1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
we have cruised with P&O and Princess in excess of 25 occasions and have often seen Holland America ships alongside. We have admired the appearance of efficiency and cleanliness and decided on that basis to give them a try. We took ... Read More
we have cruised with P&O and Princess in excess of 25 occasions and have often seen Holland America ships alongside. We have admired the appearance of efficiency and cleanliness and decided on that basis to give them a try. We took our 8year old granddaughter and 11 year old grandson with us as a special treat and initially were offered cabin 1036. This is under the nightclub and, as experienced cruisers, we know not to take such cabins because of noise. We were then offered cabin 1061 which was under the Culinary Arts Centre and Queens Lounge. We challenged Holland America UK office regarding any possible noise intrusion in this cabin from the Lounge above and were assured that the Culinary Arts Centre and Queens Lounge were not in use at night and there would be no noise. We booked on that understanding. Our first night proved that the Queens Lounge is used every evening by the BB King Blues Band and the noise intrusion in our cabin was horrendous. After two days of complaining (we were initially offered ear plugs like a previous cruise critic commentator who occupied cabin 1060 on an earlier trip) we were moved to a much better cabin thanks to Andreia Santos, the Passenger Services Supervisor. Cabin apart, we found the service in the Lido Buffet to be very poor; waiting staff had to be asked repeatedly to remove used crockery and even following complaints to Restaurant supervisors and front Desk staff there was no improvement; service of food was also poor and occasions we had to wait for 20 minutes to get food served even when then were only a few customers present; the biggest failing was the inability to have replenishments ready to replace the empty trays as food was served. It felt as if no one was really in control and the standards simply didnt match those on other ships. The quality, selection and standard of food, in particular desserts, felt well short of our expectations. Waiting service in the bars was, in our experience, poor and we had to seek out the waiters rather than the other way round - we frequently gave up! Perhaps we were just unlucky on this particular cruise but we also found a significant number of older passengers who were simply child intolerant and they had to be reminded that if they wanted absolute peace and quiet they should choose a ship with NO children. On one such occasion a man asked the children in the swimming pool to be quiet because he was reading his book! It should be notd that the swimming pool at the rear of the ship is adult only but it was evident that the better quality sun beds are surrounding the Lido Pool where children are very much allowed.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We wanted to see many of the main famous and historic Greece sights including Olympia, Corinth, Mycenae, Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini (Thira). We had almost perfect weather (the one day of rain was At-Sea). The food, services, ... Read More
We wanted to see many of the main famous and historic Greece sights including Olympia, Corinth, Mycenae, Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini (Thira). We had almost perfect weather (the one day of rain was At-Sea). The food, services, and activities on the ship were excellent for us (60 years olds). And we went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy on the way back which was spectacular. The excursions were very good, particularly Olympia, Mycenae, and Rhodes. We enjoyed our time on the ship and off the ship. Our hotel in Rome, before the cruise, was in a nice area and the hotel was very nice. We enjoyed seeing Rome sights for two days before the cruise, plus we had nice dinners outside those two nights. We had excellent weather in Rome too. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. Seeing Rome and Athens historic sights was a highlight. We would go back in a minute. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We really enjoyed our trip and had a lovely stateroom with balcony (7011). We have travelled Holland America before (Veendam, Vollendam and Statendam), all of which we enjoyed. We had never been on Noordam before and have to say that the ... Read More
We really enjoyed our trip and had a lovely stateroom with balcony (7011). We have travelled Holland America before (Veendam, Vollendam and Statendam), all of which we enjoyed. We had never been on Noordam before and have to say that the ship design is not to our liking. Some bizzare planning meant that Greenhouse staff at reception desk were continuously interrupted by guests travelling through their area on the way to Lido pools and restaurant. Also, one had to walk through the shop when travelling from one end of the desk to the other. Dining was fun with our table mates in second sitting, although we were surprised occasionally that the dishes didn't match the description. Although the courses were small, we never went hungry! We were disappointed that a restaurant breakfast and/or lunch were not offered more frequently as we really disliked the scrum of Lido. It was often so crowded that one of us had to sit at the table while the other was finding various sources of food. Hence, we rarely managed to eat a whole meal together other than in the Dining room. Like another reviewer commented, we too had an early morning rude awakening for a level one fire alarm. Luckily, as I had read the other review prior to our trip, I was not too concerned, but some fellow passengers had donned their lifeboats or sorted out warm clothes for evacuation. I'm glad that HAL take safety so seriously but alarming people in the muddles of the night was perhaps a little over-cautious. The entertainment was not as good as I remembered from previous cruises, and although the shows put on by the resident team were excellent, I would have liked more choice from guest performers. There two two during our cruise, a classical/jazz fusion pianist who was excellent but appealed to a very small number of guests. Perhaps it would have been better to have his performance in a smaller venue. The comedian also seemed popular, if not our cup of tea. Many of the remaining 'entertainment' were opportunities to make money - art auctions, sip and savour drinks, jewellery sales etc. not very entertaining! All in all, although we enjoyed our trip, we felt that there had been a lot of 'paring down' of what was offered, particularly for those guests on 2nd sitting dining. We had already booked for another cruise in January and are keeping everything crossed that we are not disappointed. The cost of wine, outside a wine package, is truly outrageous.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
We are in our 70s, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and are 4 star mariners. We had a verandah cabin on the Verandah deck. We had a table for 2, early sitting. All the excursions we took were booked through Holland America. All ... Read More
We are in our 70s, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and are 4 star mariners. We had a verandah cabin on the Verandah deck. We had a table for 2, early sitting. All the excursions we took were booked through Holland America. All that being said, our cabin was wonderful as was our room stewards. Everything was clean, neat and in good repair. We really enjoyed our meals in the main dining room. I especially noticed that there were more vegetarian choices which I often chose. We appreciated that the serving sizes were smaller than in the past so we could enjoy all 5 courses. If you had a large appetite you could order two or more servings of anything. We ate two evenings in the Pinnacle Grill. The steak was cooked exactly as asked for and the second evening I had the halibut and it was absolutely wonderful. We usually had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck. We experienced excellent service from all wait staff, especially those in the main dining room. We also thought the food throughout the ship was very good to excellent. The entertainment in the Vista from the HAL singers & dancers was excellent. We do not enjoy magicians or comedians but the BB King group was amazing and we also enjoyed the guest violinist. Many evenings we relaxed in the Explorers Lounge listening to the duo from the Ukraine. We also found the musician in the piano lounge to be very personable and an excellent entertainer. The only complaint re the entertainment was sometimes the volume was too loud in the Vista. Re the condition of the ship we thought it looked good with the only exception being a few chairs in the Explorers Lounge which needed to be repaired. All shore excursions (except for one) met or exceeded our expectations. Holland America do an excellent job searching for topnotch tours. The one exception was one hour shorter than scheduled and the guide was not "topnotch" -- we wrote a note to Shore Excursions and the same day received a refund of 1/3 of the cost and a letter from Shore Excursions (we believe other passengers also complained). All in all, we had an excellent cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation both were smooth. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We were in a VB veranda on Deck 5 and have previously sailed with RCCL and Celebrity. There have been mixed reviews of the Noordam of late, but we found little fault and the experience exceeded that of our RCCL cruise and came close to ... Read More
We were in a VB veranda on Deck 5 and have previously sailed with RCCL and Celebrity. There have been mixed reviews of the Noordam of late, but we found little fault and the experience exceeded that of our RCCL cruise and came close to that of Celebrity. The stateroom was in fine condition with no faults of note and it was well attended to by Tee and Dodik. The air con worked efficiently and the bathroom was in great order. We found the food to be of a high standard, the As You Wish section of the Main Dining Room work well, we got tables quickly and there were no delays in the service. The food came cooked to the correct level, the portion sizes were just right, and if you wanted something extra it was never a problem. We enjoyed breakfast and a light lunch in the Lido and here again we found the food to be of a good standard, especially the Bread & Butter pudding !! There were no unacceptably long queues and stocks of hot food were being constantly replenished. It was also good to see the senior catering staff present on the floor monitoring the situation and chatting to the guests. We had room service breakfast on 5 of our 11 mornings, and it was delivered on time with the eggs still warm and runny. The Pinnacle Grill was a great experience and the staff were most attentive, we went three times, so you can see we enjoyed it. The Rome to Venice and back itenary was fantastic, we took three HAL shore excursions, Taormina in Sicily, Cavtat in Dubrovnik and the palace trip in Corfu. They were enjoyable, but we would have like a bit more time in both Taormina (you had about one hour of free time) and Cavtat where there was a rather miserly 45 mins to enjoy this delightful resort. We didn't go to any of the main shows, but did enjoy the HAL Cats and the BB King bands. All in all, we found Noordam to be in great condition, the crew and staff were all pleasant and welcoming and we had a relaxing cruise with enough attention to make us feel special, Well Done Captain Robert and Cruise Director Kieran. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
We could find nothing wrong with the Noordam, no worn carpets, poor paint work, stained cushions. We cruise to visit ports and don't really use mainly of the facilities on board such as the casino - would never enter it; or other ... Read More
We could find nothing wrong with the Noordam, no worn carpets, poor paint work, stained cushions. We cruise to visit ports and don't really use mainly of the facilities on board such as the casino - would never enter it; or other facilities. However we found the food to be good and the service excellent. The cabin was clean and not worn in anyway. Overall a very good holiday. The one improvement would be more talks on the history of the places visited, but given the talk on the Punic Wars was so barely attended I guess that's not the type of cruiser HAL attracts. We avoid HAL shore tours as these like most lines are poor value for money compared with DIY but I guess they appeal to some. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We have only cruised 5 or 6 times, but we have experienced a number of cruise lines. We anticipated that Holland America would be at the 'high end' of cruise experiences but that wasn't our experience. I should say that many ... Read More
We have only cruised 5 or 6 times, but we have experienced a number of cruise lines. We anticipated that Holland America would be at the 'high end' of cruise experiences but that wasn't our experience. I should say that many of the issues stated in other reviews were not issues for us - the air conditioning worked; we had an aft stateroom with balcony and no problems with soot, and only very slight vibration when the ship started up; our on-board credit was in the room etc etc. The staff were universally friendly and helpful. The decor is a little old-fashioned, but that isn't a major issue for us. The issues for us were: the food and the 'hard sell' atmosphere. First, the food. We found the Lido buffet restaurant to be a very stressful experience. Waiting in queues; fighting through crowds; some of the food stations were not organised as we expected (baked beans on the Asian section?); lack of tea cups; my partner's order was overlooked and then everything he had ordered was finished. The food itself was cafeteria quality, the carveries served grisly, cheap cuts of meat. In the restaurant, the menu was good, but the delivery was often poor. Overall, the food was far too salty. Eventually, after complaining about this, my partner was offered a low sodium menu, which meant he had to choose his meal the previous night. Really, all that needed to happen was for the sauce to be served separately. The ingredients were not as expected and were inconsistent in quality. Steaks were not cooked properly; a 'New York' cheesecake was made with Ricotta which provided entirely the wrong outcome; a Bomb Alaska was served with egg whites which were not set at all. On the plus side, the bread rolls were superb. The Cannelleto speciality restaurant was especially disappointing. We saw no sign of the Italian plates to share. My pasta was uninspiring, we were served Tiramisu made of some sort of reconstructed powder! The Dive grill, next to the swimming pool, was the best option if you wanted fresh food! We decided not to take the drinks package and to see what we spent. As it turned out, this was a wise move, even though we like wine with dinner and the occasional Pina Colada by the pool. However the drinks were very expensive and we found the on-board system of presenting prices without including the tax and service charges, misleading. The house wine was very acceptable, and was available at a fairly reasonable price. All other wine was very expensive. My partner had booked me a massage as a birthday treat. This was very enjoyable, however straight after I was presented with the products that the masseuse recommended as if I was, of course, going to buy them - for $63 each! She had also correctly identified that I have trouble with my feet, and suggested I have a free footprint assessment after the massage. This I did, and my existing problem was correctly identified. However I was then offered two small shoe inserts for a special on-board price of $189! Is this hard sell? Well, I think some people might feel unable to say 'no' in these situations. I have trained myself to overcome my embarrassment and politely told him I was not going to buy them - a response that was politely taken. The price my partner had paid for the massage, unknown to him, had not included the tax and service charges. When it was added to our bill, there was an additional $20 to pay. This would be a nasty surprise for anyone who had been bought a gift and who then had to pay the service and tax themselves! We have 4 children and like children to be happy. However the 'adult' pool is not an adult pool and is not monitored, so children engaged in forbidden activities like diving and bombing, shrieking as they did so. They were having a great time, however it was rare that the pool was OK for us to swim in and on one occasion it had to be closed due to - well, you can guess what for. The 'no reserving beds' policy is also poorly monitored, although the attendants did remove towels from beds when we told them they had been unoccupied for an hour. These little things add up to influence your customer experience on an expensive cruise, and we had not anticipated that this would be the case with Holland America. However although we enjoyed the trip and the ports we visited, we find ourselves talking about the issues far more than the ports. I think we had been spoiled with Celebrity X - Solstice. Now that really was a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We have just competed our 11th cruise on a 22 night HAL Mediterranean cruise. Itinerery was great as was cabin amenity. Cabin boys were friendly and attentive. However standards have dropped since our previous two cruises with HAL. The ... Read More
We have just competed our 11th cruise on a 22 night HAL Mediterranean cruise. Itinerery was great as was cabin amenity. Cabin boys were friendly and attentive. However standards have dropped since our previous two cruises with HAL. The lack of variety and poor quality of the food was our main disappointment but a number of smaller issues also were frustrating. Incorrect and overcharging to our account needed several contacts with front office to rectify. Ship's shore shuttle bus service costly (previously free) with some long queues when cheaper taxi services were available on wharf. Dining room service varied from good to long waits up to 2.5 hours for 2 course meal. Did not use minibar but noticed seals on miniature liquors all broken and obviously been there for long time. Some lunch categories cleared away by 2.30 when a lot of guests are returning from shore excursions expecting to eat lunch or a snack. Overall the cruise was enjoyable primarily because of the great itinerary but HAL need to lift their game if they are to retain their previous high standard and reputation.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
From start to finish, this 22 days Mediterranean cruise has been the worst cruise we have taken. It all started on day 1 when our Signature Beverage Package cards were not in our suite. Several hours later, the Neptune concierge advised ... Read More
From start to finish, this 22 days Mediterranean cruise has been the worst cruise we have taken. It all started on day 1 when our Signature Beverage Package cards were not in our suite. Several hours later, the Neptune concierge advised that we only had an 11 day card beverage card because the 22 day card was very expensive. It took four additional days for the front desk supervisor to call Seattle to get this corrected. The next day, we arrived for breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill to be told that the espresso coffee machine was broken. Service in the PG was poor and erratic at all times. The only other breakfast I had at the PG, the staff told me that my wife must be seated by 9 am or she could not have breakfast. Needless nasty attitude for premium paying customers. I advised that I would order for her and that she would arrive by 9 am, which she did. For the next 15 days or so, the espresso machine at the PG was broken. No effort was made by staff or the Matire D to obtain an espresso at breakfast or dinner. Since I do not drink American Coffee and always have espresso for breakfast, I could not enjoy breakfast in the PG. The poor service assured I would not return. The Maitre D was absent during our second dinner at the PG and was also absent on my second and final breakfast there. Our group of 8 arrived at the Pinnacle Grill for our only dinner there and the Maitre'D pointed us to the Main Dining Room because he did not have a table for 8. He later realized that we had a reservation for 6 and another for 2 and that we were in the right place for dinner. Made us feel unwelcomed at the Pinnacle Grill. Up until this cruise, I regularly dined at the PG during 30-50 % of the cruise days and always had breakfast there. The needless attitude by staff for simple requests caused us to abandon the PG for breakfast and dinner on this 22 day cruise. Room service fared little better. Room service rarely arrived between the times requested and almost always missed breakfast items. Eventually, we stopped ordering breakfast from room service because it was not worth the hassle. Only after day 19 when the Dining Manager came to seem me personally did room service improve the last 3 days of our cruise. Despite this breakfast was still 20 minutes late on the last Sea Day. The espresso machine in the Neptune Lounge was also broken and inoperable for many days. Other times, when it supposedly worked, it would not produce coffee drinks properly. Having to get a hold of a Neptune concierge to get a coffee was difficult on many occasions. It was also time consuming. On three occasions, personal items left in the pool area and the dining room disappeared. On one night, my daughter left her favorite cap in the dining room during the late seating when there were less than 20 people left in the dining room and it was still not recovered. We do not believe fellow passengers would be taking our personal items on three separate occasions, which leaves only crew members as our likely suspects. Having had this happen to us 3 times with no items returned left a bad taste in our mouths about the crew. For the vast majority of days on this cruise, I had to stand in line at the Explorations Café to obtain my coffee and then stand in line at the Lido to obtain breakfast for my family. This is not the type of service I expected when I booked a Neptune Suite. On the tendering days, there was no cold water when boarding the return tender. I saw the Celebrity ship had plenty of cold water for its guests while HAL ran out on every day we tendered. The dry cleaning seemed to return the clothes with the same stains intact no matter how many times we sent the items back. Eventually, we simply became accustomed to this and accepted it as “normal.” The daily program frequently misinformed about events on board. I went to see a scheduled movie on the first sea day of our second leg, only to learn it was a mistake. Another time, I missed the variety show because it was not on the schedule. Even the casino advised that I could not retrieve the money on my stateroom card because their system needed updating. The next day, I was told that I could still not retrieve my money. On my third trip to the casino, I was finally able to retrieve my money. We experienced a total lack of service on this ship, especially for premium paying guests. On numerous individual occasions, crew staff were inattentive to simple requests. When my wife wanted a cotton ball with a little bit of nail polish remover from the spa, she was told she needed to purchase a treatment. Certainly, someone could have checked that we were Neptune Suite passengers and been a tiny bit more attentive. Disembarkation was a total mess. We had opted for the early-off option because we had an early flight but had to wait more than 40 minutes to get off the boat. The elevators did not allow access to A deck so we had to carry our large bags down two sets of stairs. Proper ending for a terrible cruise Being a Neptune Suite passenger on this 22 day cruise simply meant we were entitled to pay more for the same service as everyone else, albeit in a larger room. As a loyal HAL customer for many years and the past six years in a row, who regularly books a Neptune Suite, I have been thoroughly disappointed with virtually all aspects of this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
Background information: Husband and wife, ages 56 and 60, traveling with husband's brother and his wife, around the same age. This is our third cruise in Europe over the last three summers; Eastern Mediterranean on Princess, ... Read More
Background information: Husband and wife, ages 56 and 60, traveling with husband's brother and his wife, around the same age. This is our third cruise in Europe over the last three summers; Eastern Mediterranean on Princess, Scandinavia and Russia on Royal Caribbean. Spent four days in Rome at the Hotel Amalia Vaticano before embarkation. Super location and reasonable price. Used romecabs.com for both airport transfer and hotel to port transfer. We were very happy with this company! Where do I start? With the biggest issue, which was being in Rome for four days without luggage and only having one of two bags arrive at 3:30 A.M. on embarkation day. After embarkation, which went quickly and smoothly by the way, I went to the front desk to let them know a second bag might be arriving at some point during the cruise. The people at the front desk, including Dangil and Rosie, took over. Dangil copied down our airline claim information and got a pair of dress shoes for my husband so we wouldn't miss the first formal night. The smart-casual rule for the dining room was waived and dining room staff was made aware of that. Housekeeping sent us a note saying we were eligible for complementary laundry service until the other bag came. (That helped with the whole smart-casual dress code also because my hsband could get his one pair of long pants laundered.) All the stress of dealing with the airlines and the courier service was lifted from my shoulders. Finally, 6 days into the cruise, they tracked down and delivered our second bag. Rosie told me, "Surrender is not in our vocabulary." The front desk also helped us out when our stop in Marseille got switched to Toulon because of labor unrest at the port in Marseille. They were very generous with complimentary phone service so that we could contact the driver we had hired for Aix-en-Provence and change our pick-up location. I was very impressed with the number of bar tenders and waiters who remembered us by name after serving us only once, or who would remember our drink order after the first day and ask if we wanted the same. We had the signature drink package included at the time of booking, and I thought it was a great deal. All specialty coffees, sodas, along with most beer, wine,and liquor is included in the package. We usually get a wine package, but the house wines that we were served were just fine. We had an inside cabin, #8045. It was quite spacious with good storage. Our room steward, Amin, was very efficient and frequently asked us if everything was all right. The door-closing device on the inside of our bathroom door came apart and maintenance was on it right away. Several different departments called us or stopped by to confirm that the problem was taken care of. The common areas where I would sit to read and have a glass of wine or some tea were comfortable and well maintained. There did seem to be some a vibration in both our cabin and in the dining room. Not sure what caused this. I really liked the way the buffet is run on this ship. On some ships it seems like such a free for all, but this was well organized and people were discouraged from cutting the line. I was very happy with the selections at both the breakfast and lunch buffets. We ate at Caneletto on our first night on the ship and really enjoyed that also. We took the rest of our dinners in the main dining room and they were original and excellent. They were certainly generous with the lobser tails on formal night! The house steak was very tender and served with a delicious sauce. The entertainment on the ship was very weak except for the B.B. King Blues Club which was so enjoyable. The lack of quality entertainment wasn't a make or break issue for me, even though I love good musical enterntainment. The itinerary was interesting; really the reason we picked this cruise. I wasn't disappointed with any of the stops. The only shore excursion we booked through the ship was in Tunis. We went to Sidi Bou Said & Carthage. It was an interesting shore excursion, although I felt that the guide pushed shopping in one store and kept us there for quite a while, which cut into our time in other markets. We did Hop-On-Hop-Off buses in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The HOHO in Monte Carlo was a struggle because people only got off at the Palace or the Casino, so it was difficult to get back on. Most places it was also quite easy to hire a cab at the port and we did that a few times, also. Disembarkation in Barcelona went very smoothly; we left the ship about 9:00 a.m. to continue our exploration of Barcelona. I would recommend this cruise, ship and cruise line to anyone.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
From Toni Vitanza -- who cruised on Noordam June 20 from Rome -- I am a flight attendant with 17 years of experience and I have frequent cruiser status with several cruise lines. This cruise was probably my seventh or eighth Med cruise. ... Read More
From Toni Vitanza -- who cruised on Noordam June 20 from Rome -- I am a flight attendant with 17 years of experience and I have frequent cruiser status with several cruise lines. This cruise was probably my seventh or eighth Med cruise. But this was our first time to cruise with HAL and I am afraid we have been spoiled. Since returning from our cruise, I have already told several passengers on board my flights about what a great experience we had with HAL. My husband Victor, in particular, is now a bona fide cruiser, and a bona fide HAL cruiser, like he never was before (and I also managed to get him hooked on the spa). My parents are smokers who still want to smoke on a balcony and their next cruise will be on HAL as long as you allow smoking on balconies. Sophie (in the ship's guest relations department) was INSTRUMENTAL in changing us from a balcony room with a completely obstructed view to one with a real view. A balcony was a splurge for us; we don't smoke but wanted it specifically for a relaxing view. She found us a new spot and even offered to send someone to help us move (although we refused the offer). She answered the phone often when I called with questions and was always affable, patient and competent. She is efficient, communicates clearly and professionally, looks so sharp in her uniform, and works HARD! Our stateroom attendants, Erwan and Ray, were so hardworking but also discreet. That is probably an overlooked quality in a stateroom attendant; after all, the work they do is rather intimate, isn't it? They never failed to greet us in the hallways with a smile and a question about our day. They were on the ball with ice and restocked our mini-bar promptly. We bought the spa "membership" (from Alexandra) almost immediately after boarding and it was some of the best money we ever spent. If Sophie chose our new room due to its nearness to the spa, that was a wonderful thing to do for us. All of the staff there was AMAZING. My husband won one service in a raffle and paid for a massage as well; I had a manicure repair from Jucille. All of them were skilled and professional. When our shower sprayer apparatus broke from the shower wall, the repairman was quick and competent and came ready with tools to repair it. We also had very prompt response when our remote control went on the blink! We were in the bar to watch the operation of pulling the tender boat up out of the water and back into its place on board. That was something to see and we were very impressed with the competence and skill of your crew. Brian, who served us in one of the bars (the one that offers a wine tasting in the evening along with a very special gourmet snack to eat with the wine) was very knowledgeable and a fabulous server. Artemio, in a different bar, (the one with a two-for-one happy hour special at 4 pm), was also wonderful to us. The band in the BB King Blues Club provided some of the best live entertainment my husband and I had enjoyed in a long time! Rochelle and Eric, our sommeliers, were both WONDERFUL to us and terrifically knowledgeable and passionate about wine, as is my Sicilian husband. Before I became a flight attendant I was a newspaper food and wine columnist so I like to think that while I might not be as knowledgeable as Eric or Rochelle, I am as passionate! Now...two issues before I tell you the BEST thing about the cruise. I would ask that you become MUCH more vigilant about keeping diapered babies/kids and kids obviously too young to be toilet-trained OUT of the pools and hot tubs. If a parent tells you that their kid IS toilet-trained, that isn't good enough when we are talking about a child under the age of 2 or who is clearly diapered. (And tearing off the diaper and putting the baby back in the pool isn't acceptable.) I encountered kids in the adults-only pool once. I reported this to staff. I don't know whether or how this was handled. But the fact is, these things shouldn't happen to begin with. I'm a parent, stepparent and stepgrandparent and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am crazy about babies and kids. But I also know where they belong and understand that these rules are about their health and safety and the health and safety of everyone else on board. The parents/kids should be stopped BEFORE they ever enter or AS they enter the pool and/or hot tub. Passengers shouldn't be required to report this for it to be addressed. Pool-area staff should be trained and EMPOWERED to monitor just who is in the pool/hot tub and to politely but effectively remove young ones who are where they don't belong. Frankly, I don't think the fact that kids are "well behaved" should exempt them from the rule; their presence still inhibits adult behavior and makes many of us feel responsible for their safety. When staffmembers see tiny kids in bathing suits, their antennae should go up. I have cruised with a friend who was immunocompromised due to cancer treatments, and I have cruised with a friend who holds a doctorate in microbiology. And you can't imagine the information they shared with me about what can happen when you allow these kids in the pools and hot tubs. I could go into it all here but I won't; suffice it to say that the CDC/VPS rules about this exist for very good reasons. And when one parent ventures in with a baby or small child who clearly can't possibly be toilet-trained, other parents assume the rules aren't being enforced and put their babies in too. Then it's not a pool; it's fecal soup, filled with nasty organisms -- including the live viruses the babies are given when they are vaccinated. On Sunday afternoon, during a sea day, I saw one mom allow her one-year-old son, clearly wearing some kind of bulky diaper, into not just the pool but also the hot tub, where no child that young should EVER be; it's bad for the baby and bad for others. I called the front desk and also reported this to the ladies in the spa but never saw anyone approach this mom. Next to the toilet in my stateroom there was a sign stating that if I disobeyed the rules about what should and shouldn't be flushed down the toilet, and stating that I would possibly be liable for the cost of repairs should I ignore the rule. When I boarded the ship, I had to sign a form stating that I didn't have symptoms of illness. The staff was very vigilant to prevent passengers from touching serving utensils in the buffet and hardly shy about suggesting we use hand sanitizer when entering the buffet. I believe even the captain (or cruise director) made reference to hand-washing in an announcement. I suspect the daily newspaper mentioned it as well. All these efforts are for nothing the second a diapered baby or non-trained toddler gets in the pool. I would suggest that the medical form we are asked to fill out before boarding include a statement telling/reminding parents that children who need diapers, who are wearing diapers of any kind or who are not thoroughly toilet-trained are not to be allowed into any pool or hot tub, including "family" pools and hot tubs. This is, after all, the rule. The form should also tell parents that they will possibly be liable for the costs of draining, cleaning and refilling the pool/hot tub should they ignore the rule -- just as the sign next to my toilet states. The signs next to the pool/hot tub should not merely state that diapered children and those not toilet-trained are forbidden; the signs should also state that parents will be liable for the costs of draining, cleaning and refilling should their children be found in the facility. That will put a stop to a lot of this. When I see health and safety rules (and this IS a health and safety rule) disregarded in "front of house," so to speak, I wonder what health and safety rules are ignored in places I can't see. The other problem was our excursion to Carthage. Our guide, Murat, was wonderful -- professional and knowledgeable and proud but also honest about his country. This was the highlight of the cruise for us and what we looked forward to the most. The excursion bus left RIGHT ON TIME, something I appreciate very much. We visited the Bardo museum and the ancient city of Carthage. Yet one woman was consistently late to the bus from our various stops; given the heat, this was inexcusable. After our lunch (at a lovely restaurant), she carried wine bottles from the tables onto the bus, where she drank from them. I don't know if this is legal, but it certainly isn't wise or mannerly. In the end, I came to think of her as the person in charge of our excursion. I don't know what to do about this sort of thing; I am merely reporting what bothered my husband and me and also clearly bothered others on board the excursion. The real problem with the excursion is that half or MORE of the day was spent in dark, stifling markets or shopping areas where we looked at store after store, stall after stall, of the same junk: Small carved camels (many made in China!), dishes that we were warned weren't suitable for serving food (they contained lead-based paint), cheap jewelry, keyrings, t-shirts, etc. One stall after another, the same old tacky junk! It really was shameful and not up to the standard that HAL seems intent on holding. It was just a waste of time and shameful to rush through the Bardo so we could look at cheap (again, Chinese) junk to buy. I also understand that different cultures operate in different ways. I carefully dressed for my visit to Tunis is long sleeves and a full, long skirt and behaved in as modest and sensitive a manner as I could. I behaved in a very modest and reserved way and kept with my husband at all times. Yet the same men approached me multiple times to hawk their wares; I had to tell them "No, thank you" over and over and over again. There's not a culture where this kind of hounding people is acceptable, and it's certainly not an effective sales tactic with most of the folks who cruise. This excursion could cost half as much and include nothing but the Bardo and Carthage, with perhaps lunch. Or it could remain at the same price but include more time at Bardo and/or Carthage, or include some other genuine cultural or historical site rather than opportunities to peruse a lot of tacky junk at not one but two separate sites. NOW, for what was the best thing about our cruise. I don't know how we got so lucky, but on the first night of the cruise we visited the main dining room (we avoid buffets and specialty restaurants) and were seated with waiter Rudy Canyadi (I HOPE I am spelling his name correctly) and Mr. Hakim, his assistant. (Both are from Indonesia and Mr. Hakim wears some fabulous hipster eyeglasses, if my spelling makes it difficult to identify them.) These two men were absolutely the highlight of our cruise and we simply cannot say enough about either of them. We ordered the same wine and water every night and while our sommeliers remembered the wine, Mr. Hakim always remembered the water. (By the way, are you discontinuing San Pellegrino water? It's our favorite and apparently we drank the last bottle on the ship! Since the ship visits Sicily, we think you should continue to carry a water from there!) While we met some wonderful fellow passengers aboard the ship, we would have rather had Mr. Canyadi and Mr. Hakim as dinner companions than anyone else. As far as Mr. Hakim goes, well, I wish he would come be a flight attendant at my airline because he would be SUCH fun to fly with. Mr. Canyadi -- well, that man knows FOOD. He pays attention to what his customers order, what they leave on their plates, what they finish, what dishes best complement each other and what his passengers order from night to night to night. His memory and sensitivity are like nothing else. These two men made my husband HAPPY and for that this loving wife will always be grateful. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other ... Read More
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other occasions. The staff was very kind and helpful to elderly passengers, many in wheelchairs or using walkers. However we found our cabin suite older and not as well appointed as the lower cabins, with no windows. The bathroom shower needed regrouting and did not look like it had been cleaned very well. Our cabin had a/c issues for most of the cruise and we were visited several times by crew taking measurements or doing repairs on the system. We slept with the balcony door open 2 nights as a result (blocked open with sturdy waste basket). When a taxi strike occurred at the disembarkment port, the staff had no information or any interest in assistance unless you booked airport transfer with them. Front desk personal very uninterested in providing any assistance. Warning for those expecting internet/wifi - not consistent and slow enough to be useless. Also want to warn passengers to check your bill as there were many issues with ours. Fortunately, they got settled by cruise end. The excursions are very expensive but many were well done; informative and hitting all the high spots of each port city. However, we had to walk quite a way to get to excursion buses either at port or for the return. Food onboard was adequate. The specialty restaurants were worth extra cost. I could not believe the size of glassware in the buffet section or at the bars and that you had to pay for soda, but iced tea and juices were included. I would recommend this cruise for my 55+ friends warning them to have low expectations about cabin and food. Would advise to book suite for upgrades and to research and plan your own excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We spent a few nights in Rome before boarding, followed by staying overnight in the port at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which worked out well as included a free shuttle transfer to the port. It was very easy to get to the port from Rome ... Read More
We spent a few nights in Rome before boarding, followed by staying overnight in the port at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which worked out well as included a free shuttle transfer to the port. It was very easy to get to the port from Rome using train which cost only €5 each and the trains were very frequent. Easy even with luggage. Unfortunately there was no taxis at the port train station when we arrived so we had to walk quite a way to check into our hotel. We arrived at the embarkation area at around 1130 and were on board the ship by about 1215. Embarkation was relatively efficient. We were able to go straight to our cabin. We had an inside cabin. It was comparable to an inside cabin we had previously. There was plenty of space under the beds for storage. Lots of wardrobe space. The only thing I would comment was there was no drawers just shelves for storage. There was a good quality hair dryer provided along with elemis toiletries including shower cap, a bar of soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. The whole cabin was incredibly clean. The cabin stewards were very impressive. Nightly towel animals were made. Dressing gowns were provided in the room. Beach towels for port usage were provided which were large and of a high quality. A Holland America tote bag was provided. Nightly chocolates were provided. Information on ports was provided in advance including maps and tips of what to do and see. Each day a daily activity leaflet was provided which was comprehensive. The ship operated a "no touch" environment for the first 48 hours where the staff passed everything to you in the Lido. We thought this was a good idea to stop the spread of infection. We thought the staff on board this ship were all very friendly and well trained and felt more at ease than on our previous cruise. In terms of restaurants we at in both the Vista dining room for dinner and the Lido for breakfast and lunch. We also used room service. The Lido was very good for breakfast. There was a lot of choices - a lot of American style breakfasts, along with Dutch and continental. The staff were friendly and after a few days remembered what you had previously ordered. For lunch there was an Asian section, Italian section, salads and hot section. Occasionally sushi was served which was average. My feedback on the salad would be that it was too heavily coated in dressing. There was also a Mexican food stand near the pool outside which served nice tacos and tortillas. There was also a burger bar which seemed popular. We had open dining yet usually made reservations. I would recommend doing this in the dining room itself on the previous evening (you could book up to two days in advance). We tried to ring a few times but found the process was always quite hard work. We always managed to get a table for two. In terms of food it was normally a 4 course meal with bread. Tap water was available for free. My view on the wine was it was quite expensive for the quality. We often took cocktails in from the bar as we found these nicer than the wine or other options available in the dining room. We both enjoyed the food but found it wasn't quite as nice as the previous cruise we had been on. Very big portions. As we sat in a different table each night we experience quite a few different waiters. We did find there was quite a difference between wherever we sat in terms of service which was unexpected. Room service was very good arriving within about 30-45 mins. The only feedback would be it always arrived on a gigantic tray which would have been ok in a suite room but was too large for our room it could barely fit through our door! In terms of facilities. We used the pools and jacuzzis quite regularly. Apart from one really hot day at sea they were relatively quiet. We found the back sea view pool was often quite dirty and left a feedback form at reception part way through the cruise asking them to clean the pool but not sure if they did. When going underwater you could see tea bags and receipts. Both pools were always heated and very warm. The jacuzzis were of a good quality. My partner used the gym and said it was of good quality. We plated table tennis. We made use of the library. We picked up a ship newspaper on occasion from reception which were available in different languages and for different countries. There was a film shown in the queens lounge on most days and you could borrow DVDs for free from reception. We attended two shows with the noordam dancers and singers and I was actually very impressed with the quality of the production. We attended a couple of quizzes. We also attended a what to do in port talk by location guide that was very good because it didn't sell shore excursions instead was focused on useful information for people that didn't necessarily want to go on organised tours. We used a few different bars, service was sometimes slow but they never tried to sell to you too much. There were numerous shops on board but we didn't buy anything. The ship had a lot of Americans, Canadians and Dutch people and smaller numbers of English, Spanish and Italian guests. We felt it was quite targeted towards the American guests more than other nationalities. We were unable to go to Tunisia which was due to visa problems. This was really annoying for us as one of the reasons we picked this itinerary. An alternative port was arranged of Olbia in Sardinia. We were unable to go to Corsicia due to bad seas. The med was definitely rougher than we expected and some people suffered with sea sickness. Overall we very much enjoyed our stay and for the price we paid at the last minute it was a real bargain. We would consider holland america again.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
My husband and I (both in our 60's) sailed on the Noordam for an 11 night cruise. This was our first HAL cruise and we would definitely do it again (and again and again). We flew to Rome and embarked the same day; we flew out of ... Read More
My husband and I (both in our 60's) sailed on the Noordam for an 11 night cruise. This was our first HAL cruise and we would definitely do it again (and again and again). We flew to Rome and embarked the same day; we flew out of Venice the day the cruise ended. Next time we will plan better and allow a couple days at the start/end of the cruise to have a little more time to enjoy the beginning and ending ports. We did use HAL's cruise/air plan and have no complaints about that - the price was quite reasonable and the HAL staff was great in getting us from the airport to the ship and vice versa. Our cabin (8112) was located under the pool but we did not have any noise problems whatsoever. We did not have water pouring from the pool deck onto our balcony either. We found the cabin placement convenient (close to elevator, one deck below Lido deck). Our cabin was a decent size and having a balcony was great. Our cabin was a VF category but prior to our cruise the same cabin was a VA. Cabin stewards were attentive and we experienced none of the plumbing problems I have seen mentioned in other reviews, The food was good and plentiful. We opted for anytime dining and there was only 1 night where we waited longer that 10 minutes to be seated. The absolute best part of this cruise was the itinerary and was the reason we chose this cruise. We stopped at Messina, Malta, 2 ports in Greece, 3 ports in Croatia, Montenegro, and an overnight for the last day in Venice. The only port I found lacking was Messina; the rest were fantastic, Our weather was great and we did mostly everything on our own. The only HAL tour we took was the first day - a glimpse of Rome. The tour was worth it as it took us by most of the major sights in Rome. Only complaint is we wish we could have stopped at more than one place while in Rome. We loved the Croatia ports and of course we loved all the time we had in Venice. The only disappointment we had was with the info provided by the shore guide. She gave us some wrong information about a couple of the ports that ended up causing us to walk a LOT longer than we should have had to walk to get where we were going. We relied on public transportation in the ports and that was a whole lot cheaper than using the transportation arranged/recommended by HAL. We did not find the entertainment to be all that good except for the Blues Band. But, quite frankly it did not matter to us as our entertainment was visiting the ports and seeing all the wonderful sights each had to offer. We did sign up for the hydrotherapy pool but after using it once, we decided we would probably be forcing ourselves to use it for the remainder of the cruise just to get our money's worth. So, we asked if we could cancel and HAL allowed us to and charged just for the one use we had. We found the regular Jacuzzis to be just fine for what we wanted. Our experience was so good we want to do another cruise next year and I have already started looking. My husband is not enthusiastic about cruising so for him to want to do another one is a big compliment to HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We (two couples) recently completed a 22 a day Mediterranean cruise on the Noordam, Holland America Line (HAL). All of the party have previously had cruises on other cruise lines and as HAL had been recommended for providing 5 star ... Read More
We (two couples) recently completed a 22 a day Mediterranean cruise on the Noordam, Holland America Line (HAL). All of the party have previously had cruises on other cruise lines and as HAL had been recommended for providing 5 star service we gave it a go. It is our opinion that HAL is very money orientated, e.g. charging a Hotel Service and also a 15% surcharge on services. The port transfers were very expensive. The air-conditioning in our cabin was very noisy and could not be controlled, even after asking for it to be looked at nothing was done, there was little if any information in our cabins regarding the use of the telephones, TV etc,. The entertainment in our view was very poor. On the plus side we did have excellent service from our dining room waiters and the food on most occasions was fine. The Noordam is an old and it shows. We have to say that given the opportunity to cruise with HAL or another cruise line we would choose another cruise line.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
I had high hopes for a great experience. My wife had her 60th and I wanted to surprise her with a spectacular experience and give her a trip to remember, 16 nights Rome to Greece, Turkey, Rome, Rhodes, Gythion (Sparta), Athens, Naples, ... Read More
I had high hopes for a great experience. My wife had her 60th and I wanted to surprise her with a spectacular experience and give her a trip to remember, 16 nights Rome to Greece, Turkey, Rome, Rhodes, Gythion (Sparta), Athens, Naples, Monte Carlo, Tunisia, Palermo etc.. Arrival was great, fast embarkation, we were welcomed to a nice Veranda Room with balcony as promised everything was great. Our first Meal was blah and the service dead slow. Due to recent health issues we could not serve ourselves for the first two days and had to stand in line for up to 15 minutes to even just to get a coffee. The food was worse than the food in a high school cafeteria. I mean it looked good, it was the right stuff, but it had no flavor. Well perhaps it was just the first dinner. The next morning Breakfast came and we were excited, down we go, it smelled good. Oh no, more lines, Sausage and eggs takes 10 minutes.... and again the eggs are tasteless, the bacon is mass cooked like a slab. The next day we try the omlette station, 15 minutes for an omlette, lot's of ingredients, looked good, smelled good, very little flavor. Then I see the cook filling the egg bowl with egg mix from a carton. They don't use real eggs! They have eggs for show on the counter, but they use eggs from a box. The bacon in the omlette is cooked like cardboard and taste about the same. So we decide to try the upgraded Dining in the Tammirand. Nice ambiance, good appi's. I ordered the Filet with Wasabi crust. Not bad. My Wife ordered the Shrimp and Scallop dish. I figured something was wrong, she offered me a taste. These had to be the worlds smallest scallops, tasteless in what taste like a luke warm consume. The shrimp were not much better. Yuk. One night we had shrimp cocktail, the shrimp were soft, and you guessed it tasteless, but also without any smell, like they have been defrosted in water overnight any hint of flavor washed away. The Steak and Lobster night, more of the same. The Lobster could have been from one of those packages of crab sticks that are made up of fish bits and shaped and colored to look and smell like Crab or Lobster but don't taste like much. We Purchased the Admirals wine Package, again what a disappointment. I like my wine, but the quality was not anywhere near what I expected. Most of the wines were of a sub $20 value. I hate paying $100 for a bottle I can buy at home for $17. More important here we are in Italy and no Barolos, no Amorone. But Columbia Valley or Mondavi Jr for $50 a bottle. Really sad. Of course Costco sells the same for $7.99 I had such high hopes, Many people had told me this was one of the best lines. Hardly, we had better food and wine selections on the Carnival Triumph. The flight home was welcoming experience, the food was out of this world. I was relieved, I was worried they had ruined my taste buds. I provided my feedback to HAL and they replied that they were sorry to hear that. So I think you get my point by now. Next cruise will be with a different line. When I spend over $10,000 for a cruise I expect a little more. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
My wife and I had cruised on seven previous occasions and this was our eighth in total and first with Holland America. We had been led to believe that we were in for 'something special''. Not so, in fact almost everything ... Read More
My wife and I had cruised on seven previous occasions and this was our eighth in total and first with Holland America. We had been led to believe that we were in for 'something special''. Not so, in fact almost everything was very average. Our stateroom balcony cabin and attendant were excellent but everything quickly fell away after that. The ship was drab and dreary. The dining room staff were dressed in uniforms more usually found on motor mechanics. The same people did not have a good grasp of the English language. Food in the main dining rooms was ordinary but with an improvement on formal dining occasions. Main courses were often served on cold plates and warm food was often cold by the time it was served (we were probably the furthest table from the food collection area). We opted for less expensive wines with our meals but half the wines we selected were "not available". Front office staff were courteous and friendly. Embarkation and disembarkation procedures were good. Selection of ports was OK but the usual excessive charges were applied if you purchase a shore excursion On board entertainment was not good with maybe one or two exceptions although the piano bar entertainer and B B King went against this trend. Daytime entertainment was 75% aimed at bodily health functions. The ship's photographers were in your face from day one - just how many times do you need your picture taken? If I don't sound happy - I'm not. Not surprisingly, we have cruised with HAL for the last time. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We began our cruise from Civitavecchia, Italy on October 31st, 2013. Yes, it was Halloween. We had enjoyed beautiful weather in Rome for five days prior to embarkation. The temperatures ranged between 23 and 26C every day with beautiful ... Read More
We began our cruise from Civitavecchia, Italy on October 31st, 2013. Yes, it was Halloween. We had enjoyed beautiful weather in Rome for five days prior to embarkation. The temperatures ranged between 23 and 26C every day with beautiful sunshine. We never experienced one drop of rain until our last port of call at the Azores. More about that later. We had arranged for a transfer with RomeCabs to pick us up at our apartment, the Crown Orsetto on the Piazza Navona. We then proceeded to the next pickup point where we had arranged for another couple from CruiceCritic to share the ride to the cruiseport. EMBARKATION: This was the easiest and most efficient embarkation we have ever experienced. It took only about 10 minutes to walk into the terminal where we filled out our health form, went straight to counter where they checked us in with our passports, took our picture and we were whistled over to the photographer and then out the door to the awaiting magnificent ship. We walked straight up the gangway where we were greeted with the smiling faces of the crew and one says, “Welcome home”! That was so exciting. So we presented our ship card to be scanned and there we were- onboard! No lineups, no congestion. Quick and easy. This was about 1:00 pm. We went up to the fifth level to our cabin which was ready for us. We immediately met our cabin steward. The cabin was clean and lovely with a verandah. It was nice to chat with our cabin steward who asked us if everything was OK or if we needed anything. That was a nice touch as we had not had that consideration on other cruises. He was in no hurry to leave and we chatted about the cruise and our cabin. I said we had no complaints and that everything seemed in order. There were two stewards but we didn’t meet his partner until the next day. They always had fresh ice in our bucket every day and kept the cabin clean. Sailaway was at 5:00 p.m. after muster drill at 4:00 which went very smoothly. Everyone seemed to take it quite seriously and no life jackets are worn any longer for the drill. That night being Halloween a few passengers dressed up with costumes. I also had dressed up a little. It was fun and people that night went to the Monster Ball in the Queen’s Lounge. I found the Noordam to be on par with Eurodam but in our opinion we liked the Eurodam a touch better. I missed the Tamarind restaurant and Silk Den. Most of the flower arrangements on the Noordam were very small and not impressive. I’m not sure if HAL has cut back on flowers on all their ships but this ship had the least we have seen on other HAL cruises. Thankfully they still had the lovely orchids in the Lido buffet dining area and in the public washrooms. CABIN: We were very happy with our verandah cabin on the 5th level. There was ample room and storage. We had a mini fridge which was stocked but of course we didn’t use these items as you are charged. The bathroom had a tub and shower which was very clean with toiletries. The beds are so comfortable. I love their bedding and their beds. The only think lacking was the sound on the TV. The speakers were shot. I put this in my survey for HAL. It’s time to upgrade their TV’s. We ordered room service for breakfast a few times and it was always right on time and food was hot. The trays were very nicely arranged with a small vase of flowers. Our cabin stewards were always friendly and did remember our names every time we saw them. DINING We opted for open dining on this cruise. We usually take the late seating but felt that it’s just too late for us as then we miss most of the shows because we are too tired. We enjoyed open seating. Sometimes we sat at a table of six or eight and sometimes we sat alone for privacy. The food was great. Service was excellent of course. The servers work so hard to bring you your food in a timely manner. The down side to open seating is that you don’t connect with any particular server. The only entre I found a bit lacking was the surf and turf. The meat was not up to par and a bit stringy or chewy. It wasn’t the best beef I’ve had in the past. Desserts were delicious. I especially love their Tiramisu. Yummmm. My husband always chose the chocolate brownie stack or something like that. PINNACLE GRILL - $25.00 each I can’t say enough about this place for fine dining experience. It was absolutely lovely and food was delicious!! Very rich though. Service is wonderful and the atmosphere as well. We made our reservations for our first formal night. We did this the afternoon we boarded the ship so we had a good selection of times. Our meal consisted of lobster bisque, ceaser salad prepared at our table, lobster tail, whipped potatoes, creamed spinach. SOOOO good. I had the Crème Brulee for dessert. Absolutely delicious. My DH had a magnificent shrimp cocktail. Salmon – a huge portion. We rolled out of there. MISCELLANEOUS We noted that there were no longer the days of the week floor mats in the elevators! I’m not sure if this has been discontinued on every ship or just this one. I don’t care but it was noteworthy. Note that age demographic was quite elderly. We are “baby boomers” and felt like the babies on the ship which was great mind you. But I felt like we were on a floating retirement home. There were scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. I know that is great that they can travel at that age but I think we will be trying a different cruiseline next time. One man celebrated his 100th birthday onboard. We’re not ready for the retirement home yet….I think we saw a total of TWO young children the whole time on the ship. I felt sorry for them. Other people have stated on trip reviews that they were bored on a TA. How in the world can anyone be bored on a ship? There are tons of activities all day long to do. I wanted to be in four places at once. There are lots of activities every day onboard. I went to computer workshops quite often and these were always full to overflowing. Very informative. We played Team Trivia Challenge which was fun. The days were packed with things to do if you wished or you can lounge by the pools and hot tubs or on the promenade deck among many other things. There were seminars, casino, card games, bingo, dancing lessons, pools and hot tubs, movies, etc. There were less Happy Hours than we have experienced in the past. There was a Happy Hour at the Ocean Bar at 4:00 p.m. and at 10:00 p.m. in Crow’s Nest. We find that those times were not convenient. We did eventually enjoy Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar but never made it to the Crow’s Nest at that late time. We liked the drinks prepared onboard but 15% was added as a gratuity. Happy hour now consists of one drink at regular price and the second for a dollar plus gratuity. I found their mixed drinks to be consistently delicious. I especially love the Mojito and the gin martinis. There were no great sales for internet as the cruise progressed. There were some specials for the spa but still pricey. We enjoyed the Mexican buffet at the Lido poolside and the burgers. Quite often there would be live entertainment here – Greg, the guitar player. Very nice. REMEMBRANCE DAY and a MEMORIAL SERVICE Remembrance day/Veterans’ Day occurred while we were sailing and it was VERY nice that the Captain had a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. followed by the reading of “ In Flanders Fields” over the P.A. That was very appreciated and a good thing to do. There was also a Memorial service held in the theatre the morning of Nov. 14th for the Filippino crew and staff due to the terrible storm disaster in the Philippines this week. The minister said a few comforting words and prayer as well as the Captain. It was very emotional and touching. Passengers were invited to watch from the balcony. There were a few guests near me who were crying. A fund was also set up so that you could donate to help the victims of the devastating typhoon. ENTERTAINMENT: We found the HAL singers and dancers to be amazing! The shows were great especially the new production called DROOM. WOW!! The costumes were beautiful. Craig and the HAL Cats were really good as well as Nicky and the HAL Cats. Glen – solo guitarist. Piano bar – Lee. Adagio – We were not impressed with them this time. Their sets were too short and they seemed rather lack lustre or unenthused. No personality. Every time we sat down to listen, they would leave within about five minutes for a break. We especially loved the award winning classic pianist, Tomono Kawamura. Her talent is unbelieveable!! Magnificent piano playing. We also really enjoyed the singer Toni Warne from England. Her singing is amazing. She sang a medley of Barbara Streisand songs as well as some songs sung by Celine Dion. She had a powerful voice not unlike Barbara Streisand! She was excellent. The ship was really rolling that night due to heavy swells on the ocean but she managed to keep her balance as best she could. WEATHER and PORTS OF CALL: The weather in the Mediterranean was absolutely beautiful from Rome right over to the Azores. Our first stop was at Alicante, Spain. We absolutely love Alicante and all the stops in Spain. We find the prices to be much better here than in Rome as well. We left the ship early in the morning to make our way to the castle Castel Santa Barbara since we had missed going up to this castle the last time we were here. So we knew where we were going and walked along the beach boardwalk to the walkway over the big street. We approached the doors that are made into the side of the cliff. A sign indicated that it didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. Be mindful of this. It was 9:00 a.m. when we arrived there so we had to go back up the street to find a restaurant for a coffee and maybe I could hook up to WiFi. We found a McDonald’s but the WiFi did NOT work. This was very frustrating. BUT they did serve BEER!! LOL. So my hubby came back with TWO cervezas. Hmmmm. Oh well, we are on vacation. We put in time and then went back to the castle entrance only to find a lineup!! Sigh. At 10:00 we were admitted where we paid the entrance fee. It was 2.50 euros each. We then proceeded down a long corridor into the mountain. OK….don’t feel claustrophobic…..where we made our way to elevators. The people were clumped up here waiting for the one elevator to take people up and down. OK…..don’t feel claustrophobic here…….gulp. Everthing is stainless steel and well lit. No, you are not in the dark. LOL. The lift is about 900 ft and took only about 30 seconds. Finally it was our turn and up we went. This place is AMAZING!! The views from up here are stunning!! The castle is stunning – you can explore the stonework and the original cavernous rooms, etc. Some of it has been turned into a museum with different artifacts on display. We wandered around and took lots of pics. There was a little outside food and drink place where we sat and had a couple of cold beers. There were a few vendors as well. We tried to visualize the way it would have been a thousand years ago. After awhile we headed back down and wandered into the old part of Alicante making our way to the lovely little traffic-free streets. So much to see and so little time. We sat on the steps at a small bar and enjoyed a beer with the locals. It was great. Nov. 3 – Malaga, Spain The weather couldn’t have been better. Warm and sunny. We were off the ship first thing in the morning. Wandered over to Roman ruins near the base of the castle where they have uncovered an ancient amphitheatre at its base. We went over to Cathedral de Malaga…WOW!! This cathedral is beautiful. It is massive with magnificent carvings in marble. The choir area is breathtaking with intricately carved solid wood. Words can’t do it justice. We participated in the Mass that morning. It was quite a moving experience. We really enjoy Malaga to wander the quaint streets lined with orange trees. The park area is beautiful too with walkways lined with palms and tropicals. Nov. 4 – Cadiz, Spain This dock is located right in town. At 10:00 am we were off the ship and wandering in a beautiful tropical tree garden. Some of the trees are magnificent and huge. They looked like Magnolia tree leaves but not sure if that is what they are. If so, when they bloom it would be awesome. We had no particular plans here for a tour as we just wanted to explore on our own. We followed the sea wall. Lovely walkway and stumbled upon the botanical gardens. There were tall fully sculpted cedar trees here that were the most gorgeous I have ever seen. They had to be at least 40 ft. tall but fully pruned and so thick with foliage you couldn’t push your finger through it. There were also fountains everywhere with flowering bougainvillea and Angel Trumpet trees. The pathways meander through the tall palms and gardens. So lovely. Parrots sing in the treetops. We walked out to the castle/fort on a causeway of stone over low tide. That was beautiful but alas the fort wasn’t open because it was a Monday. This walkway is very intriguing as all the stones below the causeway were exposed due to the low tide. Everything seemed original. We found our way to an open air market which is the oldest market in Spain! Mercado Central. We stopped and I had a Sangria. Lovely. There are many local vendors selling produce, meats, cheeses and OLIVES to name a few!! OK…..these are the BEST olives I have ever tasted in my life!! They are delicious. There were pails and large containers of different kinds that are marinated in different ways with garlic, etc. We bought a small container to take back to our cabin to eat with rolls and Spanish wine!! Ahhhhhh…..heavenly. The prices are good and no tax!! We enjoyed wandering the narrow streets and tasting the local flavours, enjoying the ambiance. We each bought giant cream puffs for one euro each!! Absolutely delicious. Back onboard by 3:45. Sailaway was about 5:00 pm. Now we were heading to the Azores. The sea is still very calm. We stayed on our verandah to watch the sunset and enjoyed our olives from Cadiz and rolls that Ken had gone to get at the Lido buffet along with our Spanish wine and cheeses. Yummy. HAL provided a BBQ at the Lido pool area with all Mediterranean dishes – olives, couscous, avocado and chicken, shish kabobs, steak, lamb, fried feta cheese, etc. It was very good. Live music. Two days at sea and arrive at the Azores. Nov. 7th – Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores Raining and cloudy, cool. The first rain we have experienced on our trip. We had arranged a tour through the Cruise Critic people on the Roll Call. Three vans awaited us after disembarking. We were in one van of 7 with a guide. (Carlos from Adventure Tours). Our guide was awesome. He explained everything to us and was obviously very proud of his island. We had to decide if we wanted to go up into the mountains since it was very misty and foggy up there but we all decided that yes we should go anyway. This island is lovely and verdant!! Up in the mountains it was as lush as Hawaii with beautiful tall fern trees and palms and lush foliage. Some of the roadways are lined solid with wild hydrangea and azaleas. The blooms were past their prime at this time of year but the guide was telling us how gorgeous it is when they are in full bloom. One can only imagine. It would be breathtaking. Some flower heads were the size of basketballs. Our guide took us to a tiny little lake called Canary Lake in the hills and woods that is surrounded with azaleas. We walked down the path a bit so he could show us the magnificent moss that grows everywhere. We pushed against the moss wall beside the road and my hand sunk in about TWO FEET – solid moss!!! They obviously have a temperate and wet climate and it was still lightly raining. Unfortunately because of the mist we could not see and experience the magnificent views. Our guide felt so bad and was very apologetic but there was nothing to be done. That’s the weather. He was so disappointed that we were missing the fabulous views of the lakes in the volcanic craters. We drove through agricultural areas of dairy cows in the fields – very picturesque with green fields of all shades surrounded with ancient rock hedgerows covered in moss. It looked like something you would probably see in Ireland. There were little rainbows popping up from the rain and the sun that was finally starting to shine. So lovely. We went to the hot springs. This place is fantastic. We saw the most gorgeous fern trees! It was raining and misty but so worth the visit to see this beautiful spot. This area is a lush tropical rainforest. There were also hydrangea bushes around the parking lot that were taller than 6 feet with huge flower heads. I would love to come here when they are blooming and at their peak. The flowers are so thick that you can’t see the greenery during their peak time according to Carlos. We stopped at a quaint town called Ribeira Grande where Carlos took us to a small liquour store to sample different flavoured brandy. We bought Passion Fruit brandy liqueur. It is fabulous. It was 12 euros for a litre. In fact, as I write this, I’m having a drink of it right now. Heavy in the suitcase but worth it. Takes me back. Drove back to the town of Ponta Delgada but didn’t have time to walk around. Our guide took us to a supermarket where we could buy wine or whatever we needed. The prices seemed very low. We bought some of their local tea as this is the only area in Europe to grow tea. Carlos drove us around town pointing out different areas of interest. It seemed like a lovely quaint town with cobblestone streets and many stores. We then had to go back to the ship. We were very impressed with the Azores and would love to go back. Friday, Nov. 8th – At sea and beginning our TA. The next days we spent enjoying the activities of the ship – Team Trivia challenge, computer workshops, cooking demonstrations, flower arranging, spa treatments, etc. We averaged about 15 kts and about 400 n.m. per day. Ocean was relatively calm except for one thunderstorm the night of the dessert extravaganza. This storm was awesome with blinding lightning, rain and thunder. The captain changed our course a little to avoid the worst of it. I didn’t really notice the ship rolling more though so there must not have been strong winds. The ocean changed by the day – sometimes larger swells than other days and sometimes more choppy. The weather was mostly cloudy and rainy. As we travelled it became warmer and nicer. By Tuesday, Nov. 12th it was 75 F at 8:25 in the morning and the sun was shining. We have travelled 3748 n.m. from Azores at 15.6 kts. 5420 feet deep at this point in time. Nov. 12 the ship was really rocking due to high winds. We are nearing Florida and the ship was really rolling all night. We never did see any ocean life such as whales blowing or anything jumping other than a few flying fish. Nov. 15th – Ft. Lauderdale Received our accounts – gulp. Surprising how things add up. $11.00 pp per day for tips are added on as well. Arrived right on time. Docked at 6:00 a.m. We had been moving our clocks back an hour while crossing the ocean. That was neat to gain an hour almost every day or two. Our luggage had been taken away in the night as all big suitcases have to be put out in the hallway by 2:00 a.m. Disembarkation went fairly smoothly except for a backlog of people in the terminal at Immigration/Customs. We waited about ¾ of an hour in line in the terminal to get through. I had purchased the direct transfer by HAL to the airport. Big mistake !! $20.00 each and we waited and waited for the coach to fill with passengers. Come to find out we could have just jumped in a taxi for $16.00 total and been to the airport in 10 or 15 minutes!! Live and learn. Everything went smoothly at the airport. Flight on time to Detroit. Arrived in only 2 hours after lifting off in Ft. Lauderdale. We made amazing time. From Detroit we were picked up by my son-in-law and driven home to Ontario. Can hardly wait for our next cruise!! We were bumped up to Mariner 3 on this cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Wanted to see the Med. The Captain, John Scott, was the friendliest and most personable one ever. The staff went out of their way to make us feel special. The ship was brand new, and everything was just pristine. We had a balcony for ... Read More
Wanted to see the Med. The Captain, John Scott, was the friendliest and most personable one ever. The staff went out of their way to make us feel special. The ship was brand new, and everything was just pristine. We had a balcony for the first time, and were kept up to date with the islands and shores we were passing. The entertainment was excellent, and the comedians were really really funny. My husband loved the Captain's coffee hour each day at sea, and got to know him very well. He shared funny stories about his history as a ship's captain, including some really good ones about herding sheep and a shop steward. I will not say more. The cooks let us show them how to make real Cajun gumbo, and meals were very good and I loved the Tuscany excursion to the Wine Country, made me want to move there. I did quite a lot of excursions, and I found you don't have to be on the really expensive ones to have a great excursion. Care has been taken by HAL to have the best excursions available. I recommend highly the back to back eastern and western Med cruises out of Rome. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
We were a group of 8 adults and none of us had sailed on Holland America before. We had one couple who had never gone on a cruise in our group. Our experience on HAL was excellent. Although the ship was continuing on a voyage that had ... Read More
We were a group of 8 adults and none of us had sailed on Holland America before. We had one couple who had never gone on a cruise in our group. Our experience on HAL was excellent. Although the ship was continuing on a voyage that had started in Egypt and had had problems with a gastro virus on board, when we boarded in Civitavecchia (Rome)the ship was immaculate and they followed every precaution regarding sanitization and food distribution until they were sure it was safe to return to normal protocol. The weather we had couldn't have been more perfect (no rain - 11 days!) and the itinerary was interesting, too. We were supposed to port in Tunisia, but that was changed to Sardinia and we didn't find out until we boarded. Our cabin was wonderful (VA8134). We were on the 8th level at the back of the ship. The views were stupendous, and, although I heard that the room could be noisy because the pool deck was above us, we were never bothered, even in the afternoon when there were lots of people up there. Our friends had the adjoining stateroom, so we had the steward open the connector on our verandahs so we could walk back and forth. It was a great experience. Our cabin service was top-notch, as were the services in all the food and dining areas. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill when they had Le Cirque night and the food and service were fantastic. We loved the staff celebrations of birthdays in the dining room! The menus were always varied and interesting and not one of our group had any complaints about the food at all. The entertainment onboard was surprisingly good, and the shows were terrific. We especially enjoyed the show put on by the Indonesian service staff, since we had become familiar with many of them, and it was exciting to see them perform rituals from their home country and share their heritage with us. The tour director was very engaging and personable, and the talks about the ports were informative and helpful. We chose to use private tour companies for our shore excursions and we were extremely happy and satisfied with all of them. I will try to review them separately on this site as well: Dark Rome Early Sistine Chapel Tour - we were in the Sistine Chapel with about only 15 other people! Rome Cabs (Roma Cabs)www.romecabs.com www.stefanorometours.com This company was EXCELLENT! We used them for airport/hotel and hotel/ship transfers as well as tours of Pisa/Florence and Amalfi/Ravello/Positano. The tours were geared to what we wanted to do, and we had our own, air-conditioned minivans. The drivers/guides were friendly, informative, and helpful, and they made our excursions exciting and meaningful. Dream Tours infos@dream-tours.com We used this company for Monaco/Monte Carlo/Nice/Eze/St. Paul de Vence (sp?) Another incredible, fact-filled, exciting tour. Definitely would use them again Smart Cruise Tours info@smartcruisetours.com Another exceptional company. We used them for tours in Marseille/Aix en Provence/Cassis and Palermo/Monreale/Mondello. Our tour guides were wonderful! We also booked the Uffizzi Gallery, Borghese Gallery, and Colosseum (with Hypogeum and upper tier) all online and had no problem accessing our tickets or getting into the venues. For Barcelona we used the hop-on hop-off bus and ended the day at Tablao Cordobes (www.tablaocordobes.com) for some tapas and sangria followed by an explosively exciting flamenco show! Getting on and off the ship was a breeze, and we used the ship's transfers to the airport at the end of the cruise with no problem. We had a fabulous time! A few negatives: We weren't happy with the excursion offerings on this cruise, with many of them being a bit on the expensive side and the rental of private vehicles through HAL was extremely prohibitive. We were sort of 'stuck' for our stop in Sardinia (Tunisia alternative) and spent the day on our own there. We also had a problem with our bathroom tub backing up, but HAL was quick to fix it (within two hours). Other cruises we've been on have always had 24-hour food service in the Lido. There were times when we returned from excursions that we would go up to the Lido deck only to find nothing available to eat or minimal offerings, at best, of what was left out by the pool. At night (after midnight) there was nothing available, not even cookies. We are used to sailing on Princess cruises, where food is always available on the Lido deck. That said, I would definitely sail on HAL again! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was our first cruise. We went with our two young children (boys: 7 and 4) and their grandparents, who are seasoned cruisers. I have never considered myself a cruiser; in fact, I was probably somewhat opposed to it prior to this ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We went with our two young children (boys: 7 and 4) and their grandparents, who are seasoned cruisers. I have never considered myself a cruiser; in fact, I was probably somewhat opposed to it prior to this cruise. We are experienced travelers and understand the challenges that come with traveling with kids, especially on a multiple-leg journey. Going on this Noordam cruise was great, first and foremost, because of the ports and sites we visited, allowing us to sample a bunch of locations in a two week period. Some ports we loved and will plan on going back to (Dubrovnik, for example) and others we consider one and done. I was also pleasantly surprised at the ease with which we were able to see so many places without the hassle of checking in and out of hotels and the associated transit and packing/unpacking. It is now safe to say that we are cruise converts. The HAL ship was in great shape, the staff was superb, and the food was good. The demographics leaned older, as is expected, but there were enough kids to make it fun--especially at one of the pools. All in all a big thumbs up (flying from SFO to Rome and back with a 4 year old is a whole other story. Ouch!:-) Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
We thoroughly enjoyed our 21 day cruise last year and could not fault the service on the ship. A little on the downside was the cabin on deck 4 with a lifeboat obstructed view, which we knew we would be getting, was still very comfortable, ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our 21 day cruise last year and could not fault the service on the ship. A little on the downside was the cabin on deck 4 with a lifeboat obstructed view, which we knew we would be getting, was still very comfortable, although next time we would be booking a cabin with a balcony as friends had one on a deck higher up which was just magic! The 2 stewards were amazing and looked after us really well. We did ask after 7 days for an upgrade but there were none available. Our meals were first class and the staff aimed to please. We always had our table booked in the Vista Room for the same time each night and the same excellent waiter remembered each night what drinks we would be ordering. We only did one organised tour which was well organised and worth paying the money for and we were advised to do because of the safety aspect. An excellent memorable cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed and will book again for another one in 2013. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Embarkation- We arrived in Civitavecchia (Rome) on the Navigator of the Seas, transatlantic from New Orleans. We took a bus to the entrance of the port and got on another bus going to the Noordam. We were the first to arrive at the ... Read More
Embarkation- We arrived in Civitavecchia (Rome) on the Navigator of the Seas, transatlantic from New Orleans. We took a bus to the entrance of the port and got on another bus going to the Noordam. We were the first to arrive at the check-in tent so we waited 45-60 minutes before boarding the ship. Everything was well organized and painless. Ship information- The ship had been in dry dock for two weeks in Palermo, Sicily and it should had been left in dry dock for another two weeks to complete the work. They were adding more cabins on the 10th deck, painting, sanding, welding during the day and during the night. One couldn't sit by the pool without being disturbed by the construction noise. They had also just installed new carpet which was pilling badly and never seemed to be vacuumed. There were always crumbs on the floor under the tables from the night before. Since we had just left the Navigator of the Seas, with beautiful and elegant decor, the Noordam seemed to be "cheaply made". Activities - There were plenty of activities to keep one busy, especially since this was a port intensive cruise. HA employees a person who gives a overview of each port, history of the area, and gives tips on getting around without a shore excursion. The information that he gave was so helpful and made each area more interesting. Entertainment - The entertainment was generally good with few exceptions, like the opera singer. The cruise director, a gentleman from Atlanta was a hoot!! This cruise director added so much entertainment himself and I would love to go on another cruise where he was assigned as the cruise director. Dining - The food and service were great, especially in the main or formal dining room. The Lido restaurant was crowded and difficult to maneuver around when it was crowded. A majority of the food was served from behind a food counter, so one had to stand in line to get the food. This method is safer from a food safety stand point, but frustrating when you only want one thing behind the counter. Stateroom - we had an ocean view cabin, category DD, which was good. The drawers under the bed stored linens for the sofa-bed so they couldn't be used for our clothes. The attendants kept the room clean and neat. Since the room was on the lower deck, it was a lot of stairs up to the lido for the buffet restaurant, pool or the gym. Embarkation - was easy and painless. We were flying out of Athens to Crete, so we took a taxi to the airport which was much cheaper than the cruise ship's transport to the airport. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on my first cruise as I always suffer from seasickness. I really didn't have to worry as the ship was huge and very stable. My travel agent suggest picking a cabin mid-ship and we chose one ... Read More
I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on my first cruise as I always suffer from seasickness. I really didn't have to worry as the ship was huge and very stable. My travel agent suggest picking a cabin mid-ship and we chose one on the Upper Promenade deck. Its was semi obscured but it suited us fine, with plenty of room and light. My husband who thought he would be bored was amazed at how busy we were. The days were filled with shore excursions, eating, swimming, eating, going to the many classes, lectures and exhibitions on board, eating, using the library and Internet, eating again, shopping on-board, you guessed it, eating. We saw a different show every night and if we had been so inclined gambled in the casino. As you have already gathered the food was amazing from the poolside grill to the five star night at Le Cirque. Silver service breakfasts and high teas...yum. We spent 20 amazing nights touring both the Eastern & Western Mediterranean, made lots of new friends and saw some wonderful sights. If you have never cruised before, do it! I can certainly recommend the Holland America cruise line. The staff are wonderful and nothing is too much trouble. If it can be done for you it will be. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We greatly enjoyed this cruise; the food was good and everything was well organised. At no time did we feel that we were sharing the ship with 2,000 other passengers. Plenty of quiet places to sit and no shortage of sun-beds. Our cabin ... Read More
We greatly enjoyed this cruise; the food was good and everything was well organised. At no time did we feel that we were sharing the ship with 2,000 other passengers. Plenty of quiet places to sit and no shortage of sun-beds. Our cabin (sorry - stateroom) was a good size and the bed super-comfortable. There were queues in the self-service restaurant but this was a place best avoided anyway. The waiter-service restaurant was open for every meal, so why wait in a queue when someone with a smile will get it for you? When I say "A very American cruise" I mean it as a compliment as well as a slight criticism. Everything worked well thanks to good management. Patti, the Cruise Director, was indefatigable but also slightly wearing. I longed for a more laid back approach with fewer superlatives. I thought that the interior design of the ship was spectacular but, in places, garish and slightly tasteless. Nice paintings but plaster and polystyrene statues in niches? The standard of entertainment was mixed. The Song and Dance Troupe were very professional and the hydraulic platforms on the stage in the Vista Lounge (the theatre) were used to good effect. But why did this talented team only put on two full song and dance shows in ten days? The sound was far too loud during the Cuban pianist's act and he was truly awful anyway. The English comedian and the acrobatic duo were OK. The string trio could not play in tune. Holland America shore excursions are very expensive, so avoid the hard sell from Patti and avoid them. Other reviewers have described how alternatives may be found. And the $11 per passenger per day service charge is very steep by European standards. We did not see it mentioned in any pre-cruise literature and we were not told that there was any option but to pay it. Patti as much as admitted that the crew rely on this service charge to supplement their wages. This is an unsatisfactory situation. Drinks were very expensive and I was irked by the insistence that I have no alcohol in my stateroom except that provide in the mini bar by Holland America. On the last evening of the cruise, the waiters were required to dance around waving napkins before placing them in our laps. They also sang half-heartedly. I felt that this was demeaning for them and added nothing to the diners' enjoyment. Perhaps Holland America Line are not trying to cater for European travellers. There were very few of us on board. Our American, Australian and Canadian companions were great but, at times, a little noisy and exclusive. It is a cliche for the British to say that it was not possible to get a decent cup of tea, but it was true! Having re-read the above, I realise that it is quite critical. That is not the overall impression I want to give. Let me finish where I started - we greatly enjoyed the cruise. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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