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Sail Date: July 2018
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America ... Read More
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America provides easy access to Denali National Park via the Alaska Railroad. We were transported by a special train to the McKinley Resort at Denali National Park and to the ship in Seward via comfortable motor coach. Both trips are lengthy and are narrated. Brace yourself for the usual bad puns from time to time. The better guides limit themselves to a wealth of information of the area you are in. The best guide was the guide for the chartered Wilderness Tour, a 7.5 hour narrated ride on 60 of the 90 miles of two lane gravel road into the park. The return trip is on the same gravel road as it's the only one in the park. Those exploring on their own must ride the National Park shuttle. We saw the following mammals: Grizzly bear (a couple singles and a sow with 2 two-year-old juveniles); 3 wolves; about 10 Dall sheep, red fox, snow-shoe hares, and caribou. I'm not going to give a grade since the three transports are so different in scope. The Wilderness Tour should not be missed. BOOKING From conversations on-board, we got the impression that we spent less for some of the same amenities since we booked through Costco's travel agency. At the very least the large added on-ship credits added by Costco allowed us to skip paying for the drink plans which seem somewhat reasonable, but the idea of having access to 10-15 drinks per day was not something we would use. Through cruise-critic, we found out that our price went down about 4 months before the trip. Through the travel agency, we saved $500, keeping the same reserved cabin in the middle of the ship. However, we ended up with about $750 in combined on ship credit. No money is used on board, it's all part of your room key/credit card. Make sure you check your balance daily which is easily done on a machine near guest services. You can view it electronically or have the machine print the record. There is also access through the on-board app which runs on the free portion of wifi. You can purchase the slow, expensive Internet access if you wish to degrade your vacation time by being online when you "should" be enjoying the scenery. Grade: B+ CABIN I'd read reviews on cruisecritic.com saying the rooms were outdated. It appears that the Westerdam has gone through a recent upgrade. The photos on this site were no longer accurate. The condition of our room was quite good. What to ask for when greeted by your room stewards who will ask you if there's anything additionally you want after first viewing your room: Ask your room steward to explain how the shower works AND to put the single beds together as a (queen-sized) larger bed. By booking a half year early, we were able to reserve a cabin mid-ship and one level below the lido deck where the buffets are available nearly 24/7. Our cabin was smaller than a hotel room, but since you don't spend much time there, that is hardly a problem. There were two single beds that the room stewards put together as a queen sized bed on the first night by request. The head has a toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower. There was a 3-shelved medicine cabinet for storage. The balcony was a bit bigger than I expected. The suite includes 2 end tables with two drawers for storage, bed with able storage for suitcases below, love seat with small table, desk with small refrigerator and two more small shelves. One includes a hair dryer for your use. The room stewards automatically clean twice a day and replace towels during those two visits. More visits may be done by request. Grade: A DINING The buffet area on the lido deck is very clean. It's easy to access hand disinfectant at various places near the food service. Used dishes are quickly picked up by friendly staff. Tables are also cleared quickly so it's not difficult to find a place to sit near the buffet or near the pools. Most areas have attendants preparing made-to-order items or simply ladling food into bowls and onto plates. This isn't your average buffet. It's mostly fine dining quality food which is easily accessible. You could easily take all your meals here, but I'd suggest using the dining room most evenings and as often as possible for breakfast. You will be seated with others on-board unless you request otherwise. I'm not much on meeting new people, but I'm glad we chose to eat with new acquaintances each time we went for breakfast in the dining room. We were seated with the same couples at night, but if someone chose to eat in the specialty cafe or lido buffet, their seats were empty. Gala nights are a step up in quality of environment, but the the food is always exquisitely prepared and served. Meals in the dining room last about 2 hours, which surprising goes quickly if you simply talk about what you did during the day with your table-mates. On those evenings we ate at the Lido Market (buffet) we made separate trips for appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert, much like those served in fine dining. Drinks are served by request in all areas. The dining room attendants are numerous and very attentive learning your name quickly. You will most likely find that nearly every person associated with the dining room make your voyage amazing. From our viewpoint, the small added cost dining areas, such as the Pinnacle Grill, are not necessary. However, those we talked to reported being very pleased by their meals there. Grade: A+ ENTERTAINMENT VENUES The entertainment venues that we attended after dining: BB King Stage (Rhythm and Blues and Soul), Lincoln Center Stage (violin, cello, viola, and piano), and Main Stage which included hour long performances a comedian, illusionists which we attended as well as some song/dance variety shows (which we didn't but heard were good). Drinks are served by request. During the day there are various activities available from card playing to trivia to afternoon concerts. The BB King Stage was transformed to a cooking show by PBS's America's Test Kitchen, now in its 18th season(see episodes at https://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes or teasers on youtube such as the following: https://youtu.be/mpnshdmtE2Y ). Carla, from the youtube link was the host on this ship. This cooking show was very well done. I loved Carla's dry sense of humor. The technicians could do away with the canned applause, though. Even if you don't prepare meals, make it a point to get to at least part of a 45-60 min. presentation. You are given the recipes to the items prepared so you can follow along. Get to the Main Stage show about 20 minutes early or you may not find a seat. It's ok to send one of your party to save 3-4 seats while others wait to enter spending $$ in the nearby casino or have a drink in a nearby lounge. We were surprised to find a lack of interaction between audience and musicians in the BB King Stage. However, the quality of the music was quite high. The classical musicians at the Lincoln Center Stage were quite accomplished in many different styles of music (not just classical). There was a small contingent of hearing impaired guests. An ASL interpreter was at the Main Stage. I don't think the ship supplied interpretation, but the signers did a good job for those they served. I appreciated that the comedienne interacted with the interpreter and indirectly with those they served. Grade: B+ OVERALL SERVICE One of the supervisors at the guest services mentioned that Holland America is not for the rowdy and you won't find lots of children. There were families with with children, but the kids had an access area on the 10th deck all their own and could play basketball, paddle ball, table tennis and have other activities without being bothered by adults. It sounds like Carnival (corporate owner of Holland America) is more of a ship for kids/young families. We found that on a ship of over 2000 people, we did not feel crowded until disembarkation morning and that's only because breakfast was only available on the lido deck. Still, the staff did an excellent job keeping tables available for those later arrivals. If you abhor cigarette and cigar smoke, stay off the aft area of the lido deck. That's the only place for smoking. Generally, the smoke is blown off the back of the ship while moving. In short, the diverse staff, representing some 80 different countries and regions, was outstanding. If you are on board, you are treated like family (except for the family squabbles). Grade: A OVERALL EXPERIENCE We imagined our first cruise would be very good with some pitfalls due to not having cruised before. It was much better than we could have imagined. The Westerdam's crew and staff's grade: SUPERIOR. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's ... Read More
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's such a clean city. We stayed at an AirB&B and it was great. Much cozier than an impersonal hotel and we had more room, too. I'll review that on Air B&B later. I rate from a 5 star and reduce based on several things. My review would have been a 3.5 star if possible but that wasn't available and I do not feel that bumping it up to 4 stars would be right so we went down to the 3 star. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth - HAL has this figured out - the only thing is wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved on embarkation day. Now, lets talk about everything else: The ship overall is looking a little tired. Brass and fixtures that used to be shiny and bright are now somewhat dull, paint in places is worn off and things just look worn. This reduced the star rating by 1/2 to 3/4 of a star. The cabin, on the other hand was in good shape and the beds were comfortable. The cabin stewards did a great job. I can say that you rarely see them yet your room does get attention several times a day. I got the feeling that overall for the entire ship, the crew was not as large as it once was. It seems that the room stewards have more rooms to take care of then on previous cruises and this applies to the wait staff in the Lido and Dining rooms. I'll address that later. Perhaps steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins could be done at a better time. We have never encountered a cruise ship cleaning carpets in the cabins while we were on the ship - my hubby ended up with wet sox from walking on the still wet carpet. I would think this would be done at the end of a cruise when peoples cloths and belongings are not out on the carpets. It just seemed an odd time to clean carpets - at least to us, otherwise he cabin was fine. Dining: The dining was good but not excellent. The service was okay but nowhere near as good as on prior cruises and this reduced my rating by a full star. On prior HAL cruises the food was almost always excellent - this time it was good to average. The dining room menu the the first night had selections on the left side of the menu that said they would be available every night but this turned out not to be true. One night was devoted to selections from up and coming chefs or winners of some kind of culinary competition. Most of it was not particularly appealing. Items were fancied up for fancies sake and not necessarily appealing to the average eater. Teenagers were not thrilled with some of the selections - if they didn't know what it was they weren't going to eat it. I can't say that the food in the dining room was any better than the Lido market. Sometimes steaks were cooked the way I like them (med-rare) and sometimes it was a crap shoot. Some steaks were beautiful, lean and easy to eat - other times you had to trim off parts and cut out gristle and other tough parts. By the end of the cruise the ship was out of a lot of food - it looked like Asian selections were way down, fruit was hard to find - our last smoothie had to be made with a mix and I was told they were out of strawberries and pineapple. Some items seemed old and dried out sort of like eating heated up left over roast which is now dry and chewy. The folks working in the dining room and the Lido Market really tried to take care of everyone but you could see they were very busy and never just standing around but getting service for refills or even first fills of things like iced tea and coffee was difficult. I was disappointed with the eating facilities we visited. Due to a stroke, my DH drinks his liquids through a straw yet some of the staff on the Lido told him they did not have straws available while others found him one quickly - this appears due to a lack of training on HAL's part. Entertainment was okay but we don't go to much of it because my DH has a hearing problem. We do love the Explorations Cafe for puzzles, games and coffee, and the Observation area (Crow's Nest?) for watching the glaciers and great views. The teenagers loved the Loft and spent a lot of time at the pool, playing ping-pong and chess with the giant chess set near the pool. This trip I avoided the Spa - their prices are just astronomical. $70 for a pedicure is crazy - especially when the going price in my neck of the woods is $25 for the same services. It seems like a lot of nickle and dime charges and very expensive charges for things. I'm thinking of trying a Viking cruise next time - they may be more expensive initially but they do include more - including one land tour at each stop. As for Port and shore excursions, we did one on our own - in Ketchican we hired a taxi for an hour ($75.00) to give us a tour of the town. The teens loved this - we stopped and saw some of the local flora and fawna - they got to pick and eat Salmon Berries which they loved and heard about other things the Indians used for food and medicine. We saw the town and met some people. It was a fun little tour before we went shopping in town. We also did the White Pass Train Ride in Skagway - that was fun and interesting but not as much fun for the kids - one slept the whole way - that was an expensive nap, trust me. That was not the fault of the cruise - it's hard to tell what kids will and won't like but it's hard when the zip line tour requires an adult to accompany the kids and the adult is 72 and not into zip lining so it's hard to find an excursion that everyone can do and enjoy. I'm not saying we didn't enjoy our trip - we did. I'm rating in comparison to other cruises and see a downward slope in the quality of services and and upward slant in increased costs. We do notice this stuff and it does cause us to think about taking our business elsewhere. We have booked 2 back to back cruises totaling about 51 days for next fall and are seriously considering looking at other cruise lines to see if we want to change this - I don't know if this was a fluke in the dining and service and do I want to do this for 51 days in a row? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All ... Read More
We had a high expectations about our first cruise but unfortunatelly HAL did not meet them. At least we expected a "4*" smooth service, a great dining options and a quality entertainment already included in the price we paid. All those points were not met. Good thing: no disaster happened with us. We safely came back with a lot of photos in the camera. The rest was not so shiny as we expected. No hard feeling leaving the ship! 1. Room Service. In general it was fine. No big complaints but it was not excellent. Few strange spots on a bed linen, few spots on bathrobe. No slippers included. Dirty windows and balcony glass. We asked steward to clean a glass surfaces but he did not make it well. 2. Embarkation. The ship departed from Amsterdam Waterland Terminal with no connection of public transport. I wish HAL could offer a free or at least very cheap transportation to the terminal but the did not. It was a huge queue for check in when we arrived. No water, no snacks were provided (sorry I still expect that little things for the price I paid). Just a huge hot hangar full of waiting people. Nobody provided us a clear instructions on what to do and how long to wait. We spent around 1 hour there. Not nice start of a journey. 3. Dining Service. Bad if not terrible. Very long waits. Breakfast or dinner takes 1 hour in average. Food is served on broken/chipped plates and cups and old dirty cutlery. One time we found a hair in the bread basket. The staff on the dining room reception does not try to get a good table for you. One time we were followed to the table for 4 in the corner even two nice tables for 2 were available just few steps next to us with a nice windows. Waiters always ask for a paid drinks and forget to offer you a free tea. They do not give you a chance for a water without ice but serving you an ice cubes. The food quality was average: during all 7 days I did not find something really tasty. They even served us a lobster tail but it was prepared in a simple and not tasty way. Starter soups were definetely terrible. 4. Entertainment is limited with a concerts. The concerts were nice. I would like to mention the BB King Blues and the classical musicians. They were awesome! My wife also enjoyed Bilboard on board where the two guys played piano and sing popular songs on requiest. Those things happen in the evening. During the day activities are limited to a "seminars" where the staff tries to sell you insole for 190 bucks or expensive watches or brilliants or strange paints. Who buys all of that? We might expect some educational program like TED or knitting courses or yoga lessons included in the cruise price. But HAL wants to earn every extra penny on you. Do not go on HAL seminars - it is brainwashing and sometimes rude sales activity (nicely named). 5. Security at gates. Rude and unwelcoming. 6. At the evening of last day crew blocked two elevators out of four just because they need to carry a luggage downstairs. Obviously it was comfortable for the stewards but not the guests. That also shows staff attitude towards the guests. 6. During the cruise we received NOTHING complimentary. No free drink, no badge or magnet, no free 10 minutes massage and no PERSONAL attitute from HAL personnel. Again we paid a lot of money for the cruise and we expected something on top of the "below average". 7. That's is funny but with that kind of service HAL automatically includes 15% service surcharge on all onboard purchased. And 13.5 dollars per person per day as a "Hotel service charge". Crazy guys! Fortunately you still can adjust the last point at the end of cruise. So we did. 8. HAL shore excursions were 5 (!!!) times expensive that you could book ashore or just travelling the same route using a local public transport! 9. Port times were inconvenient. Ship arrived early morning at 7 am in average. People wake up slamming the cabing doors with no chance for a good sleep. Ship departed at 5 pm so you basically have a very short time to explore the port. To summarize: that was our first cruise. Norway is beautiful. Cruising is fantastic thing to do on vacation but never again with a greedy HAL. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We had to go this week due to kids’ activities in the summer. We spent one night in Seattle then got on the ship around noon. Our room was ready and the lido deck buffet was already being enjoyed. We explored the ship, set up our ... Read More
We had to go this week due to kids’ activities in the summer. We spent one night in Seattle then got on the ship around noon. Our room was ready and the lido deck buffet was already being enjoyed. We explored the ship, set up our phones, and started planning activities. The weather was lovely the entire trip! We only saw rain on the first day at sea when we watched rainbows and mountainsides and sipped coffee from the crow’s nest in comfy leather chairs. We dined in Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill as well as Rudi’s pop-up restaurant. We were not impressed with Tamarind and actually cancelled the second reserved night. Some of the favors were spot on, but the seafood did not seem fresh. I hated PG. I thought the menu was outdated and four of our steaks were over-cooked. Rudi’s was not what it was built up to be or worth the price. My husband said he liked the restaurant atmosphere and service over the main dining room. I did not think any were worth the extra cost. There is also a “sommelier” who is basically a cocktail server. They seem be irritated that we wanted to use our signature beverage plan to order drinks. We actually chose two glasses of wine the first night that were over the $9 cost and were charged full price. I thought we would be charged the difference. We did the helicopter to the dogsledding on a glacier for four. We splurged on this once in a lifetime experience at $649 per person. We were greeted by a high school girl who seemed distracted by her friends who were passing by as she was checking us in on the pier outside the ship. We had a 3:15 reservation and were to check in at 3:05. We were on time. When we handed her our tickets, she said, “how much do you weigh?“ to each of us. It was very embarrassing especially for my husband who weighs 250lbs. They charge people who weigh over 240 a $130 extra fee. The greeter shouted over to another teenager “how much we charge for heavy people?” OMG! We have already paid almost $3,000 for this three hour experience. The fee showed up on our cabin bill. At about 3:40, some other tenn age girl said, “alright, glaciers this way.” There were several tours going on and we weren’t sure what do do or if she was talking to us. So unprofessional. We got to the helicopter facility, were told to sit down to listen to safety presentation which was some 8 x 11 printouts of parts of the helicopter we were not to touch. We were given a locker they said they would lock when we left(?) for our purses and items not allowed on the flight. At 4:20, we finally got in the helicopter and took off. The flight and dog time were amazing but fast. We were back at the ship at 6:28. Worth it? Still not sure. I must warn anyone thinking about the “otters, raptors, and bears, Oh,My” excursion from Sitka. We started right on the boat to explore sea life. The main space was enclosed in glass and became miserably hot. There were no windows to open other than four 4 by 10 inch rectangles that provided a very slight breeze when we were moving. Upstairs was just railings for whale watching. Neither made a THREE HOUR boat ride comfortable. As soon as we docked, we were rushed to a bus. Not a nice or even decent bus. It had old upholstery that smelled musty and the weak ac came on after we sat there for 8 minutes until they turned on the engine. After they counted us twice, the driver announced that we would be going to the eagle location and then the fortress of the bears. I could not wait to get off the bus. When we stopped to see eagles, the driver said that due to the Fourth of July parade, we would need to be back on the bus in 27 minutes. The establishment was fine, and it was nice to see the Eagles. It turned out that 20 minutes would be enough time to see the facility. We got back on the bus and headed to the bears. Again it was announce that we should be back on the bus in 25 minutes. Ugh. The fortress of the bears was two giant round cylinders with a few bears in each. We went up the stairs to look down in the holding cells and down the other side. There were a bunch of hot miserable bears lying amongst garbage piles and puddles of mud. We do see a ton of eagles in the trees surrounding the bears. At the close of the tour, we were dumped off in town 6 miles from the ship. We could not wait to get off that awful bus and get back to the ship. Unfortunately and understandably, we could not get a shuttle back to the ship for over an hour because of the parade. Of course we were starving and thirsty after being on the boat and bus tour for five hours. We got lunch and waited in the longest line to get on a remodeled school bus that took us back to the Eurodam. Do not spend money on the trip. I don’t hate the boat part since we did see lots of sea life. Just beware of the type of boat you are signing up for. I’m afraid HAL is making the excursions seem a little more classy than what you actually get and charging a premium price for them. I loved the piano players! Especially Rachel! They play top hits and requests two or three times an evening. They were great! The casino was small but seemed perfect for the gamblers who were there. Slots and roulette are all we need. The shows in the theater were entertaining. The service was great all around the ship. Staff was upbeat and friendly. I could not believe how many knew our names by day one. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, ... Read More
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, I wouldn't hesitate booking this ship/itinerary based on our experience. For the most part, it was all very good. We did our own air and stayed at the Auberge Vancouver both pre and post stay. I would recommend this hotel for this purpose. With four-wheel luggage, it was easy to walk from the hotel to the cruise check in - even in a slight misty rain. The hotel is in a tall mixed-use building that includes condos, retail, and the hotel. There is no room service, and the free breakfast offered is limited--but for cost/convenience it was the right choice for us. (The others being the far pricier Fairmont or Pan Pacific.) Front desk folks were very helpful. Embarkation was very confusing to get our luggage dropped off. Granted we tried to board early and the offloading was still going on. Based on what pier workers told us there isn't a set place for each ship/sailing to drop off luggage - which sounds crazy given this ship makes the same trip every week. But once we found the location to drop off the luggage the rest was pretty well managed by HA. Just bring your patience with you. We were onboard by 11:15a or so, and our cabin was ready before noon. Lunch in the main dining room was the way to go, as the Lido was a zoo. We rented two Lido Cabanas for this trip (two couples), which was a great choice. It gave us a place to hang out and our steward was excellent. Granted we tipped him well at the start and throughout the cruise, but he waited on us like kings. For Alaska, I would do this again in a heartbeat. (Cost $199 per cabana for the week.) I didn't see anyone in the Retreat Cabanas all week. Food in the main dining room was very good. We ate at the Tamarid the first night (catch the first night 'special' when you get onboard at 25% discount.) The Pinnacle was good, but not as good as our memory of the meal on the Eurodam a few years ago. The Pizza, burgers, and hot dogs all got good reviews from our group. I think the best options for Lido is to get a customized food (ommlete, salad, etc.) made to order. Otherwise, the food we had was just fair. Be sure to at least order coffee via room service, as it is so nice to sit outside sipping your coffee in the morning. (Room Service breakfast was very good too.) Entertainment: We only saw the Billboard night production, which was just OK - but less than you will see on most ships. We missed the illusionist and comedian, so can't comment on that. The orchestra played the score of an Alaska nature movie one night, and it was very good. BB Kings and the dueling pianos were both excellent. We went to the pianos (Billboard) every night. Lots of fun. I also loved America's Test Kitchen classes they had on sea days. The bar drinks were disappointing, and never found the bar or bartender that could whip up something great. Our best bar experience by far was in the Tamirid Bar--as far as quality of drinks - but it was also the worst service. We finally just started going to the bar ourselves rather than have the bar waiter take our order. The Tamirid Bar isn't crowded and has incredible views. The Crows Nest has been ruined with all the new junk they have up there. This space in the past was our 'go to spot' in the past, but not anymore. #fail Holland America. Drink specials were only in two bars at 4pm and 11:30pm - BOGO +$2. Why bother having one at 11:30p on a HA ship?? As many have commented, everything seemed to be a ploy to get you to spend more money--which I don't think is unique to Holland America. The info left in your rooms about buying jewelry was overwhelming and the only port info was a push to go to cruise stores in port. Sad it has come to that. Our shore excursions (not with the cruise line) were with Harv and Marv in Juneau in the 6 person boat. Excellent!! We did a taxi to Mendenhall in Juneau. Excellent!! We did the White Pass (one way to Frasier) in Skagway and stopped off at the Skagway Brewery for a post-excursion drink. Both were great. All that said, I would go again tomorrow -- and would recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining room although I ... Read More
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining room although I did visit the Pinacle Grill. I was really pleased with the entertainment for a smaller ship. The staff was very accommodating and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. I appreciated the lack of long lines on and off the ship. The trip to Hubbard Glacier was amazing. Being a smaller ship we were able to get very close with much calving of the glacier. The entertainment was very good with entertainers who could actually sing! I've been very disappointed of late at the quality on the mega ships . Getting on and off the ship were a breeze. I loved the service of having my luggage tagged all the way to my home airport once it was placed in the hallway. I always heard Holland was for old people but found many single, families and middle aged couples. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ... Read More
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ship, state of decor. The food and service in the MDR were top notch , including afternoon tea every day. The cabin service was very good, prompt and polite. A few negatives such as the show on the main stage which wasn't great, the rangers talks, the kitchen tour ( which was a very short walk through and a few words from the head chef). Overall the experience exceeded our expectations and we would recommend this ship. Although having said that we are first timers so we have no other cruise ships to compare this one with. We had room no. 5189 verandah deck at rear of ship and we were very happy with it . Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We wanted to see Norway and Norway was great. A solid 10 for beautiful fjords, quaint ports and friendly people. Our experience on the Konningsdam was far from perfect. The crew was wonderful, and the ship is beautiful. However, when ... Read More
We wanted to see Norway and Norway was great. A solid 10 for beautiful fjords, quaint ports and friendly people. Our experience on the Konningsdam was far from perfect. The crew was wonderful, and the ship is beautiful. However, when you start to peel back the layers of the overall experience, it's not all it should be. Let's start with the angle of the toilet in our Veranda Stateroom, #5177. Anyone under 5', or 100 lbs. should have no problem with it. Anyone larger will bang their knee on the Shower Glass, of be forced to sit side-saddle. Not sure what panel of idiots approved this design. Bottom line, I will never book another cruise on Konningsdam unless this is corrected. The crew and service from our Indonesian and Philippine crew was outstanding. A 10 for sure. Other than that the food was just OK. Hated the pretentious chef's they have hired to create tiny portions of unlikable food. A 6 at best. The entertainment was disappointing. The Dance Ensemble was a 10, but I hear they are going to fire them and look for cheaper alternatives. The rest range from 6-1. Overall I rate the Ship a 5, and the experience an 8. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
My family of five and my sister-in-law's family of four decided on this cruise to Norway based upon the calendar, the excursions available and the age of the ship. Regarding the last criteria, we like to cruise on newer ships. That led ... Read More
My family of five and my sister-in-law's family of four decided on this cruise to Norway based upon the calendar, the excursions available and the age of the ship. Regarding the last criteria, we like to cruise on newer ships. That led us to the Konigsdam for its 7-night trip from Amsterdam to Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Flam, then back to Amsterdam. Our ages range from 18 to 58 and are all in at least "good" physical condition. For that reason, we were really looking forward to the excursions we booked through Holland America: biking in Oslo, white-water rafting in Kristiansand, the hike to Pulpit Rock (Preikstolen) in Stavanger and the Flam Railway and hiking tour in Flam. None of us had ever taken a Holland America ("HA") cruise before and we were interested to see what one would be like. Between the 9 of us, we had two Neptune suites, a regular suite and a verandah cabin. First the good: The ship is beautiful and well-designed. Everyone was very pleased with their cabins. Very comfortable and plenty of closet and storage space. The verandahs were ample and the suite bathrooms had not only shower stalls (nicely sized) but also whirlpool tubs. The latter were great to have after some rigorous hikes. The common areas were also very nice and the ship's spaces were all comfortable and accommodating. The food: Excellent. We are not "buffet" people. So, no comment on the food offerings there. The main dining room is a beautiful space on two levels. The food in the main dining room was excellent in quality and choice. Service was a little slow, however. We could not seem to do dinner in under 2 hours. This is a problem when you want to make a show or other activity. We chose open dining and, while it took some wrangling each day, we were always able to get either a table for 9 or two tables (5 and 4) right next to each other. The specialty restaurants ranged in quality. Tamarind, the Asian restaurant, had excellent service and food. It is a stand-alone restaurant that is very attractively appointed. So too is the Pinnacle Grill. Also very attractive. The food selection and quality was very good, but not great. And the service was extremely slow. Canaletto's is the Italian restaurant offering smaller plates for sharing. The food was good. But, we could not get over that it is basically a cordoned-off section of the buffet area. Accordingly, there is no intimacy or atmosphere to the restaurant whatsoever. Not good. If I am paying a premium for a specialty restaurant, it should be a stand-alone that is attractive and comfortable. This was neither. NOTE: While our experience with the specialty restaurants was mostly pleasant, reserving them was anything but. We bought a 3 specialty restaurant package in advance of the cruise (providing a $10 savings per person) for each person in our party. However, HA does not allow you to reserve the dates and times of your dinners in advance. So, when we arrived on the ship, we found that we were "assigned" dates and times without consultation. Luckily for us, our first dinner (Tamarind) was the first night at 7:00 and it worked for everyone involved. But then, we were told we had 5:15 pm dinners for the other two restaurants on dates that did not work for us. We had to spend way too much time re-arranging our dining reservations (and then confirming that they were right) for these restaurants. Had we know this, we would never have bought the packages to save a mere $10 per person. HA needs to allow those purchasing in advance to reserve their dates and times in advance. After all, they are giving HA their money in advance. So, in addition to the meager savings, they should add the perk of reserving in advance. Now, the bad: The ship is beautiful and accommodating, but anything but lively. Maybe this is HA's "thing", but we found the overall atmosphere of the ship to be boring. Our 18 through 27 year olds said the nightlife was terrible and there was really nothing for them to do past 11:00 p.m. Even we 50-somethings found the bars closed too early and the venues for dancing, drinking and gathering past 10:00 p.m. to be limited and poor. If you were not into dueling pianos or a blues/R&B club, you were out of luck. Unlike Celebrity ships we have cruised, there is no real "club" on the ship where people (of any age) can dance and drink into the later hours. Maybe that is intentional on HA's part. But, it was not for us. Moreover, the demographic of the ship was definitely "an older crowd". We figure the average age was 60+. The excursions: Far too expensive for what we got. The bike tour in Oslo was a joke. Our guide was useless and without detailed knowledge. And the route was uninspired and, at times, too congested to even ride. We feel like we got no real introduction to Oslo. The white-water rafting was a lot of fun and very exciting. But, unlike what the brochure advertised, we did not get 3 hours on the water. Rather, between getting there, being equipped and then carrying our rafts around, we maybe had 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the water. It was fun while rafting, but for $230 per person (with no lunch), it was overpriced. So too was the hiking trip to Pulpit Rock. This was a great hike: very difficult but rewarding when you ultimately arrived at the top and were privy to fantastic views. However, at $190 per person, I don't know what the money went to. Other than a bus and ferry ride and a cold sandwich, there are no guides (not even on the bus to tell you about the areas you are driving through) and we did all the hard work (the climbing). It seems the only thing you get from HA is a guarantee that the boat will not sail without you. Finally, the train/hiking excursion in Flam was also not worth the price. At $210 per person, you got a one way ride on the train and a waffle. Once the guide got off the train, he never said a word. So, as far as I can tell, HA makes a killing on this trip as my research tells me that the train ticket for the ride we took was probably between $50 and $70. Add $20 per person for the waffles and HA is pocketing more than 50% of the cost. We would never do excursions through HA again. Finally, the ugly: Embarkation. We arrived for our sailing at about 3:45 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. departure. There was no line at that time but it still took way to long to get aboard. This is because, despite checking-in in advance online, HA had our information wrong. Our group had two suites with my wife and I as the financially responsible parties for ourselves and our two sons and my older son's fiancée. However, upon getting our embarkation materials, we found that HA had my son's fiancée as the main contact person and financially responsible party. This required wasted time "fixing" this info before boarding. And, despite addressing it at embarkation, she was still the main contact person (for dinner reservations and announcements) until we finally got the concierge in the Neptune Lounge to fix it. BTW, perhaps this was not the case earlier in the day, but when we checked-in, there was neither a dedicated line for suite guests nor for those who checked-in in advance online. Debarkation: We had Expedited Debarkation due to an early flight home on 7/1. This was supposed to mean that we could exit the ship prior regular debarkation starting at 7:30. It also meant we kept our bags with the understanding that we were responsible for getting them off the ship ourselves. However, as 7:15 came, we tried to get down to the A deck where we could depart. However, the elevators would only take you to Deck 1. When we exited the elevator, we found a hoard of other Expedited Debarkation passengers crowding the elevator lobby waiting to depart. Then, when the ship's crew finally said we could depart, it was madness. There were so many people wanting elevators that most opted instead to lug their bags DOWN THE STAIRS to the A deck. Not only was this totally disorganized but, frankly, it was dangerous. We had no real problem doing it. But, there were elderly people forced to do it too who were trying to negotiate getting down the stairs with heavy bags in very crowded conditions. I can honestly say I have not experienced anything like this on a cruise ship since a Carnival cruise I took in the early 90's. It was ridiculous. How could HA not organize this better? Whoever the person responsible for safe and orderly expedited debarkation is, that person should lose their job. All in all, Norway was great. But, Holland America would not be our choice again for this destination or, for that matter, any other. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Standing on the dock next to the towering presence of the Koningsdam I had to remind myself that this was "mid-size" ship with about 2500 passengers. At close to 1,000 feet and 100,000 tons it is hard not to think of her as a ... Read More
Standing on the dock next to the towering presence of the Koningsdam I had to remind myself that this was "mid-size" ship with about 2500 passengers. At close to 1,000 feet and 100,000 tons it is hard not to think of her as a mega ship, but the relative size compared to the passenger capacity relates to an easy-going voyage. The ship feels smaller then it is! There are rarely any lines and you never really feel cramped. Our voyage to Norway meant we would get to sail in some striking fijords and we did. Cruisers should note that "scenic cruising" is combined with your port day. In other words, the path to your dock will be through a fijord-often late at night or very early in the morning. Take heart, though, sunset is after midnight and daylight will appear by 4AM! Its almost never really dark at this time of the year (June). I was most impressed with the food handling aboard, especially on the Lido deck. On board Koningsdam passengers do not help themselves at the buffet. The staff does. This reduces the possibility of spreading illness and the ship had a 97 CDC rating when I checked before the voyage which is excellent. There are deep-hand-wash stations in the Lido as well. The choices, by the way, are outstanding and my wife and I especially enjoyed the make your own salad station. This was our second voyage on the Koningsdam and if an opportunity to sail her again would arise, we would not hesitate. Read Less
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