20 Rio de Janeiro Senior Cruise Reviews

This was our 4th cruise with Oceania so we are obviously biased. Although we have sailed on a few other ocean cruise lines and river cruise lines, we keep coming back to Oceania. The food is Fantastic, the service superb and the atmosphere ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Oceania so we are obviously biased. Although we have sailed on a few other ocean cruise lines and river cruise lines, we keep coming back to Oceania. The food is Fantastic, the service superb and the atmosphere is very warm, casual and comfortable. It feels like a home away from home. We just completed an 18 day voyage (our longest cruise yet) and we wished we could have stayed longer. We met some very interesting and lovely passengers with whom we had much in common. Oceania seems to attract like minded customers. Information about ports and sites was timely and thorough. Local tour information was provided on board as well as on cctv. No guess work or Google searches required. There was plenty to do on board if one took the time to read the daily activity bulletin. Front desk staff were also very helpful when memory failed. Kudos to the staff, crew and management for a job very well done! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. ... Read More
My wife and I are recently retired and have long wanted to cruise an "around the horn" itinerary. This Holland America cruise fit the bill the perfectly. Overall, an outstanding cruise, a decent value and a great itinerary. We departed from Rio de Janeiro. Our flight departed the east coast for Miami on Halloween. Many of the airport and airline employees were in costume and having a good time. We ended up,with a business class upgrade for the overnight flight from Miami to Rio. Since we have been to Rio before, we didn't do anything touristy other than stroll on Copacabana Beach. I paid for our Airbnb for the night of the 31st so we could check in immediately upon arrival the morning of the first. HAL emailed us the day before embarkation to warn us that check in was going to involve two security checks and to expect delays. Because of this, we left early for the pier. Our uber driver was completely unfamiliar with the cruise port but found it without too much difficulty. Other than confusion about where to drop our bags and where to line up for check in, things went relatively smoothly. There was almost no signage but following the heard and gentle inquiries had us on board in about 30 minutes. We were very pleased with the ship almost as soon as we boarded. Our cabin was ready for immediate occupancy and our bags all arrived shortly after lunch. We were expecting a small ship having recently cruised Carnival Horizon but the ship seemed plenty large with plenty of amenities. The public areas were all very tidy and clean and outside on the decks, conscientious maintenance was evident everywhere. We found the flow of the ship very easy to get around. As always, we selected an interior cabin for economy and for the dark cave sleeping experience. We were on the second deck so we felt almost no roll and the pitching was quite sleep inducing. The cabin could serve four passengers with two beds, a drop down bunk and a sofa bed. The beds were made up as twins, apparently our request for one bed was not received but this was fixed while we were at lunch. There was an astonishing amount of closet space for two people. The tile in the bathroom looked like a 1960s motel room but otherwise, we found the cabin spacious, comfortable and appropriately updated. Dining was very good to excellent. We tried the main dining room for breakfast once and the service was so slow, we never returned. The buffet on the Lido deck, however, had outstanding breakfast options so we went there every subsequent day. The omelette station rarely had more than three people in line, the eggs Benedict were fresher and better than the dining room and the waffles were hot and freshly made. It could get crowded around 9 am so we often ate outside by the pool. We never did try the dining room for lunch instead using the buffet every day. The salads were excellent and days we wanted to try sandwiches, soups, pasta or other offerings, everything was good except the pizza. The Dive In burgers could be a bit of a hot mess but good and the dogs were also nice. The fries were always hot and crispy. We enjoyed open seating dinners in the main dining room. The food was hit or miss but the service was usually good and we had a wonderful group of dining companions almost every night. A few nights, we did not feel up to a long dinner and ate at the buffet. We had some unbelievably tender and flavorful steaks at the buffet one evening. A friend had treated us to a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. The steaks were superb and the service perfect. There were three formal nights but we only attended one. My wife felt unwell the night of the first one and the second one was during our scenic cruising of the glacier channel. Because it was light so late and we enjoying the spectacular scenery, I think many people opted to skip that formal night and hit a buffet for late dinner. The entertainment was also hit or miss. The singers/dancers are, I'm sure, very talented and hardworking but the show was poor. I think the performers were saddled with repetitive choreography and uninspired music selection. On the other hand, it was great to see a real live band performing. A guest juggler was just so so and a guest flautist was unusual but extremely talented and a good show. The highlight of the entertainment was a spectacular combo of BBC cinematography with live music. High definition films of polar regions and animals were accompanied by the live band playing the original score. We caught a few of the other acts in the bars and lounges and all were very talented. The enrichment opportunities were one of the ship highlights for us. Guest speakers addressed topics of maritime history, ship construction, glaciers, environmental concerns and applied oceanography. The port lectures were outstanding also; real and practical information about the ports without a word about shopping. The ask the captain presentation was very informative and well done. Our absolute favorite offering was the America's Test Kitchen. Once or twice on sea days, the presenter, Allison, would demonstrate two to three recipes along with advice on kitchen techniques, cookware and gadgets. The set was completely professional, the production engineer was very slick and the entire program was perfectly executed and utterly enjoyable. We found service to be very good throughout. Our cabin steward, Edward, was fantastic. The servers in the buffet were very personable even when trying to keep up with clearing tables at busy times. The bar staffs were all excellent. No complaints about service. My wife and I treated ourselves to the Thermasuite package. For the two of us, it was $349 for the entire 16 day cruise. It gave us unlimited use of the Thermasuite in the spa area. Most of the time, we were only two there. Sometimes, there was another couple there. Only once was there more than four people. I thoroughly enjoyed the steamrooms and hot tub and we both enjoyed the heated loungers. The ports on this cruise were all great. In Punte del Este, we just did a short walkabout the port. We saw a few sights and enjoyed the sea lions but were back on board in time for a late breakfast. Buenos Aires was a first time visit for both of us and we walked several miles and thoroughly enjoyed the city. We had a scheduled tour in Montevideo which showed us the highlights but left plenty of time for lunch and exploring on our own. Our arrival to the Falkland Islands coincided with Armistice Day and we were privileged to be able to attend a church service and a military parade and memorial ceremony. In Ushuaia, we had a prearranged tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park which was outstanding. Our third And final prearranged tour was in Punta Arenas and it was a bit disappointing. There is absolutely nothing at the port so you need to take a shuttle into town if you don't have anything set up. Our tour went to a scenic overlook, spent way too much time at a mediocre museum, then had a very brief stop in the downtown plaza. For Puerto Montt, I went ahead and paid for a cruise line tour of Petrohue Cataracts and Puerto Varas. We were very happy with this tour. At the end of the cruise, I purchased a cruise line tour/airport transfer. The tour to two wineries, lunch, a bus tour of Santiago and a shopping stop with airport drop off was very expensive at $200 per person but it was extremely well executed. In addition to the ports, the scenic cruising days were just a spectacular. We went around Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, the Sarmiento Channel and the Chilean Fjords. We were privileged to see glaciers, fjords and even an iceberg. For us, this was the highlight of the cruise. As far as complaints, there were a few. During the scenic cruising, commentary was provided in the Crow's Nest, outside decks and on the cabin TV. The Crow's Nest got uncomfortably crowded and even then, the sound system was terrible and the commentary was inaudible. I think the commentary should be broadcast in all common areas so regardless of where you choose to observe the beauty, you can hear the details. Also, the ship seemed to be very poorly provisioned. We purchased an eight bottle wine program. By the fourth night, it seemed they never had anything on our wine list. To their credit, a substitute bottle was provided and usually a higher level wine but it seems silly to create a wine list, sell a program, and then be told almost every night, that your choice of wine is not available. Also, by about day three, there was no draft beer. By the end of the cruise, only a fraction of advertised bottled beers were available. I found alcohol prices extremely high. Overall, a great experience. We were reluctant to disembark and would have gladly sailed back to Buenos Aires. If you are interested in Patagonia and seeing some great scenery and exciting cities, this is a highly recommended cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I have sailed Silver Seas more than 600 days and got to know and befriend the crew on other ships. Knowing that SS chose the cream of the crew for Muse I wished to join them. The crew exceeded my expectations. As the ship is new there were ... Read More
I have sailed Silver Seas more than 600 days and got to know and befriend the crew on other ships. Knowing that SS chose the cream of the crew for Muse I wished to join them. The crew exceeded my expectations. As the ship is new there were very few visual or maintenance problems. The inexpensive art works were not great. My major problem was the dining experience. Firstly, and mainly, the in cabin dining has really been downgraded. Up until Muse, and now I gather in the stretched Spirit, in-cabin dining only offers the room service menu. Previously I could order from MDR dinner menu. Food was tasty, a little salty, and the menus went unchanged for a week at a time. CD Vicki, as always, was bubbly, entertaining and efficient. I would have liked to experience "Ship Happens" again. David Bilsand was excellent.Ship did not run out of Billi Billi! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Wanted to see Rio and the Christ the Redeemer statue. Also, having cruised the western end (Peru) of the Amazon, we were interested in seeing the eastern end. From a nature and wildlife perspective, the Peruvian Amazon was much better and ... Read More
Wanted to see Rio and the Christ the Redeemer statue. Also, having cruised the western end (Peru) of the Amazon, we were interested in seeing the eastern end. From a nature and wildlife perspective, the Peruvian Amazon was much better and far less commercial. The small cruise ship there, however, only held about a dozen passengers and was nowhere nearly as luxurious as the Muse. Regarding the ports visited, there were a few that were of little interest, specifically Salvador de Bahia, Fortaleza, and Alter do Chao. Rio de Janeiro was disappointing because of all the warnings given about the security and crime in the region. Aboard the Muse, we had an outstanding buttler named Oscar Ferrer. He was quick to make sure that we were always comfortable and content. He was personable, polite, reliable, and good company. Another person that was a pleasure to work with was Daniel Arribas, our Silversea cruise consultant. He made everything so much easier in planning our trip. You don’t want to lose him, so give him a raise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
MSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special ... Read More
MSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special promotion. We took our transatlantic cruise from Venice to Rio de Janeiro, 21 nights (12 Nov to 5Dec2017) . We actually have no complaints at all. Everything went like clockwork from embarkation to debarkation. a little late leaving Venice but it actually made for a beautiful departure from port. The MSC MUSICA is a beautiful ship with plenty to keep you busy with so many places to walk around and see and things to do. We arrived at the cruise terminal early but everything went smoothly and after waiting in the cue for 30 minutes we were able to board. Our cabin was ready and also our cruise card so we were able to use our lunch. We then went to the buffet for lunch it was very busy but this was not a problem as there were staff at the buffet entrance who took you to a seat. Also there was a button on the table to summon a beverage waiter and they were very efficient. The food was hot and there was a good selection. I loved the majority of my breakfasts and lunches in the Deck 13 Buffet, unfortunately my dinners in the Restaurant were inconsistent and I did have several sub-par dinners. The buffet on the deck 13 The food and beverage manager Mr. BRUNO , organized his team and equipment as a 5 star hotelrestaurant. The equipments and cutlery always cleaned by his team from 8am to 8am, the wole day long. Food at the cruise was lovely, a lot of choice and variety. There were so many food choices on 6 corners including a bread and pastery, an Italian corner, a fruitcorner and a big buffet. They present several times a week , special items and a tapas- and brasilian event. Service was generally good. To enjoy a long cruise, you must prepare how you wish to spend the many sea days (here included 6 transatlantic sea days). While there was a multitude of activities we participated some activities offered by the Cruise Director. The entertainment was OK. Some of the stage shows were good some not, bands in the bars were varied. We were never bored for we met several travellers with the same age and ideas. We took a few very good shore excursions, but we mainly explored on our own, and took taxis and public transportation. We missed 1 of the 5 Brasilian ports due to storms. Once we sailed out of the Mediterranean, into the transatlantic crossing, it was very smooth sailing, and every day was sunny and warm towards Brasil. The cruise was pristine , immaculate, and the upkeep was spot on. The cruise is quieter this time of the year so we cannot make a review for the summer season. There is still a lot to do, because the animation is working during day-times but also every evening is there something to do. The cabins/bedrooms were fabulous we had a double room which was quite big and they were clean and looked very new. Our room was lovely the bed so comfortable and our housekeeping excellent. Stayed november 2017, traveled as two couples. Arthur and Catharina Jansz. Belgium/SpainMSC MUSICA My wife and I , together with my sister and brother-in- law , booked for the Transatlantic cruise during the month of november 2017. We booked the cruise because Kras travels (the Netherlands) offered a special promotion. We took our transatlantic cruise from Venice to Rio de Janeiro, 21 nights (12 Nov to 5Dec2017) . We actually have no complaints at all. Everything went like clockwork from embarkation to debarkation. a little late leaving Venice but it actually made for a beautiful departure from port. The MSC MUSICA is a beautiful ship with plenty to keep you busy with so many places to walk around and see and things to do. We arrived at the cruise terminal early but everything went smoothly and after waiting in the cue for 30 minutes we were able to board. Our cabin was ready and also our cruise card so we were able to use our lunch. We then went to the buffet for lunch it was very busy but this was not a problem as there were staff at the buffet entrance who took you to a seat. Also there was a button on the table to summon a beverage waiter and they were very efficient. The food was hot and there was a good selection. I loved the majority of my breakfasts and lunches in the Deck 13 Buffet, unfortunately my dinners in the Restaurant were inconsistent and I did have several sub-par dinners. The buffet on the deck 13 The food and beverage manager Mr. BRUNO , organized his team and equipment as a 5 star hotelrestaurant. The equipments and cutlery always cleaned by his team from 8am to 8am, the wole day long. Food at the cruise was lovely, a lot of choice and variety. There were so many food choices on 6 corners including a bread and pastery, an Italian corner, a fruitcorner and a big buffet. They present several times a week , special items and a tapas- and brasilian event. Service was generally good. To enjoy a long cruise, you must prepare how you wish to spend the many sea days (here included 6 transatlantic sea days). While there was a multitude of activities we participated some activities offered by the Cruise Director. The entertainment was OK. Some of the stage shows were good some not, bands in the bars were varied. We were never bored for we met several travellers with the same age and ideas. We took a few very good shore excursions, but we mainly explored on our own, and took taxis and public transportation. We missed 1 of the 5 Brasilian ports due to storms. Once we sailed out of the Mediterranean, into the transatlantic crossing, it was very smooth sailing, and every day was sunny and warm towards Brasil. The cruise was pristine , immaculate, and the upkeep was spot on. The cruise is quieter this time of the year so we cannot make a review for the summer season. There is still a lot to do, because the animation is working during day-times but also every evening is there something to do. The cabins/bedrooms were fabulous we had a double room which was quite big and they were clean and looked very new. Our room was lovely the bed so comfortable and our housekeeping excellent. Stayed november 2017, traveled as two couples. Arthur and Catharina Jansz. Belgium/Spain Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an ... Read More
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an inside cabin for the South America Transatlantic cruise back to Europe . We had no need to worry at all the ship was one of the best we have sailed on she is pure elegance and the inside cabin was the largest we had stayed in and the bathroom was huge with a large shower .Plenty of storage space in both and the bed was so comfortable. The ship was spotless and the elegant quality of the furnishings and lighting truly amazed us. The crossing was so smooth and we had hot sunny weather most of the way. After reading previous reviews that no one spoke English this was a complete load of rubbish. All staff spoke English the daily update was printed in English and the Captain gave updates in English too. After reading reviews there was nothing to do during the day again a load of rubbish there was something to do from 10:00 to 18:00 every day. We joined in pool games quiz afternoons dance lessons art and craft lesson all with English speaking staff and there were many more activities to choose from. The food and quality was some of the best we had eaten on any ship the quality of the Italian hams cheeses bread pizza meats soups salads etc etc were of a really good standard. Every evening we had a different five course evening meal in the restaurant on Deck 3 and during Gala Nights the meal was also excellent.Lots of people did wear elegant outfits for the Gala Nights. We enjoyed the shows on an evening so much variety acrobats dancers opera singers magician illusionist and many more . We would highly recommend the ship and really enjoyed the South America Transatlantic crossing we had so much value for money and would not hesitate to book another cruise with Costa . Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never been to South America or south of the equator. EMBARKATION: Awful No porters to take our bags. We stood in line in the hot sun to check in our bags. Then we were given a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never been to South America or south of the equator. EMBARKATION: Awful No porters to take our bags. We stood in line in the hot sun to check in our bags. Then we were given a number and told to sit in a non air conditioned warehouse until our number was called. Announcements were made in Portuguese except for the number. When our number was called we were bussed to the ship. We stood in another line at the Four Seasons restaurant on board to check in. At least we could go directly to our cabin. NCL staff at the Meet & Greet said the Sun's position at the pier was changed at the last minute and the check in area assigned could not accommodate the technology needed to check in at the pier. DINING: There was never a wait at the Seven Seas main dining room. Staff was pleasant and attentive. Great menu and service for breakfast. We asked to share a table and met some wonderful fellow cruisers. We tried 3 of the specially restaurants, Teppanyake, Le Bistro and Cagney's. There was never a problem to get a reservation. The food was excellent. Service was a bit slow at Cagney's and Le Bistro. Not sure I would pay the surcharge if the specialty restaurants were not included in our fare. The Garden Cafe, buffet was smaller than on other ships, but never seemed over crowded and we always found a table when we went for breakfast and lunch. Variety was okay. Would have like to see more salads at lunch. CASINO: DH had some trouble with a slot machine eating his cash that wasn't resolved by the casino staff so we avoided the casino for the sets of the cruise. LIBRARY: Is open during posted hours to check out a book. They have a variety of fiction and non fiction in several languages. There are shelves of books you can "borrow" at anytime without needing to check them out. The "taken-return one" concept. MANDARA SPA: Convinced DH to try acupuncture for orthopedic issues and pain. Dr Christine was patient, explained what she was doing and made recommendations. i got a hair cut and style - fine. Massage was super! Liked that we could use the sauna and steam room without charge. Staff was pleasant. ENTERTAINMENT: Thank you NCL for knowing you audience! We were mostly a over 50/60 year old crowd. The Argentinian "Beetles" were such fun. The 16 member song and dance cast are very talented. Just a pet peeve of mine - If you are doing a production based on the 60s or 70s put in some dance moves from that era in you numbers and costumes that reflect that era. Pay attention to the lyrics. In Burt Bacharache's "I say a little prayer for you" not once did the singer fold her hans as if she were saying a prayer - just wiggled her hips. ENRICHMENT: The lectures on the ports were pretty good. They include history of the area and not just shopping. We did not take any ship shore excursions. DISEMBATKATION: You are bussed from the ship in Buenos Aires to the terminal. It is a working industrial port so this makes sense for your safety. This may be one of those times when it is best to arrange transpiration to the airport or hotel ahead of time. The lines for the taxis are long and sometimes confusing. A piece of our luggage got put into another cab by mistake. Scream! Eventually the dispatcher found the cab and it was brought back to us after over an hour. Whew! Also, things will go smoother if you know a little Spanish. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise so we could see the Magellan Straits from our balcony (even chose starboard side to make sure of the best view) and the ship sailed through the Straits in the dead of night! That was disappointing, but cruising by ... Read More
We chose this cruise so we could see the Magellan Straits from our balcony (even chose starboard side to make sure of the best view) and the ship sailed through the Straits in the dead of night! That was disappointing, but cruising by the islands and coast of the deep south of Chile, glaciers and all, almost made up for it. Service on board was amazing. Cruise lines -- and not just Cunard -- owe a great deal to their Filipino staff. They are friendly without being over-friendly. They remember your name and your likes and dislikes. Our lovely cabin steward soon realized that we liked to leave the bathroom light on, and left it that way. He learned our hours, so the cabin was always made up when we returned from breakfast. Food in the Britannia was the best of all the three Queens. Not so marvelous in the Lido buffet, but eating in the main restaurant was always a pleasure. The duck liver pate and the roast breast of duck were divine. Again, wonderful service. We never had to choose bread or order dessert and tea, as the waiters knew what we liked from the first day. The lectures and entertainment on the Queen Victoria were not up to the standard of the other Queens. Apart from Mike Gibson's lecture on Eva Peron, which was wonderful, the presentations were awkward. The Royal Court orchestra is wonderful. The dancers and singers did their absolute best, but they were obviously working at it. It made you feel tired, rather than uplifted. The costume designer is amazing, as is the stage management. Changes of costume were very deftly done. The cabin was the same design as on Queen Elizabeth, but much more annoying. On the QE, the full length mirror is on the outside of the wardrobe. On the QV, it is stuck on the inside of the door. Every time you want to check your dress, the door swings back at you. It is very dark by the wardrobes, too. And the wall at the end of the bed has no pictures. It made for a very boring and annoying cabin. But it was kept spick and span Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip around South America. Boarding was total disorganized and took over 4 1/2 hours. No one in the terminal had any answers as to why the delays. The ship is old and outdated. stains in carpeting, ratty mats and flooring in the gym, no nets on basketball courts, broken machines in the casino. When I spoke to a supervisor about the condition of the ship I was told" Sir, you have to understand that the ship will be going into dry dock so we're not bothering now with those things." Could not believe a crew member would say that to a recently boarded passenger. Got sick first night. Went to medical center second day but could not be seen then due to emergency. went next day and received a bill for $600. Due to critically ill patient we had to turn around and as a result of the delays we missed two of 5 ports- Montevideo and Falkland Islands. Cabin next door to us flooded and at 5:30 AM we had to move ourselves into another cabin. No help from crew as they were "busy" cleaning up. Two small fires during cruise- one in engine room and one in incinerator room. Food was very mediocre in buffet and dining room. The food in Sabatini's was very good. So many problems that the line finally offered passengers a credit on the cruise and on a future cruise. That was well received but as for this cruise, we spent 11 of 14 days at sea on a somewhat run down ship. Very disappointing and a waste of a lot of money. Front desk staff were great as was Cruise Director, trying to be helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
As part of my wife’s and my 50th wedding anniversary celebration, we planned a “bucket list” cruise around South America. We planned and reserved the trip in September 2015, while aboard an Alaskan cruise on the Pacific Princess. We ... Read More
As part of my wife’s and my 50th wedding anniversary celebration, we planned a “bucket list” cruise around South America. We planned and reserved the trip in September 2015, while aboard an Alaskan cruise on the Pacific Princess. We sailed on a 14-day cruise on the Crown Princess leaving out of Rio de Janeiro on 04 January 2017, ending up in Valparaiso / Santiago, Chile. The first half of our cruise was like the “cruise from hell”! The second half turned out very nice. Some of the problems we encountered were particular to us, while some affected everyone on the cruise. Some were not the fault of Princess, while some I totally attribute to Princess. Some were due to weather and some due to an unexpected medical emergency. However, others were due to what I consider poor maintenance on the Crown Princess; some due to poor attitude of some, but not all of, the Princess staff; and some due to what I consider poor planning and execution by Princess Management. Problems started before we boarded the ship. The Embarkation process in Rio was a disaster. It was not a process at all, but rather total chaos! There was no organization and the subcontractor hired by Princess to manage the embarkation was untrained, unknowledgeable on what was going on or supposed to be going on, and totally rude to some passengers, notably handicapped ones. There was a very noticeable total lack of Princess staff present until very late in the boarding experience. Once a Princess staff member did come out and try to make announcements, they were audible only in about the northern 1/3 of the building. There were far too few chairs for the number of folks there (about 1/3 had to stand the entire time) and the air-conditioning was woefully inadequate. There was no water or cold drinks available except for purchase from one vendor which had a 30-minute line to check out. Priority boarding was non-existent. Platinum, Elite and Suite passengers were given “boarding numbers” just like everyone else, (seemingly at random) based upon when they arrived. Everyone should have boarded by 5 PM and sailed at 6 PM. We, along with two other couples traveling with us arrived at 1:30 PM. We finally boarded around 5:45 PM and our traveling companions did not get aboard until around 7:15 PM, and they were by no means the last to board. We sailed about 3 hours late, missing our scheduled dinner assignment and unable to see Rio de Janeiro’s harbor sights in daylight. It was the worst embarkation, by far, we have experienced in some 16 cruises in numerous North American and European ports, and with six different cruise lines. A couple next to us in the Rio embarkation warehouse said it was the worst embarkation they had experienced in 35 years of cruising! During our first day at sea, an announcement was made asking for any blood donors with AB+ or O- blood and a donor card to please report for the ship’s medical center since a passenger had a medical emergency and was in need of a transfusion. He was stabilized, but needed to be transported to a hospital onshore for further treatment. The ship diverted course and sailed back to the Brazilian mainland and the patient was transferred to a smaller vessel near shore and thence to a hospital. Unfortunately we learned the next morning he had undergone an emergency procedure there, but had not survived. This necessary diversion caused us to be another 8-10 hours late. After another day of cruising we had entered the Rio de la Plata river / estuary between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, where we dropped anchor! The Captain explained that 24-36 hours of very strong Northwest winds had caused an unusually low tide in the estuary and there was insufficient draft for us to proceed to Buenos Aires. We stayed at anchor for maybe 6-10 hours while the winds abated and the tides returned sufficient water for the required draft of the Crown Princess. The next morning we were docked at Buenos Aires, albeit a full day late. We awoke to find that out of some 8 or so planned shore excursions in Buenos Aires, the one we had signed up for was the only excursion cancelled. The reason given was equipment or technical issues. The same exact tours, but with German and Spanish speaking guides, proceeded as planned. It was too late to schedule another tour. We and one of the other couples traveling with us took a taxi into the Plaza de Mayo. From there we walked 2 blocks and took a “Hop-On-Hop-Off” bus tour of Buenos Aires. After several hours on the bus, and consulting the guide, we got off the bus and walked 3 blocks to the Recoleta Cemetery to see Evita’s grave. This had been one of the major stops on the Princess shore excursion that was cancelled. While walking the three blocks through a very nice park, we were “scammed” and I had my pocket picked and lost my new iPhone! Someone threw some foul-smelling stuff on all our backs and while we were distracted, thinking a flock of birds had pooped on us, their accomplice, seeming to help point out the stuff on our backs, picked my pocket. Apparently it is a favorite ploy of gangs in the city. The guide in Recoleta saw our soiled pants and shirts and said “Oh, you have been scammed”. He said we were not the first that day. When I reported it to two nearby policemen, they simply said that’s the way the gangs operate. Guest Services said when we reported it back aboard ship that we were not the only Crown Princess passengers to fall for the same scam that day. We told the staff member working there that future passengers should be warned about this scam. Indeed, the excursion speaker did then warn of exactly this type of scam before we arrived in Santiago. We went to our stateroom, took off our clothes, showered and left quickly for our scheduled early dinner seating. We planned to wash our soiled clothes the next morning in the self-laundry on our deck. The next morning we “learned” that because we are a day late, we had lost our docking spot in Montevideo and thus would not dock there during the day but only a short time in the evening to take on supplies and food. All shore excursions in Montevideo are thus cancelled. We are also told that we “must take on fuel” and because we have lost our docking slot in Montevideo, we again sat at anchor for 6-8 hours in the Rio de la Plata while a small tanker and pump barge tied up alongside and loaded bunker fuel. Also when we awoke that morning we found some of the carpet in our stateroom wet. We learned that the toilet in the adjacent stateroom had overflowed and somehow seeped through the bulkhead and into our stateroom. We also found that all the laundries were closed for “water rationing”? We complained to the head steward who was on the hall overseeing carpet clean-up, asking when the laundries would be open because we had the fouled clothes for our Buenos Aires scam. He offered to take our clothes and have them cleaned complementary with the crew’s laundry. We thanked him and then went to eat breakfast. We had to stay out of our cabin most of the day while the carpets were vacuumed, shampooed, and dried (or at least partially dried). We had a very noisy blower in the room for two days. It seems strange to me that a ship capable of extended cruising and making trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific crossings of 7-10 straight days at sea should have to refuel only 4 days after leaving the beginning of the cruise in Rio de Janeiro! I am guessing that since this ship for the remainder of the season cruises alternatively between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso that they have attractive bunker fuel contracts in both areas. However, with only one stop per season in Rio, I suspect that Princess had to purchase fuel at a more expensive “spot market price”, and thus Princess management chose to sail from Rio with only partially full bunker tanks. Then after unexpected weather and unforeseen medical situations, we must sit anchored in the muddy Rio de la Plata and refuel for 6-8 hours. In retrospect I think this may also be the reason for the “water rationing” since I doubt if that the reverse osmosis water-makers could properly handle the very muddy water being taken in from the Plata while we sat at anchor. I had noticed water from our tap the night before being somewhat cloudy or brown! We finally docked at Montevideo just at dusk and passengers are allowed ashore for about 3 hours and told to “enjoy the nearby shops, bars, and restaurants” since no tours weree offered. My wife and I disembarked and got just to the end of the pier before a major thunderstorm unleashed torrential rains. We quickly re-boarded, being some of the lucky ones to get only slightly wet instead of thoroughly drenched. People who did stay ashore later complained that all the shops and many restaurants and bars were shuttered for the night (or the rain?). We just got to “set foot” in Montevideo and Uruguay, and had no excursions or tours! The next morning we were informed that we would totally bypass the Falkland Islands in order to get back on schedule for the remainder of the cruise. All shore excursions in the Falklands, including the one we had booked to go and see the penguins, were of course cancelled. Seeing the penguins had been one of the anticipated highlights of our cruise! We went to the Shore Excursion Desk to see if there were any options to change, or add, excursions in Ushuaia to see penguins there. We were told they were all already full with “very long waiting lists”! People were really getting upset by now. After waiting in line for quite a while at the Shore Excursion Desk, two men cut in from the side and went directly up to the desk. Several people behind us yelled at them to “wait their turn and get in line like everyone else!” When we then approached the staff member (we were next in line before the men attempted to cut), my wife told the staff member working there that in addition to helping with shore excursions, he should also help maintain order and ensure that folks kept in line and did not cut. He, almost indigently, told her that he had been there several days and nobody had ever cut before! He also said that we should not anticipate on getting on any excursions to see penguins as they were all much too full. As new Captain’s Circle Platinum members, my wife and I were disappointed in the lack of attention that was paid to the “claimed Platinum Benefits”. First there was absolutely no priority or preferred boarding in Rio for us as Platinum members. There was a “Happy Hour” for Platinum, Elite and Suite passengers held in the Skywalker’s Lounge every night. We received no notice of this initially. We only learned about it after 3-4 days at sea from a fellow Platinum passenger. My wife called the Guest Services desk and inquired about these functions and about an invitation. She was told we should have received an invitation in our stateroom (which we didn’t). My wife requested one and was told it would be sent to our room shortly. Late the next day after still not receiving one, I finally went to the Guest Services desk and asked for one. After a lengthy “verification” that we were indeed Platinum, I was given a copy. We did utilize the special disembarkation lounge for Platinum, Elite and Suite guests in the Explorer’s Lounge and that was nice. There were also a number of smaller instances which all pointed to the age of the Crown Princess and what I consider poor condition and maintenance. There were numerous plumbing problems. In addition to the overflowing toilet next door, our toilet overflowed once but thankfully was contained on the tile bathroom floor. Over the remainder of the cruise, we heard of several other “overflowing toilet issues”. The tub in our mini-suite was VERY slow draining for the entire voyage. Initially there was no Wi-Fi service in our stateroom. I called and complained and was told that the “router would be tweaked and it should be better”. It was never consistently available. Occasionally I could get a weak Wi-Fi signal in one or two spots in our stateroom, but if my phone or iPad shifted more than a few inches, I lost the signal. I resolved myself to going to the ship’s common areas to text, and send and receive email. One day we were both in our stateroom, my wife in the bathroom and I on the couch reading. There was a loud thump or bang. I thought my wife had fallen and she thought I had fallen. Instead a large fabric-coated wooden panel had fallen off the wall beside the bed between us and bounced over the lamp and onto the floor. It probably weighed 20 pounds. I informed our steward and it was promptly reattached. I know we experienced some rough seas both in the Atlantic as we approached Cape Horn and also in the Pacific as we came out of the Strait of Magellan and the ship rolled and pitched. However, all the attached wooden furniture (desk, cabinets, etc.,) in our stateroom (D515) creaked and popped so loudly that on several nights my wife could only get to sleep after putting in earplugs and taking some melatonin. As a football fan I was also disappointed in the choices of Princess as to how games were presented on television. We watched all the pre-game hype and interviews for the NCAA championship game on our stateroom TV. Just as the game was about to begin, however, the screen went blank and then a message was displayed that “this presentation is blacked out on this station”! The first weekend of the NFL playoffs, games were shown on the large poolside screen and on the TV’s in Gatsby’s Casino, but not in the staterooms. The next weekend of the NFL Division Playoffs the same arrangement was initially started. There was so much interest in the Dallas – Green Bay game that Gatsby’s was standing room only. The Blackjack Dealers could not even get chairs around their tables and no one came to the tables to play in spite of the dealers trying to set up. Finally the head man or Pit Boss came out and told the dealers to just give up and wait until after the game. At the end of the Dallas – Green Bay game, they made an announcement that the next game between the Steelers and the Patriots would instead be shown on the stateroom TV’s! I’m not sure of Princess’s arrangements with satellite television but when the business in the casino suffered, they certainly found a way quickly to broadcast the games in the staterooms! Why didn’t they do it earlier for the NFL and for the NCAA game? Although there was clearly a bad attitude among some of the Crown Princess staff, especially the staff manning the Shore Excursion and Guest Services desks and some of the shops, not all were of this same attitude. Our stateroom steward was very attentive and efficient and very promptly attended to every issue raised with him. The Botticelli formal dining room wait staff and the staff at Vines Wine Bar deserve special praise. They were excellent. We were also somewhat disappointed in the overall quality of the entertainment. The specialty venue musicians were all very good and the comedian in the Explorer’s Lounge was very good. The Princess Production crews (singers and dancers) were very talented, but the production shows themselves seemed “dated” and unimaginative. Nathan Foley, whom we had seen win Princess’ Entertainer of the Year on the Caribbean Princess last year, was great as usual. The audience response to all shows, however, even including Foley’s, seemed to lack the enthusiasm we have experienced on other recent cruises. The food in the main dining rooms (Botticelli and da Vinci) where we ate and the Horizon Court buffet were adequate. The food in the International Café, which we frequented for lunch, was very good. Our two meals in Crown Grill and Sabatini’s specialty restaurants were probably the best dining experiences and meals we have had on any cruise. The second half of the cruise was much better; making all ports and having no shore excursions cancelled. Cruising around Cape Horn and the glaciers around Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan were spectacular. Ushuaia was beautiful and fun to visit. Our Wildlife Watching excursion there was excellent. Punta Arenas was interesting also. Disembarkation went very smoothly in Valparaiso. One last personal problem did arise related to disembarkation, however. We had dutifully placed all our large bags outside our stateroom the night before so that they could be transported to a lower deck for offloading into the passenger terminal. We kept only our small carry-on bags and one set of clothes to wear ashore and on the full-day tour of Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and a wine tasting and lunch en route to our hotel in Santiago. I had saved the hiking pants that had been taken and cleaned by the chief steward for us after they were severely soiled in our earlier scamming incident. I had checked that all of the odorous substance had come out of the trouser legs and that they had not been stained. Much to my chagrin, however, I discovered as I put on the trousers that last morning, that in the washing, drying or ironing that the entire zipper pull was missing! Luckily I had also left out a pullover golf shirt with an extra-long shirttail that I could constantly pull down to cover my open zipper! I did fill out a Damage Report at the Guest Services desk, but it was still an uncomfortable, embarrassing day until I could get to the hotel in Santiago and get another pair of pants from my suitcase! I have yet to hear from Princess or receive any reimbursement for the ruined pants. I know this was not the experience or quality cruise that I, nor other passengers, nor Princess was expecting. Obviously Princess realized this since they offered each passenger ½ of that they had paid for the cruise in a “Future Cruise Credit” and another ½ of that they had paid for the cruise as a credit in their “Onboard Spending Account”. I am grateful for that, but still do not think that this particular cruise and ship was anywhere near the quality on prior Princess cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The itinerary was a main reason for taking this cruise. The staff and food are exceptional. My only complaint is the size and layout of the cabins. We are in a concierge cabin and it's too small. The bathroom is just okay with a ... Read More
The itinerary was a main reason for taking this cruise. The staff and food are exceptional. My only complaint is the size and layout of the cabins. We are in a concierge cabin and it's too small. The bathroom is just okay with a bathtub and separate small stall shower. The closet and drawer space are totally inadequate. I have to move the desk chair to walk between that and the coffee table to get to the terrace. The concierge lounge is a big plus. We often opt to have a continental breakfast there instead of going to one of the dining rooms or ordering room service. The specialty restaurants are good and it's a bonus that there is no up charge for dining in them. My only complaint there is that some of the vegetables were overcooked and soggy. The activities are not as extensive as on other cruises we've been on where there was an interesting lecture every morning and duplicate bridge and a movie every afternoon. On the first segment, with only 1 day at sea, there was duplicate bridge almost every day. 3 days into this longer segment with more sea days and I haven't seen a bridge director Hopefully that will change. The shore excursions have exceeded my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We had a two week South American cruise on the Star Princess. Inclement weather made this cruise difficult. 3 ports were aborted due to rough seas. No one can control the weather, but it is a very long way to travel from the UK to not ... Read More
We had a two week South American cruise on the Star Princess. Inclement weather made this cruise difficult. 3 ports were aborted due to rough seas. No one can control the weather, but it is a very long way to travel from the UK to not make the ports on the itinerary. Special mention should go to the Captain Stefano Raneiro, who had to make some tough decisions, for the safety of the crew and passengers. The entertainment was not as good, as on previous cruisers I have taken with Princess. The food in the Capri dining room was wonderful, as were the staff. Embarkation in Rio de Janeiro was a complete fiasco. Standing in line for up to 4 hours, just to check in, with no seating, and very little organisation. For first time cruisers it would have definitely put them off. The debarkation, however worked like clockwork! Our cabin was fabulous. We always have a balcony. The cost of the airfare is prohibitive, unless you get to see the ports. So maybe Princess needs to compensate consumers for flights as well as the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at ... Read More
Rounding Cape Horn is a navigational feat. More than a cruise, it's an adventure which means "stuff" happens. Our "stuff" began upon boarding the ship. Princess sent passengers advance notice to expect delays at the Rio cruise terminal due to pre-Olympics construction. The warning did not prepare us for the chaos that ensued...no order, no communication, no protocol for passengers with special needs. Boarding took us 4 hours--a little less time than many others--only because when we finally made it to the front we found a line for people in wheel chairs. Despite the boarding snafu, the ship left only one hour late. Somehow, the Captain and crew had made lemonade out of lemons--a foreshadowing of things to come. Onboard, we had a mini-suite cabin on deck 9, spacious and comfortable with one exception. The commode in our full-sized bathroom was darkly stained. Although the toilet bowl had been thoroughly cleaned, it didn't LOOK clean. I couldn't get past the possibility of having to stick my head in there should the going get rough (literally). My concern was satisfactorily addressed while in our first port of Buenos Aires. We returned to our cabin to find a sparkling new toilet and a beautiful flower arrangement for our inconvenience. More lemonade! The bad news is that, due to adverse weather, Buenos Aires was the ONLY port we made during the entire trip. The one exception was Punta Arenas where we did land. However while in port, the weather deteriorated so severely that the port was closed. Suddenly, instead of getting off the ship, our challenge was to get ON the ship. The Princess team devised an inventive solution: Turn a tugboat into a bridge. The tugboat pulled up to the end of a large cement jetty, connecting the jetty to the ship's tender. Rough seas and high winds made for a somewhat harrowing leap from the tugboat to the tender, but the "rescue mission" was a success. It took until nearly 3 am, but all 1,700 passengers and crew were safely back on board. Nothing could make up for missing those penguins, but the Captain attempted appeasement by altering the course to maximize the scenery. The sight of glaciers, waterfalls and exquisite snow-capped mountains gliding past our balcony softened us up. (Did I mention that Princess also gave every passenger a $100 cabin credit and a future cruise credit worth 50% of the cost of this cruise.) The lemonade was flowing! No question that a lot went wrong for passengers to grouse about. There was the 4:30 am airlift of a critically ill passenger by a RAF helicopter from tha Falkland Islands. (Passengers in certain cabins were evacuated.) Or the menu adjustments that occurred because we couldn't get into port ( no lettuce, yogurt, bananas and more). But the fact is that not one thing that went wrong (forget the toilet) was under the control of the cruise line. The Captain was an incredible communicator, keeping us apprised at every turn. (Some people actually complained that he talked too much.) The crew was incredible, particularly during the port emergency. They stepped up to provide water, coffee, sandwiches and comfort. (BTW, they were stranded, too.) A doctor in the terminal evaluated passengers with health issues, an ambulance standing by. Every officer on the ship was waiting there when we reboarded at 1:30 am to welcome us and make sure we were okay. To be honest, the biggest disappointment of the cruise were the passengers who screamed, (literally), pushed, shoved and disrupted when they were not first, not getting their way or not getting something for nothing at that very moment. They were the nightmare. The only way to end this cruise, in our opinion, was with a big "thank you" to the Captain, the crew and Princess cruise lines. Their handling of whatever came at them was outstanding every time. If we wanted perfect, we would have gone to Disney World. We signed on for an adventure and we got what we paid for...and more! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I (early 70's) took the Star Princess cruise around Cape Horn leaving Rio de Janeiro on January 4. Yes, there were many frustrations starting with the embarkation fiasco in the cruise terminal in Rio to being stranded ... Read More
My husband and I (early 70's) took the Star Princess cruise around Cape Horn leaving Rio de Janeiro on January 4. Yes, there were many frustrations starting with the embarkation fiasco in the cruise terminal in Rio to being stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile until after midnight. Still we were happy we took this cruise. Just seeing Cape Horn and the Straits of Magellan, the rugged mountains and glaciers, etc., was such a dream come true. Imagine the history of the place and the difficulty the early sailing ships had. It was disappointing to miss the ports of Stanley and Ushuaia, but the Captain had no choice. Most passengers should have been aware that this is a part of the world where the weather can be rough and unpredictable. I heard that some of the passengers were angry with the captain, but I think that is ridiculous. We found the ship to be very nice, the food was very good (better than most of the Princess cruises we've been on) and the entertainment was also very good. We met some very nice people from all over the world on this trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
First time on Oceania, but will be the last because they did not live up to "consistently delivering excellent service and value", as they state. The Marina ship was very nice and the service on board was fine. We found the ... Read More
First time on Oceania, but will be the last because they did not live up to "consistently delivering excellent service and value", as they state. The Marina ship was very nice and the service on board was fine. We found the food was above average. However, we took an excursion "The Best of Santos & Guaruja" and absolutely horrible. In fact, Oceania's "Award-Winning Tour Program" was disappointing overall (we took 7 of their excursions), but the Santos excursion was a total disaster. We have cruised for years and have never written a complaint or asked for money back on an excursion or anything else. After the Santos tour, we, however, along with a long line of others on the trip, went immediately to the Reception counter demanding complaint forms and refunds. The person behind the counter was trying to control the crowd, a site to behold. Here is a summary of the excursion: - Travel time in the bus was very lengthy to the "largest aquarium in South America". A deceptive play on words since it was the smallest and most uninteresting aquarium we have ever seen. It took only a very few minutes and we were all done seeing what there was to see. There were NO "adventurous divers hand feeding creatures". - The botanical gardens, the "highlight is the orchidarium", was closed. It was advertised to be "remarkable" with more than 100 exotic species of all shapes and colors". Our guide said there was nothing in it. We were supposed to see an array of macaws and toucans. There was 1 bird! The guide said there have not been any toucans there for at least 10 years. - The Coffee Museum - most of it was on the second floor, which was closed. First floor had very little to see, just a shop to buy coffee. - Brazilian BBQ lunch - bus driver dropped us off but guide took us on a 20 minute walk one-way to another restaurant only to find out it was the wrong place. Some of us had difficulty with such a long walk due to health/disability issues. This was supposed to be a low-activity tour. Another 20 minute walk to a not-so-nice restaurant that wasn't ready for us. Our guide went around asking for food to be made and brought out. We had to wait for sub-par food. - The "high-end stores and unusual merchandise" LaPlage mall. What a joke. There was a McDonalds and Burger King and only a few junkie stores. None of us stayed in the mall or purchased anything, we all went outside to look at the beach while waiting for the bus. The guide said he couldn't wait for this horrible day to be over. We all felt it was a waste of time, not worth the money, and was extremely disappointing. With all the complaints, Oceania gave us only 30% back of our $374 cost of the tour. We all felt they should have refunded it all, and even paid us for wasting our time and suffering with the entire fiasco. I wrote a letter when my husband and I returned home, asking for a full refund. No reply but I followed up. We finally got a reply from Gair O'Neill, Sr. Director, Guest Relations and Risk Management. He offered an on-board credit on our next cruise if we booked it within a year. I responded back that we would not be able to take a cruise within that time frame and still felt a full refund was in order, which for both of us would be $260. No reply - I followed up and finally got a short letter stating "no additional compensation will be forth coming". Ouch. I am stunned that Oceania would be so short-sighted to not refund a more than deserved measly $260 to us, as we cruise often. We will never go on another Oceania cruise, will tell anyone who wants to know how we were treated. Their customer service suffers from a lack of fair and reasonable understanding. For us it was the principle of the thing, but for them, I can only suspect it was to not let loose of a tiny bit of their profit to do the right thing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My wife and I have just completed the 14 day cruise from Rio to Genoa. Having cruised with MSC before our expectations were reasonable and they were met. The staff on the ship range from speaking English but not understanding English ... Read More
My wife and I have just completed the 14 day cruise from Rio to Genoa. Having cruised with MSC before our expectations were reasonable and they were met. The staff on the ship range from speaking English but not understanding English through to a good comprehension of English. If you are expecting a cruise with normal English standards you will probably be disappointed. if you want a cruise that will enable you to mix with people from a range of nationalities, you are prepared to accept the quirks and behaviour of those nationalities, you accept the pushing and shoving that is normal for them and are prepared to accept what you consider rudeness and bad manners but to them is normal behaviour then you will have a good time. If you are not prepared to accept the above then do not cruise with MSC as you will be disappointed. If you have not travelled with MSC before then research them well so that you will not be disillusioned. Their meaning of customer service is different to ours. Our interactive TV did not work in our cabin for the first 10 days. Finally after 3 requests and a written notice it worked. However at no time were we informed what was happening or advised that it was fixed. You need to persevere and keep checking every day until something happens. Their tours are are usually overpriced by our standards and what is written in English is not exactly what happens on occasion. You need to understand that to us what appears to be organised chaos to them is normal. They make very few if any allowances for people with disabilities. One very big negative is the embarkation procedures in Rio. My wife requires assistance and despite 3 hours of waiting and several requests no assistance was forthcoming. My wife finally had to hobble through and literally be carried by myself to the ship. The girls in their white uniforms were pathetic as well as being rude, arrogant and ignorant. Believing that corporate behaviour stems from the top I can only say that the girls in Rio need to be reprimanded and then retrained. Their superior needs to be either reprimanded and retrained or sacked and replaced by a person who understands what customer service actually means. In all, if you wish to experience a very interesting experience with lots of diversity you will enjoy MSC. My wife and I certainly did. One big note to MSC. MSC Orchestra is cruising to Australia next year. I tell you now that you need to vastly improve your definition of customer standards, initiate feedback procedures to your passengers and revise your handling procedures of clients with special needs. If you do not then your foray into the Australian market will be disappointing.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I are in our 60s….typical HAL cruisers on our 19th cruise, but WOW, this 21 day holiday cruise broke the sedate HAL mold, with an exciting international mix of passengers from young to old! We enjoyed this vibrant group. ... Read More
My husband and I are in our 60s….typical HAL cruisers on our 19th cruise, but WOW, this 21 day holiday cruise broke the sedate HAL mold, with an exciting international mix of passengers from young to old! We enjoyed this vibrant group. We flew to Rio de Janeiro and back from Santiago on Delta with the expected winter weather delays, always tense, so make sure you have plenty of time before connecting to your international flight. We had sailed twice previously on the Zaandam, and she came out of the latest dry dock looking like a new lady! She was immaculate throughout. There were noticeable improvements around the ship in many venues, much more open and flowing, with new upholstery, carpeting and drapes. Beautiful flower arrangements and holiday decorations graced the ship. The crew appeared very upbeat and proud to be serving on the Zaandam. With the usual compliment of activities listed each day in a nicely designed daily program, one could do as much or as little as you wished. There were many quiet places to escape from the lively Lido crowd. A great addition was and Antarctic Exploration Team, who gave talks on sea days, covering everything you ever wanted to know about Antarctica, and maybe some things you never thought about! These talks continued after we left Antarctica, too. We prebooked all our shore excursions through the ship, and were very happy with our choices. I want to add that bringing local currency was not necessary, and vendors everywhere kept their calculators busy converting pesos to dollars. The front office had local currency if necessary. Excursions: Rio: Corcovado& Rio Highlights. It was rainy/ foggy so the legendary beaches were deserted and Christ the Redeemer drifted eerily in and out of the mist. The train ride up was fascinating. Good overview. Buenos Aires: two day Showcase of Buenos Aires. We had a great guide who didn't mince words about political opinions and life in her city. We saw it all from the Recoleta Cemetery to the Tango Show. It was hot and sunny. Lunch was on our own with a variety of dining choices, and I was amazed to see tour members head for TGIFriday's! This was the time to break out the credit card and enjoy Argentine cuisine. Montevideo: Montevideo and the Wine Trail. Time at the city square, then out of town along the condo studded coast to the Bouza Winery for tasting and a sumptuous lunch. Most enjoyable! The Falkland Islands: North Pond Penguin Colony. A longer tour in 4X4s across the island to see penguins on a white sand beach, and then a huge Gentoo colony on the top of the hill….thousands of penguins and chicks literally standing wing to wing. Got a history lesson with this tour, too! Ushuaia: Drive to Tierra del Fuego National Park. In spite of rainy day, the park held its own quiet beauty. Punta Arenas: Off the Beaten Track: Magdalena Island Penguin Reserve. A must! A long (but comfortable) ferry ride for the E-Ticket experience of a lifetime! Thousands of inquisitive penguins and chicks just feet away, looking at you, walking in front of you, posing for you! Fantastic! Puerto Montt: Petrohue Falls, lake cruise and Chilean countryside. Off and on rain, but relaxing. Beautiful countryside, great lunch, shopping and the volcano made a spectacular appearance for us. Valparaiso: Coastal cities and Chilean valley traditions with airport transfer. Perfect way to end the cruise. We loved the horse ranch demonstration, Pisco Sours and delicious lunch. We had an excellent guide. We were dropped off at the airport at 5 PM. The main event on this cruise was our time in Antarctica. We were blessed with two stunning, sunny days. The vistas were surreal and ethereal as the ship glided silently across water as smooth as glass! The abundant shades of blue took your breath away. Wildlife was everywhere. It was "another world" experience we will never forget! There is always much talk on roll calls about proper clothing. Temperatures were around 30 degrees and quite tolerable. We are from the desert in southern California and just layered our clothes, topped off with jackets spayed with a water repellant. Sunglasses and sunscreen are a must, too! I wore non thermal tights under slacks with nylon gym pants over that to break the wind. Most important gear were hats to cover ears, a scarf and gloves. The shop on the ship sold jackets, scarves hats and gloves. We were very comfortable. Hot chocolate, gluhwein and pea soup were served during scenic cruising. Our Vista cabin 6110 was spacious and very comfortable, and looked completely new, including the built in furniture, carpet drapes and bedding. We had plenty of storage. It was located over the showroom and you could hear noise, but we didn't consider it a problem. It was a short walk to the outside deck at the bow of the ship, which we used frequently. Our steward, Asep, took good care of us, making sure we had everything we needed. He amazed us with his towel animals! The water was hot and the toilet flushed…life was good in 6110! We requested a table for 2 at 5:30 open seating. We had #114, which was perfect, not close to other tables, yet offered a great view from the back windows. Apri and Ary were our personable, competent stewards. Ary impressed us with his magic tricks! Dinner offerings were overall good and consistent. Iggy was the As You Wish Dining Host and circulated the dining room making sure all was well. There was always an alternative menu. The Coho Salmon was very good. A favorite are always the chilled soups. On the last night there was an International Dinner, which offered lots of choices. We used room service for breakfast most mornings, and did dine in the Pinnacle Grill one night. Dinner and the service were excellent. On sea days there was always an international buffet on the Lido poolside featuring cuisine of different country each time. The Chilean and Peruvian meal was the best! There were several teas as well. Entertainment was varied. I had seen both shows before, and this show cast did not seem to have the charisma of past shows. The onboard enrichment lectures were informative. I appreciated the onboard Catholic Priest and daily Mass. Non denominational services were also available. Disembarkation went smoothly. Passengers were bused to the main terminal. Because we were on a HAL tour, our luggage was sent directly to the airport. Internet on the ship was the usual slow and frustrating. We were not able to check in for our flight the evening before (network overload), but did so the morning of disembarkation on our ipad with a different network. At the airport you must insert your passport in the machine to print out your boarding pass. The airline counters don't open until a few hours before departure, so we waited in line for 1 ½ hours. The Santiago Airport was chaotic, with no place to sit except in restaurants, which were filled to capacity. We surrendered our Chilean Landing Card (which was inserted in the passport when we entered Chilean waters) at passport control and went through security. At the airline gate we were given a table number and an agent looked through our bags once more before we boarded the plane. This was a near perfect cruise with a fantastic itinerary that I would heartily recommend, and we would love to repeat in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just returned from the January 5th Quest voyage Rio to Buenos Aires. The ship was great and almost everything was up to our expectations. Stayed in a Club Continent Suite in Cabin 8063. The extra space was worth it. Butler and housekeeping ... Read More
Just returned from the January 5th Quest voyage Rio to Buenos Aires. The ship was great and almost everything was up to our expectations. Stayed in a Club Continent Suite in Cabin 8063. The extra space was worth it. Butler and housekeeping staff met our every need.The new furniture on the balcony was comfortable but a little crowded with 3 chairs and the table. Our butler Rovin set the table whenever my wife had breakfast on the balcony.We never eat in the main ding room, eating every night in either Prime C or Acqualina. Almost every meal was great, stay away from the Rib eye if you really like steak. It was just not up to NY standards. On the other hand, the veal chop was outstanding. The staff in both places went out of their way to provide our every need. Special thanks to John in Aqualina and Mustafa and Sascho in Prime C.The Jacuzzi in the Spa was not working right and they did not have the parts to fix it (Looked like a simple pipe connection) most times the jets would not work. If you hand fit the broken pipe together it would work. Also there were many days the temperature was not warm.The only other complaint was that the dry cleaning machine was not working. However the staff went out of their way to do our clothes ashore in Punta Del Este.We pre-booked four shore excursions, one was excellent, one was good and two I would not do again.Parati- a schooner to a beach, plus two stops for snorkeling. We went to a deserted beach with no facilities for about an hour and then the two snorkeling stops. Boat ride was nice, but getting in and out of boat was not easy.Ilhabela- Beach and 4 x 4 to rainforest and waterfall. The beach was a nice beach with bar and full facilities. Should have stayed there the whole time. Rainforest and "waterfall" were not worth the effort. Very hot and humid walk on slippery trail with lots of mosquitoes. Water falls were not really waterfalls.Punta Del Este- Tour of museums and area with lunch at Navonna Farms, One of the best tours. Lunch was superb.Buenos Aires - Gaucho Tour with lunch. A good tour just a little longOverall, very happy with everything and would definitely do Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
As an introduction we are on our first cruise aboard the Holland America Veendam. We have cruised on several other Holland American ships however decided a couple of years ago to switch away from Holland America. However this year we ... Read More
As an introduction we are on our first cruise aboard the Holland America Veendam. We have cruised on several other Holland American ships however decided a couple of years ago to switch away from Holland America. However this year we wanted a cruise that would include the holidays and a non-European cruise thus we opted for the South American cruise and included the return cruise making this a back to back adventure. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those solely of the author who is in no way connected with Holland America. We know and respect your views and opinions which may be totally different from ours. You had a different cabin, perhaps different waiters, different restaurants, etc. throughout the cruise(s) and thus saw the same cruise from a different perspective. The ship reflects recent refurbishing throughout. The ship was launched in 1996. We don't know exactly what the theme was supposed to be thus we will call it 1920's Supper Club Modern. Many areas look as though we have reentered the supper club era of the 1920s.In any event the ship is being well maintained for the guest. By today's standards the Veendam has to fit into the small ship category, after all there are large and mega ships with over 4000 passengers and small ships with around 750 passengers. With a passenger compliment of around 1350 passengers the Veendam is definitely not considered a large cruise ship by today's standards. From our view that is very good as we don't really care for the rock climbing, the boisterous swimming pool antics and adventurer land aboard a cruise ship. Upon closer inspection you will notice several broken or cracked glasses and windows throughout the ship. Some of the metal especially around the outside windows is pitted and rough indicating it was not recently replaced. The first cruise left from Rio de Janerio and thus there were more passengers from the United States. On the second leg of the cruise starting in Santiago, there were even less from the United States. The Neptune Club on our deck was only occasionally visited by a person from the United States. We are taking back to back cruises on this ship thus we have one segment from Rio to Valparaiso followed by a segment from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires. Several of the ports will be the same thus we have an opportunity to see more at each port. We have previously visited some of these ports, just a couple of years ago, and this trip will give us an opportunity to see things we missed in the past. Seating throughout the ship contains both comfortable and uncomfortable seats. Funny you say that we would start the review about seating. We were so fascinated that we even took dozens of pictures. Some seating appears to be for "munchkins" as they have extremely high back with very small seats. In the Showroom At Sea almost all seats have low backs, thus providing little comfort for a lengthy show. On top of all of this, unless you select a chair to sit in you will find nothing but bench h style seating, all of which we found uncomfortable. What were they thinking? Dining room seating is much better however some chairs have arms while other are open chairs. There seems to be no consistency at any of the tables---just whatever is available at the time. Get to your table a few minutes early and select your own chair even if that means borrowing from another table. In our cabin we had a leather couch however I challenge anyone to try to sit for any length of time when the ship is moving and tossing as you will most certainly be tossed to the deck because of the slickness. The ship as a whole is nice and clean and one will get used to décor. RESERVATIONS Just a note about making reservations. Not all published cruise prices will be the same, however most cruise agents can match the lowest price you may locate on another cruise site. Just ask! We waited almost too late to purchase a suite cabin and we had to move to a different cabin at the end of the first cruise as the first cabin we purchased had already been sold. You should try to get the same cabin throughout all your segments as you don't want to have to move after a few days at sea. We deliberately chose the starboard side on our first segment as that gave us a shore view from our veranda and on the returned segment we chose the port side so we could again have the shore side view from our verandah. That worked really well. Now a word about location of the cabin. Our first cabin was 035 about midway on the Navigation Deck. The second cabin was 006 which was at the front of the ship. This made a really great difference on the open seas however not a concern in the inland passages. The ship's movement was almost never felt when we were in cabin 035. Don't be eager to take the first suggestion from your travel agent if you are not pleased with the location on the ship. There are also cruise web sites where you can check available cabin locations on each of the decks. Changing cabins should be an easy process (in our judgment), however Holland America apparently does not have a firm policy on this thus a separate letter has been generated back to corporate. On the next to last day of our first segment we still had not received anything from the front desk about our move to another cabin. I inquired three times and each time got different information. Finely on the last evening of the cruise we received a letter with partial information about the move to cabin 6. We still had no key to our cabin though thus another visit to the front desk where we advised to come back the following day. Our new cabin was made available to us around 0930 on the last day of the cruise and we received a new cabin key card upon visit once again to the front desk. We had not received any statement of charges for the cruise so we asked and was told we could have an interim copy. We also did not receive a survey questionnaire and were advised we would get that at the end of the second segment. We moved most of our personal belongings with a crew member helping us with a rack of clothes. BOARDING THE SHIP----We flew to Rio de Janerio and boarded the ship at the terminal in downtown Rio. It was a total disaster as the terminal is under renovation for the forthcoming Olympics. The main area was completely closed and HA had all passengers' crowded into spaces just inside the entrance. Once checked in, you had to go to a backroom and wait to be called by group number for boarding. I can understand the need for the renovations as the terminal is in bad need of repair. If you arrive during this renovation period, just be patient. Once inside this portion of the terminal space there is nothing to do other than sit or stand and wait for your boarding number to be called. Listen carefully for that number as there was no PA system. We provided the computer generated boarding pass at the check in counter. I could not believe how many ahead of us did not have that pass with them Your passport will be confiscated and you will be given a receipt. If you need to update your credit card or change to a different credit card from the one you originally gave HA, you cannot do it at check in and will have to proceed to the Purser's Office once aboard. A word about your passport. Holland America apparently has the feeling that we as guest are not capable or responsible enough to carry our own passports. You will be told that the retention of passports is necessary for customer officials to quickly check the ship's roster. In any event you may find, as we did, a reluctance at some ports to even exchange currencies. In Buenos Aires we were refused twice because we could not produce the original passport. To complicate the matter, Holland America does not exchange monies aboard ship and even the casino refused our Brazilian money. TIP--make a couple copies of your passport before you leave home. Do this in color as the black and white copies may not look all that official. We found that by producing a color copy and discussing with a clerk what Holland American had done concerning retention of our passports, the on shore transactions went smoothly. Our passports were returned two days before the end of the cruise. Once our group number was called the process went rather quickly however there will be those that try to jump the line by not following the called number. The staff sent all we saw to the back of the line and that was the way it should be. ABOARD SHIP----You will soon learn that sanitation is of primary concern for HA as you will be asked to wash your hands as you enter the ship and there are hand sanitizers located all over the ship. We personally think it is a good ideal. You will be asked to stop at the end of the gangplank for a picture to be taken. We just try to accommodate the photographer as he/she is doing their job and we normally have no intention of purchasing that photo. These are just snapshots and remember you don't have to purchase any of them. The Holland American staff, almost without exception, provides a genuine excellent level of service. Everyone greeted us with a warm greeting and their service was impeccable. There were some guest though on the second segment of the cruise that apparently felt they deserved more that friendly service. They displayed an arrogance with DEMANDS. Frankly I think they need to find another mode of travel. One passenger got very upset with the waiter because there wasn't a certain kind of tea available for him. Give me a break!! Travel on cruise ships has definitely changed for the worse in the past two decades. Some passengers want to dress as "slobs" and expect to sit next to you on formal night while wearing a pair of sandals and a gross t-shirt. On smart casual nights one can see flip flops, ragged t-shirts and shorts. We even saw one 80 year old woman wearing what appeared to be gym shorts on smart casual night. These are some of the same passengers that demand their food be served immediately, reject their entrée and send that glass of wine back as they state it is not suitable. They was also the person at the purser's desk arguing about the $5.95 drink charge which they swear is not theirs. We don't personally have a problem with these type passengers however we do believe they would be better off traveling on a container ship or oil barge in the future. OUR CABIN----We have been traveling on cruises since 1980 thus we have been on board a number of different ships. This time we decided to give up one of our cruises of the year so we could have a suite. Best decision we ever made. We selected cabin 035 on the first segment. However because we waited too late to decide on this cruise we had to change to cabin 006 (which was just a stone's throw away from 007) on the second segment. Not a big deal as the staff will move us at the end of the first segment. Cabin 035 was on the starboard side which gave us the shoreline on the travel both south and north. Cabin 006 will give us the same shore side verandah view on the return trip back. Our suite was fabulous. More space than we usually have in a hotel room and a patio that was unbelievable. Two lounge chairs and four sit down chairs, a table and still a lot of room left. We had our beds configured for a king size and the industry still does not have this down. There is that split in the middle that is most uncomfortable. Our living room area was very large with a coffee table, two club chairs and a sectional couch. There was a closet with a large bar with lots of glasses, and a mini bar filled with drinks. The bathroom was very large with three closets, the most we have ever had on a cruise. There was a dressing area just outside the shower area that was really outstanding. Mirrors all over the place along with lots of counter space. The cabin was very tastefully decorated. Carpet almost new as were the covers on the verandah chairs. Lighting throughout the cabin was excellent. There is small desk working space juts opposite the bar. There are more drawers and closets in this cabin than one will have clothes to fill. If don't mind gambling a little and waiting until the last minute for your cruise, you may find a suite at a greatly discounted price. If you do, reserve it immediately and make your travel accordingly. Please be aware that some cruise destination, including embarkations, may require that you have a visa in addition to your passport and depending on the number of such visas needed for a particular cruise, it may take some time to get those. NEPTUNE CLUB ROOM----Since we are in a suite we have access to the club room on the Navigation Deck where we have a full time concierge. Coffee, water, teas, small desserts and sandwiches throughout the day. Television and internet hook up (don't get excited--please review my section on the Internet). The concierge staff was excellent and most accommodating. This is just a nice place to relax away from the crowds in some parts of the ship. You can save the long lines at the tour desk by letting the concierge make the tour reservations and obtain your tour tickets. On the first segment of the cruise we noticed just guest from the suite section, however on the second segment we were surprised to see some in the lounge that were not suite guest. At least one of them appeared to have been brought to the lounge by one of the suite guest. It is our opinion that if guest did not pay for this level of cabins they should not be using the Neptune Lounge. We also witnessed some passengers who kept the concierge busy for lengthy times as they asked trivial questions. One woman insisted that the concierge go over her entire dining room times and options day by day for the entire cruise. By the way those times and options were clearly listed in the daily bulletin. In the suite category you are given several amenities complimentary and one of those is the free laundry and dry cleaning. We sent a bag everyday and many times the laundry came back to us on the same day we sent it. The service was excellent. Another perk one has with the breakfast served just for suite guest in the Pinnacle Dining Room. Once again the service was outstanding. You can also have a continental breakfast in the Neptune Lounge. Anyone contemplating an upgrade to the suite level should check the HA bulletin to see a list of everything that is offered in the suite class. If you are a frequent HA guest and have reached the three or four star level, a combination of those rewards along with the suite amenities could weigh heavily upon one's decision on where to travel and what cruise line to take. We received priority boarding on tender departures and once the passports were returned they were available in the Neptune Lounge thus we did not have to stand in long lines to get our passports. ENTERTAINMENT-----I inevitably hear some passenger state that they don't care that much about the cruising and destinations, as they come on board for the entertainment. Look friend, I feel sorry for you if your number one objective in cruising is for the entertainment. Some shows are not all that good and if you stayed at home you could probably find some really good high school productions that would suit your taste. On our next to last night aboard we had a male and female singer that were very good. The dancers need to work on their portion of the act. I felt so sorry for one entertainer I had to leave the auditorium 10 minutes after he started. I was actually praying that some could get though their act without totally screwing it up or forgetting their lines. One magic act had little professionalism in it and the children at the local library club will provide you a better magic/comedy act. All in all the evening shows were acceptable with some actually being good. Pick your entertainment nights and if the act does not live up to expectations then just politely leave. INTERNET---Let me get this "negative" out of the way first. I paid for the 250 minutes internet service as soon as I boarded in Rio and then being the sucker I am paid again on the second segment for another 250 minutes. Looks like I would have learned my lesson. I used up my first 150 minutes just trying to log on and was successful a couple of times. I figure my emails are costing me about $20 an email. This is by far the worst internet service aboard any ship in the world. Don't expect any sympathy or assistance from the "clerk" on board as he would just as soon you left him alone. After three days I swore off the internet and decided I would never again pay Holland America even as much as dime for their internet service. A walk though this morning (our 6th day) revealed only one person using the internet in the internet café. In our cabin the service is even worse. At the concierge desk there are two computers and wireless however it is not good. Yesterday I was ashore in Montevideo and took my iPad with me. Found a Wi-Fi hookup at the California Burrito Company restaurant. It was free. The hook up was amazing. Just as good as my cable service back home. I learned from other passengers that had also enjoyed such success at other internet cafes in the town. We even used Facetime and SKYPE, which by the way is "can't be used" aboard ship. Save money and most of all save frustration by waiting until you are docked and then look for an internet café or Wi-Fi spot. We are now two days away from our final destination and the internet has some reliability. We noticed almost all terminals are in use today. We were able to hook up to the internet with only two tries and sending e-mails took less than 20 minutes. What a deal!! Before I receive numerous e-mails. I am aware that the satellite transmission of communications in some parts of the world are rather limited and this may be the case with the South American cruise. However, in all fairness to the customers, HA should not be selling services it cannot deliver. CROWS NEST------On deck 12 at the front of the ship is the Crown's Nest, a place that we frequently have gone for quite time to read. This location is actually large and quite during non-sea days. More passengers use on sea days with some talking so loud they disturb others. One corner is for smokers so if you don't like second hand smoke better stay away from that section. The seats are not all that comfortable as they as low backs and small seats. Lots of bench seating if that is your thing. Occasionally there is a group or travel club meeting on one side to the area. The bar opens later in the day as there is dancing and music in the evening hours. Lots of fog on our trip thus seeing much from the 12th deck was rather limited. I will not list the name, however there was a large travel group from one US company and if that is the way they conduct their tours I will most certainly not be using that company in the future. The "hostess" was actually quite rude. In one waiting area she insisted on getting her group up front and ahead of others that had been waiting. Please remember these are not HA employees but rather independent tour operators. If you are invited to attend a Captain's cocktail, you will more than likely find it located in the Crowe's Nest. There will be no "hand shaking" from either the Captain or his crew. All for health reasons. THE CAPTAIN-----The Captain came to the Neptune Lounge (where the suites are) on the very first evening and brought key personnel with him. This was excellent and another benefit when purchasing a suite. He returned on a later date and chatted with the passengers. There was a special Indonesian luncheon for the suite guest held at the Pinnacle Restaurant with both the hotel manager and the Captain attending. We had to miss the stop at Port Stanley, however the Captain explained more than once it was a safety issue due to the weather. He was sincere and his explanation was acceptable. He seemed to always be truly concerned about the guest aboard. He left us after the first cruise segment and a new captain came aboard. He was present at the first night reception held in the Neptune Lounge for the suite guest. We had an unusual experience as we had two Captain's with the first segment Captain going on leave at the end of the first segment and a new Captain coming aboard. THE FLORIST--You can purchase from HA, through a pre-board internet program, flowers for your room. We paid a premium price and the flowers did not look that good the day we boarded. Within three days they really looked bad as the roses had swiveled up and dropped their petals. We had to toss them on day 5. HA puts a small bouquet in your cabin if you are on the suite deck. They too withered to nothing after day 4 and were taken out of the cabin by the room steward. On our second segment of the cruise we received a very nice bouquet in our suite. We were never sure who sent them as there was no note. They lasted for several days. In fact the flowers at our dining room table were changed several times as they did not hold up all that well. FOOD---There are six main food locations on the ship. The ROTTERDAM is the main dining room located on decks 7 & 8. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available. You may be assigned (for dinner) early, late or open seating. The LIDO is the deck 11 cafeteria type dining open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will find the cafeteria line to be broken down into various food sections designed to make the lines shorter and service faster. Does not always happen as some passengers just can't make up their minds on what they wanted. There are the two specialty restaurants, the Pinnacle, where one can get steaks and sea food and the Canaletto Restaurant where Italian food is available. Both of two restaurants require an extra charge. The TERRACE GRILL is located on deck 11 at the end of the swimming pool. You can get hamburgers, hot dogs and fish and chips for lunch or late afternoon snacks. The SLICE Pizza is located on the aft of deck 11 and is weather dependant. We dined all over the ship and we are convinced the quality of the food is the same wherever you go except for the specialty restaurants where you pay an extra fee. If you are being served you will swear the portions are much smaller than on past cruises and we think you will be correct. They seem to count the exact number of green beans or asparagus spears and they will be much less than in the past. In the Rotterdam the asparagus spears were wilted and about the diameter of a pencil. In the Pinnacle the asparagus spears were three or four times the diameter, were green and crisp and served with an excellent hollandaise sauce. They were top quality. However in all fairness, you can ask for more. One evening when crab legs were being served the waiter told us the crab legs were small and not that many and if we wanted to have that entrée he could bring more to start with. We accepted the offer and the crab legs were indeed small and there were only two on the original plate. Food in my judgment, is about what you are going to get back home in a nice restaurant location. It will be served with a little more fanfare though. At the LIDO food is similar to any cafeteria back home. You can always order seconds and the wait staff will accommodate your request.. This reduction in the quantity is certainly being done by the "pencil pushers" as they try to figure out ways to increase the profit margin. The suite guest can have breakfast in the Pinnacle Restaurant with no additional charges. Lunch and Dinner in the same location comes with an extra charge ($10 & $25). Sometimes a quiet evening is worth the price. Not all the suite guest knew about the "no charge" Pinnacle dining for breakfast. Ask the concierge what days breakfast is served for suite guest.. The dinner meal is actually very good with the steaks being great quality and grilled exactly as you order. The bone in rib eye that I ordered was excellent and would challenge any steakhouse in Dallas. The food and service was so good, we are going back for a second evening. There are always a few that think they the staff in the dining rooms are servants and thus they make unreasonable demands. We saw one male that did not like the selection of teas available and he actually threw a fit. Another passenger ordered eggs Benedict and she did not like the way they were served while just a couple of tables away the woman insisted the meat was not prepared correctly and thus sent it back. For those in suites the Neptune Lounge is open for breakfast snacks such as coffee and Danish, however not a full breakfast. You can also get snacks and coffees at the Explorations Cafe. When we first arrived on the ship, there was no self service of food items. This was relaxed a little after the first 48 hours and you could serve yourself on certain items on the Lido Deck. There were some food items that continued to be served by the wait staff. This no self service policy applied to all food areas throughout the ship, including the Neptune Lounge for the suite guest. You should certainly not go away from the ship hungry and the wait staff that we met tries hard to make your dining experience a good one. MOVIES---There are several choices depending upon the days. On deck 11 there is the large outdoor screen which had excellent picture quality and however the sound system is very poor. A lot of the passengers left the area after only a few minutes due to the poor sound quality. You just flatly could not hear the sound. Once the weather turned cold no one seemed to attend these movies. Look for the free popcorn. Movies on certain days may be shown in the Showroom At Sea. The screen is small--small--small. Not much more than your large TV screen at home. Sound is acceptable though. No popcorn. There is the movie theater on deck , the Wijang Theater. The screen is large however don't expect high quality on the screen nor expect high quality sound. The seats in the center section are comfortable. Popcorn is free and you get about 1/3 of a bag. The number of bags is limited and if you get there at the beginning of the show don't expect pop corn as the bags will all be gone. Movies we saw were just DVDs, some of which reflected a lot or use or improper mishandling. EXPLORE TECHNOLOGY----This is a series of "classes" that Microsoft and HA provided free of charge. There is minimal seating, so get thee early. I think HA must go out of their was to obtain the most impersonal people anywhere when it comes to the technology and internet. I would have to give this person a very low rating when it comes to a friendly personality. She has an almost scripted program format , so don't expect to interrupt her and ask a question. Her voice presentation was without much volume thus if you are sitting close to the back of the room you may find hearing difficult. One good aspect is that we were told the "lessons" could be downloaded from the internet when you returned home. As a note, this is supported by Microsoft so expect to get a sales presentation pertaining to Microsoft products. You can learn a little about some of the subjects however if you are already an advanced used of software and the internet you may find these presentations rather boring. Some subjects included cameras and photography however once again don't expect in-depth technical assistance. FOOD PREPERATION & ENTERTAINING---If you have very many sea days you will most likely be looking for something to occupy your time. Perhaps a culinary workshop or food preparation would be to your choosing. Some of these classes have a fee associated with it, thus you have to sign up and be preregistered before going. We just attended the free ones as we are not professional chefs and have no desire to become one. Cake decorating drew about a dozen guest and lasted about 20 minutes. The presentations are made in the Culinary Arts Center (that is the Wajang Theater on Deck 7) BEVERAGES----There are eight locations throughout the ship where you can obtain beverages with the MIX being in the center of the ship on Deck 8. It's a sports bar thus if the satellite transmission is working you can pick up a football game from the US. You can purchase a drink card for 50% of the retail cost and alcoholic drink cards are also available for a discount. Check at the Wine Cellar on deck 7.There is no refund at the end of the cruise. We just paid by the day for whatever we ordered. There is a wine special where you can purchase three bottles of wine for a fixed price. This will actually save you some money if you expect to consume three bottles of wine during your cruise. There is a wine cellar on Deck 7 where a selection can be made. Taking your own non-Holland America wine will incur a corkage fee in the dining room. EXPLORE OUR WORLD----These presentations cover a wide range of subjects, some of which are interesting and other which will give you an opportunity to sleep for an hour. We noticed guest attending were involved in a lot of activities, such as reading the Kindle, crocheting, talking and reading a book. You might want to drop by one of two sessions to see if anything interests you. Don't expect to earn your PHD from the subjects being discussed. Some classes there are discussions on ports where the ship docks. The speaker/presenter was very good. CASINO-----I am usually negative when it comes to cruise ship casino, however this time I make an exception. This is a very small casino, with one roulette table and no crap table. Not all that many slot machines. There are one and two cent slot machines, however I never did figure out a way to play only a penny. The staff is friendly, accommodating and patient. I write patient as there were several novice gamblers that did not know the games or rules, however the staff took their time and made the people feel good and want to gamble. They still lost, however had a good time in doing so. There are Texas Hold'em Tournaments, Slot and Blackjack Tournaments. Texas Hold'em tournaments had buy ins on the first segment which was $30 however it went to $60 on the second segment. The slot tournament had a grand price of $500. The casino is closed while in Chilean waters and at all ports. Video cameras are not allowed however still pictures are permitted in the casino. THE SIGNATURE SHOPS----Sales of merchandise seems to pop up just about anywhere. Could not believe all the people pushing to get those t-shirts at pool side (2 for $25).Most of the "stuff" in the stores one just does not need. The watches and jewelry can be purchased stateside or on the internet at about the same prices or lower. Perfume available on this ship was rather limited and when my wife asked the prices it was more than state side sales prices. The store close to the MIX Lounger was clean and very well lighted. There is a liquor store on the same deck that carries a few drug items and snacks. If you think you will want snacks or drug items, bring them with you. The cost aboard is way out of line. There are several "sales days" aboard, some around the pool or on the deck where the shops are located. Just what you needed more "stuff" to put into that suitcase and take home for the next garage sale. PHOTO GALLERY------The ship offered all the photos taken of you aboard the cruise for a one time price of $299.00. Throughout the cruise we never saw very many passengers making purchases at the photo shop, however on the last day at sea of the first segment, we witnessed several making package as well as individual purchases. Many of the photos taken on shore and in the dining room were actually not all that great. They were just poorly concrafted snap shots and I know you can do much better. Even the formal night photos were out of focus, poorly posed and just enlarged snap shots. We noticed very few guest stopped by the photo locations on formal nights. The ship also has a special section called "Black & White". We talked with the graduate photographer, a young girl from England, who studied design, etc. and went into the photo portion after graduating. She has limited settings for her work and she tells me that generally the work is done on 8 X 10. There is no charge for the settings, however she advises there is a limit of 18 clients per cruise. You have to be into this type of photography to enjoy it and many are not all that keen about the rather off the wall concept for portraits. You will find though some of these type approaches to photography being highly acclaimed especially in the photo magazine contest. THE OUTSIDE WALKING TRACK--DECK 6---This is a walking track with several signs posted that advise "No Jogging Allowed"---In spite of that, you are going to encounter the person who thinks they are still a high school jock and can run down all those who walk on this deck. This is really a nice area to enjoy and four trips around the deck will give you your daily mile. Walk in the direction indicted by the arrows, not opposite like those "jocks" who apparently could not read. TOURS The ship's staff will offer a presentation on the various tours that are available. This will more than likely take place on the first morning after sailing. You can also go on line after registering and pre reserve your tours via the internet. We found this easy to do and on top of that your tour tickets will be delivered to your stateroom on your first day at sea. If you happen to be staying in a suite the concierge has the ability to reserve your tour at his/her desk and print your tour tickets immediately. Under the "ports" section I have discussed some tours. Benjamin along with another crew person made presentations on tours each morning. While they never misrepresent the tours, you may find the actual tours a little different than the presentations. For example the City of Rose and the German settlement tour was listed as 3 ½ to 4 hours. This was a tender location. We waited on the ship from 8:05 until 8:30 when we boarded the tender. After arriving at shore we had to wait until a second tender arrived which took us to around 9:15AM. The moved through the city to a stopping point above the city where we stopped for 5 minutes before proceeding o Puerto Arenas where we arrived at 10:15AM and advised we had approximately 30 minutes to visit the town. We reboaded at 10:50 and proceeded to the town of Fruitillar where we were again given 30 minutes to visit the German Settlement. Leaving at 11:45AM we arrived back at the dock around 1PM, boarded the tender and was back on the ship at 1:40PM. If you count all the waiting time then it is possible to get 3 ½ to 4 hours posted in the tour brochure. Actual time at the two site---one hour with all the rest being travel and waiting time. If you had done this on your own you could have seen a lot more and spent additional time at both locations. LAUNDRY & PRESSING & DRY CLEANING The laundry and dry cleaning with a suite cabin is complimentary. Otherwise there is a charge. Before you go cheering about this a word of caution. Don't send any really good, especially designer, clothing to be washed or cleaned. After 5 laundries your under clothes will no longer be a bright white, but rather a dingy gray. Those shirts you had laundered and starched will look a little dingy after just a few washings and your trousers will not hold a crease even a few hours after wearing. The bottom line is that the free service is a fantastic idea however the wear and tear on your clothes may end up costing you in the long run. My colorful polo shirts have lost their brightness and now look like dollar store shirts. Perhaps I can pass them off as designer polo shirts that were designed with dingy colors and by cutting a couple of holes in the blue jeans I now have designer blue jeans. As for the under shorts---they did not cost that much so I will toss them upon return home. PUERTO MONTT, CHILE This is an anchor port with about a 15 minute tender ride to shore. The landing port is a little over one mile from city center. There is very little around the actual port other than some local shops. The walk to town center will take about 30 minutes over concrete walkways and some gravel intersections. We found little to do in the town center other than browse through some of the local shops and stores. Tired of ship food---there is a McDonalds in the middle of town. We would suggest taking one of the ship's tours thus on our return trip we decided to take the tour that goes to Puerto Varas and Frutillar, the "city of roses" and the "little black forest". USHUAIA, ARGENTINA----- This is a neat little town of about 60000 population and is the most southern city in the world. The day we were there the weather was spectacular with the temperature around 50 degrees. A short walk from the cruise ship to downtown and St. Martin Street where one finds all the shopping, including internet cafes and restaurants. If you want to use the internet there are several locations on St. MARTIN'S Street and at a very nice hotel the Wi-Fi is free plus the coffee is rather good too and at a reasonable price with no charge for the internet. You will though need your own laptop. There are several museums plus the train to the end of the world. People are friendly and the US Dollar was accepted everywhere we went and credit cards could be used with your passport. One day we were there many of the shops were closed all day on Wednesday. By the way---tour guides at the end of the pier will tell you that just about everything you go to see will be "at the end of the world". According to the ship's personnel this is basically true as it is the mostly southern large city in the world. As we leave Argentine and return to our cabin we have a notice from Guest relations (still puzzled by guest relations title) that as we head for Chile we need to complete an entry form for each person. The form has been partially completed thus all we have to do is check a few blocks and sign. No doubt the cruise line feels as though many or some of us don't have the ability to complete such forms so they do it for us. A letter attached states that we need to have a copy of our passport which the cruise line has previously given us. When you make your last stop in Chile an immigration office usually aboard ship will ask you for that form before you leave the ship, so hang onto it. PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE-----This is a neat town with a very clean downtown area. The port though for our ship was in the industrial cargo container section and if you are going to the city center you should get a taxi ($10 per cabin or ride one of the vans ($3 per person) as going to town. It is too far to walk. There is a very nice port downtown and the days we were there a Seaborn ship was berthed. The area around that port is very clean with lots of new construction including a large casino. You can easily walk to the downtown from this port. There is some small amount of shopping about a mile from the pier. If you are not on a pre-paid tour there are dozens of taxis available in downtown and for a flat price they will take you most anyplace you desire to visit. We hired a taxi to take us an hour's drive away to a penguin colony. The price for three hours was $100 which included a return to our ship. In downtown we found a neat coffee shop, candy store/deli all rolled into one. Decorated in Christmas colors and trim, the place offered free internet (need your own PC or iPad). This was a friendly very clean stop located just a block off the main square on the main shopping street. At the park square there are dozens of local vendors selling trinkets as well as locally made crafts. Prices are most reasonable. A very nice tourist bureau office is in the park. You may have taken just those tours offered by the cruise ships or you may be an independent traveled and contract for your own tours. Around the square are lots of taxis and tour operators.Let's compare one of the tours offered at this port. The ship tour programs calls this the Patagonia Experience Otway Sound & Penguin Reserve -4 hours for $94.You travel to Otway Sound mostly over gravel roads. You will walk to the penguins area and from beginning to end is about 1 ½ miles over dirt, gravel, tundra and wooden walkways. The walk is not difficult however the walkways re uneven. Your guide will speak English. There are no stops and you are kept to a rigid time schedule. Most likely some guest will not be aboard on time to return from the tour. You will wait along with all the others. Let's look at the same trip "on your own". The cost for the driver to and from the ship was $100. You have to pay to enter the park and that is $4 each for you and your traveling companion. At the sound there is a $11 per person entrance charge. Total paid for the trip is $130. No tip to the driver. Total paid for the cruise ship tour is $188 plus $5 guide tip for $193. Savings for independent travel for this trip is $63.00 How do the trips compare? On the ship's tour you have English speaking guide, large bus type seating and service from ship back to ship with no corners about being late as the ship will wait. On the independent travel you save $63.00. The driver speaks very little English. You get service from and back to ship. The driver stops for you to take pictures along the way of the jack rabbit, sheep and wild birds. Not going to be the case on the large bus. The seating is car level with small seats however there is air-condition. Almost to your ship and you spot a souvenir stand so the driver stops. Not the case on the bus. Will the ship wait if your are late returning----NOT in a million years. You weigh the difference and see which is best for you. Time was not a factor as both the taxi and the bus returned some 4 hours before departure time.. MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY-----The ships docks right downtown thus walking into the city center is easy. Once off the ship, look for the "green walk way"---that being the sidewalk that is painted green and one that will lead you away from the pier and into the city. Although we were there this last time on a Sunday there were still some stores open and lots of locals on the streets. Travel a few blocks up the street from the pier and make a left toward the city park area which is a few blocks up a slight incline. There is a church on one corner across from the park so look for that church steeple so you can track your way. Want to use the internet (must have your own PC)---well there is a small California Burrito Company store on your right as you go toward the park. Free and fast internet hookup so you can send everyone an e-mail. It's free however at least purchase a drink from the friendly operator. He will appreciate your business. The burritos are hugh so don't order more than one. Traveling on toward the park and then past the park, you will leave the old town and enter the newer financial and hotel district. Worth your time to see all the locals busy shooing and hustling from office to office. If the city center is not your thing, we suggest going to the COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a 2 ' hour drive each way. You can opt for a tour from the ship or hire a driver at the pier. A personal driver will not take quite as long to get to the town. There are tolls along the way thus check to see if the driver is willing to pay those tolls. We had lunch at one of the local restaurants in the town. It was a long day with cobblestone streets inside the old city. Walking may be a little difficult however it can be done. Wheelchairs are a little more difficult to navigate. There is also a steam train ride available however we were advised this is primarily a tourist attraction like one might find at a large amusement park. Just across the street from the ship terminal entrance is a large pavilion filled with shops and many restaurants. Fresh meats are being bar b q'ed and grill over open pit fires. This is definitely a place to visit and to have lunch or dinner. FALKLANDS ISLANDS No doubt our most interesting and adventurous port stop. First the tenders have to travel quite a way to get to Port Stanley. The water was rough and the winds very strong. We went ashore without any tour reservations and found a local person that took us on a fantastic penguin tour about an hour away from the docks. He had a 4 wheel drive Range Rover that was needed as we crossed private ranch land to reach the nesting and beach area. We were the first to arrive at the area where we spent about 30 minutes observing and photographing at least 200 penguins. We can say this was a fantastic opportunity. As we left several other 4 wheel drive vehicles arrived and all in all at least a dozen by the time we got back to the gravel highway. We were paying $40 each for our trip will some of these other people had paid as much as $259 per person to see the penguins. Oh they did get a box lunch thrown in. We could not have been more pleased with this experience. It was fantastic and we saved a large bundle of money. Upon return to the docks we spent the next hour touring the small port town of Port Stanley. By the way that would have been another tour charge had we purchased on the ship. The time on shore was short, however by 1:30PM we were ready to return to the ship and we caught the last tender back to the ship before tender service was suspended. Those still on tours and on shore found long lines and long waiting time for their return trip to the ship. We were about two hours later leaving the area due to these long waits caused by large waves and high winds. The ride back consisted of repeated tossing's by the waves and getting along side of the ship became a real challenge for the skipper of the tender as we tried several times before being able to get along side. Even then many of us got thourghly soaked by the splashing waves that hit the tender. You can walk all over Port Stanley in a short period of time. We don't think a paid tour for walking is necessary. There is a war memorial that you need to see. Also a large general store right on the waterside street(The West Store), where you can get groceries, a cup of coffee, books and souvenirs, wines, toiletries plus there is an electrical store where cameras and supplies are available.. The place is clean and prices are reasonable. Across the street is the Capstan Gift Shop where some nice gifts c an be found. Numerous gift shops are in the downtown area. There are some small coffee and bakery shops that are worthy of your stooping by. Look for them on the side street away from the water. Pass up the "trinkets" shop as many of these souvenirs may not be of such great quality. There are two churches downtown just opposite the water and a restaurant across from the newspaper office. (Christ Church Cathedral , St. Mary's Catholic Church and The Tabernacle, United Free Church).Close by is the Post Office. The Whalebone Arch is in this part of town as is the 1982 Liberation Memorial. A school is also located downtown. The houses are quaint and most have a brightly painted roof that can be seen from a long distance. The wind blows very hard so bundle up for your walking tour. We were told that the Falklands get 40% of all their electrical power from wind turbines and that the percentage is increasing on a steady basis. If you are interested in the history of the Falkland Islands, including the 1982 war with Argentina, may I suggest that you research back at home before you come as books are rather expensive in the Falklands and I have yet to find that really good one about the 1982 war. Most in the bookstores are written from the perspective of a daily journal by one of more of the residents of those days. You can drop more than $300 per person on ship purchased tours for the Falklands or you can have an equally great time for less than $50 each by becoming your own travel agent. Just get to the dock early as the number of guides is limited. There is a close by penguin area where one can actually walk (about 1 ½ hours each way) and that is 100% free. What a fantastic job to have just meeting the 50 or 60 cruise ships per year and providing tour guides around the island! This in my opinion would be a great fun job, very limited workdays and a fairly good income. Now one would have to bear the cold and winds which never seem to die down. If you are a cruiser and have never been your own travel agent, there is no better time especially with the internet, to save yourself a bundle of money, get away from the crowds and take some fun and adventurous tours on your own. If you are tired of waiting on that constant straggler missing from the bus after every stop, if you are tired of the pushing and discourtesies at each stop, may I suggest trying a tour on your own. Start several months ahead of your trip and gather up tons of information and don't forget to check reviews on what has been the experience of others. CAUTION---There are live mines located in numerous places of the area. They are marked with signs, thus observe those signs and don't enter the marked off areas. Our guide says that mines are still being removed however the process is very costly and progress is slow. EXPLORATIONS CAF'---This is place along the port side on deck 8--just past the casino where you can get a book, coffee drink or use the internet (good luck on the internet). In fact this is one of the most frequently used areas we noticed on the ship. Large windows let you look out on the port side. You are close to the Rotterdam Dining room, thus a good place to meet friends before dinner. On the opposite side of the ship is another good place to meet friends at the Explorer's Lounge. Coffee is sold at about the same price you would pay at Starbucks. In the Neptune Lounge (suite guest) there is no charge for coffee including cappuccino. OCEANS BAR---Has some good seating with large windows on the starboard side. Music and entertainment in the evenings. Check the daily bulletin for drinks specials (usually the second one for $1) each day. TIPPING ABOARD SHIP I have read numerous posting on web sites in which questions have been ask about cruise ship tipping. There is no simple answer in spite of the fact that cruise ship experts , especially those working for the industry, will attempt to give you a "concrete and simple" answer to your question. On board this two segment trip Holland America added $11 per day per couple on the first segment and $12 per person per day on the second segment. total charges. Thus we paid for a 28 day , two segment trip $640.00. This means we paid $640.00 in tips for this limited number of employees, such as cabin stewards, their assistants, the waiter, his/her assistant and "others". In addition we paid 15% in tips for those drinks we purchased. Now if there was someone that was really outstanding, such as your waiter, to whom you have already committed $96.00 in tips, you may want to give him or her some additional cash. While Holland America used to provide envelopes for this at the end of the cruise, there were no visible envelopes around, however the front desk would be most happy to provide as many as you desire. Just remember that your waiter who was serving three tables of six has already received $864 from the mandatory tips for those past 16 days. On top of all of this you most likely were not served every meal by that waiter as you may have dined in the Lido or had service in your room. The point is that the cruise industry really screwed the tipping situation up when they started their "mandatory" program. You now give the same tips whether your service is good, poor or outstanding. On the other hand there are those passengers that without the "mandatory tipping" would most likely leave the ship without having left any tip. Now there are the "good guys" who will leave that waiter an extra $20, $50 or $100 bill as they leave the table on that last day. The real answer to that question is to "absorb" the Holland America "tip policy" and give something extra to that person what you think about his/her service. If there was nothing really outstanding then you have already tipped enough. By the way, these employees aboard the cruise ship are not paid great wages and their livelihood likely depends heavily upon your tips. Did you know Holland America makes that same wait staff pay for their inte3net usage? It is no wonder we see so many staff at the internet cafes on show where they make telephone calls back home or send e-mails to their families. SHIP'S CRUISE SURVEY OR EVALUATION At the end of the cruise expect your service to get about as good as it can get as every crew member is aware that a survey form is about to land in every cabin. However that was not our case as we did not receive a survey form. When we inquired at the front desk we were advised that if you are on a back to back or multiple cruise segments you will receive a survey from only at the end of the cruise. We don't think this is fare to either the staff or the customer. For example we changed Captains, Cruise Directors and many wait staffers at the end of the first segment. One of these was outstanding when another was just satisfactory. There is no way, unless I write a narrative on each employee, that those reviewing the survey will know who I am evaluating. I will probably not turn in my survey form and send a letter AND the survey form to Corporate instead. BACK TO BACK CRUISES----We have done this in the past and without a problem as we have always stayed in the same cabin for the entire cruise. This time it was a little different as the cabin we reserved on the first segment was not available for the second portion of the cruise. I was assured by a representative at corporate that we would have no problem. Not exactly true. Our first segment cabin was 035 and the second segment cabin was 006. One of the port side and the other on the starboard side. On the last evening of the first segment we still had no guidance on the move so I went to the front desk and was told I would get a letter later that day. I did receive a letter in a couple of hours and I suspect it was generated as a result of my visit to the front office. I noticed there was no new cabin key thus back o the front desk. I was informed that a new key could not be issued UNTIL THE actual cruise date which would be the following day. I once again asked about the actual move and was assured that a cabin attendant would assist. I even verified this with the concierge. We wanted to get off the ship as it was docked at Valparaiso however this was not going to be possible as we still had no new cabin at 10AM. Finally shortly after 10AM a cabin attendant came to the area where we were waiting and advised the new cabin had been cleaned. We moved out personal belongings with only one load of hang up clothes being moved by the cabin attendant. It just seemed as though no one knew what to do. We returned to the front desk where we were issued a new cabin key for the new cabin. At 11AM we ask a about leaving the ship and learned that the new boarding passengers would start boarding at 11:45AM. We did not want to get involved in any additional waiting lines thus we left the ship, went to the terminal and shortly after that reboarded so we would not have to wait with new boarding passengers. Holland American did not assist us in any way and I to assume they thought we could just work "it" out. Well we did, as we retuned back to the ship before noon time. So much for touring any of Valparaiso. One certainly needs to work out as many details on such a change before the final day. You can eliminate this problem completely by reserving the same cabin for your entire cruise. SHOULD I RESERVE MY NEXT CRUISE WHILE ABOARD SHIP? If you want my short answer it is "NO". I know it may be tempting to only have to pay a deposit of $100 for a cruise nearly two years away. You will also be advised that "credit" will go back to your home town (or wherever) travel agent. It may also be tempting from a standpoint that you may be able to select exactly the cabin you always wanted. Do you have any idea what world conditions will be some 18 months from now? Will those cruise destinations you desire now still be the ones you want to cruise to in 18 months? The economic stability of business and countries throughout the worlds are such that I just tend to say, let's wait until a closer time when I actually want to cruise. I look for destinations we want to visit, fro great fares and super accommodations aboard the ship. Sometimes it takes a little waiting to get just the right combination. There are new ships being added by the cruise industry every year plus there are new ports being opened up throughout the world. I have come to the point where we are looking for quality service, quality food, quality cabins, etc without breaking the bank. Rather than four cruises in two years we are opting for two or three where we can enjoy cruising at our expectations. Holland America has a 212 page Cruise Atlas 2012-2013. The booklet is very good and was planned well. You can browse through all the Holland American cruises for the two year period. Fining a copy locally may be difficult thus requesting a copy form HA may be the best way to get a copy. There were limited copies available on this cruise however there was a notice asking that the brochures be returned after reviewing. EXPLORE WELLBEING & Salon This is where you can go for a fitness class, acupuncture or across the hallway for a hair makeover or touch up on your fingernails. The Greenhouse and Explore Wellbeing will set you back a few dollars regardless of what you desire. While my wife used the hair dresser I stayed away from all of this section. If it is your thing --then go for it! YOUR TRAVEL GUIDE BENJAMIN Some good information with lectures throughout the cruise. Held in the Showroom at Sea. RELIGIOUS SERVICES Mass was celebrated in the Wajang Theater at 8AM ART AUCTIONS There were none---hurray!!! LATE NIGHT DANCING Available at several of the lounges throughout the evening LIBRARY There is a large library on deck 8 at the Explorations Cafe. Books can be checked in and out at the desk. A few paper backs are available for exchanges. You do not have to check these paperbacks out, just leave one as you take one. You will find a few books in the Neptune Lounge if you are a suite guest. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We decided on this cruise because we have never been to South America. Rio and Buenos Aries were exotic cities that we were interested in seeing. They are both wonderful cities with much to explore. The difficulties started ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because we have never been to South America. Rio and Buenos Aries were exotic cities that we were interested in seeing. They are both wonderful cities with much to explore. The difficulties started when we arrived at the embarkation port at 1/pm the published time. On most other lines boarding starts perhaps two hours earlier and the flow of passengers is smooth. Apparently boarding actually started at 1/pm and there were thousands of passengers sweating in the reception area which appeared to have air conditioning ducts, but there was none. We boarded at about 4/pm after enduring barely distinguishable announcements announcing the code that was placed on our E-Mailed boarding documents at the entrance to the waiting area. The announcements were in Spanish or Portuguese. Our cabin was smaller than most any ship we have been on in the same class. No wash cloths, no sofa, Shower with a sheet rather than a plastic enclosure found on most if not all new generation ships. Arriving for dinner's early seating which began a 7:45 we found that water is not free, coffee is not free and the meal choices are skimpy. On their Formal Nights, called Gala, there was never steak or lobster. They did once have an ugly looking large Prawn that we believe caused diarrhea. Breakfast never had smoked salmon or other expensive seafood. Portions were generally small with limited choices. Fortunately we sat with the only other US citizens on board. They had the same complaints we did,and, additionally suffered from some form of infestation in their bedding. The Brazilians on board were the most pushy group of people we have ever encountered. The females were the most offensive. The ship returned to Rio at 8:00AM but our flight didn't leave until 10:30PM. They offered no tour that would pick us up at the ship and drop us off at the airport. No suggestions were even attempted by their tour desk. We rented a hotel room at the airport. The Shows were the only positive. They had a large cast and provided quality entertainment. The MC only spoke one word of English "Showtime". Read Less
Sail Date February 2011

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