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 cabin was plenty big and there was no sense of feeling claustrophobic. Our travel companions all had verandahs but most agreed that the verandah, for the amount that it is used is not worth the additional cost as 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 water pressure was good but the hand held shower flopped to an awkward angle and had to be held vs being left in the holder. The 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.
The Lido Buffet was perfect for breakfast & lunch and there was sufficient variety to avoid monotony. Many dishes were prepared to taste from scratch with fresh ingredients as compared to most buffets where dishes are prepared in advance and left to sit for long periods. Freshly made omelettes and stir fries were a big hit with most of the group. There was always a good selection of fresh fruit and berries and stock was replenished quickly. There was a good selection of breads, buns & bagels and while there were occasional lineups the service was efficient. The food is served by the staff vs self serve and this seemed to be more hygienic. There was always adequate seating for our entire group to sit together at breakfast and lunch. Service here was good. We tried the New York Deli for pizza one day and all 3 varieties were a big disappointment. The toppings were floating in oily cheese. This counter also served deli sandwiches and both the Smoked Meat and Reuben Sandwiches were satisfactory. The wait for food at lunch in this area was quite long. The Dive In Counter has delicious burgers, hot dogs and fries. The Gelato Bar has a nice variety but there is a charge of $2.30USD/scoop. They pile on 2 scoops without telling you this and a charge of $4.60 appears on your account...not a big deal but also not OK! Meals in the dining room were overall satisfactory. There was decent variety on the lefthand side of the menu in addition to regular choices on the right hand side. The Salmon or Strip Loin Steak were always a good go-to if nothing appealed from the nightly menu. Items of note were the Coconut Shrimp and the Crusty Sweet & Sour Shrimp. The pasta selections were also good but the Surf & Turf on the 2nd Gala Night was just OK. We had requested to be seated at the same table and this was not the case the first night but was quickly rectified by the Maître D André by the 2nd night. The Gala nights were Nights 3 & 9 of our 10 day cruise. Special menus were prepared for these nights but nothing spectacular. One might expect a show with Baked Alaska or some sort of special presentation but none of that. The dress code for Gala Nights ranged from tuxes & long gowns to casual shirts & pants for men & capris and T-shirts for women. There were certainly more people in fancy dress than on non Gala nights but some people wore the same as other nights. They do adhere to the rule of long pants & collared shirts for men on all nights but sandals are permitted. Wait staff in the dining room were great and special mention should go to Gina the Wine Steward who had a knack for remembering our preferences and always appearing at just the right time to make sure that our needs were being met. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants due to cost although they did look very nice.
There are 2 small pools and 4 hot tubs on the Lido Deck. The pool towards the back of the ship is open to air but the one mid ship is partially enclosed and stifling hot. We did not understand why they did not retract the roof a little further. The temperature of the pools was fine but the area was extremely crowded especially on Sea Days. It was difficult to find a vacant lounger right after breakfast. Table and chairs and sofas also filled up quickly. If you were lucky enough to find a vacant spot it was an OK place to be but there was absolutely nothing going on poolside. No live music, contests or animators. Entertainment in this area was sorely lacking. One side of the deck is reserved for smokers so this further limited our seating options. The bar staff were friendly and efficient and drinks were tasty. We were advised to try a ‘Wang Wang’ by a photographer on our first day and with it’s 7 spirits and 4 fruit juices it soon became a favourite.
Our Signature Beverage Cards which cost approximately $520 USD ($700CAD) each allowed us 15 drinks/day with a max cost of $11/drink. This included bottled water for excursions and specialty coffees. This met our needs and never were we denied a chosen beverage because of cost. Different bars offered varying types of mixed drinks and cocktails but the Sea View Bar seemed to offer the best selection. They did not seem to strictly adhere to the one drink per half hour rule. Sharing with other passengers is technically not allowed but loosely monitored. Something to note is that all people in the same cabin must each purchase a beverage package. We 3 were like-minded in this regard but our other travelling companions had different preferences so it was not beneficial for any of them to purchase beverage packages. If you each anticipate having at least 7 drinks/day the Signature Beverage Card is worth the money...it allows you to enjoy that second glass of wine with dinner and an after dinner Baileys without a second thought. If you are considering the Signature Beverage Package make sure to order it at least 3 days prior to boarding as it is significantly cheaper than buying it on board. Keep an eye on your on board account as we were charged for all of our drinks on Day 1 and it took 3 or 4 days to resolve the issues on all 3 of our accounts. Guest Services staff were not very efficient and our story had to be repeated multiple times.
Evening entertainment was lack-lustre. The shows on the World Stage were just OK...the Comedian was not funny and the Magician was just so-so. The musical entertainer Mark Donaghue was OK as were the dancers but none of the shows were breathtaking. Those who appreciate Classical Music said the pianist was good but I did not attend that show. We had all been on previous cruises where the entertainment was far superior to this cruise. We found ourselves gravitating to the Piano Bar every night where we were entertained by 2 very talented young men Sam & Anderson who played 2 or 3 sets for 8 of the 10 nights. They were endearing, comical & interactive with the audience but I have to say that their sets got old towards the end however we continued to go because there were few other appealing choices. Across the hall from the Piano Bar was a Rock & Roll Band that played alternately between Piano Bar sets. The sound was deafening even from where we were sitting at the Piano Bar but we dared not leave for fear of losing our spots for the next set in the Piano Bar which was always packed. The drinks and wait staff at the Piano Bar were fun & efficient. There was a Jazzy Blues Band down the hall that also sounded pretty good if you like that kind of music. We stopped in at the Casino a few times but the smell of smoke was so repulsive that it turned me off. Smoking should not be allowed in an enclosed area!!!!!!
Daytime activities were not exciting and had limited appeal to most of our group. There were cooking demonstrations and Microsoft Seminars but nothing that we would call fun. There were afternoon games with a facilitator in the Crow’s Nest but these were not well promoted and as a result poorly attended.
The Crows Nest and with the Exploration Bar was a nice quiet area to hang out and play games although most of us agreed that the staff in these areas did not seem to be as friendly or happy with their jobs as other wait staff.
The Dutch Bar on the 3rd level is a nice little place to stop for a pre-dinner cocktail.
We travelled during the height of Covid 19 and there was an awareness for increased hygiene precautions. There were several hand washing stations at the Lido Buffet and Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispensers at numerous strategic locations throughout the ship.
We ordered the Internet Package at a cost of $143.99USD for the 10 days. A slight plus to this was the option to share the package with others allowing only 1 device on at a time. 4 of us took advantage of this and while it was very slow and required frequent reconnecting it met our needs for the 10 days. I would not take this service unless you can share the cost as the service is not good enough to justify the cost. We ordered it before we left because it was cheaper than waiting until we were on board.
The jogging track on the 11th deck was never too busy but the Fitness Room seemed to be well utilized. The walking track on the 3rd level was not very appealing and felt confining due to the presence of the lifeboats hanging overhead.
None of us chose to purchase any shore excursions and instead just got off and enjoyed the immediate port areas. More details will be provided in the Port & Shore Excursion areas of this review.
Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. Luggage was collected by midnight the night before departure and we had time for breakfast at the Lido Buffet before 8am on departure day. We were then called down in groups to collect our luggage and board the shuttle for the airport. We were at the airport by 10am and our 3pm flight was delayed by over an hour so it made for a long day at the airport. There are limited restaurant options at Fort Lauderdale Airport and the Duty Free shop has less selection & is pricier than some of the Duty Free Shops at the ports so it is wise to purchase alcohol at a port and retrieve it upon disembarkation.
Mandatory tipping is $14.50USD per person per day and is automatically charged to the credit card provided upon online checkin. There is nothing wrong with additional cash tipping to staff who provide exemplary service. Most of these people are from impoverished countries and are away from home for prolonged periods. They work hard and long hours for their salaries so a few extra dollars are always appreciated. There is no need to check out unless you prefer to settle up with cash. Make sure to closely monitor your onboard account which is accessible on the TV in your cabin. Mistakes have been known to be made and I imagine that it is easier to resolve these while still onboard.
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.
Only spent time embarking and disembarking at this port.