47 Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" ... Read More
First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" set me up for a huge let down! I also have been debating on doing a review because there were so many negative items about the whole experience that I don't want to "dampen" others enthusiasm. But anyway here goes. We had originally been going to stay in Florida this year for Christmas & New Years but on the 15th of December we saw this cruise. Luckily for us the kennel had a spot and we got decent flights and hotel reservations in Ft. Lauderdale and San Diego so we did it. We boarded which was very easy and found our cabin. WOW! Underwhelmed is an understatement. The whole cabin is about the size of a postage stamp and as far as being "partially obstructed" it should read "Mostly obstructed" We did find that the way to see out is to kneel or stand on the bed and crane your head sideways. From that position you can see out. We tried for an upgrade, but that is another long and boring story which I won't even go into. The first thing we find out and only by going to the dining room is that there is no Mariner's lunch. It reminds me how much I hate the Lido. But dh wants to get something to eat and so up we go. Big mistake. Lets just say I detest the Lido. We go back to our "cabin" and find that all our luggage is there. Since we are supposed to be "upgraded" we decide not to unpack but sit in the postage stamp with four suitcases. The next morning we decide that "we aren't going to be upgraded so we do the unpacking. Good thing as it took the front office two days to call and say "there are no upgrades available" DUH! I guess we can figure some things out ourselves. Then we come to the question of Electric plugs. We have none. The one and only one above the desk had a plug in it already and its attached to the refrigerator under the desk. I'm sorry, but where are we supposed to plug in things like dh's razor, the batteries for my camera and dh's camera and my lap top. Back down to the front desk. We will need to leave a $50 (25 each) for an extension cord and surge protector so we can plug in all our electronics. Our "postage stamp" comes with one other strangeness about it. It is actually brighter at night than during the day! I found this out the first night. I kept waking and couldn't get back to sleep. There are two flood lights just outside the window which flood the area with light but dim and turn off during the day. During the day we would keep the curtains closed after we had people come right up to the window, put up their hands around their face and try to look in! We started to wonder about some of the people on this cruise after that. As for decorations and Christmas atmosphere. Forget it! The only Christmas Carol we heard until the 23rd was coming aboard the ship. Once inside there was nothing!!! No decorations, no carols, no nothing! (Now remember the previous year we were on Ryndam the cruise before the Christmas cruise and the ship was beautiful. Totally decorated from top to bottom. On Ryndam at the bottom of the atrium not only did they have a wonderful tree, but a huge gingerbread garden It was amazing!) So here we are with nothing. We wait and we wait and finally about the 20th they start putting up some decorations. Let me just say that for the Amsterdam being HAL's "signature" ship the decorations were puny. Maybe HAL should change signature ships! And by the way there are still no Christmas Carols. Then we realize something else we are in port both Christmas and New Years day. Which means no Christmas or New Year's Dinner. (Where I come from Christmas dinner is served in the middle of the day as is New Year's day dinner) I go to the Front desk and ask if the dining room will be opened for these holidays during the day. No they will not be I am told. That is when I realize with out a doubt that we have just made a huge mistake. Forget about all you hear. If you love Christmas and the Holidays don't ever take a Holiday cruise. I guess its time for me to come to the food on this cruise. All I can say is OMG! The worse of the worse. The very first night in the dining room I ate right out of the freezer Perdue breaded chicken breast with melted velvetta cheese drizzled on top! Now I am no chef, but I would put my Beef stroganoff up against HAL's any day of the week. HAL's stroganoff had no sour cream in the gravy nor any mushrooms and there weren't even any noodles! The meal consisted of what would be called beef in drippings with a dab and I mean a dab of sour cream on top and on top of the sour cream was sour pickles! That sat next to a ice cream spoon full of rice! Hals Beef Bourguignon was another dish which did not resemble anything to do with my Beef Bourguignon. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is if you are going to call a dish something at least use the ingredients which are generally considered part of the dish or just call it something else. In my survey to HAL I did offer to lend them my copy of Julia Child's "Art of French cooking" if their "chef" needs to read what one of the items should taste like and my private recipe of beef Stroganoff. My husband said it best. Now, you have to know my husband. He is not picky, but he told me that the best food he ate on board the ship was the Nathan's hot dog he got from the dive-in counter. Most of the other food was pretty bad and he even said some of it was in-edible! Just wanted to interject here that for Christmas "dinner" (which where I come from is served in the middle of Christmas day) dh and I had "Nathan's hot dogs. That evening (Christmas night we would call supper) we did have turkey, believe me when I say it wasn't worth the wait! Now remember folks we are on a ship with 1200 guests and about 80 to 100 are children. I generally like children and have a couple of them myself, but I would not inflict my children and grand children on a small ship where most of the people are elderly. Putting it bluntly there isn't much for children to do on this ship. There isn't much for adults to do unless you want to gamble, learn to cook (sorry, but I really don't think HAL can teach me anything about cooking, I'm eating the food remember?) or work on the computer. Other than that it's reading or going to the pool. We finally decided that the children's source of entertainment was driving the elderly crazy at the pool! Now there are a lot of elderly who use the pool for their P.T. as I do. Forget it or get out very early. The children use it to jump around and generally cause havoc. The poor guitar player was trying to play his music over the screaming and splashing of all the kids. We felt sorry for him and clapped though most of the time we could hardly hear him. One family in particular was what we call "the awful" family. Their kids were not only out of control, but mostly unsupervised. I never did figure out how many kids they had with them as I think it was a number of families traveling together, but I believe they were raising them as a pack of wolves. Two incidents stand out in my mind. One, some poor lady thought she had bingo, but when the announcer announced that she didn't this "family" actually stood up and cheered, and the family was led by the "father" or a large male leading the cheering! The second thing was an item of mine went missing, it was gone for about two to three days and I go to the pool and one of the children is playing in the pool with my item. When she sees me she just lets it float away and leaves it there. Now picture this, your child has something that doesn't belong to the child and you don't turn it in to lost and found? You tell me who does that? The rest of the passengers were on the whole nice with only a few exceptions. I do know many were happy to know that they were getting off in Ft. Lauderdale and several were very unhappy about the cruise. Several people we talked to had paid big money and felt that it wasn't worth what they had paid. Since HAL is a part of the Carnival family I guess it is a good thing that they didn't offer to give you your money back after the first day or when you got to the first port. (I believe it was Carnival that had that guarantee several years back) I can see a lot of people taking them up on their offer on this cruise! Dh actually admitted to me later in the cruise that he had thought of leaving when we got to Puerto Vallarta, but he said he thought it would be too time consuming and too costly to fly home. I was very surprised. We did over hear a man talking to his wife (we weren't ease dropping, but at a two person table it's hard not to hear the next table over) he said he couldn't wait to get off this ... Boat! We saw him leaving the next day with a carry-on bag when we docked in Puerto Chiapas. We didn't see her leave. I will have to say that New Year's Eve was the most entertaining we have had in a long time. We loved it and danced the night away. We had dinner with two couples and they graciously allowed us to join them. We all laughed and danced. The seating was a bit squished, but who cares we were celebrating. The second wonderful thing about this trip was seeing the Panama Canal. Now this was our fourth time and each and every time it's wonderful. There isn't much more to say about the Canal. The entertainment was good. We love to listen to the Adagio in the evening. We also like the shows and really enjoyed the piano player in the queens lounge along with the guitar player and then enjoyed them when they teamed up and did a show together. We saw two movies which we really enjoyed. One was 'A walk in the woods" and the second was "spy". Now when "spy" first started we thought OMG what a corn ball, but then we realized it was a comedy and that's when we really started to enjoy it. The ports were I guess all right. The two that we had not been to before and wanted to take tours, but the one Puerto Chapas the nearest town was about 25 miles away and Puerto Quetzal the drive was 90 min each way. Now I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not driving 90 each way to see anything. So some we got off the ship and just walked around and some we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet of the pool! The crew was outstanding. They really went out of their way to help with whatever. We really can't say enough about our room stewards. They were great!!! All in all the trip was ok. Would I do it again NO! DH and I have no intention of having Nathan's Hot dogs for Christmas dinner any time soon! We booked on a HAL cruise for 42 days. I'm calling before final payment and asking how many children will be on board. If there are any more then ten I am out of there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
In virtually all aspects this was the typically great Holland America product: excellent food, great staff, really really excellent entertainment crew, very good enrichment offerings and Cainoa, the legendary locations guide for this part ... Read More
In virtually all aspects this was the typically great Holland America product: excellent food, great staff, really really excellent entertainment crew, very good enrichment offerings and Cainoa, the legendary locations guide for this part of the world, superb cruise director Gene Young, well-thought out itinerary and high-value shore excursions. So what could go wrong- sad to report - in one, but very critical aspect- we were plagued by a sour sewer stench that made our premium-priced balcony cabin (Verandah Deck - mid ship -starboard) unusable for the vast bulk of the trip. This was duly reported to the front desk, attempts were made to provide maintenance and they even taped off the scupper vent but the problem persisted to the final days of the cruise. The repeated verandah maintenance flushings would give relief for about 24 hours and the smell was right back again. We had two extended 7-day at sea day periods as well as several long sea day sections between islands, so the inability to fully enjoy our balcony took away from the overall experience. Which, I again repeat, was in all other regards the excellent HAL product. Whatever causes this sewer stench problem problem was well beyond the ability of the ship's responsive maintenance staff to correct during the duration of the voyage. Nor is a dry dock scheduled, so any future verandah deck passengers need to be duly warned they may also run into this situation and to start the reporting process early in the game to get at least some relief from increased deck maintenance procedures for any similarly impacted cabin. Don't just hope that it will go away like we did the first week. It didn't. And overall the starboard side was the best side to be on when in most ports for this extensive South Pacific itinerary. Good thing is there are plenty of other public viewing options, including a special open back deck for this #6 deck level so one can have a slight degree outdoor privacy if you too get chased out of your own private verandah deck by the smell. Had we chosen a lower-priced ocean view cabin with no outdoor space this would have been a typical 5 star HAL cruise, but our inability to use this starboard balcony in the warm South Pacific was a material fail for this ship, the fleet's "flagship". I don't know if the port side had the same problems, but our starboard deck-side neighbors also reported the chronic stench too. In fairness to HAL, they did try to respond, sent up the usual notes, apologies, plate of candy, bottle of wine and a very modest cruise credit compensation. I don't know how passengers can avoid this situation in future sailings if you choose a verandah cabin or how you could get confirmation up front you will not face a similar situation. It appears the source of the smell comes from deep within the bowels of the ship so I would suspect it will take a dry dock to fully repair this. At no time did I think HAL was indifferent to this problem and if they could have fixed it, they would have. I wish they could have, for everyone's sake. Additionally there were enough delay flush, no flush or overflowing toilet issues that even the cruise director had to make jokes out of this apparently common complaint. Ours too had these problems, worse in the beginning of the trip as many passengers were probably putting all the wrong things down the toilets causing backups along the line. I do wish HAL would issue stronger warnings about the proper flushing procedures. One captain included these warnings in the life boat drill, and I commend him for that. The daily program would often explain how "environmentally efficient" these new low-flow toilets are, but they are a real bother for passengers (and the front desk) who have to constantly call for maintenance when they fail to operate. Overall, the Amsterdam will not be one of our favorite HAL ships in this class of her smaller ships - the decor (which is personal, I know) was either drab, dark, dull or garish. All in good condition and familiar to anyone who chooses HAL ships. Each ship has its signature decor package of colors and themes - this one just did not appeal to us as compared the the color and more whimsy of the Rotterdam, Volendam or Zaandam. So ultimately our experience on HAL's "flag ship' was flagging for us. Even though we loved the staff and the rest of the always excellent HAL experience. So our love of the overall HAL product continues and we happily booked another HAL cruise for next year, but not on the Amsterdam. With now hundreds of cruise days with HAL, overall this cruise line has been far better to us than this one unfortunate experience so we continue to think HAL provides excellent value overall. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Embarkation and debarkation on this ship were absolutely amazing. I've had some horrendous experiences on other ships in the past, and I was blown away by how seamless their embarking and debarking was. Additionally debarking during ... Read More
Embarkation and debarkation on this ship were absolutely amazing. I've had some horrendous experiences on other ships in the past, and I was blown away by how seamless their embarking and debarking was. Additionally debarking during ports of call were also fairly simplistic aside from our port where tenders were required. I cannot praise Holland enough in this regard. For reference, my husband and I are in our early thirties and we had no children with us on this vacation. We knew going in to this cruise that Holland would not necessarily have activities that would appeal to a younger population. The population definitely skewed aged 60 and up. I was hoping that since it was an Alaskan cruise that we may have more variety in our age demographics, but we did not. There were very few activities or classes that would appeal to the younger age set. The other guests were 90% awesome, and 10% snobby and snooty. We had one small issue with a tablemate talking about the miscreants sitting next to them on the starboard side (that was us) and how we were the downfall of Holland cruising. Dear snooty sir, I apologize for ruining your vacation by dining in a hoodie. You see - our stateroom didn't have hot water for a majority of the trip and I had been struggling desperately that entire afternoon to take a shower prior to dinner because we had been out all day exploring Juneau. I'd also just gotten off the phone with my mother and discovered she needed emergency heart surgery. I apologize profusely that my sweatshirt ruined your dining experience on CASUAL night. Moving on from that - the food was hit or miss. I'm not a food snob or a food critic, but the food was interesting on this ship. Most meals on the Lido deck were cold. Every morning it was cold eggs, cold sausage, cold everything. Even during lunches or dinners, a majority of the meals were chilled. They may need to work on getting improved heaters for keeping the food warm. I'm fairly certain that the food could have gone from 1 star on the lido deck to at least a 3.5 just by being warm. Because of the Lido decks inability to keep food warm, we tried to eat most of our meals in the main dining room. The hours available for meals in the main dining room are very slim. If you don't want lunch between 12-1pm, then you must eat lunch on the lido deck. The time tables were strange and hard to manage. The food in the main dining room was better than the lido deck, but still not my favorite dining experiences. We had one lunch at the Pinnacle Grill. My lunch was absolutely amazing. I had their prawn bruschetta, 5 onion soup, and their lunch steak option. Absolutely amazing. On the other hand, my husband had the halibut sandwich and hated it. He loves halibut and he said it was the most bland meal he'd ever eaten. I guess you cannot win them all. As for our stateroom - it was a lukewarm experience...literally. The first night we arrived in our cabin, I took a shower and the water never got "hot", but it was warm enough to fill the tub with. The second night, the water was very hot in our cabin. We went to bed early with seasickness meds on the third night and explored Juneau all day on day 4. After skipping one day of showers and spending an entire day in Alaska freezing my tookus off and hiking mountains, I looked longingly towards showering when we got back to our cabin. We didn't even have lukewarm water on day 4. It was tepid/cold water. We called the front desk and they send someone down to look at it. They worked on it all night and they couldn't fix it. By morning they said it was fixed, but it was not. We spend the day in Sitka and came back and had to contact the front desk to inform them that it had still not been fixed. At this point, after being mocked at dinner the previous night by other diners, I was going insane at the ability to not bathe. Eventually, that evening, someone from the front desk informed us that our entire portion of our deck was having difficulties with getting hot water. She brought us a room key for an interior room on deck 1, mid-ship, that had hot water. For two more nights my husband and I had to trek across half the ship as though we were living in a college dorm in order to take a hot shower. At no point did anyone apologize. At no point did any of the staff offer any consolations for the inconvenience. Eventually, we went to book our lunch at the pinnacle grill. While booking, my husband asked if the lunch could be comped due to our inconvenience. They told us at the front desk they were unsure if they could do that because we weren't the only guests who were experiencing the problem with the water temperatures in their room. I informed them that all guests who were experiencing a problem with their stateroom should receive something...preferably - WITHOUT ASKING! They did call us back several hours later to tell us our lunch would be comped. A $20 lunch that we had to ask for was nice, but it really didn't make up for all the inconveniences. For all of the hype that Holland gets with their customer service, I was shocked at how poor it all was. Additionally, there are some fairly strong language barriers on this ship. This is my 4th cruise, and the first time I've had significant difficulties communicating with staff. We loved our stateroom attendant, but it was challenging asking him questions and understanding his responses. We experienced similar challenges in the dining room. I do not expect non-native English speakers to be experts, but its nice if you can ask your stateroom attendant how to get a suit pressed and be able to understand their response. The captain was great. We had a great day touring the Tracey Arm Fjord and our captain did a fantastic job of giving everyone an excellent view of the glacier. The weather was great on our trip. Alaska was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. All in all the vacation was great. Whenever you aren't working or cooking for yourself, its always great. There were just several issues we experienced on Holland that would probably prevent us from traveling with them in the future. I just don't think that we are their target demographic - and thats OK. There are plenty of other ships where we may be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Picked the right week to visit Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria as the weather was sunny each day. We also got lucky and we had a good view of the northern lights when sailing from Sitka. Can't say enough about the friendly ... Read More
Picked the right week to visit Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria as the weather was sunny each day. We also got lucky and we had a good view of the northern lights when sailing from Sitka. Can't say enough about the friendly crew and good condition of the ship. Ventriloquist Michael Robinson and former Olympic gymnast Lance Ringnald were outstanding. Production shows were above average but the choice of music on the country western theme show was a bit peculiar and some of the dialog was pretty hokey. Have visited all the Alaska ports many times and have seen all the major sights so we did things on our own this trip. Loved the Raptor Center and New Archangel Dancers in Sitka. Breakfast in the La Fontaine dining room was quite good each day with a nice variety of choices, high quality food served at the proper temperature and quick service. Lunches in the same venue were OK but not exciting and a bit bland. The Mariner Society luncheon was a dud with very bland fish. The alaskan salmon barbecue was also poor as the fish was totally undercooked and inedible, we went to the Terrace Grill and made our own tacos. Evening meals were a big disappointment with limited appealing menu choices, poorly prepared food specifically the lobster (undercooked and mushy) on surf and turf night and lamb shank (fatty, lukewarm, and without flavor) on the final night. The other evening meals were just plain blah, a few cry from our experience on previous HAL sailings. The meal at the specialty restaurant Pinnacle Grill was outstanding. The poor evening dining experience will likely prevent us from booking with HAL again in the near future. I'll birddog reviews to see if improvements are noted. All the wait staff folks were very nice and customer centered. Lucy, the future cruise consultant was very helpful. She knows her job inside out. Lauren and Nicolette in the photo shop were extremely helpful and lots of fun to talk with. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We wanted a Seattle-to-Seattle seven day Alaska cruise in the time frame of Mid July to Mid August as part of our celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. After some web research, we narrowed our search to the smaller ships (a ... Read More
We wanted a Seattle-to-Seattle seven day Alaska cruise in the time frame of Mid July to Mid August as part of our celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. After some web research, we narrowed our search to the smaller ships (a personal preference) that visited Sitka and Tracy Arm Fjord rather than Skagway and Glacier bay. It seemed like the Tracy Arm Fjord cruise in a smaller ship might be a unique experience and the description of various ports seemed to favor Sitka over Skagway. We chose the July 19th sailing aboard the Holland America Amsterdam. The ship seemed to fit our criteria of a relatively small vessel with a high Cruise Critics rating and the right itinerary (Tracy Arm to the Twin Sawyer Glaciers, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria). Our one previous commercial cruise had been on a Holland America ship. Two things about this particular itinerary were not obvious to us at first-- the outer passage route and the unannounced change substituting the Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier rather than the twin Sawyer Glaciers. We should have known about the former, but no one ever mentioned the latter either before or during the cruise. The outer passage route was problematic for an approximately 24 hour period on the second day out. The seas were pretty rough and both passengers and crew suffered some issues. One crew member said it was the roughest passage he had experienced in 2 months aboard. We managed pretty well using ginger capsules to settle our stomachs. Otherwise, the ride was pretty comfortable, but the views on cruise days from our balcony were mostly of water, not BC and Alaska wilderness. Holland America ships are consistently highly rated in terms of service, food and amenities. Our Veranda Suite stateroom was very nice, well appointed and comfortable. Other than the stateroom stewards and one or two of the wait staff, the service was just so-so. Food was consistently high quality and tasty and our one meal at their specialty restaurant was exceptional. Because of the occasion, we added an amenities package including wine and liquor, beverage gift cards, daily Canapés', monogrammed robes, a specialty restaurant dinner and special disembarkation privileges. From the first day it was clear that the staff were either not familiar with the package or not particularly interested in delivering on it. We never got Canapés' or the promised special disembarkation privileges and the wine and liquor choices were delivered late on the 2nd day. For some reason, beverages are difficult to get with a beverage or soda card on this ship. You cannot, for example, use them to purchase from the in-room supply of soft-drinks or alcoholic drinks. Those can only be charged to your ship-board account. If you wanted a soda in the morning after a rough night at sea, there was only one source. What's the reasoning for giving guests plentiful and nearly round-the-clock access to food, but nickel and dimeing them over soda and other non-alcoholic beverages? Our first waiter in the main dinning room even tried to sell us bottled water immediately after we sat down. For our taste, there was way too much focus on board on selling high-end merchandise -- watches, jewelry and art works. Much like some of the ports, the main shopping deck like their wharf-side street was lined with glitzy merchandise shops and little else. Who is going to buy an expensive watch, piece of jewelry or artwork from an unknown vendor, un-researched and out of easy reach from their home? It would be like buying stock from an itinerant broker that knocked on your door! Our excursions, both booked with Holland America, were great. We saw whales aplenty including a breaching youngster and bubble feeding. The tour operators were very helpful and informative. Both Juneau and Sitka were interesting and accessible on foot after our excursions. We also did a self-tour of Victoria on foot including the Royal BC Museum and the picturesque water front. We did not go ashore at Ketchikan with the ship in port only six hours and our laziness after a late night. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Our 7 night experience on the Amsterdam was both good and bad. Physically, the ship is beautiful. Our room steward was outstanding. The itinerary was great. The spa was outstanding, and the special "thermal suite" was well ... Read More
Our 7 night experience on the Amsterdam was both good and bad. Physically, the ship is beautiful. Our room steward was outstanding. The itinerary was great. The spa was outstanding, and the special "thermal suite" was well worth the extra $149 for the two of us for the week. The piano bar guy, Tom Casey, was FABULOUS and made the whole cruise worthwhile for us. Problem #1 was that the schedule for each day included little more than "yellow emerald shopping" and "future cruise consulations" from 7 am until dinner. When I suggested to cruise director Rick that one free, fun morning activity could be having bloggers gather in the library to chat about what they blog about -- he frowned and said that the problem would be that the Holland America home office would have to give an okay to that, and they were unlikely to say yes to that sort of idea. (REALLY? You could have some super interesting, super famous bloggers on board and not even know it.) Problem #2 was that the nighttime broadway style dancers had terrible, offensive dance routines that included weird homo-erotic lumberjacks and the mocking of Canadian Mounted Police. Problem #3 was that other than our room steward, the service was indifferent and ALL THE FOOD ON THE SHIP WAS SERVED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE unless you got it straight from a line cook. There seemed not to be even the slightest effort to serve food hot. Would I sail Holland America again? Yes . . . if the price were 70% off and if I could call ahead to make sure that piano bar pianist Tom Casey was going to be on board. : - ) I've sailed Royal Caribbean twice and Disney three times; I'd choose one of them hands down over Holland America any day if prices were comparable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This turned out to be one of the worst vacations ever. We didn't get to Tasmania or the South New Zealand fiords which is what we really wanted to see. The cruise before us also didn't get there because of bad seas. So we spent 4 ... Read More
This turned out to be one of the worst vacations ever. We didn't get to Tasmania or the South New Zealand fiords which is what we really wanted to see. The cruise before us also didn't get there because of bad seas. So we spent 4 days at sea looking at ocean. But they did give us a free glass of champagne. Oh joy! Then everything you bought had a 15% service fee tacked on. If you purchase wine in a port, then you have to pay an $18 charge per bottle to bring it on board. The land excursions were expensive. In one port we hired a local who was half the price and in New Zealand dollars. And he had to pay the Line 15% to use the dock! Don't ask about the wifi. We paid $100 dollars for 50 minutes so we could just check emails. It was so slow and bad they had to keep adding minutes when we complained. So we spent our time in ports trying to check emails. We had cruised with Holland once before in the same ship to Alaska 10 years earlier and enjoyed it, but we certainly never felt like we were nickeled and dimed to death. Did I say the ship really needs to be refurbished. Amazing what can happen in 10 years. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We have cruised on several Holland, Princess, and Carnival ships. From our experience, Holland just doesn't deliver on their "upscale" image. We end up on HAL primarily because of their itineraries. The Amsterdam is in good ... Read More
We have cruised on several Holland, Princess, and Carnival ships. From our experience, Holland just doesn't deliver on their "upscale" image. We end up on HAL primarily because of their itineraries. The Amsterdam is in good condition and clean. The public areas are plentiful and well kept. Our OV stateroom on the lower promenade was small but as expected. No complaints. The ship had just come off the world voyage route, so a few glitches are understandable. But the first half of the trip was inexcusable. It just seemed as though they were very understaffed and the hotel management didn't have a clue what was going on. Keys didn't work, which meant waiting in long lines at customer service--numerous times since even replacement keys didn't work. No apologies--just "well a lot of keys don't work." (And that makes it okay?) Our cabin steward didn't make it to our rooms 'til late the first night, and didn't get the room cleaned at all the next day. Repeatedly we heard "We were supposed to have a ____ person onboard, but they didn't make it in FLL." Or, "We didn't get 'x' or 'y' like we were supposed to in FLL." Fill in the blanks--it was a common theme. People who ordered wine packages were brought the list, then told they only had one kind available but they might be getting more in a few days. The Lido seemed terribly understaffed (always difficult in HAL's 'code orange' time, but worse than usual). There was only one server for Happy Hour in the Crows Nest for the first few days, and he literally RAN around the room trying to serve everyone. The MDR was ridiculously slow, and 2 1/2 hours wasn't enough time to get to dessert. We were told a price for shirts on the deck merchandise sale, waited in the hour long line (not enough cashiers), only to be told the person working on the deck "was new" and had given us the wrong price. And no, they wouldn't honor it. The crew didn't know about one of the time changes on this itinerary, causing passengers to miss wake-up calls and the Lido to open late. About half way through things improved. The service was never terrific, but it definitely got better over time. The cruise director, Gene Young, was great and the entertainment enjoyable. The HAL singers & dancers were just okay, but they had two dancers who were fabulous. A highlight of the cruise was a special show those two dancers did, not usually on the entertainment line up. The guest performers were varied and good-excellent. The HALcats on the deck were fine and the acoustic guitarist/singer was excellent. The Microsoft teacher was outstanding, as was the Bridge instructor. Movies in the Wajang theatre were generally new releases and well attended. Food was okay. We were not at all happy with the Lido, either in food quality or service. The set-up of HAL's buffet creates long lines, cold food, and requires multiple trips from the line to your table. In our opinion, HAL buffets fall far short of either Princess or Carnival. The first few days in the MDR were very disappointing, but it did improve over time. The special BBQ's at Half Moon Cay and for a sail-away on the Lido deck were both good. We enjoyed the Crows Nest, although they frequently didn't have all of the ingredients to make the drinks listed on their menu. We don't usually do ship's excursions, but we did several this time and were very happy with them. Disembarkation involved an extra 3 hour "inspection" of all non-USA passport holders. Apparently this isn't unusual in San Diego, but our crew didn't seem to know about it, and passengers weren't told until a few days before disembarkation. This caused a lot of stress for people who went by the original schedule to book flights and tours. HAL boasts that it has the highest number of repeat cruisers in the industry. When we talk with people, many tell us that they've never tried any other line because they've heard that Holland is the best. We sure don't agree, and we will cruise with HAL again only if the itinerary and price are better than others.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
To put things into perspective, we have cruised on over a dozen cruise lines for a total of about 800 days – almost 500 of which were logged on Holland America Line. Most of our friends know that we enjoy longer cruises, but frankly, ... Read More
To put things into perspective, we have cruised on over a dozen cruise lines for a total of about 800 days – almost 500 of which were logged on Holland America Line. Most of our friends know that we enjoy longer cruises, but frankly, this one was boring. While there are probably many reasons for this, I think the major one is the large number of sequential sea days (as the ship bypasses what might be interesting ports – such as in Vietnam, the Maldives, Madagascar and so on). While my watercolor painting is improving (I’m still having difficulty using the word “art”) and trivia and bridge are entertaining, I am still not old or sedentary enough to adopt sitting on cruise ships as a life style, so I will be paying more attention next time and avoid cruises which exhibit this property (especially when charged for at a premium as a “World Cruise”). I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that the average age of the passengers on this cruise was about 77 and many had been on multiple World Cruises – and maybe that’s the reason HAL thought that more sea days was the sort of itinerary this constituency would tolerate. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound, but at least forewarned is forearmed. While we will likely take long non-sequential cruises in the future (some of which may be world cruises – whether on HAL or one of their competitors), we will pay more attention to the itinerary and be more willing to link together a string of short cruises with an aggregate more interesting itinerary. With specific regards to Holland America, they seem to be penny pinching at every conceivable level and have changed the feel of this cruise, which sells at a premium, into one which has feelings of belt tightening. Despite our elite “loyalty program” status on this cruise line it is important to remain agnostic and our next scheduled cruise (is on one of their competitors – we’ll see (I have always felt that loyalty programs are to show how loyal the vendor is to the customer, rather than the other way around). While the service is excellent, as is the food, the entertainment is mediocre and the itinerary was almost 2/3 sea days. In addition, because of a concern about stopping on the west coast of Africa, one of the segments we booked turned into a transatlantic sailing capped by a couple of stops in the Caribbean. Until HAL makes an effort to address my desires and structures their World Cruises accordingly, they will have to do without my business on this type of cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. ... Read More
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. (however, knowing what to expect, with simply relaxing in mind, it is an inexpensive holiday...we paid $2500. for a Verandah Suite, one week, all in, for 2 adults) But for first-timers, or young people looking for a new adventure, you will have fun. Embarkment: In a word, excellent. We got there early, right at noon, and walked through the different check ins with ease. The staff were efficient and smiling. First Impressions: Once we had boarded the ship we were offered a glass on wine. We have cruised before and know most ships offer champagne but that yet to happen. The server was friendly and talking to us. We only realized that the drinks had been poured and the bottle left on the table when he was gone. The charge? $40.00. Not cool. The same "wine stewart" was pushy at other times too, and I witnessed a person at our table having to say several times he only wanted a glass of wine, before he left him alone. However, he was one person and we in no way let that sway our opinions of the cruise in general. Cabins: We had a Verandah Suites, an upgrade offered to us for an additional $200. total. (these are balcony rooms renamed "suites", as told to me by the booking agent) Well worth it! It was more than roomy enough for my hubby and I, with a nice sized, (big enough for a lounger), very private deck. The housekeeping staff were amazing, we left "the boys" an extra gratuity, they added so much to our overall experience. The rooms were well stocked and very clean. Beds were extra comfy. Good water pressure for showers. Tip: we were on the starboard side and seemed to always have the sun at the right time of the day. Also when in port we had excellent views. Perfect! Dining: Main Dining Room: We chose flexible dining times. The service was painfully slow. I don't know if it was the serving staff or the kitchen, but more than once it took almost 3 hours from start to finish. (a long time when there are set Show times in the theatre) Because we went with the flexible times, we didn't have the same waiters. I would rethink that next time, it wasn't the same as getting to know the people at your table and your servers. At times the waiters seemed confused, but perhaps that was because of the situation with getting the food out. The food itself was good, (and of course you can order as many appys, entrees etc., as you like) Not much of a selection though. They have a few options on a set menu which include chicken and steak, but we found their changing menus offered little variety and we soon tired of the offerings. Pinnacle Grill: We decided to try the Pinnacle Grill; exceptional value at $25.00 per person. Wow!! It was awesome! Delicious steak and lobster. Huge portions, anywhere from 10-20 ounces of steak, I kid you not! (we couldn't believe it either!) We returned the next day, the last day of our cruise, and again were not disappointed. Sarah, our head waitress was exceptional. In addition we had two other helpers so that we were never wanting for anything. You could also order more than one of anything with the exception of entrees, but you won't need to! Beautiful decor. Fine dining. Dress code of the dining room also applies at the Pinnacle. An absolute must! Canaletto Restaurant: Didn't go, but it is basically a cordoned off area of the Lido Deck Buffet area. Not sure what the food was like, the setting put us off trying it. Lido Deck: (outside area) Mexican and American food. Tacos, all the toppings, fresh salsas, salads etc. Burgers with fries and fresh pizza. The food was quite tasty and I especially enjoyed the fresh salsas and fajita chicken. Didn't try the burgers or pizza, but hubby said the pizza was also good. (inside area) This is where the buffet meals are served. Good all round buffet both for breakfast and lunch. Endless options. Dinner is the same offerings as the dining room (plus extras), but self serve. No long waits. (the outdoor area on the Lido deck is a great, fun, active place to hang out and have lunch or a late afternoon snack) The buffet is also open from 10:30-11:30pm for late night cravings. Room Service: Good selection until 10pm, after that they do have 24 hour service, but limited menu. Staff always courteous and friendly. Prompt service. Tasty food. Entertainment: Main Showcase Theatre: Definitely lacking. It was so poor we opted out two nights when usually we take in all the shows while cruising. They really do pale in comparison with other lines. (all others seem to exceed in this area) The first night was singing and dancing. Colourful & enjoyable, but average. A "not so funny" comedian, a dance competition among staff and cruisers, a singing and dancing show by their staff and house band, just very boring...we did really enjoy one night with a magician/comedian, but that was about it. Small Venues (in the lounges): Great. A pianists, girl on a string violin, singers, guy on the sax. House band just okay, (musicians good, tired singer), but we went dancing one night in the Crow's Nest with the band, and had a good time. Pools: Great. They have a retractable roof over the Lido deck, (very handy when the winds come up), that houses the main pool and two very nice, hot, hottubs. We were always able to get a chair, even if it meant having to get it ourselves. (which happened once)Towels readily available. There is also a ping pong table, but it was usually busy with kids, as well as a small stage for musical acts.(sometimes there was live music sometimes piped) I didn't use the sea view pool at the bow of the ship, no hot tubs there and at the front of the ship the breeze was quite cool. I did notice a bar there though and it was very quiet. Maybe a nice "get away" for couples not wanting to be around the kiddies all day. Service: Mixed. Housekeeping, awesome. Pinnacle Grill, with one exception, awesome. Dining room, average. Lido deck, average. (staff confused and unsure some of the time when asked questions or requests. One bartender didn't know what was in the bar and what wasn't. Staff often referred us to other staff or went and got someone who could answer our questions) Activities staff, average. Sometimes late or no show. Room service, awesome. Casino staff, awesome. Shop staff, awesome. Spa Staff: didn't go. Front Desk: attentive and efficient. Stores: What you would expect. Wait until you have been to a few ports and compare prices. All merchandise went on sale the last two days at enormous savings, so wait to buy. The only exception is alcohol at the duty-free. Buy early to avoid disappointment, once it is gone it is gone. Spa: Didn't go, but people who had, raved about the massages. Kids/Youth activities: We're past that now! However there were more kids & teens than I expected on this cruise, perhaps due to summer holidays, and they all seemed entertained. Excursions: Booked our own when we got there. (saved $50.00 by doing this) When you get off the cruise hip, there will be many kiosks set up with companies selling their excursions. If you are not a "have to have a reservation" type, and are flexible, you can buy direct, or as we did, get the information ahead of time at home online, book on arrival, and definitely save money. (or even book online for greater savings...we wanted to hike so opted to wait and see weather conditions and booked once we arrived in Skagway) Tip: The weather can make or break an excursion. I went once and paid over $500. for a ride on the White Pass Railway, only to go on a day that was foogy and rainy! We couldn't see anything! Check weather ahead of time or book on arrival. (either on your own or the cruise line, depending on comfort level) Ports: Excellent. Try Tracey's Crab Shack & the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Shop til you drop in Ketchikan, (the Pirate Saloon is also good for lunch), and lots of time for excursions in Skagway. Try the city bus, it's cheap and fun talking to locals. In Ketchikan they have free shuttles to "downtown" as well as the city bus. Disembarkment: Great, flew through in record time. Tip: we carried our luggage off the ship to avoid big line ups for collecting luggage. Don't bother, they have everything separated by numbers and colours. I was impressed with how everyone needed only a glance to find their belongings.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This is to let all know about the Holland American Cruise, my wife and I took December 5 to the 22nd of 2012. It started off with only some weather problems, fog. You live with it. We got met at the airport by a nice gentleman who ... Read More
This is to let all know about the Holland American Cruise, my wife and I took December 5 to the 22nd of 2012. It started off with only some weather problems, fog. You live with it. We got met at the airport by a nice gentleman who greeted passengers from Holland American, to get us to the ship, We contracted for this and it helps my wife relax, knowing that transportation is taken care of. When we got to the Dock, early that day, about 1100 or so, we were told it would be at least 1400 before we would be able to board the ship. This was due to a viral problem on the ship and they wanted to disinfect the surfaces better. Well about 1500 we started to get processed to board the ship. This is not our first cruise, so we knew what is expected. We could not get to our cabin for a while, so we went to the buffet area and had a snack. About 1700, after we had toured the ship some, we got to our cabin. Our bags were there and the room had been picked up. The room stewards told us they had disinfected the carpets and bathroom floors, so it would not be vacuumed for a couple days. Okay. We went to dinner after a very long day and slept hard. The next couple of days, was a nice relaxing time at sea. We found the guest laundry facilities and every one was shut down due to the virus on board. Well, now it has been a week. The floors in the cabin have been vacuumed, the bathroom floor is no longer sticky due to the disinfectant, but no laundry facility for the guests. No complimentary movie check outs, no books, no hot tubs open but the casino has been operating since the first day? Medical concerns? I would think a virus could be spread easier in a casino than from checked out CD's. A guest laundry could get cleaned up with Lysol or bleach and cleaned in a day, I would think. Hot soapy water, rinse and more HOT disinfectant and soap, re-rinse and now ready to clean underwear and clothes. I am not impressed with Holland American Cruise line. The employees have been very polite and accommodating though. It was two weeks and still no guest laundry facility, no use of complimentary CD's and the ship is not in a normal sanitary condition. You cannot even purchase over the counter diarrhea medication at the convenience store on board. Well its day 15! And the hot tubs are finally working. Yes and you can even get your own drinks and buffet food. Unbelievably the complimentary movies are finally available with only two days left on the 17 day cruise. Good thing I brought my own motion sickness pills. I am normally easy to please but this was a disaster on a trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our thirteenth Alaska cruise and our second with Holland America. Our first was on the old Rotterdam. We have also been there on four other lines. This was our second 14 day cruise that took in ports in outside in southeast ... Read More
This was our thirteenth Alaska cruise and our second with Holland America. Our first was on the old Rotterdam. We have also been there on four other lines. This was our second 14 day cruise that took in ports in outside in southeast Alaska. We flew from San Francisco to Seattle on Virgin America, leaving SFO at 8:45 AM and arriving at SEA at 10:45 am. When we arrived at the baggage area, we were greeted by a Holland America representative who said she had been looking for us. She indicated that we should go to the other end of the baggage area where a bus would be ready in a few minutes. We waited there for about 20 minutes and were then on our way. The trip to the ship took about 30 to 40 minutes with commentary from the driver the whole way. When we arrived at the pier, we left our luggage on the bus and were processed though check in immediately. Our cabin was ready and we dropped our bags and went to the main dining room where they had lunch for past passengers. They also had the lido restaurant open for people not using the main dining room. CABIN Although neither of us is handicapped, we took a handicap room (# 2555) because it was available. These rooms are generally about twice the size of an ordinary room and have very large bathrooms with large showers. They cost the same as any other inside room, but are like having a suite. The room had a king size bed with about four feet of space to the wall on each side. I thought the bed was very comfortable, but my wife did not agree. There was a couch, table and two chairs plus about 9 feet of closet space. Night stands on each side of the bed had two drawers. Additional drawers were in the vanity, but there were not enough drawers for two people. The closets had to shelves to make up for the lack of drawers. The cabin was well located on deck two close to the forward elevators, but we were not bothered by any noise from them. We were only a short distance from the exit door usually used for disembarking at various ports. The main showroom was just two floors above us. It was very convenient to get to this room or the observation lounge on the top deck of the ship. It was a little farther to walk to the main dining room at the other end of the ship. The front desk was just two decks above us. SHIP The Amsterdam is a nice size at 62,735 tons and one never felt crowded with a guest capacity of 1368 public rooms are comfortable and easy to find. Everything about the ship has been very well maintained and maintenance was constant during the cruise. One must look very closely to find any signs of wear or damage. Seats always seemed to be available in the showrooms. It was seldom necessary for anyone to stand during a performance. There was a problem with gastro/intestinal illness and they restricted the use of certain items onboard like salt and pepper shakers or any other item that might be handled by several people. They also shut down the self-service laundries for several days because of this illness. However, they reduced the price of the ship's laundry by 50% during the time they were closed. We had a couple of bags done at $10.00 per bag and were happy to pay that amount. DINING We had anytime dining in the main dining room. We usually went for dinner between 5 and 6:30 PM. Never did we experience any problem getting a table as soon as we arrived. We usually shared a table with any guests arriving at the same time we did. The service was always excellent in the dining room. On only one occasion was it necessary to wait a long time for our food. That was at breakfast one day. There always seemed to be plenty of waiters available. The lower floor of the main dining room was used for anytime dining and many tables were empty at each meal. The service in the Lido Restaurant was not as good as in the main dining room. There were often lines that moved slowly even though the servers were moving as fast as they could. We felt that this was due to the fact that people were not using the main dining room as much as they usually do. Free tables were sometimes hard to find at all meals. NOTE! There seems to be a shift away from formal dress on formal nights. We were surprised to see this on a Holland America ship. HA has always had a reputation for being more formal than most other cruise lines. We observed many more people using the lido restaurant on formal nights and wearing the same clothes that were worn during the day. We even found ourselves doing it on two of the 4 formal nights during the cruise. We just did not feel up to wearing formal clothes four times during one cruise. We used room service on a few occasions. We found them to be prompt and the food well prepared. I had scrambled eggs one day that were far superior to those in the dining room or the lido restaurant. SHOWS We like to go to the shows in the evening, but prefer the single entertainer acts rather than the production shows. Unfortunately 6 of the 14 nights were production shows. We did not attend any of them, but we heard negative comments from guests that saw the shows. Some said they stopped going because the performers appeared so amateur. There were two comedians, one juggler, one ventriloquist, one singer and one that did impressions. The impressionist was excellent and one comedian and the juggler were very good. The others seemed to be struggling to keep an audience. One night they had a movie. Two crew shows were done at 11 PM on different nights, but we were in bed hours before they started. PORTS We were surprised that Holland America made no attempt to let passengers know about the availability of free busses at ports to shuttle people into the town centers. We used them at Ketchikan, Anchorage and Kodiak and found out about them by reading other Cruise Critic reviews of past cruises or just asking HA employees when we got to the docks. We found no notices in the Explorer newsletter distributed to our cabin daily. We have visited Alaska during all the summer months when ships are cruising there and have always had comfortable weather. This trip was the first time the weather has been cold and windy. We were not encouraged to stay in the towns much more than a few hours before we wanted to return to the comfort of the ship. In Ketchikan we took the free shuttle bus from the dock through the downtown area and up the hill to the fish hatchery where we got off and walked back down Married Man's Trail to Creek Street. We enjoy watching the spawning salmon work their way up the falls above town, but there were very few fish in the creek during this visit. We always enjoy visiting Ketchikan and used to spend time at various stores that sold locally made art objects of various kinds, but now the city is full of jewelry stores run by companies from the Caribbean area and a walk through downtown has become boring. What a shame! The weather was very good when we entered Tracy Arm. We went all the way to the glacier before turning around. We have been in Tracy Arm several times, but this was only the second time we have seen the glacier. After leaving Tracy Arm, we anchored just south of Juneau for the night and pulled into town around 7 am. It was drizzly and chilly. In Juneau, we went to the library that is right next to where the ship docks. There we used one of their computers to email home. Many of the ship's crew and passengers have found out about this facility and were also in line to use the computers. This is also a good place to buy a used book at a $.25 each. Downtown Juneau, like Ketchikan, is also overrun with jewelry and T-shirt shops. There are a few places that still sell locally made items, but they are hard to find. We visited a few and found our way back to the ship for lunch onboard. At Icy Strait, we took a walk down the beach and through the woods on a loop trip that ends near the finish of the Zip Line run. This is a beautiful walk on a good day. There was no rain and we found the walk very enjoyable even though we have done it before. We spent some time in the shops at the converted cannery before returning to the ship. On past stops here, we have seen a lot of whale activity around and close to the ship but not on this trip. Other passengers said they had seen whales near the ship earlier in the day, but we missed them. This is one of the best places on this cruise to see whales from shore or the ship. At Anchorage, we took the free shuttle into town and were dropped off at the Egan Center. We walked around the corner to the visitor center where we got on the trolley for a tour of Anchorage ($15.00 per person for 1 hour tour). The driver did a great job showing us her city and providing some history of the various areas we visited. Much of what she told us had to do with the earthquake that hit Alaska in the 1960s. She was a teacher that had just retired after 30 years at a local school and really spoke with enthusiasm about the area. The tour was well worth the cost. After the tour, we walked several blocks to find a restaurant that had been recommended by ship personnel. When we got there, the line was out the door and we were told the wait for a table would be about an hour. We ended up looking through a few antique and souvenir shops and returned to the ship for a late lunch followed by a movie in the ship's theatre. At Homer, the ships docks out near the end of the Homer Spit. The dock is on a side road about a half mile from the shops along the spit. A free shuttle was provided to take people from the ship to the shops. We got off the shuttle and walked to the end of the spit to see if anyone was catching fish there. This is a favorite place for locals to fish for flounder and other fish that frequent the gravelly area near the spit's end. Only a few people were there and they were not having much luck. The weather turned cold and rainy just as we approached and everyone decided to call it a day and try again some other day. We walked back to the shop area and visited every place that was open, then took the shuttle back to the ship. There was another shuttle that went into town and cost $15.00, but other Cruise Critic reviews stated that it did not stop at any place of interest and was overprices for the service provided, so we decided against it. We have been to Homer before and have seen about all that it has to offer. The best was to see the town is by rental car and making up your own tour. At Kodiak, we took the free shuttle into town and were dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce at the intersection of Center Street and Marine Way. Only one bus was taking people into town and it took about half an hour or more to make a round trip. We waited for at least 20 minutes to get the bus to town. After arrival in town, we walked about three blocks to the Alutiig Museum. It is a small but very interesting historical exhibit. It is well worth the $5.00 admission charge. After leaving the museum, we walked across the street to the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church to take a few pictures, and then walked two a block back to the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at 402 Center Street. There were several interesting displays here and an interesting movie was shown upstairs. We noticed a long line waiting for the shuttle bus and decided to get into line so we would not be late returning to the ship by 2:30. The wait was almost an hour while the bus made two round trips to the ship before taking us. They could have used two busses. There was a thick fog hanging over Yakutat Bay when we arrived on our way to Hubbard Glacier. Not much could be seen until we were almost all the way up to the face of the glacier. It was raining heavily and a very cold wind was blowing. Thank goodness that this ship has a good observation room above the bridge. It was packed with people that did not want to spend the morning out in the rain and wind on deck. We all strained to see seals on the ice flows, but did not get quite close enough to view them with binoculars. The glacier did calve a couple of time to the delight of the folks onboard. The morning we arrived in Sitka, I came down with the gastric/intestinal problem that had plagued the ship and was restricted to my room for 24 hours. Sitka is always the highpoint of any Alaska cruise that includes this port and I was very sad to miss it. We had planned to purchase day tickets and take the local bus to all the places visited by the bus lines. We especially wanted to visit the Fortress of the Bears and National Historical Park, which we had not seen since our first visit in 1987. My wife was able to go to town long enough to replenish some locally made items that she had bought there on our last visit. I did sneak up on deck long enough to take a number of pictures of the beautiful island all around this gorgeous harbor. On the last sea day going south to Victoria, I spent much of my time on deck looking for whale activity. Not much was seen until the afternoon when we were passing the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the sea came alive with dozens of pods of Humpback whales on the starboard side of the ship. We had a great time watching them for over an hour. Every few minutes the ship would pass another group and some even approached the ship. Victoria was its usual beautiful self. We picked up a map from one of the docents near the ship and followed the recommended route from the dock to the downtown area. It is a very pretty walk through the residential street with many pretty homes along the way. Downtown, we took the tour of the Parliament building, something we have not done since our first visit in 1987. We were pleasantly surprised to find the wonderful restaurant in the basement of the Parliament building and had a late lunch there. The Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich was fantastic and the first I have had since our visit to eastern Canada 20 years ago. It was just as good as the one I had then. If you find yourself in downtown Victoria, don't pass up the opportunity to have lunch in this very nice restaurant. SUMMARY The cruise would have been more enjoyable if the weather had been better, but that is the way it is in Alaska. We have had very good weather on most of the 13 cruises we have taken to Alaska, so can't complain about one that did not go our way. At least it did not rain that bad in the few ports where it was wet. The service in all areas of the ship was very good and the crew did everything they could to make the cruise comfortable and enjoyable for the guests. The food in the restaurants was bland and not up the standard of Holland America as we remember them from past cruises on this line. The single act entertainment has definitely gone downhill and should be reviewed by management. More information about port and shuttle busses should be included in the Explorer newsletter. Overall there was nothing about this cruise that would set it apart from similar cruises on other lines. It will probably be a while before we take another Holland America cruise. I can only give it an overall rating of average. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their ... Read More
Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their appointed lifeboat in order by height. A BBQ was available poolside from 1pm until 8pm. The Ship- I felt the Amsterdam was in good shape. The crew was always painting, washing the deck, or doing routine maintenance, but usually at the least opportune time. For instance, I would think they could schedule another time to vacuum the hallway other than 8 in the morning on a sea day. For some reason, we were late to half the ports, even when we left on time the previous day or even following a sea day. There was an outbreak of Norovirus the first week, (which we later found out effected many of the crew down below). This may have led to the disorganization that prevailed in the public areas. Perhaps some of the Ship's Crew were doing different jobs than usual. During the outbreak, the hot tubs, library, and self-service laundry were closed, but surprisingly the computers in the Explorations Cafe were still available even though the keyboards get touched by multiple passengers. (Of course the internet generates revenue whereas the others didn't). Perhaps the stabilizers weren't working, but this ship rolled more than any Cruise I've ever been on (including through Drake's Passage). This was true even in calm water. The Crewmembers were nice and attentive in all the public areas. Funny story: In the Lido buffet, Crewmember Renny replied to my query about the meat on the cutting board (it was duck) with, "It's Quack Quack" Oddly for a company that prides itself on its experience in Alaska, the maps in the Explorer booklet available in the cabin were often wrong. For example, in Sitka, it showed the Sheldon Jackson Museum on Capitol Hill and in Ketchikan the road on Creek street was listed on the wrong side of the creek. In Kodiak, the Kodiak Brewing Company was listed on the other side of town from where it was really located. (It's between McDonald's and the intersection with E. Rezanof Dr.) I would recommend instead using the free maps from the local tourist office almost always available as you exit the Ship. The Food- Not impressed. The food was consistently bland, under-seasoned, and the meat was almost always dry. This was the same in both the Main Dining Room and Lido Buffett. I hesitate to call the Lido a "buffet". Even after the Norovirus passed, only two stations were self-serve; (desserts and parfaits/ breads). Everything else was served or cooked to order. This may provide personalized service but it created long lines waiting for entrees since the cooks were incapable of multitasking, making the "Lido Cafeteria" almost as long a dining experience as the MDR. During the first week it was so frustrating to get food we always used room service for breakfast on port days. On a positive note, Room Service was always prompt and arrived within minutes of the time range requested. (6:00-6:30, 6:30-7:00, etc.) The MDR is only open for a limited time most days 8:00am-9:00am for breakfast and 12:00pm-1:00pm for lunch. Also, at dinner one side of the Lido buffet was set aside for the ships officers and staff, so finding a table was hard with only half the usual tables available. Between 8pm when the Lido Buffet closes and 10:30pm when they offer a late snack, there is nothing available to eat. If you have a late port day, get back early or eat something in town. The free Ice Cream in the Lido was extremely popular but there was only a limited supply each day. Once they run out of your flavor, you're out of luck. This included the soft-serve even though it only requires refilling the machine. The Terrace Grill poolside had excellent Burgers and also had Pizza, Hot Dogs, and on most days a Taco Bar. Considering this was a 14-day Alaska trip, it was somewhat surprising that there was never any Alaskan Crab served during the Cruise. Cabin- Our cabin was 3410 on the port side. We liked the location which was close to the aft on the Lower Promenade deck. This made it easy to walk outside to the stern or use the outdoor Walkaround on the Lower Promenade. On the other hand, the Lower Promenade deck was hosed down every morning between 6:30am-7:00am which made walking in the morning difficult due to the wet deck and puddles. This also meant I woke up at the same time every morning when they hosed down the outside window of our cabin. The Cabin Stewards were nice but twice our cabin was not made up after a long day ashore. Even after we called the front desk, nothing was done until after we returned from dinner at 8pm. We had the 5:45pm seating and also waited numerous times as we returned from dinner for the Cabin Steward to finish the turn-down service. One thing about HAL that I appreciated was the towel animal each night. This seems to be a vanishing art form on other Cruise lines. Entertainment- The Queens Lounge had the usual mix of condensed Broadway-type shows and individual performers such as Magicians and comedians. There is a large selection of DVD's which are available for checkout to watch on the in-room TV. A list of the DVD's is available in the cabin. The Ship's library was larger than most and allowed all but the travel books to be checked out for the duration of the Cruise. Guest Chef Laura Slama had interesting cooking demos in the Culinary Arts Center. We went to several movies in the Wajang Theater. Get there early because there was only enough popcorn for the first dozen people every night. Ports- Ketchikan- We were docked at Berth 4. A free city shuttle bus was available into town, but it was also walkable. The bus started at Berth 4 and makes two other stops in town before ending at the Totem Heritage Center and returns the same way. Keep in mind the Creek street stop is before crossing the bridge. There was also a Wal-Mart shuttle bus that departed from the Berth 4 that runs every 15 minutes if you left anything at home or want some snacks. Juneau- The ship was docked one block from the Red Dog Saloon downtown. We first took the MGT bus ($16RT) to the Mendenhall Glacier. Once we returned to town we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway and used a Buy-one-get-one-free coupon from the Alaska Tour Saver book. It was a typical Juneau overcast and rainy day so the views weren't that great from the top. There isn't much to do up there so we didn't stay long. We then did the Zip line at Alaska Canopy Adventures before shopping along Franklin St. Since it was a late departure, we freshened up on the ship and then crossed the street to the Red Dog Saloon around 8pm. That afternoon the place was packed but in the evening hardly anyone was there. Slightly less touristy and more authentic is the Alaskan Hotel and Bar a little further down Franklin Street. Icy Straight Point- A Humpback Whale was feeding just offshore between the Old Cannery mini-Mall and the town of Hoonah all day. Several of the first Tenders ashore had to stop as the Whale was feeding directly between the ship and the dock. A matter of personal choice, but we preferred the Juneau Zip line with 10 different zips versus the lengthy but only 90-second-long Zip line here. There are shuttles into town from the Cannery or a sidewalk along the water that also leads into town. There were many small curio shops in Hoonah and we spotted two Bald Eagles in different nests on the walk into town. Anchorage- We've been to Anchorage many times before so we rented a car from Thrifty on Spenard rd. Anchorage City Shuttles picked us up by the ship and dropped off at the Egan Center which is downtown on 5th Ave. between E and F Streets. The Thrifty shuttle bus also picked us up at the Egan Center. We drove north to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, then on to the Matanuska Glacier, and finally back to Anchorage and a visit to Earthquake Park. Homer- We docked at the Deep Water dock on the opposite side of the Marina from the Spit. School Busses shuttled passengers to the Spit and dropped off right next to the Salty Dog Saloon. There was also a free van that shuttled between the ship and a downtown Gift Shop. After hitting the souvenir shops on the Spit, we took the free shuttle to town and walked to the Two Sisters bakery (best Scone I've ever had!) We then made the obligatory stop at the Time Bandit store. We just missed Johnathon Hillstrand who had left in his new truck right before we arrived. His mother was happy to pose for pictures for several other shoppers. Kodiak- Our excursion on Harvey Flying Service was cancelled apparently due to bad weather, although other Bear viewing flights were able to go. So instead, we walked into town along Shelikof St. and rented a car at Budget. Following the suggestions from the folks at Budget on possible Bear viewing sites we drove to the end of Bushkin Beach Rd. We followed the river to the beach but didn't see any Bears (but did see lots of tracks!). We then drove to the Coast Guard base, Fort Abercrombie, and toured a little bit of the Island. For fans of the Deadliest Catch, the Time Bandit was in dry dock across the bridge at St. Herman's Harbor, and the Cornelia Marie was moored there as well. Hubbard Glacier- Captain Mercer brought the ship very close to the Glacier despite the high winds and rain. He turned the ship both ways so everyone got a great view. This was truly an amazing place. The forward observation deck on the bow was opened for Passengers as was the outside deck below the bridge. We were once again late arriving so the 3:00pm Pea Soup was served around the Lido pool deck instead of outside. Sitka- This is a tender port. We walked from the tender dock under the bridge along Harbor Dr., turned right on Lincoln St., and followed that to Sitka National Park. The Salmon were running and it was quite a sight watching thousands of Salmon squeezed together slowly making their way upstream. Victoria- We docked at berth A. I booked Orca Spirit Adventures independently ($95 online vs. HAL excursion rate of $129) Orca Spirit has free shuttle pickup, which was good because we were late again as usual. We saw a family of transient Orca's just 30 minutes after leaving port. The boat followed them until the Race Rocks lighthouse and the Sea Lions ensconced there. Orca Adventures is located next to Fisherman's Wharf, and is halfway between the ship's dock and town. Victoria was a nice town to walk around and have dinner, (All-aboard was at 10:30pm) and do some last-day souvenir shopping. Departure We chose a late departure 9:00am-9:30am and used Shuttle Express to the Airport. Departure was quick and painless even with some extremely long but fast moving lines at Customs.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
The Ship was nice, well appointed, good shows, excellent library, balcony room had a slightly larger balcony which was nice. Te service was excellent and presentation good. Food quality was poor at at best, both in the main dining room ... Read More
The Ship was nice, well appointed, good shows, excellent library, balcony room had a slightly larger balcony which was nice. Te service was excellent and presentation good. Food quality was poor at at best, both in the main dining room and the buffet area. At dinner, I had steak 6 of 15 nights, and every time is was served well done, not medium rare as requested. I sent it back 3 nights, one night twice. Beef quality was poor. Food was sometimes not hot. Wine was outrageously expensive for quality and the wine pour was a "short pour" - much less than a typical restaurant. One of the higher quality wines (per the wine list) was Columbia Crest Merlot, which sells for $9-11 per bottle at Sam's or most grocery stores. The cost for 2 short pour glasses for dinner was $17.83. Drinks in the lounges were also short, many of the single malt scotch's on the drink list were not available Two of 5 port stops were cargo ports, isolated 10 miles from nowhere with no ability to walk around. You had to take one of their somewhat expensive tours, but then they had a captive audience so why not charge more. Everything on the ship was as expected for a 4 star line, why skimp so much on the meals and drinks. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Alaska is our favorite destination. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary...I have visited Alaska 6 times on my own on land tours, and we went back for our sixth cruise to Alaska this time on Holland America's MS Amsterdam. ... Read More
Alaska is our favorite destination. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary...I have visited Alaska 6 times on my own on land tours, and we went back for our sixth cruise to Alaska this time on Holland America's MS Amsterdam. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It visited several ports that none of our cruises have ever visited - but I have been to most of them on my own at some time in the past - i.e. Anchorage, Homer, and Kodiak.We did not check-in to the ship in Seattle until after 3:00 p.m. as friends met us at the airport and we enjoyed a glorious day in Seattle with lunch at the Space Needle. We could see all the way out to the Olympics. MS Amsterdam was in port at Pier 91 along with Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas and Celebrity Infinity was closer near downtown and Pike's Place Market. Check-in was seemless as we were the only people in the terminal at that time. We boarded the ship and found our Deluxe Verandah cabin #6208 - on the port side (left) aft. Our cabin had more than adequate storage space but limited closet space. The verandah was nice with a chaise lounge and a chair with a small round table. There was a fold-out couch and coffee table adjacent to the dressing table. The queen size bed took up the majority of space in the room and there was only about 18" between the end of the bed and the wall. The bathroom was nice with tub. But personally - I would have preferred to have a shower in that space. The tub is set up about 4", so there is a definite rise to step in and out of it. If you aren't careful and forget about the extra height, you can take a good fall right into the counter and sink.The nicest area on the ship in my opinion is the Crow's Nest - a forward lounge on the 9th deck that offers plate glass windows 180 degrees and nice chairs to enjoy the scenery without having to be on deck. There is a bar there, and music is played in the evenings. If you are up there and you happen to see something you want to photograph, it is easy access to the outside deck. Because this was a 14-night cruise, there were four "formal" nights. I did not see any women wearing formal evening gowns and most gentlemen wore suits and ties and not tuxes. On the "formal" nights, the dining room seemed half full. All other nights were "smart casual" attire - with some people even wearing jeans - which until this cruise, I have never seen in the dining rooms at dinner.Food was a huge disappointment throughout the ship. Our servers in the dining room were not interactive and once our food was served, they seemed to disappear. We sent several things back as they were either cooked wrong or not hot. This happened on more than one occasion. Many things lacked flavor and taste and the portions seem to have shrunk considerably. For example, on the night they offered crab legs, we were served a plate with only 4 small legs on it - hardly a full serving. It was a good thing we also asked for a side serving of the fillet mignon that night - as that helped fill the void even though it was overcooked. Desserts were common, tasteless and unexciting. It seemed that Holland America focused much more on ice cream and sorbet than on their desserts. The one night we were offered creme brulee, it was sad. I make better creme brulee! The pear in pastry was all pastry and no pear. Several nights, the "special" desserts were some sort of ice cream sundae - nothing special to me! Very disappointing.I guess because I did not want coffee with dessert one night, the waiter assumed that I never wanted coffee. I had to ask on several occasions if I could have a cup after dinner - they never asked - they just brought coffee cups to three people at the table and did not ask if anyone else wanted anything.Our biggest disappointment came at Pinnacle Grill where I had signed us up for an Evening at Le Cirque - a gourmet restaurant in New York. It cost an additional $39 per person and did not include soda or wine. The meal was a huge disappointment. Our first course was an extremely tart and sour pate of some sort. We each took one bite and sent it back. Oh was it bad! Our second course was a corn chowder soup. I have never had a soup served in a bowl like this. First the bowl came to the table with a few kernals of corn, some mashed mushrooms and five potato croquettes. Then the server brought a crock to the table and poured pure corn puree into the bowl. When I asked for fresh ground pepper, I was frowned at. It was "corn" alright! - but almost like creamed corn. Nothing special. Our lobster salad was served on a triangular shaped white plate with a small lobster tail in the middle with three slices of avocado, three slices of tomato, three slices of pink grapefruit and three thin round pieces of potato drizzled with a pesto vinagrette. That combined with the grapefruit was definitely tangy and odd. The best part of dinner was our "prime rib" which was actually a huge rib eye that was filleted at our table and served. The side dish of vegetables was undercooked and the Daughne Potatoes were tasteless, dry and barely warm. The meat was tender and delicious and made up for the other part of the meal that was not so good. For dessert, I chose the creme brulee and Jim had the sorbet. Again - I make better creme brulee. The schtick for the creme brulee at Le Cirque is that the carmelization is a two part process here with two layers of brown sugar that is supposed to be flamed and carmelized. Mine was not carmelized enough and therefore I bit into pure brown sugar that was gritty and sugary. I definitely DO NOT recommend spending the money for the Le Cirque experience. I talked with several people that did say the regular Pinnacle Grill meals were good - so that would be my recommendation.The hours of the Lido Buffet have been shortened and the lines for service at the individual stations were extremely long. There was not enough staff behind the counter to serve the food to you to make it efficient. It took over 20-25 minutes to get a sandwich from the sandwich bar! For dinner - If you do not have your plate between 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. you have very little choice of alternative options. On our return in Juneau after our shore excursion - we did not get up to the Lido until around 9:00. Our only option was the Canaletto Italian restaurant. We were not happy that the buffet line had already closed on a day we were in port until 10:00 p.m.I think one of the nicest places on the ship is the Crow's Nest where you have a 180 degree unobstructed view of the scenery before you. We spent a lot of time here. It is a great gathering place with easy access to the outside deck if you want to photograph something.The other location that we thoroughly enjoyed was the Exploration's Cafe/Library and Lounge. Holland America exceeds in this area that is warm and friendly. You have easy access to computers here as well as a wide choice of books and DVD's to check out. You can purchase a good cup of coffee (similar to Starbucks) and enjoy a good read - or you can enjoy putting together a jigsaw puzzle or just sit and relax in one of the comfortable recliner chairs that faces the ocean.The entertainment onboard lacked professionalism and unfortunately the few production shows that we went to many people walked out during the performance. The singers and dancers were off key and sad. We enjoyed the daily trivia that was offered up in the Crow's Nest and that is where we met several nice people and enjoyed sunset and happy hour. Happy Hour is between 5-6 p.m. in the Crow's Nest where they offer the second drink for $1. On several occasions there was a server that offered some delicious chicken bites as a complimentary appetizer.There were several days that our room stewards did not make up our room until after 4:00 p.m. - which was not real pleasant. I was in the cabin several times when they finally came in and they quickly made up the bed and picked up the towels in the bath but did not even vacuum the floor. Other than the first day of embarkation when they came in and introduced ourselves, we barely saw them.Having said all of that - as I said before, we took this cruise because of the itinerary - and it did not disappoint one bit. You have to work hard to not enjoy yourself on a cruise. Even though we were not happy with certain things - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will go back to Alaska again and again. Holland America is the only cruise line offering the longer 14-day cruise. To us - 7-days is just not long enough! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
When I read negative reviews I usually consider that some people are never pleased so take them with a grain of salt. I have been on several Holland American cruises and this is the first time I have been driven to write a review. I am ... Read More
When I read negative reviews I usually consider that some people are never pleased so take them with a grain of salt. I have been on several Holland American cruises and this is the first time I have been driven to write a review. I am hoping this was a one time event for us but after reading another Cruise Critic member's review of the same cruise felt I needed to share my experiences so people wouldn't think that "some folks are never happy".Probably the biggest problem was the temperature of the ship. Almost everywhere but our cabin was too cold for comfort. This was supposed to be a warm weather cruise but felt more like outdoors in Alaska. The pianist in the Piano Bar said he had complained immediately on the first day of the cruise and every other day after that to no avail. Even with a hooded sweatshirt the piano bar was frigid. The dining room was always too cold and some folks were thinking maybe if they all showed up on Formal Night in bathrobes the staff would get the message. The Wajang Theater required heavy jackets with hoods, which we didn't have. Most everywhere on the ship was too cold to be comfortable without some sort of sweatshirt. We made several complaints but nothing seemed to help, even when I managed to speak to the Customer Service Manager we saw minimal improvement.The second problem was the Lido deck food and service, it was well below the standards of other ships. The first few days it was obvious there had been a total crew change and they didn't have a clue. The food for most of the 12 days was usually cold or tasted reheated and not fresh. We tried to only eat there when the dining room wasn't open.The dining room food was excellent but the service was slow, sometimes taking two full hours to eat dinner. Having flexible dining, we finally found a server that provided more efficient service and requested his table whenever possible. One shouldn't have to seek out good service.The problems with this cruise really became obvious after cruising on the ms Oosterdam in mid February and also to the Mexican Riviera. The standard of service throughout the ship and food in the Lido deck was so much higher that you would think it was a different cruise line. On the plus side, the Station Dance Band was hands down the best dance band I have heard on a cruise ship. The pianist, Stryker, was amazing and always had a full house most nights in spite of the cold temperatures in the Piano Bar. Brad Cummings, the ventriloquist and Dale Kristien provided top-notch entertainment. The advantage of the longer cruise is the diversity of entertainment they provide besides the usual ships singers and dancers. Some of the Broadway style shows are great and some of them are over burdened by music that drowns out the singers. That was the case on this cruise. The back stage tour on the last day was very enlightening and fun.Our excellent cabin stewards always kept our room spotless. We did have some plumbing issues that took a few days to finally get resolved, but they did get resolved. Room service for breakfast was always on-time and hot.Maybe the problem was the ship was going into dry dock for two weeks after our cruise and had just come off of a 69 day world cruise, whatever the reason, we are hesitant to cruise on the ms Amsterdam again or on any ship coming off of a World Cruise. We were considering taking the ms Amsterdam in Alaska for a 14 day cruise but have very strong reservations. We booked most of our excursions ourselves and truly enjoyed having two days in Puerto Vallarta, which enabled us to go on a personal bird watching tour with Birding Mexico early on the 2nd morning. I highly recommend the ships consider doing over nights like this to enable one to really experience a port with lots to offer. Bob's Day Sail in Cabo is highly recommended. And Mazatlan Frank's photo oriented personal tour was great fun and enabled us to capture the city photographically. We never felt unsafe in Mazatlan, it's a shame it has been dropped from port stops in Mexico. Those people rely on tourist and cruise ship dollars. The Digital Workshops were a great surprise and while I am technology savvy, I learned some things that were very useful. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly in San Diego and our cabin was actually ready when we boarded. I was willing to put up with the problems on the ms Amsterdam until I experience top notch service on the ms Oosterdam. The comparison was just too much to not write this review. I will post another review on the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was a cruise with my parents, sisters and our families.  We had my boys with us-ages 17,14 and 7 and my sister's kids, ages 4 and 3.  At the last minute, my sister's husband couldn't join us so she was in her cabin ... Read More
This was a cruise with my parents, sisters and our families.  We had my boys with us-ages 17,14 and 7 and my sister's kids, ages 4 and 3.  At the last minute, my sister's husband couldn't join us so she was in her cabin alone with her 2 young kids.  My 2 older boys shared a cabin, my parents had their own cabin and my sister (being the good Aunt that she is) shared with my 7 year old son.My parents and my husband and myself are very experienced cruisers.  My parents cruise about twice a year and have been on a wide range of cruise lines from Crystal to RCCL.  My husband and I try to cruise once a year (usually by ourselves).  We were recently on the Zuiderdam in October for Panama Canal.We wanted to be close together and not worry about kids and balconies this cruise so we chose to be in an outside cabin category.  We usually never cruise with less than a verandah cabin, so this was different.  We were offered an upgrade to verandahs the week before the cruise, but declined because we wanted our cabins to be together.  We were in 2766-2782.  I definitely felt a different level of service from our previous cabins to this one.  I also know that the cabin stewards are servicing many more cabins than they used to.  From never getting extra towels to our room sometimes not being made up until the late afternoon, this was not the service level I was used to.  We like to bring our own wine on board and I am used to always having a refrigerator in the room.  I didn't realize that this was only for verandah cabins and up.  Now when we called Holland America before the cruise, we were told that a "beverage cooler" would be in our room.  When I got on board and asked the front desk where our refrigerator was, they said we could rent one for $2 a day and that the "beverage cooler" was the ice bucket.  Then why not just say it was an ice bucket when I called weeks ago?!  There was also no way to tell the time in our room.  I called the front desk and they told me that there was a screen on the phone which showed the time.  I said that there wasn't and they said "oh, well your cabin must not have that phone."  I felt like a second class citizen-I guess outside cabins don't rate the phone.  My 2 older sons are deaf and hear with cochlear implants-I asked to have a clock put in their rooms so they could tell the time-they don't sleep with the implants on and sometimes it's hard for them to hear a call from room to room if they are showering or dressing.  The front desk argued with me and told me I was welcome to purchase a clock if I chose.  After speaking with a supervisor, they did provide their room with a small clock.The Alaska itinerary was amazing!  We were blessed with great weather and many whale sightings.  We did the ships excursion for whale watching out of Juneau which was excellent.  In Sitka we walked around the town and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We walked to the raptor center to see the bald eagles that are being rehabilitated and found it very interesting.  The kids all loved the "Great American Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan".  We didn't get off the ship in Victoria, we had all been there before and it was a night call-6-11 pm.  The last night, my kids wanted to hang with their friends, and we wanted to get packed.Dining-the worst I've ever had on any cruise ship.  We chose main dining at a beautiful large table so we could all eat together before the kids went off to the evening activities.  The first night-when we asked the waiter for kids menus he said "he didn't know where they were".  Our waiter was very difficult to understand and brought the wrong things to the table.  Service was sloooow-2 hours!  We complained to the Head waiter and was assured that the next night would be better.  Well, the next night was formal night.  We got to our table at about 6 (we were delayed by taking pictures).  The waiter had kids menus and we specifically asked that the kids be served first.  We waited and waited-kids were getting very unruly and hungry.  At 7 pm we complained that it was taking so long-the waiter who was helping our waiter said, well you didn't put your order in until 6:20 (OK, 40 minutes for grilled cheese or chicken and fries?)  Then food starts coming out for the kids at 7:10 with corn ships instead of fries.  I asked the waiter and he said, "well, if you want it fast, you sometimes get chips instead of fries?!)  The kids didn't even eat the food.  The rest of our dinner was so slow, we didn't finish until diners for the next seating were already being served!  My Mom found the hotel manager the next day and sat with him to explain the issues.  I must say that he took notice and from then on we had the head waiter helping with our table.  Now I have nothing against any of the waiters being in training and I'm patient with language issues, but our situation was a bad one.Room service was horrible.  My son called repeatedly to have chicken nuggets and fries delivered to the room.  Nothing-45 minutes later they called back and tried to convince him to get a club sandwich instead.  Then he asked for chocolate chip cookies and they delivered oatmeal.  When we called back to complain they insisted that they brought chocolate chip cookies.  On the last night, my sister and I were packing and watching a movie in the room and we ordered 2 club sandwiches-we repeated the order several times.  30 minutes later we got 1 club sandwich.  We immediately called room service to see what the problem was and they said we only ordered 1.  15 minutes later, another sandwich showed up.After the 2nd night-we received a flyer saying that they were going to open a "kid friendly" dining on floor 9 at the terrace grill from 5:30-7:00 every night.  (It should've said floor 8).  On the last night, we went to take the kids up there for a quick bite at 6:20 and they were closed down.  I showed the manager out there the flyer for that day that showed the hours and he told me they were told to close early because everyone is in Victoria and we should  eat in the Lido (where my kids don't like the food)  Eventually, someone brought us some pizza, fries and chicken for the kids, but everything required extra work and discussion.  I have never had this happen before on any cruise line with or without my children.Entertainment was good-we enjoyed the shows.  My 7 year old aspiring actor enjoyed the session "backstage with the entertainers".  The kids programs were good-the little ones enjoyed the 3-7 year old program and my teens had a great time meeting friends in the Loft.  We only saw them for dinner!I have to say I would think hard before booking a HAL trip again, and this makes me so sad, because I've loved the cruise line in the past! 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Sail Date June 2009
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations ... Read More
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations we had been led to believe were the standard that HAL claims to set.Embarkation went very smoothly compared to the two other cruises we have done. Check in was a breeze! We were immediately directed to the LaFontaine dining room for a liesurely lunch awaiting our cabin to be ready. When we entered our cabin, we did find it to be lovely and roomy, beautiful verandah. Our bags were waiting on the bed. We quickly unpacked and set about to explore the ship. We visited the Sea View & Crow's Nest bars,the Spa & workout facilities as my husband wanted to keep exercising on the cruise. I wanted to check out the hands-on culinary opportunities. The party planner greeting people interested in learning more about that was cold and unfriendly. I opted NOT to sign up for any of those events, and I had really looked forward to them! We opted for room service for coffee and juice for the following morning.A grilled dinner was served on the Lido deck as we set sail. Food was fair, Lido area very crowded. (We never did try the Lido pool or hot tubs. Always full of noisy jumping splashing kids and babies) .We caught the end of the comic's show and off to bed.First day was ok. The only day my husband worked out as he was unimpressed with the workout facilities. Lines for the treadmills and elipticals was discouraging.The next night was the first formal night, and the only one we participated in. They were very accomodating in getting my husband fitted and delivered of a tuxedo the same day! We hoped for & expected great things,but it was not forthcoming. We had opted for open seating, & waited some time with a pager. Once seated, we  had to wait to place our order. One of the guests at our table had to ask for the wine steward twice, and I think he was the only one taking care of 500+ diners, and not very good at it. Once the food was served, it was disappointing, and we waited 20 to 30 minutes between courses, and that was once we had finished eating them. We witnessed a 10 minute tantrum by a mad & unhappy drunk  passenger who was unaware it was formal night and mad he did not meet dress code and could not eat. He never should have been allowed in the dining room. Most people at our table ordered the Alaskan King Crab, which took forever!!! Our server said they "ran out of crab". It arrived in and inch of lukewarm water, no drawn butter or lemon!! Three people sent their's back & got something else, which took forever as well.One of the perks was having personal concierge service on our floor, and we took advantage to book our Juneau & other excursions. Whale watching was fun. Not many whales, but lots of bald eagles and sea lions, and our naturalist was friendly and informative. Our next stop was the Mendenhall glacier, the perfect warmup for the Hubbard glacier. Juneau was beautiful. We picked the Lido buffet for dinner & were not impressed. For health reasons, you could not serve yourself most things, and the staff was slow slow slow!!! Soup had "skin" on top!The next day was my husband's birthday. We had a good roomservice breakfast. He played in the Casino and I relaxed. He again opted for the buffet for lunch, limited selection, bland & uninspired. We ran into the two couples we met at first day lunch, and invited them to join us for champagne on our verandah to witness the spectacular Hubbard glacier. They were all full of stories already of lackluster service & argumentative staff. One couple shared that their bags were not put in their room, but sitting in the hallway. They had just that morning met their steward for the first time!! This was day 3!! Our assistant steward was apparently their dining room waiter one evening, and while pleasant & trying, was obviously inexperienced and inept at serving. It became apparent that the staff are expected to wear too many hats, are not effectively trained. We heard of several people who when they needed something or had an issue, were argued with by staff!! But I digress!! I had arranged a celebration package a few weeks before, which included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. Our server was congenial and tried, but was obviously inexperienced at what was supposed to be fine dining service. The food was good, but not superior. We then went to the Crow's Nest, where we had been very well taken care of by Gani and Leo. As we walked in the door, Gani immediately began to prepare our favorite cocktails. THIS was the service we heard was standard on HAL, but it was the only place we ever really got it! The next day my husband had booked fishing in Sitka, which he really enjoyed. I opted to pamper myself with a spa day.I chose a massage and facial. The massage was good, but expensive, and their opportunity to push expensive spa products. The facial was ok. Relaxing. But the facial product line was hugely expensive, and one I have never heard of. My esthetician was obviously disappointed that I did not want to spend her recommended $300.00 on my face, after the cost of the facial!! I had a coupon they had delivered to our cabin for 30% off any spa treatment. The manager seemed aloof and none too happy that I wanted to apply it to my most expensive service. We opted for room service for dinner, the salmon. Adequate but I expected better being in Alaska.Ketchikan was our best port day by far. We booked the Rainforest Canopy Zipline, and I highly recommend it. Stunning views, the adrenalin rush, fun people. We found it the best for souvenir shopping. We also had to do some drugstore shopping as the shipboard sundries store was tiny, cramped, and poorly stocked. Our dining experiences ranged from awful to good. Silverware was usually hard to come by, no matter where you ate. My husband waited 30 minutes for oil & vinegar for his salad at lunch, (yes the buffet again.) We would ask for simple things like toothpicks, or silverware, and the person we asked would just disappear.The Terrace Grill was horrible. Soupy & or dried out taco fillings, unfresh toppings, soggy shells & chips. Turkey burger looked like mystery meat, & was chewy & cold.  Breakfast room service was good, snacks not so much. Got our orders wrong twice in one night. No crackers with the cheese & cracker plate. Ordered 2 apple tarts, got 2 chocolate cakes instead.My husband and many others we talked to were not happy with the casino. He saw many people spend a lot of money early on, but no one won much at all. By the last half of the cruise, it was virtually empty. We had issues with our toilet for one day, but that "funky" smell lingered thru the rest of the cruise. We did not go into Victoria. It was a very short port call, and my husband was tired and not feeling well. I convinced him to eat in the dining room, and it was the best dining room experience we had. We realxed in our room, packed, and chilled on the verandah for our last night aboard ship.As Verandah Suite passengers, we were told we could disembark anytime between 8 and 9:30am. We ordered room service breakfast for 8am. At 8:30 we got the bum's rush from our steward saying we needed to get off the ship sooner! We hurried through breakfast, grabbed our carryons and got off the ship. We loved seeing Alaska & Seattle. And we chose cruising for the opportunity to see several places, and for the most popular reasons, service, pampering, and stellar food. Our HAL experience was sketchy at best. Inconsistent and haphazard. When it was good, it was very good, but when it was bad, it was awful!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was our first time on a cruise.  We were celebrating our 30th anniversary so we decided to do something different and cruise to Alaska (cruising to the Caribbean has never appealed to us since we live in the tropics).  Our travel ... Read More
This was our first time on a cruise.  We were celebrating our 30th anniversary so we decided to do something different and cruise to Alaska (cruising to the Caribbean has never appealed to us since we live in the tropics).  Our travel agent recommended Holland America for their service and a more "mature crowd" (I didn't want to deal with a lot of kids or teenagers so we opted for the Amsterdam).  Despite this there was a fair amount of families with kids.  Other than a couple screaming babies (I felt for the parents considering how much they were spending) we hardly noticed the kids and they were well behaved.  We will refer to this cruise as the "I'm sorry" cruise.  If not for the excursions (which were quite expensive but worth it - especially glacier walking) the cruise would have been worse than it was.  The service was not as advertised.  We did not meet our cabin steward or even know his name until day 3 - and this was after I complained to the front office.   When we got to our cabin our 2 large suitcases were sitting outside the cabin.  Only the small light one was inside.  There were candy wrappers on the floor.  The cabin was not cleaned the first full day until we said something.  It was as though they didn't know the room was occupied.  This was strange because we met other people who raved about their stewards.  We received a "We're sorry" note and a bottle of wine.  Otherwise the cabin was nice (it was a veranda suite with a balcony).  We were offered an upgrade a week prior to the cruise and were glad we took it although people I spoke with who non-suite cabins loved the service they received.  The travel agent informed the cruise line it was our anniversary.  I wasn't really expecting anything special.  But the only acknowledgement was flyers from the "shopping guru" (very lame) for discounts at their stores and on shore.  On the night of our anniversary we decided to eat at the Pinnacle Grill (at an extra $20/person).  However the dining room staff was unaware of this (we made our reservations well in advance) and sent a cake to our regular table (nice surprise).  Our table mates told the staff we were in the Pinnacle and to send the cake there.  However it never appeared.   When I heard about this I stopped by the main dining room and asked the main steward what happened.  All I got was "we didn't know."  Later another bottle of wine showed up in our room with a "We're sorry" note. Re the Pinnacle, the food was very good but the service was erratic and not worth the extra $40.  We waited 10 minutes before anyone approached us and were then given menus - no one asked whether we wanted to order wine or drinks.  They finally came by and asked (while a table with staff members got a bottle of wine right away).  There were using wine glasses for both the water and wine and when they came by with water the waiter filled up just one glass and walked away. I had to ask the maitre d' to fill the other glass.  Strange.  However great caesar salad made at the table. The standard dining was nice although the service was very slow in the beginning.  Our table mates were very nice and we enjoyed dining with them.  The food was very good (although we heard differently from others).  We heard that we would get the same waiter each night but that was not the case.  I recommend the Thermal Spa.  Although it costs extra it was a great escape.  However they need more staff to monitor the passengers - once a whole family (with small kids) including the mother was changing right outside the men's changing room and a confused older passenger walked right into my shower stall because he was lost.  The spa manager seemed overwhelmed at times.  I met a nice older guy who was on his 25th cruise who said he cruises just to cruise and doesn't care where the cruise goes.  I guess this appeals to a lot of people but not us (however there is something to be said about not having to pack and repack or worrying about where to eat like on a traditional vacation).  One of the highlights of the cruise was some of the people we met.  They were great.  One couple was celebrating a 50th birthday and they invited us and another couple to their suite for champagne and we all viewed the Hubbard Glacier together.  We then found out we booked the same zipline excursion.  It was a blast and I wish them all well.  In the rush of getting off we neglected to get any contact information and I feel bad about this.  We will probably never cruise again.  There was too much time on the water and not enough time at destinations.  Other than walking on a glacier and hiking through a rain forest the ports were all touristy and appeared to sell the same stuff.  We can do this without taking a cruise.  Victoria was a wasted stop because it was only for a few hours and unless you spend a bunch of money to see Butchert Gardens or hire a driver you are stuck on "tourist row" with a lot of t-shirt shops ("closeout - $4.99!") and the crowds from 2 ships in port at the same time (a huge Princess ship docked at the same time).  I would have liked to have spent more time in Victoria because it is a very attractive and interesting city.     We are glad we finally went on a cruise.  I guess our expectations were too high but for all the hype about Holland America's service we were disappointed.  However, the embarkation and disembarkation process went smoothly (I was impressed with how this was done with so many people).  Also, we didn't like being cooped on a ship with 1300 other people with the itinerary dictated by a rigid schedule.  To some people this is the only way to travel and that's great for them but not for us.  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This is our first cruise to Alaska.  We (me, my wife, my in-laws, our daughter, and one adult friend) boarded the ship at the new Pier 91 in Seattle.  We have been on one HAL cruisen (Veendam) in the Caribbean and also Carnival, Royal ... Read More
This is our first cruise to Alaska.  We (me, my wife, my in-laws, our daughter, and one adult friend) boarded the ship at the new Pier 91 in Seattle.  We have been on one HAL cruisen (Veendam) in the Caribbean and also Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity.  We arrived at the pier at about 12:00 and there was a ton of people there.  One of the huge Princess ships was also being boarded and people were everywhere.  The whole process of getting on the ship took about an hour and it went smoothly.  At first, I thought it was a mad house but maybe it was organized confusion.THE SHIP:  The Amsterdam is just a little bigger than the Veendam.  As far as the decor, I didn't care for it as much as the Veendam.  It was dark, dark, dark.  Dark paneled wood on the walls, dark navy in the dining room and lots of charcoal gray.  The chairs in the dining room were worn, especially on the arms.  I could tell that all of the carpet in the public areas had been replaced during the dry dock.  The art collection on this ship did not impress me like the one on the Veendam.  Oh, I may get flamed for this next comment.  I absolutely hated that monstrousity of an atrium piece.  It is the ugliest thing I have ever seen on a ship.  I guess some like it but everytime I walked by it I wanted to close my eyes.  In contrast, I thought the Lido deck and pool were lovely with a bright yellow and blue paint scheme.  The bear statues at the pool were so appropriate for an Alaska sailing.  They are cute.  I must say that even though we did not eat in the Pinnacle Grill I did go by and peek in one day.  It is beautiful and elegant.  I liked it more than any other room on the ship.  O.K, Guys, here is my pet peeve.  I was so looking forward to the beautiful FRESH flower arrangements that HAL always puts in their public rooms when we got on the ship.  GUESS WHAT?  They weren't there!  They finally showed up on Monday, the third day of the cruise.  I really don't think this crew was ready for the sailing after the dry dock.CABINS:  The cabins were roomy and had plenty of storage.  Our in-laws had a balcony and we had an oceanview.  Half of our window was so fogged up all the time that we could not see out of it.  The balcony cabin was wonderful.  My MIL (who had terminal cancer) spent many hours on it viewing the scenery when she did not feel like getting out of their room.  The beds are VERY COMFORTABLE!  We had no sewer smells.  One bad thing was their balcony was covered with mud on embarkation day.  It finally got cleaned on Day 2.  The cabins were not ready for occupancy at 1:30.  Toiletries were not present and other details were left unattended.  SERVICE:  This is where HAL is slipping.  The dining room service was awful.  It took way too long to get a course.  I hate the AS YOU WISH option but we had to use it because the set times were booked.  After 4 nights of the slow service we decided to eat in the buffet for the rest of the cruise.  No, the food wasn't as good, but at least we had time to do something else before bedtime.  I like to have the same waiter who knows your wants and dislikes every night.  The coffee was just barely warm most nights and it was almost impossible to get the waiter's attention.  ROOM SERVICE:  One word: TERRIBLE!  The orders were never right and they took up to 45 minutes.  VERY DISAPPOINTING!  Service at the Front Desk was always excellent.  The crew was polite and prompt to answer any question with a smile.  You really felt like there were there to serve you.  FOOD:  This category was hit and miss.  I can honestly say there was not one night in the dining room or the buffet that there was a dessert that was good enough to eat.  The ONLY dessert that was really delicious was the chocolate cake ordered from room service.  It was rich, dark choclolate.  The food in the dining room was not a good as it was on the Veendam a few years ago.  I really believe that they do this on purpose so you will pay extra to eat in the Pinnacle.  I ate the seafood most nights because I don't like beef and I get tired of chicken.  I would have to rate the food as just average.  A little disappointing.  Some of the best things were:  chilled soups, spring roll appetizer with sweet chili sauce, shrimp provencale, lobster tail, and the hot dogs.  The Lido buffet food was your average cafeteria-type food.  Just O.K.  I did not try the pizza.  The ice cream was a definite downgrade.  You used to get Haagen Daz, now you get this awful tasting stuff.  ENTERTAINMENT:  All of the shows were pretty good except for the one with a solo female singer.  Robin was her first name.  Not even good karaoke.  The Illusionist was good as was the shows with the ship's singers/dancers.  The male and female lead singers were really good.  MISCELLANEOUS:  There is an Alaskan Salmon Bake on the Lido where they cook salmon over coals.  The line was too long so I didn't try it, but it smelled good.  They had the SPECTACULAR DESSERT BUFFET one night at 10:45.  I took pictures.  There were several ice carvings and lots of pretty desserts, but they did not taste near as good as they looked.  THE POOL was wonderful!  It was heated and felt soooooo good.  Be sure to carry your swimsuit.  The hot tubs were a different story.  One was almost boiling hot and the other was barely warm.  We stayed in the pool.DISEMBARKATION:  It was just fine.  We slept til 7:00 and got ready for breakfast.  We were in no hurry to get off since our flight did not leave til afternoon.  We found our luggage rather quickly and took off to the airport.SUMMARY:  I cannot begin to describe the natural beauty of Alaska.  It is AWESOME.  This made the cruise worthwhile.  Holland America used to be our favorite line, but now I am not sure.  There is a definite difference in now and a few years ago.    I just thank God that my MIL enjoyed the cruise.  She died 9 days after we returned home. 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Sail Date May 2009
I've been on 13 previous cruises on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess since 1995. The city of Seattle is a vibrant city with a soul and you should absolutely spend some time exploring this wonderful city. I had one day before and ... Read More
I've been on 13 previous cruises on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess since 1995. The city of Seattle is a vibrant city with a soul and you should absolutely spend some time exploring this wonderful city. I had one day before and 3 days after and I want to come back to this city that never sleeps and where music flows from the bars in Capitol Hill. It was safe to walk back to my hotel and we had fantastic weather in both Seattle and Alaska. I loved this medium-sized ship and the artwork aboard, however several matters greatly affected our cruise. This was an all charter cruise with RSVP and I was part of the Lazy Bear Out To Sea group. First I traveled with a vegetarian, and he called Holland America on August 10 and told them he was a vegetarian, and gave them our stateroom number 2638. He was assured that there would be adequate vegetarian options available onboard. In actuality, there were very few vegetarian meals on board and he went hungry several times. On the second to the last night, we found out there was vegetarian menu we should have asked for. How can we know to ask for it if we were not aware of its existence! The front desk made it sound like it was our fault too. When he went to the Terrace Grill to ask for a garden burger, he was told they didn't have them and to have a hamburger without cheese. After pointing out the item on the Grill Menu they said they didn't have them but I think they may have been confused. He found a manager who made the garden burger for him while the other employees watched and ignored all passengers waiting for burgers. We ate at the 2nd seating on the upper level of the La Fontaine Dining room and I have to say I was not impressed. Never were bread crumbs wiped away during dinner and the rushed staff seemed miffed if we asked for more than one appetizer or soup. The fish was overcooked and most food was bland and we never once got cracked pepper on our food or the extra bread and butter we asked for several times. Later in the cruise, we ate at early seating on the lower level with friends of ours and the service was 180 degrees different from the service upstairs. Bread crumbs were wiped away and pepper was offered. Extra requests were accommodated with a smile. We couldn't believe it was the same dining room and never returned upstairs. Our cruise documents arrived in a manila envelope. Now I had heard about the beautiful leather document holder that was now vinyl but there was neither. Even Carnival cruise line puts them in an embossed heavy cardboard folder. Now I know that this was an RSVP charter and they may have had their own folios but we still received no folders and my cruise documents kept falling to the floor repeatedly. About midway through the cruise, we ran out of bar soap and had to ask for more. There was never a spare bar placed in our bathroom in case we needed it. Finally, On Sunday, September 9th at about 9:30 pm, our stateroom door failed, I went to the front office and was given another card key which did not work. A HAL employee was down the hallway and tried his card and it did not work. The employee called someone and we waited and waited so he called again and after about 20 minutes total an employee with a key arrived. He asked if it could be fixed at 8:00 am in the morning as it seemed the battery might be dead and I reluctantly agreed. I should have insisted that it be fixed immediately as I needed to meet someone at 10:30 and I left the room again. While trying to get into my room again I went to the front desk and told them my key or any employee's electronic room key did not work, could they please let me into my room. After another 20 minute wait I finally gained access to the room again. I was up at 8:00 am the next morning to allow maintenance in and left my roommate to that task but by 9:00 am no one had arrived. He called down to the front desk and they asked what the problem was. Again we had to explain everything as they seemed to have no clue and our door was finally fixed at 9:30 am, 12 hours after the problem began. Now for some of the good things. I loved this ship. At 62,735 gross tons it is easy to navigate and has a wonderful art display and a podcast to explain them. iPods can be obtained at the library or you download the podcast to your iPod from HAL site. The staterooms are all very well appointed and our window room even had a bathtub and plenty of wall closets. We received two different pillows on each bed but each of us asked for one more and we got it immediately. There are waffle weave robes in the room that can be purchased for $49 with free monogramming but my room steward just placed my order form back up on the hangar with my robe and I didn't realize it was my form until I turned it over the night we were packing. $49 more dollars saved. Room service also was substandard as we never received salt or pepper for meals and when we ordered a bucket of beer, not only did the wrong brand arrive, there was no ice. Ice seemed to be rare commodity on this ship and our ice bucket was only filled once a day. Since there are no refrigerators, we had a separate bucket in our room for our chilled beverages but we had to find ice every day. I am not a novice cruiser and any problems with our stateroom or food were handled immediately day or night on other cruise lines but not Holland America. I would like to say I could recommend Holland America to others but I can not. I can however, gladly recommend every other cruise line I have been on and this is a sad statement coming from a stockholder as well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Cruise review  HAL  Jan 2, 2007 to Jan 14, 2007  Southern Caribbean 12th cruise, 1st on HAL, 4 on princess, 5 on RCI and 2 on Celebrity We picked this cruise for 2 specific reasons. First we wanted to try HAL and second the itinerary ... Read More
Cruise review  HAL  Jan 2, 2007 to Jan 14, 2007  Southern Caribbean 12th cruise, 1st on HAL, 4 on princess, 5 on RCI and 2 on Celebrity We picked this cruise for 2 specific reasons. First we wanted to try HAL and second the itinerary and timing was perfect. We have never had a bad cruise and this was not an exception. My comments are really picky little items from a personal pint of view. Embarkation - arrived at approx noon and it took 50 minutes to arrive on the ship. All of our documentation was done in advance. Ship was nicely decorated although the color scheme was dated. We were surprised to note that the main theatre did not have tiered seating which was not ideal. Balcony did have tiered seating but it was small. Our Cabin 6147 was nice although the tub was smaller than on Princess. Cabin steward was excellent. On the ship the toilet flush vacuum system seemed to take frequent breaks and would not always flush right away but often minutes/hours later especially in the morning hours. It eventually worked but not always right away. You would push the button and nothing would happen then 15 minutes later or longer you would hear the whoosh. . There was plenty of storage room and hangers as well as 3 pillows each of different styles for you to choose from. We did have a chain smoker(s) next to us and we were downwind which limited our balcony exposure at times. We would smell cigarette smoke in our cabin on occasion as well. We had a table of 8 at the 6:15 seating. We had fantastic dinner guests and it made our cruise a lot of fun. Probably the biggest disappointment we had on HAL was the dining room service. We had expected better service on this ship due to the higher staff to passenger ratio but we felt the service was probably the lowest level in all of our cruises. The waiter never learned names or eating preferences over a 12-day period. I would hope that by the 12th day the waiter would remember that I never put pepper on my food. On 2 occasions he forgot to bring items that were ordered. Food delivery was slow and portions were often small or presentation very poor. As well, they seemed to struggle with the vegetarian menu. On the regular menu is one or 2 vegetarian options and then they have a vegetarian menu (same menu for the 12 day cruise). They also wanted my DW to order her vegetarian meal the day before? Do you know what you want to eat at supper the day before? Again we expected better from HAL and would point to Celebrity as probably handling the vegetarian menu the best. We were on the Grand Princess with 3000 passengers and had much better dining room service. HAL does desserts very well and the selection was most tempting. We did eat at the Pinnacle Grill (private dining room) once thanks to our online travel agency who arranged for this gratis. It was absolutely incredible. We have never done this before as I have always enjoyed the regular dining. The Pinnacle is a great dining experience and you should try it at least once. The Internet was a very expensive. With a $4 set up fee and .75 per minute we usually relied on the ports of call where you could get 1 hour of Internet time for $5. The pop card for 20 pops (Coke products) was $20.70 with tax. They would fill the glass with any unopened cans of pop lying around than open another can of pop to fill your glass off. I saw no fountain pop machines but you did often get stale pop. It was ok but not ideal. The pop card does say it is only valid for that cruise for those who hope to sell their unused pops on e-bay in the future. We tendered to 2 ports. HAL does tendering very well. There was very little or no waiting. The private island HMC was awesome. The sand on the beach is like powder and the food service on the island was fine. We shared the island with the Volendam, which was fine. The bar service was limited to the bar stations unlike other cruises where the bar staff would even wade into the water to sell you that drink. Not a concern to us, just an observation. For entertainment, we always attend the majority of shows and this was no exception. We attended all the shows but one due to a schedule conflict. The shows on this ship were by far the poorest of any cruise so far. The singers and dancers would be equal to most other singers and dancers on other cruises, however the main entertainers were not high quality. Many people left the shows early. The CD Bruce was pretty low key and I am sure that is the way most of the HAL passengers like it. HAL does have a much older passenger mix and the pace is simply slower and that is the way they like things. Longer cruises usually increase the average passenger age as well. We used the exercise facilities almost every day. There was the traditional first day rush, which we have seen on all ships and then by day 2 we were down to a very manageable number. The ship had only 2 elliptical machines and they were not the best design but we made them work. The breakfast and lunch buffet was fine. The staff paid a lot of attention to the elderly or those with some physical limitation and was always there to help you with your tray. The area was cleaned up quickly as well. The coffee was horrible unless you went to the explorations cafe and ordered a latte which were good but then there was a cost for that. I called this ship the ice- cream ship as they offered free ice cream from 11:30 to 5 PM and 6 PM to 7:30 Pm and 11 PM to 12 MM. They had many flavors to offer as well as yogurt cones. If you love ice cream as many of the passengers on this ship did, you will love the ice cream parlor. They had soft cones and waffle cones as well. Disembarkation was a disaster but I am not sure it was HAL's fault. The ship had to clear through U.S. immigration and we had 4 passengers not show up. They kept calling for the passengers and calling. It was not until around 9:45 a.m. that the first passengers finally left the ship. As there were at least 7 ships in port that day and being the last ship to disembark, the cabs were all gone. For those of you who risk booking tight flight plans, this is a situation that you need to be aware of. There were passengers who had missed their flight connections. Our flight did not leave until the next day, which was good, as we did not leave the ship until around 11 am. As well, HAL does not offer express departure as Princess does, where you can carry your entire luggage off on your own. Access to lounge chairs is always an issue for use. We enjoy the sun and when we cruise we love to be in the sun. We had the best weather of any cruise so far. Of 12 days on the high seas, we had 11 hot and sunny days. We did have a 14-day cruise like that once as well. There was no problem getting a deck chair by the outside pool on this ship. However, I would suggest there are reasons why there is no problem. First the open pool is located at the back of the ship and and it is not protected from the wind like most ships where the main pool is located in the center of the ship and thus protected from the wind. As the pool is located at the back of the ship, you also get some smoke from the ship's engines, which are located ahead of the pool and often upwind. As well, due to the age of the passengers the solarium which is located in the middle of the ship is the more sought after location. The plastic deck chairs also did not fold down to allow them to lay down flat, which was not very comfortable. There was no live entertainment around the pool at anytime. Conclusion We enjoyed our cruise due to the weather and good friends made on the cruise. We however would not select HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

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