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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and ... Read More
The reviews of HAL out here lately have been snarky. We had a lovely time some years back in Canada on the Veendam. For some reason we strayed – but we can’t remember why. I had one open week in March and searched on price and a few of my criteria. The Rotterdam was the cheapest for ocean view- and for Mariner members we got $100 off on HAL.COM. One thing to watch for on OV on some Holland ships- they are nice and big and have a couch- (and even a bathtub). But a top grade (HH) can be obstructed view literally on Lower Promenade. DH did not trust the one way glass tinting- as people could possibly see in as they walked by. We booked a specific porthole (1815) down on deck one “Dolphin” - and were amused to get three “urgent” upgrade offers back up to HH- starting at $69 pp and the last was $19 pp. We had one 110V outlet, one German (250V/50hz) outlet and 2x USB charging ports. Tampa is usually a low cost air destination for us. I saved a little and booked a connecting flight- why I asked myself after a four hour delay. Ubers are cheap and abundant. The cab from the airport asked for $26 not on the meter, six over Uber XL and DH rolled her eyes and tipped him poorly. The chain hotels were pricey the start of spring break. We tried the Tahitian. The reviews were mixed. The pool and grounds were good. It has a smallish main building with a 1970s motel out back. There is no one from chain headquarters to remind the owner he needs to write a check and fix stuff like beds, bubbling plaster and clock radios or lose his franchise. The little breakfast/lunch café inside was excellent- the Tampa Police eat there. There is a cute residential neighborhood out back. Embarkation at 11 AM was less than optimal. We were too early, yes, but Terminal Six has not enough chairs. So get there at 11:30 and you proceed to the gangway and not have to stand in line after your speedy check in. Actual boarding started at 11:40. The ship is lovely and being very aggressively maintained – new carpet, paint, piping etc. The crew was cheerful and the art is really top notch. Rooms were ready at 11:45 AM- who ever heard of that. We ate embarkation lunch in the MDR. The selections were just right. The Cajun items had un-spiced sausage but they did a good job on vegetables and soups. Dinners were also good- we had aft facing sharing tables for eight and the conversation was really great – four couples our age with 15+ cruises each. Note the average passenger age was up there. The wine prices were high to us- $9 is apparently the norm -but they had three IPAs. One was out of stock but they had a Florida one that was not bad. A few tap beers are available here and there. We were so excited to see the Oceans Quartet (sometimes or formerly called Neptunes) with four sets starting at 7PM or even 5PM. The dance floor is smallish (14 feet by 14 feet or so) but the band was very good- the guys are from Mexico and will be on the ship until May. Several couples were dancing. One of the dancers said they were playing all jazz the previous week but I went up and begged for some Latin – and it was amazing. A piano player was there in between sets. If you know the Foxtrot Box Step- it is handy on a small floor. Up the way there was a piano bar player- he was well regarded- Barry from Boston. The casino was packed and a bit smoky. There was no actual production show- this caused some grumbling– replaced by a movie. Others seemed OK with the movie. There was comedy a few nights. Both were good and one of the comedy shows had music (we won’t give it away). There was a musical show- Postmodern Jukebox that was only OK but way over hyped. If I was HAL I would being back a smallish production show. The reports on the Test Kitchen were positive. As I write this is it 5:45 AM in the lounge/coffee shop/library aka Explorations Cafe. There is no library on the deck plans but there are actual books, puzzles, board games and no piped in music. The coffee shop opens at 6:30. For a transatlantic or world cruise this is an excellent and large space- and very under-rated. We had our Cruise Critic unofficial meet and greet around a giant puzzle. They need a few electric outlets, and there is a wooden book sculpture that takes up a whole writing desk and needs to be recycled. I found a wireless laser printer which was good for boarding passes etc. The ship has an aft pool. These are nice and a good way to enjoy the sea views. Key West is a good port. On our third trip there we hunted for the free bus, which for us was like a unicorn and hard to find. Two important clues- it is called the Duval Loop and is a smallish city bus. There is a commercial trolley-bus and a wheeled train. The Duval Loop has red circular signs marking the stops. It was very full when we rode it and the commentary was safety vs tourist focused. The Southernmost Beach Café was again excellent and we found Turkish trivets and key lime jelly beans on Duval. The funny and interesting port talks downplayed Porto Tomas in Guatemala. The message was, over and over, buy a shore excursion or else you will be bored and disappointed. Some of us took the or else- many staying on the ship. There was hint you could walk out the gate of the container port by the craft market, go straight a block then right around the miniature naval station to some waterfront restaurants. At least one showed up on the online rating sites and can be seen from the ship. We dropped into Donde Pilo which seated us over the water on a thatched roof dock. They were sweet and friendly and recommending the large lobster seafood soup for $20. Some friends who arrived by power wheelchair had a huge fish. Divide all local currency prices by 7. We looked for and saw several crew. If they are trying to promote the port in the bigger picture I would humbly suggest to HAL and the Tourist Board to rent a few golf carts and shuttle guests over there. It is a similar look, feel and walk to Senior Frogs in Nassau. Pro tip- the local beer was $2. The craft market at the pier had pretty local crafts – I got two nice hand made belts for $20 each. Taxis to the actual town, a few miles away, were like $10pp round trip. Service in the MDR was cheerful but slow. Breakfast food was lovely – lots of choices- full English, waffles and even Asian. But they would take 45 minutes and ask for juice two or three times etc. We diagnosed the issue as “stay in your section” by the Head Waiters, vs “go and help the guests or supervise” – which is easy to fix and we dropped in a note to the Hotel Director. Dinner was slow but everybody was pitching in. MDR Lunch was efficient. They were not serving in the MDR on port days, so we tried “Dive In” by the covered pool – which has a taco bar also and a good chicken sandwhich. There were rumors of a shortage of limes aboard. I cornered a senior beverage person, who stated they have to use certified (food safety?) suppliers, such as those back in Tampa, so just racing off to buy a case of limes was just not possible. I complimented him on the wise decision to carry several IPAs. He hinted they would have more but there were issues with shelf stability. He did acknowledge the cost of them was also a factor, and that guests were “crazy for light beers.” The founder of our local (large) microbrewery at home, Summit, makes of big point of his decision to hire a chemist and build a lab to work on shelf stability as he tries to expand nationally. This may be a helpful clue as to why there not more craft beers on cruise ships. We were baffled by the real world dress code aboard. Yes the published one was easy to follow. Dress to Impress aka Formal Night was the big question. So, based on a sample size of say 100 people I noticed (this is valid sample size I think), the average for men was sport coat and tie. We saw a tux or two and quite a few business casual. Mahogany Bay is a dedicated cruise ship port. The Captain mentioned the entrance was narrow and challenging to back the ship into in high winds, but everything was just so. The grounds were manicured, the shops air conditioned and the beaches sandy. There were life guards and lots of security. We had a dip in the ocean. The online drawings and photos show the place as barren but the jungle has filled in and it quite pretty. There were lots of lounge chairs and shade available. We enjoyed the signs on some of the exotic (to us at least) trees and flowers. Costa Maya seemed the same and massively crowded. We stayed on the ship. The gentle rocking at the open sea pier made it like a sea day. We read books and went for several walks. MDR breakfast service settled in. I did some asking around – this is a happy ship- with high guest satisfaction ratings. I have noticed a correlation between happy ships and good ratings on places like Cruise Critic. You can tell if the crew is enjoying their (hard) work. We were impressed by the towel animals – Riston (covering the whole forward-odd side of Deck One up to about 1857) designed an amazing elephant, sleeping dog and monkey- the best we have even seen. They did not seem to use cleaning carts which can block the hallways. Getting off the ship could not have been easier. CBP had a lot officers on duty in Tampa, which helped. There were no lines at all at 8:40. Just before leaving we had a walk on the all-around promenade deck, then ordered eggs benedict and Belgian Waffles in the MDR. This was a good reminder of how well organized things are on the co-flagship of the line Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have sailed on 9 HAL cruises over the last 5 years for a total of 103 days. This new ship was very disappointing for us. *The ship seems crowded all the time and there are lines for everything, food, ice cream, hamburger bar, ... Read More
We have sailed on 9 HAL cruises over the last 5 years for a total of 103 days. This new ship was very disappointing for us. *The ship seems crowded all the time and there are lines for everything, food, ice cream, hamburger bar, pizza bar and dining room. We waited a very long time for burgers at Dive In and for a reuben sandwich at the pizza bar. *The promenade deck was so disappointing. It is extremely narrow and sometimes its single file areas. There is no view of the sea as you walk because the lifeboats are hanging right next to the railing. We have never experienced this before. *Most of the servers and table assistance crew were not very helpful or friendly. There were a few exceptions of people that were happy everyday and greeted us. Mary and Herlina were exceptional. *Extremely hard to find a lounge chair at the pool or back of ship if you were not out there early reserving a seat which isn't allowed but happens. *It was very hard to find a quiet place to read or relax. The TV in stateroom was excellent as far as size and quality but hard to figure out how to find things to watch. There was not much navigational information as there has been in the past. It's nice to know how far to the next port and have better information provided. We won't sail on this ship again!! Read Less
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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We were looking for a holiday away from strollers and screaming kids... and Holland America seemed to fit the bill. Catering to an older crowd is their forte. But this was significantly older than I was prepared for!! One of the things we ... Read More
We were looking for a holiday away from strollers and screaming kids... and Holland America seemed to fit the bill. Catering to an older crowd is their forte. But this was significantly older than I was prepared for!! One of the things we have long associated with cruising was incredible entertainment. This ship had little of that. And what they had did not coordinate well with the dinner seating times in the main dining room. With the late (read 8pm) dinner seating, our only option was to go to the “show” at 7... which meant you needed to arrive by 6:30 to get a seat... which meant you needed to be back in your room by 5:00 in order to shower and dress... Not exactly the relaxing dinner I was hoping for. We thought that choosing a regular dinner time and an assigned table would give us an opportunity to meet fellow passengers and enjoy some lively conversation but that was not our experience. Dinner companions with respiratory illness should eat in their cabin!!! Dinner service was decent but there were significant delays between courses. The food was flavourful and the menu varied. Overall the food was what I expected. And way better than any all inclusive resort I have ever been to. Our cabin steward was friendly and eager to please but not the best at cleaning... oh well. The ship is new. And looks it. But I was expecting more luxurious appointments throughout. New will only last so long and then there will be little to recommend. The three main “lounges” where there was live entertainment every night are all adjacent. This has both pros and cons... if you don’t like one, it is a short walk to the next but the music from one “bleeds” into the next. Sitting in the back of one room often meant you could hear what they were playing next door through the walls. Overall, we had a pleasurable holiday. No one wants to complain too loudly about their cruise. Did HAL blow my socks off? No. Will I sail with them again? Maybe... when I’m 80. And I too may bring my walker. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
7 day Eastern Caribbean in a Signature Suite -Lido has both carpet and tile floor and very heavy chairs. Lots of scraping from tile area must be heard on deck 8. You can order drinks in Lido by pushing a button on your table!! ... Read More
7 day Eastern Caribbean in a Signature Suite -Lido has both carpet and tile floor and very heavy chairs. Lots of scraping from tile area must be heard on deck 8. You can order drinks in Lido by pushing a button on your table!! Portions of balconies on deck 8 are visible from window tables in some sections of Lido Muster drill at 3:45 on first day forced 2900 pax to interior stations on deck 2 and 3. The 12 elevators were packed at the conclusion for well over an hour Happy hour was only on deck 2, Crow's Nest was quiet as a morgue First 3 days martinis had large olives stuffed with blue cheese Crow's Nest coffee Bar opened at 8 am not 7 Signature suite closets are lit when the their door is openned Room fridge is covered by solid door causing quite a bit of heat between fridge and door Delivered room breakfast have new costs for...Steak&Eggs,$9.50, Kick Start, $4.95 and Smoked Salmon Benedict, $7.50 Room shower has wand, rain forest head and side jets. No night light in bath room. Qtips and cotton balls in jar between sinkRound ship's clock on wall by bed that was adjusted by room steward We ate 33,921 eggs while travelling 2013 miles Please if you bring a book leave a book Enjoy Bob Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose the NS because it was the inaugural year of it's launch and we always sailed on the smaller ships. A larger ship would be a new experience for us. The ship was beautiful however the promenade deck is a disappointment to us. ... Read More
We chose the NS because it was the inaugural year of it's launch and we always sailed on the smaller ships. A larger ship would be a new experience for us. The ship was beautiful however the promenade deck is a disappointment to us. We are walkers and like to do so early in the morning. We found the promenade on the NS to have mostly obstructed views, sections of the deck to be very narrow and usually lots of crew members washing the deck. Also there are no lounge chairs on the promenade. Our cabin was an aft verandah on the 7th deck (Schubert). It seemed smaller than our last year cruise on the NA,...but maybe that is just our imagination. There was a shower in our cabin and it was nicely decorated however the sink area was very small. We are smaller people in comparison to many onboard. I don't know how a larger person could be comfortable. We split our dinner options mostly between the Lido buffet and the Main dining room. We also tried the Dive-In and Dutch cafes. We ate all our breakfasts and lunches in the Lido. The food was very good in both areas and the Dutch Cafe had great coffees and wonderful deserts. The pea soup is wonderful although the did add a slice of what seemed to be raw bacon on a cracker as a side.The Dive-In got our orders screwed up adding options to tour burgers that they thought we would enjoy. Entertainment was the typical HA experience. No Broadway show types, 2 comics (Fred Klett was a riot), a string quartet with piano and a dance company. There is also BB Kings, Billboard and Rolling Stone areas that have decent performers. Service provided was outstanding. The crew members hustle, are always polite and smiling, and really do a great job of keeping passengers happy. The shore excursions do seem a bit pricey for what you get but they make the cruise experience seem like you are learning about different areas of the world. Of course Half-Moon Cay is our favorite stop and could spend the entire cruise right there. Embarking was sort of a painful wait. They send you an email to tell you what time you embark but I doubt many really follow that recommendation. They give you a group number when you enter the building but we saw people with number 16 entering with people having number 8. Dis-embarking was a mess. Our assigned time of leaving was 9:00 am but we manged to only leave at 10:30. It messed up our travel arrangements as we had someone waiting for us. We realize port authority has something to do with that but that needs to be rethought. We would probably do other cruises with HA but I think the smaller ships are a bit more intimate and to our liking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship is very elegant, with beautiful artwork throughout. The crew was very friendly, seemed happy, and we’re always willing to help. The cabins were relatively roomy with lots of drawers for storage. The food was excellent in the ... Read More
The ship is very elegant, with beautiful artwork throughout. The crew was very friendly, seemed happy, and we’re always willing to help. The cabins were relatively roomy with lots of drawers for storage. The food was excellent in the dining room. The shops were understated and there was not merchandise present in the aisles. The entertainment was not as good or as varied in the mai theater as on other ships. However, there were many styles and locations for music on the ship. There were five hot tubs on the ship for which were the smallest I’ve ever encountered. Those four would not hold for adults comfortably. The ports were excellent. Grand Turk was almost like a private island. The private island was excellent. Surprisingly, we were the only ship in port at Saint Thomas which made for a surprisingly uncrowded visit. San Juan seem cleaner than the last time I visited. I would definitely sale on the Nieuw Statendam again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the ... Read More
My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the mega-ship vibe. We chose the Oosterdam western cruise this year. Have not been on the Oosterdam previously but have been on Zuiderdam and most classes of HAL ships over the years. For the first time we were disappointed in HAL. We were on the March 2 sailing. We splurged for a Neptune Suite. Embarkation was a breeze. It was probably 15 minutes from Lyft ride to boarding the ship. The ship itself was impeccable. Our suite was in perfect condition. Here is a list of our disappointments: 1. Food - we had fixed dining 2nd seating. As always the service was great. I have always defended HAL's food quality over the years - but not this time. Examples included a pepper pot soup that consisted of over cooked bits of yesterdays short ribs covered by a dilute beef broth. A cat fish fillet that you could find in your Krogers frozen food section in a box and the fillet part of my "surf and turf" was an embarrassment - must have 3 oz and a hamburger patty would have been more flavorful. 2. $10 surcharge - My wife wanted the veal chop the night of the surf and turf but asked for a lobster tail to go with it. We were charged $10 for an "extra entree". Really? Felt like a slap in the face. 3. Promenade deck - we enjoy our walks around the deck. 90% of the time it was closed off for some maintenance such that you could not circle it completely. 4. Food - back to food: no chilled soups, no smoke fish, no baked Alaska. HAL food seems to be becoming very homogenized and bland 5. Shore excursions: overpriced as usual. The one we took in MoBay included being jammed into a small minibus to the point where I had to sit on a jump seat for an hour. The advertised 4 hour trip to a plantation house took us 6 hours. 6. Ports of call: why do they stop at Montego Bay anyway? Absolutely nothing to do there that did not involve and excursion. Cayman was cancelled. Cozumel - tourist trap. 7. Entertainment: there was no mainstage entertainment the first night out. No production shows. On the plus side, the crew and waitstaff were as friendly and gracious as always. The ship was in impeccable condition. The Lincoln Center shows and BB King were excellent. The America's Test Kitchen was great HAL seems to be getting rid of the things that made them different. With declining food quality and never ending surcharges, we are thinking about doing something different next year rather than a HAL cruise. And we are sad about that. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I was unsure of my choice of a Lanai stateroom, but it was great! Loved to people watch as people walked by the glass sliding doors, and they could not see into the room. We could see straight out to the water, as the railing was more ... Read More
I was unsure of my choice of a Lanai stateroom, but it was great! Loved to people watch as people walked by the glass sliding doors, and they could not see into the room. We could see straight out to the water, as the railing was more like a metal gate with intermittent uprights than a wall. Didn't miss any storage lost to the design of the room. Didn't miss the refrigerator full of drinks which would have cost money to use. The embarkation process was wonderful. We got to the port at around 11:45 and waltzed right on. Never did we encounter a line more than maybe 8 people deep. Debarkation was likewise easy. Enjoyed the dining room-food was great. Didn't go to a specialty restaurant. Too expensive. If there was Asian, we might have sprung for it. No problem getting a pool lounger (we go in the mid to late afternoon). Post Modern Jukebox was an entertainment highlight. All in all, definately worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Overall, I have to say that my wife and I enjoyed the cruise very much. When booking the cruise, we ended up on the Rotterdam as it had the ports we wanted to see. The embarkation went very smoothly and the luggage was brought to our ... Read More
Overall, I have to say that my wife and I enjoyed the cruise very much. When booking the cruise, we ended up on the Rotterdam as it had the ports we wanted to see. The embarkation went very smoothly and the luggage was brought to our cabin promptly. Most of our evening meal was in the main dining room, and the food and wait staff were excellent. We were taking the trip with another couple, and one of them had special dietary needs. As soon as boarding, they talked to the chef in the lido cafe. He assisted with the lunch and also brought her a menu for the evening meal. She indicated what she wanted from the menu, and the chef got with the kitchen staff to make sure it was prepared properly. This was done daily for her. The cabin staff was also excellent, and anything we needed, it was taken care of immediately. I was a little disappointed in our stop at Key West, as we didn't dock until very late morning, so our time on the island was a little shorter that I had hoped for. We had excursions for our stops in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, which we enjoyed This is a small ship, about 1400 passengers, and it seems to cater to the senior citizen group, which is fine as my wife and I are both in our seventies. I was a little disappointed in the evening entertainment. This was our first cruise with Holland America, so I don't know if the entertainment was standard for all of the HAL ships or if it was just this ship. I will know shortly as we are taking an Alaska Cruise in a couple of months and will also be with Holland America. It will be interesting to do a comparison. We had a balcony on this ship and it was very comfortable. It is probably a little larger than balcony cabins on other ships, which we liked. We had plenty of storage space. This is an older ship and it is definitely showing signs of its age. I was aware of this when I booked the cruise, and in spite of its age, we both have to say we had a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Not an ardent cruiser but as land tours were really expensive this was a greay way to see New Zealand. I spent 4 nights on my own in Sydney and 3 in Auckland, both great ports. I am not fond of comedians but the comic and ventriloquist ... Read More
Not an ardent cruiser but as land tours were really expensive this was a greay way to see New Zealand. I spent 4 nights on my own in Sydney and 3 in Auckland, both great ports. I am not fond of comedians but the comic and ventriloquist were hilarious. You can't top the Lincoln Center players. Met lots of people on the promenade deck-a great way to keep fit after all the delicious food. Had all breakfastsand dinners in the dining room, more civilized. Milford Sound and the trip through the fjords was worth the trip. The excursions were really good-did 3 ship and 2 private tours. All guides and drivers excellent. The visit to the Maori Marae in Tauranga was really interesting. The culture and history of New Zealand was fascinating. Crew and itinerary made for a wonderful 2 weeks,. Not sure what all the complaints are about. Be glad you can travel. Read Less
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