We were invited to join some friends on this itinerary. My husband wanted to revisit Vietnam, and I had previous enjoyable trips to Hong Kong and Japan. For us, the shipboard experience is as important and enjoyable as the destinations/excursions. Our previous experiences include a recent Mediterranean cruise on the new Viking Ocean Sea, as well as shorter cruises with Royal Caribbean, NCL, the point being we are not Holland long-time cruisers. In fact, this was our first Holland cruise and we were very interested in joining the apparently loyal Holland community onboard.
Overall, the experience with Holland was good. The front desk staff was always pleasant and helpful. The cabin stewards provided prompt and excellent cabin service. In-room dining service was prompt and the servers reviewed each meal delivered before leaving the cabin. Shipboard entertainment was somewhat varied, but it did repeat over the 28-days. We enjoyed afternoon team trivia the most, and the various evening music venues (Adagio and Barry from Boston - depending on our moods). However, Adagio was located in an open lounge, adjacent to a main thoroughfare and near the rowdier piano bar, resulting in comments from the Adagio crowd. (??) Admittedly, we enjoyed Barry from Boston, as he controlled his show and audience skillfully and was talented. My friend attended most of the Test Kitchen sessions and was very impressed by them. We took in a few of the movies, but the more interesting of them had subtitles which were difficult to read (flashed across the screen too rapidly). The main entertainment venue was okay, with the multi-talented singers/dancers.
The fitness center was bright and open, but I will comment about the fitness instructor and fitness lectures. The young instructor was very dictatorial and insulting as he lead us through the exercise programs. I went twice and did not return. The fitness lectures - don't go. I spent nearly an hour, hoping to absorb important information from the fitness instructor about body fat, cleansing the system, etc., until I realized it was a sales effort to buy products. The same day, I googled the same lecture, and found multiple comments of the same. I guess I didn't expect this from Holland, as a more refined cruise experience. Just in general, there seemed to be a smorgasbord of shipboard sales pitches.
We had enjoyed the buffet service with Viking Sea, able to serve ourselves at the hot food line, and it was first rate, not rushed, with the seating areas well maintained and well organized. The experience on Holland in the Lido (buffet) was less than acceptable. (1) Not enough serving staff at the food counter, (2) not enough waitstaff at the tables to clean and reset. The serving staff were unhelpful and overworked, unfriendly. The waitstaff were more friendly but also understaffed and overworked. And there was a definite decline in the Lido food service between the first 14 days of the cruise and the second 14 days of the cruise. So much more chaos in the Lido that we started taking in-room dining and attending main room dining instead. The service in the main dining room was acceptable and professional. Shore excursions - expensive at best. Cambodia should be dropped as an excursion. We felt embarrassed showing up at the local fishing village, sort of the "circus has come to town" while the local residents just stared. It was such a poverty stricken, garbage-strewn environment, that we didn't understand how to take it all in to appreciate it one way or another. In retrospect, I would have preferred to have given the residents our excursion money spent.
We did select our own tour online from Viator for Beijing and found values online to be much more reasonable than the costs of those tours provided by Holland. The ship's excursions were organized well enough, just much more expensive. Now, for the comparison between Holland and Viking... given, the Holland Volendam is a much older ship and the Viking Sea was only 6 months at the tiime of our sailing. Dollar for dollar and shipboard experience, Viking comes out on top in value. No 'nickel and diming' to enjoy other ship's restaurants, at least one free excursion offered at each port, wine/beer offered free of charge each meal, restaurant service better managed on the V. Sea. Cabin/bathroom space was similar, although V. Sea had bedside outlets and USB ports since it was newer. Other comparisons with H. Volendam and V. Sea would be unfair, due to the age difference of the ships. We noticed differences in service levels and dollar value (extras charged for standard services provided on Holland that were included gratis on Viking). Bottled water was free as we left on every excursion and in the room. We enjoyed our overall experience with Holland and hoped to provided a realistic critique for future cruisers.
The best part of the cabin experience was the service provided by our cabin stewards - first rate! We booked cabin 3366, as we wanted to experience a promenade deck cabin, located immediately at the beginning of the corridor. I had read, unfortunately after booking this particular cabin, that it and those following it, would be located under the dining room kitchen. Every night around 11pm-midnight, and early in the morning around 6am there were rolling noises above (dish carts?). Annoying but not enough to keep us awake for long. The bed was comfortable. Lighting in the cabin was adequate except in front of the closets - we used flashlights, as the lighting there was not bright enough to see inside. My husband uses a CPAP machine and we have learned to carry a power strip and extension cord, which we arranged on the first day, since the closest outlet to the bed was across the cabin over the desk. The bathroom was comfortable, cabin 3366 having a full shower replacing the tub. We would book the promenade deck again but pay more attention to the particular cabin reviews beforehand.
Our first excursion and exposure to temples, shrines. Had an enjoyable monk experience at the temple.
Went to Ayuddhaya to experience the Wats. Ok tour.
This needs to be discontinued. Nothing enjoyable about visiting with the local residents here.
My husband enjoyed the historical value of the citadel, being the ancient imperial capital of Vietnam. I would have enjoyed the Hoi An tour more.
Enjoyed sailing the bay area, enjoying the geographical diversity. The cave visit is over rated.
We enjoy taking hop on/off bus tours when we are in a new city and have time to revisit areas we see from the bus tour. In Hong Kong, we took all 3 bus line tours eventually.
Watertown has good shopping and food stalls, but this tour did not offer enough time to experience the town to its fullest. Book it on your own. The second day in Shanghai, we walked the city independently and enjoyed it.
A trip to town and back. Very cold and windy day of the tour. Good mix of old and new on this tour.
Two days with private guide. Booked Hilton Beijing Wangfujing on our own. Guided tour of Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, evening at Red Theater for KungFu show, city tour. Meals included.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Enjoyed the memorials at Peace Park. The Kamikaze museum was interesting but no english signage anywhere.View All 26 Nagasaki Peace Park Reviews
We stayed in Singapore days before embarkation and thoroughly enjoyed the city. Subway system is easy to follow and use. Residents are friendly, and english is spoken.