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53 Holland America Transpacific Cruise Reviews

We booked this highly-touted HAL EXC 6-Week Japan/ Western Pacific cruise back in May 2018, & expected great things. Suffice it to say that it turned out to be the most over-hyped & disappointing cruise we've every endured! ... Read More
We booked this highly-touted HAL EXC 6-Week Japan/ Western Pacific cruise back in May 2018, & expected great things. Suffice it to say that it turned out to be the most over-hyped & disappointing cruise we've every endured! We feel that the HAL marketing team sold us a bill of goods, & are guilty of false advertising at the very least! The HAL EXC cruise concept (available only on Maasdam) promotes the heavy use of its fleet of on-board Zodiac small craft (exactly 9 of them were strapped down on the bow) for more indepth exploration!! Right up until the day we departed TX for JAPAN, we received HAL emails recommending we book our HAL Zodiac excursions in advance, because there were limited seats & they were selling out fast. Imagine our surprise (once we embarked in Yokohama in mid August) to learn that there would be NO HAL EXC Zodiac tours available during our entire 43 day odyssey down to Sydney!! The HAL EXC concept involved a heavy schedule of lectures on sea days in both the showroom at sea and the Wajang theater, covering Pacific region flora and fauna, WW2 battles & history, Asian/Japanese cultrure, photography, future NASA Space exploration, etc. Unfortunately HAL has chosen to eliminate the staff videographer position & none of these EXC presentations were videotaped for the convenience of those who would have preferred to hear the lectures in the privacy of their rooms. Thus, the lecture venues were always jam-packed with ill-tempered passengers jostling for the best seats. Unfortunayely Maasdam staff frequently jammed extra folding chairs into the aisles creating extremely unsafe conditions that would have given fire marshalls heart attacks. The male cruise director, who shall remain nameless, was the most unfriendly, colorless, unexciting, boring individual we've ever encountered in almost 50 cruises. He let everyone know, on a daily basis, that he was even more eager than we were to be disembarking in Sydney at the end of his contract!! We feel the cruise director was overworked, under-staffed, & in way over his head!! Overall, we feel the Maasdam is too small, too old, and too poorly laid out to support the noble objectives of the HAL EXC in-depth cruise concept!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was one of few cruises out of San Francisco with a tour of Alaska and onward to Japan (21 days) with a circle Northern Japan for an additional 14 days. Itinerary: This ship visited several ports not normally on the Alaska cruise ... Read More
This was one of few cruises out of San Francisco with a tour of Alaska and onward to Japan (21 days) with a circle Northern Japan for an additional 14 days. Itinerary: This ship visited several ports not normally on the Alaska cruise circuit including Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) and Nome (tendering was canceled due to weather), three ports in Russia, and a couple in north Japan before stopping in Yokohama, then circle Northern Japan. It was refreshing visiting new ports in Alaska which provided a quiet non-touristy environment with free shuttles to town. The usual Ketchikan and Victoria were the normal hustle and bustle. Wanted to get a "There's no place like Nome" shirt, but due to weather, we could not get off the ship, which continued on its journey towards Russia. Russia required visas and we were not allowed to get off the ship unless we had a visa (difficult to get in the U.S.) or booked an excursion (which provided a group permit to get off the ship in lieu of a visa). Based on reviews of the ports, we opted to stay on board. Japan was very welcoming at each city with taiko, dancers, signing, and other entertainment at most ports (viewable from deck), and free transportation to the city center when needed. Yokohama was the large port with Chinatown and business areas within walking distance. The ship visited several Japanese cities with a similar experience before going to Vladivostok where we did take an excursion. In Vladivostok, the excursion was high priced and not worth the cost. We visited a Russian church, a hill where we could view the city waterfront, a natural history museum, a WWII submarine partially restored and the town square, all of which would have been walking distance if we were allowed to walk around unescorted. We were brought to a single tourist shop, but shopping, at least for cruise passengers, is unmature. On board, we had exchanged some money for souvenirs and ended up exchanging it all back once on board. At least we are now able to say we visited Russia, but we would not visit again unless it is on an independent overland tour or maybe river cruise. Traveling to Russia and Japan and between them required passport inspection which was very tedious with lines across the ship, but at least inspection was on board and it is not the cruiseline's fault its passengers have to endure this. However, a relative traveling with us, a resident of Japan, was apparently directed the wrong way by ship personnel and missed initial Japanese inspection. He was detained, and ship personnel accompanied him on shore to Japanese immigration where they sorted things out (I think they stamped him out so that he could come back in). This detained the ship a while before it was able to depart from the port. Dining was pretty good, but we missed the souffles and other fancy foods we remember from old cruises, and after several weeks, the same basic food kind of got tedious. It was nice to have a choice of soft serve or real ice cream at the buffet (served in waffle or regular cones or bowls) though the selection of flavors was minimal (They should get more flavors and rotate them). As with other cruises, food is prepared by European style chefs who know nothing about ethnic nor even regional foods. Though sushi was regular at the buffet, we, along with lots of crew, ended up going to sushi restaurants in Japan. Western food was okay, but suffered from a lack of variety. Then again, it was nice not worrying about gaining weight on a cruise. Hours were a little off our schedule, so it was pretty often when we were hungry, there was nothing to eat. At the buffet, changeover between meals (like between breakfast and lunch) had distinct and lengthy closures when nothing was available. Same with water and coffee machines which rotated and shut down often, commonly with no cups available either. Enrichment lectures were a joke. The cook/chef failed to follow her own instructions, and though she was supposed to be demonstrating Asian food, it was obvious that she had little experience in cooking, and confused Japanese and Chinese cooking. The Doctor who provided Japanese cultural lectures had no knowledge of Japan - we got more information from the newspaper circulated daily onboard. He was apparently a retired dentist (hence "Doctor") who blamed everything in Japan on millennials, with the explantion, "well, you know millennials". The natural history lecturer out of a Southern California community college, was dry (boring!) and was apparently lecturing to an introductory geology class. The biology lecturer surprisingly was very dynamic and entertaining, and imparted more knowledge about geology than the geologist. Entertainment was particularly disappointing with a few bright stars. There was no dancing or Vegas show type entertainment, with generally a few one person acts singing or playing musical instruments, and a mentalist. One group was vastly inexperienced, scheduled to give two shows, but they only had one show they could do. Singers were generally poor and the lack of talent would not have been acceptable for a small community theater. The lounge groups (performing in the bars and atrium) were generally very good and vastly better than most of the star performers. The Maasdam is ready for retirement (and we were even told it was on sale and would be leaving the Holland fleet). Things are worn out everywhere. Our room had a CRT analog TV, the shower head was broken, plugs were loose, and things wearing out. We felt our room did not heat enough and we heard many others complain of even colder rooms (this was in Alaska) and once we got to summery Japan, our cabin was still cold, but became bearable. Others became very hot, and the elevators to the buffet and the buffet became excruciatingly hot. Our cabin , E390, was an accessible cabin, so we had a wide door and a little more room than others, with very convenient access to the deck. Our rooms were guarantee rooms and that is what we got. We noticed that there were other passengers who could have used accessible cabins, but apparently they ended up in regular cabins. The problem with our cabin was that from the sofa, you can't see the TV, and we had to be careful not to flood the washroom since the floor including shower was flat, and the shower curtain had to be positioned just right. We had concerns about this deck with the promenade right outside the window, but the heavy tinting provided reasonable privacy, and we did not notice any extraneous noise other than muffled talking (the lengthy cruise meant older passengers - it might be different with more kids around). There was an outside bench close to our window. We thought about moving it a foot or two down, but it was bolted down. Crew was very attentive. We commented about the hardness of our bed and the steward provided a foam cushion which helped things immensely. In general, all crew was very helpful and attentive, showing a positive attitude, contentiously helping the passengers. We even tipped the wine steward, though we never ordered any wine). However, at Yokohama, there was apparently a substantial crew change with new crewmembers being less attentive and helpful. At the buffet, suddenly, tables were not cleaned, water/coffee service disappeared, and everything in general became unkempt. At the evening snack, we recall watching a young Filipina, acting in charge, busy flirting with the bus personnel. She did not bother to do any work at all and even got irritated when someone asked for some cups for water. In summary, we would not go on the Maasdam again unless it was renovated. We'll still consider Holland (This was our second cruise with them) and generally prefer another cruiseline though it will take an additional 90 days to reach Elite which appears to provide real affinity benefit. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our 33rd cruise and our fifth time on HAL. We chose this itinerary as a means to return to North America after a long adventure in Australia. First the things we liked: The BB King All Star Band was terrific every time they ... Read More
This was our 33rd cruise and our fifth time on HAL. We chose this itinerary as a means to return to North America after a long adventure in Australia. First the things we liked: The BB King All Star Band was terrific every time they performed, playing excellent cover versions of classic pop, soul and funk songs The BB King club was a great place to relax and dance. Overall the food was good enough. HAL has the same dishes on all of their ships, the variety is good and the quality is good enough. Generally the service all over the ship was quite good. Unfortunately the ship itself was old and the interior design was dated, unpleasant and downright ugly. This was a shock to us as we have found other HAL ships to be attractive. But the Noordam was like a bad cheap hotel with almost no pleasing public spaces. The Noordam is in desperate need of a complete make-over. There were many sea days and unfortunately the activities on board were very down market. There was only one lecturer who was mediocre, leaning on video content from other sources. Otherwise just silly games and activities aimed at upsales like gem displays and beverage tastings. So we were quite bored and had to lean on the hobbies we brought on board. Shortly after leaving Sydney, the ship began to run out of all sorts of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. At one point there was almost no beer available. Lots of passengers were commenting about it. I got fed up and wrote a letter to the Hotel Manager which resulted in a flurry of responses, including a face-to-face meeting with the Assistant Beverage Manager. He thanked me for my letter and explained that all of the items were indeed on board but the staff just failed to go get them from their sources. He promised that they would do better. But then the next morning when the room service waiter brought our breakfast juice and coffee, he apologized that the ship was out of orange juice. Of course there was plenty of OJ on board, just not in the room service kitchen. Crazy. I was pleasantly surprised by the very low price of this cruise, but then found out the truth in the cliche "You get what you pay for." This was just a budget cruise with the quality that one usually finds with low-cost budget products. We will probably return to HAL, but probably not to the Noordam. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruises from Sydney to Honolulu as we wanted to visit the islands and Hawaii. also to try out HAL for first time, we have done 27 other cruises mainly on Princess but also on Cunard, P&O, Celebrity, Carnival. Embarkation ... Read More
We chose this cruises from Sydney to Honolulu as we wanted to visit the islands and Hawaii. also to try out HAL for first time, we have done 27 other cruises mainly on Princess but also on Cunard, P&O, Celebrity, Carnival. Embarkation was ok. Had VD verandah cabin, aft near elevators, ok with cabin. Bed fine, settee a little hard. Shower ok. Ecko our steward was fine. Had various meals in MDR and Lido, all poor, mdr meals for dinner were poorly presented and poor quality ingredients, i.e. tough meat and fish, hardly any veggies. Worse food on any ship I have been on. Little assistance given to me as a Celiac, although I advised HAL well before cruise. Not once did the head waiter speak to us re food, service at our table. Only time we saw officers was in pinnacle bar having their drinks before dining in pinnacle restaurant, they don't eat in the mdr !! The Captain did not even appear at the gala night cocktail pary and I never saw him. Entertainment was ok. I was not impressed with our first taste of HAL and will not return. Overated. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the price. The first 14 nights were spent cruising around Japan with a stop in Vladivostok. The next 15 nights included two more ports in Japan and then 6 sea days crossing the north ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the price. The first 14 nights were spent cruising around Japan with a stop in Vladivostok. The next 15 nights included two more ports in Japan and then 6 sea days crossing the north Pacific to our first port in Alaska, Kodiak. I have to say, the first 14 days were very busy with tours and I really enjoyed the sea days to rest up! I flew into Narita Airport and took the Limousine Bus directly to my hotel in Yokohama. The desk for Limousine Bus was directly across from where you exit the secure area of the airport. The ticket to Yokohama was around $35. The bus picked us up right outside the door. Very convenient. It was about a two hour ride to the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama. We were dropped right in front of the hotel. I had a double room in the tower for about $260 per night. Right across the street from the hotel is a pretty park and the harbor. The cruise ship terminal is within walking distance, but I chose to take a cab, about $7. Getting on board was pretty efficient. My first stop was the Lido Buffet for lunch. The buffet is not self serve, but seemed to move along quite well. The buffet staff were very helpful and were happy to fetch anything you may have forgotten to pick up as well as replenish drinks. Most of my dinners were in the main dining room. I had anytime dining and was traveling by myself. I was always seated at a table with other English speaking travelers. The staff in the dining room were great! They were so friendly. Of course with anytime dining, you don't get that personal touch that you would get with fixed time dining. My favorite food place was Dive In, the burger joint out by the pool. The burgers and hotdogs are done as you order them and are great. The French fries were the best. Overall, the food was very good. However, I didn't care for the lasagna. I had one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. Get the soufflé for dessert. I was very impressed with the crew on this ship. They were all so friendly and helpful. I had the best cabin stewards, Wayan and Alex. Entertainment was your usual comedians, magicians, singers and dancers. One night a local group of Japanese girls came on board for a Taiku drums show. This was one of the best shows I have ever seen on a cruise ship and I've been on 36 cruises! These girls were fantastic! The audience was mesmerized by their performance. I'm so glad I saw this show. I was in a verandah cabin. I liked the layout of the room. As you entered, the closet was on the right and the bathroom was on the left. On the newer ships I've been on, the closets are next to the bed and awkward to access. My biggest cabin complaint on this ship and most others cruise ships is that the hairdryer and outlet for a curling iron are at the desk where the lighting leaves a lot to be desired. The lighting in the bathroom is great and it would be nice to be able to do my hair there. I wish the desk would have had some drawer space. However, the desk actually had a real chair instead of some uncomfortable stool to sit on. I found the ship to be well maintained and clean, but I was not impressed with the décor. The ship seemed dark. I loved the aft pool and deck area. It was a great place for sail away. You could bring out your food from the Lido buffet as there were tables and chairs here as well as loungers. The biggest disappointment for me and many others that I talked to was the lack of a library. I love the library on ships. Not everyone has a Kindle nor do they want to be bothered with one and rely on the ship's library for their reading material. There was so much wasted space in the Crow's Nest and a library would have been welcomed there. I was on the Rotterdam last year and that ship had a wonderful library. Please don't change it! I won't discuss ports as there were so many of them. I do want to offer one tip for the port of Shimizu. When you sail into Shimizu, you will get spectacular views of Mt. Fuji on the star bird side of the ship. Sailing out of port, it will be on the port side. If you're lucky, it won't be covered with clouds! All in all, it was a great cruise and I could have stayed on the ship longer. The Japanese people were friendly and polite. Language was not a problem in the tourist areas. Would I do this cruise again? No, because there are so many other places to see, but I enjoyed every minute of this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We booked this cruise to get home to Australia from North America. We were assured when booking that the ship was to be refurnished in early 2018. On embarking we found a stateroom with tatty furniture - holes in the upholstery, peeling ... Read More
We booked this cruise to get home to Australia from North America. We were assured when booking that the ship was to be refurnished in early 2018. On embarking we found a stateroom with tatty furniture - holes in the upholstery, peeling wallpaper, chips in bath and sink and bathroom mirrors degrading. The public areas were no better. Meals in the dining room and lido were at best lukewarm no matter where or when we ate. The only way to get fresh hot food was to dine in the pinnacle grill or canalettos both of which were excellent. Having paid for one's food one shoukd not have to pay twice. A lot of the fruit on board was old from the start of the cruise and off by the time we reached Fiji. The ship ran out of english breakfast and tetley tea bags and corn flakes. Only one flavour of yoghurt available at a time. But notbto worry there were at any one time inumerable boxes of a full range of caffeine free teas! The numbers of servers has been reduced so much that the tables could not be cleared between diners and on some evenings it took over 25 minutes to place one's order for dinner. When it arrived the food was usually tepid at best and when returned to the kitchen to be reheated it came back no better. It was ridiculous that as we crossed the Pacific passengerd had to wear sweaters inside the ship because the airconditioning was so cold. The standard of evening entertainment was poor with large gaps when nothing was happening at all. The internet access was described by a member of Holland America staff as abysmal most passengers were much ruder about it. The 'range' of dvds available was a joke the staff asked psssengers for a list of requested titles then couldn't deliver any of them I am not sure what Holland Americ's agenda is; whether they are trying to move down market within the CCL group. If so they may well succeed but they alienated a whole lot of experienced mariners on this cruise. Many times I heard fellow passengers express the determinstion never to cruise HL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that ... Read More
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that time, there wwrw brief rain showers twice. We were the last ship of the season in Alaska and the weather was sunny. We had worried about being in Alaska the beginning of October and instead Juneau, Glacier Bay and Kodiak were lovely. The North Pacific crossing has 6 consecutive sea days, and they were pleasantly filled with enrichment lectures, America's Test Kitchen and deck walks. We ate dinner in the dining room and went for group tables, and met many very pleasant people. It meant often meeting people around the ship that we had met over dinner. The dinning room food was nicely served and we enjoyed the choices. We had breakfast and lunch in Lido, and enjoyed the service and food there as well. The pasta station, the Asian station and salad bar added a nice variety to the regular items on the main serving station. We tried Dive-In hambergers for a snack a couple of times and they were great. Didnt really like Dive-In fries, but there were chips on the taco bar adjacent for that salty crunch. Once we reached Japan the pace really picked up. We had ports in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. About half the time in Japan we just walked ashore and went exploring. The ports all had welcoming committees and maps and info were readily avaiable, the EXE guides on the ship had also provided a lot of solid information. The remainder of the ports we booked our tours through Holland America. We were very pleased with the offerings. Our selection included a nice balance of sight seeing in cities, in the countryside, in temples and shrines, and even a Hot Spring resort for bathing. There were many highlights to our time ashore, including visiting the Great Wall of China, seeing the Acrobats in Shanghai, attending a dance festival in Japan, visiting a manga museum (we knew nothing about manga). Many times were at locations that local families go on their days off, seeing all the families and their children out enjoying the location and sunshine added a great deal to the experience. The trip was an incredible success. Our time on the ship was wonderful, the staff are so welcoming and so good at their jobs, our fellow passengers were great to hang out with, and the ports were fascinating. And as a bonus it only took 2 weeks to get over the jet lag after we got home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Mainly chosen for the destinations on route, but also anticipated a 4* ship. Expected the passengers to be around retirement age because of he length of the cruise. Very disappointed with the geriatric nature of a lot of the entertainment, ... Read More
Mainly chosen for the destinations on route, but also anticipated a 4* ship. Expected the passengers to be around retirement age because of he length of the cruise. Very disappointed with the geriatric nature of a lot of the entertainment, which was also repetitive and lacking any fun. No deck parties, even though we spent around 3 weeks in the hot sunshine, no proper ‘ sailaways’ to remember. Food was OK, but the scrap in the Lido Bat was awful. Difficult to find a seat once you had been served. Ended up taking food down to the cabin to eat it. The food generally I could only call OK, as it was not as I remember the last cruise I took a few years back. I can see that everything has been cut back and is much more frugal generally. Cushions on the sum beds around the walking deck areas were turquoise coloured (once) and Covered in stains. Not at all what we expected to see. I had no desire to sit on any of them without putting down a towel first. On the lido deck, everything was brown and colourless, making the ship look drab and uninviting. In the gym, half the equipment was not working, and there were classes held in what was a very small area, making it difficult to even get in there. I should also post out that there was nowhere for people to dance (I mean proper dancing) lots f people like to walk, or maybe line dance, but there is no dance floor on Noordam apart from in BB Kings night club, (which doubles as America’s Test Kitchen during the day, twice a day, every day....) Overall, we were very disappointed with Holland America. If this is 4* cruising, then I would hate to be on a ship with only 3*. I would also say that HA needs to check out its up an coming geriatrics, ie those of us in our 60’s now, as we still have plenty of life in us. The older ‘old people’ currently cruising, won’t be around In another few years, and there will be no market for my generation if the nature of the cruise is not reviewed. I say this not only for myself but for others who we met on this cruise and who voiced similar comments. On. Plus note, the staff are incredible, and HA should be very grateful for that!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
MS Amsterdam Grand Pacific & Asia Cruise from Sept 30 – Dec 21, 2018 Our background: Couple in our early 70s, well travelled, cruised on 15 different lines including HAL. We pick cruises for their itineraries. This 82 day cruise ... Read More
MS Amsterdam Grand Pacific & Asia Cruise from Sept 30 – Dec 21, 2018 Our background: Couple in our early 70s, well travelled, cruised on 15 different lines including HAL. We pick cruises for their itineraries. This 82 day cruise was the longest we had ever taken and we are pleased to say that it was also one of the best. Fellow passengers: Not surprising on such a long cruise, more than two thirds were 66 and over. Most were avid HAL cruisers and many I spoke to like long cruises on the Amsterdam. Ship: In good shape; frequent cleaning going on inside and maintenance outside. Crew: The hotel staff is definitely the best we have ever encountered. On other ships, it is often just a few members who go out of their way to be helpful. On the MS Amsterdam, the warm and friendly service was consistent. Everyone in the Lido buffet restaurant, the dining room, and the Neptune Lounge went way beyond what we are used to from other ships, including the Hapag Lloyd luxury line. Nothing was too much for our waiters, tea and honey when I had a cold, spicy sambal when I thought an Asian dish needed more pep, crispy dinner rolls, and you name it. Food: I believe the food budget was higher on this cruise than on our previous 14 day b2b cruises on HAL ships. We are picky about authentic taste. We were happy with the European dishes that tasted just like in the Old Country. There was daily sushi and an Asian counter in the Lido, but also all the American favorites. Daytime activities: There were so many to choose from that every passenger could find several to enjoy. I went to water color, arts & crafts, and Tai Chi taught by Master Cathy Chen, but there were many more options. My husband played bridge organized by a bridge instructor. All the presenters were interesting with topics on the regions where we travelled. Port information speakers were excellent. We had wonderful cultural ambassadors in Australia and from Fiji to Hawaii. Courageous passengers learned to dance the hula and to play the ukulele. Conclusion: We are looking into booking another HAL grand cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Over the past few cruises I have watched a deterioration in the services offered on Holland America cruises. I love to go on long cruises of a month or more and love the sea days. This time there was literally nothing to do on board unless ... Read More
Over the past few cruises I have watched a deterioration in the services offered on Holland America cruises. I love to go on long cruises of a month or more and love the sea days. This time there was literally nothing to do on board unless you were paying for an upgrade in the gym or drinking yourself into oblivion. No library service, no fun game activity program, no water aerobics or free fitness program. The constant up selling was really annoying. They have outsourced their shore excursions and they are a total ripoff. The food in the main dining room was a disgrace. Everything seemed to originate from the frozen food section of Costco. We were offered frozen green beans with every dinner entree from Vancouver to Sydney. The desserts were not made on board and were not up to previous standards. Offering bloody Mary's for breakfast? Really ? I am s four star mariner but I doubt I will return to Holland America or any other Carnival line ship Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This is our second cruise on the lovely Amsterdam, and we were pleasantly surprised with her face lift! For an 18 year old lady, she is a gem. We stayed in a Lanai Cabin, and there isn't anything better. Ms Amsterdam had an ... Read More
This is our second cruise on the lovely Amsterdam, and we were pleasantly surprised with her face lift! For an 18 year old lady, she is a gem. We stayed in a Lanai Cabin, and there isn't anything better. Ms Amsterdam had an interior makeover in May of this year, and she is just like new. We loved the colors, the decor, and the new stateliness she exudes. The Lanai cabins are new to this ship, and they are the absolute best location for us. We could enter through the hallway on the main deck, or enter and exit through our sliding Lanai door onto our entire 3rd deck balcony. An added plus to this ship is the amazing crew. Everyone was welcome and happy and most pleasant to be around. We understand there is a new Hotel Director, and it is obvious the crew loves him. Leadership matters! Finally, Ms Amsterdam is still my favorite ship! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked this cruise as ports looked great (japan to Vancouver via Alaska) and thought would try holland America line. Overall we enjoyed everything - staff great, food amazing, efficient off and on boat, shows pretty good. A different ... Read More
We booked this cruise as ports looked great (japan to Vancouver via Alaska) and thought would try holland America line. Overall we enjoyed everything - staff great, food amazing, efficient off and on boat, shows pretty good. A different culture compared to our previous celebrity, princess and royal Caribbean cruises. Found the cruise to be very relaxing with lots of time to read, play games and chill. Loved the bridge classes offered every mornings. A great activity. Only issue was our cabin was in a terrible position as very noisy. We normally book a verandah cabin but thought as winter cruise would just book an ocean view cabin. Big mistake!! We were right over the propellers or thrusters so everytime we arrived in port for two hours prior (around 2 hours) from 5.00 am our whole cabin would vibrate and generate loud noises. Tried to change cabins but all full. We were compensated but I don’t know how they can get away with selling these rooms! At least six days at sea had quiet mornings! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was our third HAL cruise and the first on the Noordam. It was an relocation cruise of 24 days from Sydney to Vancouver with stops in New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuata, Pago Pago and Hawaii. There were numerous seas days but given the ... Read More
This was our third HAL cruise and the first on the Noordam. It was an relocation cruise of 24 days from Sydney to Vancouver with stops in New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuata, Pago Pago and Hawaii. There were numerous seas days but given the on board activities these days went quicker then expected. The cruise was blessed with good seas throughout and perfect weather except for a steady fog for the days between Hawaii and Vancouver. When we boarded the Noordam was at the end of its Australian based cruises but despite this the crew were friendly and attentive as if it was the first cruise. The ports of call, about half of which were tender ports gave us plenty of time to explore and were well organised. Pluses on the cruise were the Ex tour director Heather who gave talks with an irrelevant sense of humour, the two cruise directors Jan and Isolda whoi made the numerous trivia games heaps of fun. One big plus that given the number of Australia and New Zealand guests on board the captain arranged for a dawn service on April 25th to commemorate ANZAC Day. This was presided over by Bill Crewes who also gave various interesting talks on the geopolitical aspects of the regions we were visiting. Talks on the geophysical and fossil history of the region were done by Phil Cressey, again very interesting. The nightly entertainment was varied throughout the cruise with different sets of performers doing different stages of the cruise. Of these Sarah Moir was the most surprising and entertaining. The food was up to normal HAL standard with lots of variety and it was good to see that a proper salad bar is now an option. During the cruise we crossed the international date line on my birthday so that I was able to have two birthdays in the same year. My wife shouted me dinner in the Canaletto restaurant were I was presented with a cake and a round of happy birthday by the waiters ,most unexpected as was the card from the Captain and Cruise Director. All in all it was a very pleasant and relaxing way to cross the Pacific and I would recommend this cruise to anyone with the time to do it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We decided to take a slow and indulgent route back to Canada from Australia and this cruise seemed perfect...and in general it was. Embarkation was quick and easy and the crew very welcoming. The ports were excellent with a great mix of ... Read More
We decided to take a slow and indulgent route back to Canada from Australia and this cruise seemed perfect...and in general it was. Embarkation was quick and easy and the crew very welcoming. The ports were excellent with a great mix of culture thrown in for good measure. The dining experience was very good, thanks mainly to 2 very attentive waiters and a section manager who really seemed committed to ensuring the best service for his passengers. The ship was good too with a fair mix of things to do in the evening...not always to our taste, but you can't please everybody. Without doubt the staff, as is usual for many cruise lines, are the stars of the show, making our time on board a very relaxing experience...until we went back to our cabin each night. As we readied ourselves for bed we would wonder what time the noise would begin in the morning For some reason HAL decided to upgrade us from the large inside we'd chosen at booking to an obstructed outside, despite us requesting 'no upgrades'. Most mornings we were woken by either Deck Hands noisily rearranging furniture, engineers carrying out maintenance on the lifeboat or gear outside our window, or others readying the lifeboat for tender duty. Yes, I appreciate that all these things have to happen, but at 6am in the morning it's not funny...and precisely why we chose an inside cabin and requested 'no upgrade'. We complained at reception, but I try to be polite and respectful and probably didn't make enough fuss. We were told there was no alternative cabin available...but strangely the following day another couple who were being quite loud and angry were attended by a manager and got moved. Oh well, maybe I need to attend 'assertiveness training'. I'm glad we did the trip and we did have a great time, but the cabin situation did spoil it somewhat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We selected the transpacific repositioning cruise aboard the Noordam out of Honolulu which included not just south Pacific island stops, but Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart Tasmania but an additional 14 days around New Zealand. The showtime ... Read More
We selected the transpacific repositioning cruise aboard the Noordam out of Honolulu which included not just south Pacific island stops, but Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart Tasmania but an additional 14 days around New Zealand. The showtime entertainment couldn't have been better in the Vista Lounge. We enjoyed so many very accomplished artists. The ship's regular entertainment was excellent, but the same shows were offered several times during the different segments of the reposition cruise. The different musical venues provided great listening and dancing aboard the Noordam. The service of the crew was outstanding. The Lido deck staff was always prompt and helpful with a smile whether it was in serving up our meal or assisting us to a table. Dinner in the dining room was always lovely and it was fun conversing and getting to know other travelers like ourselves. Our stateroom was comfortable and afforded enough storage for our items. I loved having the tub/shower combo. Our stateroom attendants were always prompt and thorough. Our only comment would be that they schedule more and a variety of activities during the day on the many sea days. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on ... Read More
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on summer breaks. Most ports had free bus service to local area of interest & Starbucks for wifi. Be prepared for no Facebook or phone service in China & Japan. T mobile seamed to be a better service. My Verizon was not good. Several local groups were brought on ship for shows, crafts, dancing & exercise classes. Ports where crew families lived everyone had signs on cabins "no service" enjoy your family's. Pretty special. I packed way to many summer clothes. Much cooler then expected & of course air conditioning very cold in dining,show rooms, & movie theater. In Australia we used water taxis to vist fishing villages & guess what free wifi on dock & excellent fish lunch. Hop on buses were ok but expensive. Local buses were a fun experience if you had time. Polynesian islands easy to book trips on shore. A must to swim with sharks & huge sea rays. Most evenings we had late dining at a table for 8 (53) & our Waite staff was excellent. The decorations & themes according to the country we were visiting were grand every night. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Great service generally, great food, Made lots of new friends. We were disappointed to miss Dutch Harbour, but understood the Captain's decision to avoid bad weather. Embarkation speed was impressive, and disembarkation went smoothly. ... Read More
Great service generally, great food, Made lots of new friends. We were disappointed to miss Dutch Harbour, but understood the Captain's decision to avoid bad weather. Embarkation speed was impressive, and disembarkation went smoothly. The cabin was much the same as most, the service was vert good. Dining was excellent except persons who do not like spices are poorly catered for. The evening entertainment was very good, catering for many tastes. However we were very disappointed to find that daytime activities were extremely limited. We and others found that at times during the day we had to resort to reading, when normally we are flat out all day and evening. The ship is small, but We have been on a number of ships of the same class, but different lines, and daytime activities were plentiful. It seemed at times that we were being force fed sales pitches and not much else. The line has still not recognised the previous cruising of one of us, despite repeated requests to update their data. Consequently that person was deprived of all the benefits they were entitled to. Bad move Holland America,! We only took one shore excursion, it was very good, but we considered in general the shore trips were expensive, so we preferred to "wing it" most times. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I have had my eye on this cruise for some time. Actually we booked the Yokohama to Vancouver this spring, but had to cancel. So now we did the Vancouver-Yokohama-Shanghai cruise. It was a pleasant experience. The Volendam is a nice ... Read More
I have had my eye on this cruise for some time. Actually we booked the Yokohama to Vancouver this spring, but had to cancel. So now we did the Vancouver-Yokohama-Shanghai cruise. It was a pleasant experience. The Volendam is a nice ship, not too big, with an excellent crew. The information from the bridge was good and the presentation by the two 3rd officers avout the things they do were excellent. You can't book the weather, and this cruise lacked badly in sunshine. Lots of fog and clouded skies, Japan rained. An exception, Glacier Bay on a sunny Sunday! When we booked we were supposed ro visit Korea after Japan. Some polilitical issues forced the dompany to change the itinary, no Korea, more Japan, which was fine with me as I'm a Japan fan. Japa, Hokkaido brought us some nice autumn colors and cranes. From Osaka we visited the Takarazuka theater, by train and as usual the people helped us to get tickets and the right train. Everybody will help you. The excursion department was well organised. Chaos was avoided. About dining, we dined some evenings in Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants. We used the Dining room but occasionally. Most evenings we dined at the Lido. The atmosfeer there was cosy, of course you get your own food but the interaction with the mostly Indonesian crew was very pleasant. It felt very much like Terrace Cafe on Oceania. Management did good thing there! Our overall feeling was that this holiday was excellent. After the lightshow in Shanghai it was tije to go home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Thought it was an exciting way to avoid flying to Japan and do some hiking in Alaska. One cruise port (Dutch Harbour) was cancelled for good reason I guess and we were credited but made it boring especially when all the theme were ... Read More
Thought it was an exciting way to avoid flying to Japan and do some hiking in Alaska. One cruise port (Dutch Harbour) was cancelled for good reason I guess and we were credited but made it boring especially when all the theme were Japanese. Seemed like the cruise director made it a Japanese theme cruise. What happened to those high demand line dancing. Totally ignored. It was a good way to introduce the Japanese culture to the public but not everyone took this cruise because of that. The stretch program in the morning needs improvement. May be because of the wave that the trainer cannot do a proper stretch program. Or may be because this space was limited. The spa also made a mistake of advertising a paid yoga session as free. About 6 -8 showed up but none of us stayed because they didn't honor their mistake. The Microsoft sponsored digital classes were excellent though. The instructor was very professional and knew her stuff well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We only went as far as Honolulu -- 11 days. The ship continued on to Sydney for the majority of the passengers, with some going on to New Zealand. The embarkation was a slow, tedious process involving a couple of hours slowly moving ... Read More
We only went as far as Honolulu -- 11 days. The ship continued on to Sydney for the majority of the passengers, with some going on to New Zealand. The embarkation was a slow, tedious process involving a couple of hours slowly moving forward in a long line. It was a busy weekend at the Vancouver cruise port and the line ups were mostly about security clearance. Wish they could find a better way to deal with it. Once on board the pleasure began. It felt like the entire ship and crew was arranged to suit our relaxation and pleasure. I had a few qualms based on some reports but everything was most satisfactory. The ship was clean and in good condition. Our cabin was small but functional. The food was very good and if you didn't care for something, there was always something else available. I would have liked to see better prepared vegetables and more choice. There seemed to be a vegetable of the day, one day both appetizers and main course vegetable would be green beans, next day, asparagus and next day zucchini. Loved the salad bar and the choices available there. The coffee seemed improved. This cruise had a lot of sea days but there was so much to do, if you so chose. The one board 'Hawaiian ambassadors' offered lei making, bracelet making, hula lessons, ukulele lessons, Hawaiian language lessons, sarong tying lessons -- all materials provided. There were lectures, diverse music offerings, trivia, and sports activities. Best music was provided by the Jukebox Rogues who performed in the Vista Lounge on two occasions. Outstanding! We don't patronize the spa, shops or photographer. None seemed very busy but I suppose they must generate revenue. Really, there was something for everyone. The cruise director and assistant cruise director were friendly and did a good job. I like the automatic print outs of your account available at the front office. We found the service excellent. As we didn't have any problems or issues we only dealt with the front office to change a $20 to four $5s. They were happy to do that for us. I want to provide a balanced review but I have difficulty in coming up with anything to complain about. We didn't see whales or dolphins leaping out of the water for our viewing pleasure in the Pacific Ocean but I don't think I can hold Holland America responsible for that. We look forward to our next cruise with this line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to include a 7 hour Wilderness Tundra tour with a snack included but just days before we flew out we received an email saying this had been changed to a 4 hour Natural History tour with no snack. The revised tour covered a much smaller part of the park & didn't go to the parts where most of the wildlife was likely to be. We had to start at 6AM and it didn't get light until after 7 so the first hour was in darkness. We did see 3 bull mooses but the first was while it was still dark, the second would have been good except the driver kept moving the bus so we were unable to get any good photos and the third we didn't stop for because of the amount of cars around it (apparently our trip was during the lottery period when cars are admitted to drive throughout the park. We were given strict instructions not to even put an elbow out of the window so as not to disrupt the wildlife but apparently this didn't apply to the car occupants who were out of their cars walking around in the open) 2. Our cabin was right next to an elevator which would not have been a problem if it wasn't for the 'bing bong' every time it stopped on our deck - even this would have been OK if they had only turned it down overnight! 3. Sleep was further disturbed by the air conditioning unit immediately above our bed! We tried to get this turned off (you really don't need it in Alaska especially overnight) but this was also found to be impossible 4. After a couple of days we checked our statement to find $13.50 per person was being added as a 'management charge'. We were under the impression that service etc was included but apparently not so this was a large & unexpected payment. 5. On around the 5th day we had a 'mini bar' item added to our account which we hadn't used. Strangely so did other cabins and we never did manage to get it explained or removed! 6. We celebrated our Silver wedding anniversary on board & I bought the 'Happy Anniversary' package as a surprise for my wife. Generally this went well but part of this was supposed to be a photo. I asked the front desk about this & was told I could go to the studio & get a photo taken so went to them after a few days to make arrangements. There I was told I had to use one of the 'candid' ones taken during the week & it was suggested we had one done during the Gala evening. We duly had this done then went to collect the next day only to be told the one we had posed for wasn't one of the 'candid' ones so we couldn't use that (apparently the 'candid' ones are taken at the table although this was never offered). We ended up having to pay an extra $20 to get one we were happy with. Overall the staff were superb & we were very happy but it is often the little quibbles & unexpected extra charges which are remembered. Holland America could do well to copy some of their rivals who include service charges & honour their commitments. We were particularly pleased with the dining staff in the Vista & Pinnacle restaurants who looked after us magnificently - especially on our anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we ... Read More
My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we crossed the ocean the topic changed to first Nations people. We also had lectures on the "One Ocean" and physics, which left us all with something to think about. There were navigation lectures and many other things to do on this ship. The Volendam is a smaller older ship so people looking for lots to do and big flashy ships would not want to choose this one. But, if personal attention and well done dining appeal then this is the ship for you. There were 1360 passengers and 1000 of them were returning guests. We were served by 598 crew. This was an older crowd but very well traveled and very interesting. Different ships and cruise lines for different people and so this would not appeal to everyone. There were very few children on board so there was a great sense of peace and quiet. Food was excellent. The shows at night were wonderful and we often left the show lounge chuckling to ourselves. A really great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The Japan to Vancouver 16 day cruise was our fourth on HAL. Volendam is the smallest of the four ships we have been on, but it has all the characteristics of the larger versions and we felt right at home from the outset. The crew is ... Read More
The Japan to Vancouver 16 day cruise was our fourth on HAL. Volendam is the smallest of the four ships we have been on, but it has all the characteristics of the larger versions and we felt right at home from the outset. The crew is probably the biggest plus - as with all our other HAL experiences, with minor exception, all crew members were friendly, polite and could not have been more helpful. The cruise itself was exactly what we had expected - and with the six sea days it was a relaxing way to recover after two months travelling in SE Asia. While the northern Japan ports were for the most part largely forgettable, the Alaska portion was very memorable. The Ship. The ship is very well laid out, and although small, still has most of the amenities one would expect. However, while some will say the ship is in great shape - it is really not, and the upcoming refurbishment (this fall?) should spruce things up considerably. The crew works very hard to keep it clean, but there are many examples where age is creeping in. The chairs in some of the bars are tattered and ripped in places. Carpets are getting old and worn, The bathroom in our stateroom needs an upgrade. Some of the public rooms need repainting. To name a few. Nothing significant enough to ruin a cruise - but things that do need to be upgraded. Stateroom. We had an inside cabin (older ship - very few balcony cabins put their price at a premium - for this type of cruise inside worked just fine). It was well laid out, lots of space for storing belongings and was very quiet. Bed very comfortable. Dining Room. We tend to eat most of our meals in the MDR but this time for the reasons below we ended up taking many breakfast and lunches elsewhere. All the dinners in the MDR were either very good or excellent. However, breakfasts were - to be blunt - abysmal. Service was exceptionally slow and the impact on temperature was as to be expected - warm to cold. The lunch experience was not a great deal better - slow - cold and often not quite what one had asked for. I have no idea why (maybe two different supervisors) but whatever it was there was a hugely noticeable difference between breakfast/lunch and dinner. Lido. On the whole, quite good once you can get by the herd mentality of buffet dining. The approach of having staff serve (ie no self serve) has certainly slowed things down a great deal - particularly for the popular "cooked to order" stations. But on the whole - the food was warm to hot, relatively fresh, and usually refilled quickly. If a HAL rep reads this - one suggestion for the Lido - why cannot there be a toaster station where people can at least do their own toast? Nothing is more frustrating then getting cooked eggs (or whatever) and then having to find the station where toast is made (it is not the egg station by the way) - and then waiting while one of the staff has to cook the toast (it normally takes three times to get it brown), while serving other customers? There has to be a better way. Pinnacle Grill. A huge disappointment! We have been to the PG twice before and this time we were not impressed with the steaks or the King Crab. In fact, we had steak and crab legs two days later in the MDR and both were superior to what we had had in the PG. Menu could use a change once in while as well. Caneletto (sp?). The Italian extra charge (minimal) was Outstanding - no other way to put it. Signature Drinks Package. We received this as a perk for early booking. On the whole it was fine, although the selection of wines covered by the package available by the glass in the MDR was extremely limited. Not sure why they could not offer a bit better selection there. Also, when we tried to address this by asking if we could upgrade our Signature Package to Premium (at our cost) we were told we could not. I don't really get the "no, we don't want your money" and if you are not happy, too bad", approach. Bar tenders were, without exception, fabulous. Entertainment. The entertainment on this cruise was probably the best on ANY cruise we have been on. Lots of activities programmed each day, including interesting talks, bridge, games, port visit talks (and not endless attempts to sell excursions), movies etc etc. The entertainers ranged from good to outstanding. No complaints here at all. Gym. Good, clean, well laid out with sufficient apparatus. It did get tiresome when working out to have to constantly listen to the gym rats trying to sell the benefits of eating seaweed, cleansing or using specially designed insoles. The promenade deck is outstanding for walking. Dress Code. Ah yes - the dress code. HAL has abandoned formal nights and adopted Gala Nights at about the same frequency of the old formal night. However, the definition what constitutes "Normal" and/or "Gala" dress is not well laid out and subsequently the result is confusion and inconsistency. HAL has to get a grip on how they define gala or they will continue to confuse guests, cause embarrassment and potentially lose business. In summary, this was an enjoyable cruise, good value for money and reflected exactly what we have come to expect from HAL. There were a few areas where our expectations were not met, however this has always been the case regardless of the line we have chosen. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups ... Read More
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups were Japanese immigration but that is to be expected. Favourite ports - Osaka and Incheon Service on the ship was very good but the cutbacks in staffing are putting a huge burden on the remaining staff. This was very apparent in the dining room where service was very slow. The ship is an older ship - it is kept very clean and tidy - but it badly needs to go in to drydock. The only chairs that the bottoms weren't falling out of was in the Canneletto dining room. Seriously, there was a 2" depression in the Rotterdam chairs! Uncomfortable for a leisurely meal! Food - we were not impressed! The meals in the Rotterdam were just okay - biggest complaint was that there were very few vegetables accompanying the entree and we routinely ordered a bowl of steamed vegetables for the table. The food served in the Lido was very much below what I expect on a cruise ship. I have no food issues - I love food - but the choices were over salted and way too many things were fried. I had difficulty finding items for lunch other than a salad. The Asian food bar was usually good but still oversalted. The fresh fruit was awful! Apples and oranges were soft and tasteless, bananas were slimy and black. The fruit salad was a mixture of over ripe and under ripe choices cut so small that it was mushy very quickly. There were very few activities planned for the 6 sea days as we crossed the Pacific - not a lot to do. We may avoid doing another HAL cruise Positive - we saw some of the best entertainment we have seen on a ship. The dancers and singers were exceptional! Very much enjoyed our evenings! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
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