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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.

Great Country - Average Cruise

Koningsdam Cruise Review by wfb511

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2018
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Suite with Verandah
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.
wfb511’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Neptune Suite with Verandah
Cabin SB 7113
Excellent.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews