1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed ... Read More
After fourteen years of cruising with HAL and being a 4 Star Mariner, I stopped choosing them in 2014 after my sister and I together and separately had several rather disastrous experiences – ratty ships, bad food. This trip renewed my interest in HAL. This ship was in excellent condition. Everything in the public areas and in my cabin had been refurbished, reupholstered, and freshly painted. No dings or dents and everything worked. My cabin was very big; I had three full closets and one half closet, nine large drawers for storage, many wall hooks, a real bathroom cabinet with door. The food in the main dining room was very good. They have simplified the menus. They did an excellent job of properly cooking fish. They separate fixed and at will diners on separate floors so there is calmness and continuity of service. The least appealing menus were on the ‘Gala’ nights. The Pinnacle had very good fish specials each night and the vegetables were great; the beef is not of the quality that it should be (or used to be). The Lido was nicely organized and the food was presented attractively. There were different stations for different kinds of food. The salad bar always had good choices. The sushi was quite good. The ice cream was wicked. For the most part, the shows were very good and they had a lot of variety. The production singers and dancers were excellent. They left a comment card every single night in case we wanted to say what was good or needed improvement or we had employees we wanted to compliment. The service everywhere was excellent. My room stewards were some of the best I have ever had. The two biggest weak points: 1)The transfer and embarkation process in Buenos Aires. It was five hours from the time my plane landed until I was in my cabin. Most of this time was spent waiting on enough passengers at the airport to fill up a big bus; several smaller would have made more sense due to the heavy traffic to the port. And there were two ships in port and we were not kept as separate as we should have been. 2)The lifeboat drill. HAL uses a different system than any other cruise line and it was confusing. The trip: In twenty-two days, we were in ten ports, including the embarkation and debarkation port: Buenos Aires (overnight); Montevido, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Isla Chloe, Puerto Montt, Port San Antonio, Chile. Some were working ports so the logistics were different than if they had been cruise ship ports. There was not much tourist type shopping in the ports. And the areas outside some of the port gates were not always so nice. Complimentary shuttles were available in the working ports. For the most part, the tender docks were right in the towns. This is definitely a trip to do an organized shore excursion every day in order to see the places. The ship’s shore excursions I took were all good and I got to see some interesting things. In each cabin was a Port Guide. It had a map of each place, with things to see in town and out, places to eat and shop, and information about the place. And it was not just about the ‘ship approved’ places. Every cruise on every cruise line should have one of these. Having it at the beginning of the trip made planning easier. We spent four days cruising parts of Antarctica and were very close to shore. There were three destination lecturers onboard who specialized in South America and Antarctica, each with several areas of expertise such as geography, history, plants and animals. They also did narration on the deck during our days there. In addition, we had a group come from one of the U. S. scientific stations to spend the day onboard and talk about what they do and what it is like to live in Antarctica. They included scientists from various disciplines, but also the station manager, the cook, the waste guy, the marine mechanic. The scenery was spectacular – whales, penguins, seals, birds, icebergs, glaciers, craggy mountains covered in snow and ice. We lucked out on weather and seas everywhere we were. HAL has the best itinerary for this trip because of four full days in Antarctica. And because it goes through the Chilean fjords, which definitely rank up there with Norway and Alaska, and to the Falklands. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days ... Read More
This cruise was everything we expected and more! Great ports of call, 4 days cruising in Antarctica waters where we saw bunches of penguins, sea lions, whales and a wide variety of birds. Onboard, they offered great lecturers on sea days and even had a few interactive game shows which elated my DW. However, two areas where HAL did not meet our expectations were (1) the quality of their production shows and (2) making sure passengers sanitized their hands when going into a dining area and when reboarding the ship after a day in port. Quality of HAL production shows. The singers and dancers were fine, but the pace of the shows were that of watching a Lawrence Welk Show. That's fine if you like a slower pace, but we're in our mid 60's and grew up on rock and roll and were board stiff during most of their shows. However, they did hire some great entertainers which made up for the lack luster production shows produced by a New York-based production company from what we understand. Personal hygiene shortfalls. This 22 day cruise was during the height of the cold/flu season, but HAL didn't seem to realize this. They used to make folks going into a dining area sanitize their hands the first 48 hours of the cruise. Not any more. They used to have a crew member at the base of the gangway making sure passengers sanitize their hands before coming back on ship. Not any more. They used to have sanitizer dispensers outside the main theater entrances. Not on this cruise. As a result, this was the "sickest" HAL cruise we have ever been on as at least 1/3 of the passengers had bronchial type cold/flu symptoms the last 2+ weeks of the cruise. Going to the show in the evening was like listening to a chorus of coughing. Lesson learned. Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers religiously and if at all possible avoid using the tongs up on the lido deck. Of course, no cruise is perfect and since we just got off a great 25 day Celebrity Eclipse cruise where all of the shows were great with many reaching the "wow" status and the ship's hygiene practices were top notch, it was just a big let down to see HAL's offerings so inferior. But, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't all bad. The itinerary was GREAT, the guest lecturers were GREAT and the contracted evening entertainment for the most part was very entertaining. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. ... Read More
No penguins! Unfortunate weather caused some cancellations both Stanley and at least one glacier as well as our Penguin tour. We did get a very good close up view of one glacier. Fog and rain made visibility around the Horn very poor. Many ports were very interesting especially the warm weather ones in Uraguay and Argentina since we had lovely weather there. We made the best of it but it was still disappointing. The ship left from San Antonio intead of Valpairoso . Fortunately we stayed in Valpairoso and enjoyed that city for two nights before the cruise. We maily did private tours usually with local guides. We spent two extra days in Buenos Aires as well but the city proved so interesting i wish we were able to stay longer. Another issue for us was the two overnight flights from and to the States- made for a bit of jet lag both ways. Amazingly we managed to use air miles, however. The ship , shows and food were as we expected —fairly average and similar to the several previous cruises on Holland America. Some excellent staff, especially port and scenic cruising commentary. Unfortunately our last cruise was with Oceania and the memory if the food made the food on this cruise seem mediocre by comparison. We knew to expect some bad weather but it left us with some rough seas and and three sea days in a row. With little to do. I read several books on the cruise. The crowd was mainly international but there was a large contingent of non English speakers from Germany and austria well as Romania. Potentally interesting but difficult at mealtimes. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2017
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something ... Read More
I wanted to go to South America and booked with my cousin who ended up not going as her husband became ill.I had to go on my own.Firstly they need to advise their staff not to make derogatory comments about passengers.I heard something about me and I understood.I did tell her that she needs to be careful of what she says.I also found that it was all about how much money they could get out of us.IE learn how to mix martini cocktails but we would have been charged.Entertainment and activities were a joke .Activities were hardly existent and then they wanted you to pay for most of them..The excursions were not too bad.I had booked a few but one particular one I couldn’t go because the chemo drug I was on was giving me side effects that morning.She had no intention of giving me my money back.I had to go on a different one that afternoon and I had no interest in it at all.We were leaving the next day so I couldn’t go on a different one.She was trying to get me to see the doctor and was really not interested in me saying that I knew it was side effects.The ship was nice though and so were the staff.The ship was clean and the food was excellent.I am not happy about people even on formal nights dressed in shorts.Sorry it shouldn’t be allowed.They can go to the buffet bar if they do not want to dress. I have done many cruises with different lines and would I go on HA again.Definitely not. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Ports were fantastic and weather was great. Smooth seas at their best. The ship is a different story. Dining room service was extremely slow. One night we waited over 1 1/2 hours before being served and the excuse was "The kitchen is backed up" Hard to believe at 5:30 PM--open seating. Two meals at the Pinnacle Grill were fantastic. The Cellar Master Package, Double was clearly worth the price. However, there was confusion concerning the number of meals that could have had clearer wording on the vouchers. The company made it right and credited the second meal. Cabin was filthy and the bathroom had mold, a cracked sink and a broken shower head. Cabin steward was personable but not very effective. Guest entertainers were extremely good but the ship's entertainers were terrible. All in all the cruise was worth the expense but the ship needs repair. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and what a wonderful itinerary it was helped by settled weather conditions for most of the passage. I had however reservations about the ship being a little dated and reserved ie the ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and what a wonderful itinerary it was helped by settled weather conditions for most of the passage. I had however reservations about the ship being a little dated and reserved ie the entertainment onboard was quite possibly the poorest we had ever been unfortunate enough to be subjected to. There was also unacceptable delays in the main dining room which ultimately led us to dine in the lido. Embarkation was poor with elderly guests having to queue for long periods of time, although this can't be helped perhaps cool hand/face towels and iced water? I was also quite disappointed to witness 'engineering' staff in contaminated overalls using the lido as a passageway whilst guests were eating. And as for the price of the ships excursions, by far the most expensive I have witnessed on any of the many trips I have completed. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, not the line or the ship. After reading some negative reviews, we didn't have really high hopes, but the ship turned out to be pretty nice even with a few hiccups. We are a couple in our 60's and ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, not the line or the ship. After reading some negative reviews, we didn't have really high hopes, but the ship turned out to be pretty nice even with a few hiccups. We are a couple in our 60's and have cruised 26 times before on most of the major lines, this was the third time with Holland America. We brought our 11 year old granddaughter with us, and while there were only about six kids total onboard, the youth director Lisa did a fine job of allieviating their boredom. The ports were fascinating, unlike anything we had ever seen, but on sea days we found very little to do. Most folks played bridge, napped in the solarium, or read. Very few activities. Overall, it was a trip of a lifetime! We had smooth seas, not at all like what we expected. A word to the wise: if you're sailing out of Rio, you must have a Brazilian visa, which we quite expensive (over $1000.00 for the three of us) and it took about 3 months and many phone calls to get. The visas showed up 4 days before we left home, and it was a big hassle. Glad we got to see Rio, but we will not ever be going back to Brazil! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of ... Read More
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of opportunities to spend your money at bingo and on all the sales going on. It was like a floating Walmart. At the pool, it was difficult to get a glass of water or iced tea but plenty of waiters walking around to sell drinks.We went on the first half of this cruise last year on the same ship and noticed a huge difference in the service. They cut back on cabin stewards and on waiters - both in the dining room and Lido. One night in the DR, it was 25 minutes before our order was taken and over 2 hours to finally get to dessert which I was too angry to eat. Some of the entertainment was very good. The Zaandam dancers were very good the first time, good the 2nd time but really boring by about thee 5th time. American Test Kitchen was good but over the 34 days, they had repeated the same recipes several times. On several of the gala nights (which they cut down on) we got one lobster ravioli instead of lobster tail. There was no sail away party in San Diego or Neptune party when we crossed the equator like last year. The restrooms near the lounge were out of order a number of times. The best service on the ship was the front office people. They were always willing to answer questions and help. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. ... Read More
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. Cabin 6180 looked fine, spacious with all amenities but when the ship was at sea a creaking/grating noise came from the junction of the veranda & the ceiling, the noise was pretty loud and nonstop. It was as if Sir Francis Drake's ghost has come to stay. After many complaints (most were ignored-front desk staff was useless except for Precious) wooden wedges were placed (helped) and then removed for safety reasons. Cabin was changed only at San Antonio (over 2 weeks). We dined mostly in the MDR, the food was hot, very good and the choices were ample. Service was amazing, we switched to a permanent table after a few days, Aang & Daniel our waiters remembered every request and Mr. Manik the assistant MDR manager was also very helpful. Ate a few times at the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed the food and service. Activities were pretty limited and adjusted to the average age of the passengers. Entertainment was average. All staff was courteous and went out of their way to help. Most ports were interesting as a jump off point or in themselves, shore excursions were privately organized with shipmates met on CruiseCritic roll call (highly recommended)and only two were the ship's, they were well organized & the guides were very good. We enjoyed all aspects of the cruise apart from the cabin noise, A letter to HAL after we came back home did bring some consolation though it would have been better if the problem was resolved on board. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
That was our second cruise with Holland America, out of tens of cruises with 10+ cruise companies over the last 20 years or so. First Holland America cruise was aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was a pleasant experience. We choosed ... Read More
That was our second cruise with Holland America, out of tens of cruises with 10+ cruise companies over the last 20 years or so. First Holland America cruise was aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was a pleasant experience. We choosed this second one based upon our prior experience and because we wanted a cruise back home, from US, along South America's Pacific coast - the 34-day San Diego to Rio cruise. Embarkation process was straightforward. Ok, as suite guests, we had a dedicated line, but the ordinary line was also empty by the time we arrived at San Diego Cruise Terminal. Stateroom condition, on the other hand, wasn't that good. The deck that runs along the windows was dirty and greasy. TV remote was greasy, as well, so that we had to point it to the steward and ask him for a thorough cleaning. Cereal remnants under the bed and chocolate behind the curtains were also not very nice findings. Dining was an experience that swung between heaven and hell. We had most of our meals at the Main Dining Room, with excellent service. We had most of our breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market, with the most terrible experience of all cruises. Apart from a very few attendants and their managers, Lido crew was the worse ever. Most of the times we could see managers doing attendants' chores, like cleaning tables and serving drinks. I guess this is not what managers are for. Entertainment and Activities are a little more of the same - the fabulous ship's dancers and singers, comedians, performers, lecturers, movies - one will always find something to enjoy. Port and Shore Excursions staff does a very good job. Some flaws here and there but, in the end, things worked fine. I still cannot understand why cruise companies insist in choosing ports like Puerto Chiapas or Huatulco (MX), with absolutely NO activity one could do on his own - options were to stay on board or to join a ship excursion. We expected far more than this. Read Less
Zaandam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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