Wow. What a cruise. The ports were amazing. Hawaii, Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years. My husband finally retired so we had the time to do this 48 day cruise from San Diego. The weather was wonderful the whole time. I can't even remember having any rain. The seas were calm and quiet the whole trip except the night we left and the night we came back into San Diego. There must be something about ocean conditions off the coast of Mexico and California.
The Amsterdam is an older smaller ship. I liked the size. Not too big and not too small. We usually get balcony cabins as we enjoy them so much but on this cruise the balconies were cost prohibitive. We made do with an outside cabin. It was okay. We did not like the TV. It was small and was pointed sideways. We couldn't enjoy it as we couldn't see it well from our bed. Also, there was no fridge in our cabin. We couldn't get any cool water to come out of the tap. I won a bottle of wine from the art auction and we had to drink it warm. We were told the lack of fridges was because it was an old ship. They seemed to blame a lot of things on it being an older ship.
The food on this cruise was wonderful, however, I am not picky, if someone else makes it I'll eat it. We usually ate in the dining room at a shared table for dinner, however, service was very slow. We found out that the wait was cut in half if we managed to get a table for 2. Tables for 2 were in very high demand. Some nights we ate dinner in the buffet which was so much faster and easier. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the buffet. We were never allowed to serve ourselves in the buffet so the staff had to ask each person what items they wanted on their plates. This slowed down the lines in the buffet greatly at busy times. There was also the Dive In grill that had hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos. Needless to say we didn't lose any weight on this cruise.
We loved the main pool area. It never seemed crowded. It was just very sunny and hot. There was no shade for the loungers. The pool itself was very nice. Cool but not too cool. It was deeper so it was so nice to dip into to have a swim. There is a pool in the back of the ship but it was only 4 feet deep. Much too shallow for my liking.
I must say all the staff on this ship were fabulous. The bartenders, room stewards, etc were all so nice and friendly and did their jobs well. I hate being called Madam. In the buffet I met a waiter who called me Madam. I told him how I hated it and told him to call me by my name. For the whole rest of the cruise he recognized us and called us Miss Linda and Mr. William instead of Madam and Sir.
We were upset that our captain did not take us past the lava flow in Hawaii. To go to Hawaii and not see the lava flow is like going to Alaska and not seeing a glacier. The Captain gave no explanation and just kept saying it was not on the itinerary. Funny how it was on the Noordam's itinerary who cruised past it just a day before. After complaining to the corporate office we found out the reason we missed it was because of fuel consumption. We had been on a Hawaii cruise a few months before this on Celebrity. Not only did the captain go by the lava flow. He stopped the ship and circled it 360 so everyone got a view of the flow. This does not make this captain or HAL look very good in our eyes as was the case for many on this cruise.
We missed one port. Niue was cancelled. We do not mind missing ports when the need arises but the way it was told to us was very disappointing. The captain said it was due to heavy swells. We had never seen such calm seas that day. Hardly a ripple. So we found it very odd. We were talking to a tender officer on deck and he said the port was cancelled because the tender did not line up to the pier. The officer explained passengers would have had to jump up 1 meter from the tender to the pier. Now why would the captain lie and say heavy swells when it was due to the pier height. Had HAL never been to this port before? Bad planning on HAL's part. We did not appreciate being lied to by the captain for a second time. We were then slapped in the face when they refunded us .99 cents to our accounts for port charges.
I love to snorkel. So I intended to snorkel in every port. I snorkeled in every port except Nuka Hiva. In Nuka Hiva we were not allowed in the water due to bad sharks. We were also warned not to walk away from the port area alone as cannibalism is still practiced here. (We found that hard to believe until talking to the cruise director. He said a tourist was killed and eaten in 2014. Yikes!) I did not purchase any shore excursions from HAL. They were all so over priced. I purchased all my snorkeling shore excursions on the pier and usually paid less than half of what the ship charged. Sometimes I just went snorkeling independently at public beaches or areas near the pier. I enjoyed all my snorkeling trips very much. Sadly, I must say a lot of the coral is dying. I had one snorkel leader who thought nothing of stepping on the coral with her fins. sigh ;-(
We purchased $425 in internet time. The internet on this cruise was horrible. Most of our internet time and money was spent waiting for pages to load. We were told by the captain that the reason was because the Amsterdam was such a old ship. The internet could be improved on this ship however HAL corporate will not spend the money to upgrade the internet equipment.
The entertainers on this ship were hit and miss. All of the production shows were great. The dancers on this ship were most excellent and the best I had ever seen on a cruise ship and I have been on a lot of cruises. They were exceptional. We had 3 local dance groups perform. One from Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti. They were very nice. Some comedians were good, some were terrible. Some singers were enjoyable some were boring. We had a lot of musicians. I think I have heard flight of the bumblebee on every musical instrument known to man. Some nights we had no entertainment and just had a movie shown. I must say I loved HAL's popcorn.
We had to take tenders to most of these islands as they did not have piers for larger ships like ours. Tendering was such a pain. We would have to line up very early in the morning to get tender tickets. One morning I was 4th in line for tender tickets. I got tender number 4. I asked the crew member in charge how in the world could I be on tender 4 when I was fourth in line. She explained that the 3 people ahead of me had gotten 3 tender boats worth of tender tickets. I guess people were getting 30 tender tickets each for their friends, neighbors, groups etc. I don't think people should be able to get that many tender tickets. It should be limited to 4 or 6 per person. People on ship excursions and 4 star mariners with HAL did not have to line up for tender tickets. They were all the first ones off the ship.
Disembarkation was a nightmare. All non Americans were required to go to a lounge and clear customs. Customs would not clear the ship or let anyone off until that was done. Many non Americans did not go in a timely manner. The cruise director kept announcing over and over again for people from certain cabins to go to clear customs. This took 2 hours. It was 9am and we were kicked out of our cabins to wait in the public areas. Finally the ship was cleared and self assist was able to disembark the ship. The problem was that so many people had gone down to the gangway to wait to disembark that the self assist people couldn't get off as all the stair ways and hall ways near the gangway were full of people. The cruise director announced several times begging people not to go to the gangway area until their colors were called. Then it was found that the gangway was not secured to the ship properly. Disembarkation had to be stopped while the gangway was re secured. Our color was supposed to get off the ship at 9am. Our color was finally called at 10:30am. Right then they announced that the elevators were all non operational. I am disabled and walk with a walker. Since my walker doesn't do stairs I had no way to get down 8 decks to the disembarkation area. My husband finally decided to carry my walker down the stairs while I slowly and carefully negotiated the stairs. When we got down to the disembarkation area we saw all the people waiting for their colors to be called. It was difficult to try to get around them and get off the ship. Now this nightmare was not all HAL's fault. Why do people not go when they are told to check in with customs? When people are told not to go down to the disembarkation area until your color is called why do people not listen and go anyway? We made it to the airport in plenty of time as our flight was not until the afternoon, however, I am sure many people must have missed their morning flights.
We are not loyal to any one cruise line. When we cruise we have a choice. Most main stream cruise lines are more similar than they are different. We cruise a lot with all cruise lines and are used to getting affordable balcony cabins and booking perks. On Celebrity and NCL we usually get free gratuities, free beverages and free unlimited internet. Nothing is free on HAL. Because of this and the captains dishonesty I don't think we will not be doing many more cruises on HAL.
This is a handicapped accessible cabin since I am disabled by muscular dystrophy. This room was no bigger than regular rooms however it did have a bathroom with grab bars and a shower with a shower seat. There is no bathtub in this cabin. Please only book handicapped accessible cabins when you are in need of them.
We just walked around town.
Love Honolulu. We went to Waikiki on the bush
The garden island. We rented a car.
Love this port because you can shop and snorkel.
Nothing to do here except walk around
Went to Richardson Beach and snorkeled with big sea turtles.
Went snorkeling at a beach right by the ship. Great snorkeling
Went to split rock to snorkel. Good snorkeling however the water was very murky.
A total beach day with snorkeling.
Took a snorkeling excursion. It went around the whole island.
We took a taxi to a local beach and snorkeled.
I took an excursion to snorkel with the sharks and rays.