1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Selected because of sail date giving us one night and the next day before celebrating New Year's Eve. Overall the cruise was great. The ship was clean, well organized and staffed and a good size. However, we found the clients to be ... Read More
Selected because of sail date giving us one night and the next day before celebrating New Year's Eve. Overall the cruise was great. The ship was clean, well organized and staffed and a good size. However, we found the clients to be on average considerably older than us and many of the activities centered around that age group. Entertainment was too structured. For example, the piano bar had three show times each evening, stopping while a show was going on in the main theater. On our cruise prior to this one the Piano Bar was open from seven tip midnight and the entertainer took breaks. Very little lively music was played during the day on the pool deck. Definitely not a "party cruise". However, the overall experience was one that left us with the opinion we would certainly cruise on Holland America again but we will probably pay more attention to the ship's offerings. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We have sailed before on different lines and knew what we were searching for -- quiet, mature relaxation. We found it on Holland America. We made a point to search for ships that had no waterslides or theme parks on top. We wanted no ... Read More
We have sailed before on different lines and knew what we were searching for -- quiet, mature relaxation. We found it on Holland America. We made a point to search for ships that had no waterslides or theme parks on top. We wanted no big crowds. We wanted to be able to choose our dining time and table. We wanted elegance. We wanted mature, hospitable people around us. Holland America ticked all the boxes. They graciously gave us the dining hour we requested; a table for 2 with a view of the water, even though this was our first time sailing with them. We had no perks or points to claim. I was impressed by this, as Carnival, NCL, and RCL failed to grant our requests in this regard. It was a mostly mature crowd and we were happy. Some said it was boring, but that was ok with us. The food was fabulous. The sommelier was great. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy. No crowds. We will choose HAL again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our 5th Holland Cruise in 3 years. Can see lots of changes- no bread pudding, no speciality teas, no Indonesian crew show. The things that used to make Holland special. The Oosterdam was nice as it has been drydocked and ... Read More
This was our 5th Holland Cruise in 3 years. Can see lots of changes- no bread pudding, no speciality teas, no Indonesian crew show. The things that used to make Holland special. The Oosterdam was nice as it has been drydocked and received upgrades. Was looking forward to Billboard Live- was not a fan- perhaps because the entertainers were not that good. Adaigo was replaced by a quintet- seems to have lost some in the transition. Seems HAL is trying to go more mainstream, but at a cost. Service was top notch as usual. 3rd year in a row sailing HAL for New Year's Eve and saw cutbacks there as well. No beads, no noisemakers. Guatemala was an industrial port- very poor town on the excursion we took. Little French Key in Roatan is not to be missed! Not a bad cruise, not just the best. Will be trying other lines now! =( Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We picked this Christmas cruise since we thought HAL would make it a nice celebration. Although sold out, the ship never seemed crowded. The Oosterdam has been remodeled, and we find it overall looks good, though some parts still ... Read More
We picked this Christmas cruise since we thought HAL would make it a nice celebration. Although sold out, the ship never seemed crowded. The Oosterdam has been remodeled, and we find it overall looks good, though some parts still show her age... Onboard there are some wonderful people: our stewards Dody and Jo-Jo; Danniela from Privileges, Alit from stateroom service and most dining stewards. PROS: Great movie selection, now on demand (no longer have to ask for DVDs). What makes HAL most special to us is the amazing room service.. right up to disembarkation morning breakfast!! Also THANK YOU for not rushing us out of the room. The disembarkation was very efficient and organized (however, embarkation seemed cumbersome.. standing in line twice, first line with only 2 people checking everyone's passports out in the heat?!???) I liked the new dining arrangement in the Lido; uncrowded, and the help of the service staff to bring drinks gives you less of a chance to eat cold food, after running back and forth for drinks etc. Wonderful music experience [Mexican Marachi band while in Cozumel port and African music at Mahagony Bay, jazz music at the aft pool] Great hair cut by Melissa in the spa/hair salon although pricey. NEEDING IMPROVEMENTS: 1. stateroom insulation. In our cabin (port forward Verandah), the rehearsals in the theater below were so loud that our floor vibrated. Some of the shows could be heard in our room until midnight.. unfortunately, we retire and get up early, so even with our earplugs we did not get sleep until the shows finished. Same with every cabin or balcony door that was slammed - it may be a good idea to suggest to guests to abstain from letting doors slam. Fixation of balcony dividers. I would like for some HAL people to stay in a stateroom and listen to the noise as the ship turns into the wind and the dividers start flapping - like you're in the engine room! Our nice cabin steward finally squeezed some rags in between the divider spaces, and that made it slightly better. Speaking of cabins - beds are kinda firm, gave us some discomfort in hips (side sleepers). 2. Overall, the smoking situation has MUCH improved; we cannot wait for the smoking to stop on balconies. We both have asthma, and as soon as someone smokes out on the balconies, we have to go inside, and are unable to use our balcony, despite getting one of the most forward cabins. Some of the staff smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke. If I worked for HAL, I would have staff change clothing after smoking, or better yet, give out nicotine patches and help them quit completely!! I'm sure you want your staff healthy and not at risk for 47 types of cancer. There is evidence for damage done by third-hand smoking (=on clothing/people); it can very easily trigger an asthma attack. 3. Time change on the ship.. due to misinformation by guest services, we got up at 630am for a shore excursion only to find that ship's time was only 530am. I had compared clocks with guest services the night before, and they were still wrong.. it did cost us an hour sleep while not being able to get rest until midnight (see 1.) 4. We like very much that the announcements have been reduced, and don't interrupt constantly in the stateroom, but now, everyone has to open their cabin doors if they do want to hear the announcement, such as for disembarkation. It was stated it could be heard over the TV, but we went through all menu options and were unable to find it. That should be something that is easily located. 5. see above under embarkation. There should be 4-5 agents at the doorways checking people's passports and boarding passes, so not another line has to be formed before waiting in line at the check-in stands. The check-in agent was very nice, although it took a while since she was not that familiar with HAL's policies. 6. I would give out fewer papers, and simply advertise on the television for specials. 7. Wifi ok, but just very expensive. 8. No espresso stand other than Explorer Cafe'? The barista seemed overworked at times, and on one day, they didn't open until the afternoon. 9. Sushi more often!! Was very good. It would be good to know somehow if the port/starboard sides of the Lido have the same foods or offer different options, and what specials, like sushi, are served. Bottom line - we'll probably sail with them again, mostly because of the outstanding service. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Great ship, great recent upgrades, awesome crew and staff, this is what brings us back again. Entertainment has come a long way, BB King Blues club a huge hit on board, Lincoln Center stage just perfect. Great shows on board. We were ... Read More
Great ship, great recent upgrades, awesome crew and staff, this is what brings us back again. Entertainment has come a long way, BB King Blues club a huge hit on board, Lincoln Center stage just perfect. Great shows on board. We were treated very well by the staff and crew. The ship is in good shape.We enjoy Holland due to the sophisticated class it represents, little presence of kids except at the Holidays. When laying on the aft deck in the sun, you get to relax!, not be overwhelmed by annoying partying. You'll notice sophisticated piano music, (relaxing) music subtly through the speakers. Recent upgrades at the Lido buffet have been welcome also. Don't miss the Pinnacle dining room, $30/pp but well worth it, you'd have to search hard to find such a high end Fine Dining venue such as this on land, much less at sea! Last, the Fillipino and Indonesian staff are what make Holland America such a great experience. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We had been cruising three to four time annually for many years but have started cutting back. This due to our unhappiness at what cruise experience has become. Less staff, more extra charging, and less service. Recent cruises on RCL ... Read More
We had been cruising three to four time annually for many years but have started cutting back. This due to our unhappiness at what cruise experience has become. Less staff, more extra charging, and less service. Recent cruises on RCL Grandeur, Carnival Pride, and Royal Princess have left us bewildered by changes that were obvious cutbacks. So we decided to try Holland America again figuring that they will be the last hold out. We found that so far they are in many areas though they too apparently are being cut back as well. Several regulars, we had only sailed HA twice before and years ago, were complaining about extra charges and lesser services. A couple told us they were considering trying RCL etc. We assured them that if they were concerned about current level of HA they would really be unhappy on other lines. So we combined a road trip NY to Florida stopping in Savannah GA for a couple day stay over on the way. We also spent a couple days in The Villages seeing friends in area and checking that area out for a second home. Previously we thought we would be spending more and more time at sea instead of needing a second home. We arrived in Tampa in good shape and stayed at the Embassy Suites Convention Center on a Stay and Cruise deal that couldn't be beat. For $192 suite for night, transport to and from pier, and 7 days parking for our car. They also have 2 hour complimentary cocktails in evening and complimentary made to order breakfast in the morning. During our land portion we came to find that Hilton product rooms and breakfast and good restaurant dinners were far better than what ships have been offering. This is something we did want to re-experice through the land portion. Embarkation Tampa was excellent. Instead of the RCL and now Princess hi tech devices they simply had many, I would guess near 20, manned check in stations. Was comfortable terminal and we arrived about 11:30 or so. They had not yet started boarding the ship but they had plenty of seating and we were issued number. Honestly we are used to having priority boarding on other lines because of the times we have sailed but found that this was handled so well priority wasn't an issue. They started boarding ship after 12 and it went very fast. a nice feature was that no waiting to enter your rooms, they were al ready. So dropped our carry ons and went to lunch. We were in Signature Suite 8072 and were extremely please in it's design and apparent recent redo. Even the TV was magnificent like a 55" on the wall. Better than what I have at home. Also surprised that they offered fairly recent movies, on demand and that even resume feature all at NO extra charge. Night stands each had 110 outlets and also usb ports for charging, a very nice addition to a cruise cabin of old. Even newer ships we have sailed like Quantum class didn't have that. Beds superior we wanted for nothing in this suite. This is what would be considered a mini suite cat on ships not " real " suite yet was better than many full suites we take. The still do chocolates at turn down, balcony good size with cushioned seats. In fact the whole ship even by pools have cushioned seats for comfort. Towels are placed on them as well by pools etc. The only down side if there was one, located under food are so can get some morning set up chair noise. Not enough to bother us but everyone is different. Lunch buffet, again we were happy to find some of the " old " cruise service features. Napkins and silver on set tables in buffet area. Iced tea and water service and refill bright to table. Many areas were served at buffet making plates up as desired. Sandwiches many were pre-made and wrapped and bags of made up potato chips as well. We were happy with the buffet area food itself and service, cleanliness etc. Main dining was better served and food came hotter than we have seen on most ships lately. They still had a wine steward so we ordered bottles during cruise to be served and saved until empty. Waiter and Assistant were good but pressed to be fast. No complaints but no time to stop and chat. Obviously handling many table which is the common mode on lines now. Food itself was good enough again nothing stood out except that on gala night they actually had a shrimp cocktail that had large shrimp. Haven't seen that in a long while on a ship. Usually those baby things buried in sauce. They were served with some kind of strange I think mayonnaise type sauce but asked for regular cocktail sauce and that was provided without problem. We were lucky to have good tablemates so that always makes for a nice dinner as well. Formal nights we saw many more suits, even a tux or two, than we have been seeing on most lines lately. It is though a dying tradition, formal dining. Room service was excellent as were the offerings WITHOUT any extra fees so far! That too was welcomed after $4 orange juice on RCL and things of that nature. They were never late and never forgot anything, excellent! Tablemates went to Pinnacle Grill during cruise and said they thought it was great. However I noticed that they too in EXTRA CHARGE restaurant now offer additional EXTRA charge items. Best cut steak $50, surf and Turf extra I forget how much. Also noted one entree stipulated, hence the extra surf and turf charge. Am I the only one that thinks EXTRA charge in the EXTRA charge restaurant is nuts? SERVICE now that is where HA excels over other lines even more so now that other lines have almost removed the term SERVICE from there vocabulary. Still plenty of bar waiters, pool attendants, bus boys in outside and buffet areas. Loved this ships design of small bars and entertainment venues giving you different music or nice intimate meet and and have a cocktail areas. Loved that still has Promenade to walk around and actually see the sea. Casino was small to my wife's chagrin but that she came home a small winner, a first for many many years. Loved the Crows Nest and great area to have a cocktail or coffee and watch out over the bow to the sea in a comfortable and roomy area with bar service. Bottom line though some would note subtle and not so subtle changes to HA style, orchestra also gone though they put various live musicians together for special shows, this is as close to old time cruising as you will get now. The last alternative to going BIG $$ luxury lines.Though we will be cruising far less we will look to HA first and would like to re-visit Celebrity one more time maybe. This was a great ship, spotless and well designed, and still offers a good cruise product. Oh wife did buy thermal spa for the week, not my thing, but she said it was great! Also she sprained her ankle on staircase during the cruise and we went to medical. Doctor and staff excellent, they apologized that they had to charge said no longer complimentary. I really didn't expect to to be complimentary. Charge was only $101.39 which I though more than reasonable. It has been reimbursed less $50 deductible by out cruise insurance. A nice touch was followup calls by Customer desk rep to see if there was anything they could do. They also sent a plate of lovely candies and a nice note hoping she was feeling better. We were pleasantly surprised at that level of service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Cabin SS6106. Redo is very nice. Ship was clean in good condition. Staff, as always, is the very best, although very overworked, which leads to less personal attention. MDR food was for the most part good. Some nights, not up to par. ... Read More
Cabin SS6106. Redo is very nice. Ship was clean in good condition. Staff, as always, is the very best, although very overworked, which leads to less personal attention. MDR food was for the most part good. Some nights, not up to par. Speciality dining in Pinacle and Canalito was very good. Entertainment was not very exciting. We rented a cabana in The Retreat for about 7 days and really enjoyed the quiet and wonderful service. Especially Lester! The spa was a special treat, had facial and leg treatment. Peter at the spa was a personable manager, making the visits special. We only went to the Butterfly Garden in Key West, which we visited before and loved it. My only complaint is that embarkation for handicap was horrible. I am an oxygen user and got no wheelchair until we were up in terminal. We waited about 2 hours for assistance. Disembarkation was much smoother, since they took us right to curb. We are 3 stars with HAL and have never experienced this embarkation problem before. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We have been to most of the destinations that this cruise visited. So we reserved "Retreat" for the week. Glad we did, as the destinations were mostly poor. We knew that when we booked, hence the Retreat.. Our first stop ... Read More
We have been to most of the destinations that this cruise visited. So we reserved "Retreat" for the week. Glad we did, as the destinations were mostly poor. We knew that when we booked, hence the Retreat.. Our first stop was Key West. We have been there many times and looked for a cruise ship friendly excursion. Hence, we booked a couples massage. The massage was wonderful and the following lunch at Old Town Mexican, was excellent as always. We had visited Roatan on a prior cruise. It was a short bus ride to a "beach resort". It sucked and was short-lived for most of the cruisers. Now, Roatan is a outlet mall which is mostly staffed by Jamaicans. I have visited Jamaica many times and love the island and the people. However. why are they in Roatan? The next stop was Honduras. The port was a ship container yard. Several ships crew told us that the destination was a waste of time. Again, thanks for the Retreat. The next stop was Costa Maya. We have visited Costa Maya on prior cruses. The first time there was one dock and a "Tiki-Hutted restaurant, with a pool. Now the above mentioned Restaurant/ pool are an afterthought. It has become another "outlet mall" destination. We had planned a Segue Tour for this destination. We arrived and were given our indoctrination and then given back our vouchers, due to rain. Not a problem. They could of sold us ponchos. Another good thing about renting the Retreat, on the ship. We were given lunch at the Retreat and later served chocolate covered fruit and champagne, in the afternoon. In conclusion, we booked this cruise fully aware of the itinerary and the lack of interesting ports. That is not why we booked this cruise. This was the week before Christmas and a bargain. We booked to escape the rigors of retirement and endless golf and buffets. We try to have fun at any destination because there are only so many trips left. By the way, we had a Neptune Suite, on the Oosterdam. This was our third time booking a Neptune Suite and it's the only way to go. The Neptune Lounge is worth the price of admission. Also, having included laundry and dry cleaning was a bonus. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We sailed out of Tampa, Florida on December 9th headed for a seven-day cruise to the western Caribbean. Embarkation was really smooth at this port and with Holland America. We had a beautiful balcony cabin on Deck 8, the Navigation Deck. ... Read More
We sailed out of Tampa, Florida on December 9th headed for a seven-day cruise to the western Caribbean. Embarkation was really smooth at this port and with Holland America. We had a beautiful balcony cabin on Deck 8, the Navigation Deck. Love the balcony as we enjoyed many views during the day and a beautiful full moon at night. The cabin was in a great location. It was located in the aft corner, and had very little to no outside noise nor a lot of traffic outside of the cabin. This cabin was plenty big enough for two people. I would not want to have more than two in the cabin, however. The cabin was very clean and always kept super tidy by our wonderful room attendants, Budi and Eko. They also provided superior service and accommodated any request we made. New wall-mounted televisions with several movie selections has been added. This was a wonderful modification, so points to Holland America. The ship itself was decorated beautifully for the Christmas holidays. The great thing about taking a cruise the week before Christmas is that the ship is already decorated and you don't get stuck paying the higher rates cruise lines charge for the cruising the week of Christmas. You get to enjoy all of this the week before for less money. We did notice some wear and tear with the ship being older. They had some water leaks in various parts of the ceilings and some of the carpets looked a little tired. The food in the Lido Market was really good. I especially enjoyed the salad bar which seemed to be open all day. These salad bars are great additions. All meals were served by the staff. The burgers at the Dive In outside of the Lido were excellent as were their fries. Highly recommend this. We ate in the vista Dining room on the two formal nights and the food was very good. We did north end, however, that the Lido Market seemed to have the same food that was on the menu in the vista dining room. Would have liked to seen different menus for both. The entertainment was excellent. B.B King Blues was excellent as always, and we enjoyed this a couple of nights. The HAL singers and dancers were the best I've seen on sandy HAL cruise to date. Loved the new show with all of its beautiful colors. Highly recommend this. The magician was not good, so this was a disappointment, but the comedian was very funny and enjoyable. The dueling pianos and singers were wonderful and everyone seemed to enjoy them every night. We also listened to the chamber music (string quartet and piano) one night, and it was top-notch. We honestly could care less about the art exhibits and shows/sales on Hollands ships. Would love to see more for a younger crowd as far as entertainment and offerings. Holland attracts older travelers, meaning many in wheelchairs and walkers. We tried not to let this bother us, but we were almost ran over a few times with wheelchairs. We bought two ship excursions which are always way overpriced but we enjoyed the snorkeling at Mahogany Bay, Honduras and at Costa Maya Mexico. We also loved Key West and the beautiful Costa Maya port. Unfortunately, we also stopped at st Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala. This was an ugly port and most excursions were several hours away. Wished this itinerary would have stopped in Belize rather than this nasty port. We did buy an outside excursion to the ruins and enjoyed it, but it was a very long trip from the port. De-embarkation on the last day went exceptionally smooth and professional. Would recommend this cruise overall. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We had essentially the same itinerary in March 2015 on the Ryndam prior to her transfer to P&O Australia. We opted for the same trip on the Oosterdam with Mahogany Bay taking the place of Banana Coast Honduras. As always, the ... Read More
We had essentially the same itinerary in March 2015 on the Ryndam prior to her transfer to P&O Australia. We opted for the same trip on the Oosterdam with Mahogany Bay taking the place of Banana Coast Honduras. As always, the service in the main dining room and the attentiveness of our cabin stewards were exemplary. A special dietary need, which we arranged for at the time of booking, was well accommodated by the cooks. Unfortunately, like many of the other long time HAL cruisers we spoke with onboard there was an issue with proper attire. On our last few HAL cruises there was no enforcement of a dress code on "Gala Evenings" (formerly known as formal nights). We've had people show up for supper wearing t-shirts and blue jeans when the vast majority of diners were dressed appropriately without a word said by the dining room staff. There were also a couple people that showed up at the Mariner brunch wearing t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Rather than setting an example for other cruise lines, Holland America seems to be gradually lowering themselves to the standards of others. Unlike Christmas last year on the Zuiderdam, we saw very few young children on this early-December cruise. Perhaps this sailing didn't mesh well with holiday schedules for many elementary and middle schools. The entertainment with a comedian was far better than a magician/illusionist. Stage productions by Oosterdam employees were as good as we've seen on six previous sailings. This was the first time that I noticed backdrops on the stage that consisted of full color dot-matrix displays. These were a very welcome addition to the stage shows and included full motion video of a quality, from the audience's perspective, equal to what might have been obtained from a projector. Maps were one of our points of contention. In the past, we received deck plans with detailed layouts of each level. We received no deck plan on check-in this time but did pick up one at the Front Desk onboard. It only shows a cross section of the ship with lists of the venues on each deck and only their general locations. This is a big step down. Fortunately, I had printed out detailed deck plans from HAL's web site and had that with us. We were also unable to obtain maps of the ports at the gangway like we had on previous cruises. This may have been because we didn't rush off the ship as soon as it docked. The maps in the "Explorer" guide in our cabin were nearly useless and included at least one venue that was replaced by a different one over five years ago. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this particular itinerary because we had not been to Guatemala before. Roatan is always beautiful as well as Costa Maya. The first port was in Key West, and because we were very familiar with the area, we chose not to get off the ... Read More
We chose this particular itinerary because we had not been to Guatemala before. Roatan is always beautiful as well as Costa Maya. The first port was in Key West, and because we were very familiar with the area, we chose not to get off the ship there. We enjoyed the many things the Oosterdam had to offer. Next, we were on to Roatan, one of my favorite ports. The place is so clean and pretty and the people are phenomenal. They make you feel very welcome and at home. We shopped for chocolate and was not disappointed. Found some great chocolate bars with passion fruit. Who could resist ! Next stop was Santo Tomas De Castille Guatemala. NEVER AGAIN !!! As we were docking, I took pictures of the water which was a murky muddy mess filled with trash, plastic bottles, even a baby diaper floated past. The dock was filled with cargo containers and more trash. There was only one building which had souvenirs with local merchants. The minute we entered people were constantly yelling, come here, please look, buy here, buy from me, let me show you this, You could not casually shop, they were very over bearing with their sales tactics. We left without buying anything. No place else to go except back on the ship. We met a fellow passenger coming back onboard after he had ventured outside the barbed wire enclosed dock. He was visibly shaken and said he had to run for his life, people were chasing him and asking for money. In my opinion this port is very dangerous. Next stop was Costa Maya, lots of colorful shops and friendly faces ! We enjoyed a nice massage there and bought dresses, and other items. Love Costa Maya !! Then back to Tampa ! Overall it was a great cruise, the food was delicious, The BB King All Star Band on the ship was by far my favorite entertainment. We did not miss a show. They were fantastic. The only entertainment that I did not enjoy was the comedian Tom Briscoe. We had the unfortunate experience to spend a few minutes with him off stage in a lounge venue and he was very rude and actually made a disrespectful comment to our group of ladies for which he was promptly slapped. He was horrid and I would never book a cruise if I knew he was going to be on that ship. Barring that and Guatemala, we had a very enjoyable trip. We were in a signature suite which was beautifully redone. It was a hump balcony which was very nice. Lots of room for 3 people. Tons of storage and a large bathroom with 2 sinks !! Nice touch ! Staff was great, we had no problems getting whatever we asked for. Holland America is a very nice cruise line. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, it was 14 nights NOT B2B, sailed from Tampa, FL (we drive from Atlanta, GA) and the Oosterdam had just undergone drydock upgrades. Hollands prices are good, service is very good, and size of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, it was 14 nights NOT B2B, sailed from Tampa, FL (we drive from Atlanta, GA) and the Oosterdam had just undergone drydock upgrades. Hollands prices are good, service is very good, and size of the ship is not overwhelming. Overall this was a great cruise. We selected (not assigned) cabin V 8032, which is an accessible room. It had more room than other Verandah cabins and a bigger balcony. The shower was roll-in so it was very roomy. TV had been upgraded and there were adequate power outlets and usb ports. Food was OK. Most menu items on the Lido Market buffet was also served that night in the Vista dining room, but you could get it faster. Main dining room service was slow. Entertainment was so-so. We had excellent weather with calm seas and mid-80's temps, so that was a big plus. Two ports (Aruba & Grand Cayman) were short time in port and one (Curacao) was almost 12 hours. Way too long for that port. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Over the past 12 years we have sailed many times on a variety of HAL ships. It's 2 years since our last cruise with them and we noted that changes are still happening- some better for the guest and some for efficiency and the bottom ... Read More
Over the past 12 years we have sailed many times on a variety of HAL ships. It's 2 years since our last cruise with them and we noted that changes are still happening- some better for the guest and some for efficiency and the bottom line We realize that cruise lines cannot please all the people all the time but HAL does please us most of the time. We are active seniors and appreciate the lack of "cruise energy" being fostered on some lines. Replace "cruise energy" with loud, loud noise. The HAL fleet offers what for us is most important- a wide wrap-around promenade deck with ample seating on padded adjustable deck chairs where you can wile away time peacefully without piped background music and pool activities. Note that the new Konningsdam has compromised the prom deck. It's much narrower and lacks seating. Embarkation was efficient and well organized- we were on board before noon. We were a party of four travelling together and I had called HAL's Mariner Society line to enquire whether our friends who are not mariners would be able to join us in the MDR for the Mariners' Embarkation lunch. I was told this benefit had now been extended to include non- mariners sailing with mariners. We soon found out that no Mariners' lunch in the MDR would be available- no real reason offered. Since we were on a back-to-back cruise another embarkation day would follow in two weeks so I enquired if we could expect a Mariners embarkation lunch that day. The answer came back negative, again with no reason. The HAL website still lists the Mariners' Emarkation Lunch as a benefit so I'm still not sure what the policy is. We found lunching in the peaceful MDR after boarding an extremely pleasant way to start a cruise and we missed this. We then headed up to the buffet to do battle with the crowds. The cabins were ready by 1.30pm and the baggage followed shortly thereafter and right into our cabin instead of in the hallway-- very efficient. The Oosterdam is now 13 years old and recently underwent some changes and refurbishments. These are a great improvement creating an elegant yet calm atmosphere especially in the Ocean Bar, Crow's Nest, and Billboard on Board Piano Bar. The seating in all these venues is very comfortable- well done HAL. However, this is not the case with the new seating in the Lido Buffet. The large and high chair arms make ingress and egress around the table quite difficult. The designer should have actually tried using the furniture at the design stage. Canaletto has new furniture but old carpet so the design elements do not come together at all. Parts of the ship are showing age- old carpets yet to be replaced, doors and door jambs in the public restrooms showing much wear and tear.. The new "Music Walk" stretching along deck 2 is a trio of music venues-Lincoln Stage Central, B.B.Blues Bar, and Billboard on Board( a long comfortable piano bar). More about these later under entertainment. Generally the ship's interior is well maintained and looks modern and new. Our cabin #7011 in the forward area was quite convenient-close to the cafe and Crow's Nest and 2 decks up to the pool and Lido. We were quite close to the end of the hallway so no passing guests and therefore quiet. We did not hear any noise form the cabins on either side so kudos for the sound proofing. The cabin felt a little cramped especially around the bed and it lacked adequate drawer space. The furniture and carpet was new but the drapes were old, the lining holey and did not really gel with the new elements. There were two chairs on the verandah with retractable stools- quite comfortable in design but with no pads for the seats so quite hard. The small table was far too small and low to be of any use other than for a drink. It was about a foot in diameter !! The bathroom floor was really showing its age as was the tub- stained and pitted and long past its replacement date. The bed and linens were very comfortable- housekeeping could have been a little more thorough. A large flat screen TV on the wall opposite the bed delivered 4 TV channels,movies, documentaries and music on demand. DINING As the Lido buffet always seemed to be crowded, we opted to have room service for breakfast each day. It was always delivered on time and by a charming, smiling crew member which made the start of our day very pleasant. The room service menu has been severely curtailed, especially the breakfast and dinner entrees. There is no option for bread, pastries or fruit. The entrees for dinner are a pasta dish or chicken, plus a chicken soup, sandwiches and salad. In the past whatever was being served for dinner in the MDR was available for in-room dining. Since it's being cooked anyway, why not offer it ? The Lido buffet- renamed Lido Market is a week point. At the busy times there is no available seating and the atmosphere is hectic. We ended up choosing our food then taking it down to eat on our verandah. Drinks were offered at the table by the servers which helped somewhat. This was an OK buffet- not terrific but OK. There are many dishes offered in small individual tiny bowls so to get a decent size meal you needed several. Try balancing those without a tray or large holding plate! The best food at the buffet was the Asian section which changed by country each day- superb ! Smoked salmon on the breakfast buffet was also excellent. We opted for fixed late dining and had two excellent servers,Ray and Putro and a very good wine steward, Angelo. All gave us personal and intuitive service over the three weeks on board. The menu offered sufficient variety especially the appetizers. I would say the fish and veggies were the weak point - asparagus and the ubiquitous green beans were overcooked.. Berkshire pork, lamb shanks, steaks and prime rib were all good. We had soup every day and they were all excellent. Our request for a table for 2 in the MDR at lunch was not willingly accommodated.Not sure why there was a wait of 10 minutes to get to the greeting desk- however once there we were told there were no tables for 2 despite the fact that the dining room was less than half full. We told them we would be happy to be seated at a table for 4 but just the two of us. The response was that this would not leave enough room for the line of diners behind us. At this point we departed and headed up to the very busy buffet. Later that day the dining room supervisors offered strong apologies saying we should have been accommodated per our request. It seems to us that because the buffet is so crowded, every opportunity should be taken to offer alternatives. The MDR is the obvious choice. PINNACLE GRILL Our party of four enjoyed dinner there-lobster bisque, bone-in rib-eye and crab legs, veggies and a cheese cake for dessert. All good with very personal service, but we don't really consider it worth the $35 cost per person. CANALETTO The new menu here encourages the sharing of small plates- three courses plus a dessert. The portions really are small, but delicious. Again, we don't think worth the $15 cost per person. ENTERTAINMENT As mentioned before the three venues on deck 2 are superb. Most of what was the Explorer's Lounge is now a small intimate auditorium-like space for Lincoln Stage Central. The rear part of the Explorer's lounge still exists with updated furniture etc.- very nice. Lincoln Stage features concerts by a quintet comprised of 2 violins, a viola, cello and piano. These are Juliard trained excellent musicians and very personable in the individual introductions they gave to the various compositions to be played. We heard a great variety of music genres, classical, jazz, musicals, modern and a new piece specially commissioned by HAL. The arrangements were astounding, interesting and sometimes surprising. This is a wonderful new collaberation with HAL and Lincoln Stage- an absolute winner !! Next comes the B.B.Blues Bar for blues music by very talented musicians. Also here The Band played for ballroom dancing on some nights. The new and expanded Billboard on Board Bar has been carved out of what was the old smaller piano bar, a casino bar and part of the casino. The new space is comfortable and very popular. Two entertainers play and sing a t two pianos with some guest participation. 7-8 pm was the busy time as it was happy hour- your second drink for $2. The Mainstage offered the weakest part of the entertainment lineup- an OK comedian, a juggler, a magician, a BBC Earth movie ?? and a singer who was good. The new production shows by the Oosterdam singers and dancers were the best we have ever seen-superb visually and great choreography. The newly refurbished Ocean Bar is situated around the atrium offering a serene, elegant bar where a solo pianist plays three sets each night. On this cruise the pianist was Joel, an absolute gem.Insightful pleasing arrangements issued forth each night with hardly any repetition over three weeks. We were stunned to find he plays by ear and is self-taught. The Crow's Nest on Deck 11 attached to the Explorations Cafe is an expansive bar offering high vistas all around. Trivia takes place here several times a day and is popular especially when happy hour coincides with that. The Screening Room showed movies several times a day but the offerings did not suit us. The Onboard activities were quite varied-trivia, Microsoft Windows 10 training, dance lessons, culinary demos, and many that required a fee. We did not purchase or even consider any HAL shore excursions as the prices are exorbitant. We did a taxi tour in San Juan for $10 per person- great tour and great price. The service throughout the ship was excellent as we have found is always the case. CHANGES I seems the Mariners' Embarkation Lunch is no longer being offered. The daily afternoon tea which took place in the MDR is now served in the Ocean Bar. This is NOT a dining room hence the seating and small cocktail tables do not lend themselves well to this. The room service menu has been severely curtailed. Overall, this was one of the HAL cruises we have taken-there were shades of brilliance but also areas for improvement. Disembarkation was on time and well organized. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Part of our deal was a two night stay in Barcelona which was a great start,embarkation was good and quite rapid.Balcony cabin was as expected with kingsize bed,large TV with plenty of films etc.The bathroom including tub was OK,goid hair ... Read More
Part of our deal was a two night stay in Barcelona which was a great start,embarkation was good and quite rapid.Balcony cabin was as expected with kingsize bed,large TV with plenty of films etc.The bathroom including tub was OK,goid hair products and dressing gowns.Good storage for all our clothes. Dining in the Lido restaurant was good and the only drawback for us was you are unable to serve yourself at either breakfast or lunch but soft drinks and tea,cofee were readily available all day. Evening meals on Freedom Dining option were nice with good choices mainly on North American tastes.All staff all over the ship were professional,well trained and happy in their work. Entertainment was OK,something for everyone we especially enjoyed the two pianists in Billboard on Board at happy hour every evening.Because drinks are well overpriced this is the only way we would have a drink as the second drink is priced at one dollar as wine etc is extortionate.Of course at these times the bar was crowded and at other times empty.No surprise there. All extras were so expensive from drinks,spa treatments and the shore excursions completely overpriced that we avoided at all times.They even added service charge of 15% and sometimes vat in port and even corkage of 18 dollars on a bottle bought on shore even if put into storage until dissemarked. As European we used the public transport from Barcelona onwards as the trains are well run,on time,clean,frequent and very cheap.We understand that North Americans would not like to trust this way of sight seeing and I suppose just pay up sometimes hundreds of dollars which benefits the cruise company. A lot of the guests were from America and are more casual even when dining on gala evenings and often came to dinner in jeans,t shirts and trainers.So that might appeal to a lot of guests as dressing for dinner seams to be going out of fashion. We enjoyed the ports of call which was the main reason to book this cruise and the weather was also lovely but because prices for extras are too dear probably will not cruise with HAL again. We would also like to praise the pool areas with comfortable loungers ,clean waters and hot tubs which were very welcome after a day walking through the interesting ports of call. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We had always wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise but never thought we could afford it. Last Spring we found a great deal for the 12-day Oosterdam cruise so we took advantage of it. We stayed in Barcelona for a few days before the ... Read More
We had always wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise but never thought we could afford it. Last Spring we found a great deal for the 12-day Oosterdam cruise so we took advantage of it. We stayed in Barcelona for a few days before the cruise and staye din Rome for two days after the cruise. The cruise line handled the transfers with ease. Overall we were very pleased with Holland America. We thought the food was better than Celebrity or Royal Caribbean. This was our first time using open seating and we liked it. However, service at dinner was pretty slow at times and I'm not sure why. Well we weren't in a hurry so it wasn't a major issue for us. The employees are very friendly and great to deal with. My bed was uncomfortable and they tried to make it better for me but the mattress was just too hard for me. The entertainment, on the whole, was pretty mediocre (few exceptions). I also would have like a few more options for things to do onboard. We did not book any of our excursions through them, instead we connected with passengers using the Roll Call and that worked very well. We would go on Holland America again and liked that it's not a party ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Ship is not too large so that you still feel like a welcomed guest. The staff are incredible. Friendly, attentive and personable. Main dining room cuisine is excellent. Nightly entertainment is very high standard. Embarkation and ... Read More
Ship is not too large so that you still feel like a welcomed guest. The staff are incredible. Friendly, attentive and personable. Main dining room cuisine is excellent. Nightly entertainment is very high standard. Embarkation and disembarkation are very well done. Even the usual chaos of boarding the tenders is effortlessly done. The group performing nighty at the Lincoln CEnter stage are absolutely fantastic. Well done. The public areas are well maintained and continually cleaned. General maintenance is excellent. All the teak is glossy varnish and all the brass is constantly polished Cons. Cabins need attention. Chipped tiles on bathroom floor. Stained carpet next to bed. Loose toilette seat. BB Kings are just way too loud for the age group on board. Some-one always trying to sell you something- from repeated photo ops to spa treatments and paintings. It is easy enough just to ignore these pitches but it is a bit annoying. The cost of the land excursions is way out of line Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We chose this cruise because we like Holland America and we liked the itinerary. We are more interested in exploring ports than ship-board activities and Holland America suits us for this purpose. We do not, for the most part, do ship ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we like Holland America and we liked the itinerary. We are more interested in exploring ports than ship-board activities and Holland America suits us for this purpose. We do not, for the most part, do ship excursions, preferring to participate in smaller group tours. This worked well for us on this voyage. Service was up to HA standards, We had cheerful and helpful cabin stewards and dining room staff. We choose fixed seating for dining as it gives an opportunity to get to know the staff and your dining companions. The ship had to cancel one stop due to expected bad weather. High winds would have made tendering a problem in St. Tropez. The good news was that the ship was able to organize an alternative stop in Genoa that day. We were impressed with the ease of the adjustment by the company. All in all a nice selection of ports and a most enjoyable cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I was not going to write a review of this trip until I saw another review and wondered were we on the same ship! Oosterdam was in excellent condition after her recent refit. Our stateroom was in good condition and ready for us as soon ... Read More
I was not going to write a review of this trip until I saw another review and wondered were we on the same ship! Oosterdam was in excellent condition after her recent refit. Our stateroom was in good condition and ready for us as soon as we boarded in Venice, so it was drop the carry on bags in the room and up to Lido for lunch. After lunch and a glass of wine we returned to our room and our suitcases were waiting for us. We didn't see the stateroom attendants until the next day, however our room was always tidied and cleaned when we returned. Throughout the cruise top marks to our two attendants who always kept our room clean and tidy and re-towelled and also stopped for a quick chat when we were heading ashore or to dinner. Food/Dining - we always ordered breakfast in the stateroom and it was delivered on time and hot. Items were always correct and included the 'extras' we requested that were not on the order form, but which we had handwritten in. Lunch - we always had lunch in Lido so that I could access the supply of Bread Pudding. mmmmmmm! The individually made salads were great, as I could pick exactly what ingredients I wanted in my salad. Mains were ok, but most days we went to the Asian station and had great choice of tasty food. Dinner - We ate 4 times in MDR and a further 2 times in MDR on Gala nights. the other 6 nights we ate in the Lido. Food in MDR was ok, but not fantastic. Choices are much less than they used to be and portion size is smaller (though you can still request 'seconds'). Lido food for dinner was adequate - it was good to be able to mix and match rather than take the regular items. I had ordered a 7 bottle wine package on first night in MDR, but had no problem in getting a new bottle or a 'saved' unfinished bottle brought to the Lido for dinner or lunch. Entertainment - I really don't 'do' stage shows, but the Welsh woodwind player Ollie was very good. Most nights we were in BB King blues club for at least two of the three 45 minute sets. This band were great! Playing Motown/Stax/Volt/Blues/RnB etc. They really were top class. We passed by the Lincoln centre a few times and there was excellent classical music being played, however the location wasn't great as diners passing from the MDR were inclined to be chatting and disturbed the ambience. As for the Billboard On Board, I only went there for the happy hour drinks as one of the pianist was absolutely dire. We really appreciated the lack of use of the PA. Apart from the Cruise Director's morning 'Hello' and the Captain's midday update on position and weather, it was very peaceful. (and even these announcements are not heard in your stateroom!). No hard selling and no nickel and diming, unless you want to....! Ports - I will only mention a few of them...... Sarande, Albania - we were supposed to go to Kusadasi, but it was replaced with Sarande. We just walked around the town. A bit oppressed looking, reminded me of Prague in the mid 1970's. People friendly and if you bought with euros they were delighted - obviously the black market is still thriving. Katakolon - this is the port for Olympia, but we stayed in town and visited the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. €2 admission! very interesting. The young curator (who also collected the admission money) demonstrated how some of the machines and devices worked. Would recommend a visit here. We also visited a shop on the main street with some wonderful Christmas decorations :) We really enjoyed this cruise. Staff were very good and very friendly. We booked a future cruise while on board to take advantage of the extra OBC on offer. All in All a great cruise. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Food was ever better than previous HAL cruises and we have done many (almost 5 star). Service was excellent and as delightful as ever. I understand that sometimes the 'open dining tables had slower than usual service, but during the ... Read More
Food was ever better than previous HAL cruises and we have done many (almost 5 star). Service was excellent and as delightful as ever. I understand that sometimes the 'open dining tables had slower than usual service, but during the set dining the service was excellent. The Oosterdam has been partly reno'ed (I understand the suites, although we did not stay in one), the Lido was super and so were the many lounges and bars: all new furniture and fixtures. The cabins all now have wall-mounted flat screen tv's and the range of free movies, news, music, etc. was very good. Lido hours extended which was nice when returning from shore for a late lunch. A new addition which was a GREAT hit, was the new salad bar and they serve you in very large salad bowls with an amazing array of choices. What many cruisers don't know, but we do, if there is something that you fancy that is not being served, you can order it and they will make it specially for you. We found the entertainment good to very good and very varied. We have never liked and including this cruise, the shows with the singers and dancers. They are far too loud and we dislike the high-pitched female singers in particular. I did ask for the pre-show music to be turned down and they finally did that. Yes, the crowd is older on HAL but with or without hearing aids, the music doe NOT have to be deafening. My only only negative comment would be the choice of music. When reading unstairs in the Crow's Nest and where the reading room is now located adjacent to the Explorers Cafe, the music is annoying. Sometimes the young 'teckkies' see to think that cruisers enjoy rap music, but I can assure you most do not. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Love HAL, it is my favorite cruise line! This is my third or fourth time on this particular ship and have nothing bad to say about it except the crappy room location we got on a VA guarantee cabin. The french fries at the Dive In are the ... Read More
Love HAL, it is my favorite cruise line! This is my third or fourth time on this particular ship and have nothing bad to say about it except the crappy room location we got on a VA guarantee cabin. The french fries at the Dive In are the best on land or water. I went with a friend on this cruise but she doesn't like to eat with people so I ate in the dining room alone. I met lots of great people and the food was good for the most part. I ate at the Pinnacle Grill for lunch once and that was delicious. Always had time to stop at the ice cream "parlor" for an afternoon ice cream. The movies on demand in the room are plentiful and varied so you can always find something to your liking. This was my third Mediterranean cruise and the first time going to a lot of ports west of Italy and that was interesting. I booked this cruise late in the year because the last time I went in August it was 100 degrees every day (all 24 days either in Italy or east of Italy) and that was no fun. This time the second 12 days of the cruise were west of Italy and they were sometimes cold and rainy so it didn't much feel like vacation but hey, you can't tell mother nature what she should do. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Sept 4 oosterdam 12 nights VD 7097 Bucket list: Barcelona and Rome with a Sept 4 2016 cruise in the middle. This was perfect. We saw lots of places that would have been difficult to get to on our own. We took the initiative ... Read More
Sept 4 oosterdam 12 nights VD 7097 Bucket list: Barcelona and Rome with a Sept 4 2016 cruise in the middle. This was perfect. We saw lots of places that would have been difficult to get to on our own. We took the initiative and booked our own tours, or just ventured out on our own whenever possible. Cruise Critic was great for helping to organize others to go with us. This was fun because many of us were on the same day tours in different ports. I highly recommend joining the tours after doing your own research. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Getting on at the beginning (taxi from B&B) and off at the end was a breeze. During shore visits getting on and off was very fast and easy as well. We were going to take the distant train to Rome, but joined with others for a van and were glad we did. We were drenched just walking to the nearby van in the downpour. Shore Excursions: Always did our own thing on cruises. Itinerary: Note: we always use Rick Steves for planning then take him along on our trips. :} We sure were glad we opted to end at Rome. For those going on, the departure was moved earlier and was cut too short to really see much because Rome is so far from the cruise port. Turkey was also cut out at the last. We stayed 5 days in Barcelona and 5 days in Rome on either end. Some of the land tours were headed by 1 person but a local guide took over at certain locations. What we enjoyed very much were the small tour groups we were with and the opportunity to mix in with the locals when we did our own thing away from tourists. We met lots of really nice helpful people and hubby had some very interesting conversations in Spain. Barcelona outings: Gaudi buildings (Sagrada Familia is a must), Montserrat...too far, too many people in very long line all at once. Not worth it. We got tired of crowds so ventured to Sitges, a decent beach town but we stumbled onto the nudist beach. Oops. Jazzsi club for a Flamenco show we loved. Authentic, tiny local venue, open seating anyplace you fit, affordable small bites. Non touristy but the show we saw was amazing. I didn't really know what real flamenco was till then. Girona/Pals/Palafrugell: Viator tours. Worst tour we have ever been on beginning to end. Too much too fast. No information the entire ride. Some simple ‘this is where Game of Thrones was filmed"….and very basic history. She knew very little. No mention of the cathedral or Girona stone. We were pickpocketed (and caught them) in Girona so there was no time to see anything because we spent it all looking for a police station which was locked. Be very careful. Guide wouldn't let us tell the rest of the group so they could check their belongings. Pals was fast in and out. In Palafrugel we were left on our own to eat and swim for about 2 hours. Swim didn't happen...no time, or place to change. Because we didn’t have reservations for any restaurants, they wouldn’t let any of us in to the places the guide recommended. One place took pity on us and squeezed us in. The entire time we sat there the empty tables at the other places remained empty. Reserved. That should never have happened on a tour Maybe we were just in a bad mood…..but others weren't happy either. Cadiz: we took the train to Seville on our own. Very hot! Take water from room and buy water when you get off train. The ship sells water as you get off but it is often more money. We had plenty of time to get to Seville and back. Gibraltar: No free transportation from ship to 'town' so we walked from ship to tram. There were lots of taxis along the way offering services up to top, but hubby knew they were more expensive than taking the tram. If you can't walk far, take the taxi because it is a long way. We took the tram up and walked up even higher and then walked back down to town. We don’t recommend this if you are not in good shape. We skipped the main monkey event but saw enough… a pink souvenir stuffed monkey stolen, a bag of oranges stolen, tug of war with old lady over her bag while onlookers watched and took pics (we were up above wondering why nobody helped) and a man's glasses stolen. I don't find that cute. St. Michaels cave is just another cave BUT there is an amazing cross-section of a huge broken off stalagtite. The view from top is amazing if you venture up. Walking down is long and dangerous the closer you get to the bottom. We had plenty of time but it was 8 hours of walking. We added another hour in town before returning to the ship. Malaga: Spain Day Tours trip to Granada/Alhambra very nice with Debbie. Great guide Maria at the beautiful alcazar. Alicante: Shuttle from Ship to edge of public area. We opted to take Rick Steves' advice for the easy to do L1 or L3 metro away from the tourist/cruise ship beach to San Juan Beach. I have seen many beautiful beaches and this one is one of the tops. It was huge, not crowded in September, and beautiful. When we returned to the ship we looked at the nearby beach - overpacked with people and not very pretty. On returning to the pickup point for the shuttle to the ship, some of us were lectured about being late. We had the paper that said what times the bus ran and we had plenty of time. The driver disagreed and was put off. On another note, if the ship head count showed everyone was back on the ship, it would leave port early, if possible. Palma- This port disembarkation process was confusing. We were told there was a bus for 5E each r/t to take us to town center or we could walk the 1 mile to town center. I was miffed that they charged. We paid for the bus which took us all the way to the cathedral area, not the 1 mile, several miles. Then again one could have probably caught the on/off bus and taken it to the cathedral, but I don't know. Cruise director said there was a tourist office at the end. (of what? we never found one where the bus took us). This was our 'funeral' day. My 96 year old father-in-law had died unexpectedly the evening of our arrival to Barcelona. We opted to not return home (7 other kids were there) and it was decided this would be the best day for the funeral and for is to listen in from shore as we couldn’t from the ship. We hung around town, visited the market, took the hop on/off bus the full loop. The castle Believer was pretty from a distance but not worth a separate trip except for the great views. The Cathedral was a lovely place to sit and meditate. Toulon: Tour to Marseille and Aix en Provence. Marseille was better than we expected. Aix was pretty but we ran thru it very fast and didn’t really get to see much. I wish we had more time there. We had a great group bathroom experience there. :) Very expensive waterfront restaurant with things most Americans don't eat and none of us were very hungry. There went my little French bistro experience… Calvi: We wanted to take the little train in town but the disembarkation guide from Calvi told us there wasn’t one. When we said there was and asked were was the stop she said to not go, just stay in town because that is where we should stay. Well, we did. We toured the fortress, saw a little tribute to the American pilots, took a walk up top to a cemetery and view, walked the boardwalk past the never ending stretch of rented beach chairs to a place in the sand for free. Water was too shallow to swim. Not much there. We should have taken the train. Monte Carlo: Italy tours Monte Carlo, Nice, Eze. It was a rainy, overcast day but we enjoyed the tour in spite of no great scenery pictures. Eze is pretty much a beautiful old town on a hilltop but it is all tourist shops. No need for a long stay if you are not a shopper. Tour included a stop at the perfume factory. which was a waste. Nothing was working. Their day off? I couldn’t understand a word the young factory guide said. She showed us the basics of scents and what may be a working demo on another day, and then led us into the store to shop. Nobody in our group bought anything. We were anxious to leave. However, Monte Carlo was beautiful and we really liked Nice. Livorno: ItalyTours. One of our better tours (but not best). We enjoyed the beautiful rainy drive to Florence (crowded). Most memorable was our Florence and Museum guide. She had a true love of the statue of David and her detail in educating us was remarkable. We came away with a greater appreciation than we would have had if we had gone on our own. We were dropped off to wander Pisa and take photos. Thats all. We loved the beautiful and interesting tower. Sadly there was a long line to get tickets to go up in the tower so we just wandered outside and took pictures. Rome: Viator trip to Vesuvius and Pompeii was our favorite tour of the entire trip. We had 2 amazing guides Becky and Sarah and their information at the end of our tour would have been very useful a week sooner! We should have done this trip on arrival to Rome. It seems we had an experienced bus driver, compared to the one ahead of us. The bus will leave you if you are late...and it did leave two people that didn't return when guide told all of us it was turn back time. Take water and rent the walking stick! Good Pompeii guide. Pizza afterwards went smoothly although I can’t say I came away loving italian pizza. Vatican- MUST get advance tickets! Even with them we didn’t know where to go. We found a guard that said ‘stand there’ and eventually he let us in the line. 40 years ago things were much different. Too many people this time. We had a hard time keeping up with our guide and I lost her a few times with all the pushing and shoving. Stark contrast to the feelings one is supposed to get. No photos. Look, step, look, step, look, step…and eventually you are out of the chapel. Half our postcards we mailed from the Vatican Post Office didn't make it. Coliseum- we still haven't received our refund for the rained out lower level tour ticket. That lower level tour would be hard to do on a shore excursion. The Coliseum is a must do even with headphone tour. We went to the San Calisto catacombes via foot, metro, bus, foot…great day away from crowds on Sunday. I have to make a note that I am an avid geocacher. That, combined with the fact that I typically prefer to not use past paced tours and go at our own speed, where we choose, my opinions are a bit colored. We were not allowed time to 'see' as much as we wanted but it gave us a taste of where we would go back to. About the ship: Cold, cold, cold. We were in ideal Mediterranean climate. Outside was perfect. Cabins were perfect. Interior of the ship was a refrigerator. Many of us were wearing coats. The Queens Lounge where many of the events are held was a refrigerator. So we rarely went there. MainStage was only slightly better but we went every night. Only once did I feel comfortable inside and that was a window seat at pinnacle grill. It took us awhile to find our way around, which is normal, but this time it was longer. I had no deck plan map. The other cruises we had done gave us a ship map. When I asked for one I was told there aren't any because the plans are in transition. We had to rely on the maps at the elevators. We were glad our room was by an elevator so we didn't walk the wrong direction all the time, and hubby has a far better memory than I do. A printed map from home is highly recommended. I appreciated the hand sanitary stations all over the ship and as we returned. In spite of that, hubby caught a cold from others we had been on tours with, which possibly spread to others we interacted with before he knew. Unlike our last cruise, there was actually room to sit around the pool. After 2 visits I discovered there were 2 pools. :} (Amazing how long it takes to orient to the ships). There were always available tables and chairs when we went. Food: Because we were doing so many long shore excursions and traveling alone, we opted for the open seating which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were seated almost immediately and we met many wonderful people each night. When we walked thru the lower dining room we were able to greet many from previous dinners, or tours. This is a relatively small ship so you see lots of familiar faces each day- especially with the CC group. (btw, the meet and greet is worth going to) We learned that if you are seated at a large table (10 or so) that service is very slow. You wait for the table to fill before ordering. You wait for all to eat each course before the next. You skip dessert or take it with you so you can get to the show. You can also request a window table if you smile pretty. :} The food was good. I appreciate that the portions are smaller than we have had on previous cruises. I don’t have restraint so less is good. I felt free to order two healthy starters. Sometime about the 5th day I happened to ask the waiter (all of them are wonderful) if there was any way to get vegetables. I was craving veggies because those on the menu are mostly for decoration. a few slivers of something. He asked me if I wanted steamed, roasted, boiled…? Oh, JOY! he brought us a platter of mixed steamed veggies. Hubby and I downed those before our meal. We continued to order veggies thru the trip. Many items on the menu had alcohol, lessening our options to choose from.. Lots of seafood, which was good for me, maybe not for others. Menu got repetitive when limited. We also discovered a diabetic menu with yummy options. Too late. Tap water every night for us by our choice. At the end of the cruise I discovered herb tea hidden at the check in desk in the DR. One later reviewer mentioned there was fruit juice. I would have killed for it if I had known. Night snacking...we went to bed before the 'good stuff' came out, as we discovered one later night. Pinnacle was better than Canaletto, BUT we had complimentary tickets with our cruise purchase. I wouldn't pay extra for it. Service was very good. We chose to do them (reservation) on our sea days. For the first time ever, at the beginning of the cruise, we ordered our breakfast in due to an early start. It was there, it was good, I wanted to do it again. Hubby didn’t want to. I think he feels guilty. I now know after booking our next cruise on NCL that room service isn’t free anymore. WHAT? We then ate breakfast in the Lido cafeteria area many times when we had excursions and no time to wait in DR. It was impossible to find a table so we just started joining (butting in politely) with other diners that had empty spaces. Often there were tables with dirty dishes but we didn’t know if they were taken. The service was still very good and they tried hard to help us. Hubby loved the ‘egg lady’ and how she made omelets. It wasn’t until the last 2 days or so I saw someone at the pool with a HUGE chef salad and I was so craving a salad. The hunt was on. You can tell when you have been deprived. :} Another reviewer posted the staff will cook you something you request. I didn’t know they would alter the nightly menu because I did ask if alcohol could be left out and was told no. Activities/entertainment: Mediocre to great. Our favorite nightly was the mini orchestra group. I forgot their name, in the Lincoln center. Always crowded but it was nice to sit in the back and listen to the end of the program after dinner. On mainstage, the best was possibly Julian Gargiulo, pianist. The worst was the night of Flamenco dancers. We usually had a long lull after the mainstage show, wandering around looking for something to do before retiring. Nothing much to do. I didn’t go for the lively music in the freezing queens lounge. Not because of the music, it was good, just the discomfort. I would have loved to have had the Lincoln center open during that time so we could relax before going to bed. I found the show at Billboard not really worthy of my time but there were always people there with drink in hand. TV. Unlike other cruises, we finally have a very nice assortment of movies to choose from. Those shown in the theater were of no interest. Several days into the cruise we found the game lounge which had some nice options. For the most part, there wasn’t really much to do on the ship if you don’t want to listen to other people. No real outside activities. Some organized games we weren’t interested in. We just enjoyed the ride with fresh air from our balcony. Staff: I found the cruise director kind of annoying. Sorry. The Shore Excursion specialist Linda was pretty useless most of the time and I think we knew more than she did because of our research and planning. For example at a meeting about Gibraltar. Do the Taxis go all the way to the top? Does the tram? Can you walk up to the top from the tram? She beat around the bush and didn’t give an answer. Several of us wanted to know. She said she hadn’t been so didn’t know. That is her job. She had to be new to the route? When it came to departure for excursions, we never knew where we were supposed to go. The announcement said to look for a sign at the elevator. On the last excursion day I saw a 8x11 paper inside 1 elevator stating which floor to go to. I had been looking outside the elevators. Silly me. We often went in circles. Major props go out to the front desk staff. We found out the morning after we arrived in Barcelona (From Los Angeles) that my elderly father-in-law had died. There was no way to go home. Thru emails and phone calls we decided to participate in a remote funeral which was planned on a Shore day for us so we could have cell service. Elisabeth, from Munich, bent over backwards to help us with our needs. Unfortunately the staff was not ‘able’ to help us with our need to deal with a funeral. We paid just like everyone else for bad wifi to email out (make a copy before you send in case it doesn’t go thru) a tribute hubby spent our first sea day writing. They also couldn't help us with any type of connection. Our room team Agung and Aries were amazing. Dining room staff -amazing. All in all, we would love to sail HAL again. I just post negatives and tips so others are aware, just as I hope to read in other reviews. I am a big trip advisor reviewer and don’t put much weight on a ‘perfect’ with no comment review. :} There were LOTS of very negative ‘never again’ reviews. Like a previous reviewer stated…’Were we on the same ship?”. I agree completely. Room: Agung and Aries (VD 7907) cheerfully greeted us by name (how do they do that?) each time they saw us (a lot).What a great way to start your day. When I asked for a hairdryer that wasn't permanently attached to a lower cabinet I got it within minutes. (cord was too short for me to stand up). Room was always clean and spotless. I read some others reviews during this writing and am shocked at comments on rooms and stewards. We couldn’t have asked for more. They were always visibly working. This was our first balcony room (1st Celebrity was inside, 2nd RC was window, 3rd HAL was balcony). It was wonderful to be able to leave the door open at night or go out in the evening or morning and just sit. Room for two. 3 would be tight. The room itself was also much bigger than our others. I think it was just the design layout. Not having the box tv's makes a big difference. Since hubby wakes up very early we like to get a room where he can go elsewhere to read. At least the stateroom had a partial pull curtain and balcony. Very comfortable bed. Large enough bathroom with tub. We hand washed everything so had it strung all over the bathroom much of the time. We had plenty of closet space, although not enough hangers, and storage under the bed. Before our cruise I read a Critic recommendation to get a hair turbin towel due to the small towels. I followed the advice and it is my new travel 'friend'. It was a big help on the cruise as well as the hotels and travel for 2 months. I liked having our room just behind the elevators. Quick to anywhere. We used stairs to the dining room. We discovered 3 problems with the room: You cannot hear any announcements that are made. If we heard something we opened our door too listen. They said it should come over the tv, but it did't. We may have missed some important departure information. Usually it was just cruise director stuff we didn't care about. Tub wasn't draining- fixed immediately. Headboard lights stuck on or off- fixed. Bathroom sink hot water was scalding hot. They switched out the faucet immediately but it didn't help. Each time I turned the water on in the 'neutral' position I got burned, and I like hot water. It took a few days to retrain myself to put it at cold and turn slightly. Some other people we mentioned it to had also been burned. Beware. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Last minute choice. Rather overpriced but it did tick the boxes and I enjoyed it greatly, would consider using HAL again if a cheaper alternative did not include the ports I wanted to see. Always managed to find a sun lounger, even on ... Read More
Last minute choice. Rather overpriced but it did tick the boxes and I enjoyed it greatly, would consider using HAL again if a cheaper alternative did not include the ports I wanted to see. Always managed to find a sun lounger, even on sea days, though sometimes had to hunt for one. Staff mostly excellent and did not pester to buy drinks. Fruit juice available at mealtimes. Never had a long wait for a table at mealtimes with open dining. No noisy kids running round. ( Sorry, had my share of that). If I wanted to be picky: Wine vastly overpriced, even by restaurant standards. Don't like the standard service charge thing and had it removed, tipping those who provided better than average service directly. What's with charging for shuttle bus in ports where it was too far to walk into town ? HAL need to do a deal with port operators, the ships bring much trade to towns. Gibraltar. I've visited many times and they are getting very greedy and rather off hand with tourists, taxi drivers telling porkies to get trade etc. Heard some snide remarks in Spanish, (which I speak too). Hope I don't hear them complaining about Brexit or they will get an earful. Food repetitive ( but good quality) in Lido and all started to fall off towards the end as things ran out. Entertainment poor, even Thomson do much better. A bit of real music in the Lido area would help, got sick of the same canned tape. Excursions hugely overpriced, even walking tours. Around 2-3 time the cost of locally organised ones. On board staff seem reluctant to provide any information that may result in guests doing their own thing. Internet, as always on ships, a complete waste of time and money, too slow, too expensive to use. Is it technical or just greed ? How come the little train in Mallorca can manage high speed free internet and the cruise lines can't, even in port ? This is 2016, not 1990. Don't be put off by the moans, it was a good cruise and an elegant ship with the right number of guests. It's no party boat but that was just fine. If you can get a good deal, go for it ! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean ... Read More
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean and well managed. That it was a Dutch boat showed by the fact that they had LGBT single parties. We (traditional married couple) booked a suite and our 'butlers' were great. Overall staff appeared to be happy and well taken care of. That's not the impression we had on a MSC ship. Ok, the good: - Entertainment (TV) system was airline style and great. - Super nice staff - Well maintained ship - Airline style PAs by the captain - Beautiful stateroom The not so good: - Complexity of beverage packages and their price. - A ton of flyers promoting extra cost stuff in your cabin every day. - The thermal suite package (not worth it) - The food was big corporation canteen style at best. We gave up on it and had great meals in every port. Still, overall happy and would book the same cruise again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This cruise review is done by RicksClan 2 but we only have 1 CC account because we have to have different emails. :} RicksClan 1 used to be Pioneer Scion but we just changed it....I am more wordy and write most reviews. Bucket list: ... Read More
This cruise review is done by RicksClan 2 but we only have 1 CC account because we have to have different emails. :} RicksClan 1 used to be Pioneer Scion but we just changed it....I am more wordy and write most reviews. Bucket list: Barcelona and Rome with a Sept 4, 2016 cruise in the middle. This was perfect. We saw lots of places that would have been difficult to get to on our own. We took the initiative and booked our own tours, or just ventured out on our own whenever possible. Cruise Critic was great for helping to organize others to go with us. This was fun because many of us were on the same day tours in different ports. I highly recommend joining the tours after doing your own research. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Getting on at the beginning (taxi from B&B) and off at the end was a breeze. During shore visits getting on and off was very fast and easy as well. We were going to take the distant train to Rome, but joined with others for a van and were glad we did. We were drenched just walking to the nearby van in the downpour. Shore Excursions: Always did our own thing on cruises. Itinerary: Note: we always use Rick Steves for planning then take him along on our trips. :} We sure were glad we opted to end at Rome. For those going on, the departure was moved earlier and was cut too short to really see much because Rome is so far from the cruise port. Turkey was also cut out at the last. We stayed 5 days in Barcelona and 5 days in Rome on either end. Some of the land tours were headed by 1 person but a local guide took over at certain locations. What we enjoyed very much were the small tour groups we were with and the opportunity to mix in with the locals when we did our own thing away from tourists. We met lots of really nice helpful people and hubby had some very interesting conversations in Spain. Barcelona outings: Gaudi buildings (Sagrada Familia is a must), Montserrat...too far, too many people in very long line all at once. Not worth it. We got tired of crowds so ventured to Sitges, a decent beach town but we stumbled onto the nudist beach. Oops. Jazzsi club for a Flamenco show we loved. Authentic, tiny local venue, open seating anyplace you fit, affordable small bites. Non touristy but the show we saw was amazing. I didn't really know what real flamenco was till then. Girona/Pals/Palafrugell: Viator tours. Worst tour we have ever been on beginning to end. Too much too fast. No information the entire ride. Some simple ‘this is where Game of Thrones was filmed"….and very basic history. She knew very little. No mention of the cathedral or Girona stone. We were pickpocketed (and caught them) in Girona so there was no time to see anything because we spent it all looking for a police station which was locked. Be very careful. Guide wouldn't let us tell the rest of the group so they could check their belongings. Pals was fast in and out. In Palafrugel we were left on our own to eat and swim for about 2 hours. Swim didn't happen...no time, or place to change. Because we didn’t have reservations for any restaurants, they wouldn’t let any of us in to the places the guide recommended. One place took pity on us and squeezed us in. The entire time we sat there the empty tables at the other places remained empty. Reserved. That should never have happened on a tour Maybe we were just in a bad mood…..but others weren't happy either. Cadiz: we took the train to Seville on our own. Very hot! Take water from room and buy water when you get off train. The ship sells water as you get off but it is often more money. We had plenty of time to get to Seville and back. Gibraltar: No free transportation from ship to 'town' so we walked from ship to tram. There were lots of taxis along the way offering services up to top, but hubby knew they were more expensive than taking the tram. If you can't walk far, take the taxi because it is a long way. We took the tram up and walked up even higher and then walked back down to town. We don’t recommend this if you are not in good shape. We skipped the main monkey event but saw enough… a pink souvenir stuffed monkey stolen, a bag of oranges stolen, tug of war with old lady over her bag while onlookers watched and took pics (we were up above wondering why nobody helped) and a man's glasses stolen. I don't find that cute. St. Michaels cave is just another cave BUT there is an amazing cross-section of a huge broken off stalagtite. The view from top is amazing if you venture up. Walking down is long and dangerous the closer you get to the bottom. We had plenty of time but it was 8 hours of walking. We added another hour in town before returning to the ship. Malaga: Spain Day Tours trip to Granada/Alhambra very nice with Debbie. Great guide Maria at the beautiful alcazar. Alicante: Shuttle from Ship to edge of public area. We opted to take Rick Steves' advice for the easy to do L1 or L3 metro away from the tourist/cruise ship beach to San Juan Beach. I have seen many beautiful beaches and this one is one of the tops. It was huge, not crowded in September, and beautiful. When we returned to the ship we looked at the nearby beach - overpacked with people and not very pretty. On returning to the pickup point for the shuttle to the ship, some of us were lectured about being late. We had the paper that said what times the bus ran and we had plenty of time. The driver disagreed and was put off. On another note, if the ship head count showed everyone was back on the ship, it would leave port early, if possible. Palma- This port disembarkation process was confusing. We were told there was a bus for 5E each r/t to take us to town center or we could walk the 1 mile to town center. I was miffed that they charged. We paid for the bus which took us all the way to the cathedral area, not the 1 mile, several miles. Then again one could have probably caught the on/off bus and taken it to the cathedral, but I don't know. Cruise director said there was a tourist office at the end. (of what? we never found one where the bus took us). This was our 'funeral' day. My 96 year old father-in-law had died unexpectedly the evening of our arrival to Barcelona. We opted to not return home (7 other kids were there) and it was decided this would be the best day for the funeral and for is to listen in from shore as we couldn’t from the ship. We hung around town, visited the market, took the hop on/off bus the full loop. The castle Believer was pretty from a distance but not worth a separate trip except for the great views. The Cathedral was a lovely place to sit and meditate. Toulon: Tour to Marseille and Aix en Provence. Marseille was better than we expected. Aix was pretty but we ran thru it very fast and didn’t really get to see much. I wish we had more time there. We had a great group bathroom experience there. :) Very expensive waterfront restaurant with things most Americans don't eat and none of us were very hungry. There went my little French bistro experience… Calvi: We wanted to take the little train in town but the disembarkation guide from Calvi told us there wasn’t one. When we said there was and asked were was the stop she said to not go, just stay in town because that is where we should stay. Well, we did. We toured the fortress, saw a little tribute to the American pilots, took a walk up top to a cemetery and view, walked the boardwalk past the never ending stretch of rented beach chairs to a place in the sand for free. Water was too shallow to swim. Not much there. We should have taken the train. Monte Carlo: Italy tours Monte Carlo, Nice, Eze. It was a rainy, overcast day but we enjoyed the tour in spite of no great scenery pictures. Eze is pretty much a beautiful old town on a hilltop but it is all tourist shops. No need for a long stay if you are not a shopper. Tour included a stop at the perfume factory. which was a waste. Nothing was working. Their day off? I couldn’t understand a word the young factory guide said. She showed us the basics of scents and what may be a working demo on another day, and then led us into the store to shop. Nobody in our group bought anything. We were anxious to leave. However, Monte Carlo was beautiful and we really liked Nice. Livorno: ItalyTours. One of our better tours (but not best). We enjoyed the beautiful rainy drive to Florence (crowded). Most memorable was our Florence and Museum guide. She had a true love of the statue of David and her detail in educating us was remarkable. We came away with a greater appreciation than we would have had if we had gone on our own. We were dropped off to wander Pisa and take photos. Thats all. We loved the beautiful and interesting tower. Sadly there was a long line to get tickets to go up in the tower so we just wandered outside and took pictures. Rome: Viator trip to Vesuvius and Pompeii was our favorite tour of the entire trip. We had 2 amazing guides Becky and Sarah and their information at the end of our tour would have been very useful a week sooner! We should have done this trip on arrival to Rome. It seems we had an experienced bus driver, compared to the one ahead of us. The bus will leave you if you are late...and it did leave two people that didn't return when guide told all of us it was turn back time. Take water and rent the walking stick! Good Pompeii guide. Pizza afterwards went smoothly although I can’t say I came away loving italian pizza. Vatican- MUST get advance tickets! Even with them we didn’t know where to go. We found a guard that said ‘stand there’ and eventually he let us in the line. 40 years ago things were much different. Too many people this time. We had a hard time keeping up with our guide and I lost her a few times with all the pushing and shoving. Stark contrast to the feelings one is supposed to get. No photos. Look, step, look, step, look, step…and eventually you are out of the chapel. Half our postcards we mailed from the Vatican Post Office didn't make it. Coliseum- we still haven't received our refund for the rained out lower level tour ticket. That lower level tour would be hard to do on a shore excursion. The Coliseum is a must do even with headphone tour. We went to the San Calisto catacombes via foot, metro, bus, foot…great day away from crowds on Sunday. I have to make a note that I am an avid geocacher. That, combined with the fact that I typically prefer to not use past paced tours and go at our own speed, where we choose, my opinions are a bit colored. We were not allowed time to 'see' as much as we wanted but it gave us a taste of where we would go back to. About the ship: Cold, cold, cold. We were in ideal Mediterranean climate. Outside was perfect. Cabins were perfect. Interior of the ship was a refrigerator. Many of us were wearing coats. The Queens Lounge where many of the events are held was a refrigerator. So we rarely went there. MainStage was only slightly better but we went every night. Only once did I feel comfortable inside and that was a window seat at pinnacle grill. It took us awhile to find our way around, which is normal, but this time it was longer. I had no deck plan map. The other cruises we had done gave us a ship map. When I asked for one I was told there aren't any because the plans are in transition. We had to rely on the maps at the elevators. We were glad our room was by an elevator so we didn't walk the wrong direction all the time, and hubby has a far better memory than I do. A printed map from home is highly recommended. I appreciated the hand sanitary stations all over the ship and as we returned. In spite of that, hubby caught a cold from others we had been on tours with, which possibly spread to others we interacted with before he knew. Unlike our last cruise, there was actually room to sit around the pool. After 2 visits I discovered there were 2 pools. :} (Amazing how long it takes to orient to the ships). There were always available tables and chairs when we went. Food: Because we were doing so many long shore excursions and traveling alone, we opted for the open seating which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were seated almost immediately and we met many wonderful people each night. When we walked thru the lower dining room we were able to greet many from previous dinners, or tours. This is a relatively small ship so you see lots of familiar faces each day- especially with the CC group. (btw, the meet and greet is worth going to) We learned that if you are seated at a large table (10 or so) that service is very slow. You wait for the table to fill before ordering. You wait for all to eat each course before the next. You skip dessert or take it with you so you can get to the show. You can also request a window table if you smile pretty. :} The food was good. I appreciate that the portions are smaller than we have had on previous cruises. I don’t have restraint so less is good. I felt free to order two healthy starters. Sometime about the 5th day I happened to ask the waiter (all of them are wonderful) if there was any way to get vegetables. I was craving veggies because those on the menu are mostly for decoration. a few slivers of something. He asked me if I wanted steamed, roasted, boiled…? Oh, JOY! he brought us a platter of mixed steamed veggies. Hubby and I downed those before our meal. We continued to order veggies thru the trip. Many items on the menu had alcohol, lessening our options to choose from.. Lots of seafood, which was good for me, maybe not for others. Menu got repetitive when limited. We also discovered a diabetic menu with yummy options. Too late. Tap water every night for us by our choice. At the end of the cruise I discovered herb tea hidden at the check in desk in the DR. One later reviewer mentioned there was fruit juice. I would have killed for it if I had known. Night snacking...we went to bed before the 'good stuff' came out, as we discovered one later night. Pinnacle was better than Canaletto, BUT we had complimentary tickets with our cruise purchase. I wouldn't pay extra for it. Service was very good. We chose to do them (reservation) on our sea days. For the first time ever, at the beginning of the cruise, we ordered our breakfast in due to an early start. It was there, it was good, I wanted to do it again. Hubby didn’t want to. I think he feels guilty. I now know after booking our next cruise on NCL that room service isn’t free anymore. WHAT? We then ate breakfast in the Lido cafeteria area many times when we had excursions and no time to wait in DR. It was impossible to find a table so we just started joining (butting in politely) with other diners that had empty spaces. Often there were tables with dirty dishes but we didn’t know if they were taken. The service was still very good and they tried hard to help us. Hubby loved the ‘egg lady’ and how she made omelets. It wasn’t until the last 2 days or so I saw someone at the pool with a HUGE chef salad and I was so craving a salad. The hunt was on. You can tell when you have been deprived. :} Another reviewer posted the staff will cook you something you request. I didn’t know they would alter the nightly menu because I did ask if alcohol could be left out and was told no. Activities/entertainment: Mediocre to great. Our favorite nightly was the mini orchestra group. I forgot their name, in the Lincoln center. Always crowded but it was nice to sit in the back and listen to the end of the program after dinner. On mainstage, the best was possibly Julian Gargiulo, pianist. The worst was the night of Flamenco dancers. We usually had a long lull after the mainstage show, wandering around looking for something to do before retiring. Nothing much to do. I didn’t go for the lively music in the freezing queens lounge. Not because of the music, it was good, just the discomfort. I would have loved to have had the Lincoln center open during that time so we could relax before going to bed. I found the show at Billboard not really worthy of my time but there were always people there with drink in hand. TV. Unlike other cruises, we finally have a very nice assortment of movies to choose from. Those shown in the theater were of no interest. Several days into the cruise we found the game lounge which had some nice options. For the most part, there wasn’t really much to do on the ship if you don’t want to listen to other people. No real outside activities. Some organized games we weren’t interested in. We just enjoyed the ride with fresh air from our balcony. Staff: I found the cruise director kind of annoying. Sorry. The Shore Excursion specialist Linda was pretty useless most of the time and I think we knew more than she did because of our research and planning. For example at a meeting about Gibraltar. Do the Taxis go all the way to the top? Does the tram? Can you walk up to the top from the tram? She beat around the bush and didn’t give an answer. Several of us wanted to know. She said she hadn’t been so didn’t know. That is her job. She had to be new to the route? When it came to departure for excursions, we never knew where we were supposed to go. The announcement said to look for a sign at the elevator. On the last excursion day I saw a 8x11 paper inside 1 elevator stating which floor to go to. I had been looking outside the elevators. Silly me. We often went in circles. Major props go out to the front desk staff. As mentioned earlier, my father-in-law had died and we had a remote funeral to attend. Elisabeth,from Munich, bent over backwards to help us with our needs. Unfortunately the staff was not ‘able’ to help us with our need to deal with a funeral. We paid just like everyone else for bad wifi to email out (make a copy before you send in case it doesn’t go thru) a tribute hubby spent our first sea day writing. Our room team Agung and Aries were amazing. Dining room staff -amazing. All in all, we would love to sail HAL again. I just post negatives and tips so others are aware, just as I hope to read in other reviews. I am a big trip advisor reviewer and don’t put much weight on a ‘perfect’ with no comment review. :} There were LOTS of very negative ‘never again’ reviews. Like a previous reviewer stated…’Were we on the same ship?”. I agree completely. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our first ocean cruise; we did the Danube River cruise last year. At first we booked an outside with $100 credit. Then 6 months later, I noticed a balcony sale on the same ship, the Oosterdam. We were upgraded to a balcony for ... Read More
This was our first ocean cruise; we did the Danube River cruise last year. At first we booked an outside with $100 credit. Then 6 months later, I noticed a balcony sale on the same ship, the Oosterdam. We were upgraded to a balcony for $300 Canadian less and got $400 U.S. onboard credit! I wonder if this is normal or were we just lucky? The cabin was adequate with a two-seat sitting area, a large bed, and a small balcony with 2 chairs and a small round table. We spent a total of 1.5 hours on the balcony for a trip of 12 days, and the weather was warm with no rain. This amounted to less than 8 minutes per day! (One doesn't really need a balcony.) The food was usually very good, although sometimes it was not warm enough. Sometimes the food was overcooked like the salmon and duck. The entertainment was usually good, although some acts could have been better. We took mostly Holland America shore excursions which varied from good to excellent. Public rooms were very nice and clean. We chose this cruise because there were ports of call every day except one. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.5 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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