397 Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

My husband and I booked this cruise and I would definitely do that again and recommend that to any one wanting to book a cruise. Our travel agent took wonderful care of us and knew just what to do and answered all of our questions. She ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise and I would definitely do that again and recommend that to any one wanting to book a cruise. Our travel agent took wonderful care of us and knew just what to do and answered all of our questions. She handled the transfers from plane to hotel, hotel to ship and ship to plane...also booked the hotel we would stay in at Seattle. It was ALL taken care of for us! This was my third cruise, but my husband's first. He was very unsure about the whole thing, but did the cruise for me. His main fear was getting sea sick. We took along the usual medications and the Sea-band wrist bands just in case, but found out early on that we didn't need them at all! We even had a pretty rough night getting into Sitka, and came through that night with flying colors! So those of you with sickness fears, I wouldn't be that worried. Holland America has mid-sized ships which we loved. The Amsterdam was wonderful! Very Elegant, comfortable, and just the right size for us. We were in a Vista suite with a balcony on the Verandah deck. Just perfect! All of our friends who have been to Alaska said the balcany suite was the way to go, and we are so glad we did! So worth the extra expense! We were given a free drink package - 15 drinks free per day per person (under $7 - 90% of the drinks are under $7) - That was great and save us sooo much money. Remember drinks are sodas, coffee, waters, and the alcohol! We were also given a free upgraded dinner at their Pinnacle dining room and their Canaletto dining room. The Pinnacle was beautiful, elegant and the food excellent! The Canaletto was sooo disappointing! I don't know why any one would pay extra for the Canaletto. The Pasta Bar on the Lido deck was so much better than this over glorified Italian restaurant!! Please do not waste your time on this. We had Veal Picatta - Tough Veal and dry pasta!! However that really was the ONLY down side to the entire cruise!! The main dining room - La Fontaine and the Lido Buffet were both excellent!! The whale watching and photo safari we went on in Juneau was outstanding...we saw 15 whales in a bubble feeding!! Along with the Mendenhall Glacier. I went wet suit snorkeling in Ketchikan which was a bucket list item I absolutely loved! Sitka wasn't that great but partly because the weather was awful! Not the city's fault. Our room, dining and wine stewards were the best! I felt so spoiled and pampered the whole week! We brought along plenty of $1 bills for tipping when ordering drinks from the bars or lounges...we gave extra tips on the final night to our individual stewards in envelopes. They were THAT good! This was above the $12 a day per person that was billed to us. I played Bingo..enjoyed the culinary arts shows, and the after dinner entertainment. My husband read, went to some tech workshops and really enjoyed the music and dancing in the Ocean View lounge! One last item, I did bring along one of those over the door shoe organizers for bathroom..worked like a charm! One of the many tips from this site that I am glad I did! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Our 7 night experience on the Amsterdam was both good and bad. Physically, the ship is beautiful. Our room steward was outstanding. The itinerary was great. The spa was outstanding, and the special "thermal suite" was well ... Read More
Our 7 night experience on the Amsterdam was both good and bad. Physically, the ship is beautiful. Our room steward was outstanding. The itinerary was great. The spa was outstanding, and the special "thermal suite" was well worth the extra $149 for the two of us for the week. The piano bar guy, Tom Casey, was FABULOUS and made the whole cruise worthwhile for us. Problem #1 was that the schedule for each day included little more than "yellow emerald shopping" and "future cruise consulations" from 7 am until dinner. When I suggested to cruise director Rick that one free, fun morning activity could be having bloggers gather in the library to chat about what they blog about -- he frowned and said that the problem would be that the Holland America home office would have to give an okay to that, and they were unlikely to say yes to that sort of idea. (REALLY? You could have some super interesting, super famous bloggers on board and not even know it.) Problem #2 was that the nighttime broadway style dancers had terrible, offensive dance routines that included weird homo-erotic lumberjacks and the mocking of Canadian Mounted Police. Problem #3 was that other than our room steward, the service was indifferent and ALL THE FOOD ON THE SHIP WAS SERVED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE unless you got it straight from a line cook. There seemed not to be even the slightest effort to serve food hot. Would I sail Holland America again? Yes . . . if the price were 70% off and if I could call ahead to make sure that piano bar pianist Tom Casey was going to be on board. : - ) I've sailed Royal Caribbean twice and Disney three times; I'd choose one of them hands down over Holland America any day if prices were comparable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We have cruised with Princess 7 previous times and this was our first HAL cruise. Overall I can say I would recommend Hal to friends. I would say that HAL is more for the cruiser who prefers to pass time quietly rather than ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess 7 previous times and this was our first HAL cruise. Overall I can say I would recommend Hal to friends. I would say that HAL is more for the cruiser who prefers to pass time quietly rather than participate in multi activities. The Amsterdam is a relatively small ship and we could tell the difference from princess. There is less room to share amongst the many things one wants to do on a ship. The crew managed to do a good job with space available. I really like the enrichment programs - particularly the windows sessions. the instructor was first class. He showed me things ( an I am a computer geek) that I never knew! We were really impressed with the efficiency of embarkation and disembarkation. Princess could take a lesson here. Service on board was good in all areas though we could tell that staff count was a bit low. we never had to wait unreasonably long times for service. A note for people who are considering the beverage package. I declined it and then tracked my spend. Now when cruising I enjoy a few drinks along the way and did not restrict myself. If I had taken the beverage package I would have spent 30% too much. So for most of us, I suggest that a la cart is the best way to go. We really liked the food in all venues. The pinnacle grill was top notch. Area to improve in our view would be: We could do with less promotional activities for art auctions. improve the smokers area. although I am not a smoker it is clear they are delegated to the dungeon at the back of the ship. Sitka was our favorite port. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and the town was so full of artisans, we could have spent another day. We did not take many excursions but those we did were very well done. would recommend the mendenhall glacier and the Sitka artist walk. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I've been on 12 HAL cruises. However, never on the Amsterdam. We were in a Neptune Suite #7016. Worst cabin I've ever had. I've been on 38 cruises, with various cruise lines so I know what should and shouldn't be. This ... Read More
I've been on 12 HAL cruises. However, never on the Amsterdam. We were in a Neptune Suite #7016. Worst cabin I've ever had. I've been on 38 cruises, with various cruise lines so I know what should and shouldn't be. This cabin shook and the bed shook so bad it was hard to get to sleep. Even the head of guests services came up and agreed and she said it was the way the ship was made. Not only that we were under the pool area and chairs and tables scraped back and forth all day. All my neighbor's could not believe the most expensive had so much noise. Every morning they would wash the upper windows by the pool and all the water would puddle up on our balcony so we couldn't go outside till it dried 4 hours later. OK, so now the food, two words, bland and dry. The horizon court had the same thing everyday. Service was not up to the HAL standard. Needless to say I was very disappointed in this cruise and would never go on the Amsterdam again. Lucky we ate in port everytime. First time I lost weight on a cruise. So sad. Alaska was beautiful as always. Going on Celebrity next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Parents took 3 kids, their spouses (significant other) and grandkids on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. We have all cruised before, and have experience with several lines. Seattle's ... Read More
Parents took 3 kids, their spouses (significant other) and grandkids on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. We have all cruised before, and have experience with several lines. Seattle's embarkation/debarkation was very good, didn't wait very long and the Ruby Princess was also using the same facility as they were across the dock at the start and end. The Amsterdam looked good for her age, the fresh carpet that had just been replaced looked good (due to the recent mini drydock after her world cruise), only noticed one area that still had a leak in the public areas by the shops, but the carpet had not been replaced on the stairs, but the beds were comfortable. We had 4 cabins on the lowest deck, but they were all ocean view. No big issues except we noticed a very strong varnish smell in two of the cabins on different days for several hours, not sure if it was a ventilation issue. Otherwise everything worked, cabins were clean and stewards were attentive and very nice (threw in some extra cash for them above the expected automatic tips). Some in our party had a few discrepancies dealing with the front desk, but I personally didn't. We had the explore 4 promotion attached with this booking, so $25 credit, dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and the SBP was also included for all the adults (my father is the master of finding deals). Actually purchasing the SBP would not have been worth it for us, as none of the 8 adults ever reached the 15 drink limit, and rarely even reached the equivalent cost of the daily charge. As we're not heavy drinkers, but it was nice to sample different drinks and coffees this time. The food was good, but I've noticed on all of the cruise lines that the quality has suffered over the years due to costs and consolidation. HAL does great deserts, and actually had quantities of salmon on the buffet every single morning (not sure if this is an Alaska thing). But the serving times on the Lido (and it's closures) were an issue at times and not convenient at 9 PM if you were hungry and had gone light at an early dinner. We actually liked that the portion sizes in the main dining rooms were not large, so you could pick and choose more. We were accommodated at the only table that could fit our party of 11, which was nice, but we got a couple of snooty looks from the wine steward, as we used our individual SBP cards at dinner instead of overpriced bottled wine. The Pinnacle Grill food was good the one night we went, but the cost is only really acceptable to someone from a major city, and that kind of food/service is what standard cruising used to be like. We didn't do any ships excursions, but wandered in the towns that we have traveled to before, and explored the new ones by foot or on the city bus ($2 per adult in Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier). The Tracy Arm sightseeing was excellent, and an experience, love the dutch pea soup. Weather was ok, you just have to accept that it's going to rain in Alaska during the summer, but it wasn't unbearable. Definitely wear layers with a waterproof shell. We enjoyed the cruise, as did most of the people on board, but the up-selling is more noticeable and getting harder and harder to escape from though. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My mother and I sailed on the Amsterdam as an early birthday present to her. We got a great last-minute deal, 9 days out, which was so good that we were able to get solo cabins for ourselves. This was our first time on Holland America (I ... Read More
My mother and I sailed on the Amsterdam as an early birthday present to her. We got a great last-minute deal, 9 days out, which was so good that we were able to get solo cabins for ourselves. This was our first time on Holland America (I prefer Royal Caribbean while she prefers Celebrity). The ship is small, 1300 passengers, but it rarely felt crowded. There are enough public spaces so the passengers can spread out and do their own thing. The ship had just come out of drydock a few weeks before. Being a new HAL cruiser, I couldn't tell you what the differences were, but for the most part the ship was clean and shiny. There were some plumbing issues that we could see being repaired and there was always grease on the floor of the entrance to the MDR which I always seemed to almost slip on as I was leaving. We found the buffet to be disappointing. Sometimes both sides were open, sometimes only certain stations on one side were open, and often one side was reserved for crew only. There was little variety as most of the food was the same on both sides. We ate all but one of our dinners in the MDR and the food there was much better, as was the service. The main problem we had was with the customer service at the front desk. My mother and I each had guarantee cabins and, despite being told her cabin number a few days before sailing, it was never officially assigned until we got to the port and they couldn't find her key. For the next 2 or 3 days they didn't deliver her excursion tickets or apply the OBC from our TA because she wasn't showing up in the computer. It took several sessions of back-and-forth between me, the front desk, the Seattle office, and my TA for her OBC to be applied and even then it didn't hit until day 5 of our 7-day cruise. We both had issues with our cards not working anymore (I got 3 cards; she got 4) and each time they blamed us for demagnetizing them. My mom carries no electronic devices and had her card on a lanyard around her neck yet the staff chided her for keeping it next to her phone. She got conflicting information from the security guards when leaving the ship about whether she needed to show ID when coming back aboard, something no one else seemed to need but they told her she did. The biggest customer service failure was when the maintenance people decided to varnish the railing and paint the floor of her balcony when we were about to enter Tracy Arm Fjord. It made the balcony and cabin fill with fumes and we couldn't use the balcony for the one thing we wanted to use it for. I talked to 3 different people at the front desk who just shrugged off my complaints. They said it was our fault for not telling them that we didn't want maintenance done that day. It wasn't until I posted a picture of the balcony with a "wet varnish" sign to HAL's Facebook page that anyone made an effort to apologize, and even then they still said it was our fault for not telling them that we wanted to use our balcony. To make up for it we each got a glass of wine at dinner. Pfft. We signed up for Luggage Direct which, in concept, is a very good idea. We were exempt from paying the airline baggage fees but HAL charged us anyway, even though I put on the form that we were exempt. So there I was at 6:00 am on debarkation day trying to get the charge taken off. It wasn't until I demanded to talk to the crew member's supervisor (who was probably asleep but I didn't care) and threatened to put the entire charge for the cruise into dispute that they removed the fraudulent charge. That being said, our luggage did arrive at our destination airport. These customer service failures are the reason why we will not be sailing on HAL again. Everything was great about the cruise except for the women behind the desk who were constantly unhelpful and blamed us when they did something wrong. They need to be immediately replaced with people who are properly trained. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
What a disappointing cruise ship. This was our 12th cruise and our second with Holland. It is also our last with Holland. Starting from the beginning, the embarkation was good. Once on the ship the accommodations were great, love the way ... Read More
What a disappointing cruise ship. This was our 12th cruise and our second with Holland. It is also our last with Holland. Starting from the beginning, the embarkation was good. Once on the ship the accommodations were great, love the way the rooms are set up. Nice storage and a full tub/shower. However the service was really poor. I tried to book a reservation in The Pinnacle Grill before we ever set sail and it was already booked for the entire week. We later found out that they had 600 giftcards that had to be served before anyone else could eat there. There was no spark or enthusiasm with the wait staff and there was not enough wait staff in the eating areas or specialty area. Specifically, the Explorer Cafe had only 1 barista regardless of time of day. They even forgot to open the last morning of the cruise. The food was a disappointment as well with the exception of the Salmon Bake they did around the pool one day. That was great and the salmon was wonderful. In the Lido Cafe we had to get our own drinks most of the time. I have no problem doing that but in comparing to other cruise lines who really spoil you, this was definitely not the case. I also noticed that there was no particular push regarding hand sanitation when entering the eateries. There seemed to be an Art Auction every time you turned around which was overkill, especially when you see the same art on every ship that you cruise with. The size of the ship was nice as it was a bit smaller than many of the others and getting to go to Sitka was great. What a fun little town. The entertainment was average except for the comedian who was too funny. The Cruise Director was great. I wanted to go up to him and tell him he needed to go work for another cruise line. We usually travel with Princess and will return to this company. What surprises me is that both are part of the same corporation so you would think the standards would be the same, but not so at all. One good thing was in the disembarkation, they offered a program that would check you all the way through to your home destination with regard to luggage. There was a slight fee, but it was so worth it. We signed up for this and a packet was delivered to our room with airline luggage tags and our airline boarding passes. When they picked our luggage up the night before we disembarked we were done. The next time we saw it was when we got off the plane at home. Also we no longer had to check in at the airport, just had to go through security and hop on the plane. Great offer, especially for passengers who want to explore for the day in the final port but also for those of us who don't want the hassle of finding our luggage and hauling through the airport, etc. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Great Cruise. We live in W. Oregon so we drive to Seattle. We used the cheap parking and worked great. Quite a bit cheaper than the other. We lucked out & the shuttle was right there to pick us up. Lot was manned and then gated at ... Read More
Great Cruise. We live in W. Oregon so we drive to Seattle. We used the cheap parking and worked great. Quite a bit cheaper than the other. We lucked out & the shuttle was right there to pick us up. Lot was manned and then gated at night. We showed up about 10:45-11 am and embarkment was really quick & easy. We were able to go to our room to put our carry on bags inside. Went to the Lido got some food and relaxed. Everything was really, really good. Excellent service on the Lido & MDR. The only con we had was we never saw our steward until day 4. We've always met them 1st day and they always knew our name. Not the case here. Room was always kept very nice, usually had a towel animal & chocolates. Disembarkment was really quick & smooth & very easy. This was the smallest ship we've been on. Yes the entertainment isn't quite as good but what we loved is how friendly crew & passengers are. I think not having to fight so many people for anything you wanted to do, people were in a lot better moods. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We went on a 3 day repositioning cruise for the MS Amsterdam to begin its Alaska season. We had been looking for a short cruise to take with the kids after their school year ended, and found this one. We booked it, as well as a hotel in ... Read More
We went on a 3 day repositioning cruise for the MS Amsterdam to begin its Alaska season. We had been looking for a short cruise to take with the kids after their school year ended, and found this one. We booked it, as well as a hotel in Vancouver for a few days after the cruise ended. We boarded at the Port of San Diego. The process was simple, but we saw no place to drop our larger bag, so we subsequently ended up dragging it aboard ourselves. No big deal, it was just different than our previous experiences with boarding a cruise. After getting onboard, we explored a little bit and were surprised at how NON-crowded the ship was, in spite of the face that it may have been fully booked. our previous experiences had been with larger ships with larger crowds, and we were pleased that the Amsterdam was not as "busy" The demographic of the ship was definitely older than our previous trips as well, but we had sailed Carnival and MSC before this, so that is to be expected. Our 3 teenagers were among the very few kids on board. They were OK with this as they had each other and enjoyed just hanging out taking it easy and NOT going to school. The food onboard was very enjoyable, with the food rating from good to excellent. I have posted a video online of the food at: http://bonvoyagebites.com/2015/06/ms-amsterdam-food-porn/ Enjoy! The cruise was 3 sea days, so there we no ports to report on, but the service was good, the drink prices for the few drinks we ordered were reasonable, and everyone was quite friendly. I would do it again, but may choose another line for the teens, in the event we were to travel with them again. Overall we had a very good time and relaxed and ate and spent time together. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have been to Panama before, but this voyage showed me a whole new way of seeing Central America. Our first port was Cartagena, Colombia, then through the Canal to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and on to San Diego. From the ... Read More
I have been to Panama before, but this voyage showed me a whole new way of seeing Central America. Our first port was Cartagena, Colombia, then through the Canal to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and on to San Diego. From the time we sailed until we left the ship, we were entertained, fed, left alone, instructed, sold stuff and fed again. The ship is mid-sized, and that is fine. It has all the features except the water slide. The staff did a fine job. When an issue popped up, they handled everything with speed and a smile. The Cruise Director and his staff kept the announcements to the point and the entertainment activities fun. The menu needs some updating, but the food was good. The restaurant service and the cabin service were all I expected. The stores all sell the same goods, but the sales staff went out of their way to help me find the exact watch I wanted. This was not a party barge. It was a relocation cruise, so the guests were older. The younger guests mingled and seemed to have a great time at the shows and activities. The excursions were noteworthy, with one exception, and that was handled. I was not sure what to expect in ports I had not visited before, so I took the highlights tours at most places and coffee plantation tours at others. Seeing the inside of a live volcano under clear blue skies was fabulous. Learning that Guatemala is my new "next flight out" trip showed me a new view of Central America. The ship is now headed to Alaska, but it has the same crew, so you will have a good time! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have been to Panama before, but this voyage showed me a whole new way of seeing Central America. Our first port was Cartagena, Colombia, then through the Canal to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and on to San Diego. From the ... Read More
I have been to Panama before, but this voyage showed me a whole new way of seeing Central America. Our first port was Cartagena, Colombia, then through the Canal to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and on to San Diego. From the time we sailed until we left the ship, we were entertained, fed, left alone, instructed, sold stuff and fed again. The ship is mid-sized, and that is fine. It has all the features except the water slide. The staff did a fine job. When an issue popped up, they handled everything with speed and a smile. The Cruise Director and his staff kept the announcements to the point and the entertainment activities fun. The menu needs some updating, but the food was good. The restaurant service and the cabin service were all I expected. The stores all sell the same goods, but the sales staff went out of their way to help me find the exact watch I wanted. This was not a party barge. It was a relocation cruise, so the guests were older. The younger guests mingled and seemed to have a great time at the shows and activities. The excursions were noteworthy, with one exception, and that was handled. I was not sure what to expect in ports I had not visited before, so I took the highlights tours at most places and coffee plantation tours at others. Seeing the inside of a live volcano under clear blue skies was fabulous. Learning that Guatemala is my new "next flight out" trip showed me a new view of Central America. The ship is now headed to Alaska, but it has the same crew, so you will have a good time! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
First off, overall the service and attention to detail was excellent. The names of the dining room staff people who impressed us with their professionalism and friendliness and excellent service were Presty Sumitra, assistant dining room ... Read More
First off, overall the service and attention to detail was excellent. The names of the dining room staff people who impressed us with their professionalism and friendliness and excellent service were Presty Sumitra, assistant dining room manager - he was everywhere helping guest and his team members without taking a break - and always smiling; Ali Mansur, our waiter and assistant Leika Patrya, they were excellent to put it mildly; Benjamin Schutte, Pinnacle Grill Maître d'hôtel - again, always friendly and helpful and managed a superb serving staff; Intan Rosmalia - La Fontaine hostess who always smiled and expertly defused a situation where an irate passenger who was upset with his cabin was taking out his frustrations on Intan - she smiled, took notes, thanked him and told him she would contact the front desk to remind them of his concerns - incredible customer service; Aleksandre Gruaz, masseuse in the spa who not only gave excellent massages with a friendly smile but also suggested other treatments to help my badly knotted leg muscles; Clifton Bolton, on-board acupuncturist who was able to provide me relief from my restless leg syndrome and suggest follow up treatment back on land. And we cannot forget the Front Desk staff who always smiled and were very professional and were able to defuse and calm down some passengers who were having problems (of their own making). The ship was always spotless and the housekeeping staff were always visible keeping things shipshape. The public rooms were very comfortable and the staff always helpful and smiling. The food was excellent in all venues at all times. The La Fontaine main dining room has excellent food, well prepared, not overly large servings and the menu did not repeat itself in the 19 days we were on board. The Pinnacle Grill was exquisite - the La Cirque night was well worth the extra charge and is among the best restaurants at which we have dined, if not the best. The Lido restaurant was buffet and for the most part the choices mirrored those in the La Fontaine dining room. The Dive-In Grill was by the pool and had excellent hot dogs and a super small buffet with a Mexican theme - build yourself tacos and burritos and any combination you wanted to try. They both were and excellent break from La Fontaine. And the ice cream in the Lido Restaurant was always appreciated. My wife tried room service for one meal when she was feeling a tad seasick. almost every morning we did have rolls and coffee in our cabin before getting out and about. Having a Catholic Priest on board was one of the reasons we choose to sail with Holland America. Being able to go to Mass daily was a highlight of the cruise. Holland America is the only cruise line that I have been able to find that has a priest on board all of their sailings. A couple of small issues in the La Fontaine dining room. Being served instant hot chocolate at breakfast was a bit of a disappointment. I would have preferred the hot chocolate from the Explorations Café - it was very tasty and made with a sauce instead of mix. And the consistency of the coffee was a bit erratic. Sometimes it was exceedingly strong and needed to be watered down to be drinkable and at other times it was just about perfect. One waiter explained that when it was brewed the amounts of coffee going in might vary from time to time. This could stand a bit of consistency. And on to the fitness center. Overall it was excellent. Good aerobic equipment with enough to handle the people who wanted to use it. The weight training equipment was also very good with no waiting needed to use it. Pawal or Paul (the personal trainer and Pilates "instructor") was excellent as far as personal training is concerned. However, his Pilates approach was a bit off the wall in my opinion. I have been a student of Pilates for about seven years now. When I talked with Pawal and showed him some of the exercises that my instructors at home wanted me to do he did not know what the Pilates Hundred was - and this is the basic exercise that Joseph Pilates based most of his exercises on and is taught by almost every Pilates certifying agency in the United States and most worldwide. If you are going to advertise Pilates classes in the North American market it might be best if the instructors were vetted to insure they were familiar with classic Pilates. Pawal did what he characterized as "callisthenic Pilates", not really Pilates as taught by Joseph Pilates and his students. The spa itself had a few problems. The men's sauna was not working for the entire cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle. There was no sign posted and no alternatives were volunteered to passengers. After I talked with guest relations about this I was allowed to use the steam room as a part of my massages and acupuncture treatments. I should not have had to talk with guest relations. The steam rooms were excellent and hit the spot. Cleanliness was not always consistent. One morning when I went into the fitness center to do my Pilates exercises on a mat on the wood floor the floor was dirty and had bits of something on it. The showers in the men's locker room were not properly cleaned each day. On one occasion I found a used bandage that was in there for 2 days and on another occasion I found an piece of body plaster tape that remained for over 24 hours. Not acceptable. And the grout between the tiles on the shower floors was partly clean and partly black, I did bring these to the attention of the guest relations manager twice over a two week period. Having three different groups of entertainers in the theatre provided plenty of variety that appealed to all age groups. But most of the evenings we were in the Explorer's Lounge where a duo of a pianist and a violinist were playing classical music ever day from 6pm to 10pm. Two delightful ladies, Linsey Rogers and Rhonda May, respectively, kept a small group of 15-20 devoted listeners entertained daily. The Holland America name for the duo was Adagio and the Adagio duos appear to be on board all of their ships. Overall, an excellent voyage. Five star would be how we would rate it. We will be back on board either the Amsterdam or another of the ships in the R or S class within a year. That good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We were so excited about this cruise. We had a very stressful year and needed to get away. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton Airport. A really nice hotel. Quiet, clean. If you go out of the hotel and ... Read More
We were so excited about this cruise. We had a very stressful year and needed to get away. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton Airport. A really nice hotel. Quiet, clean. If you go out of the hotel and take a left, go under the overpass, there is a light rail station and buses to take you anywhere. Also there are some great restaurants and sports venues. Boarding the Amsterdam was easy, well processed. In fact everything was mostly great. The food in the Main Dining room was outstanding and we usually got the same waiter who was easy to talk to and friendly. Our room was on the lower promenade deck and we just walked out the door and went around the corner and we were on deck. Easy to get to in the evening for a drink. Our room stewards were attentive. One was Danang from Vietnam. They always had ice in our ice bucket and kept the room clean. We did pay $2 a day for a small refridge but it was well worth it. We had room service for breakfast and it was always on time and really good. The Lido food was good but could use some more fresh veggies with the main course. We talked to the manager and the next night there was more choices. They listen. The entertainment was very good. We spent a lot of time taking to the entertainers. All talented. The itinerary was wonderful and we met so many nice cruisers from all over the world. Even learned how to play bridge. One negative was the front desk. On one day in Mexico we planned a trip with another couple. My husband got some cash out of the safe and asked me to get change for the tours. I went to the front desk, gave her 3 $20 bills. I put one in front of her and said I wanted 20 $1 bills and the rest in $5's. She told me she was short on $1 bills. I said well give me $10 in $1's and the rest $5's. She started counting out the money. When I kind of look perplexed because the money she gave me did not look enough she said loudly "you gave me $40!! ".. why would someone say that? I went back to our room and my husband and I went off the boat for the tour. When we went to pay for the car, my husband looked at my cash and said "I gave you $60, you only have $40. We went back to the ship and went to the front desk. We had to wait 20 minutes for the lady to come back who had gave me the money. When she did, she helped others first. We finally went up to her and told her what she did. She looked at me like she did not care. I told her to count her money and she would have $20 over. Well she did and she came over to me, put two $10 bills in front of me and left. No "I am sorry". By that time I was upset because we had missed out tour with our friends. I sat on the small couch in front of the desk and tried to console myself. I looked at the lady and said "you made us miss out tour". Well all of a sudden the senior staff member came out of no where and tried to walk us away from the desk. I reiterated "you made us miss our tour" plus that person stiffed me my money and did not apologize. The only help I got was from the future sales consultant who tried to make everything right. Well, make sure you count your money folks. All in all, except for this, it was a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second world cruise on HAL and it was excellent. We enjoyed everything about the cruise but some of the things were more enjoyable than others. For example the night at Ephesus was outstanding. The preparations, ... Read More
This was our second world cruise on HAL and it was excellent. We enjoyed everything about the cruise but some of the things were more enjoyable than others. For example the night at Ephesus was outstanding. The preparations, transportation, food, and entertainment was extraordinary. The trip to Petra was well coordinated as was all of the tours. The food is always outstanding. It is well prepared, the servers were excellent, and the GIS was handled as well as could be expected. The captain kept us well informed about everything, especially the GIS status, and the reasons when we were not able to port because of tides and/or high winds. The alternative ports provided proved to be great. Another nice feature was the notice of all shipboard events. This way my spouse and I were able to pack to enjoy the on board events. The ambassadors from Tahiti, Aboriginal Australia, belly dancers and others provided a great lift to the trip. I would like to especially give a shout out to Christel Mensink, customer service representative. She was always available to resolve any concerns and make our trip fantastic. You can rest assured that we will be aboard for another world cruise in the near future. Finally, the appearance of Orlando Ashford, the new CEO was great. He provided a vision of the future and his Q&A session was very informative. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we ... Read More
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we get to antsy to wait, HAL here we come. Back to this cruise. Wonderful ship, great food, friendly people, fantastic itinerary. Our main activities on board include eating, playing bridge, reading, evening shows, and just generally relaxing. The food in both the main dining room and the Lido buffet is very good. Not always perfect, but the friendly and helpful serving staff will do everything humanly possible to satisfy us. Great variety. The staff is excellent, with a particular shout-out to Presty. Cooked to order breakfast items are the best on any ship we've been on. Bridge lessons and afternoon play were first rate with Karen and Dave. And almost all of the players are friendly, and tolerant of differing skill levels. There were no cut-throat players on this cruise. One of the best libraries at sea. We only brought one book for the flight down and another for the return, got the other 4 dozen books we read from the library. There's live music scattered all over the ship, and the evening shows are generally very good to excellent. We were unable to attend most of the lectures, as they conflicted with bridge classes in the morning. Shore excursions on HAL are a disappointment. The quality and selection is on par with other ships, but the prices seem to be outrageous. With the exception of Indonesia, where local traffic mandates a police escort if you want to get back to the ship on time, we hired a taxi, booked a local excursion in port, rented a car, or rode off on our own bicycles. And at most it cost us 1/2 of what the ShoreEx cost, for the same quality. Yes, we took our bikes with us. Great fun! Previously we've kept them in the cabin, but this time the wonderful Hotel Manager Henk volunteered a place to store them. With the exception of Sydney they're not much use in the big cities, but on the islands they can't be beat. One other person that deserves special mention is Cristal, the Guest Services Manager. No matter what the issue, she would step up and solve it, with a smile. Henk and Cristal are the best in their respective jobs of any cruise we've ever been on. One of the most memorable ports was in the Azores. I don't know if it's like this year around or just the day we were there, but it was the most verdant land we've ever seen. Car rental for $30/day right in the port made it even better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
First WC, totally enjoyable, staff amazing, some cabin issues (resolved), food overall above average, specialty restaurants outstanding, theme meals and decorations awesome. Most tours, all booked through HAL, good to excellent. ... Read More
First WC, totally enjoyable, staff amazing, some cabin issues (resolved), food overall above average, specialty restaurants outstanding, theme meals and decorations awesome. Most tours, all booked through HAL, good to excellent. Leaving ship on tour days was a headache with 300+ passengers waiting to disembark on the stairs and people darting to buses in order to get a window seat. Entertainment was uneven, quantity over quality. Most acts were cheesy yet they were introduced as world class. Activities covered the whole spectrum of interests; we both like cooking so we enjoyed the cooking demos and food trivia. (Trivia cliques are another story.) Being a big sports fan especially soccer, I felt very lonely without cable for more than 2 weeks. On the other hand, Superbowl transmission was good. Very smooth embarkation and disembarkation, nothing lost, still don't know how we managed to cram everything in the tiny cabin. We're looking forward to the 2017 WC Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We sailed on the 14 day holiday cruise from Ft. Lauderdale. While the ship is well designed, built using high-quality materials, roomy, and well maintained the continued cost cutting really shows. First the ship is woefully understaffed, ... Read More
We sailed on the 14 day holiday cruise from Ft. Lauderdale. While the ship is well designed, built using high-quality materials, roomy, and well maintained the continued cost cutting really shows. First the ship is woefully understaffed, especially in the dining room. Gone are wine stewards, busboys, and dining room area managers. All the work these people did now falls to the waiters, who, while trying their best, simply can not keep up. Everything is hurried. The waiter does not have time to discuss the menu or stop for even a minute. Hurry up, take your order, hurry up delivery the food, hurry up clean the table. This ruins the atmosphere and the meal. Now of course the venues that HAL charges extra for are fully staffed. No problem getting service at the bar, or shops. Secondly HAL has reduced the quality of the ingredients used for meals and it shows. Food is jut OK and many things that were once a HAL trademark (fresh pies, fresh juice, plentiful seafood are gone. Thirdly HAL has gone the Carnival route - trying to sell you everything they can. Alternate restaurants that were free now cost extra, mandatory drink add-on charge, tips added to your bill automatically, art auctions, etc., etc, etc. This is not your father's HAL anymore and that's too bad. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Although we cruised the Panama Canal westbound with HAL several years ago, we decided to repeat the cruise going eastbound for several reasons. Our main reason was to avoid the expensive flight home from San Diego to Orlando at the ... Read More
Although we cruised the Panama Canal westbound with HAL several years ago, we decided to repeat the cruise going eastbound for several reasons. Our main reason was to avoid the expensive flight home from San Diego to Orlando at the conclusion of our ms Amsterdam's 78-day Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage. The 14-day Panama Canal cruise was back-to-back with our Grand Voyage. For just a few hundred dollars more, we would avoid the hassle of the west coast flight, the jet lag, excess luggage concerns and could simply drive home from Fort Lauderdale. Fifty passengers decided to do the same thing. Our 14-day Panama Canal Cruise departed San Diego on December 8, 2014 visiting the ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Huatulco, Mexico, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Corinto, Nicaragua, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Cartagena, Columbia and Fort Lauderdale. We even remained in the same stateroom. We spent embarkation day in San Diego doing some independent sightseeing that included the Midway Museum, Little Italy, and Seaport Village. The destinations were within walking distance of the ship. Embarkation for us involved simply showing our stateroom key card and a special card alerting the personnel that we were already on the ship then putting personal items through security. It took just about a minute. We bypassed the usual boarding process. The Panama Canal cruise had a completely different feel to it than our previous cruise. Half the crew departed and new staff came on board. The number of passengers increased; they were much younger and there were more children. The music around the pool changed as did the activities around the ship. Darcy and the HALcats replaced the Amsterdam Orchestra and did a nice job. Even the lounge entertainers were different. The room service menu was shorter and the choices on the MDR menu were different. Some things did not change. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail. Arif & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations. They were very professional and efficient. Our comfortable ocean view stateroom #2595 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. It was fairly roomy by industry standards. We had a sitting area with a large end table, lamp and adjustable coffee table, a desk, a safe, a comfortable queen (two twins) size bed, good bedside lighting and two end tables. The magnifying mirror came in quite handy every day. The one thing that I did miss in the room was a mini fridge. HAL generously sent to our stateroom a vase of flowers that stayed fresh almost the entire cruise. There was also a complimentary bottle of champagne and a plate of sweets, rewards to us for taking the back-to-back cruise.. We chose to use the captain's Complimentary Dinner for Two in the Pinnacle Grill on Embarkation night. We were treated royally and service was professional and leisurely. We saw several other tables of guests from the previous cruise. Soon after being seated, we were served the captain's complimentary appetizer; it was a delicious scallop. Our (Jumbo) Shrimp Cocktails were truly jumbo and delicious. Filet Mignons with Béarnaise sauce and garlic butter were cooked exactly as ordered - rare and were very tender. Sautéed mushrooms and jumbo baked potatoes complemented the entrees and were scrumptious as was the bread. Although by this time we were full, we did manage to take a few bites of our desserts. I highly recommend this specialty restaurant. We definitely will come again on another HAL cruise. The only thing lacking in this restaurant are windows. We requested the same servers and same table #330 near the windows in the La Fontaine Main Dining Room. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining Room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Although Jumbo Shrimp cocktail was no longer on the menu nightly I found plenty of other choices to keep me happy. We found the food to be great and the chefs continued to accommodate my husband's meal restrictions. We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Several times we took advantage of the Drink of the Day for $5.95 and Happy Hour: Buy 1 Drink, Get the 2nd Same Drink for $1 for Select Beverages. Happy Hour was the best deal on the ship. The selection of food in the Lido also changed somewhat but was still good. For example the large selection at the sushi station was now significantly reduced but there was still plenty of other choices. The same ice cream station was still there so I was a happy camper. Be sure to check both sides of the buffet as a few selections are only offered on one side. For the best fries on the ship, visit the Dive In poolside. We enjoyed all the nightly entertainment, especially the Amsterdam Singers & Dancers Shows: Variations, Can't Stop the Music and I Write the Songs. The singing was excellent and the dancers were talented and energetic. For us, these shows were repeats but still enjoyable. A few of the other entertaining shows that I recall were vocalist Jacqi Michaels, Comedian and magician Nick Lewin, Pianist, Singer, Marty Henne and Live wire (Celtic music and spirit.) Jeff Burghart did funny impressions. Other Queen's Lounge (theater) shows were the lounge entertainers Adagio, Dancing with the Stars and the lively Ole, Ole flamenco with a difference. I missed the crew show on this cruise since it was performed at 11 PM, too late for us to stay up. I had seen the two crew shows on the previous cruise that were performed at 3 PM, a better time for us. We enjoyed many of the activities on the ship especially the very interesting talks by On Location Guide, Alanna. She made learning about the history and culture of the area fun and educational at the same time. Alanna had a easy rapport with the passengers. We were very impressed with Alanna's knowledge of the workings of the Panama Canal and the port of calls even though this was her first visit to these ports and the Panama Canal. Her research was thorough and she answered all the questions asked of her. All the on board computer Digital Workshop classes that I attended were easy to understand and helpful. I enjoyed the several cooking shows and brought home the printed recipes. Board games, crosswords and Sudoku are available in the Exploration Cafe. Just as an aside, the sweets in the cafe are complementary. One night there was a lively Mexican Fiesta BBQ with live Mariachi music and a selection of grilled favorite. That night was the Lido Pool Party with a night of fun, music and dancing under the stars as we sailed from Puerto Vallarta to Huatulco, Mexico. Carlos, the Cruise Director was wonderful in getting passengers involved and up dancing. Be sure to take the interesting Kitchen Galley Tour and learn interesting facts about how the kitchen operates on the ship. HAL offers daily religious services and is one of the few remaining cruise lines that still does that. Movie buffs will enjoy the movies shown in the Wajang Theater 3 times daily. Popular ones were, If I Stay, The Maze Runner and Jersey Boys. The One Hundred Foot Journey was shown on a large screen in the Queen's Lounge. The ship's public areas are stylish without being trendy. Their decor is subdued with an air of quiet elegance. When not in use for live entertainment or presentations, the lounges with their lovely fresh flower arrangements, fine art and antiques are inviting places for reading or writing. They are well used by passengers. Of course, the biggest excitement on board was the daytime full transit of the Panama Canal. Although this was our second full transit, it was just as much fun and equally interesting. HAL permits passengers access to the bow so you are close to the action; there is plenty to see all day starting at sunrise. HAL provided a continental breakfast of juice and Panama rolls as well chilled lemonade and water throughout the day to keep everyone hydrated. Alanna gave a talk over the loud speakers that reached the public areas. Her talks were supplemented by a local canal lecturer who provided commentary from the bridge, heard on the outside decks, the Lido Restaurant, the Crow's Nest and on TV in staterooms. Unfortunately the speakers weren't working properly even though they worked fine when tested the previous night. These things happen and HAL worked around the problem. We were outside on the bow as we passed under the Bridge of America, passed through the Miraflores Locks, the Pedro Miguel Locks and entered Gatun Lake and the Gatun Locks. We also saw where the new locks were being built. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Panama Canal. The ship celebrated with a Panamanian Market, authentic foods, drinks and live music poolside. Your friends and family can even watch your ship sail through the locks in real time online by the live webcams located in the Panama Canal. Ship photographer, Birdie was out and about taking candid shots throughout the transit. Throughout the cruise she always seemed to be everywhere - in the MDR, on the pier on shore excursions and in general around the ship where something was happening. She offered her services but never push them which everyone appreciated. Her photos were so wonderful that we purchased all our candid shots at the conclusion of the cruise. Although they are expensive purchased singly, $20, as a package they are most reasonable. They bring back happy memories every time I share them with family and friends. The shore excursions that we purchased through HAL in each port of call were all worthwhile and enjoyable. The guides were knowledgeable, interesting and spoke English well. We were most impressed with our Huatulco (Mexico) By Land & Sea tour and Colonial San Sebastian in Puerto Vallarta. Our tour guide in Nicaragua had us all laughing when he tried to convince us that our tour would be in Spanish. Not only did we enjoy his tour and antics but we all learned lots of Spanish words. Although our tour in Cartagena was a repeat of our previous HAL shore excursion, we visited different sights around the city and it actually ran an hour longer than scheduled. We felt that we got our money's worth on all these excursions. One of the nicest features on the ms Amsterdam is the dome over the mid-ship swimming pool. While it is especially useful when the ship sails Alaska, it also protects passengers from wind gusts and sudden, brief thundershowers in the warmer climates as well. One poor element about the ship is that the comfy couches in the Queen's Lounge are lower than the theater chairs, which makes seeing the performers, especially the dancers' feet much harder. I also missed the stage sets and back drops at the shows. However, the excellent service, big smiles of the crew and the good food more than makes up these shortcomings. All too soon our 14-day Panama trip was over. We watched as all the dazzling Christmas decorations were put up (there was a menorah lit each night of Hanukkah, too) in preparation for the Christmas cruise. Hopefully another great cruise with HAL is in our future perhaps on their new ship, Koningsdam a Pinnacle-class of vessel scheduled for delivery in 2016. This will be HAL's sixteenth ship in its fleet. Before I end the review I want to mention the Bonus Days that HAL offers for every $300 spent, which includes prepaid beverage packages and shore excursions, gratuities as well as onboard purchases. I do not know of any other cruise line that does this. Through this perk, we are now only eight days shy of reaching the Four Star Level when they offer free laundry service.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This turned out to be one of the worst vacations ever. We didn't get to Tasmania or the South New Zealand fiords which is what we really wanted to see. The cruise before us also didn't get there because of bad seas. So we spent 4 ... Read More
This turned out to be one of the worst vacations ever. We didn't get to Tasmania or the South New Zealand fiords which is what we really wanted to see. The cruise before us also didn't get there because of bad seas. So we spent 4 days at sea looking at ocean. But they did give us a free glass of champagne. Oh joy! Then everything you bought had a 15% service fee tacked on. If you purchase wine in a port, then you have to pay an $18 charge per bottle to bring it on board. The land excursions were expensive. In one port we hired a local who was half the price and in New Zealand dollars. And he had to pay the Line 15% to use the dock! Don't ask about the wifi. We paid $100 dollars for 50 minutes so we could just check emails. It was so slow and bad they had to keep adding minutes when we complained. So we spent our time in ports trying to check emails. We had cruised with Holland once before in the same ship to Alaska 10 years earlier and enjoyed it, but we certainly never felt like we were nickeled and dimed to death. Did I say the ship really needs to be refurbished. Amazing what can happen in 10 years. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific ... Read More
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage was a perfect match for us, we decided not to wait for our 50th Anniversary. A major selling point for us was that there were no long flights to and from foreign airports involved. There would be little jet lag also. Two days prior to the cruise, we flew from Orlando, FL to Seattle, Washington for some independent sightseeing. On September 21, we boarded the ms Amsterdam in Seattle for our incredible 78-day journey. For us it was the trip of a lifetime. For many others on the cruise, this was their forth or fifth + Grand Voyage. Our Ports of Call were Seattle, Washington, Kodiak, Alaska, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Kushiro, Japan, Tokyo, Japan (2 overnights,) Nagasaki, Japan, Jeju, S. Korea, Incheon (Seoul,) S. Korea (2 overnights,) Xingang, China (2 overnights,) Qingdao, China, Shanghai, China (3 overnights,) Hong Kong (2 overnights,) Phu My, Vietnam, Singapore (2 overnights,) Tanjung Priok (Jakarta,) Indonesia, Bali, Indonesia, Slawi Bay (Komodo Island), Indonesia, Darwin, Australia, Port Douglas (Cains,) Australia, Sydney, Australia (2 overnights,) Nomea, New Caladonia, Kuto (Ile des Pins,) New Caledonia, Lautoka, Fiji, Suva, Fiji, Apia, Samoa, Hilo, Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii (2 overnights,) Lahaina, Hawaii and San Diego, California. If you have never taken a Grand Journey or World Cruise, perhaps you think these cruises are just like other cruises only longer. These cruises are so much more than that; they are very extraordinary experiences. Passengers on our voyage bonded together immediately because we knew that we would be together for 78 days. We soon became like a family. The "precious" (HAL's word) staff, which for the most part is hand picked by Holland America for these cruises is even more attentive and friendly for the same reason. Service is far superior, more personal, although always wonderful on all HAL cruises. The passengers were mainly seniors, American for the most part but with some Australians and Canadian; there was only one child on board for the complete cruise. Other children did join the cruise for a segment and more children were on board for our Indonesian stops (crew families.) There were so many extras for every passenger. Among the most notable were, a Travel Journal (I used mine daily,) a strong zippered lined shoulder bag including a smaller matching toiletries bag with a leather stateroom/ ID holder and lanyard, a HAL-Steiff Teddy Bear Sailor, Grand Voyage Tiffany mug, ceramic Royal Goedewaagen Grand Voyage Plate plus a sturdy roll along piece of luggage to carry all the gifts home. Everything was of the highest quality. Passengers also earn unique Grand Dollars throughout the cruise by participating in various activities. I turned my dollars in for a flash drive, two compact umbrellas, HAL cosmetic case and ear phones. MP3 Players were a quite popular choice. Many evenings there were special Gala Celebrations and formal Theme Nights such as the elaborate Black & Silver and Black & Gold Grand Balls. Other events were equally unique only more casual such as the Halloween Monster Mash Party, Alaska Salmon Bake, Kimono Night, Tropical Paradise Dinner and Hawaiian Cookout. Three of my other favorites were the exciting Masked Ball (I loved my gorgeous complimentary hot pink mask,) Oktoberfest and the Red Lantern Formal Dinner. HAL went to great expense elaborately decorating the venues for all the planned themed events. All the servers wore themed costumes. Of course we had the usual Captain's Welcome Reception and Mariner's Appreciation Night that are always lovely and well-attended. Two other themed events were the Chef's Farewell Dinner and the Grand Show Buffet. Other exciting optional events were extra cost. Everyone who attend these thought that they were worthwhile. There were a total of nine formal nights on the 78-day cruise. As we departed each port there was a Farewell Party with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, sometimes even complimentary cocktails and live band. Although we always regretted that we didn't have longer port stays (are they ever long enough?) we all looked forward to the farewell parties. The ship had the usual daily Afternoon Tea at 3 PM; I only attended the most elaborate themed ones, Royal Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino and English High Teas. I photographed each lavish display of pastries. A more unusual high tea was the Cupcake High Tea. Speaking of food, on our Grand Journey there were better choices at all three meals. For example Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was always on the MDR dinner menu. For breakfast crepes were an unusual offering. At lunchtime we could always choose from a whole section of sushi, sashimi, mussels and clams in addition to other selections. Even the room service menu had more choices. Since the food is always good on HAL, I never was tempted to try the specialty restaurants or extra cost dinners although I had plenty of onboard credits to spend. I was told that HAL allots more dollars per passenger for food costs on Grand or World cruises which would explain the greater variety and quality. MDR service was uniformly well-paced. We always finished dinner in about an hour or so (really, I know it's hard to believe.) We were encouraged to linger and savor our wine. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Noel our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Grand Voyages passengers have a unique package option of a glass of wine each night and it is very reasonably priced; we took advantage of it. We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. Our room was often made up sometimes even before we returned from breakfast. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail. Arif (Lukman, earlier in the cruise) & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations. They were very professional and efficient. Our comfortable oceanview stateroom #2695 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. We requested and promptly received extra wooden hangers. HAL also provided us with a power strip that we used daily. A suggestion to HAL is that they install bathroom nightlights. After being disturbed early in the morning on several occasion from crew working on the deck above, the noises stopped after passengers mentioned the problem during a Q & A session with the officers. Other minor problems were also fixed after this session. HAL did listen. The Queen's Lounge (theater) entertainment was diverse and professional although lacking stage sets. There was always a main nightly show except when there were port night excursions or when a movie on a big screen was shown in the theater. We usually had matinee shows if there was no evening show scheduled. Entertainers often appeared twice with a different show each time. I enjoyed the talented singers and dancers even when they repeated their three shows on another segment. They were always energetic. Just about everyone on board attended the fabulous Indonesian & Filipino crew shows. The theater was packed for both 3 PM shows and the crew was so proud of their performances - so were we. The shows really helped to bond the crew and passengers. HAL should schedule these shows at 3 PM on their other cruises as well. I know that my husband, I and others do not want to stay up until 11 PM to attend the late shows. I also enjoyed the nightly live entertainment in the various lounges. Adagio in the Navigation Lounge performed beautiful classical music on the piano and violin. We were regulars at their pre-dinner performances. Debbie Bacon performed in the Piano Bar; we attended her nightly show at 7 PM. It was always fun & games with her. One night she invited her husband, Ron to join her on guitar; it was the highlight for all of us. When we were in ports overnight, Debbie performed outdoors on deck under the stars. How romantic was that! We enjoyed the Adagio guys and Debbie so much that we purchased several of their CDs, which they autographed. When these performers were off, we enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and Larry in the Crown's Next. They were very entertaining as well. Although we had a couple of long stretches of sea days, I was never bored. There were so many daily scheduled activities that I couldn't attend them all. My favorites were the wonderful Port Talks by Travel Guide Barbara who was so knowledgeable and well travelled and the Kitchen Galley Tour. I attended most of the quality computer classes by Craig who made learning fun and easy. There were plenty of history, military history and talks on the culture of the foreign countries that we visited. I attended all the culinary demonstrations (with printed recipes and samples, of course) and a couple of movies. A big thanks goes to HAL for providing various religious services throughout the cruise. Few cruise lines do this anymore. By far one of the most unusual activities on board was the special Neptune Ceremony when we crossed the equator. What fun the crew, passengers and officers all had poolside. Complimentary specialty drinks, costumes and decorations added to the festive atmosphere. The exotic Ports of Call were the main reason we booked this cruise and each was exciting and memorable. My favorite, and it is difficult to pick just one, was perhaps Shanghai. We docked right in the center of the action facing a beautifully lit skyline complete with a laser show. The city has a lot to offer visitors. My husband's favorite was Ile des Pins with its stunning beaches. We both thought that the most unusual port was Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons. How many other cruises stop here? We enjoyed all of the HAL Shore Excursion and found them to be very worthwhile. One disappointment, though, was that the scheduled Tokyo stop was cancelled due to the eminent arrival of a typhoon. The captain anticipated the problem, substituted two other exciting ports, Kanazawa and Fukuoka (Hakata) on the opposite side of Japan. We did not encounter rough seas or rain perhaps just a bit of wind. Those who had previously visited Tokyo said that these were even better ports. Special for the Grand Voyages, HAL arranged complementary shuttles in the ports whenever it was feasible. This was a huge help especially for those touring independently. In only one port did I have a problem with the shuttles. That was in Dutch Harbor where there were only two buses in service and no HAL shore excursion offered. Many passengers resorted to roaming taxis. There were a few other port challenges mostly out of HAL's hands but with a trip this long no one expected perfection. HAL did their best to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for us all. HAL provided us all with a plethora of pre-cruise documentation and throughout the cruise. We received plenty of port information sheets, maps, ship logs and multi-page Explorer Guides to the ports with things to See and Do, shopping info, dining, sightseeing suggestions etc. At each foreign port we receive an extremely handy card listing essential foreign words, phrases, and a currency conversion charts that I used in every port. It also listed emergency phone numbers of the ship in port. I made a few minor suggestions to HAL at the end of our cruise. For the Lido Buffet, I suggested adding lemonade as a beverage. I enjoyed it in the mornings poolside. Ice tea is provided but the caffeine makes me feel wired. Tall glasses are needed as it was hard to fill water bottles using juice sized glasses. I missed having no fat milk available at breakfast. I suggested more variety of music poolside. Embarkation was very slow (45 minutes,) which surprised me but we were offered cold water or lemonade. It was just hard to drink the beverage while moving along the line with jackets and hand luggage while trying to complete the health sheet. A more serious problem was the fact that the very comfortable couches in the Queen's Theater are lower than the chairs. If you sit on a couch, it is difficult to see over the heads of people on chairs in front of you. The main problem for us, though, was the absence of flex time dining. In ports, it was a rush to make it to the MDR for our 5:30 Early Dining Time. I have to say that Pondi was always accommodating to our late arrivals. Only once did we have dinner in the Lido Buffet. Many of the excursion buses in Beijing were delayed two hours returning to the ship due to evening traffic jams. We were all treated royally in the Lido restaurant which stayed open late to serve us. It was nice not to have to change clothes for dinner. What I enjoyed most about the ship was the dome over the pool area. We could sit poolside even in Alaska where the temperature was cool. Although we experience very few rainy days, whenever it got a bit windy or cool, the dome was closed. Also HAL adjusted time zone changes eastbound at 2PM instead of the usual 2 AM so we didn't lose any sleep - great idea! The well-maintained ship was comfortable although there were several plumbing problems on the long journey. The ship was just the right size to get into the smaller ports and it was easy to find my way around the ship. Hopefully another HAL Grand Voyage is in my future - what a spectacular way to cruise and be pampered. One unique and valuable bonus offered by HAL is that for every $300 you spend on board, even pre-booked shore excursions and drink packages, you earn credit for a sailing day. We reached three star level a week early due to this bonus and are now only 8 days shy of level 4 stars when you receive complementary laundry service. We booked the Back to Back HAL cruise to the Panama Canal, keeping our same stateroom. So, our vacation lasted an additional 14 days. Due to the high cost of our return flight from San Diego, it was only a little more money to cruise back to FL on the ship and simply drive home. But, that is another review.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We always wanted to cruise to Alaska so finally decided it was time. We chose Holland America because their ships are smaller, allowing us access to several areas that the larger ships can't get to. We were able to go into several ... Read More
We always wanted to cruise to Alaska so finally decided it was time. We chose Holland America because their ships are smaller, allowing us access to several areas that the larger ships can't get to. We were able to go into several beautiful fjords with incredible glaciers and get "up close and personal"! Holland America caters to an older crowd, so the entertainment and night clubs are not wild and crazy. Food is incredible! The ships are clean and well maintained and staff is a cut above perfection! Always willing to do the extra for you. Our cabin was typical size but the verandah made it so lovely. I like that there are 2 chaise lounges on the verandah. Shore excursions are varied and affordable so be sure to check them out. Gym and spa are great as are the two pools. We took several classes while on board, computer, camera and a cooking class. We did not travel with children. Holland America does have a children's area, clubhouse and although there were quite a few children on board we did not see them much as the crew working there kept them quite busy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My husband and I cruised on the August 10 sailing on the Amsterdam to Alaska. It was intended to be a complete relaxation cruise as we had been to the ports before though had not cruised the Tracey Arm Fjord. Embarkation was a dream. Even ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the August 10 sailing on the Amsterdam to Alaska. It was intended to be a complete relaxation cruise as we had been to the ports before though had not cruised the Tracey Arm Fjord. Embarkation was a dream. Even though we arrived at “prime time” around 11:30, it took us about 15 minutes from the time the car dropped us off to arriving in our Stateroom. We took advantage of bringing our own wine onboard paying the corkage fee up front for our additional bottles. This was included in our 15 minutes to board time! While we mourn the passing of unlimited wine for the stateroom, we quickly got over this. A quick stop to the Neptune Lounge to introduce ourselves to Jersey and her team and we were off to the Mariner’s Lunch in the MDR. The choices for lunch were somewhat limited and we were surprised to see that there were no wines by the glass that met our $7.00 cap for our beverage cards. We met very nice people at our shared table. It is true that once you meet on board, you will meet many times after that. Our bags were delivered to our room by 1:30 (possibly earlier, but we weren’t there!) and we were unpacked by 2. Plenty of storage space with multiple closets, drawers, etc. (note to others, make sure to check all of those spaces before you leave as the prior tenants left several t-shirts and things from the shop in the room). We had one of the Neptune suites (Deluxe Verandahs) located at mid-ship. It was perfect. Nicely maintained, close to the midship elevators which we NEVER heard. Only when you were on the balcony could you hear anything from any of the other rooms and only when they were on the balcony. Note to fellow passengers: If you want to play your saxophone on the balcony and you are not particularly good at playing, please don’t do it! We were very lucky as no one smoked in the adjacent rooms. We only smelled smoke once on the balcony and it was very faint. Even the casino was not overly smoky. The ship was in excellent shape, with little evidence that it had been some time since its last refurbishment. Beds were comfortable with great sheets and pillows. I’m always somewhat amazed by the whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms: Does anyone really ever use them? Walk in showers would be more productive, but that’s just MHO. The Main Dining Room had good food and amazing service from all from the water guys through the waiters to the wine stewards. All were knowledgeable about the offerings and very good about special requests (salad dressing on the side, an order of chile relleno as a shared side) were accommodated with a smile. Make sure to try the cheese plates for dessert, keeping a few pieces of bread from dinner. The cheeses were great, the Saltines and Wasa were OK. Jacques, the Sommelier for the ship, was very well educated and was able to take his knowledge and share it on many levels. We attended his more extensive wine seminar where he even opened bottles of champagne with a saber. We consume a lot of champagne, but had never actually seen anyone do this (not once but twice!). We were quite impressed. The wine selection was very nice and there were several Pacific NorthWest wineries represented including the LongShadows wineries. Prices were about 2 to 2 ½ times the wine store rates. Don’t forget the 15% service charge for all beverages. Oh, the Pinnacle Grill. Service was exquisite, with the tableside Caesar salads. We had three dinners and one lunch there. The first time we did the add on for the crab legs. They were yummy, but not sure worth the $20 upcharge. The caviar appetizer was amazing (since I didn’t know I liked caviar!) and we received a very healthy portion for the $45 upcharge. Jacques and Noel helped with wine choices which were spot on. Try the cioppino. You won’t be disappointed. We had the filet, the porterhouse, the bone in ribeye, the halibut and the salmon (obviously not the same meal!) and loved each one of them. We were just sorry not to have been able to try the other items! My husband loved the chocolate grand Marnier lava cake. I mentioned that I was sorry to miss the grand Marnier souffle in the MDR, and was delighted that the PG brought in the dessert for me. We enjoyed Diane in the Piano Bar. Very entertaining, never took a break and kept us laughing and singing throughout the evenings. Pat and Anne Marie held down the bar which was quite busy most evenings. Service was always with a smile. Other than the individual artists, we weren’t overly impressed with the big venue entertainment. We do like having the movie theater available and saw a film that we had not seen before. The Exploration Café served a very nice latte and by the second day, we were called by name and our order started before we got up to the counter. Their evening beverages were really good and a nice mid point on our evening. We chose this cruise for Tracey Arm and we were not disappointed. The weather was cool and cloudy, but dry. We were awed by how close we were to land on each side of us. There were hundreds of harbor seals near the glacier which provided us with amusement. We saw lots of whales during the trip, including on our first morning at sea, with one coming right up along side the ship. Plenty of bald, golden and immature eagles as well. Sigh, we didn’t see any bears in the wild. The Juneau and Sitka ports had solid rain. We got off the ship just to putter around (and Sitka, to avoid the all crew safety drills). We would have liked additional time in Ketchikan as we find it to be a really cute port. In reality, there is only about 2 hours there as we arrived quite early in the morning and were heading out by 1. We were late arriving into Victoria (tides and wind?) and there were two other larger ships already docked. We decided to stay on board, again because of the shorter time there. We arrived back in Seattle and took our time getting up and off the boat. Again, it was amazingly quick. We got off the boat around 9 am and were waiting, with our luggage for the car service by 9:25. I think it took longer to walk the gangplank than anything else! All in all, a delightful cruise and we look forward to another trip on HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was ... Read More
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was fantastic, it's a wonder we didn't put on any weight on the cruise. We found the bed to be rather stiff, I woke up with back aches a couple days. Our stewards kept our cabin spotless. Only have a few gripes. We reserved a large cabin but it was at smallest of the range given. We did have plenty of storage for our stuff though. Our cabin was under the Queens lounge, we could hear the music from the lounge at night. Not loud enough to be disturbing though. Our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill was ruined by a large boisterous party of 13 seated in the same room. Lastly, the gal that worked the gift shop couldn't care less about the guests. She refused a simple request to find a shirt in my size then ignored customers in the shop while a couple of the ship's officers looked around. The last gripe is the lack of trash receptacles on the ship. It wasn't uncommon to see trash left abandoned around the ship. I often carried empty paper cups all the way back to my cabin for disposal. The very good was the food in the Pinnacle Grill and the Canneletto. The staff (except for one) was very friendly. The entertainment was top notch. The gal that did a black and white photo shoot for us went above the call of duty. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this cruise in 2 years or so. The Amsterdam is a first-class ship, well-maintained and well-run. We particularly liked 2 of the public areas on the ship, the Crow's Nest and the Library. During daylight hours, both were places where you could chat, read and simply observe the passing scenery and wildlife. Our cabin was clean and had more storage space than we needed. The cabin and the bathroom had excellent air circulation and A/C. The food on the cruise was quite good. We ate most evening meals in the main dining room and enjoyed both the quality of the food and the variety of offerings. We especially liked the fish and vegetarian choices. The food in the Lido, where we had most breakfasts and lunches, was very good. We ate twice in the Canaletto, and thought the food and the service were vastly improved compared with past HAL cruises. And the Pinnacle Grill is exceptional, well worth at least one dinner during a cruise. We were very impressed with cruising in the Tracey Arm and Hubbard Glacier area. Our favorite ports were Ketchikan, Kodiak and Sitka. Our best shore excursions were the Misty Fjords trip out of Ketchikan, the whale watching trip out of Juneau and the sea otters and wildlife trip out of Sitka. In addition to the shore excursions, we were able to see many whales, both humpbacks and orcas, while cruising. The room stewards and dining room personnel all provided us with excellent service. They were uniformly pleasant and attentive, and a few made it a point to learn our names during the cruise. Our only criticism was the shortage of wine stewards in the dining room. Entertainment is not high on our list of reasons for cruising. But we appreciated the addition of the 6:30 PM shows, which allowed us to go to dinner around 7:30 PM after the big dinner rush. The on-board entertainers were energetic and generally well-received. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures were somewhat improved over prior cruises. The disembarkation process was especially smooth and efficient.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our Alaska cruise was positive in many ways but there were also several shortcomings. Our room was very nice and clean, with a balcony. Only problem was an early morning leaking toilet that flooded the bathroom. It was solved in a timely ... Read More
Our Alaska cruise was positive in many ways but there were also several shortcomings. Our room was very nice and clean, with a balcony. Only problem was an early morning leaking toilet that flooded the bathroom. It was solved in a timely fashion. Our room attendant was very nice, polite and efficient. He was a wonderful addition. The food was average, and it was bothersome to have to pay for soft drinks and speciality coffees. House wines were low quality and should have been free with dinner orders at the speciality restaurants. The Lido restaurant was average and often crowded and hard to find a table. Some staff were friendly others seemed like they were bored with their jobs. The most bothersome part was having to walk through the pool area to access the food area. High chlorine smells, noisy kids in the pool, and a wet floor didn't exactly make for a delightful eating experience. The excursions were pretty well organized and we had little trouble getting to the correct locations or returning to the ship. Lines were relatively small which was really nice. It was also nice to find several locations on the ship where you could sit quietly and watch the ocean. They were away from the bars and congestion. The ship also offered good variety of activities onboard from bingo, dancing, and the casino. The spa was very good for massage and other relaxing endeavors. The ship is a bit old and weathered, and we had only one code red warning, which made us all wash our hands every few minutes. Another irritation was that the final bill did not come until you were about to disembark the ship. You had no time to review or check for mistakes and the front desk line was pretty long with those questioning their bill. Overall a fifty/fifty experience.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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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