397 Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

This cruise was to places unknown to us, in Central America, which was a wonderful highlight, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and fascinating Guatemala. Mexico, and even in the US, San Diego, which was delightful .The public spaces, and there are ... Read More
This cruise was to places unknown to us, in Central America, which was a wonderful highlight, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and fascinating Guatemala. Mexico, and even in the US, San Diego, which was delightful .The public spaces, and there are many, on Amsterdam are the best we have experienced, a smaller ship with a great atmosphere. A very good crew of helpful, ever friendly people, we thought they must be hand picked for the World Journeys this ship does, their patience was amazing.! Entertainment was quite good, it is hard to please everyone all of the time, but a very comfortable Movie Theatre ,with good choices in movies helps there. The Digital workshops, were certainly enriching, taken by the most patient man on the Planet.! So helpful to everyone. A pleasant Captain makes for a happy ship and this shone through, a great journey and we look forward to our next Holland America Line experience in the future, made possible by the very busy Future Cruise organiser, with the most taxing job on board, another indicator of satisfied passengers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise because of its length (13 days) and because we had not been to any of the countries and ports. The cruise was very good and the ports were well chosen from ones in Italy, Turkey, Greece and Croatia. We were awed by ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its length (13 days) and because we had not been to any of the countries and ports. The cruise was very good and the ports were well chosen from ones in Italy, Turkey, Greece and Croatia. We were awed by the beauty of Santorini and surprised by the interesting cities in Croatia (Dubrovnik and Split). Holland America staff was excellent and the food and service was also top quality. The entertainment was good but not as good as others we have experienced on earlier cruises. Our only complaint was the cost of the beverage package and the limited choice. We are not beer, wine and liquor drinkers except occasionally and the package was in the $40 a day range. Other cruise lines offered beverage packages that did not include those drinks but did include non-alcoholic beverages for about that price per week! This did not spoil the trip but would have been nice. Our ship (Oosterdam) was small by comparison to many today (1800) but that made it easy to get around and we were often able to meet up with people we had met earlier and spend time with them. We enjoy the smaller ship experience (our ages are 69 and 68). I would recommend this cruise that began in Rome and ended in Venice. Also the time of year was good because it was not too hot and not to cool. Great for walking around without having to carry extra clothing. Please be careful in Naples, the pick pocket capital of the world. I lost my entire wallet on a train which caused us to miss the tour we had planned in Naples. Don't assume you are same because you know about this problem. We did and it still happened. They are GOOD and what they do. VERY GOOD. We chose to do all our own shore excursions and that worked out extremely well. We got better excursions, paid less for them and discovered a few wonderful people who were out guides. We expecially recommend the Corfu Walking and Food Tour with Tamara S.(Corfuwalkingtours.com) and the Ephesus guided private tour (ephesusporttours.com) with Isik. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song. However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016. What an amazing voyage it was! We visited 24 ... Read More
“Around the world in 80 days…” goes the song. However, it took Holland America’s (HAL) ms. Amsterdam 115 glorious days to circumnavigate the globe on our Grand World Voyage 2016. What an amazing voyage it was! We visited 24 countries and 41 ports; some were overnight stays. People ask us how we could stay on a ship that long. I reply that we loved every minute and that we hope to do it again soon. We were never bored or sea sick and learned so much about the history and culture of the places visited. It many ways, the cruise changed our thinking on a variety of subjects. For most passengers, this was their fourth or fifth+ HAL Grand World Cruise. For us, it was our first Grand World Cruise. The staff told us that this particular Grand World Cruise sailing had the youngest-aged passengers. One tyke celebrated his first birthday while on board the entire voyage. One thousand fifty passengers including 10 children boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale. Seven hundred fifty passengers took the entire voyage. Other passengers joined the voyage for segments. Most passengers were Americans, many were Floridians but there were plenty of Canadians and Australians onboard plus other nationalities. Our exciting cruise began January 5, returning April 29, 2016 to and from Fort Lauderdale. Friends of ours encouraged us to go on this cruise with them. Unfortunately, they were unable to go. Right from embarkation, things went well. Within 20 minutes, from the time of our arrival at the pier, we were on the ship. Near the gangway, Pande our Assistant Maitre ’D from our HAL Grand Asia Pacific 2014 Cruise greeted passengers and recognized us. He instructed a steward to carry our hand luggage and escort us to our cabin. Wow! It made us feel like family. Our former Cruise Director, Gene Young from HAL Grand Voyage ’14 was also stationed at the gangway. He, also, recognized us immediately. It was wonderful to have him as our Cruise Director for this cruise, too. I wonder when the man sleeps. He was involved on board in so many ways. Our mid-ship ocean-view stateroom, # 2598 was in a very stable position on the ship. The cabin itself was bright, comfortable and contained sufficient storage space for all our belongings. The A/C and plumbing worked well throughout the entire cruise. Unfortunately, stateroom TVs were still not interactive so we often had to visit the Front Desk to get our statements printed. For my husband, though, the lack of a mini-fridge in our cabin was a big problem. He needed to visit the medical office often to retrieve his medication that needed refrigeration. Another problem was early morning (5-5:30 AM) noise from a crew member working on open deck 3 that frequently disturbed our sleep. Many other guests on our deck complained about this noise. All the stateroom passageways are bright and lined with Dutch maritime art; Deck 1 has Dutch floral art works gracing its walls. The public areas of the ship were all well appointed and quite attractive. The floral arrangements are stunning. However, the very comfortable couches in the Queen’s Lounge (theater) are lower than the upholstered chairs making it difficult viewing the performers on stage while sitting on the couches. Uneven temperatures in certain areas of the ship especially in the Queen’s Lounge made carrying a sweater a necessity. Still another concern was the slow speed of the internet connection. We waited until we reached shore to access thee Internet. The ship does need some updating and perhaps will go in for refurbishment soon. This in no way detracted from our enjoyment. The ship was well maintained and always clean. Everyone was comfortable navigating this mid-sized ship, which was the perfect size for entering smaller foreign ports. The food and service in the Main Dining Room were wonderful. We had fabulous meals nightly especially on Gala Nights. On the off chance that nothing on the menu was appealing, we could choose Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, steak, chicken or salmon as alternatives. Although I always am pleased with food and service on HAL ships, on Grand & Grand World Cruises they are superior. Our Early Seating MDR servers Gede & Berry were professional, personable and efficient, anticipating our needs and checking to see that everything was fine with our meals. My husband received all his Special Request Meals in a timely fashion. Gede made a point of bringing the next day’s menus to him as soon as they became available. In fact, the entire MDR staff did a terrific job daily getting his Special Request Meals correct. Nestor Malsi, our wine steward, brought our glasses of red wine at our table usually before we even arrived. He always had time to chat with us nightly. After dinner, I enjoyed stopping by the cheerful door attendant, Woko’s station. He always remembered my name and knew which after dinner treat I wanted before exiting the MDR. I cannot say enough about how helpful the HAL staff was in general. All the crew on board Grand & World Voyages are hand picked by HAL. We did dine several times in the two specialty restaurants, The Canaletto & the Pinnacle Grill. The levels of service there were always excellent as were the food. The Lido Café food was good, too and we always ate at least breakfast there. In the Lido, wait staff members Imam and Supraman would often assist us in locating a table, brought us the Times Digest daily and remembered our preference for beverages. They were so professional, friendly and efficient. We always looked forward to our daily conversations with them. Many times, I enjoyed the Lido Restaurant’s wonderful sushi station at lunchtime. Another fun place to eat is poolside at the Dive In. The fries there are extra delicious; so are the several choices of hot dogs and burgers. Many other things made the voyage so special. On Gala Nights, the MDR was festooned with colorful balloons, London-themed umbrellas, paper lanterns, banners, flags or other festive decorations. On some themed nights depending on the theme, we received Panama or Bowler hats, beautiful masks or leis to wear and keep. On other Gala evenings, we received Valentine chocolates, long stemmed roses or maracas. The servers dressed in festive attire for the theme nights, as did many of the passengers. On many Gala nights, passengers received gifts in their staterooms such as: a nylon travel bag, a canvas boat bag with matching toiletry bag filled with travel essentials, a moleskin travel journal, a signed paperback travel book, Tiffany & Co HAL ceramic box, HAL Crystal Candle Holder, a Royal Goedewaagen Plate highlighting the itinerary and a travel wallet. Plus, at the Dinners with the Captain in the Pinnacle Grill, each passenger sailing the entire cruise received distinctive salt & pepper shakers reminiscent of those given on HAL very first World Voyage. On our night, we were kindly invited to sit at the Captain’s Table along with his lovely wife, Karen and two Senior Officers. The ms. Amsterdam is an older ship but quite seaworthy and is especially stable for the type of cruising that she does. Most days I forgot that I was even on a ship since the seas were so calm. Our “Storm Dodger” Captain Jonathan was expert at avoiding high winds and storms thus earning his nickname. I always felt completely safe under his leadership. Captain Jonathan & his wife were most charming, affable and professional as were all the Senior Officers. On Grand and Grand World Voyages, Grand Dollars can be earned by participating in on board activities. By the end of the cruise, we had earned over 800 dollars to spend on various items. Activities on board were varied. Daily Tai Chi classes kept us busy. Trivia was also quite popular as was Arts & Crafts, computer classes, bridge and pool games. We attended most of the lecture series on Sea Days. I specially enjoyed the talks on space, various cultures and photography. We were invited to attend several wine tasting events throughout the voyage. We loved the many Culinary Arts Demonstrations and Tasting classes, too. I hope that we can duplicate the dishes served using the many recipe cards we received. The movies on board were up to date and I watched a few of them. On Location Guide Barbara Heanni and Nyron Peters, from the Shore Excursion Staff gave detailed talks about Things to See & Do in port. These ship talks on the ports of call were current and quite useful. How nice that HAL has someone on board to help passengers who wish to go sightseeing independently. At many ports, there was a complimentary shuttle service to the center of town or to a nearby mall. Several times, we used this service. The main reason I took this cruise was the itinerary. It was so exciting to transit the Suez Canal for the first time. We have cruised through the Panama Canal several times previously and always enjoy the experience. One personal highlight for us was our one night’s stay in an idyllic over water thatched-roofed bungalow in Tahiti at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. A Welcome drink at reception, plus a bottle of champagne and wine along with fruit and snacks awaited us in our bungalow. We had a wonderful day swimming in the clear, aquamarine shallow waters of the lagoon, enjoying the beautiful views of the stunning mountains, strolling the white coral sandy beach and relaxing in the hammocks. An extravagant dinner buffet with a complimentary bottle of wine followed by a spectacular floorshow ending with an outdoor fire-eaters performance completed the magical day for us. At night, we viewed the lighted lagoon beneath us through the cutout window in the floor of our bungalow. After a sumptuous breakfast buffet with live entertainment the next morning, we took a walking tour of the facility and enjoyed the beautiful pool before we rejoined our ship at its next port, Moorea. It was a dream come true for both of us. Equally special were our visit to Petra and Wadi Rum in Aqaba, Jordan, Chinqua Terra in Livorno, Italy and Dubai, UAE. Muscat and Salalah, Oman were other new ports for us and quite interesting. Everyone asks which our favorite port was and we reply whichever port we are visiting at the time. However, while we were in Israel, we were especially moved while exploring all the biblical sights in Haifa and Ashdod. Almost all of our shore excursions were sponsored by the ship and they were worthwhile, enjoyable and educational. We did independent sightseeing in Sydney and in Jakarta since we had previously explored those ports extensively. There were so many memorable highlights during our World Cruise onboard the ms. Amsterdam. One was the very elaborate fun-under-the-setting-sun Australia Beach Party where sand covered the Lido Magrodome pool area. Bondi Beach lifeguards came on board along with Australia‘s most sort after 6-piece band, Hipnosis. There were huge beach balls, surfboards, beach chairs, water games and complimentary tropical drinks and food to add to the beach theme. What Fun! The extra-special décor of the 1001 Arabian Sights themed pool deck party set the tone for another wonderful evening. The Zany April Fool’s Day Costume Party in the Crow’s Nest was hilarious, while the elaborate Black & Silver Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was quite elegant. The champagne Valentine’s Day Ball in the Queen’s Lounge was oh so romantic. It was fun guessing who was under the beautiful masks provided for the Masked Ball in the Queen’s Lounge, the final Gala Night of the cruise. I was looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Party but was surprised that no Irish music was played although there were plenty of pots of gold and other Irish decor to be found. I especially enjoyed the extravagantly presented monthly High Teas - Royal Dutch, Polynesian, Indonesian and Middle Eastern. I photographed each of the lavish displays. I wished that there were more of them. My husband especially enjoyed the Super Bowl 50 Festivities in the Queen’s Lounge. Entertainment in general was wonderful and quite diverse. The Bon Voyage Sail-Away Fest was a great way to begin the voyage. We had complimentary drinks, snacks and live music with the wonderful HAL orchestra. A similar Sail Away Party occurred on our departure from Sydney. After dinner each night, we enjoyed listening to the very personable Debby Bacon in the Piano Bar. One night, her husband, Ron joined her for a performance and it was such fun for everyone. Whenever we could, we also found time to listen to the beautiful music in the Exploration Lounge performed by Adagio, Attila and David from Hungary. The talented HAL Singers and Dancers performed ten different shows and all were well paced and entertaining. One of my favorite Queen’s Lounge performances was the steel drum group from Trinidad, the sensational Island Magic. I even purchased their CDs. The cultural Queen’s Lounge shows in Hong Kong, Tahiti, Dubai and Spain were all colorful and memorable. Often times we had an extra theater performance, Spotlight before the main Showtime Show. The two well rehearsed Crew Indonesian and Filipino Matinee Shows were standing room only. Who knew that Nestor Malsi, our wine steward and Filipino Crew Show Organizer had such a marvelous voice? We attended and thoroughly enjoyed both shows. After so many days on the ship, we knew the entire cast of both shows, which made the shows even more entertaining. During ports of call, we had the opportunity: to ride a camel, an elephant, a mule and horse, swim with stingrays and dolphins and see penguins in their enclosure. We had close encounters with wild monkeys, kangaroos, emus & koalas. In Singapore, we went on a Night Safari and saw many nocturnal animals in their natural habitats. On board, there were dance lessons, cultural emergence activities plus didgeridoo, ukulele and belly dancing lessons. I learned enough foreign phrases to get along in the various countries visited. I tasted exotic foods from many different countries. It is an experience that I will never forget. Yes, it took plenty of preparation and planning before a cruise of this length. Imagine, though, touring the world and only unpacking once! No air flights even were involved since we live in Florida. How wonderful that our price included the shipping of our four large suitcases ahead of time! Gratuities were also included. We received excellent complimentary laundry service since we are Four Star Mariners. We made some wonderful new friends that we hope to see again on future HAL cruises. A cruise of this length may not be for everyone but it was a dream of a lifetime for us. We are still enjoying our memories when we watch our ship videos and look through our candid ship photos and photo albums. We were so pleased with the itinerary, the food, the accommodations and the service. Our next HAL cruise will be on the new ms. Koningsdam later this year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was a world cruise. It was a wonderful experience, we visited 46 different ports, in several places staying more than one night. There were some interesting talks arranged during the cruise and many other activities including water ... Read More
This was a world cruise. It was a wonderful experience, we visited 46 different ports, in several places staying more than one night. There were some interesting talks arranged during the cruise and many other activities including water colour painting class. There were a variety of entertainments in the evenings,catering for all tastes. There were some interesting tours out from ports and before this talks about the areas we visited and things to do in each place. The staff on the ship were always cheerful and went out of their way to make this a special voyage. There will always we a few niggles such a noise when cleaning the decks early in the morning, but this is inevitable. We were in a state room with a sea view, plenty of storage and a very comfy bed. Verandas are nice but how much time do you spend in your room...we preferred to save money and spend this on other things. Can't recommend highly enough. Lovely voyage, great ports of call, great staff and lovely new people to meet Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
The food quality and service on our cruise was unacceptable in the regular venues and uneven in speciality restaurants. We tried the Main Dining Room one evening early in the cruise and never returned. The quality of the ingredients was ... Read More
The food quality and service on our cruise was unacceptable in the regular venues and uneven in speciality restaurants. We tried the Main Dining Room one evening early in the cruise and never returned. The quality of the ingredients was extraordinarily low, our food was served cold, the service was chaotic and the room noisy although we dined in a relatively empty room. Food in the Lido involved long lines due to slow service from many of the staff who spent a lot of time talking to each other. The tables remained full of used dishes and half-eaten food because there didn't seem to be adequate staff for a full complement of passengers. One evening we had excellent service in Tamarind; however, on our second visit when the room was, perhaps, two thirds full we experienced chaos with one member of our party getting their sushi when everyone else was eating dessert. We ordered both sparkling and flat bottled water and the serves repeatedly made errors in its service. Desserts were well below the level we had previously experienced on other cruise lines ranging from Regent to Royal. Even the HAL Specialities, Bread Pudding and Onion Soup, were horrible. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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
It was pure chance. I was interested in knowing the southernmost part of Chile and to put a foot on the Falkland islands and the date of departure was just right, starting the day before my birthday and ending with time enough to prepare ... Read More
It was pure chance. I was interested in knowing the southernmost part of Chile and to put a foot on the Falkland islands and the date of departure was just right, starting the day before my birthday and ending with time enough to prepare Christmas. I never had any trouble getting on board or going to visit the different cities where we stopped. The meals were excellent and every evening my sisters and I went to one of the lounges where two musicians played lovely classical pieces before going to the dining room. The waiters were charming and it was really a joy to try our second language with them who also tried to practice their Spanish. We also loved the ambience of the Zaandam that made us feel that we were in a magnificent manor house instead of in a ship. For this reason, when my sisters and I decided to go on another cruise we chose one cruise in Holland America. I hope that the Koningsdam will receive us with the same warmth. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our 32-day Inca Explorer cruise from San Diego to Lima and return was a mixed bag of pleasure and frustration. The M/S Amsterdam, one of Holland America’s older, smaller ships, is generally well maintained and quite attractive. Built ... Read More
Our 32-day Inca Explorer cruise from San Diego to Lima and return was a mixed bag of pleasure and frustration. The M/S Amsterdam, one of Holland America’s older, smaller ships, is generally well maintained and quite attractive. Built before balcony cabins were the vogue, she has many inside and outside cabins, most small but sufficient in size, and, I believe, most all with actual bathtubs, and quite large closet spaces. She is used primarily for extended voyages, and her 1200-passenger capacity is appropriate for such voyages. Previous reviews of the Amsterdam have highlighted the spotty dining room service and unexceptional food quality. Our experience suggested that these criticisms were generally valid, although a few dinners were excellent. While our waiter and busboy were attentive, caring and hardworking, there was little doubt that Holland America has purposely understaffed their main dining room: the wait staff had too many tables to serve properly, and the food when finally delivered was frequently not hot. Since dinner commences at specific times, there is no escaping the bottlenecks of essentially all guests at any one of the two seatings arriving, being seated, being handed their menus and then ordering, each activity occurring at the same time. Our small group of six friends travelling together frequently waited as long as 15 minutes after ordering before our appetizers were served. One evening, my wife and I dined alone while our friends went to the Pinnacle Grille. We were the (lucky) first of our waiter’s responsibilities to be given our menus, first to have our orders taken, and first to be served each course. Our service that evening was prompt and our food served at appropriate temperatures, indicating that our assumption that the wait staff was overburdened was a correct one. The inadequate wait-staffing in the main dining room was evidenced also in connection with the ordering and serving of alcoholic beverages. Wine stewards – no sommeliers here – were scarce: only two for our upper-level floor of the Fontaine Dining Room. While we were ultimately served, and with gracious smiles and helpful suggestions from the just-OK wine list, service was slow. The specialty restaurants, however, were excellent, the three times we tried them. The Pinnacle Grille is quiet and dignified without being stuffy. The food, and the food and beverage service were superb. Their menu also does not stint; at the $29 per person surcharge, this is a bargain. The wine list is reasonable, both in price and quality, though they claimed not to have a low-cost but excellent Shiraz, which was readily available in the main dining room. The Canaletto dining room is Italian, as one would expect, and provides good food and good service; another bargain a $10.00 per person. Contrasting the spotty and, in our opinion, deficient, service in the dining room, the room steward and his assistant were exceptional. Our room was always spotless, and our request for ice to maintain my wife’s medication found a plentiful supply in our ice bucket at all times. Any special request was promptly complied with, and invariably with a smile. Our friends reported similar service, although one of the rooms experienced plumbing and air conditioning problems that defied permanent correction for several days – certainly not attributable to the room steward. Breakfast service in the main dining room was inexplicably slow. On one occasion, when my wife was scheduled for a shore excursion departing 45 minutes from our being seated for breakfast, I requested expedited service. The maître d’ said OK, but cautioned against ordering anything hot, as “anything that must be cooked will take a lot of time.” Again, (it happened each time we ate there) when breakfast arrived, the supposedly freshly cooked items were just warm, suggesting that the main dining room venue was not a good idea for breakfast. Service at most bars and cocktail lounges was good to excellent, at least in the venues we tried. Our favorite (my wife is most tolerant of my fascination with sports) was in the Sports Bar, where we were greeted by name after the first day, and where our beverage preferences were known and offered immediately as we arrived. Prices are reasonable, in my opinion, and I don’t begrudge the 15% service charge for all beverages. Service in the Lido dining area – the buffet-like eatery common to almost all cruise ships – was good to excellent. Though the choices offered were mundane and repetitious from day to day, they were almost always of good quality, served graciously and always with a smile. The offerings were numerous in every category, an indication to me of Holland America’s desire to please their guests’ tastes and wants. That said, I have a personal dislike for their breakfast offerings of eggs (any style) and their pork-based breakfast meats: I found the scrambled or fried eggs and omelets to be inedible, and my suspicion is that this is a product of the oil that is used instead of butter. The poached eggs (as simply poached or as Eggs Benedict) were frequently overcooked – hard – as the server scrambled to get the English muffin toasted and the Canadian bacon grilled while the pre-poached eggs were heating. The bacon was either greasy or overcooked and crumbly – rarely was there a happy medium. The sausage links were never served hot and were almost always overdone, while the sausage patties were invariably greasy and not very tasty. I’d rather Holland America offer fewer choices cooked and served properly. My experience with the ship-provided Internet service paralleled that of virtually every review I’ve read: simply horrible. Internet speed is ridiculously slow, so coupled with the exorbitant charges all cruise lines make for this service, it must be a prime source of income to the cruise lines, as well as being as aggravating as baggage charges are to airline passengers. With today’s technology, there is little excuse for the turtle-like slowness of Internet up- and down-loading speeds, but also little incentive for the cruise lines to address this irksome problem. In my case, I wanted to return a group of books to Amazon from my Kindle Unlimited account, and download replacements. I purchased a block of 100 minutes of Internet time for $55.00 ($0.55/minute), then used 37 minutes to connect to Amazon and “return” 10 books while ordering 8 replacements. Since the shipboard system will not permit two devices using a single account to be logged on at the same time, I logged out, then attempted to log in using my Kindle Paperwhite: a frustrating experience, as the system and my Kindle said I was logged in, but the books I had “returned” still resided on the Kindle and none of the new books I had chosen were showing on the device. After struggling with this aberrant condition for some time, I gave up. I went to the ship’s Front Office to discuss my frustration, without receiving anything but commiseration: any unused Internet minutes are not refundable, and this was made quite clear when purchasing the service. A day later, I decided to visit the ship’s Guest Relations Manager, to whom I related my Internet problem as well as advising of our discontent with the dining room service. My wife made clear our recognition that no corrective action could alleviate the dining room service issue, as Holland America’s ship’s dining room staff was fixed and unalterable at least for this cruise. However, we did want the line to understand that the service deficiency was noticeable and objectionable. The Guest Relations Manager was not just sympathetic, but took extensive notes about our two issues. A day later, I received a call in our stateroom, in which the Front Office person, after restating the “no refund” Internet policy, said that I would receive a 30% credit against my Internet charge, as the ship’s Internet service did not accommodate the Kindle Paperwhite or earlier Kindle models, but only the Kindle ‘Fire.’ I agreed to discontinue use of my remaining Internet minutes, and was at least partially satisfied that they took some responsibility for the problem. At the same time, I must applaud the work and staff of the Front Office. On other cruise ships, the line of folks awaiting service was usually long, and waiting time stretched often to 30 minutes. Not so on the Amsterdam: rarely were there more than two people ahead of us, and the Front Office desk was staffed by no less than 2, and sometimes 3 or 4 people – all of whom were concerned, friendly and helpful in all but one case, as described above. The entertainment aboard this smaller ship was excellent, in our opinion. The musicians were almost all universally superb – with but a single exception. The evening programs were varied, with marvelous dancers, talented singers, funny comedians and a truly exceptional musical group. Kudos go to and are deserved by the persons booking these acts and the shipboard musicians. The itinerary was a bit puzzling: while one of the attributes of the M/S Amsterdam (and the Prinsendam, as well) is their ability to visit smaller ports than the larger ships require, a few of the ports left one wondering “why?” Only one port required tendering – a great relief – but the attractions at several are questionable in terms of general interest. At least this was our opinion. The 3-day visit to Lima was principally done to accommodate those wishing to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but it also facilitated tours of the city and its wonderful museums. One of the lesser-known facets of extended voyages on Holland America is their laundry and pressing “packages.” The $20/bag laundry service enables one to stuff a ship-provided pillowcase-like laundry bag with as much as it will hold, rather than paying a per-piece charge. When the laundry is returned, one can utilize the “unlimited pressing” service ($96 for the 32-day cruise) to have virtually anything pressed, including dress shirts, suits, tuxedos, dresses, etc. These packages are not widely advertised, and indeed, I found them only by perusing the Cruise Critic reviews of earlier M/S Amsterdam cruises. We found them to be convenient and money-saving services. Value? We paid a little more than $100/day per person ($200+/day/couple) for our “larger” outside cabin. (Government taxes added about $400 per person, and third-party insurance added another $800 in total.) That provided about 216 sq.ft. of total living space in terms of accommodations, all the food one can eat, gym facilities, entertainment, numerous cocktail and sitting lounges, a well-stocked and spacious library, an Internet room, no-cost lectures, swimming and hot tub pools, sundecks and chaise lounges, and the ambiance of 4-star (my personal rating) living. Our friends elected to have balcony cabins, essentially the same size but with a small balcony (I’m not certain if the balcony reduced or added to the “living space” cabin size), for just over double the per-person cost. In addition, a “service fee” of $11.50 per day per person for the inside, outside and standard balcony cabins add significantly to the cost ($23/day or $700+ in total in our case). This fee provides tips for the room stewards (35%) and dining service personnel (35%), other service staff (30%), and has been increased as of December 1st by Holland America. Counting all these charges, our total cost for our 32-day cruise amounted to $7,724, or $241/day, or about 20% more than the advertised “stateroom” price. And, of course, that was before the optional extra costs of beverages, shore excursions, specialty dining, spa and salon services, etc., which are controlled by each guest’s personal taste and pocketbook. A word about travel insurance: virtually all cruise lines offer travel insurance. Its purpose, of course, is to prevent significant loss resulting from such calamities as missed flights to the port of embarkation or medical conditions preventing a paid-for cruise from being taken. As with any other form of insurance, it pays to understand what coverage is being provided, as well as what reimbursement will be made in case of a covered loss. Some cruise lines will offer only replacement cruises instead of monetary compensation, which in many cases is insufficient to cover the actual monetary loss, and, of course, an unwanted burden for many. Several of the cruise-specific websites offer policies that do a far better job of protecting against monetary loss. It’s this writer’s experience that it really proved worthwhile and beneficial to have such a policy on a booked and paid-for cruise (not this one) when our airline cancelled its flight causing us to have to purchase next-day airline tickets at a substantially greater fare. Almost all cruise lines make a significant amount of money from a number of ancillary and optional services and products. All, excepting those marketing the considerably more expensive truly all-inclusive fares, impose beverage charges for everything except water, tea or coffee, accompanied by a mandatory 15% service charge again ostensibly for bartender and service personnel tips. Significant charges also are made for spa and salon services, optional “specialty” dining rooms, shore excursions (more about that later), and shipboard store and art sales, not to mention the ubiquitous casino slots and games. Yes, many – even most, perhaps – of these services were in demand by a very large percentage of our shipmates, and that’s been our experience on the more than 20 cruises we have taken over the years. (The all-inclusive cruises fares offered by Seabourn, Silversea or Crystal are many times those of the “mid-range” lines such as Holland America, Princess or Celebrity, averaging about $400 to $500 per day per person. Those fares on those lines provide superior food, beverages and service, as should be expected.) So, the question of value is in my estimation up to the individual. If one is accustomed to having wine with dinner, or a drink or two each day at cocktail hour, one will engender a substantial bill by cruise end for beverages. If a drink – or two – by the pool is de rigeur for a vacation experience, that bill will be greater. Spa services are expensive, more so than on land except for some of their specials or sales, and pampering has never been inexpensive. But, a cruise must be looked upon as a vacation, and vacation expenses are customarily greater – and are more easily accepted in my view – than daily living expenses at home. Shore excursions are a separate matter, and one where significant savings can be obtained with a bit of pre-cruise work. The cruise lines all offer shore excursions – the all-inclusive lines sometimes including them in their expensive fares. For all the others, consider that most shore excursions can be purchased at discounts approximating 50% by using independent services. Note that these are all in the caveat emptor class: you are neither guaranteed quality nor punctuality. If you are late returning to the ship, it will almost certainly not wait for you. Given those facts, one can almost always find services that have received good reviews or recommendations, that will provide less expensive and just as rewarding experiences. The Internet abounds with websites offering such services, and, considering what cruise lines charge for the packages they offer, one can save considerable amounts of money. In the cruise lines’ defense, they spend significant sums on finding, contracting and supporting the shore excursions they offer. Their brochures, the personnel to handle reservations and those charged with accompanying tours (even though these are additional duties for existing staff), and the myriad details involved in managing that business are all expensive and justify some recompense. In my view, however, the add-on margin is excessive. I suspect, however, that the popularity of these tours assures that these higher-than-necessary charges will continue, reflecting the desires of the customers for convenience; having someone else handle the details, and, as a consequence of the ship’s threatening message that it will not wait for tardy returnees. Note that the average age of the guests on this cruise was an unsurprising 75+ (in our estimate). Very few families with children, and those with school-age kids were homeschooling them (I think 2 such families). We do wonder how the severely handicapped would fare in an emergency, but the ship's staff is supposedly well trained to cope wit such an issue. Would we do this cruise again? This is the crux of the matter, of course, but I’m a bit ambivalent about giving a simple yes or no answer. It has been fun traveling with friends. We’ve done it before and would like to do it again. (If one can remain friends with the same people with whom you have met and dined for 32 days, they must be compatible!) The itinerary, as stated, left a bit to be desired, but cannot be considered a real negative. The food and dining room service could – and should – have been better (but we were forewarned about this by previous M/S Amsterdam reviews). The cost was moderate – fair, in my opinion – and certainly not a negative. So, my answer is a qualified yes, I would do it again. Having said that, I would definitely look at other offers, considering itinerary, cost and reviews, before re-booking the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped ... Read More
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped that we had sailed on it several years earlier. The itinerary was excellent. Although one of our ports had been cancelled and we revisited Hualtuco twice, it was fine. The food was well prepared and portions were very reasonable. Generally the portions are too big but the staff was good about not overloading your plate. You can always go back if you're still hungry. Hard ice cream is always a treat and Holland does it best. The dining room service was generally excellent. We did one night in the Pinacle dining room and although nice we felt the food was just as good in the dining room. The entertainment was excellent. In 32 days there were only a couple of times when a performer entertained twice and then their show was different the second time. This was one of the best varieties of entertainment that we have seen. The movies were generally first run with a few oldies. Music in the dance areas was fine and the dance floor was generally pretty open. We did two shore excursions from the ship and both were reasonably priced and we were pleasantly surprised. One was Antiqua on your own and the other was in Corinto. We were pleased with both. We were in Cabin 2604, inside and there was plenty of storage space for our things. The Cabin Steward, Asep was pleasant and if we needed anything he was eager to provide. Now for the bridge. We had a Bridge Director on Board, Bruce and his wife Penny. What I really liked about him was he was very up front from the beginning that his objective was for us to Have Fun and to Not Wreck anyone else's fun. The majority of players were respectful of that request and it made playing bridge much more enjoyable. Bruce provided a qualified duplicate game as well as open party bridge for those who did not want to play duplicate. He and Penny made the lessons and playing very enjoyable. The staff was very good and the clientele were pleasant. We did not feel crowded or overwhelmed at all. The ports of call were fun and we did 4 tours off the ship and 2 from the ship. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. Overall it was a great relaxing cruise and I would do Holland again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I enjoyed the 32 day cruise. The library was large, the food very good, the entertainment enjoyable, the ports interesting, the lectures very informative. What's not to like ? The wheelchair stateroom was very large & was easy ... Read More
I enjoyed the 32 day cruise. The library was large, the food very good, the entertainment enjoyable, the ports interesting, the lectures very informative. What's not to like ? The wheelchair stateroom was very large & was easy to park my scooter out of the way. The bathroom was also large with a handicap shower chair that was easy to use. The room stewards, the waiters, & all the rest of the staff bent over backwards to be friendly & very helpful. You could ask for almost anything off the menu & you'd get it with a small wait. The embarkation was easy especially since we checked in online. The debarkation was only as fast as customs could work. Everything was ready- from porters to help find & carry luggage to lines for aliens & Americans. I didn't like that scooters were in the same line as passengers because I ran over a foot inadvertently. I drove my scooter both on & off the ship, thru embarkation & debarkation. This cruise line is quite superior to others. Last year & the year before we took Princess. Nothing was as good on Princess as on HAL. I like lectures; Princess doesn't. I like a large library; Princess doesn't. The entertainment was comparable on both cruise lines, but the food was not as good on Princess as on HAL. The staff on Princess was OK, but HAL is superior. The activities were varied as well as the shore excursions, however expensive. We took an excursion from a new excursion company affiliated with Costco travel. The tour guide was outstanding & we travelled on a mini bus instead of a large motor coach bus.Hal couldn't tell me in advance whether I could take my scooter , placing it in the under compartment of the bus, whereas the new company could give me every detail. There was a children's club, religious services & a great cruise director . It's no wonder that we've travelled over 120 days altogether on HAL(over 15-20 different cruises on many cruise lines) & was rewarded for it with a medallion & discounts in many areas of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
This cruise was outstanding due to the great places seen and the song and dance entertainment was the best of the 20 cruises we have taken. We thought we were attending a Broadway Show in New York. If you enjoy snorkeling, you must take ... Read More
This cruise was outstanding due to the great places seen and the song and dance entertainment was the best of the 20 cruises we have taken. We thought we were attending a Broadway Show in New York. If you enjoy snorkeling, you must take this cruise. We spent a week sailing in Hawaii & we would encourage you to visit the WWII memorials. It will make you understand the sacrifices made by our military on that epic day Japan invaded Hawaii. The cruise will greatly enhance your appreciation of the dilemma some of the islands are facing due to rising ocean waters; some islands will likely disappear in the near future. Meeting people from the various cultures was an important educational component that can only be obtained by being there in person. Their ability to live and flourish is truly amazing. The scenery was breathtaking and should not be missed. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Explore an area we had never visited, Fiji,Samoa, Tonga, and so much more. We like longer cruises with sea days as well as shore visits. Holland America's food and service exceeded our recent trips on Queen Mary 2, (transatlantic ... Read More
Explore an area we had never visited, Fiji,Samoa, Tonga, and so much more. We like longer cruises with sea days as well as shore visits. Holland America's food and service exceeded our recent trips on Queen Mary 2, (transatlantic and Norway-scenery spectacular), and Norwegian, (Transatlantic and Baltic). The trip is round trip from San Diego, 45 days, but we boarded five days earlier in Seattle. Among the too-many highlights to list: two visits to the Big Island, Hawaii, opposite sides; tiny Fanning Island, Kingdom of Samoa, (the Royality provides a home for every citizen), islands, atolls, with names we had not heard of; learning about cultures-Polynesian, Micronesian, affiliated territories of New Zealand, etc. Service on HAL exceeded Cunard, QM2, and on Norwegian, (we determined not to rebook in future although we had been frequent cruisers). The good service appears to be the result of good training and, likely, cultural characteristics of Balinesian and other Indonesian crew members and the staff from the Philippines. The food on Amsterdam was exceptional, especially on such a long cruise- never boring or repetitive. Food on QM2, almost as good. Food on Norwegian judged average- signs of cost-cutting- gristly steak, repeated meals, in general, disappointing-management is failing. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
We were two couples celebrating our 25th anniversaries. We knew this would be an older crowd but we really, happily, felt quite young on this ship! We have all cruised previously, mostly Caribbean. Embarkation was super easy and we ... Read More
We were two couples celebrating our 25th anniversaries. We knew this would be an older crowd but we really, happily, felt quite young on this ship! We have all cruised previously, mostly Caribbean. Embarkation was super easy and we were on the ship within 45 minutes of arriving and our rooms were ready immediately (that was a first in all of our cruising). Our first stop was the spa because we were interested in the thermal suite package. For $149 per couple, we could not pass this up and it was the best purchase of the trip! We had adjoining balcony rooms on deck 6 and our wonderful steward (Tao) opened the connecting door for us so that we had access to both balconies - really added to our enjoyment of the cruise. Overall this was a calm, laid back cruise which is what we expected. We were very impressed with all crew members - they are just wonderful, all so friendly, helpful and hard-working. I loved the movie choices and theater, shows were pretty good although the "comedian" was really a ventriloquist that told a couple jokes. Good for a ventriloquist but I was hoping for a comedian! The Beatle's guy was amazing but we weren't thrilled with the corny wife stuff (although she was a great singer - just sing and forget the "humor"). We enjoyed karaoke the first night but were disappointed when the same people sang the same songs the second night. Happy Hours are great - twice a day and it's buy one drink, get another (same) for $1. We did not participate in Bingo or culinary arts or art shows, etc - just wanted to relax and enjoy the fitness center and spa during the day. The difference between a Very Good and Excellent rating for me was the food. We all agreed that we would have enjoyed more choices, longer hours and less repetition on the buffet. I also would prefer self serve rather than having to ask for each dish (although the servers were wonderful). The little grill by the pool is nice and it would be great to have that open late for evening snacks. The choices were almost the same daily in the buffet so a better variety would have been nice. The dining room choices were very good and the food there was excellent. We had any time dining and only waited one night for about 10 minutes (and could have been seated right away with others). We did not realize the Pinnacle would get booked for dinner within the first 24 hours so we missed out on that but we did have a nice lunch there - very good. Overall, the food was good but not great and the hours were limited from what we have experienced on other cruises. As mentioned, the fitness center, spa and sauna was great. Every day began with a complimentary stretching class which was very nice. The thermal suite was never crowded so we spent plenty of time there. Rooms are large and the beds and pillows are sooooooooo comfy. There is plenty of room for storage. We never took a shower in the room nor used the jetted tub - all of our showers were taken in the spa. The apples in the room are excellent. We asked for expedited disembarkation and it was simple. We were off the ship, through customs, in a cab and at the airport by 8:30. Overall, this was a great relaxing trip. The crew made it extra special. The only slight negative was repetitive food on the buffet and limited dining venues. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our 45ht Anniversary, so we were treated to some nice touches because of that. Balloons on our door made it easy to locate our cabin on that long hallway. Starting with the agent at HAL who booked us, we were treated like ... Read More
This was our 45ht Anniversary, so we were treated to some nice touches because of that. Balloons on our door made it easy to locate our cabin on that long hallway. Starting with the agent at HAL who booked us, we were treated like honored guests. This was a relaxation cruise as our busy season runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7th and we just needed to slow down a bit. It worked too. We are not accustomed to being waited on hand and foot, so it took us reminding ourselves to "let them do it" and just relax. We really did. I guess the negatives are easier than the positives since there were so very few. One meal, one item was less than wonderful. One port, there was a cancellation of the excursion, but that worked itself out nicely. We didn't really don't drink enough alcohol for a $50.00 per day per person fee, it would be nice if there were some intermediate option, although we didn't really have a problem paying for drinks one at a time. That is our entire list of problems with HAL and The Amsterdam. Our cabin steward (Toto) was a standout, took care of things we'd have never thought to ask him to handle. Over the top young man. Can we take him home with us? Dining room stewards all went over the top too. I'm afraid we tipped them more than we should have, but they really showed their abilities. Since this was our second HAL cruise to Alaska, we knew what to expect and they went us one better at every turn. My wife was just recovering from a knee replacement, so we got a lot of help getting aboard and it went very well. Maybe the other negatives were concessions and really not HAL problems. The Photography and Tux rental. We found the photography was great, but there was no digital option. My Tux from Cruiseline Formalwear in Miami was not just wearable as the shirt and cummerbund were far smaller than what I ordered. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We really enjoyed this cruise! First, is should be noted that in some cases Tracy's Arm - is bypassed due to the conditions around the inlet. From ice to fog, if the ship can't get through it safely, they bypass it. ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise! First, is should be noted that in some cases Tracy's Arm - is bypassed due to the conditions around the inlet. From ice to fog, if the ship can't get through it safely, they bypass it. Amazingly, the Captain, Captain Mercer was first afraid that we were not getting into Tracy's Arm because the aforementioned ice. We started our trek to Eddicott Pass instead. However, in true amazement, he was able to see that Tracy's Arm was opened and HE DID BOTH! Many cruise lines I feel do not invest in this type of "protection" to ensure all parts of the cruise are completed. He did. During rough seas - we also had the chance of Sitka being cancelled due to the tender operation. For the first time ever, on our cruise, the ms Amsterdam docked in Sitka. Holland America line even provided bus service to get you back into downtown from the dock. We were told later on that again, Captain Mercer got this taken care of - and saved the port of call. A strong BRAVO! It should be noted that there is a review in here that stated the ship vibrated at high speeds -- the high speeds were done in order to protect all the ports of call and to prevent cancellations. Again, you are on a ship, things will vibrate. I will take the slight vibration in order to see an additional part of scenic cruising AND maintain the port schedule. We had a few issues in the dining room - mainly with staff that just was not at their best. We addressed this directly through the survey and onboard. It felt that the staff was a bit immature or new to the cruise industry. For a flagship we found this concerning. It was a complete 180-degree flip from last year where we had two waiters so great - that we remembered their names: Adi and Suchi. BOTH were absolutely amazing. All other areas were good - with a good selection of both European and American breakfast items in the Lido. It was noted that some of the entrees for lunch were repeated through the cruise, but still fresh and we really enjoyed the dinners in the Lido for the special events. We highly recommend partaking in the "Taste of Alaska" like dinner in the Lido - very good seafood and entree items. Prior to the cruise we pre-purchased a Pinnacle Grill package, which was to give us a voucher for a dinner in the Pinnacle. This wasn't delivered until 3 days into the cruise - which meant that all the reservations were taken. Front office tried to fix it, but ended up being refunded. The ms Amsterdam as a ship is in good condition, with a decent color scheme and some dating. In terms of quality, everything is functional. But don't be surprised to see maybe a bit of carpet wear or wood paneling a bit scratched. This is a ship that has had a long service life and in general, she is kept in good condition. This ship also does the extensive, 300+ day cruises around he world - so in some cases, the repair work is done ONBOARD. Don't expect perfection, it's a ship that goes through open ocean more often than most - not just Alaska - things wear. Take it as the "character marks" that make the Amsterdam unique. Embarkation/Disembarkation was smooth. We highly recommend looking elsewhere for Seattle airport transfers than Holland America line. We found a company called Seattle Express that did the transfer for half the cost, in a smaller van with great service. The entertainment was decent as Holland America started migrating to a more mainstream entertainment background. No longer all "broadway production" shows - everything from comedians to the crew show was worth the visit. Really not impressed with the onboard photography team - from being a bit pushy to outrageous pricing ($20 a sheet of photos) - totally not worth it. Bring a good camera and do it yourself. We would do this cruise again (technically we have, we did the same route/ship last year) but we will be looking to visit different ports of call. Holland America line does offer a good mix of value with competitive differences that make them stand out. Their respect of the environment is also notable, as you see other ships pass by, the Amsterdam lacks a lot of smoke out of her chimneys - were passing ships would have a small cloud. I feel that Holland America really represents Alaska well and puts the state on stage, versus lavish garbage on board. They want you to experience Alaska - and they do it - quite well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise to Alaska! Sunny Seattle was a welcome sight as we took about a 40 minute ride from Sea-Tac airport on Super Shuttle to the Smith Cove Terminal where the MS Amsterdam was docked. We were ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise to Alaska! Sunny Seattle was a welcome sight as we took about a 40 minute ride from Sea-Tac airport on Super Shuttle to the Smith Cove Terminal where the MS Amsterdam was docked. We were to enjoy sunny skies and calm seas until the last day in Vancouver. While still in port, we headed down for the Welcome Aboard Reception as 2-Star Mariners. After sailing, we settled into our Vista Suite on the Verandah Deck then later took a walk, pleasantly satisfied with the familiar look as compared to the MS Maasdam and MS Ryndam ships we have cruised. At sea on the second day we celebrated my wife's birthday with a delicious steak dinner and very attentive friendly staff in the Pinnacle Grill joined by my brother and his wife. Following a restful night, we cruised the inside passage to the Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier where we enjoyed split-pea soup sitting covered with blankets on Lower Promenade deck chairs watching the seals sunning themselves on the floating glacier ice chunks. In Juneau we took an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier; what a beautiful sight! There we saw bald eagles gliding overhead, salmon in the shallow stream, a porcupine sleeping up a tree, and were warned that bears had been sighted beyond the barricaded trail. Back in Juneau we sampled the delicious but pricey crab at Tracy's. Aboard ship we spotted the distant goats on Mt. Juneau then had our fill of more delicious crab in the La Fontaine dining room. We tendered into Sitka, toured the Russian Bishop's house, then shopped as we strolled back past St. Michael's Cathedral to the Pioneer's Home and statue, paused to take pics at the totem pole, climbed the hill of Baranof's Castle for a panoramic view, then returned to the tender under O'Connell Bridge. As we sailed out of Sitka, the captain called out the location of whale pods so we all could get great pics of their spouts and flukes. Arriving in Ketchikan we were awakened by the buzzing of float planes and enjoyed seeing them come and go alongside the busy airport. The bald eagles kept a sharp eye out atop the buoys and light poles. We walked over to Creek Street but saw few live salmon that late in the season. We shopped our way back to the statues at The Rock and took many pics of the beautiful town. Our last day we arrived at Victoria with overcast skies. We didn't mind as we walked the 25 minutes from the ship to the inner harbor fronting the legislative building where we happened upon the open docks of the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. We strolled along admiring the beautiful wooden boats and listening to the music of the live band before heading back to the ship and reaching it just as a drenching rain began to fall. The next morning we docked back in Seattle. Disembarkation was a breeze. We travel light with a carry-on bag each so we didn't have any delay at all getting through the cruise terminal and the covered walkway to the van was much appreciated. We had planned to stay a while in Seattle but it was a dreary, rainy day, so we headed back to Sea-Tac to catch an earlier flight home. We enjoyed our time aboard, mostly spending time with our family, enjoying music and drinks in some of the nightclubs, and the great meals served in the La Fontaine, to be greeted by our room steward and delighted by a different animal each evening in the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
This was our 4th cruise with Holland America and 7th cruise overall. We travel to relax so we find the smaller ships of Holland America are perfect for us. We traveled to Seattle a day early, and stayed at the Hampton Inn, which we ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Holland America and 7th cruise overall. We travel to relax so we find the smaller ships of Holland America are perfect for us. We traveled to Seattle a day early, and stayed at the Hampton Inn, which we booked ourselves, by the Pike Market. Spent the day walking around the neighborhood, did a free tour of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and visited the Market, which is extremely interesting. There are a wide variety of items available in the shops, and many fine places to eat. This was a 7 night cruise on the Amsterdam, the finest ship we have traveled on. Embarkation was very quick and hassle free, and at the end of the trip disembarking was equally efficient. Great artwork, especially the Clock in the Atrium. It has all the usual public rooms that are found a Holland America ship, Culinary Arts Center, Wajang Theatre with pretty close to 1st run movies, and the Explorations Café. Our cabin 6128, a AA Vista Suite, had plenty of room and storage, the furnishings on the patio were an upgrade from previous cruises, a lounge chair and the table was big enough to eat meals on it. Dining was very good, we eat usually in the Main dining room, but on this trip we made a point of trying all the venues. Dinner at the Pinnacle was over the top good, many excellent choices on the menu and the service equaled any I have received in 5 star restaurants anywhere. The Lido (Buffet) was very good, pretty good variety, many items made to order, should have the ice cream station open later. The Lafontaine Dining room was wonderful, we had open seating and ate most days at 5:30 and never had to wait for a table. We purchased the Admiral wine package, 7 bottle, and the wine steward did a fine job of storing unfinished bottles and delivering them to the table the next night in a timely manner, even on the evenings we ate in one of the premium restaurants. The menu was varied and interesting, 4 to 7 choices for starters, entrees, and desserts every night, with repeats. The Canaletto did not impress and I will leave it at that. Already booked my next cruise with Holland America on the Zaandam to South America. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I am not a cruise person. I don't feel that I fit in with my idea of what a typical cruiser passenger and therefore was not sure what I would think of my first cruise to Alaska. Although I have never really wanted to go on a cruise, ... Read More
I am not a cruise person. I don't feel that I fit in with my idea of what a typical cruiser passenger and therefore was not sure what I would think of my first cruise to Alaska. Although I have never really wanted to go on a cruise, I have always wanted to see Alaska, and especially SE Alaska and felt that it was best seen by ship. The idea would never have come to fruition had my step-mother not announced that she wanted to cruise to Alaska and she wanted us (her 2 step-daughters and step-son-in-law - all in our 50's). We were doing an old lady (73 with a dodgy knee) a favour. My sister dreaded it and was convinced she would not like the experience. I actually jumped at the opportunity as I thought it would be fun as a group. I was amazed at what I enjoyed and never thought I would. For one, I loved the rocking motion of the boat and being rocked to sleep every night. Having said that, I found it difficult to sleep because I wanted to see what was happening out side the window at all times. The buffet food was delicious and there were even healthy options. The staff were so wonderful I wanted to take them home. They remembered our names and greeted us everywhere - 1400 people on the ship that they only see for 1 week. I worried that our 'at sea' day would be boring and brought reading material and a sketch book (on a rocking boat, duh) but never bothered as it was so relaxing to just sit in the library or some other quiet corner and stare out the window. My sister quickly changed her tune as soon as she stepped on board. She, like the rest of us, loved every minute of it and had a good laugh with the other smokers in the small corner of the ship where smoking was allowed. She even convinced me to play bingo with her (my first time). I'm glad she did, we won a 7 day cruise and are now planning our second cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our first cruise, and hope it isn't our last. The ship was beautiful. We were spoiled everyday by staff.....from the ones that cleaned our room, to those that served our meals. All were extremely cheerful, friendly, and ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and hope it isn't our last. The ship was beautiful. We were spoiled everyday by staff.....from the ones that cleaned our room, to those that served our meals. All were extremely cheerful, friendly, and helpful. It was easy for first timers to get on and off at the beginning and all the ports we stopped at. All staff were very helpful to the passengers that got lost almost everyday! We were on the Gaither Homecoming Cruise, the music and entertainment were awesome. What a Blessing! Our 'mail' everyday kept us informed about all the activities for each day. We met some wonderful people that will be friends forever. Very nice to go on a trip with Christian people. A room with a window or balcony would be nice, but we had ample time and opportunity to go out on deck. Deck 3 was covered and went all around the ship, so we could walk for exercise or just look at the view. It was amazingly easy to get to our shore excursions and back on the ship, guides were funny and full of history and information. Very simple to disembark and get to our next destination. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We wanted an Alaskan experience via the cruise. We booked Holland America liner ,Amsterdam. We were boarding from Seatle .We reached the port ealier than the scheduled boarding time and was quite good the boarding process started ... Read More
We wanted an Alaskan experience via the cruise. We booked Holland America liner ,Amsterdam. We were boarding from Seatle .We reached the port ealier than the scheduled boarding time and was quite good the boarding process started early. Boarding was a smooth process the announcement of boarding was adequately announced. It could have been better managed as people sitting to be boarded sat scattered in the waiting area. The ship was very big so it was easy to find your way around. It is an old ship than the one I had travelled in the caribean in Carnival ships. The complimentary upgrading to the outside cabin was not big enough to accommodate our 1 large suitcase so we had to put it on the sofa.There was only space in the cupboards to keep our2 carryon luggage.The was clean and the bed was very cocomfortable. The window was large .Bathroom was clean and soap and shampoo dispensers.There was bath tub. The food was very disappointing. Indian food which was served everyday on the Carnival cruises was not available. They gave Indian dinner one day but that was only tandoori chicken and not the anything else.When we asked to cook us prawn curry they refused . Though one day they had cooked excellent array of Indian starters,mains and desserts which we heartily enjoyed. One good thing is this ship allows anytime dinner in sittings in the dining room. The choice of food on the buffet was limited. The main drawback on this ship was there was no 24hr. Meals available as we had on the Carnival ships not even sandwhich,pizza or burgers.They close very early the burger and chips bar.They also closed icecream dispensers early at night. They had long lines at the burger bars.They set Mexican food outside which went cold in no time and when the items ranout they were not replenished. There were not enough outdoor games eg golf etc. The photographs they took were very expensive, $20 a piece. The shows were OK NOT BRILLIANT. Disembarkation and embarkation at the ports of call were smooth. The staff were fine but rarely talked or smiled. We expected to see whales and snow on the land did not see any.I realised later that one has to book the cruise which takes further up to see these things so if want see those places and a dog slegedind in the snow etc and see s ow capped mountains in the proximity than this cruise which took us to Junea,Katchikan,Sitka and Victoria in Canada is not for you. Perhaps I will book another cruise with a different liner fo that. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
First time on HAL but we've cruised before with Carnival, Princess and Cunard. We had a fabulous cruise start to finish! The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship! Loved all of the elegant touches like live orchids on every table in the ... Read More
First time on HAL but we've cruised before with Carnival, Princess and Cunard. We had a fabulous cruise start to finish! The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship! Loved all of the elegant touches like live orchids on every table in the Lido dining room and every bathroom. Cloth hand towels, granite countertops, even beautiful lighted vanities in the ladies rooms. Fresh flowers were everywhere. Our interior cabin was more roomy than an interior on Carnival or Princess with a small sofa and table. The beds were a bit too firm for our liking, my only complaint. Our steward offered an egg crate topper and that helped a bit. The food was wonderful! We ate in the MDR most nights and loved the menu. Wonderfully attentive service. The food in the Lido dining room was definitely a step up from other cruise lines. The poolside Dive In Grill was the bomb! The burgers and hot dogs were incredible as were the fries! Toppings like grilled onions, bacon, Gouda cheese, onion strings... Not your usual poolside fare! Freshly cooked 1/3 pound burgers made to order. Being a mid size ship meant scaled down shows and not as many venues but what there was gave ample opportunity for entertainment. Embarkation and debating were quick and easy. I really felt like we had stepped back in time a bit to more elegant cruising! We'll definitely cruise HAL again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
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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