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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Wanted to try the new Holland America ship. While it IS a bit different that other Holland ships, overall it was still a great Holland cruise. The new ship has a modern decor, ok but we prefer the more classic decor, but that's just ... Read More
Wanted to try the new Holland America ship. While it IS a bit different that other Holland ships, overall it was still a great Holland cruise. The new ship has a modern decor, ok but we prefer the more classic decor, but that's just a matter of taste. The stateroom was slightly smaller, but after a few days it didn't seem much different. On the plus side, the bathroom was a big improvement. Very bright, well lit, and with a large shower with great hand spray. Like it over the old bathtub/shower. Entertainment was better than previous Hollland ships. The new stage has great lighting and special effects and the ships band and singer/dancer group was excellent. Addition of a Deck 10 Pizza/Deli place was great. Hand made Pizza's much better than before. New enlarged BB King lounge has great accoustics and better viewing options. Seemed to be more under cover outdoor eating/seating options. Staff seemed to be more than adequate, for the most part. Only disappointment was breakfast on the Lido, we fould it hard to find HOT food, mostly pre-prepared and luke warm at best. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise because of the timing and itinerary. Like being able to leave from Rome -- gives us plenty of time in Italy prior to the cruise. We found first day boarding to be efficient. Did not keep people waiting a long ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the timing and itinerary. Like being able to leave from Rome -- gives us plenty of time in Italy prior to the cruise. We found first day boarding to be efficient. Did not keep people waiting a long time prior to boarding. Disembarking was handled well on the ship with people being able to wait in their rooms until their designated departure time, seemed to cause less crowded elevators and public areas. Once we debarked there was some confusion with the luggage as was not in proper areas and was mixed with other colors and numbers. Entertainment had its highs and lows. The main theater is an excellent venue with the rounded stage. Felt that the lead singers in the revue numbers were not that good. Could not understand what they were singing. The gal lead was particularly screechy in her delivery, plus it was obvious she had no dancing ability. The classical music was nice, however, felt that they should have been other types of entertainment in that same area switching it all around, thereby offering a larger variety of entertainment. There was really no dancing venue during the evenings, except those late in the evening and the Jazz musicians, which is really limiting to those who want to dance. The tea dance at 4PM made no sense to me unless you cannot stay up past 7PM at night - but that is just a personal observation and there were people taking part in it. The best show they had by far was at the Billboard Lounge. Two piano playing singers. The two piano set up was really nice. Great music from many eras. I felt they were lacking in activities during sea days. Plenty of lectures but nothing much in the way of sports activities. Would have like to see a free aerobics class each morning. It seemed that there were several things to do if you wanted to spend extra money to do them. Costs for specialty dining seemed to be as high as going to a really nice restaurant at home. No break in price because you had already paid for your meals. The balcony rooms were very nice. The bathroom was great with plenty of room and a really nice large shower. Closet space was adequate. Our steward was very good and the room was always cleaned quickly and early in the day. The food was generally good. The buffet was great with all of the food served. Probably a great thing for keeping illnesses down. Nice food stations including a Chinese stir fry. The dinner in the dining room was good, although at times the choices were -- it's hard to explain here -i'll say, somewhat unusual. Salads often did not have lettuce, soups were described as having certain contents, but were really broths with little in them. The beef and seafood dishes were very good. Not a dessert eater so no comments there. Drink prices were high compared to other cruises we have taken. The wine package did not make any sense to me so I did not buy it. Bought by the bottle and the prices on my bill were higher than the prices on the wine menu. Still trying to straighten that out as it seemed a lot more than tax and gratuity was added to the cost. We had a very unusual thing happen to us in two different lounges. First my husband and then me. With my husband he got a peppered rum served to him out of a regular Bacardi bottle. With me I had a Grey Goose Martini (no vermouth) that tasted like it was a really inferior vodka, they remade it and it still was terrible -- watched him pour it out of the Grey Goose bottle. This is a drink I have all of the time and it was not right. Went to another bar and it tasted great. Am going to follow up with a note to Holland America on this issue, as it is apparent someone is fiddling around with their liquor. The ports were nice. We did not take any ships tours s cannot comment on them. We enjoyed the cruise. Would not rush back to Holland America, but would use them again if the itinerary and timing suited us. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I choose this cruise because I love sea days and transatlantics. I also enjoyed a previous HAL transatlantic a few years ago. Well, things at HAL SURE have gone downhill since my last transatlantic cruise!! To save money, HAL has ... Read More
I choose this cruise because I love sea days and transatlantics. I also enjoyed a previous HAL transatlantic a few years ago. Well, things at HAL SURE have gone downhill since my last transatlantic cruise!! To save money, HAL has gotten rid of all the cruise staff. There are now only a Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director. Therefore, there were no activities except some trivias and 1 bingo a day on sea days. With more cruise staff there wold have been more activites to keep me busy. There were some lectures offered on different topics and the usual art auctions and "enrichment seminars" (just talks trying to sell you something). That was about it. I did enjoy the cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Kitchen hosted by Alice. The food in the Lido was boring and barely changed from day to day. On many transatlantics there is a country or part of the world theme every day in the lido (such as Mexican, Asian, Scandanivanian, etc) for lunch. Not on the Koningsdam! The dining room service was very poor until I complained a week into the cruise and it improved somewhat. Waiter and busboy had too many tables, order taking IPad didn't work, never saw the busboy, tables not cleared, water glasses not refilled, etc etc. After speaking to head MDR guy it got better. Not excellent, but OK. Food in MDR was pretty good, although the 1st week was better than the 2nd week for some reason. I had an AWESOME dinner at the Pinnacle Grille but did not eat at any of the other specialty restaurants because I did not see anything on the menus that I cared to eat. For some reason, this ship (and the new ships to come) does not have self-serve passenger laundries. This is a HUGE mistake if this ship is planning on doing more than 7-day Caribbean cruises. I will never send my clothes to the ship's laundry because they come back ruined. Hot water and high heat (which is all they know!) never touch my clothes! The other thing missing was a library. Up in the Explorations lounge there was a paperback exchange. Pretty much nobody put books up there (except for a few Germans!) until the day the cruise was over. Then there were plenty of books to exchange! Very disappointing. BRING BACK SELF SERVE PASSENGER LAUNDRIES AND LIBRARIES, HOLLAND AMERICA!! I did not take any ship-sponsored shore excursions. Did them all thru Spain Day Tours or people on the Cruise Critic Roll call. They all worked out great. Some of the evening entertainment was OK but a couple of the production shows were so bad I walked out after 5 minutes. The casino was very small for this size ship. I did not think there were enough machines that you could smoke at, but of course the non smokers would disagree, I would imagine! There were a few non smoking days or evenings during the Crossing. The ship's decor is very modern and stainless steel. Not like the wood and fixtures of the older ships. The chairs in the lounges and Lido were VERY heavy and almost impossible to move. My cabin steward was awesome. The servers in the Lido did their best to serve water, ice tea, lemonade, OJ, coffee, etc. and keep the tables cleared off. They could have used more help. The waiters by the Seaview Pool were great. Would I take another HAL transatlantic cruise? I don't think so. Everything was a money, money, money grab on this ship. We were nickled and dimed to death. I was sorry to see the lack of cruise staff and other things that I mentioned and food and service gone so far downhill. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We have always likes Holland and found them to be the best to meet our needs for a cruise. This was our first transatlantic crossing. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with this trip. The ship is beautiful. Lots of music ... Read More
We have always likes Holland and found them to be the best to meet our needs for a cruise. This was our first transatlantic crossing. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with this trip. The ship is beautiful. Lots of music entertainment, The shows in the world stage were ok, but not fantastic. The Lido deck nightly movie was a good thing, although we only watched one, but other people seemed to enjoy it. I think there were less activities that we remembered, no real library, very small area and not many books or magazines. Most magazines I saw were in another language other than English. Only one card table for puzzles and only two very small tables for backgammon, chess or checkers. The culinary arts center was good. We had dinner there on night, food was good, service great and it was fun to watch the chef cook and explain some of his techniques. Lido deck dining was difficult at times, hard to find a seat. Dining room meals were long and slow. Really didn't find the food to be a lot better than the Lido and definitely less choices. It seems the ship has decided that pushing wine and bar drinks is a big priority as they are everywhere and frequent during meals. Wine selections were ok, but I have had better on other cruise lines. We had an inside cabin, 8102. Unfortunately I did not think about being under the Lido dining room when I booked the cabin, it was quite noisy at 5:30am and starting at 10:30 through 12:30am. The room was small with no chair or sofa to sit on. Plenty of storage and the bathroom was very modern and easy to use. I would not book an inside cabin again due to the size. I usually don't mind being inside, as I like the darkness and usually the quiet. Had the darkness, but not the quiet this time. The cabin steward was great. The cruise director Carson and culinary Alice were very enjoyable. We did the renewal of vows on the ship and it was well worth the money. The captain and staff were so nice and made us feel very comfortable. They supplied a beautiful and delicious cake, canapes and champagne for the service. An album and pictures were also included. We did not use the spa as it was terrible expensive for their services. That has changed. As I remember from our first cruise with Holland, use of the mineral pool and other things were not charged for, but now it is a pretty hefty price. We did not do any shore excursions with Holland, so no info on them, but felt they were a little on the expensive side. We did do a couple private ones. All in all we loved the cruise and I was sad to see it come to an end. We will cruise with Holland again, but not in an inside cabin or under the Lido kitchen. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Timing was right for our transatlantic, maybe should have waited a couple more weeks. Nothing unusual about the embarkation or disembarkation. The weather was great on the way over because the captain avoided all the bad weather south of ... Read More
Timing was right for our transatlantic, maybe should have waited a couple more weeks. Nothing unusual about the embarkation or disembarkation. The weather was great on the way over because the captain avoided all the bad weather south of us. Ship is nicely laid out, seems to be enough room for everyone to find a quiet spot if they want. I liked the comfortable couches and lounge chairs. Food was average for HAL, good selecation for dining, we went to the Tamerind, where the food ws very artful and really very tasty. Especially the lobster rolls. Lido restaurant had plenty of choice, but repetative and sometimes had to go to another station for different vegetables and potatoes. Seating was sometimes hard to find. The staff were great, as i have found on all their ships. Very friendly and really seem to welcome us. The cruise director and Becca, the staff of two did a great job with activities. I can say they were in need of help to expand the activities. Other than trivia, there wasn't a lot to do. Ports were good, especially Maderia, pretty place, take a tour. Lastly, the stateroom was the tiniest, and most uncomfortable of all the HAL ships. When I say Tiny, I might be disagreed with by others. The picture that shows the room must have been taken without the wall being up and with some kind of special lense. The desk is not even 2 feet wide, try to fit all your stuff and a breakfast tray on it. There is a stool, you pull it out and move the garbage pail and you can sit down on it. Don't know about your partner maybe he can find room on the floor. I know, have him eat breakfast or luch on the bed. One word, crumbs in bed, lovely. Don't even start on watching TV. They should have shown the American football somewhere on the ship, try sitting on your stool for a couple hours. I tried to get a larger room, even outside before the cruise, but it would have cost me over $1,000. more when I gave up my OBC, 200., my complimentry gratutites 400 and then I would have had to pay the gratutites 400. Plus what we paid was more than the balconies were selling off at. When I approached the front desk I was told there were no cabins available, even though other people were moved, and there were empty staterooms. Well live and learn. Next time I will make sure we have a more comfortable room, and I doubt it will be on this ship. One word of warning, do not take a cabin under BB Kings, hudge complaints about the noise travelling down. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I chose it as a reasonably priced repositioning cruise that suited my other travel plans for the return from Europe. Cruise: HAL Koningsdam, Civitavecchia-Fort Lauderdale 10/3/2017, Cabin 8182 Up front—I’m not a typical ... Read More
I chose it as a reasonably priced repositioning cruise that suited my other travel plans for the return from Europe. Cruise: HAL Koningsdam, Civitavecchia-Fort Lauderdale 10/3/2017, Cabin 8182 Up front—I’m not a typical cruise passenger, sorry to disappoint in my reporting: Mine was a solo trip; I’m not a “fine-dining foodie” so I only ate in Lido and Dutch Café; I drank no alcohol; not a “dresser-upper” so I can’t comment on “gala” nights. Not a socialite so I can’t comment on games or group activities and such. Still, fwiw, here goes: Likes: Entertainment: The best thing for me was the chamber music ensemble performing three sets on the Lincoln Center Stage most nights, a very competent and likeable group of five youngish musicians (string quartet and pianist) that added a lot of class to the ship with demanding classical repertoire. The only other entertainment I caught was the excellent classical pianist Mori (one night only), and—in passing—I heard the R&B band on the B.B.King stage providing predictable nostalgia to appreciative pax. There was plenty more popular entertainment going on that I didn’t attend. Ship layout: Well done on the whole, only a very few bottlenecks inside, enough outdoor spaces on various decks to find quiet if needed. Exercise: I liked the walking loop around deck 3 as well as the walking/jogging track on deck 11 (with a longer option available); the net-enclosed sports court (basket ball and net games and more) was rarely occupied, I had it to myself daily during breakfast and dinner hours. The brief and free morning stretch and evening body toning sessions in the fitness area were well attended, a bigger space (or outside?) would be welcome. There is free use of treadmills, weights and machines! Food: I only ever ate in the Lido Market (buffet on deck 9) and Dutch Café (deck 3). I liked the Lido Market food offerings for quality, huge variety, and superb desserts; the only dishes I kept eating at the Dutch café, the pea soup, the herring, and the apple pie, were excellent. They have more good-looking items. Staff: Well trained in efficiency and friendliness. Mercifully few PA announcements, and only sounding in hallways and public areas, not intrusively on cabins’ interior speakers. WiFi: I purchased 500 minutes of internet access ($175) and found it to be reliable and mostly acceptably fast. Heavy streaming and big downloads are discouraged or even blocked, but even far from land the satellite connection worked remarkably well, better than in many a hotel in my travels. Dislikes: Lido Market provides no trays, pax have to shuttle back and forth to and from a table to food stations for each item, from soup to dessert, often losing the table to overly zealous cleaner-uppers. There should be a way of carrying several items to a table, and to mark a seat as “I shall return” (sure, you can bring a jacket, but who wants to have to remember to run to the cabin just for that?). For someone who is used to eating a healthy dinner around 9PM but doesn’t like a waiter-service formal dining room (open til 9:30 PM) this was a bit tricky—Lido closes at 8:30, and only one station reopens at 10:30 for an hour. The Dutch Café serves no meals after 8PM. The New York Deli stays open til midnight but serves no pizza slices, only whole pizzas (and burgers if you can stomach that). Background music in public areas: While not nearly as bad as on recent Celebrity cruises, I nevertheless was bothered occasionally by stupid tunes playing too loud (who needs dozens of insistent “Help me Ronda, help help me Ronda” in your ear to accompany an otherwise perfectly good meal?). Luckily those instances were the exception, overall the volume was kept lower than on the blasted Celebrity Millenium (never again...) for example, and the music that I did hear was not as repetitive. Ship layout: The concert audience in the Lincoln Center Stage area was almost constantly bothered, often severely, by noises from loud pax (who sometimes may not have realized that the concert was going on beyond the big staircase that would have blocked their view), and from the nearby casino (especially slot machines with loud electronic quasi-musical sounds). Also the smoke from the casino was a bother (how can they even allow that indoors—anytime?). Luckily, as per the cruise director’s announcement, the Lincoln Stage may be relocated when Koningsdam will be in dry dock in December 2018. In summary: This cruise was a very positive experience with very few negatives. I had read about the “teething troubles” from when the ship was brand new, but except for the learning curve about the Lincoln Center stage’s location (promised to be rectified), I think they got it mostly right, and with the admittedly limited use I made of all that’s on offer it seems to be working just fine now. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
After sailing numerous Holland American ships, I was anxious to experience the new Koningsdam. There are many things I love about this ship and things I miss when compared to their smaller ships. Highlights: The cabin was excellent, ... Read More
After sailing numerous Holland American ships, I was anxious to experience the new Koningsdam. There are many things I love about this ship and things I miss when compared to their smaller ships. Highlights: The cabin was excellent, especially the shower and the larger flat screen TV. (My only complaint here was the air quality and ability to control the temperature adequately. For some reason, the air was extremely HIGH in humidity! Maybe due to this there seemed to be an over abundance of "ship" coughing going on.) The upper sports deck offered an excellent outdoor walking experience each morning while the lower promenade deck was lacking due to the portion that reverted to single file. Entertainment in the main showroom was much improved when compared to HAL smaller ships. Lacking: The quality of food in the main dining room was inconsistent and lacking in variety. The Lido was often over crowded, stuffy and miserable to walk through to reach the outer pool deck. Due to the size of the ship, service was not as spot on when compared to smaller HAL vessels. Would I cruise her again? Yes, for sure! It's all about the itinerary and pricing for me as I have to pay the single supplement. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain ... Read More
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain “Waterfront” line to downtown Vancouver. $15 CAN approx for 2. Very easy way to get to Canada Place. A short 2 block walk to the cruise ship terminal - passing right by a handy wine shop to purchase our carry on wine allowance. Arriving in the terminal we proceeded through the maze of security and documentation checks with ease. We arrived around 12:30 pm and were onboard in less than 20 minutes. One of the first things we noticed upon boarding was that the staff onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam was noticeably more welcoming than the last cruise we took on NCL. Even more so than our last Holland America cruise a few years ago on this very same ship. You will never pass a crew member of HAL of any ranking anywhere in the ship without them greeting you with a good morning or evening. Cabin 4173 - This was our first guaranty cabin experience. We had no choice in matter. The 5 day segment did not offer specific cabin assignment at the time of booking. Our cabin was assigned approximately 1 week before sailing. We did write to HAL immediately after receiving our assigned cabin requesting a cabin on the starboard side and we were fortunate to receive a confirmation the next day that our cabin was changed. I’m sure this is not always possible, but we were happy to be moved from a port forward cabin to an aft starboard cabin heading Southbound to be able to enjoy the sunsets from our balcony. Cabin 4173 is almost at the aft end of the ship, but it’s close to an elevator and while not overly spacious and lacking HAL’s signature little bath/shower combination in this category - we just had a shower - it was more than adequate for our needs over 5 days. Cabin Attendent Our cabin attendent “Novi” found us wandering down the hall toward our cabin and quickly informed us that he would be putting our beds into the proper configuation after we put our bags away and headed out for lunch on the Lido deck. First Meal HAL Tradition After unloading our bags in our cabin we headed up the Lido deck for a bite to eat. One of HAL’s best quick lunches is the “Dive-In” located aft. Order your burger, they hand you a pager and a few minutes later you are enjoying a delicious burger, chicken sandwich or gourmet dog. This is becoming our ritual on HAL on embarkation day. Mandatory Emergency Drill Nothing to be alarmed about - unless you have sensitive ears. The blasts in the event of an emergency could wake a hibernating bear on another continent! Mustering was done quickly and efficiently and we were not required to bring our life jackets to the drill. Sail Away It was raining in Vancouver so we gathered near the pool area of the Lido deck and partook in a sail away margarita in the souvenir glass...(plastic nowadays). No live music - just canned tunes and a little too loud for our taste, but apparently loud music makes people order more drinks! Dining Reservations and Beverage Packages Prior to sailing we made (and paid for) reservations at Tamarind one evening. Once onboard we made another reservation for the Pinnacle Grill on the one Gala night. We also prepaid for a wine package. We chose the 3 bottle Admiral wine package for our sailing. We did not buy the all-inclusive beverage package for this short cruise. We just signed by the drink. Our bar bill (apart from the 3 bottle wine package we prepaid) was $261 - that breaks down to $26 per person per day. The cost of the beverage package is approx $50 per person per day and both have to have it -so in this instance we did better on our own. We had a few welcome aboard cocktails, usually a cocktail in the evening and occasionally a cocktail at a show or a Bloody Mary in the morning. Another thing is that this cruise was not a warm weather cruise with many sea days laying by the pool all day, which tends to jack up the amount of libation we would do. Entertainment around the ship Normally we love the Adagio duos. This sailing had a pair of handsome gentlemen vs the gorgeous ladies playing the piano and violin classical “hits” and favorites. This duo played without any connection to the music to each other or to the audience. The second night I jokingly asked them to “smile” and the one on violin obliged me with a smirk, then went back to looking like secret service agents. Maybe I have been watching too many American talent shows, but I think you have to do some degree of selling the audience by connecting to them or to your music. Cheers to the bartenders! From the margarita to the sidecar to the gin and tonic and vodka martini ... I think HAL does a good job of making their drinks worth the price. Comedian Mark Pitta Our first show in the theatre was stand up. An unknown to us. We went to the late show and I think the theatre was about 2/3 full. Some jokes were good and stuck with you. Nothing offensive, but nothing that knocked me off my chair either. Enjoyable. 1000 Steps Our second show in the theatre on Gala night. A song and dance show featuring some great dancing with enjoyable choreography, talented dancers and good singers. Not HAL’s strongest suit, but enjoyable nevertheless. Piano Bar Always lively and full no matter what sailing or demographic is on board! The singer this week was not our favorite, but did the job he was paid to do... keep the place full! Dining: Main dining room. Without a reservation it can be up to a 20 minute wait with a pager during peak times. The main dining room menu is adequate and had some variety, but nothing really special. Service was good but rushed as always. The wine stewards are very rushed in their order taking and delivery of the wine. Lack of personal attention when you don’t have a set dining time and have the same waiter all week. We had the Admiral wine package and the wines were ordinary. I think next time we will opt to bring on our own wine for a corkage fee or purchase wine by the bottle off the wine list (different from that of the package). Lido. Buffet. Great for breakfast and lunch. I love the Congee porridge in the morning or having an omelette made to order. For lunch there is great Asian food and a wonderful salad bar - most items served by the staff to reduce the chance of a norovirus outbreak. There were many types of other foods hot and cold available here - I only mentioned what I tried. The ice cream was not very good. PIzza. Aft deck Did not try Pinnacle Grill & Gala Night $35 upcharge. Dined here one evening on Gala night, however not many people were dressed for a gala! I’m seeing fewer and fewer tuxedos and evening wear. I love dressing up on cruises, but I have to say my husband was thrilled to just bring a dress shirt and sports coat this trip vs penguin attire.. shoes, cumber bun, tie, cuff links, etc. We boarded with only a carry on this trip! ..Back to the Pinnacle food and serivce. Far exceeds the food and service of the main dining room and there is no rush in the service. If you want a great steak, a slower meal this is the place. Sel de Mar (Pinnacle restaurant changes over 2 nights a week to this French Seafood dining experience for a hefty $49 per person charge) We did not dine here Tamarind My birthday dinner was here. Our second experience at the Tamarind on this ship. I found my first experience to be better, I think because it was less crowded and earlier the last time on a previous sailing. We did not get a good explanation of how the menu works this time. Last time we got hot towels before dinner. Our servers were adorable and attentive. The food in here is amazing - just be prepared to think outside the box and try new things. I think that is a safe statement on dining everywhere on the ship. Most of us, as a rule do not dine with menus as elegant as even the main dining room at home. But the dainty little portions and tidbits of appetizers take some getting used to in order to really savor the delicacy of them all. Lastly - our server forgot to recognize my birthday as my husband had requested so he told the maitre’d on the way out. But 30 minutes later back at our cabin - both our servers showed up knocking at the door with a birthday cake singing to me, asking to come in to give me a hug .. I was already in bed! Canaletto Italian fare in a cordoned off section off the Lido buffet area. I don’t like the location of this venue. It’s only a $15 upcharge but the location is a turn off to me. Didn’t dine here, but the menu looks good and we had it on our last cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. America’s Test Kitchen Something new on HAL. A cooking demonstration like the TV show with great tips and recipes. Only drawback is no tasting - the HAL exhibit kitchen is apparently not up to FDA standard of safety to pass out samples! BBQ Lounge (America’s Test Kitchen by day) Hands down this is HAL’s best entertainment on the ship. Great music for dancing and a stroll down memory lane of R and B music. The band: drums, keyboard, bass, guitar, trumpet, trombone and vocalists are amazing and entertaining and true musicians who often are strangers to each other until just before sailing and put together a repertoire of party hits. Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye .. and of course BB King. Bravo HAL. Ports Astoria: First time here. Walk a few clicks to the Maritime Museum and found a pub for beer, chowder and free wifi access! San Francisco: My birth city. Got up early to see the arrival in the dark. Took a bus to the textile district to try and buy a mattress at Tuft and Needle (seriously!) .. then a cable car ride from Powell and Market to the Hyde Street turnaround and had world famous Irish Coffee’s at the Buena Vista bar - then back to the ship for happy hour in the crows nest and sail away under the Golden Gate Bridge. Priceless experience. Avalon: Quaint little seaside town on the island of Catalina (once owned by Wrigley) off Southern California. We had a surprise visit from family who live in Longbeach, CA. They took the Catalina Express over to meet us and we saw the island in a 4 person gas powered golf cart, followed by some shopping on the wharf. The old “casino” (dance hall) was closed for the day by the time we got back so we did not get to visit inside. Fun day - only port we had to tender to. Exceptional Service: Diane at the reception desk. We had no plans to race off the ship for a tender as we were in dock from 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm. After we anchored, my husband turned on his cell phone to see if there was any reception. There was a voice mail from his brother who said “I’m here.. we took the ferry over and we are waiting for you on the island”. So my husband went down to get a tender ticket and found out we could not get off the ship until 4:50 pm. All the early tender tickets were gone. That would have been too late for us to meet our relatives because they had to be on the ferry home shortly after that. “Diane” at the reception desk realized our plight and was able to squeeze us onto an early tender. She escorted us down to the gangway and we cannot thank her enough for making our day. Lesson learned. Always get your tender tickets early. Novi our cabin steward in 4173 Novi from Indonesia found us on arrival day. Introduced himself and made sure our cabin was in order each and every day. By the time we returned from breakfast each day our cabin was immaculately tidy and ready for another day of fun. I realize this is their job, but some do it better than others. We felt compelled to leave him a little “extra” at the end. Chef at the Lido who took the time to write out a recipe for me for Bee Hoon Fish Soup. Gym: adequate and busier than expected. Saw grey whales on the elliptical trainer! Thermal Suites: did not participate this time. $109 per person for 5 days. Massage: Prepaid for a couples 50 minute massage. Very nice. This was one of our favorite cruises to date. We love HAL. Terima kasih 1st night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Embarkation from Vancouver There was a heavy line of approx 15 to put your name in - You are given a pager and we waited approx 15-20 minutes. We were escorted upstairs to the top floor because the restaurant was so busy. Normally the top floor are for those who make dinner reservations or who have assigned dining times. Our dining companions Ron and Ako were from England. We enjoyed hearing their cruise stories. They take about 5-6 long cruises a year. Food choices were adequate and while portions were small, they were more than enough to keep us happy. 2nd night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Astoria A shorter line than the first night and only a 5-10 minute wait for a table. Our dining companions were from Germany. We never learned their names, but they taught me how to say “have a nice evening” in German. (I think!) I cannot properly write it, but phoenetically it’s “eye-nin schroo-nen hav-en” while communication was not easy we had a enjoyable dinner. 3rd night: Pinnacle Grill Gala night - reservations 6:30 - Sea day 4th night: Tamarind Reservations 7:30 - San Francisco 5th night: Main Dining Room Final night Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this cruise as I've always wanted to go to the Panama Canal. I especially liked that it left from my home port. And, it was very close to a land mark birthday for me. Embarkation went well for one of my cabin mates and myself. ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I've always wanted to go to the Panama Canal. I especially liked that it left from my home port. And, it was very close to a land mark birthday for me. Embarkation went well for one of my cabin mates and myself. My friend needs a walker so we were able to get through the lines quickly. The 3rd person in our room found the embarkation to go well too. Dining was wonderful. The food was great and there was a lot of variety on the menus. I liked how the selections reflected where we were-Mexican food while in that are and Caribbean food when we were in that area, One complaint was that certain items hadn't had enough purchased to last for a 3 week cruise. Wine was one of those things. My mom had purchased a specific wine package ahead of time as it was the only way to get her favorite wine. It came with 5 bottles of wine. By the time she was ready for her 4th bottle not only was she unable to get the 1 wine she wanted but 4 included in the package were also out. We had a super wine steward many nights. Another thing that ran out were the cordial glasses that went with a nightly liquor drink. By the last week of the cruise they'd run out of 2 of the designs-the only 2 I didn't have. Yet at the last deck sale there were boxes of all the glasses. Skim milk also ran out in the Lido at least several days before the end of the cruise. We enjoyed each of the 3 specialty restaurants. Our favourite was the Pinnacle where we had dinner twice and lunch once. Tamarind was also great. We went to the Lido market for most breakfasts and lunch as well as a couple times in the evening. There was a lot of variety in the foods. I would have liked more only semi spicy Asian foods to choose from. The Pizza place was also very good. Breakfasts in the Lido (in my opinion) were better than in the main dining room. I'd get a whole bunch of fruit on top of my waffles in the Lido and just got 2 strawberries and a little sauce in the Main Dining Room. Our group of 3 weren't that interested in the entertainment although we did go to a few things. We would have all been interested in listening to the Adagio strings but the lounge it was in was always very cold. I remembered that about the same area on other ships I'd been on. The Frozen Earth film with music was great. I also enjoyed the 2 films on the Panama Canal. The Filipino crew show was very good and it was nice it was earlier on in the cruise and during the afternoon rather than on one of the last nights of the cruise very late at night. Service was wonderful. Everyone was so helpful and caring. As it was a 3 week cruise there was more time to chat with some of the people who helped us and to learn more about them. There was one area of the Lido Market area that we knew we wouldn't get as much service as the rest. We just avoided that area. Internet service was horrible. I paid $175 for 500 minutes and used all but 14 minutes. Most of the time I used was spent either waiting for sites to load and to deal with being logged off in the middle of doing something. For the type of service that is able to be found on ships there should be no charge or a very little charge. Ports: Astoria; Hardly seemed worth the effort of docking there. Previously when I'd been there on a cruise there was a nice craft market right next to the dock. This time there wasn't. I didn't feel like walking into town for their Sunday Market so just went back on the ship. San Francisco: Nice stop. One passenger in our cabin went on a city hop on hop off bus tour and enjoyed that. The other 2 of us went to Pier 39. That was fun. It was nice to be able to walk along the pier. We were too tired to walk all the way to Ghiardellis. I liked having access to the bow on deck 5 to watch us leave port and sail under the Golden Gate bridge. Avalon: My mother and friend got off as they like Tenders. It was quite rough so I stayed on board. They didn't find much of any interest on shore. San Diego: Again, my friend did a hop on hop off shore based tour and enjoyed that. My mother and I went on the trolley and went shopping. We've been to San Diego before so weren't really interested in any of the ship based tours. Cabo San Lucas: This is where my friend and I went on a Dolphin excursion. It was wonderful. It's too bad that the pictures are so expensive and there aren't less expensive options. Also, it was stated in the information on the excursion that we would go into waist deep water to interact with the dolphins. It was way deeper than that and over most people's heads. I was able to interact with our dolphin on a ledge with shallow water. My mother stayed on board. It was a nice day so I didn't mind the tender too much. There was a small market area which I liked. Puerto Vallarta: Nice port. It was very convenient having the Walmart right across the street from where we docked. At the Walmart we were able to get the pictures on the CD we'd purchased with pictures from our dolphin excursion printed. There was a nice small market right next to the ship and we bought several items. One of the items I'd purchased was found to have holes in it (shirt). The lady I bought it from was very good about taking it back and giving me something else. None of us did any excursions. Huatulco: Where our sudden and unexpected event happened. This was the day where a sudden unexpected squall came up and the wind broke the ropes at the bow of the ship. As soon as possible after it happened the captain came on telling people what was happening and what they were doing to rectify the situation.My friend had stayed on board. My mother and I were on shore. My mother had gone on an excursion on a fishing boat. Once the squall hit (it hit them before it came onshore) they made the decision to come back to port right away. I had just finished shopping at the very nice shopping area and had dipped my feet in the water when a huge gust of wind and sideways rain hit. I was able to find shelter under an awning behind a small cantina. At some point during those first few minutes we heard a huge bang. One of the people sheltering with us worked for the ship and found out quickly that the rope had broken. The people at the cantina were very nice and had all of us come inside. We were able to see the ship from there and could see it was no longer at the dock. Once the rain lightened off I started going from area to area to see if I could find my mother. It was confusing at first as several men were telling us to go to a hotel with them to wait until we could get back on the ship. At first no one trusted them as we thought they were just trying to sell us something. But, finally several HAL staff told us it was ok and to go to the hotel where we could dry off and at least get some coffee. I found my mother on the way to the hotel. We found the staff with the ship were tremendous. They kept us apprised of their efforts at getting us back on the ship. We were told around 1 (storm had hit at 11) that they would be starting to take people back to the ship by tender around 2. Shortly after 2 we were tod that there were 2 tenders but as there were over 1200 people on shore it would take a long time to get everyone back. No one wanted to stay at the hotel and all went out to join the long line to get onto a tender. There was one man from the ship who went up and down the line telling everyone what was going on. He said there had been nothing on their radar or in weather reports that had predicted the story. One of the tenders broke down but everyone was quiet and patient. Finally around 3;30 we were told they had the gangway back up on the ship so we could go back that way. We all took off right away. Once we were on the ship we were told the Lido had been kept open so we were finally able to eat. I was very impressed how the captain and his crew handled this event. They made sure everyone knew what was going on. Before the storm I'd been shopping. There was a small market right near the dock and then another one a block or so away. I found the people outside of the stores to be quite annoying and persistent trying to get you to go to their stores, go on tours, etc. Puerto Chiapis: My friend and I went on the excursion to a cooperative Banana plantation. We also visited a school and got to visit the children and then watch them do several dances for us. Then our bus went to the banana plantation to see how things work.It was very interesting. Then we went to a local church where we were served a tamale for lunch. For me, this excursion was almost as good as the dolphin one. I loved being with the children. I was given pictures drawn by a couple of children. I will treasure them. We learned a lot about how the Mexican government encourages education. My mother stayed on board. There was a small indoor shopping area just outside the port. From what I can remember there was no bartering in those stores. Puerto Quetzal: We had to dock at a commercial section of the port that was further away from everything than had been planned. HAL put on several shuttle buses that took us to the market area. I think it was one of the best at any of our ports. It was quite large-circular so I got lost of course but it had lots of different things. Lots of bartering. We only stayed onshore for about an hour. It was too hot. Corinto: Again, we were at a very industrialized port. There was a small market a short way from where the ship was docked. It didn't have too much although both my friend and I found a couple of things to buy. It was kind of interesting as this seemed to be the town market with fruit and vegetables as well as used toys and clothes. Again, we only stayed on shore for a short time as it was too hot. Puntarenas: This was another difficult day for the Captain and passengers. We were warned ahead of time that it was a narrow dock with 2 ships tying up. We had planned on going on a train ride and boat ride but my mother was ill so we cancelled. It turned out that the people on that excursion were among the greatly delayed passengers and that as the excursion had left late much of where they went was dark by the time they got there. As we weren't among those who were on the excursions we can't really comment on how it was all handled. I know many were mad about various things including waiting a long time in the hot sun for their buses to arrive. At 8 pm we were told that we were still waiting for 260 passengers. The ship had been due to depart at 6:30, The last passengers arrived on board just after 10. There was a market just off the dock. It was a long dock. The market was ok, .but very crowded. There were 2 ships in port at the same time. If the aisle in the middle had been wider it would have been easier for people to get through and look at each of the stands. There was a beach right next to the dock so I managed to dip my feet in the water there too. Panama Canal: What an awesome experience. The day before we went through it 2 movies were shown about the making of the canal. These helped us understand more of what an amazing feat it had been to build this so long ago. The bow on 3 decks was opened at 6 am. It was very crowded though. There was coffee and "Panama rolls" and pastries available on outside decks. I found a number of different areas inside and out to watch our progress. The best was up in the Crows Nest lounge. I actually found a seat right at the front-as long as I stayed in between rows of seats. I was able to watch the ship ahead of us go through the locks. And, watched us go through each of the first set of locks. During that time there was a deck sale of items from Panama. I got some nice hand made cloth panels with bright pictures embroidered on. During the first lake in between locks there was time to relax and have lunch. It was so nice to see all the ships waiting to go in the opposite direction of us and on the new canal. There was something to see out the window and from our balcony all day. Finally in late afternoon we decided to just watch the ship go through the last set of locks on the tv in our room. It was captivating. All in all a tremendous experience. Aruba: Our last port. We were docked a little further away from the shopping area than originally planned so there were shuttle buses to take us there. It was so hot that even waiting a few minutes for the bus was difficult. There was a nice shopping area including regular stores like the bamboo clothing store my mother had been looking for. And there was a long row of craft stalls where bartering was standard. We were onshore about 2 hours. It was extra hot with being on the pavement for so long. I had seen another street of craft stalls so said the others could go back to the ship and I'd come later. My friend noticed that my face was bright red. She picked up that I was showing signs of heat exhaustion. So, we left our last port with stores still unchecked by me but that was ok. I was fairly sick for several hours in the afternoon until I'd cooled down. And, that was our trip. I loved it. Yes I would go again-preferably from the opposite direction. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we ... Read More
We spent approximately 2100.00 $ for two to experience shore excursions. What was stated online was not what we received for most of our excursions. We felt lied to. By day 3 we complained and it fell on deaf ears. By week 2 we complained again....and it fell on deaf ears. We weren't the only ones upset, as others on our excursions also complained. When Guest Services attempted to set up an appointment with Shore Excursions we were told it was not possible because they were inundated with complaints. Also, before we booked with Cruiseplus.ca, I asked the agent if this cruise line was popular with very senior guests. We did not want a disabled cruise, nor a senior cruise. I was told that it wasn't known for this. Not true! There were so many with walkers, scooters and canes. I am quite mobile, and felt that many of the excursions were likely geared for this clientele group. The evening entertainment was not even close to what I have experienced with Celebrity. We have been told that since Carnival bought out Holland America, Princess and I'm sure there are more.....that it hasn't been the same. Disembarkation was also a problem. Our agent had told us to take a shuttle, because then if we were late for our flight then the Cruise Line would have to look after this. The gal at guest services stated that we couldn't take the shuttle as our flight was for 12:05 and the shuttle could only be used by those with 12:30 or thereafter. She then told me to put our luggage out in the hall the night before and pick it up at the terminal in the morning. I knew that this couldn't be correct, as we wouldn't be able to disembark early in the morning, retrieve our luggage...get a taxi (which become hard to obtain when 2,000 people are disembarking), and get to the airport 2-3 hours before our flight. We likely wouldn't make it on time....and then of course the cruise line wouldn't be responsible. The girl behind the counter stated with attitude, "Mam, I'm trying to explain to you!". I gathered my papers and went upstairs to alert my husband that he was needed. We went back to Guest Services and were told by a different employee that we should select Early Disembarkation (Expedited), and bring all of our luggage with us. She agreed that retrieving our luggage at a later time from the terminal likely would have made us late for our return home flight. There were other rude employees, but most were very nice. Sad that one remembers the rude ones though. Costa Rica was a terrible excursion due to about a dozen of us not being able to locate the driver, tour guide for at least 3/4 of an hour. And once again it was an excursion that did not meet up with what was outlined...it was a huge lie. Regarding TIPS! Why would I want to give a gratuity to those that are rude, or to parts of the ship that I don't partake....such as drinking and gambling. Yet when one wants to say no from the start....you are made to feel guilty .... and you are still given a bill at the end of the trip with this included. The night before disembarkation we had to visit Guest Services again to have this removed. We couldn't. They have your credit card....so you feel that this hangs over your head the entire trip. The morning of disembarkation we finally had it removed and I rushed around with envelopes of money to give to those who deserved a tip! Went beyond the call of duty. Whether our stateroom attendants received this money.....I will never know. They had to disembark the ship and go through customs. I had to leave their envelopes in our room. SAD!!! We were extremely disappointed with this 21 day trip! Read Less
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