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We had a delightful time on this cruise. My mom and I had cruised before about 12 years ago on Princess. This was a different experience because of the older clientele Holland American tends to draw. We really enjoyed the lectures/speaker series on board in the afternoons for the days at sea on the history of the area. The virtual tour of the Panama Canal by our Location Guide Wallis was also excellent and a great introduction to what we would be seeing. We didn't attend the shows as much as we did the movies in the early evening. We liked that some of the movies and food were themed around a port or activity. There were some negatives to our trip, but nothing to dampen our time. Due to the older clientele who had traveled extensively, we often felt out of place because everyone talked about going to Honduras or Puerto Vallarta for the winter. My mom and I have actually both travelled quite a bit ourselves, but it just didn't seem to compare. We booked all of our excursions in advance so we were prepared for each day and so we could attend the excursion we wanted at the time we wanted. It seemed like many people waited until they were on the ship to book an excursion or would just get off the ship and do their own thing. We felt much more comfortable and safe with our pre-panning. Again, though, many people at dinner would react like we were wrong to book in advance when asked what our plans were for the next day. I also felt like there was a different air with the passengers' attitudes. Sometimes it felt like people reacted to situations like I spent the money, so wait on me and I'm entitled. While standing in line one night to enter the main dining room, I overheard someone say that they didn't know why the doors were not open yet - his watch said 5:16 and dinner was supposed to begin at 5:15. Another woman was near us in the Crow's Nest on Canal Day and berated someone for sitting in front of her because she had been there all morning - mind you this woman had gotten up temporarily and left her stuff there, but to the newcomer, there was no way to know where she was sitting and how her view would blocked. I guess some of that felt to me that I would not be given the same latitude in my attitude since I'm younger (I am 31 years old). When we went on the kitchen galley tour, many people were lined up going up the staircase, but then others just pushed their way into the line. Overall, we had an excellent time. The Panama Canal is a cruise my mom has always wanted to go on. This particular cruise had the most ports of call and fewest days at sea for the length of the cruise. Being able to see and do as much as we could was the most important for us.

Panama Canal Cruise, Mother and Daughter

Amsterdam Cruise Review by liz92284

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We had a delightful time on this cruise. My mom and I had cruised before about 12 years ago on Princess. This was a different experience because of the older clientele Holland American tends to draw.

We really enjoyed the lectures/speaker series on board in the afternoons for the days at sea on the history of the area. The virtual tour of the Panama Canal by our Location Guide Wallis was also excellent and a great introduction to what we would be seeing. We didn't attend the shows as much as we did the movies in the early evening. We liked that some of the movies and food were themed around a port or activity.

There were some negatives to our trip, but nothing to dampen our time. Due to the older clientele who had traveled extensively, we often felt out of place because everyone talked about going to Honduras or Puerto Vallarta for the winter. My mom and I have actually both travelled quite a bit ourselves, but it just didn't seem to compare. We booked all of our excursions in advance so we were prepared for each day and so we could attend the excursion we wanted at the time we wanted. It seemed like many people waited until they were on the ship to book an excursion or would just get off the ship and do their own thing. We felt much more comfortable and safe with our pre-panning. Again, though, many people at dinner would react like we were wrong to book in advance when asked what our plans were for the next day.

I also felt like there was a different air with the passengers' attitudes. Sometimes it felt like people reacted to situations like I spent the money, so wait on me and I'm entitled. While standing in line one night to enter the main dining room, I overheard someone say that they didn't know why the doors were not open yet - his watch said 5:16 and dinner was supposed to begin at 5:15. Another woman was near us in the Crow's Nest on Canal Day and berated someone for sitting in front of her because she had been there all morning - mind you this woman had gotten up temporarily and left her stuff there, but to the newcomer, there was no way to know where she was sitting and how her view would blocked. I guess some of that felt to me that I would not be given the same latitude in my attitude since I'm younger (I am 31 years old). When we went on the kitchen galley tour, many people were lined up going up the staircase, but then others just pushed their way into the line.

Overall, we had an excellent time. The Panama Canal is a cruise my mom has always wanted to go on. This particular cruise had the most ports of call and fewest days at sea for the length of the cruise. Being able to see and do as much as we could was the most important for us.
liz92284’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin EE 1942
Our cabin steward gave us two bags and two copies of the schedule each day so we could each have one. The room was technically a quad, so it was quite spacious for the two of us. We were disappointed to see only one outlet - I guess that comes with our expectations now with hotels having multiple outlets. The water temperature in the shower tended to fluctuate and didn't always stay hot throughout our showers, but if that was the least our problems, we were good!

We had one incident with a pipe bursting somewhere and flooding our bathroom, but we were able to get ahold of someone and they were able to fix it immediately.
Lower Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    Excellent overview of the city. Carlos was our guide. He was very knowledgeable and passionate. Wish we had more time at the first shopping stop - Las Bovedas. Lots of local vendors and would like to see more. Lots of walking up to the top of the fort - Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. People on our tour had canes and managed, but it seemed difficult. Steep inclines and rough concrete steps. Hour walk through the Old City. Visit to the church- San Pedro de Calver. Second shopping stop was a little high end. Wish we had less time here - or at least the same amount in both places. Air conditioned bus used for transportation between stops. That was nice to get out of the heat. Length was good - not too long and not too short. Classified as moderate for activity level - probably should be specific in description about amount of walking and steep inclines at fort.
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  • Half Moon Cay
    Nice overview of the area. Interesting facts during commentary. A little disorganized at the beginning with checking tickets. We got a sticker before getting off the ship for our tour. On the island, they took tickets at the booth for everyone and didn't really check your ticket. We ended up with more people on our tour than were supposed to be there. Not everyone had the same sticker from the ship. Some people said their ticket told them to meet at the booth when everyone who was supposed to be there met in the Queen's Lounge on the ship. It worked out though. Passengers have to also take some responsibility in following directions and reading their tickets, too.

    Island BBQ provided by Holland America was good. Nice to have lunch provided since there were no other options on the island. Not advertised when booking cruise so we weren't sure what we were going to do for lunch at first. It was a nice surprise.

    Sat on the beach the rest of the day. We reserved a clam shell in advance since I read online they are popular. We couldn't find anyone to help set it up. We were told to just walk down the beach and find someone in a yellow shirt. We ended up just sitting down at one that was unoccupied. No one ever came over to check our ticket. If we hadn't purchased the reservation they would have been full. So even though we could have not paid it was still probably better we did.

    Tendering was easy and organized. Short ride. Tenders went back and forth often enough so we never had to wait very long.

    Not a lot of shopping. Really just one gift shop. There were stalls for other stuff but nothing there. One higher end jewelry place. Gift shop didn't have much. I was looking for stuff for my kids. They had some stuffed animals, but didn't say anything on them like Half Moon Cay. I didn't see any t-shirts in kids sizes so that wasn't an option either.
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  • Huatulco
    Scenic drive, lots of good photo opportunities. When pulling out of port, we could see where we had been up on the hill. Went to La Crusceita. Walked around the square on own. Did some shopping. Had a small presentation at a local store first and had a taste of mezcal. Very strong alcohol. About an hour on our own. Snack stop at local restaurant - tortilla with salsa and guacamole. Drinks offered - water, corona, and Coke. Bus was comfortable. Guide was decent - Jose. Sometimes hard to understand with his accent.
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  • Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)
    Low key tour. Bus ride to Antigua. Walked around main square. Back on the bus to the jade factory. Short talk at jade factory and time to look around. Small museum on history of Mayans in Guatemala and jade. Karla was our tour guide. She was excellent. We decided on this excursion that the tour guide can really make or break a tour. Had a driver and an assistant. Not sure what the assistant did, but felt like we had to tip him as well as the driver and guide. Karla talked for the entire hour and half drive to Antigua and most of the way back as well. Much different experience than the previous day in Nicaragua (unable to choose this port in the list, so I was unable to write a specific review). Guide knew a lot of the history and really tried to show everyone about the people and how they live. Answered a lot of questions about education, history, politics, healthcare, & the economy. Could tell she wanted us to leave knowing a lot about her country. Very passionate and proud of her country. Excellent market to shop at right at the port. Lots of vendors. Need to be careful on how much interest you show because they will haggle and negotiate until you buy from them. Very pretty stuff, but as soon as you inquire on price, they are trying to get you to buy. Water bottles on our seats provided by tour company
    View All 307 Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • City Tour
    Drove to Old Town. Had a couple of shopping stops. Went to a church - Our Lady of Guadalupe. Short walking tour through Old Town and along Boardwalk near the water. Drove to tequila factory. Tour guide from bus explained tequila making process. Tasted 6 different kinds of tequila. Had some time there on our own. Tacos and margaritas for sale. Bus not hot, but not always too cold either. Guide was good and talked most of the time. More tequila tasting than we expected - thought we'd only get a small taste, but had the 6 different kinds.
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  • Island Tour
    Excellent guided tour. Our guide Benny was very knowledgeable. He added his personal touch from when he was young and had picked coffee beans when not in school. Studied agronomy in school so knew a lot about the different plants and trees. Juan Carolos was our bus driver. He was wonderful - always helped us getting off the bus. Shopping stop was first. Visit to coffee plantation. Our guide from bus provided tour (Benny), so not a separate guide from the plantation. Visit to privately owned botanical gardens. Benny also did this tour, so he quite the responsibility with this tour! Air conditioned bus for transportation, very comfortable. Lunch at coffee plantation. Salad, rice, beams, potatoes, vegetable medley, chicken or meatballs, coconut fudge for dessert, guava or mango juice. My Mom ate almost everything and she's not much of a risk taker with food. She's a creature of habit - like the same salad every day for lunch. All day activity, great overview of the country.
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