Holland America enabled us to enjoy a first class, once-in-a-lifetime adventure for my daughter (graduating High School) and the total cost was less than one might expect to spend for a week in Europe. The service was excellent throughout ... Read More
Holland America enabled us to enjoy a first class, once-in-a-lifetime adventure for my daughter (graduating High School) and the total cost was less than one might expect to spend for a week in Europe. The service was excellent throughout the ship with delicious food, tasteful decor, great entertainment and a fun teen club for my daughter (17). With so many exciting ports to explore (18 ports in 22 days!) my only complaint is the cost of the ship sponsored excursions. The cost was about triple or quadruple what you would pay if you arranged the tour yourself. We had a FANTASTIC onboard location expert, a Holland America employee. She gave us expert advice and thanks to her we visited unforgettable places that we certainly would have missed. We primarily took subways, buses &/or trains to go it alone and met up with other fellow travelers doing the same thing. In Tunisia we even took a local train to the Medina and that was an experience we'll never forget!
We found the lowest cost for us to get to Europe was via Munich so we got to Venice via Deutschebahn train and it was a nice scenic trip (for the part we didn't sleep through!). Ordering the train ticket was fairly easy online--although the tickets were issued in German so we had to do a Google translate to be sure we understood what it said so we got to the correct platform to catch the train.
In Livorno a goup of us caught an immaculately clean minivan taxi (with Wifi, too) directly as you exit the ship. It took us to Florence and then Pisa. At a cost of $80 per person this was a third of the cost of a Cruise Sponsored similar tour.
Also the onboard Internet Speed was absurdly slow so I would recommend going online once in port versus facing this frustration.
We booked this cruise last minute and were lucky to be offered an upgrade (for a small extra fee) to a balcony room. Watch your emails for special upgrade offers from Holland America!
When we disembarked in Barcelona we took a Vueling (low cost) flight to Paris and stayed in an AirBnB studio flat in a nice area close to the Metro for a couple of days. We then took a high speed TGV train to Munich and stayed at a nice hotel near the main train station for a couple of nights before returning back to Tampa.
On another Holland America carribbean cruise the average age of the passenger was about 80 years old (lots of walkers and motor scooters!) but on this one there was a younger crowd and many Aussies onboard. Read Less