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5 Holland America Spain Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because we knew HAL would be an older crowd with not a lot of kids and we always wanted to see Spain. The embarkation and disembarkation went surprising well for us. The pro's and con's for the cruise... ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we knew HAL would be an older crowd with not a lot of kids and we always wanted to see Spain. The embarkation and disembarkation went surprising well for us. The pro's and con's for the cruise... Pro's Cabin steward was excellent. Restaurant staff was great. Patrina the singer from the UK was great. Andrew the singer from Britain's Got Talent was great. George the comedian from the US was great...we went up to him while he was eating to tell him his show was great and he talked to us for a 1/2 hour. Weather was fantastic. Ports were great Con's The food was just okay. It smelled like sewage sometimes on our floor. Ship could use a little updating. Magician was okay We would go again on HAL but, of course to a different destination and probably a different ship. Overall...you couldn't beat the price or the value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers ... Read More
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers large ships (Ruby Princess) while I prefer small ships (Pacific Princess). The Rotterdam is a perfect compromise for us. We flew out of Seattle on Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Keflavik, Iceland where we had one and half hour layover before boarding another Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Amsterdam. Iceland Airline is the UPS of passenger airlines, all of the "packages" are flown to Keflavik and then "sorted" and put on airplanes to their final destination. You have the option to delay in route and spend up to seven days in Iceland at no additional cost in the total fare which if booked early is much less than the major airlines flying to Europe. Arriving in Amsterdam we took a prebooked Schipol Business Taxi from the airport to Hotel New York in Rotterdam less than a 100 meters from the cruise terminal. With three large suitcases, two backpacks and two small personal bags there was no way of getting all of that on the Inter City train. The Hotel New York is housed in the former Holland America Line Headquarters building. The exterior is unchanged from the original building. The corporate offices were replaced with 72 guests rooms, several meeting rooms and a large restaurant while retaining many of the architectural details of the original building. In many ways it was like staying in a museum with comfortable accommodations and great food. We spent two full days in the Hotel before making the short walk at noon to the cruise terminal on embarkation day. It only took 20 minutes from dropping off our bags to entering our Vista Suite on deck six just a few staterooms forward of the amidships stairway. After dropping off our backpacks we went up to the Lido restaurant on Deck 8. I was expecting the usual chaotic embarkation day lunch time scrum and instead it was a more normal sea day lunch experience. We actually found a table in the Lido in just a few minutes. Departure down the Maas river to the North Sea was delayed two hours to complete refueling of the ship which for some reason took longer than normal. The 6:00 pm departure was somewhat disappointing since I was looking forward to taking some pictures of the river transit to the sea and the ambient light was poor for photographs due approaching sunset and a partially overcast sky. This was our first time on a R Class ship our two previous cruises were on the Vista Class ships the Westerdam and Oosterdam. It was hard to believe that the Rotterdam was built in 1997. The ship's public areas and are stateroom were in amazingly good condition and very clean for a 16 year old ship. It was the first time we have encountered dual language announcements (English and Dutch) which well done by the Cruise Director and not a problem in any way. We later found out that over 1300 of the passengers where Dutch speaking and around 100 passengers were English speaking. We had requested and received late dining (8:00 pm) at a table for 8. Two of the couples were from the US and the third couple from the UK. The wait service on the first night was slow and a bit disorganized. We did not finish diner until after 10:00 pm and while dining service improved during the cruise, most nights very slow causing us to be late for the 10:00 pm shows several times. I am not sure if the issue was short staffing of the waiters or kitchen staff but it was not up to the standard we experienced on other Holland American or Princess cruises. As to the food. I am a vegetarian and I will say I did not starve and even gained two pounds during the cruise. My at home diet for protein consists primarily of beans, lentils, tofu, yogurt and cheese. On the ship I was very happy with the breakfast. Lunch was a problem, it was either cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza or pasta with or without cheese. Dinner was better than lunch with better variety of vegetarian items. My issue with dinner was in that no way was the vegetarian choices equivalent to meat and fish dishes. On the third formal night, my table mates has steak and lobster while I had a cabbage roll stuffed with rice and corn with red pepper sauce drizzled on top of the cabbage roll. Not exactly a formal night dish. My other issue was with the second course which half the time only had a cold soup as the vegetarian choice. Off the anytime menu there was the Caesar Salad which was very bland. However, the deserts were great. I particularly liked the fruit crisps and the ice cream selections. The vegetarian meals on both Holland America and Princess are behind in selection and taste when compared to the food of the vegetarian restaurants in Seattle. We really like our Vista Suite and it was a step up in space and comfort from the normal balcony rooms we choose on Princess. It was also correspondingly more expensive. We always book a balcony/verandah stateroom which is not available on the R Class ships. The Lanai staterooms while a good value do not work for us in terms of privacy. We choose this cruise because of the itinerary. We has always wanted to spend more time in Rotterdam after a port call there several years ago and both Cadiz and Lisbon which we have port calls twice before are both some of our favorite European cities. It was a real treat to overnight in both of these cities. The other thing my wife really like was that we docked at all of the ports. She does not like tendering after we have experienced rough conditions returning to the ship. We do not do excursions and prefer to get off the ship and explore the city by walking and using local transportation. For attractions further from the port we will rent a car. During my working career I had the privilege of doing a lot of international travel and as a result I am very comfortable driving on the left or right and in any country not on the State Departments Advisory List. We enjoyed visiting all of the ports except Leixoes, Portugal which was a half day port call in the morning and in windy and wet weather conditions. One of our favorite stops of the cruise was A Coruna, Spain were we toured the San Anton Castle and archaeological museum and the Tower of Hercules, a second century Roman Lighthouse which is still operational. It was renovated in the late 1700's and is opened to visitors. We were able to climb to an observation level near the top of tower and enjoy an incredible view of the city and coastline. The entertainment on board the ship was excellent . We really enjoyed the piano and violin group, Adagio, which performed every night from 7:00 to 11:00 pm in the Explorer's Lounge. The two young ladies from the Ukraine very talented classical musicians and real joy to hear perform. Our favorite showroom performance was on the night of the last port call in Vigo, Spain. Jazz singer Denise Thimes accompanied by Llew Matthews on the piano who previously had performed on Holland America jazz cruises gave her first performance on a regular cruise. It was an hour of really incredible music. Dismbarkation was just as easy as the embarkation 14 days earlier in Rotterdam. We got off the ship at 9:00 am picked up our bags in the terminal and took a cab to the Hilton Hotel in the central business district in Rotterdam. The Hilton Hotel is only two blocks from the Central Trains station so it was easy to go further afield. In the subsequent 6 days in Rotterdam we took the train to Amsterdam and toured the Rijksmusem, went to Brussels and also Delft. Rotterdam is almost the direct opposite of Amsterdam as far as architecture as the result of being flatten by bombing during World War II. It has some incredible architecture and great museums which we really enjoyed. Also, they are few tourists so it is very easy to get around and into museums without having to deal with long lines. In summary we liked the itinerary, the friendliness and great service of the crew, the spacious explorer's cafe and library on Deck 5, a very comfortable and well maintained stateroom and the politeness of our fellow passengers. We did not like the smoker in the adjacent stateroom whose verandah smoking made it impossible for us to use our verandah nor the below standard service in the main dining room during the second seating. All in all we really enjoyed the cruise and have booked Alaskan cruise out of Seattle this summer on the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We traveled with 5 other friends who agreed that this particular itinerary was very port intensive and included ports that were new to us. We arrived in Amsterdam 2 days prior to the cruise and had a great time exploring this city. We ... Read More
We traveled with 5 other friends who agreed that this particular itinerary was very port intensive and included ports that were new to us. We arrived in Amsterdam 2 days prior to the cruise and had a great time exploring this city. We traveled by van from our hotel(Restaurant Larende) to the port and had arranged this private transport with help from the hotel staff. We were only charged 50 euro for the entire van. Upon arrival at the port we were immediately allowed to check in as we had booked a Signature Suite. Our friends who were traveling with us were allowed to check in at the same time. We were among the first to walk on the ship. Cabin We found our room and had booked cabin 068 on the 10th deck and it was very roomy, quiet, had an over-sized deck, and was located near the elevator one floor beneath the lido.We never heard any noise from the deck above or from our neighbor. Our room steward met us and noticed that I had a bouquet of flowers (for my birthday) and went to fetch a flower vase. We had excellent service from our room stewards. Dining We ate almost all of our dinners in the Main Dining Room using open seating. After the first day we generally were assigned tables near one area and arrived between 7-7:30 PM. We had great service. We recognized the Dining Room manager from a previous cruise as well as the Wine Sommelier. We never had to wait to get a table. We ate breakfast in the Lido. We did have one dinner at the Caneleto, two other dinners in the Pinnacle. One of these dinners was the cellar master's dinner that although was an extra expense was worth every penny. We had room service one morning and one item was missing from the order. We also tried the new Grill and enjoyed the hamburger and fries one afternoon. While in Cadiz the ship held a dinner on the outside deck including paella and other Spanish food items. Bar service was always pretty fast and we all had the use of the Explore 4 card so most all of our beverages were covered. Entertainment We attended several of the big shows with the Holland entertainers. We also saw a comedian and while in Cadiz a local Flamenco dance group was brought on for one show at 9:30 PM which was standing room only. I saw one of the Dancing with Stars events. Our favorite entertainers though were the Adagio duo and Don Alexander, the piano player who usually performed up in the Crows Nest each evening. Activities Since this cruise was so port intensive we did not participate in too many activities. We did play trivia and twice played bingo. One day we participated in a toss game but only one other individual showed up. We did attend a couple of culinary activities as well as the computer class. I went to two movies. We did have a great Meet and Greet event on Sept.8th up int he Crows Nest. We had over 50 persons in attendance. We did not have any officers or staff attend but enjoyed the time to finally meet in person all those who posted over the year. Ports/Excursions We did not book any Holland excursion but rather planned our own and often chose to go on walking tours. We took several tours with other CC roll call members. Only one port stop was cancelled due to the weather conditions. Disembarkation We chose to carry off our own suitcases so left the ship about 7:45 am as we had booked independently a half day tour of Barcelona that included being dropped off at Hotel Lleo where we stayed two days post cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We just returned from the Iberian Explorer cruise. We will start with the positive comments. Nice large cabins, we had a verandah suite, our dining experience was fine, nice choice of entertainment, easy embarkation and disembarkation, ... Read More
We just returned from the Iberian Explorer cruise. We will start with the positive comments. Nice large cabins, we had a verandah suite, our dining experience was fine, nice choice of entertainment, easy embarkation and disembarkation, most of the personnel was very helpful and friendly. The ms Rotterdam is an older ship which has been refurbished. We presume the refurbishing did not include plumbing and this was definitely an issue for us. The toilet in our cabin never worked properly in spite of the plumbers' efforts to replace every part possible. We also found that the temperature was very hard to control, most of the time, our cabin was very cold but the common areas were too hot. Also, if you are used to seeing your invoice information, etc. on the TV screen in your cabin, or watch the latest movies, this won't happen. They have four movie channels but they show the same movie all day. They still have VCRs and you can borrow older movies. We would not discourage anyone to cruise on the ms Rotterdam as you might not encounter the same problems as we did and after we were finally given another cabin, we truly enjoyed the rest of the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Let me preface the following by saying we chose the cruise exclusively based upon the ports (La Coruna for Santiago, Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Malaga for Granada/Alhambra). We had never cruised on HAL before, with two prior ... Read More
Let me preface the following by saying we chose the cruise exclusively based upon the ports (La Coruna for Santiago, Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Malaga for Granada/Alhambra). We had never cruised on HAL before, with two prior European cruises being on Carnival and Princess. There were four of us in our traveling party, utilizing 2 inside cabins on the Main deck. Though the cruise began in Rotterdam, we joined the cruise in Harwich. Embarkation only had a slight hitch as the computers were down, yet we boarded around 11:30 a.m. and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins. Our first impression was the age of our fellow passengers, especially embarking with us in Harwich. As our party consisted of a 59, 62, 72, and 81 year old, we felt like youngsters among the cruisers. Our second impression was the size of our cabin. It was significantly larger than ones we have experienced on Princess or Carnival. It even included a couch! The room steward was efficient(which, as I will later relay, an unusual occurrance on the ship). The public areas were very classy and attractive, especially for an older, smaller ship than we had previously used. Our first experience with the staff, other than the room steward was dealing with the front office regarding their taking our passports prior to embarking on the ship. There was no reason given and there was no stating when they would be returned. When asked, the first gentleman just said we would get them when we get them. Thanks for the insight. Eventually, we demanded them the next day and they were given to us by another person at the front desk. Apparently, those who did not ask had them returned days later. The Lido and Dining room were staffed by people who either had limited English abilities or lacked the incentive to quickly deliver meals. Most meals were lukewarm or cold. In some cases, in the dining room orders were forgotten or misunderstood. As such the food was just okay. In the Lido, it looked like for every one person working, there were two watching. At the "burger" place on the Lido deck, slow would be a euphemism. The staff was totally indifferent. When we would see a staff member appearing to be enthusiastic, he or she would really stand out (e.g., at the late night desert party). At one of the Lido outside dinners, they ran out of items within the first hour. Room service was very efficient. The room steward provided us with fresh fruit, though the bananas were usually quite old. As for entertainment, the best was the first night singer and the second night "Broadway" singers and dancers. Unfortunately, it went down hill from there. There was a particularly unfunny gentleman who showed up twice (Broadway and Duet shows) and significantly put a damper on the other talented performers. The entertainment director did his best to promote enthusiasm, but the general age of the majority of the cruisers limited his effectiveness. The piano/singer seemed to work hard, but his music sounded more like elevator music. Indeed, the best entertainment was that provided by the house band and a singer in the upstairs lounge. Unlike other ships, there were no comedians.Overall, we found the activities on the ship, especially on sea days either limited or boring. The person who gave the 2 talks on the ports(about 30 minutes each or about 10 minutes per port) seemed to be giving them by rote memory. When we asked him for approximate cab costs from the port to the city(Porto), he turned out be off by 100%( it cost 10 euros not 20 euros). Overall, he seemed to exude the same indifference as much of the rest of the staff. We did appreciate the "lack" of constant announcements and selling as we had experienced on other lines. The shops were extremely limited in their offerings. For example, there were no t shirts representing the cruise. Instead, you could buy t shirts from the Baltic cruises. We found it difficult to purchase on board miscellaneous sundries. The casino was relatively tiny, but it appeared that the machines were not as tight as most cruise ships. The internet/Explorers lounge was rarely busy, so computers were readily available, though as on other ships, quite slow and costly. The person supervising the computers was helpful and knowledgeable. We did not use the pool area, though it was often covered, which made it comfortable. It looked like vary few people ever used the pool. The fitness room was up to date and rarely used by other cruisers. The wrap around deck 3 was great for power walking. I especially appreciated their Cancer Walk on the last sea day. As mentioned before, the ports were the primary reason for the trip and they did not disappoint. We used a private tour company at 3 of the ports, as they were at least 30-40% less than the HAL excursions. At the other ports we just walked off and did "our thing". I should add that the "hotel director/manager" did a wonderful job organizing a cruise critic meet and greet as well as inviting me to participate in post cruise evaluation(on the last day prior to our arrival in Barcelona). Overall, we found the ship to be adequate, but the staff not so much. We did not feel we belonged to the demographic of our fellow cruisers.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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