Great expectations.: Rotterdam Cruise Review by happy_travellers

Rotterdam 4
Member Since 2008
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Great expectations.

Sail Date: May 2011
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
I booked this cruise last August 2010. We have done 2 previous TransAtlantic cruises and loved them both. Originally I booked the NCL Sun and planned to add on one week in Ireland after departing in Copenhagen (however our son told us he was going to get married in Aug/11 so this changed our plans financially ). This T/A had wonderful ports including Ireland which seemed to be a good compromise for us.

Compromise may be the an underlying theme to this review. We seemed to give up some wonderful aspects of other cruise lines to gain some wonderful experiences on the HAL Rotterdam.

Room: We originally booked an Inside cabin then my T/a was able to get the Outside across the hall for the same price so we took that. Two weeks before we left for the trip we got an up sale call for the Lanai / or Verandah . We took a Lanai cabin and looked forward to being able to use the lounges and enjoy the expansive view from our room. The room stewards were very good and virtually More ghosts which is a good thing. However they would get us anything we asked for (our robes were dirty when we embarked so they changed them no problem, brought wine glasses etc.).

Dining Room: We chose late set dinning and found that our dining experience on the Rotterdam was a highlight. Every meal in the dining room was good and I do not remember anyone at our table ever sending anything back. One night 3 at our table did a special "liver" order and they all enjoyed it!

Our table was at the back of the ship along the window, it was VERY hot back there. Seems to be a flaw in the design as the air conditioning is very weak in that spot. I would not recommend asking to dine in this area.

The Pinnacle grill was very good and I recommend going there. We also did the Master Cellars dinner which was expensive but a real experience for us. The Italian was nice but making reservations was more complicated than it should have been. You really need to book directly with the manager who I think was "Margaret".

Entertainment: The string quartet was very good. Although I still can not figure out why they stop playing at 10 minutes before the dining opens?

The main theater entertainment was very weak. We stood at the back bar table top area each night to check it out and only grabbed a seat for 2 performances.

The special guitar player was very good and the Staff show was good.

There was limited entertainment on the Lido.

We did take part in the 3pm group trivia which was fun.

Vow Renewal package: Wonderful experience! Flowers were delivered to our room the second night. The package also included dinner at the pinnacle (we used it towards the master cellars dinner) a nice photo album collection and a wonderful reception. We invited 4 guests to join us...thanks Bruce, Susan , Peter and Norma for sharing our evening. The Captain did a wonderful ceremony and he seemed to enjoy the evening. Only negative is that they don't give a time at the beginning of the cruise for this and when they did give a date they then changed it. This made it hard to book the Pinnacle or make other dining plans.

The Ship: Seemed in good shape, no problems that I was aware of. In high winds she seemed stable and responded well for the Captain.

The WEATHER: on the last 4 of the 8 sea days was TERRIBLE! Black skies, Black seas and very high winds. Could not enjoy the Lanai chairs or view at all.

Ports: We enjoyed all the ports, Dublin,Cobh, Liverpool (Wales), Dover, Cherbourg, Bruges and Fort Lauderdale. Our Captain decided not to venture to Ilfracombe because of high winds (tender port). Through Cruise critic I was able to find private tours in most ports and all of them were great value for the money.

Fellow Passengers: Given that it was 8 sea days across the ocean I thought that the passengers might be a tad younger for Hal and I was correct. There were few children or young adults and there were many couples in there 40-60's.

When booking this cruise I had high expectations. Holland America has a reputation for great service and food and on those criteria I think this cruise hit the mark. The compromises I think we made by choosing Hal was less quality and quantity of Entertainment. The "WOW" factor that I was expecting was not there in the little details. Less

Published 06/16/11

Cabin review: CA3372 Lanai Ocean-View Stateroom

Middle of ship. With high winds I found the Lanai a little unnerving as water came over the deck.

Read All Lanai Ocean-View Stateroom (CA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We did a private tour with Christian (Dutch travelers) of Brugge and Gent. Only 3 couples and it was a highlight of our cruise. Personalized tour well paced and informative. Brugge and Gent are beautiful and clean and full of history. We also stopped at the seaside town of Knokko and were able to go in to the North Sea which was a thrill. Belgium Beer and Chocolate lived up to the expectation!

We did private tour with White Cliffs of Dover. Included Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral both were beautiful. We went to Sandwich, Deal and also a Port of Dover cruise. In Dover we stopped for dinner and enjoyed a pint with c/c friends.

Read 44 Dover Reviews

Free shuttle from Dock into town. We took the Trinity College tour at 10:15 before it got too busy. The tour was very good and included the book of Kells. You go to the front of Trinity College through the big doors and you will find the Students that lead the tour. We went for a 2 hour "Free Dublin" tour (find it on the web) with RONAN. You meet at the spire at 12:30 and when its over you just tip him. Really good use of our time and money. After the tour we went to Temple Bar and Oliver Gogarty's for some Guiness and live music. SO much fun! Met back at the free shuttle spot (Kildare St near Nassau) for the trip back to the dock.

Dublin was the 2nd stop. Our first stop was Cobh were we did the BUTLERS Bus tour to Blarney and Kinsale which was great. Went for fish and chips at Dino's, kissed the Blarney stone and went to the Woolen mill.

Read 178 Dublin Reviews

CHERBOURG, France We rented a car in advance from National. The car rental was a 10 minute walk and the car was ready for us. We drove to Juno Beach Memorial, American Cemetary, Arromanche, Pointe du Hoc , Maris St dumont and then to Barfleur. A great day!

Read 226 Le Havre Reviews

We did the BUSY Bus North Wales excursion with C/C members. Conway castle was very nice and the scenery getting there was beautiful. We went to Snowdonia Park and it was breathtaking. Getting out to walk through the hills and valleys was such a great experience. Chester was a nice medieval town but was very busy. Since the Captain was cancelling the next port we were able to spend some time in Liverpool. We went to the dockyard and enjoyed the big wheel and splendid views. We enjoyed Tapas at a pub and then walked around town. There was a lot of Beatles memorabilia, old Beatles Haunts.

After disembarking Rotterdam we took the ships shuttle to Amsterdam airport. We took the stop over rate flight to Iceland and enjoyed 25 hours in this amazing country. Our flight landed at 3pm we took the Flybus shuttle to Reykjavik and arrived at the Center Thingholt hotel by 5pm. We had arranged a 7pm "evening Circle tour" to the Geysers and Gullfross Falls which was outstanding. Arriving back to the hotel at midnight it was still light out! After a great nights sleep we woke at 8am. We went to the included breakfast and then walked around the quaint town. At 10:30am our Blue Lagoon / airport shuttle arrived. We were at the Lagoon by 12 noon and enjoyed the wonderful hot springs. They keep your luggage on the bus secured while you enjoy the Lagoon. Then at 2pm we headed to the airport for our flight back to Toronto.

This ended up being a great way to end our European Cruise!

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