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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Avoid at all costs. While 2 larger ships just hours ahead of us made it across the Atlantic to Lisbon, we sat for 3+ days in the Azores and then headed to Rotterdam for disembarkation. We traveled 15 days from Tampa, FL to Rotterdam to ... Read More
Avoid at all costs. While 2 larger ships just hours ahead of us made it across the Atlantic to Lisbon, we sat for 3+ days in the Azores and then headed to Rotterdam for disembarkation. We traveled 15 days from Tampa, FL to Rotterdam to spend 1 hr in Europe, and that was on the bus to the airport. There was nothing much interesting to do on board. We put lots of jigsaw puzzles together. Food all tasted alike after a few days...same gravy on all the meat dishes, desserts had no flavor....We found the chocolate mint ice cream they had occasionally the best dessert and we can get that at the local grocery store. Casino was smoky, entertainment stale, internet access was $25 for 1 day use, fitness classes area to small for more than 10 people...rust around faucets, overall worn out ship. After missing the entire Europe itinerary for this Normandy Expedition, we were give $100 compensation and 15% off a future (never to happen) cruise which was just a blatant promotion. When your gratuities are $30 per day, the $100 covered about 3 days of tips and that's all for wasting 15 days on this trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Outdated décor, but clean. Cabin was fine, except for several problems - a broken balcony door lock, missing remote control, and the granddaddy of them all - the shower. (a broken faucet with scalding water which couldn't be turn ... Read More
Outdated décor, but clean. Cabin was fine, except for several problems - a broken balcony door lock, missing remote control, and the granddaddy of them all - the shower. (a broken faucet with scalding water which couldn't be turn off - and alerted the fire department, who came pounding on the door). I made 2 attempts, with the same results - so went without for 2 weeks! They suggested I use the Spa shower. Food was usually bland or tough, and very repetative.. But the ice cream was the best. What entertainment they offered was fine, except there were no Shows. Highly unusual for a cruise of 2 weeks. Activities were repeats of the same old, same old. There were lots of movies, if you need to catch up on the oldies. Service was hit and miss. Some looked exhausted. Others were trying so hard, they soon would be too. My young cabin steward was friendly and cheerful. The older one seemed to have the need to bully me. Ports - missed 4!! - We saw the Azores, which are lovely. The rest of the time we bobbed around in the Atlantic. Other ships crossed to the English Channel, but we didn't. Reasons varied and weren't clarified. ( a death, waiting for people at the airport, and "other reasons") For me, that meant $4,000 down the drain - with little compensation. Would I travel with Holland America again? They'll have to pull up their socks! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Because the oasis got canceled. I still wanted a transatlantic cruse and this was still available last minute. It is a small ship with little to do. Entertainment is the worst at sea. The ship is clean, safe and comfortable. Average age ... Read More
Because the oasis got canceled. I still wanted a transatlantic cruse and this was still available last minute. It is a small ship with little to do. Entertainment is the worst at sea. The ship is clean, safe and comfortable. Average age is 70 plus. Embarkation was horrible as we were kept waiting at the airport so no porters at the port and were told to take all our luggage on board ourselves. Ship had an air maintenance issue that took several hours to resolve. Disembarkation was easy. Due to rough seas we had 3 days in the Azores. But we missed the two ports in France and then Belgium. Compensation was below other cruise lines. I know as I just got the RCCL credits. My room stewards were excellent. The food was repetitive and the fruit rotten more often then not. Most don’t go to the dining room so service is fast at dinner. Overall a boring cruise as I read 10 books. Dining overall was average, cabin old with a bathtub and kept clean by great room stewards. No library, no production shows, Astro physics ,history and port talks were repeatedly full as nothing else to do. The movie theatre small so you needed to get there twenty minutes early. If you want to sleep go on the Rotterdam. Given I now have a future cruise credit, I will go on holland America again just not this ship. Not much to say as there is not much to review on this ship Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & ... Read More
Just got back from a Holland America Cruise on the Rotterdam. One of the last from the Port of Tampa. Not sure if the staff onboard is starting to get tired or what but some of the services were less than favorable. Embarkation & Disembarkation Very easy. They have this process down very well . Rotterdam ship: Very nice ship, Teak wood upkept very nice. You see the improvements they have done over the years and it looks very nice and clean. Cabin: We had an outside Cabin which seemed very roomie for what it was. Very supprised with all the closet space. nice Touch with the free safe in the room. Bed was very comfortable and the Stewards always kept the room clean and always supplying us with clean towels Dinning: Lido Deck food was very good. Nice that the HAL buffet is served by staff and not a bunch of people reaching in and grabbing food. Food was always fresh and hot. Never needed to add salt to anything we got from the line. Burgers & Hot dogs were good from the Dive Inn grill as long as you didn't get the burger well done.. There Pizza grill did a great job with the NY style pizza. They did keep strange hours on the burger and Pizza service, as neither was 24 hours. Pinnacle Grill- In my opinion, the Main dining room food was better than here. We spent over 2.5 Hours in the Grill. Appetizers were good and hot. Main course I got the Porterhouse and Wife got the Strip Steak. We both asked for Medium Rare and both came back very Rare. I ate mine, but we sent hers back. We cut a piece off right away to check the temp. They took her's back for about 15-20 minutes and brought back the same piece of meat still under cooked (but hot this time) All of the sides came out at room temp initially. When they brought back her steak, they never refreshed the sides for her. For Desert we decide to bring back to the room as we were already there for over 2.25 hours. so she got the lollipop desert cakes along with the chocolates from the table. The waiter put them in aluminum foil and twisted the top.. It looked like one of those weights used to hold down balloons. So when we got back to the cabin it was just a big ball of chocolate. We had a 4 top table come in when She got her second try and they were getting dessert at the same time we did.. Ship services did eventually refund us the up charge and the Pinnacle manager called us to apologize and offered another try on the last night, but we already planned the evening. Entertainment and Activities: Comedians were very good. My wife Participated in the Americas test Kitchen and had a blast!! She said she would do that over and over again... Also, did the bar hop with Jeremy and that was an awesome time. There was never a shortage of things to do. Services: Room Stewards - These guys are great, never needed anything... Spa Services: Very Disappointed with spa services. First, My wife got a manicure. Her nails were chipping after 1 day.. Spa did redo the color, but talked my wife out of the color she wanted and the top of her nails by the cuticle look as if they were 1 week growth and her skin was peeling. The Facial she received left her with bruising and a sore/scar on her nose. She received the facial on the 1st sea day, so had the embarrassment the rest of the cruise. When addressed with spa manager she gave her a discount on the facial. She then gave a third chance for a massage and the tech kept going to deep after she said something several times. This left bruises on her back. Then the spa manager accosted her after her massage, because I had brought these issues up with the Ship services counter. They eventually took off the price of the facial. But during dining one evening another guest complained about being under the kitchen and got a 150 on board credit, so needless to say that was more upsetting to me. Ports and Excursions: Guatemala - We only went thru the bazaar. Prepare your self as they do not take no easily. You must walk away and not feel you are hurting feelings. Honduras: We went with Victor Bordon's Sloth and Monkey Tour - This was a lot of fun getting to touch the animals and see all the birds.. Relaxing at the resort was a really nice addition. Costa Maya, very nice and very clean port.. We didn't do much here as it was really windy ( 7-10 foot waves) made getting back on the boat a real challenge. Summary: Loved the ship and would probably give them another try. Hopefully the managers get a little training so that they stop trying to explain why there staff was making their errors and just fix things.. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Love this ship. The fact that they haven't changed alot of the public spaces made me pick this ship. I like the crows nest as is....not a coffee shop.... The casino was smokey all the time e en tho they kept announcing it was a ... Read More
Love this ship. The fact that they haven't changed alot of the public spaces made me pick this ship. I like the crows nest as is....not a coffee shop.... The casino was smokey all the time e en tho they kept announcing it was a smoke free venue... except for one corner...that corner filled the place with smoke. I woulda stayed longer but for that. The food was good as usual...the service was better that we had on the statendam. The entertainment was adequate...not great,but not bad.... I met several people that had pretty bad cabin problems...I hope they were rectified...our cabin was awesome...I also noticed they were bigger than the larger ships.. I did also notice the staff was less stressed out on this ship than on the larger ships. The level of service in the Neptune lounge was incredible and quit helpful with any request that we had. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Heard so much about Holland America and had to try. Embarkation and Debarkation was perfect. Rooms were ready upon boarding. Cabin stewards were pleasant and accommodating. Dinner the first evening was less than optimal. We were seated at ... Read More
Heard so much about Holland America and had to try. Embarkation and Debarkation was perfect. Rooms were ready upon boarding. Cabin stewards were pleasant and accommodating. Dinner the first evening was less than optimal. We were seated at 7:30 and did not finish until 8:45. Two nights later we arrived at 6:00 and finished at 7:45. When we left the dining room people were complaining that they waited two hours to be seated. The rest of the evenings we ate at the Lido Market. This was very good for the most part. We ate all other meals there and had no complaints. Common bathrooms were not well attended. One had no soap for a few hours. Pool bath had no towels at one point. The bath on deck 5 was a huge problem one night. It was horrible. The staff all over the ship were great. They were efficient, pleasant and helpful. Barry the pianist was over the top awesome. Just not a musician, but a real entertainer. Very funny too. We were there every night. This was our favorite part of the cruise. Comedian/impressionist -great show. The modern jukebox group was the entertainment two of the evenings. Not a fan! Guest services staff was awesome. Every one of them were helpful. We booked a suite, thinking that it was something a bit special. It was actually a room with a balcony. That was a bit disappointing but we should have done more research. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I found this ship lacking in many areas. Needs updating and some maintenance as well. The things I didn't care fore were as follows: Lido deck pool area was covered with a glass dome. Only one small panel was open. We are cruising ... Read More
I found this ship lacking in many areas. Needs updating and some maintenance as well. The things I didn't care fore were as follows: Lido deck pool area was covered with a glass dome. Only one small panel was open. We are cruising the Caribbean, not the arctic. I like to get some sun on my pasty white body while lounging by the pool on sea days. The aft-Lido deck pool was more a ditch - not a pool. It was barely 2 feet wide and about 30 feet long with maybe 6 inches of water in it. This is not a pool so why advertise it as such. Cabin entrance was very narrow with a bathroom door on the left and several closet doors on the right upon entering the cabin. You can't open both at the same time and if someone is standing near the closet doors when someone else comes out of the bathroom, someone will get hurt. The tub in the bathroom was also very deep and difficult to get in and oRust was visible here and there and other cosmetic things. The crew, for the most part. was great. Very responsive to customer needs. There were some servers in the buffet at breakfast who were a little cranky and this was also seen at the Sea View Bar a couple of times as well. Otherwise, all were very customer focused. The food was generally very good and Holland Am. has finally fixed their Pizza parlour :) They used to have some sort of odd cornmeal based crust but now have a nice thin crust model. It was very tasty and always made fresh for you. Oddly enough. I found the bed uncomfortable. Not sure why as it felt soft and plush but each morning when I woke up, I felt stiff and a little sore for awhile. The entertainment we saw was quit good. We enjoyed the comedian and the magician shows. Getting on and off the ship was efficient and quick. We didn't really take advantage of any excursions offered through the ship so I can comment on those. Overall, we had a great holiday. We always do but this ship was lacking in a number of areas. I understand it is going to Europe soon and I hope they do a little maintenance work before launching over there. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because it was the last but one out of Tampa. We had a Neptune suite which was a perfect size for 2 folks,which by the way had a massive Balcony. Neptune Lounge was a great spot to get snacks and drinks and the staff ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was the last but one out of Tampa. We had a Neptune suite which was a perfect size for 2 folks,which by the way had a massive Balcony. Neptune Lounge was a great spot to get snacks and drinks and the staff were on the ball every day. We did not enjoy Formal night in the Dining Room because there where long lines if you did not have a reservation.Although we have been to all the stops several times we fulfilled our ambition to have a relaxing time.The ship in our minds is a well looked after vessel with some fantastic art and furniture. Lots of Quite areas to relax in, and loud ones if you like. The entertainment Staff 5 Stars, Food 5 Stars, entertainment 4 Stars.Cabin staff 5 Stars.All round a great little Cruise. Getting on board EASY getting off Easier. We will miss this shipping line because i don't like going to Miami to go Cruising or Cape Canaveral. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Second spring break in a row doing this particular cruise, same ship, with two of my three kids (this time my 8 and 5 yr old boys) while my wife and daughter attended to family business elsewhere. Picked it again for the same reasons ... Read More
Second spring break in a row doing this particular cruise, same ship, with two of my three kids (this time my 8 and 5 yr old boys) while my wife and daughter attended to family business elsewhere. Picked it again for the same reasons we picked it last year: classic ship feel of the Rotterdam; quiet, clean familiarity of the surroundings; low hassle way to get out on the open sea. Crew did even one better by getting a live feed of the NCAA regional finals, and then doing the muster drills in port in between the two Sunday games. The only downer: Devils losing to Sparty during our first two hours at sea . . . My boys loved it (my 8 yr old's first time aboard, my 5 yr old's second), particularly the pool, and the towel origami from our stateroom attendant Rifky. Ate Lido the entire cruise - given the number of different main courses each night, it is possible to go a seven night cruise and not eat the same thing twice for dinner - and the food as always was top flight for us. Did dolphin watch and snorkel in Key West - got a good up close look at a pod of 6-8 dolphins then did some snorkeling with my boys; we did the waterfall hike and splashed in a couple freshwater pools at the Cerro San Gil Nature Reserve in Guatemala (kids ended up playing with frogs and snails); spent the day at Mahogany Bay Beach in Honduras (my five year old caught what I thought was an eel - till he put it back in the water and it turned back into a sea horse); and did the Mayan adventure water park in Costa Maya. My wife was amazed at how uncrowded everything looked both on the ship and during our excursions. Biggest crowds in fact were in Clearwater, where we spent Saturday doing the marine hospital (made famous by the Dolphin Tale star), then cycling to Clearwater Beach. Spent Sunday before the cruise cycling the Tampa Riverwalk from the Barrymore Hotel to the cruise ship terminal and then back before boarding. Embarkation and disembarkation in Tampa is always easy. Scuttlebutt is that Rotterdam is being repositioned back to Europe at the end of April, and that HA has nothing out of Tampa scheduled for the time being for 2020. I sure hope that changes, because these weeks aboard the Rotterdam have become a true highlight for my children and myself, and I dread having to haul down to Ft. Lauderdale, which I understand is the total opposite of Tampa in terms of ship sizes and crowd density. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because we were traveling with my elderly father. We knew Holland America typically caters activities and meals to the more mature crowd, so we thought it would be a good fit. My father enjoyed his cruise. But we had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were traveling with my elderly father. We knew Holland America typically caters activities and meals to the more mature crowd, so we thought it would be a good fit. My father enjoyed his cruise. But we had to work at it. Starting with positives.... Holland America has disembarkation and customs down to a science. I would give this a high five star rating. The concept of staff serving guests at the buffet line is genius. Our cabin was pretty clean, after we asked the steward to come back and get the soap scum off the soap holder. Mixology, martini tasting, and bar hop were the highlights of our cruise. No, we are not alcoholics. This is the first cruise I have ever taken where I actually lost weight! But there were problems. -THE DINING ROOM SERVICE was very slow, and inaccurate. When we questioned the length of time we were waiting, or tried to get what we had ordered, we were told the kitchen was backed up. We tried three times, two dinners and a lunch, and gave up, eating the rest of our meals at the overcooked and tasteless buffet. Dining room meals were always cold. FOOD ALLERGIES and dietary restrictions were totally ignored until Day 5 and a LOT of complaints to guest services. My hubby printed a card in four languages stating I had a life threatening allergy to shrimp. Only shrimp. I pointed it out to every waiter, at every meal, and laid it on the table. Only the servers in the Lido seemed to pay attention and cater to our needs. My dad gained 14 pounds in three days due to the excess salt in the food. The evening of Day 5 on our 7 night cruise the cruise staff finally addressed these issues. -there was NO WHEELCHAIR AT THE PORT for embarkation as promised. After a lengthy walk, we sat for literally two hours waiting for a wheelchair to assist us the rest of the way through the ship to our cabin. Hubby and I were discouraged from being on the elevators with my dad. We had to hike up the stairs with luggage in tow to leave elevator room for “those who really needed it”. -there was NO PREBOARDING for Mariners as promised. We arrived at the port as directed at 11 am. It turns out it’s not ANY mariner status, as we were told on the phone, but only 3 star and above that get priority boarding. It’s the same for most every “mariner “ function on the cruise. 1 and 2 star mariners are only allowed to attend the luncheon at the end of the cruise. The port staff in Tampa was not helpful at all. They kept pointing to the stale cookies and water to pass our time. -PORTS OF CALL. Even the cruise staff would caution about getting off the ship if you weren’t on an organized tour. Organized tours with “handicapped accessible “ options did not include getting from the ship to the tour, often a 10 minute walk. We were instructed to stay in the designated areas (aka shopping areas). Why did the ship even stop here? -there’s NO MAINSTAGE ENTERTAINMENT. They put lounge caliber entertainment (A magician, a comedian, a pianist, and a doo whop a cappella group) on the main stage as “featured entertainment”. Movies shown were old. Classes were taught by untrained crew members. -my fathers BATHROOM TRASH WAS NEVER EMPTIED during the 7 day cruise. Our hallway smelled like a sewer, but our room was ok. Obviously, Dad’s smelled. And, we may never stop teasing my dad about the ladies’ panties than ended up on his balcony on Day 4 that were never removed. Throughout the ship there are raised “speed bumps” as we nicknamed them. Just enough height difference to trip an older person walking. Most public space chairs do not have armrests. I would not have noticed, until watching my father try to get in or out of a chair. For a ship that boasts catering to mature clientele, they might try to accommodate better in the public areas. We had travelled on Holland America a decade ago. We were very disappointed with what we witnessed on this cruise. ADVICE TO FUTURE TRAVELERS: bring a cane, and steady walking shoes. Keep expectations low. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Living close to Tampa, I enjoy being able to jump on a ship just to cruise. The Rotterdam reminded me of why I like HAL. It is a smaller ship with fewer people and more room to just sit and relax. During the day there was always a place ... Read More
Living close to Tampa, I enjoy being able to jump on a ship just to cruise. The Rotterdam reminded me of why I like HAL. It is a smaller ship with fewer people and more room to just sit and relax. During the day there was always a place I could go and sit to read my book. This ship has the old library setup, separate from the Crows Nest. I much prefer this, as it still has books you want to read. The staff has mingled the paperbacks that passengers donated with the hard backed books first set up by The New York Times. Although the Eames chairs are gone, there are six recliners. One was broken but if you got there early, you had a comfortable seat. Of course, games are set up here and it did get a bit noisy. It is spring break and we had lots of children, some rowdy. The Ocean Bar was another quiet place. The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful. Every morning in the Lido, coffee and juice was brought to the table. Our room steward was very attentive and could not do enough for us. Dinners were good but you never knew what size/portion you would receive. The wiener schnitzel was huge but the scallop brioche was one scallop and two shrimp on rice. Too small! Of course you can always ask for more. The things I miss are shows with singers and dancers, more than just three or four flavors of ice cream on the Lido deck, ice sculptures, and eggs benedict with crab, etc. It seems like HAL is cutting back on the small extras and nice touches from past years. I am getting old, I remember Midnight Buffets! All in all, if you like smaller ships, the Rotterdam will meet your needs. I enjoyed my cruise but will not pay for the Spa's relaxation room again. There were just too many people booked. I could not get a heated lounger twice, and the room only has a small hot tub that is not jetted. I don't use the Steam Room so I don't feel it is worth the cost. I will miss HAL when it leaves Tampa at the end of this year. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely ... Read More
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely presented. Excellent waiting staff. The newspaper excerpt (which is provided to guest every morning at the Lido deck ) is too leftist, I think if it is replaced by something more centrist,it will be better. As a Conservative, I do not need to read the news with criticism about the President every morning at breakfast ! Shore excursions are a little overpriced. We only book two tours but the one I was really excited about, Dolphin Encounter in Cayman Island was canceled because Cayman stop was canceled due to bad weather condition. At Ports of call, we mostly used taxi for sightseeing. On this cruise, we enjoyed mostly going to the beach and shopping, especially for exotic fashion. I think we will cruise with this company sometime in the future,when we get older. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I was unsure of my choice of a Lanai stateroom, but it was great! Loved to people watch as people walked by the glass sliding doors, and they could not see into the room. We could see straight out to the water, as the railing was more ... Read More
I was unsure of my choice of a Lanai stateroom, but it was great! Loved to people watch as people walked by the glass sliding doors, and they could not see into the room. We could see straight out to the water, as the railing was more like a metal gate with intermittent uprights than a wall. Didn't miss any storage lost to the design of the room. Didn't miss the refrigerator full of drinks which would have cost money to use. The embarkation process was wonderful. We got to the port at around 11:45 and waltzed right on. Never did we encounter a line more than maybe 8 people deep. Debarkation was likewise easy. Enjoyed the dining room-food was great. Didn't go to a specialty restaurant. Too expensive. If there was Asian, we might have sprung for it. No problem getting a pool lounger (we go in the mid to late afternoon). Post Modern Jukebox was an entertainment highlight. All in all, definately worth it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Overall, I have to say that my wife and I enjoyed the cruise very much. When booking the cruise, we ended up on the Rotterdam as it had the ports we wanted to see. The embarkation went very smoothly and the luggage was brought to our ... Read More
Overall, I have to say that my wife and I enjoyed the cruise very much. When booking the cruise, we ended up on the Rotterdam as it had the ports we wanted to see. The embarkation went very smoothly and the luggage was brought to our cabin promptly. Most of our evening meal was in the main dining room, and the food and wait staff were excellent. We were taking the trip with another couple, and one of them had special dietary needs. As soon as boarding, they talked to the chef in the lido cafe. He assisted with the lunch and also brought her a menu for the evening meal. She indicated what she wanted from the menu, and the chef got with the kitchen staff to make sure it was prepared properly. This was done daily for her. The cabin staff was also excellent, and anything we needed, it was taken care of immediately. I was a little disappointed in our stop at Key West, as we didn't dock until very late morning, so our time on the island was a little shorter that I had hoped for. We had excursions for our stops in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, which we enjoyed This is a small ship, about 1400 passengers, and it seems to cater to the senior citizen group, which is fine as my wife and I are both in our seventies. I was a little disappointed in the evening entertainment. This was our first cruise with Holland America, so I don't know if the entertainment was standard for all of the HAL ships or if it was just this ship. I will know shortly as we are taking an Alaska Cruise in a couple of months and will also be with Holland America. It will be interesting to do a comparison. We had a balcony on this ship and it was very comfortable. It is probably a little larger than balcony cabins on other ships, which we liked. We had plenty of storage space. This is an older ship and it is definitely showing signs of its age. I was aware of this when I booked the cruise, and in spite of its age, we both have to say we had a great experience. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Just returned from our trip 3 -10 Feb 18. Before leaving we had a lot of issues wondering if we made a mistake booking this cruise as we heard/read that the vessel has a boat full of wheelchairs and walkers. During the cruise we maybe ... Read More
Just returned from our trip 3 -10 Feb 18. Before leaving we had a lot of issues wondering if we made a mistake booking this cruise as we heard/read that the vessel has a boat full of wheelchairs and walkers. During the cruise we maybe seen 3-4 children on board - from what we were told average age for our cruise was 57.3 - this maybe a little low as I would have bet the average is was around 60+. First - there were some individuals who had wheel chairs and walkers but they were very limited. My wife and I and the couple we were with are in our mid to lower 50s. Having sailed with Carnival/Royal/Norwegian we know that there is a lot of going ons on their vessels. On the Rotterdam not so much but having said that - the cruise caters to the retired and the majority of customers on board may not want all the noise/activity. The entertainment is very very good and sometimes different then what you would watch on other cruise lines - but as mentioned it was very good entertainment. The food on the cruise along with the service was exceptional. The staff cannot do enough for you. I enjoyed one aspect of this cruise - unlike some of the other cruise lines where you can just shovel in and take as much food as you want - Holland America picks up the portions for you. The do not scrimp and will give you what you ask for - but the best part of this as of I seen in the past - there is a lot less more waste. I seen on numerous cruise in the past customer taking huge portions of an item and then may not like and this ends up in the garbage - Bravo Zulu to Holland America. The ship as mentioned in subject is old in comparison to the new larger vessels being built now, but she is an old cadillac - she has been treated very well and still has her good looks and glamour - she is a very comfortable and a classy boat. She is clean and well maintained. Would we travel again on the Rotterdam - in a minute - only thing I would wish for myself is a maybe a Reggae band playing around the ship during the day and maybe early evening. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I have cruised with all the big and not so big cruise lines. As it was our 23rd wedding anniversary, we splashed our on a Neptune level suite (7039). On our arrival at the dock in Tampa for embarkation, the paperwork was ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised with all the big and not so big cruise lines. As it was our 23rd wedding anniversary, we splashed our on a Neptune level suite (7039). On our arrival at the dock in Tampa for embarkation, the paperwork was dealt with in minutes and very soon we were outside our suite. On entering we were delighted. It was spacious and clean. The veranda was enormous with 2 sun loungers plus a table and 4 dining chairs. The en-suite had a bath (it was looking a bit old and tired though), plus upgraded lotions and shampoos. It had been a long flight from England, so that evening we had room service. I am an early riser, so about 5am the following morning I had a good look around. It was amazing. I can honestly say that this was the best looking ship I have ever been on. It was very clean and had so many nooks and crannies. When I got back to the suite I couldn't wait to tell me wife all about it. We had breakfast in the Pinnacle restaurant, which is served at your table. The staff were very pleasant and welcoming. That night was the 'Gala' night, so my wife wore a beautiful evening gown and I wore my best tux. As we were free dining, we had to wait for a table. It was then that I saw that only a handful of my fellow diners were dressed like us, the majority were extremely casual, ie jeans and trainers, some even in flip flops. This spoilt our night as we always look forward to these occasions. After that it became obvious that the dress code on the ship was ultra casual, not what I expected for such a good looking ship. As stated, the staff were wonderful and always smiling. We only went to one show, which was ok, but not Hollywood style as they say in their ads. The only reason I have given the Rotterdam 4 stars is because of the very casual dress code that is allowed in the evening restaurants. I should add that the average age of this cruise was 71 years. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for convenience of the port. My husband had a course in Orlando on January 12 and 13, so we quickly drove to Tampa when his class finished and boarded by 2:00. This is the smallest ship that we have been on, but it ... Read More
We chose this cruise for convenience of the port. My husband had a course in Orlando on January 12 and 13, so we quickly drove to Tampa when his class finished and boarded by 2:00. This is the smallest ship that we have been on, but it offered the delicious food that Holland America is known for and that we enjoy. Our ports were Key West, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Antigua, St Lucia, Curacao, Aruba, and Grand Cayman. Our weather was fantastic and each port had something to offer. Food: On this ship, there is very little self-serve in the buffet. This cuts down on germ transfer, but you need to be quick and specific about portion sizes when you ask for food to help them be efficient. The sticky buns were delicious and I ate at least one every morning for breakfast in the Lido buffet! There were also the usual stations with made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, crepes, waffles, sausage, bacon, fruit, yogurt, etc.... There is a great tasting and fresh taco bar set up by the pool for lunch every day! Buffet lunch highlights included roasted pork belly (so delicious!!!) , fresh salad station, and pasta bar along with freshly made Holland America Bread Pudding and vanilla sauce. My husband enjoyed ice-cream almost every day as well, skillfully and cheerfully scooped by Romeo, the ice-cream man! Dining Room: We never ventured into the extra charge restaurants since our food was delicious in the main dining room or buffet. We found the fish tended to be a bit underdone and bland to our liking, but there were many other choices to be enjoyed over the two weeks. The menu was always different. Lobster could be purchased every night for $20, but it was offered complimentary on our last gala night ( three gala nights in total). Escargot, Caesar salad, french onion soup, shrimp cocktail, and crab cakes were some of the highlights. I appreciated that the food was served hot on hot plates! Desserts were my favorites, and the staff were gracious to let me try two of them when I couldn't decide between them! The lava cake with berry sauce was my favorite, and the creme brulee was also very good. When we didn't get to the dining room for dinner, we found that similar choices were offered in the buffet. Afternoon Tea: I would have loved to have gone for tea every day at 3, but I managed 4 out of 14 days. There was only so much eating that I could do!! Music: we enjoyed the Adagio string quartet which played almost every night at 7,8, and 9. The Ocean Trio, piano soloist, and piano bar entertainer performed almost every night as well. They were all very talented and a pleasure to listen to. Movies: A different movie was featured each day with a few showings either in the theater room (100 plus comfy seats with popcorn) or the Main stage, The theme was mostly recently released action movies, but there was the odd comedy or drama thrown in. Mama Mia 2 and Bohemian Rhapsody were also featured. Microsoft Classes: Desiree was a very knowledgeable and patient teacher and taught up to 17 classes on various topics. There were at least 15 individual computers for hands-on learning. America's test kitchen: On sea days we were able to observe cooking shows in the theater and go home with beautiful recipe cards. Entertainment: We did hear murmurings from other passengers that the entertainment was a bit odd, but we enjoyed the following shows: Magician, comedians, Postmodern Jukebox, Planet Earth in concert (BBC Earth movie with live music), Harmonica Virtuoso, Solo Pianist, Philippine crew talent show, and a few variety shows. The BBC Earth movies were very well done! It was a bit tricky to eat in the dining room and still get a seat for the early show, but we always managed to see what we wanted to see. Library/Games/Puzzle room: What a beautiful area!! Enough said! Check out the Explorations cafe in the afternoon for macarons and biscotti and the evening for truffles! Gym: we used the gym 12 of 14 days. We were always able to find a treadmill or elliptical machine, and the view through the front windows was fantastic. There were various weight machines, rowers, etc. Free stretch/ab classes were also provided. The NFL playoff games were enjoyed in lounges on large screen, and there were also various trivia games, board games, card games offered along with pickle ball and basketball. There is a lot of up-selling on the ship, and the shops and spa offer various sessions to learn about their products. Mass is offered every morning, along with Interdenominational and Jewish services weekly. Information sessions on the ports of call were also appreciated. The ship is older and is the second fastest in the world behind the Queen Mary, but it has been beautifully redone in old world charm. If you are interested in art, I asked for a listing of the on-board art at guest services and took it upon myself to locate as many items as possible. It took several hours, but I enjoyed the process...a personal scavenger hunt, if you will. The ship does not offer the Entertainment that Royal Caribbean would offer, but if you don't mind a casual cruise with an older crowd and better than average food, this may be the ship for you! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I specifically chose the ports of call, rather than the ship. But the Rotterdam and myself were a perfect fit. I love the smaller ships which do not make one feel like "another head in a bed", or like cattle being herded in or ... Read More
I specifically chose the ports of call, rather than the ship. But the Rotterdam and myself were a perfect fit. I love the smaller ships which do not make one feel like "another head in a bed", or like cattle being herded in or out of the ship. I loved my room near the front of the ship on the Dolphin Deck. The ship was very stable, but I like the bigger waves which I could hear slap the sides of the ship, and the gentle wave motion would lull me to sleep. My room was perfect, the cabin stewards were prompt and efficient, always pleasant and courteous. I had no issues with my room, or bathroom. I love the Elemis products which are supplied in the bathroom, especially the Elemis lotions. I do not like the pool area with the retractable roof, as it echos, and there is no outdoor pool. However, I knew this prior to booking the cruise, and it was not an issue. I went to quite a number of lovely beaches during my cruise. The food was excellent, both in the Lido and the main dining room. I had a lovely lunch for those who have been on Collector's tours, but did not attend any Mariner's lunches. This is a lovely ship, constant maintenance to keep it shipshape! It was very clean. I like the way the food is served in the Lido....where people cannot handle the food themselves, except for using tongs for some breads, fruit....but all is served, and with a "sneeze guard" over top of the food. I did see one guest put his face on the sneeze guard! I am so aware of handwashing and loved the automatic handwashing machines in the Lido. Factually there are guests who do not handwash properly, or use purell, and who may have poor personal hygiene practices, and who do not understand that a norovirus can be virulent on the ship. Happily no children on the first 2 weeks of the cruise, and only a few on the last week. I would like to see the small back pool between the hot tubs off limits to children, as the outdoor pool is on some of the other HAL ships. I specifically cruise with HAL for the fact of very few to no children on these cruises. I neither go to casino, or need jewellry etc., and attended only a few shows and music events. Miss BB KIngs and dueling pianos, like on the bigger ships, but really not a huge deal. I enjoyed the ports of call. All in all this was a very good cruise. Shout out to the attendants who clean and maintain the public bathrooms....a very important job on a cruise ship which is often overlooked by the guests. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
we took this for the convenience of the Port of Tampa, having done several HA in the past knew Its reputation for being a stable product. The ship is very nice layed out well with lots of" nooks and crannies" to read in or watch ... Read More
we took this for the convenience of the Port of Tampa, having done several HA in the past knew Its reputation for being a stable product. The ship is very nice layed out well with lots of" nooks and crannies" to read in or watch the sea. We liked the feel of the ship and the ease of getting around. The Rotterdam has a lot going for it in its staff and service, it is however, lacking to much for us to ever go again. If HA did it the product different this would be a wonderful ship and indeed the flagship of the fleet. I knew there are charges for everything, but having to pay extra if you wanted a lobster, come on. Pinnical Grill which you pay extra to eat has extra, extra charges to order different items. The quality of the food in PG was very good, maybe we are to picky, I really expected the the main dinning room to have as good a quality and PG to the height of dinning. Gala Night should be done away with. Most men just had on sport shirts with jeans even saw shorts with flip flops. I guess we have been spoiled by other lines and at our age will stick to them Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Week long cruise with my mom and niece. Neptune suite 7034 with shower only was perfect for my mom who has trouble getting in and out of a bathtub / shower combo. Enjoyed the piano bar, comedian, and music on board. Ports were good ... Read More
Week long cruise with my mom and niece. Neptune suite 7034 with shower only was perfect for my mom who has trouble getting in and out of a bathtub / shower combo. Enjoyed the piano bar, comedian, and music on board. Ports were good - except we did not do anything in Guatemala. Had rented a wheel chair for my mom in advance through travel agent which was in the cabin when we arrived. Food overall was very good although we could not get dining room reservations earlier than 7:45. Really enjoyed the lido market - salads made to order were fantastic! Crew and overall service was excellent throughout the ship. Internet went down on the last afternoon / evening causing none of the slot machines to work and all ship computers were down for about 4 hours. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze as was valet parking at Tampa port. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I don’t know what happened to the Holland America I know and loved. Food was mediocre but the breads and baked goods were quite good but even the ice cream wasn’t very creamy, and room service had limited breakfast choices unless you ... Read More
I don’t know what happened to the Holland America I know and loved. Food was mediocre but the breads and baked goods were quite good but even the ice cream wasn’t very creamy, and room service had limited breakfast choices unless you wanted to pay more. The room service menu in general was very limited unless you wanted to pay. Really. 2/3 ports of call were industrial with no redeeming qualities. On board activities included uh uh shopping, learning about shopping, special events to buy something, learning about spa treatments to buy. The comedienne who wasn’t funny, forgot her lines, and repeated the same material both days she performed.. Didn’t stay for the magician. Did I mention I was 1 of many who spent 24 hrs quarantined due to GI problems? Cost me $140.00 for the nurse, an injection and pills. Our dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was fabulous but I didn’t buy a cruise to pay extra to eat good food. The popcorn in the movie theater was good. The crew seemed disconnected from the passengers. Not a happy lot. Our cabin Stewards were efficient but didn’t always understand our requests, like clean wine glasses. The New Years Eve party was not remarkable. And the jewel in the crown, the Prinsendam, has been sold. I took 2 wonderful grand voyages on her and was looking forward to another. Our verandah cabin on Deck 6 was spacious and had lots of storage. So sad to experience the decline of what has been a wonderful cruise line with wonderful memories. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Eleven members of my family took this cruise to Central America/Mexico. Through no fault of HAL, the Tampa cruise port was closed by fog on the opening day of our cruise. The ship could not get into port all day, so we weren’t allowed ... Read More
Eleven members of my family took this cruise to Central America/Mexico. Through no fault of HAL, the Tampa cruise port was closed by fog on the opening day of our cruise. The ship could not get into port all day, so we weren’t allowed to come to the port until 9:30 the first night. We finally got into our room around 11:00 that night. Each traveler received a $50 credit for their inconvenience. To compensate for time lost the ship remained in port until 11:00 AM the next day. We were informed that we would not stop in key West. This was a real disappointment for several people in our group. I would rather the ship had skipped the uninteresting stop in Trujillo Honduras. The dilapidated town really offered nothing to justify the $89/pp price to tour around it. I had traveled on HAL previously and thought of them as a more upscale line in the moderate price range. This cruise definitely lowered my opinion. The Rotterdam is an old boat. HAL should definitely consider retiring the Rotterdam from its fleet. While there are many exquisite appointments aboard ship, it is leaky, tattered and old behind the sculptures, art and occasional new carpeting. There was one area by the elevators that smelled really badly. The food was good for the most part. I had several lunches in the lido market. They were quite good. The dining room offerings were adequate and the food was tasty. The main stage theatre is too small. It’s necessary to arrive 45 minutes in advance to get a decent seat for a show, but if you miss the entertainment, it’s not a big loss. The comediennes show was so bad I actually felt sorry for her. Like some other cc members on this trip we experienced illness. Seven of our group got sick during the trip. Some of them blamed seasickness while others had more dramatic symptoms. I can’t in good conscience recommend this ship to anyone considering a cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This cruise started off with a pretty big hiccup but all said it was a great vacation. We spent the night before our cruise at the Vinoy in St Pete's. We woke up to an email saying that due to fog our ship was delayed arriving and ... Read More
This cruise started off with a pretty big hiccup but all said it was a great vacation. We spent the night before our cruise at the Vinoy in St Pete's. We woke up to an email saying that due to fog our ship was delayed arriving and there would be an update at 9am. At 9am we got the exact same email with no update. The communication from HAL was lacking. The other cruise lines seemed to have done a better job updating passengers about what was going on etc. The port finally reopened that afternoon and our ship got into port around 5:30pm. They had to disembark all of the passengers and finally around 9:30pm we were able to start boarding. Because of the fog delay we spent the night onboard in Tampa and had to skip Key West. I wasn't too disappointed about missing Key West as it ranks towards the bottom of all vacations I've ever taken. HAL did give every passenger a $50 onboard credit because of the delay. We left port Monday morning and sailed straight to Trujillo the 2d port. We had just come off the Veedam the week before and I enjoyed the Rotterdam much more. The dining room had a better feel to it. They also had two sets of connect 4 in the exploration lounge which made my kids' week ;). The coffee in the exploration lounge was definitely worth the added cost. The free coffee was not good in the lido or the main dining room. The itinerary on this cruise was fantastic. I really felt like we got to see more of the "real" Central America. Cruising the Caribbean it can sometimes seem like the islands are interchangeable, but going on to mainland Central America made the trip more about culture and less a beach vacation. We traveled with our three kids (ages 10-13), but they had no interest in the Club HAL activities this cruise. On past cruises they have enjoyed it. There were lots of other kids in Club Hal though. Our favorite entertainment activity was the daily geography trivia with Aubrey. We didn't take in a lot of shows as the times for shows didn't really work with our 8pm dining time. All the shows seemed to be either 8pm or 10pm and with a port stop almost every day we didn't want to stay up too late. We've been on other cruise lines where the late dinner seating can catch a show before dinner and have enjoyed that in the past. The movie always started at 7pm which also didn't work for either dining times. Overall the service was excellent in both our cabin and dining. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Rotterdam Christmas 2018 We left Pennsylvania Sunday morning, Dec. 23 with a 6:05 flight time on Southwest. Arriving at the airport (after being delayed at the car park) at 4:30 with the line to check bags we were a bit concerned. We ... Read More
Rotterdam Christmas 2018 We left Pennsylvania Sunday morning, Dec. 23 with a 6:05 flight time on Southwest. Arriving at the airport (after being delayed at the car park) at 4:30 with the line to check bags we were a bit concerned. We did get the bags checked in about 25 minutes and then headed up to security. The lines were huge but fortunately we all had TSA pre-check and we breezed right through security. We even had time to get a breakfast at McDonald’s right by the gate. Just as we finished breakfast boarding began. The flight was absolutely fine and on-time. We landed in Tampa at 8:45 and had our luggage by 9:15. A pleasant Uber driver had us at the port at 9:45. We quickly checked our bags and got in line for the terminal to open at 10:00. It was a cool morning in Tampa (about 50 degrees) so they opened the terminal early to get folks “In out of the cold.” We had a nice conversation while waiting in line for security to open. We were quickly checked in and shown to the 4 & 5 star waiting area. There was nothing special about it, just a smaller more private room, and when boarding began at 11:30 we were the first to board. We have not been on the Rotterdam before but immediately felt very comfortable. We found Job, a dining room manager, at a desk on deck 4 where we were the first to discuss special dietary needs and a wish for fixed dining. He said they had just received a cancellation that morning and we were able to join a six-top, table 55, right at the aft windows. He also took all of DW’s special diet needs and promised to stop by our table (which he did) to make sure everything was good. We enjoyed embarkation lunch in the dining room. We showed our DS around the ship and attended the mariner’s welcome back reception before the muster drill. After the muster drill we found our luggage delivered and we unpacked and prepared for dinner. We visited the tour desk and arranged for an ATV adventure in Honduras for our DS. Dinner was okay, not great, but service was excellent and rather prompt. We attended the EXC guide talk at 7:30 but after that the 2:30 start to the day was taking its toll and we called it a night. Monday, December 24, 2018 – Christmas Eve in Key West DS was up early and we found him reading on the Lido. We enjoyed breakfast together in the dining room. After breakfast we went to talk to the EXC guide about Honduras. He told us that there was expected to be several local tour options offered once off the dock in town. At 10:00 a Dutch Shuffleboard tournament was held and I ended up winning with 156 points. We docked a little early and the ship was cleared at 10:50, ahead of our stated 11:00 arrival. We left Rotterdam to explore Key West. We are docked right at Mallory Square, so that is very convenient. We took photos of the old customs house, Milepost Zero, the southernmost point (but did wait in the block-long line for our own photo), the southernmost beach, and the ‘sand snow-man’ at the beach. We took the free “Duval” bus back towards the ship, stopped at CVS for a few necessities, and then headed back to Rotterdam. We enjoyed a light lunch in the lido and I had a burger from the Dive-In. The burgers are very good. DS and I enjoyed the pool and hot tub. The pool was too cold for this northerner. I guess that doesn’t bother the young folks on board. We rested up a little bit and loaded the photos onto my computer before getting ready for the evening. We made it to happy hour in the Ocean Bar. Dinner was a special Christmas Eve menu and it was good. There was a little delay with DW’s special order. We went to a special “Sheridan’s” tasting at the shops and the Piano bar at the mix started at 8:00 so we enjoyed that. We caught part of the 9:00 show, a comedian, and returned to the Piano bar until 10:45. The special crew Christmas Eve service was wonderful. That went to 11:50 and a late night Christmas Eve buffet was available in the lido. Several Dutch specialties such as Ollie Bollen and Dutch Apple Pie were available. Tuesday, December 25 – Christmas Day at Sea We tried to sleep in but even so were in the dining room for breakfast by 8:30, partly helped by an hour time change to Central time. At 10:00 we attended the “Santa comes to Rotterdam” festivities in the main showroom. That was a lot of fun, especially the video that was put together of Santa exploring the ship before he appeared in the rear of the showroom. We had made reservations for lunch in the Pinnacle. Service was challenged likely due to a combination of the venue being popular and one of the chefs being ill. Lunch ended up being quite nice but it took them bringing my meal twice. The Pinnacle manager ended up comping our meal. We were really tired after staying up last night but attempts to nap failed. The pool and hot tub were enjoyed for a while. We enjoyed happy hour in the Ocean Bar and the drinks were perfect. The special Christmas Dinner menu included roast Turkey as well as a variety of surf & turf. Christmas Ham was also an option. We attended the show, ____ Jukebox. The performers were very good although most of the songs were not know to us. After the show we were just too tired and called it a night. Wednesday, December 26 – Trujillo (Banana Coast) Honduras We enjoyed a dining room breakfast before heading out to this largely unknown port. DS has an “ATV adventure” booked through the ship and we tendered over at the same time. After he checked in for his excursion we headed out to explore. A short walk past the port gates found us at a series of restaurants lining the beach. One of these looked clean, had a sign saying “English spoken,” along with other signs “$5 chair rental; $3 ice cold beer” and others. A friendly person waived us in and after looking the place over we decided to stay here. $10 for two beach loungers and an umbrella is a good deal nearly anywhere. We enjoyed a drink each, a couple of swims, watched other cruisers brave the “Banana boat,” and had a very nice 2 ½ hours. A total investment of $22 including a generous tip was well spent. We talked with our waitress who told us Rotterdam was only the second ship to call here this year, and only two or three more ships were scheduled to call. She said the town would love to become a regular cruise stop as they had a lot to offer and port calls create employment. Their biggest local concern is the lack of employment for young people. After leaving the beach we headed to town to walk around a bit. We ran into Abrie, the travel guide who was on his way back to the tender pier. We saw several stands selling local crafts on the main square, a large Christmas tree, a manger scene, and lots of locals out enjoying the day. We headed back to the tender pier and were back on board Rotterdam at 1:30. I enjoyed a Dive Inn burger (excellent on Rotterdam) and cooled off in the pool a little. We went to the Ocean Bar happy hour and the Mai-Tai’s were not made well this day. Way too strong and attempts to make them better failed. Went to dinner and all was well. The show was a Magician and he was very good. The piano bar is ‘off’ tonight so we called it a night after the show. Thursday, December 27, 2018 – Santo Thomas de Castilla, Guatemala. It is said that sometimes “You can’t do it over again.” That was certainly true here in Santo Thomas. We were here in 2009 and had a wonderful day visiting the Las Escobas River and waterfalls, swimming under the falls, and then enjoying the afternoon at the Green Bay resort. In fact, I have two photos of this in my office at work, some nine years after the visit, as the memories were so fond. I found out before the cruise that the Green Bay resort had gone under, but the waterfalls were still there. So we arranged taxi service for $25/pp round trip, and paid $14 entrance fee to the national park for each of us at the entrance. They have certainly improved the entrance area with nature displays and our trail guide was very pleasant. The experience was such a letdown however. Since our 2009 visit, they have now built two additional pipelines taking water out of the river from above the falls for the local towns. Okay, but this leaves just a trickle of water going down the river. We did swim at the lower falls and it was refreshing, but this was nowhere near the 2009 experience. At the upper falls we didn’t even go into the pool. We walked back down to the entrance and headed back to the port. On the way back to the port we had a brief tour of the town of Santo Thomas de Castilla. We were happy to be back to the port shortly thereafter. We did peruse some of the vendors at the port market and bought some ladies sandals, men’s belts, and a gift item. Back on the Rotterdam we enjoyed lunch and some pool time. Some of the tour providers did put on a little farewell presentation on the pier; however it was nothing like the all-out sendoff we remember from nine years ago. Dinner was enjoyable and after dinner we walked around a while before calling it a night. Friday, December 28 – Costa Maya, Mexico – NOT! Rotterdam was scheduled to dock at Costa Maya at 8:00. At 7:15 we could see we were just offshore with two large ships settling into port. Going out onto deck 3 the wind was strong enough to ‘blow you over!’ We went to the dining room for breakfast and right about 8:00 we closely approached the dock. The Allure of the Seas was at the outer dock and yikes that is some huge ship! We heard the engines and thrusters straining and quite suddenly they stopped and we were slowly drifting away from the dock. I said “I guess we are not going to Costa Maya” and 15 minutes later the captain came on and made the announcement that due to the gale-force winds and Rotterdam being assigned the inner dock there was no way to safely make port. We finished breakfast and headed to the lido where we grabbed a table near the pool. We enjoyed some pool time in the “Wave pool” and then attended an 11:00 “Coffee chat” with the magician entertainer. That was a lot of fun but the assigned Explorers Lounge was overflowing and a larger venue would have been better. We checked the menu for a dining room lunch and opted to head to the lido instead. That was a great call as slow roasted turkey was featured in the carving station! We were very tired and all three of us ended up taking an afternoon nap. We went to the Crow’s Nest happy hour, and then enjoyed our second gala dinner. The evening show was the jukebox and it was okay. After the show we enjoyed the piano bar until he took his break at 10:00 and called it a night. Saturday, December 29 – At sea, gulf of Mexico Breakfast in the dining room began our day. At 9:30 was “Ask the captain” and the captain began with a slideshow of the attempted docking in Costa Maya. It was very clear from the slide show that there was no chance to safely dock, but the weather report was extremely wrong as the winds were double what had been forecast. The captain also did a virtual tour of the bridge and engine room, and then answered questions from the floor. At 10:30 was the mariner’s reception in the Explorer’s lounge. This was nice with about 10 folks receiving their copper medallion. We opted to pass on the Mariner’s lunch after looking over the menu. We enjoyed lunch poolside and a surprise lunch time happy hour was enjoyed with lunch. No “Wave pool” today as the ocean is flat and there is no wind. In fact, Tampa port has a fog problem and despite a very early arrival at the pilot station, we dropped anchor there. We packed most of our luggage late in the afternoon. We should have at least kept bathing attire for the carry – off bag but failed to think ahead enough. Dinner was in the Pinnacle Grille and we enjoyed that very much. After dinner I wondered around a little before calling it a night. Sunday, December 30 – Disembarkation? Eventually! We woke to find we were still anchored at the Tampa bay pilot station. Fog had closed the port. Yes, there was certainly fog. But why close the port? In the spring of 2017 we cruised New England and Canada and every port was fogged in each morning, and much thicker fog that what we witnessed here in Tampa. We made every port on that cruise early, despite the fog. In any case, we had a dining room breakfast. We watched a movie, Crazy Rich Asians, in the showroom. We had lunch in the dining room. We started to watch a second movie, the latest Mission Impossible in the showroom but then the captain said we had been cleared to begin our approach and we would soon pass two outbound cruise ships and sail under the sunshine skyway bridge, so we went up to the observation deck to take photos. We certainly have never passed so close to other cruise ships moving at speed as we witnessed here! The channel is not very wide so they passed less than 200 meters portside of Rotterdam. It was fun as all the passengers were waving at each other. We led in a parade of three cruise ships and eventually docked at 6:00 PM. Despite being in the first color group to be called it was 7:30 before we were clear to disembark. They did feed us dinner in the lido, and the prime rib was excellent! After dinner we waited in the showroom where an NFL game was on the big screen. We had very little wait at customs and caught a cab to the airport to pick up our rental car. We are spending a couple of days in Florida before flying home New Year’s day morning, so this is the end of the cruise log. Summary: While we’ve done lots of Holland America cruises, this was our first on Rotterdam. I really like the ship. The décor is classic, the size is convenient, and the service generally superior. We had no “Bad meals.” Some meals were really great. In fact, Job and Wayan in the dining room went above and beyond in taking care of DW’s special dietary needs. For our adult son, this was his first HAL experience. After about two days he said “I feel like I went back in time.” I asked why? He said you just don’t ever get this kind of service anywhere. His room steward remembered all our names after the first introduction! He had a really great time. There were a few issues that were never really addressed. One was the temperature in our cabin, #3431. A few times it did go down but then it would go back up again. In any case, the thermostat had little (if any) effect. Our son’s cabin (#2588) was always comfortable. Likely due to the holiday crowding with many 3rd and 4th berths occupied, there were a few times it just seemed to take a little longer to get service. On the other hand, some of the bar staff really went out of their way to take care of us. I thought the captain really went out of his way to explain why our port call in Costa Maya needed to be aborted. I also think it’s a real shame that the Tampa port closes due to what seemed like not very bad fog. I can assure all the readers that we will have to think very long and hard before booking another cruise from Tampa. For us, this was a minor inconvenience until the 90 minutes from docking until our priority luggage tag color was called (which was just far too long). We were not flying that day, but usually we do fly immediately home! Overall I give this 7 night Christmas cruise on Rotterdam 3.5 stars out of five. I hope to cruise again on the elegant Rotterdam. Read Less
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