A group of 11 family and friends ranging in age from 60-80 decided to get together for a cruise. Holland America Koningsdam was chosen because 4 of the group who are experienced cruisers chose to try a different cruise line than they had travelled in the past and the rest of the group agreed to join them. All agreed that this was likely our first and last Holland America Cruise due to the lack of fun entertainment as compared to other cruise lines and resorts. We were aware that Holland America caters to an older demographic but we were not prepared for the lack of activity and entertainment on this ship. I am not saying that it was all bad, and being a large group we were able to make our own fun. There were very few young people on this cruise and there was an abundance of walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. We flew from Canada to Fort Lauderdale and stayed overnights at Comfort Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport South & Cruiseport. It is a very nice hotel and well located but quite pricey ay $400 USD/night. They provide a free shuttle from the airport and it arrived quickly when we called once we had retrieved our luggage. They allowed us to use the breakfast area in the lounge to eat our take out food rather than going out for dinner. There are limited options for good restaurants within walking distance.
They provide a hot breakfast which was your usual ‘breakfast included’ fare. We had to pay $10 USD for the shuttle to the ship the following morning. There are 2 departure times:10:15 & 11:15 depending on which ship you are boarding. We were assigned the 11:15 shuttle. This process was not very efficient and left us sitting in a very crowded lobby due to a long delay for the shuttle departure. It is a short distance from this hotel to the cruise port but there was a lot of traffic.
Once we arrived at the cruise port our luggage was taken and delivered to our cabins but we had a very long hot line up prior to checking in. (A nice touch in this area would be the offer of a complimentary welcome beverage.) Once we checked in we discovered that our cabins were ready (approximately 2pm by now) so we were able to freshen up and drop off our carry on luggage before going to lunch at the Lido Buffet.
My husband and I and my cousin chose to share an Oceanview Cabin vs a Verandah and opted instead for the beverage package which was close to the same cost. Our cabin was more than adequate for 3 people. We had a queen size bed and a 3/4 sofa bed which was comfortable. There was lots of storage space and additional hangers were available upon request. 3 robes, 3 beach towels and lots of bath towels were provided. The window in the room was plenty big and there was no sense of feeling claustrophobic. Our travel companions all had verandahs but their rooms were identical to ours except that we had additional shelving. The bathroom was small but efficient. The toilet was positioned on an angle but unlike other reviews mentioned there was no need to sit at an awkward angle. The shower was large and pressure was good but the hand held shower flopped to an awkward angle and had to be held vs being left in the holder. He ship was clean and cabin stewards Ketut & Mario were extremely friendly and efficient. The cabin was located closer to the back of the ship and had good access to both the rear and mid ship elevators.
A short walk from the ship brings you to Margaritaville, a lively area with a great Caribbean vibe. There were 2 ships in port that day and while it was very busy it was fun to see the young people from Carnival having a good time. There is a nice restaurant/bar with lively Caribbean music. I am guessing that there was free Wifi available as there were manny young people with devices standing next to the restaurant and main shop.The beach has a limited number of loungers for free and there are also loungers available to rent for the day. I cannot recall the exact price but there are bargains to be made with the locals trying to convince you that this your best option. We were able to find a few loungers later in the day. There is also a large pool with a swim up bar however there were no loungers available when we arrived. We were able to get a table on the patio where we listened to music and enjoyed a platter of Volcano Nachos. The beach is not as nice as Half Moon Cay and the shore is rough and rocky but the water was clean and refreshing as it was a very hot day. There are numerous shops including a Duty Free with a better selection and prices than Fort Lauderdale Airport. Overall this is an easy little venture from the ship and 2-4 hours is adequate. It is easy to walk back to the ship for lunch and return for a swim in the afternoon although we opted not to do that and instead took advantage of returning to a less crowded ship for the afternoon. I imagine that there are more adventurous activities to do in Grand Turk but the excursions were pricey.
Our favorite port of this cruise. It was a short walk to a beautiful pool area with lots of loungers. I suspect that many people took excursions in this port cause this inviting pool area was not over crowded. The area appeared safe, the pool was clean and refreshing and there was a wild water slide that 3 of us enjoyed. There was also a Zip Line option that we did not take advantage of. There were several little shops as well as a Duty Free with a good selection and good prices. Once again it would have been easy to go back to the ship for lunch and return to the pool but we opted to hang out at the pool in Amber Cove and returned to the ship for a later lunch.
We got off the ship and took a tender to this beautiful island which is privately owned by Carnival/Holland America. We were the only ship in port so it was not overly busy. The tender was easy and efficient holding a large number of people and going back and forth at regular intervals. The beach is beautiful with lots of loungers and powder like sand. The water was warm and you could wade out for quite a distance. It is very clean. There is a nice Bar B Que provided free of charge and drinks are available from several bars. It is difficult to understand why you cannot use your Beverage Cards at this location since the Island is owned by Carnival/Holland America. If you do have a beverage package be sure to get your drinks or bottled water on board prior to getting off the ship because you will be charged a whopping $5.62 USD for a bottle of water. You can also fill your own water bottle with ice and water before getting off. This is a worthwhile activity if you are looking for a relaxed lazy day. Plan on spending 3-5 hrs here.
We got off the ship for a brief period and walked along the narrow busy road. The shops were not noteworthy and it was very hot. Snorkelling was an option and might have been worthwhile as we could see lots of colourful fish close to the shore? We only spent about 1 hour off the ship.
Somewhat better than Bonaire but again nothing special. We walked into town and visited some of the shops. We returned to the ship after an hour and a half as there was nothing to peak our interest in the immediate port area.
Of the ABC Islands this one is by far the most appealing. It is clean and attractive and appears to be wealthier than the previous two. There were lots of Duty Free Shops along the way. The merchandise is repetitive so do not purchase at the first shop you see. The prices seem to drop the further you go from the port. There is a very nice shopping centre with high end stores but because we were there on a Sunday many of the stores were closed. There is a boat that you can take through a waterway that leads into the shopping centre. There are several Casinos at high end resorts. We spent about 3 hours in this area.