. We were too early, yes, but Terminal Six has not enough chairs. So get there at 11:30 and you proceed to the gangway and not have to stand in line after your speedy check in. Actual boarding started at 11:40. The ship is lovely and being very aggressively maintained – new carpet, paint, piping etc. The crew was cheerful and the art is really top notch. Rooms were ready at 11:45 AM- who ever heard of that. We ate embarkation lunch in the MDR. The selections were just right. The Cajun items had un-spiced sausage but they did a good job on vegetables and soups. Dinners were also good- we had aft facing sharing tables for eight and the conversation was really great – four couples our age with 15+ cruises each. Note the average passenger age was up there. The wine prices were high to us- $9 is apparently the norm -but they had three IPAs. One was out of stock but they had a Florida one that was not bad. A few tap beers are available here and there. We were so excited to see the Oceans Quartet (sometimes or formerly called Neptunes) with four sets starting at 7PM or even 5PM. The dance floor is smallish (14 feet by 14 feet or so) but the band was very good- the guys are from Mexico and will be on the ship until May. Several couples were dancing. One of the dancers said they were playing all jazz the previous week but I went up and begged for some Latin – and it was amazing. A piano player was there in between sets. If you know the Foxtrot Box Step- it is handy on a small floor. Up the way there was a piano bar player- he was well regarded- Barry from Boston. The casino was packed and a bit smoky. There was no actual production show- this caused some grumbling– replaced by a movie. Others seemed OK with the movie. There was comedy a few nights. Both were good and one of the comedy shows had music (we won’t give it away). There was a musical show- Postmodern Jukebox that was only OK but way over hyped. If I was HAL I would being back a smallish production show. The reports on the Test Kitchen were positive. As I write this is it 5:45 AM in the lounge/coffee shop/library aka Explorations Cafe. There is no library on the deck plans but there are actual books, puzzles, board games and no piped in music. The coffee shop opens at 6:30. For a transatlantic or world cruise this is an excellent and large space- and very under-rated. We had our Cruise Critic unofficial meet and greet around a giant puzzle. They need a few electric outlets, and there is a wooden book sculpture that takes up a whole writing desk and needs to be recycled. I found a wireless laser printer which was good for boarding passes etc. The ship has an aft pool. These are nice and a good way to enjoy the sea views. Key West is a good port. On our third trip there we hunted for the free bus, which for us was like a unicorn and hard to find. Two important clues- it is called the Duval Loop and is a smallish city bus. There is a commercial trolley-bus and a wheeled train. The Duval Loop has red circular signs marking the stops. It was very full when we rode it and the commentary was safety vs tourist focused. The Southernmost Beach Café was again excellent and we found Turkish trivets and key lime jelly beans on Duval. The funny and interesting port talks downplayed Porto Tomas in Guatemala. The message was, over and over, buy a shore excursion or else you will be bored and disappointed. Some of us took the or else- many staying on the ship. There was hint you could walk out the gate of the container port by the craft market, go straight a block then right around the miniature naval station to some waterfront restaurants. At least one showed up on the online rating sites and can be seen from the ship. We dropped into Donde Pilo which seated us over the water on a thatched roof dock. They were sweet and friendly and recommending the large lobster seafood soup for $20. Some friends who arrived by power wheelchair had a huge fish. Divide all local currency prices by 7. We looked for and saw several crew. If they are trying to promote the port in the bigger picture I would humbly suggest to HAL and the Tourist Board to rent a few golf carts and shuttle guests over there. It is a similar look, feel and walk to Senior Frogs in Nassau. Pro tip- the local beer was $2. The craft market at the pier had pretty local crafts – I got two nice hand made belts for $20 each. Taxis to the actual town, a few miles away, were like $10pp round trip. Service in the MDR was cheerful but slow. Breakfast food was lovely – lots of choices- full English, waffles and even Asian. But they would take 45 minutes and ask for juice two or three times etc. We diagnosed the issue as “stay in your section” by the Head Waiters, vs “go and help the guests or supervise” – which is easy to fix and we dropped in a note to the Hotel Director. Dinner was slow but everybody was pitching in. MDR Lunch was efficient. They were not serving in the MDR on port days, so we tried “Dive In” by the covered pool – which has a taco bar also and a good chicken sandwhich. There were rumors of a shortage of limes aboard. I cornered a senior beverage person, who stated they have to use certified (food safety?) suppliers, such as those back in Tampa, so just racing off to buy a case of limes was just not possible. I complimented him on the wise decision to carry several IPAs. He hinted they would have more but there were issues with shelf stability. He did acknowledge the cost of them was also a factor, and that guests were “crazy for light beers.” The founder of our local (large) microbrewery at home, Summit, makes of big point of his decision to hire a chemist and build a lab to work on shelf stability as he tries to expand nationally. This may be a helpful clue as to why there not more craft beers on cruise ships. We were baffled by the real world dress code aboard. Yes the published one was easy to follow. Dress to Impress aka Formal Night was the big question. So, based on a sample size of say 100 people I noticed (this is valid sample size I think), the average for men was sport coat and tie. We saw a tux or two and quite a few business casual. Mahogany Bay is a dedicated cruise ship port. The Captain mentioned the entrance was narrow and challenging to back the ship into in high winds, but everything was just so. The grounds were manicured, the shops air conditioned and the beaches sandy. There were life guards and lots of security. We had a dip in the ocean. The online drawings and photos show the place as barren but the jungle has filled in and it quite pretty. There were lots of lounge chairs and shade available. We enjoyed the signs on some of the exotic (to us at least) trees and flowers. Costa Maya seemed the same and massively crowded. We stayed on the ship. The gentle rocking at the open sea pier made it like a sea day. We read books and went for several walks. MDR breakfast service settled in. I did some asking around – this is a happy ship- with high guest satisfaction ratings. I have noticed a correlation between happy ships and good ratings on places like Cruise Critic. You can tell if the crew is enjoying their (hard) work. We were impressed by the towel animals – Riston (covering the whole forward-odd side of Deck One up to about 1857) designed an amazing elephant, sleeping dog and monkey- the best we have even seen. They did not seem to use cleaning carts which can block the hallways. Getting off the ship could not have been easier. CBP had a lot officers on duty in Tampa, which helped. There were no lines at all at 8:40. Just before leaving we had a walk on the all-around promenade deck, then ordered eggs benedict and Belgian Waffles in the MDR. This was a good reminder of how well organized things are on the co-flagship of the line Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and this cruise checked all the boxes. We embarked the ship at Fort Lauderdale, the process was quick and efficient. We went to our room, cabin 5013, dropped our carry-on and proceeded to the ... Read More
We have always wanted to see the Panama Canal, and this cruise checked all the boxes. We embarked the ship at Fort Lauderdale, the process was quick and efficient. We went to our room, cabin 5013, dropped our carry-on and proceeded to the Lido deck. On our Alaska cruise, we purchased the hydrotherapy spa; we again purchased the hydrotherapy spa on this trip. After our muster station and safety review, we departed from Fort Lauderdale on time. Our overnight sale was smooth and uneventful, we decided to eat at the Lido restaurants as we had been traveling since 2 AM. There were a lot of options to choose from. We arrived at the Half Moon Cay, Bahamas on the second day and took a tether to shore. We purchased a Clam Shell Lounge, a good Investment to have a shaded area during the day. After a full day on the beach, we returned to the ship. We enjoyed dinner in the main restaurant; we purchased a bottle of wine, if you do not finish the wine, the will cork the bottle and provide it to you at any restaurant on board. The next day we were at sea and enjoyed the day at the hydrotherapy spa and exploring the ship. The next day we arrived in Aruba, we booked the CATAMARAN SNORKEL & BEACH GETAWAY. An enjoyable experience. We returned to port, and my wife said she wasn't feeling well. We returned to our cabin, and my wife fell ill. By the late afternoon, she was in full gastrointestinal distress. We had planned a dinner on the island, however, due to the gastrointestinal illness, we were unable to visit the island. The following day, we arrived in Willemstad, Curacao, we had planned to go on the CURACAO BEACH EXPRESS, my wife was quarantined to the room and insisted I go by myself. The resort location was beautiful and I was able to do some snorkeling off the beach. I return to the ship and again tended to my wife. Another day at sea and we were unable to use the hydrotherapy spa due to gastrointestinal outbreak on the ship. We learned the ships was in the midst of a novirus outbreak; many passengers were affected. I too became ill, experiencing vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Day 7 brought us to the entrance of the Panama Canal. Fortunately, we were cleared and we're able to enjoy our THE CANAL EXPERIENCE FROM GATUN TO COLON experience. Our guide was excellent and we spent time in Old Panama City and time at the Gatun Canal. On day 8, we arrived in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. We booked the Jaguar Rescue and Rain Forest trip. An excellent trip and extremely rewarding. The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and patient. We returned to the ship. We arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled all aboard timeline. The next two days were at sea and we're less than optimal. During our trip, we were unable to participate in the gala dinners and lost several days of enjoyments due to the novirus outbreak. Buffet were restricted; one morning, we waited 20 minutes for toast. That same evening, 30 minutes at the pasta bar in the Lido. On the last night, the Lido Bristo ran out of shrimp and beef tenderloin. Never have we experience this on any other cruises. The Alaska cruise on Holland America was the exact opposite of this trip. The thermal spa package was an additional $306 for 11 days, due to the novirus outbreak we were unable to use the package for 6 days due to quarantine. No refunds or credits were offered. We made the best of a bad situation; our memories of our Panama Canal cruise will be of gastrointestinal destress and many trips to the washroom facilities. I'm not sure how many people were affected by the outbreak, i did drop off my questionnaire at the medical center and there was approximately 30 people waiting for assistance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This line was the only line that offered the first 10 days with stops we had not visited before. The ship and crew were great. HA schedulers suck. When we received our flights (booked through HA) there were two sore spots. We depart out ... Read More
This line was the only line that offered the first 10 days with stops we had not visited before. The ship and crew were great. HA schedulers suck. When we received our flights (booked through HA) there were two sore spots. We depart out of MSY at 8 am and arrive FLL ONE and a HALF hour before ship departs. The return leg is airport for 10 am, departing flight at 7 pm and not arriving at MSY till midnight. As i write this, our plane is delayed 1/2 hour with beautiful weather. Good ole Delta. We called HA months in advance to express our concerns. Was told that was within their guidelines. Well, we were slid onto the ship 2 of the last 4 people after security was closed and the ship was late departing. Virtually did not screen us so we could make departure. We missed the first afternoon of our cruise which we always look forward to. No remorse from the ‘desk people’ on board. The rest of the ship’s crew (98%) were wonderful. I wanted to write reviews for the excursions so other people can plan their trips but there is no place in HA website to create these. Dining experience was very good. Service was excellent in all areas of the ship. However, the food was good but bland - no extra seasoning available such as Tony’s, Zatarains, Slap ya Mama, etc. We ordered breakfast in cabin all but 3 days. No complaints, on time, coffee and selection was acceptable. Cabin crew was very helpful with the small needs such as cabin menus, fruits and snacks. Cabin was spotless each day twice a day minimum. The nightly live band on Deck 2 was awesome. Great talent and popular music enjoyed by standing room only crowd each night. There are no art auctions like Norwegian or Carnival which is strange because HA is owned by Carnival Corp. There is an art gallery where u can purchase but thats it. Nothing we liked. We booked ooked snorkeling excursions through HA all stops except The Dom Rep and Curaçao which were average experiences. We completed the Coffee experience at The Dom Republic which we are still talking about. You travel up into the mountains to learn, taste and help the local coffee farmers bring back their coffee industry. In Curaçao, we did the ATV tour which takes you through and across the island. Dusty but a lot of fun and a learning experience all booked through HA. We were fortunate enough to see Carnival in Aruba and dine at Lucy’s (nachos). Awesome experience - we are from Louisiana and experience Mardi Gras every year. Carnival in Aruba was very colorful and very close to our home experience. The ship’s photography dept is not what we expected. We wanted to take a pic and have them place it on the embarkation background. We were told that they would take some pics of us but it would be black & white. We arrived for our appointment at 7:30 pm and was advised that the first pic (if purchased) would be $450.00! No thanks - see ya! Rip off artist but we are smarter than that. In this digital world, there is NO one on that ship that can make us believe that they couldn’t fulfill our request. We paid $19.95 for a dock photo and that’s it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
My sisters chose this cruise. I just wrote a cheque. Glad I did. I’ve been on four cruises. This was the best. The atmosphere was mellow and laid back. It was an older crowd; I’m older, so that was a plus. Food was always delicious. ... Read More
My sisters chose this cruise. I just wrote a cheque. Glad I did. I’ve been on four cruises. This was the best. The atmosphere was mellow and laid back. It was an older crowd; I’m older, so that was a plus. Food was always delicious. Staff were attentive and friendly. Ports were fun. Chose only one HAL excursion, then switched to other, in Port providers because these are cheaper and more flexible. Liked all the nightly small music venues on board; however, the main stage entertainment was a weak spot. Maybe I’ve been spoiled with large ensemble musical shows on other cruise lines. Also irritated by cumbersome internet package options, sold in 24 hour increments. Who needs internet 24 hours a day? Give me 3 hours/day for ten days, and I’ll be happy. Embarking was easy; staff were so cheerful and funny. Did this around 1:30PM, so we may have missed rush hour. Expedited disembarkation was also easy. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We were looking for a cruise that could accommodate 6 of us at a reasonable cost. HAL Koningsdam fit the bill. The ship's art is wonderful. The ship's musical theme is throughout with interesting art that is worth walking all ... Read More
We were looking for a cruise that could accommodate 6 of us at a reasonable cost. HAL Koningsdam fit the bill. The ship's art is wonderful. The ship's musical theme is throughout with interesting art that is worth walking all the staircases to look at. We found the flow of the ship easy to get around. Typical of a Carnival Corp. ship the staff were friendly and always helpful. Cabins: The rooms were tight but very functional. Bathroom was a good size with a large shower stall. We had a veranda stateroom next to my Son and Father-in-law's room. We asked the steward if he could open the door between balconies which he was happy to do. This gave extra space and made our before dinner socializing easy, when my Daughter and Son-in-law would also come by. Only thing I wish was available was outdoor lighting. Although there are light fixtures on the balconies, these are controlled by the bridge. The first night I went on the verandah and banged up a shin on the chair. Dining: Our dining experiences were fantastic. We enjoyed any meals at the dining room we had. There was only 1 night that none of us were thrilled with what we ordered. The buffet was great for breakfast and lunch. I was impressed with the cleanliness and care there. There were new dishes to try every day. We also went to 3 specialty restaurants as well. Each were a unique and great experience. I would highly recommend De Liberje. Entertainment: The shows we're fine. My favourite was BBC Earth with musicians from the ship playing the background music. The dance show dazzles, the technology of the world stage is great. There was a comedian onboard named Cory Rodriguez. He was funny and then hung out with my kids at the Casino. It made for entertaining evenings. There is also trivia everyday and various other events. The Rolling Stone room had great music every night, the Lincoln Centre had classical music late in the day until early evening. This room would then change in the BB King blues club. The band was great but the music was more Motown then Blues. This was disappointing to me but it's all about finding the common denominator. Service: Absolutely no complaints. Whatever we needed was there for the asking. In Curacao, we arranged a dinner off the ship, we were in port until 11:00 pm. The front desk was fantastic in getting us a map to the restaurant, which was about a 20 minute walk from the port. Ports and Excursions: Although we didn't use HAL for excursions we arranged a lot of things for ourselves. The nicest beach was at Half Moon Cay which is their private island. It wasn't busy, only 2 ships there and was the only tender we had on the trip. Grand Turk was also a swim day with the beach right there when we got off the ship. Amber Cove was the weakest of all the ports. We went into Puerto Plata but there wasn't much there. Our favourite stop was Bonaire. Our kids arranged scuba diving (privately) and we rented a golf cart from Bonaire Cruisers. We traveled the island from top to bottom. It is the least commercial of the "ABC" islands. It was a great time. Willemstad in Curacao is very pretty. We hired a driver, went to a secluded beach and as mentioned above went for dinner in Willemstad. Aruba was a treat. We headed off to Eagle beach which was empty that day. It happened to be the last day of Carnival and there was a 7 hour parade. The colours and sights were great. The ship delayed leaving by 2 hours so we could catch the parade. Bottom line was although this ship has an older clientele my kids in there 20s had no problem with the Koningsdam. We filled our time on sea days playing shuffleboard, table tennis, basketball and cards. I would definitely go on a HAL cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We had the pleasure of cruising on the Holland America Koningsdam for 10 days with six ports in the Southern Caribbean Sea that included the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Embarkation and ... Read More
We had the pleasure of cruising on the Holland America Koningsdam for 10 days with six ports in the Southern Caribbean Sea that included the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Embarkation and disembarkation went quickly and smoothly. We were pleasantly surprised with our 4th floor interior room. It was spacious, clean, and had ample of storage space. The beds were comfortable and we loved the roomy bathroom! The cabin exceeded our expectations. The Koningsdam is my favorite cruising ship so far. It exceeded all expectations! The wonderful staff and excellent food were over the top! There were few lines for food, plenty of seating for the shows, no screaming kids, nor intoxicated people. It was pleasant, peaceful, and restful. My favorite ship highlights were the Lincoln Center Stage performances, the Lido Market cuisine, the afternoon tea service, lounging poolside, and the EXC excursion talks. Don’t get me wrong. If you want live music or movies playing by the pool with a lot of dancing and drinking, this cruise isn’t for you. However, if you like it quiet enough to hold a conversation, read books, play cards, nap, or tune out with earbuds, HAL Koningsdam is the perfect choice! We enjoyed all of the ports and excursions, except Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have sailed on well over 20 cruises with most main cruise lines. Carnival, Princess, NCL, but mostly with Celebrity which we have elite status. Celebrity did not offer a partial Panama Canal transit, so we opted for HAL on the ... Read More
We have sailed on well over 20 cruises with most main cruise lines. Carnival, Princess, NCL, but mostly with Celebrity which we have elite status. Celebrity did not offer a partial Panama Canal transit, so we opted for HAL on the Zuiderdam with 22 of our friends and family. To a person, we all said we wouldn’t book another HAL cruise, as we were disappointed with the lack of activities that interested our group. Most of us are around 65-70 and one couple in their 30’s. PROS: Boarding the ship was the easiest we have experienced. We parked the car at Park N Go (great experience) and were taken to the ship about 11:30. We checked in immediately and were group #13 to board. They were boarding 9 when we got there and were called in no more than 5 minutes after using the restroom. The best part was the rooms were ready immediately so we could drop off our carry on before seeking a libation and lunch. It was especially nice since we brought on 2 bottles of wine and a 12 pack of water in a small roller bag. The luggage was delivered to the room within a couple of hours. The ship is lovely. Not fancy, but clean & well cared for. The only place I noticed wear and tear evident was on our cabin balcony. There were rust spots and the one deck chair really needed to be replaced. The crew were great. Very helpful. Always smiling, good service. By far HAL’s biggest asset. Several of the crew mentioned that HAL really treated the staff well, and they have many long term employees. The captain was very visible around the ship and seemed very approachable. A+++ for the crew . Best entertainment I have seen at sea was the Island Magic steel band. They played two days. The first was a mix of show tunes and classical. I know, classical steel drums, right? It was just awesome. If you have the opportunity to see them, don’t miss it. We did not purchase a drink package. However, at various hours and at different venues, there was Happy Hour, which meant buy one drink, get the same for $2 more. We took advantage of that, so that kept our bill quite reasonable. We enjoyed all of the ports. The itinerary was good. The excursion talks were very good and interesting. Half Moon Cay is awesome. I did have a very good lunch there on jerk chicken and salads. Curaçao is beautiful. We did a Tuk Tuk tour through Viator that was really fun. Aruba is fun, but we arrived late due to windy conditions. Panama was fantastic. Don’t miss the Panama rolls served on deck 4, the bow of the ship, during the transit. Costa Rica was very interesting and we enjoyed our Canal our there. CONS: I know food is subjective. We are not fussy eaters. I had heard that HAL food was pretty good. We were disappointed in the dining room food and selection. I can’t say that I had one memorable meal, and had several that I’d like to forget. I know you can always order something else, but I just won’t do that. The food was served hot, which is good, but sometimes that meant things were dried out, like the potatoes. We went to the Pinnacle Grill one evening. Even that was hit or miss. My steak was good, my husband’s and our friend’s were rather tasteless. LIdo food was much better and the hamburgers and fries from Dive In were really good. I didn’t lose any weight, but it was just disappointing to look forward to a nice dinner and not having one. Our biggest complaint and why we will not do another HAL cruise was the lack of activities that we enjoyed. No music around the pools, no dancing in the evening, no silly games to participate or watch others do. The gift shops were closed for the first 5 days of our trip for remodeling. So no shopping. And when they did open, a lot of the shelves were empty. Finally, on the next to the last day of the cruise, there was a deck sale. It was all items you could have used during the cruise like hats, coverups, totes, jewelry. People were flocking all over that. The casino is small and the slot machines weren’t paying much. Most evenings there was only one black jack table open. BB King’s was good, but not always playing when you were looking for entertainment. Anyway, all 24 of us were always trying to find something to do, so for the first time in over 20 cruises, I was bored. We were bored. As I mentioned, we are no spring chickens, but this cruise definitely skewed much older than us. I suppose the 10 day itinerary and Panama Canal was of more interest to that crowd. We didn’t see much of the cruise director and the port shopping guy wasn’t very interesting. SUMMARY: We had a nice time but if asked, I wouldn’t recommend a HAL cruise to a friend. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This was my 25th cruise and my first with HA my sister was her first and having nothing to compare with she is more leaneant than I am With ther evaluation of the cruise. I had the impression that HA are trying to updgrade the services ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise and my first with HA my sister was her first and having nothing to compare with she is more leaneant than I am With ther evaluation of the cruise. I had the impression that HA are trying to updgrade the services with newer way of doing things so they picked up a little bit from each cruise lines offers them but do not quite master the process. From my perception still a long way to go to top certain cruise lines with more cultural feartures. Example: there were beautiful art work on the ship why not offer a free showing on what they represent, something on the authors or artist; meanings etc. Ship’s 10th floor is not easily accessible so if you want to purchase shore excursions you have to find them first. Why not put them on the 1st floor with information desk and newpapers? Cabins: Our room was super clean and maintained that way all through the cruise with Faisal and Oom our room stewards. Those who complain about an obstructed view need to know that there is an extra cost to get the non obstructuve view. Beds very comfortable, lots of movies, information on flat screen tv; lots of closet space; bathroom with bath, lots of how water, and shower big shower head. The ship showed its age in many places but inside cabins and some areas have been redurbished in 2017. On our balcony, there was rust and the oustside chairs extremelly stained and one was covered with a more stained fabric made us wonder how much it would cost to buy new ones considering the cost of the trip. Dining: Main dining room on the 2nd and 3rd in the back of the ship made it easy to travel from our room to the dining room as we were 8th floor in the back so an elevator hop and we were there.The dining room director Alfan and his assistant Krisna went out of there way to please us. I am scealiac and found it very difficult to find food with no gluten as the menus did not indicate in what there was gluten I was sick at the beginning and was asked to choose the meal for the next night something I did not want to do so chose to eat at Canaletto ($15 each night extra) on the 9th floor next to the Lido. A small restaurant, no more than 75 places, with Denise as the Lido manager who made sure with the executive chef that my food was not contaminated with other flours.and his team in the dining room. I am not a fan of cafeteria food and could not eat at the lido when I missed the dining room lunch I would have a salad with all kinds of ingredients: very good but always the same very little variety. Pineaccle is the other specilaty restaurant grill meat and sea food. We went twice but returned very quickly to Canaletto. Be aware that if you choose the select dining approach you will be asked to eat before 6pm or after 8h30pm. There are no other timeframes that can be provided. I always choose that on other ships and never had a problem to eat at 6h30 ou 6h45. At the Canaletto I was able to eat at the time I wanted to. Entertainement and activities: Music awesome and for every taste. Classical offered live in a small salon where a sign was showing quiet please live performance The Classical musicians were fabulous and did play a variety of offerings even accompanied documentaries of Planet earth I did not miss those! 2 pianist and awesome signers Aidan and Meaghan who sang wonderfully and asked for requests. Aidan immitated Elvis and Meaghan had more of a country signer voice sang Patsy Kline and other great signers wonderfully. Too bad this music was next to the casino we could hear the bells and all noises coming from there. The entertainers are very dedicated in involving everyone. We were encouraged to sign with them and some danced. Test kitchen during the day with lots of information from the captain. Other that Royal C, I have not seen a captain so present he was very reassuring a no nonsense person with a nice sense of humor. Safety: There was constant maintenance going on. Buzzing and drilling, cables hanging from the ceiling as well as mineral wool on the floor. My sister slipped and hurt herself quite badly we should have been instructed that the front of the ship which was opened for the crossing at Panama was wet! Wood treatment with epoxy next to the pool is at the height of the day when people were sunning and swimming had a strong chemical odor; elevator stopped from the 9th floor to the 6th never heard why no notice at all! Unacceptable. The drill took more than 45’ I could assuredly tell you that with the quantity of challenged and less mobile people on the ship it would be disastreous if there was an evacuation. Service: Intended to go the morning stretch but never found the so called gym! Trying to make my way there past the pool everything became a commercial fare: was asked to do an imprint of my feet. Anti aging talks were commercials for skincare. They even do botox and fillers! And teeth whitening! Bought my sister a good oil and get for her back after the accident got so much pressure to have her go in for assessment and massages and accupuncture...just decided to short cut them when possible. If you own a time share you will get my jist as they pressure you to buy another one and go to meetings by promising all kinds of free promotions that lead into a big expense. There were no passenger participation activities! Specifically no talent show., trivial pursuit or other. This was the first cruise I was on where they didn't have, at the very least, Karaoke! Very different that other cruises. Our Shore excursions: two 3 hours excursions with Holland were okish and quite expensive nothing Special to write about would not repeat the experience or encourage it. Having been on that cruise with Celebrity I had done the zip lining in Costa Rica, the Panama City tour which are very good. Colon should not be a port stop it is extremelly dangerous, lots of drugs and promiscious night life looking for the balcony looked like a ghost town with run down hotels and buildings. I am sure there were other places we could have stopped to pick up the people who took the shore excursions. Love the Fort Lauderdale tour. Gatun lake it so beautiful. Embarkation and disembarkation: Other than river cruises, this was probably the best and most efficient disembarkation i have ever experienced. Cannot say I will not be going on another Holland America Cruise, but not on the Zuiderdam! My next cruise will be on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click