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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd ... Read More
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd combo...hopefully they will upgrade that. Elevators around the corner zip up to Lido and MDR. Food was excellent. Banana bread French toast was a fav in MDR for breakfast. Creme Brûlée, prime rib, French onion soup, any dessert all good. Pork roast was like Sunday dinner as a kid. Liked the trivia games and the happy hour in the Crows Nest. Lincoln centre stage was excellent. Gift shop was so-so... to many high end things and low end was gaudy. Embarkation and disembarkation was the smoothest I have experienced. The staff were the real stand outs. Always friendly , helpful, smiling and keeping things clean. They work so hard! Great ports mix of large and small. 24 hour sun was something to see! Did not do any shore excursions with HAL(to expensive)all were booked ahead of time online. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Note, this May 25, 2019 HA Rotterdam sailing (May 25 to June 8, 2019), was a 14 day Norway cruise, not 21 days. We booked this to see the fjords, scenery, certain tours, and go beyond the Arctic Circle to the most northerly point in ... Read More
Note, this May 25, 2019 HA Rotterdam sailing (May 25 to June 8, 2019), was a 14 day Norway cruise, not 21 days. We booked this to see the fjords, scenery, certain tours, and go beyond the Arctic Circle to the most northerly point in Europe. There were two key port downgrades due to tender maintenance issues...completely within HA control, and either an example of poor maintenance or an inadequate PM (Preventative Maintenance) Program. Neither of the substitute ports (Skjolden or Hellesylt) offered anything like the originally planned excursions that Flam and Geiranger offered. Flam and Geiranger were prime ports due to their excursions, and losing these ports was a major disappointment, all within HA control. There was very poor communications issues with port changes. Nothing when checking in, nothing from the room steward when handed the excursion tickets, about the missing ports / excursions. We had to call Guest Services as to why we were missing excursion tickets, and the communication was matter of fact that due to tender issues, had to change the two ports...lack of empathy or apology. The Captain's approach to dealing with the issue was very negative. I met with the Captain on behalf of a group of 25 Cruise Critics members re the port changes, expressing disappointment and asking for fare reduction, and instead of empathy, the Captain said that he would not tolerate any potential growing unrest, and that if the Cruise Critic group met again, that under Maritime Law I would be put off the ship at the next port. The Cruise Critic group was taking no unrest actions. The Captain's approach was an unbelievably negative experience. Other ship issues: Safety concerns associated with the drill and lifeboat changes / positions. When everyone was lined up at their life boat position, there was only about a metre of space to the railing, with people trying to walk by. If everyone was wearing their bulky life jackets, there would have been no space. We view that the life boat drill without wearing life jackets is not realistic and is an inadequate drill. Frequent toilet not flushing issues. Frequent Sat TV not working. General ship condition - rust, some cracked windows. No laundry room, with excuse of 'hygiene'. If that is real, then every laundry mat in the world should close. We suspect that the real reason is that the washers and dryers break and need regular maintenance. Food and food service was very good. Room steward service was very good. We outlined these issues to the HA President, and requested certain financial consideration. While HA indicated that they would follow-up on the issues that we raised, HA only offered a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, on a next cruise...wholly inadequate. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We picked this cruise for the itinerary because it went above the Arctic circle along with Flam and Geiranger. Soon after we boarded the ship on May 25th we were informed via a piece of paper stuffed in the “welcome package” that our ... Read More
We picked this cruise for the itinerary because it went above the Arctic circle along with Flam and Geiranger. Soon after we boarded the ship on May 25th we were informed via a piece of paper stuffed in the “welcome package” that our itinerary had changed. We were no longer going to Flam or Geiranger due to tenders not working. Ship Condition - showing major wear. Windows in dining room were cracked. A lot of rust around door frames in bathroom, bath tub, and out on balcony. Outdated decor. Food - overall we liked the food. We enjoyed the Dive in grill, pizza place, lido salad bar, and dining room(breakfast and dinners). Service - the crew is wonderful both in dining room and cabin stewards. Officers were aloof and not friendly. The Captain, guest relations, and Seattle office have made it very clear that HA is well within its rights to change ports at anytime. Absolutely no compensation not even a small gesture has been offered after numerous people have complained. Room - sadly we booked a guarantee and were placed over the Ocean Bar. So every night we heard music until 11:30 pm. Internet package was expensive and limited internet at times. Should not be charged when we can’t get service until 6:00 pm or later as we sail out of a Fjord. Entertainment - enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage venue and BBC movies, other entertainment was just ok(magician, comedian, sax player) We will not be cruising HA again. The issues on this cruise and HA’s response says it all for us. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I were on the Rotterdam for 55 day in 2015 and liked it very much. The ship is very different now. There appeared to be a reduction in staff that resulted in frequent poor service in the Lido and often poor service in the ... Read More
My wife and I were on the Rotterdam for 55 day in 2015 and liked it very much. The ship is very different now. There appeared to be a reduction in staff that resulted in frequent poor service in the Lido and often poor service in the main dinning room. Seldom refills in the Lido and two and a half hours in the main dinning room. The employees in the main dinning room worked hard but there weren't enough of them. Many of the employees in the Lido appeared to be poorly trained and lacked proper supervision. The cabin boys were excellent and did every thing they could to make our stay as good as possible. The Food was often very bland and lacked proper seasoning. There were a lot of desserts with varying quality. When I ordered lamb chops I received only two which were quite small. Of the 21 days there were only two entertainers that were good. There was no duplicate bridge, no craft lessons, almost no expert speakers, The lectures on upcoming ports were obviously for selling excursions, It was a boring cruise Fellow cruisers read a lot of books and played games in the library. The price of the internet was outrageous with no reception most of the time. The ship shows its age with warn carpet with poorly chosen carpet colors. The design is confusing with an odd layout. We missed the two most important ports of the cruise. The excuse for for missing Flam was that several of the tenders were in operable. How did several tenders have problems at the same time? What happened to preventive maintenance. We had doubts about the life boats. The ports were advertised over two years ago, why had docking reservations made then. There were four other cruise ships in the port. We have well over 200 days of cruising but will never take another cruise on Holland American again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
The ship. It had been two years since we sailed ms Rotterdam and the ship's inside public places were extensively done over in a very nice way. New carpets, new upholstery and a general new feel when walking around deck 4 and 5. ... Read More
The ship. It had been two years since we sailed ms Rotterdam and the ship's inside public places were extensively done over in a very nice way. New carpets, new upholstery and a general new feel when walking around deck 4 and 5. Inside our verandah cabin the couch was new, not leathery this time, and the cabin was clean with no defects. Airconditioning worked fine the whole two weeks. The washroom however was not updated. Everything worked, hot/cold water, flush, but the general condition of the bath, although clean, was bad. Apparently the area around the bath faucets was and had been leaking with a lot of rust as a result. This was painted over, but rust was already apparent again. This fortunately did not lesson the enjoyment of the cruise, but is something HAL should attend to as they will keep ships like Rotterdam for another ten years as told by the hotel director on the ship. Dining. Admittedly a subjective subject, we think the choice and quality of the meals in the mdr has improved greatly. I liked every course I selected, which has not always been the case, and it was never a problem to order seconds. There is no charge for a second main course. The lido was used for breakfast and lunch. Quality is good with lots of choices, italian corner, far lands (asian) corner, sushi corner, salad bar, fixed sandwiches etc. On the aft deck you can get made to order pizza, we did that once and it was good and in the covered pool was a snackbar with hamburgers and fries, also good. I sometime read about bad attendance by lido waiters but that is not the case here. Tables were cleaned in record time and they came around for water/koffie etc very often. It seemed like a full house and that reflected in a very busy lido, so to have a table of choice you would have to come early. We did not do pinnacle or canalletto. Crew. They were fabulous as ever. From cabin stewards, dining stewards, in fact everybody you met, it was all smiles and helpfullness. Itinerary. Due to strong winds the harbour of Warnemunde closed and it was not safe anyway to dock there. This was to be the start of Berlin tours and was a great dissapointment for passengers who had embarked on the previous cuise and had stayed on for this one, they had already missed two ports and this would be the third. So another seaday, but the captain announced already at noon that the next day's scheduled sea day would be replaced with an impromptu port stop at Riga and that turned out to be a great one! Rotterdam had never been there before, in fact only Prinsendam had. Every other, scheduled, stop was in general early to arrive and on time to leave. Overall. It was a great cruise, despite the unusual cold weather for the baltic. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this trip as we wanted to see Norway and the Northern lights. When we got to Tibury we were sent round in circles. The signs were few and far between and not very well positioned. We followed the signs only to be told that we ... Read More
We chose this trip as we wanted to see Norway and the Northern lights. When we got to Tibury we were sent round in circles. The signs were few and far between and not very well positioned. We followed the signs only to be told that we were in the wrong area. It was like Custers last stand! There were cars going round and round in circles all being in the wrong place. We finally got to the right area and had to sit under a marquee with rain, whipped up by high winds, blowing through!! The first impression of the ship wasn't good. It looked pretty unkempt . We were on deck 7 and the smell of sewage and fuel oil was overwhelming . I made a comment to one off the crew and we were told " It's an old ship " and that this was it's last trip before a refit. The smell got worse over the next 4 days particularly when the Captain made a decision to sail with a force 11 predicted!! We had 7/8 metre waves and hurricane force winds. This was a full day at sea. The opinion if the guests was that we shouldn't have sailed. The smell after was REVOLTING. It made your eyes sting and you held your breath until you got away from the stairwell. The food was bland and pretty much the same every day. The trouble was seating. There simply wasnt enough seats and tables to cater for everybody. We had to sit on the window sills on two occasions!! They were constantly running out of cutlery and crockery. Mugs were at a premium. The room staff were SUPERB, as were the waiters, but other bar staff had a couldn't care less attitude. We were served the wrong drinks numerous times and had our cards swapped on 3 occasions. The shows were, well what do I say?. Queen tribute night summed it up. The backing ' band' were terrible. The 4 singers went from English to their native tounge if the couldn't remember the words. I didn't know if to laugh or cry! We walked out after the third song. Some people did say they enjoyed it to be fair. The comedian we saw had the oldest jokes you could think of. To make matters worse he tried to play the guitar! He couldn't keep up with the back music AND played out of time and time. The tours were good and we saw the Northern lights, which was the reason for the cruise. The tour guides were very helpful. We wouldn't sail again on the Meggelan. I know this was it's last trip and it showed, but it just lacked the things that make it a nice ship. Perhaps after a refit things might be different. But going on our experience, this was a outdated old smelly ship and had we known that, we wouldn't have booked it. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Visiting norway and iceland Again Queen Elizabeth has technical problems : can‘ t therefore landing in Isjafordur. Excursions are cancelled; yesterday night the ship could‘t drive all the time with her max. speed, so we had a ... Read More
Visiting norway and iceland Again Queen Elizabeth has technical problems : can‘ t therefore landing in Isjafordur. Excursions are cancelled; yesterday night the ship could‘t drive all the time with her max. speed, so we had a delay in Akureyi. I remember my cruising by QE 2 years ago: in St. Petersburg we could‘t depart; by the way: it has been the same captain Why cunard is not able to remove the known technical problems? I hope they will solve theses problems to the next cruise we have booked with Queen Elizabeth in may 2019: from yokohama towards alaska and to vancouver. I ithink cunard requires too much of this ship. Captain says that we shall have understanding for her decision. This will be difficult because things repeat. Summery: crew- specially in restaurants, bars, on deck and the butler in the staterooms is very courteous and friendly. The german hostess sometimes was arrogant and complacent. The (english) travel tours hostess rattled off the explanation of the trips. Dining in Queens Grill had been excellent; cabin was luxurious and calm. We will return and hope that technical problems will be solved. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. ... Read More
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. I’ll try to just stick with the basics and facts. First, the cleanliness of our cabin was horrendous. One of the first things we had to do upon getting into our cabin was pee, and that’s where I noticed blood on the shower walls from my view whilst on the leu. After that, I entered the main cabin and lamented to my gf there was blood on the shower / tub from the previous guests and that’s where I noticed stained walls from what looked like dried Coke that had sprayed all over the walls behind the couch. And I mean all over, like how could you miss that cleaning crew. So we called to have our room cleaned and that led to a whole other incident where we were locked out of our cabin for 3 hrs. mind you we just got there, wanted to shower and change after a 10 hr flight. So it was not ideal right off the bat. The staff was very laid back about everything, and not in a good way. No hustle to get us situated (that will also come up later) During the process having to walk back and forth over 10 times to the front desk - to see if this key worked and if that key worked they finally resorted to call a locksmith that leasurley came 3 hrs later. Our toilets backed up daily and our room smelled like poop well because there was poop floating in our toilets that wouldn’t flush. At the first port I went to buy some Lysol wipes and wiped the cabin down myself. Being grossed out from everything upon arrival. The blackness that came off everything was nauseating: the phone, the switches, door handles, all black and filthy. I was trying to be a good sport and not complain bc it was my girlfriends first cruise and I wanted her to have a good time. But it just continued to disappoint. The food was not great. Everything was heavy, fried and very salty. The staff in the lido deck didn’t really interact with you and didn’t listen to any requests. Like go light with the salad dressing, they would drench the salad anyway and hand it over miffed and just want to move on to the next person. Customer service in all the food areas were bad, staff had a bad attitude and pretty much just lazy. they had lines at certain stations for 20 minutes or longer, when they had plenty of staff and should have made adjustments for the busier stations, like open another omlet section or salad station. So when having dinner with your companion that ate something different than you, they would be done with their meal by the time you got yours. Never saw any food managers, either. The only thing healthy was the salad bar and the lettuce was often the “last day of lettuce” if you know what I mean. So cleanliness- very poor, food not great, staff - pretty over it and other things like the internet package is 100 bucks for 5 days, but they don’t tell you the internet doesn’t work if you’re in the fjords (that happened to be about 24 hrs or more) and your guest in the cabin has to buy their own internet so it goes by person - definitely felt ripped off that - and when I told them they should have a disclaimer when buying the internet that it wouldn’t work docked in the fjord, she just looked at me like I was speaking another language and had this expression like “oh well” and didn’t do or say anything else. So. Customer service also pretty bad. All in all I was very disappointed with the “management” of the ship. The last thing they messed up was our debark- we didn’t receive luggage tags and had to get them from the long line at guest services. Then they were late delivering our luggage to the luggage drop off center and it caused us to miss our transport bus, that we had to now wait for another bus that in turn had us RUNNING to catch our flight. We debarked the ship at 7:45 am and had a 8:30 am bus, but had to take the 10:30 am bus. So while we waited and waited- we watched the luggage handlers just take their time like no one had anything else to do that day. Very disorganized and very over their “jobs”. New management and new crew ASAP. The ship itself had a lot of cool artwork, and I liked the “antique” vibe - but that’s the best thing I can say about the ship itself and Holland America. There were just a handful of delightful people that do work there with a smile on their face but it kinda sucks the 95% of the bad staff was so bad that those 5% don’t really get the review. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our 8th cruise, but first one with HAL. We thought this ship was an upgrade ( at least it was in price!) compared to to Princess or Royal Caribbean. We choose this cruise as it was the only Cruise line going all the way to the top ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, but first one with HAL. We thought this ship was an upgrade ( at least it was in price!) compared to to Princess or Royal Caribbean. We choose this cruise as it was the only Cruise line going all the way to the top of Norway at that time of the year, to Honigsvag and Hammerfest and we always wanted to go to the Northcape. Most cruise lines go only up to Trontheim and we really wanted to go all the way. Well, in hindsight we could have booked the cheaper cruises up to Trontheim, as we never got to the North. A couple of days before we were going North, the captain announced that we were in for some heavy weather. He told us that he would probably change plans and not go all along the coast, but through the Lofoten, which was a more sheltered route. Well, if that would have happened we would have been ok and happy with that. But somehow he changed plans, the weather deteriorated after Trontheim, but he actually went further west into the storm, without any explanation. It resulted in the ship just floating at sea for 4 days. We were pretty upset, together with many other passengers, and wrote a personal letter to the captain, asking why he did not go through the Lofoten. We never got an answer. Embarkation was smooth, no issue there, Cabin was good, spacious and clean. Cabin steward was very good and service minded. But I have to agree with other reviewers that staff in buffet and other restaurants was slow, not friendly and clearly missing strong management overseeing what is happening. In the restaurant we had a few disappointing experiences, but when we complained, no one really took it serious or did something to rectify. We never saw a headwaiter. And yes, even if there was a big row of guests waiting in line, staff would still act slowly and disinterested. Don't bother about a drink package, we love our wine, but all of them were very much overpriced and not worth drinking. Beer was a better alternative. Drinks were relatively very expensive on the ship. A bottle of wine which would cost us in Australia not more than $10 would set us back about $80 if you add the 15% surcharge iWe just came from a Baltic Sea cruise with MSC, where the wines were of much better quality and more reasonably priced. Although our cabin was clean, we found that the outside appearance of the ship and some areas inside were grubby. Windows were too dirty to look through and decks and swimming pool areas were not clean. Several Public toilets showed dust buildup on the floors. Benches along the perimeter of Crow's nest showed a thick layer of dust, on top as well as underneath. Again, lack of supervision probably. Excursions were also very expensive and not worth bothering about. In most places along the Norwegian coast you could easily take the same bus or train yourself or book through a tourist information at a fraction of the price. The most disappointing on this ship was the (lack of) entertainment. We have never been so bored on a ship. During the day there was absolutely nothing to do. No quizzes, no dance lessons or anything like it. Shows were OK, nothing special, but after the show there was again nothing to do. We love going for a dance at night, but forget about that on this ship. Average age was probably 80, so that might be the reason why management thinks this is OK and acceptable. Conclusion:Never again with HAL.MS Rotterdam Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included 8 countries. We were able to tour the Hermitage and the fjords, places on our bucket list. Also, we thought since the Rotterdam was a smaller ship, it would be easier to get around the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included 8 countries. We were able to tour the Hermitage and the fjords, places on our bucket list. Also, we thought since the Rotterdam was a smaller ship, it would be easier to get around the meet people. We were shocked to see the condition of the ship and our stateroom. We cruised on another HOL ship some years ago and loved it. But this experience was substandard. We heard worse stories from other passengers about their problems on board, so we knew it was endemic. We asked guest services to be moved to another room, but they said that wasn't possible. Of the 10 shore excursions we took, 8 were very good. But the "Historic Walk through Kristiansand" was led by a very boring guide who walked too fast. Many of the group left to tour on their own. The tour in Oslo, "Vegeland Sculpture Park and Viking Ship Museum" was terrible. Their were 50 people on this tour and we had no head phones to hear the guide who would start talking about items as soon as she was off the bus. We asked the guide, Maria Atlanta, to wait until all of us could hear her, but she just ignored the request. She spent too much time at the ski jump, then hurried us through the Viegland Park. She was rude to some of the guests. It was very disappointing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
The following are representative examples of the various problems that we encountered: 1- Shuttle from Amsterdam to ship: We paid HAL for shuttle transfer to take us from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. We were designated a location to go to ... Read More
The following are representative examples of the various problems that we encountered: 1- Shuttle from Amsterdam to ship: We paid HAL for shuttle transfer to take us from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. We were designated a location to go to get the shuttle. We went there and waited for three full hours from 9:15am until 12:15pm. With 1.5 hours waiting outside the hotel that you designated, unprotected from the cold, wind and rain, because the hotel refused to let us in, and contrary to what we were told there were no HAL agents available to help, no lounge in the hotel to go to, and the hotel had no information on anything. We have never been treated like this. The Park Plaza Victoria Hotel had no idea about the shuttle bus, and told us to go to check at the bus terminals on the street outside the hotel. We went to the ticketing booths which manages shuttle and tourist buses. They also did not have any ideas about the HAL shuttle. We had to call the concierge of the hotel tin which we stayed to contact HAL and check the correct information about our shuttle bus. It was a real mess that we had not expected nor experienced before. We were advised to go there at 9:00am or 9:15am. We were told that HAL staff would be there waiting outside on the sidewalk and also inside the hotel to check us in. It was truly bad experience and resulted in catching cold by both my wife and I, getting various medications by our friends from Germany and looking for and buying medications in both Helsinki and Stockholm, sacrificing our time that was planned to enjoy sightseeing locations, and with such cold that stayed with us until we departed we disembarked 2- Ship: We were told that it was recently fully refurbishment. This is not showing at all. Even the cabin bathroom door frames are full of rust and peeled paint. The interior details of the cabin itself are done without considering the functional requirements of the user. When I asked Marco, the hotel Director, about this and why rust was not treated within the cabin, he said that refurbishment was done for 2-week period only and thus it covered only cosmetics (some carpet, etc.). When I told him that I was informed that it was full refurbishment, he said that that was never the case. 3- Front desk: Many attendants are with poor communication skills. EX: When I called and asked for something, the reply was “OK” and the attendant wanted always to hang up before informing how, when, etc. 4- Housekeeping: Steward was nor responsive to our repeated calls. Finally he was replaced with another good steward, Wayan. 5- Food: Unusual quality. Many of the foods were almost always under cooked, without taste and/or too salty. Food service was bad. Waiter was changed, but without improvement. Finally we got a good waiter, Subrato, who proved to be very good. We were tired of the bad service in the dining hall. Thus, for example, for breakfast we decided to stop having it in dining halls and instead go to the 8F Lido buffet. 6- Shore excursions: A- We had a 12-hour Berlin, with 3-hour bus drive OW. The guide (Rene) was very good, while the conductor (Julia) was very unprofessional and with no experience (ex: a- when I asked if the bus has toilet she did not know, and when I indicated that its design shows that it has a toilet she replied saying that she does not know if it can be used, b- she only distributed sandwiches and water and did not say a word throughout 6-hour bus ride, explaining the surroundings and towns passed or anything. Irrespective, Rene’s coverage was very professional (content, timing, communication, keeping the group together, etc.). B- We had another in Tallinn, where the tour guide (Helle) was unprofessional and almost all her explanations was simplistic descriptions such as “this is a building made of concrete”, “this is a school”, etc. While she continued her emphasis on intensive talk of hatred to Russia, and neglecting that we are not interested in her political opinion, but are interested in the history, culture, churches, architecture, and sightseeing spots. C- Two more excursions we had in St. Petersburg (one with a guide called Marina): they were true fiascos. Totally unprofessional. Guides are with poor English ability. They seemed to have no experience nor preparations. Rambling most of the time. 7- Phone system: Bianca informed she left a voice mail. I had a voice message light blinking but there was no voice mail. A guest services attendant came to the cabin and got the voice mail function corrected. 8- Medical center: Contrary to Princess, they refused acknowledging receiving my ice packs (that I need to have frozen to keep my glaucoma eye drops refrigerated while travelling back to Japan). After I insisted, I received a receipt. Additionally, and also contrary to Princess, they refused to deliver it back to me early morning before departure, claiming that doing this before their work hours is not emergency and thus requires $45~$50 fee. 9- Transfer from ship to Amsterdam airport: After I inquired about the details, I was informed that I had to pick our #4 suitcases from the cruise terminal by ourselves, and carry them by ourselves together with our carry-on bags to the shuttle bus taking us to the airport. When I requested a logical explanation on how this can be done, they said that some porters there maybe able to help. When I said that “maybe” is not sufficient to me, they said they will ensure that a porter will help. They did not know if this will be honored, especially that the front desk manager said that “HAL is not obliged to help with this. However, they will do it as special accommodation. When I argued that I paid HAL for a cruise and transport and expect to receive luggage moved to shuttle as part of the service, they did not understand the simple logic of this. 10- Departing the ship and going to airport: I was informed that we should vacate our cabins and leave the ship to take the latest shuttle bus leaving latest 9:15am. If we do this we will end up with more than 8 hours at the airport with suitcases, as our flight is at 7pm. I asked to help with finding a day hotel at Amsterdam airport that charges per hour or half day, they said I can do this online by myself. When I explained that my cell phones don’t work in Holland, the internet connection is not reliable, and I don’t speak Dutch, after argument they finally helped reserving a day room at an Accor hotel for Euro130. When I inquired, I found that the Accor hotel is located within the transit area. This means we should do the check-in firstly, which is impossible because check in starts 2~3 hours before the flight. I requested to cancel the reservation and find another hotel outside the transit area. They reserved a day room at Sheraton for Euro 230. While doing this, I requested vacating the cabin early but staying at the ship with the luggage until around 4 hours before the flight, and then take a taxi to Amsterdam airport. They refused, saying that everyone has to vacate the ship latest by 9:15am. Although I did this long time ago in Hawaii with NCL. Can you imagine the hassle I suffered with most unprofessional front desk and front desk manager, in addition to paying Euro230 for a day room. 11- Hotel director: We met him. After we explained above issues we expected that he will help in erasing the bad feeling caused by the above mistakes. He even did not have the decency to apologize and react properly and professionally. Instead, we received a voicemail from the guest relations manager offering pathetic compensation of dinner for two at the Pinnacle (value $70), which we rejected right away. Because this shows disrespect to us, in light of what we suffered. We were told that the matter is conveyed to HAL corporate office. Thereafter, we were offered $200 shipboard credit ($100/person). It was useless to continue discussion with the hotel director who seemed not to understand the magnitude of the problem we encountered. I could not believe that a hotel director will behave in that manner. Conclusion: When I wrote several times to the president of the cruise line, stating all above issues, I received nothing except a cold reply and pathetic credit to use on future cruises within same cruise line, which I declined as I did not bother to respond to. No body there ever gave any impression that they care and that I decided not ever to use the same cruise line if I don't receive proper apology and compensation. They are totally out of touch of the reality that their mistakes should be corrected properly. Otherwise, by time they will have no customers interested in cruising with them. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots ... Read More
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots of buckets on decks 1 and 2 .Lots of leakage . All kinds of not matching carpets to hide the fungus .One meter red , three meters with a patttern , 1 meter blue and so on. The pool on the outer deck was without water and filled with sunbeds . You wonder if the interior of the ship is so badly maintained ,how is the outside ? Is it save ? We had a complaint about the guest service .At guest service they asked to report our complaint after our holiday .No 8 weeks later ,we still not have a reply..After 6 weeks iasked if they forgot to answer . But no I had to be patient. The food and service in the restaurants was excellent .Compliments are due. Entertainment was poor , No big shows like Royal Caribbean . You had to pay for dancinglesses , fitness 12 dollar . And also for coffee after your meal The cruisedirector was a dispair .Did not do much good . Even introdeuced the captain with a complete different name. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. As always when we cruise with HAL we found the staff to be helpful, friendly and very hard working. Perhaps it's us but we have certain expectations in regards to a ship. This one was clean ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. As always when we cruise with HAL we found the staff to be helpful, friendly and very hard working. Perhaps it's us but we have certain expectations in regards to a ship. This one was clean and comfortable, but it was evident that it needs work. Many windows were cracked and there were leaks along many of them. We heard of plumbing leaks in certain staterooms, as well as seen leaks in the Lido and the Crow's Nest lounge. Our itinerary needed to be changed because there were too many icebergs in Prins Christian Sund as well as in one of the ports of call, which was fine with us since safety should come first. The Captain was great in finding us alternatives. As always the food was plentiful and of very good quality in the Lido as well as the dining room. We went to the Pinnacle Grill on three separate occasions and the food was spectacular each time. My husband and I rarely eat beef, but the filet mignon at the Pinnacle Grill was astounding. On board they had many talks about the ports of call and the areas in general. The ones we attended were very good. However, we found there were few other activities on board. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I believe Holland American Line only does this trip several times in the summer , and it is one of the few that includes the far Northcape of Norway. We took it primarily for the scenery, and we were certainly not disappointed! There was ... Read More
I believe Holland American Line only does this trip several times in the summer , and it is one of the few that includes the far Northcape of Norway. We took it primarily for the scenery, and we were certainly not disappointed! There was just the right number of sea days and time ashore, and cruising through the fjords of Norway was a beautiful experience. The Rotterdam is an older ship , and unfortunately our only real complaint was that the windows were very dirty . I understand the ship is soon to go into dry dock, so the problems with the windows goes beyond just simple cleaning. Hopefully that will improve the views from the public area . But being a mid size ship with interesting decor, we found it very comfortable. The passengers were certainly older, but most extremely well traveled. In addition to a wide range of activities and entertainment, it is one of the few cruise lines that had a classical option for those interested in that type of music. The dining experience was outstanding , and all of the personnel were most helpful and gracious . It also offered an afternoon tea that was beautifully prepared and served. Wish we were still on board! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
If you like scenery you will love this cruise, highlights must be flam railway, North Cape, and Geiranger which is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. HAL still our favorite Cruise Line, the standard is very consistent, ... Read More
If you like scenery you will love this cruise, highlights must be flam railway, North Cape, and Geiranger which is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. HAL still our favorite Cruise Line, the standard is very consistent, Staff friendly and always polite and happy to help. Food always excellent. Talks on ship very interesting and of course the culinary arts center always has something new to show. If wanting to improve your computer skills you will always find great courses this ship. The shows by the dancers and singers on this ship were one of the best we have ever seen. Lot of quite places to read, or just listen to relaxing music. No pushy sales on this ship, usual offers but no hard sell. Cabin very comfortable with lovely beds, everything you need for relaxing stay. Although this is an older ship which does need updating the pluses outweigh the negatives. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
WE loved the 30 day itinerary on this cruise , both the Mediterranean and the Baltic . Ship is very nice, smaller by today's standards but delightful. Older but still a great ship . Holland America staff was fantastic this ... Read More
WE loved the 30 day itinerary on this cruise , both the Mediterranean and the Baltic . Ship is very nice, smaller by today's standards but delightful. Older but still a great ship . Holland America staff was fantastic this was was our 16th cruise and some of the best service I have seen . We had a Vista Cabin that was perfect for our needs . Nice Balcony , table for room service and a nice bathroom . Room steward was perfection , always well maintained. Plenty of storage especial for a long cruise . While we were very busy with excursions the entertainment was always good . Dancers and shows very good . Had an excellent Irish comedian who was very funny . Bars were well staffed and we made good use of our drink package . Service was cheerful and fast . As for dinning, the dinning room was lovely and well appointed . Service was fantastic our waiter was spot on every night . Evan anticipating our needs . The menu for me was very strongly Dutch influenced . The did always have a steak and salad. . Some nights it was such a mixture of Dutch and Indonesian that I made a dinner of appetizers . The second half of the Cruise had a very large percentage of Dutch and that perhaps reflected the food choices . It was not what I remember from past Holland Cruises . Having said that I would still jump on any chance to sail on Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our first Holland America cruise (we've done Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival), and was the smallest ship we'd been on (1200 passengers vs 3000 or so). Holland America has become my line of choice. We much ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise (we've done Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival), and was the smallest ship we'd been on (1200 passengers vs 3000 or so). Holland America has become my line of choice. We much preferred the smaller ship. The crew was consistently cheerful, polite, responsive(even when we encountered them on their free days on shore). The housekeeping was outstanding. The food very good. The Library unequaled--we spent a lot of time there. The live music options throughout the ship were varied and all outstanding quality. We found ourselves listening to the classical and semi-classical most often, in the library lounge. But there were plenty of up-beat options. Probably most enjoyable were the people we met--they tended to be middle aged and up, interesting, generally well traveled, fun to be with. , from a variety of countries--Holland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada. On both legs of our cruise we had great dining mates. The ship's shore excursions tended to get a be repetitive, especially in the Norway fjords. One would have sufficed, instead of three. However we most enjoyed our TJ Travel private and semi-private tours in Berlin and in St. Petersburg. They were very organized, got us inside the palaces before the lines, flexible, fed us wonderful food, knowledgeable, good English. those three days with TJ travel were the highlights of our shore excursions. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
This pleasant, incident-free cruise started and ended in Rotterdam, and stopped at Copenhagen, Warnemunda, Talinn, St Petersburg, Stockholm and Arhus. The Baltic ports were all interesting. The three biggest highlights for us: (1) the ... Read More
This pleasant, incident-free cruise started and ended in Rotterdam, and stopped at Copenhagen, Warnemunda, Talinn, St Petersburg, Stockholm and Arhus. The Baltic ports were all interesting. The three biggest highlights for us: (1) the Church on the Spilled Blood in St Petersburg; (2) the cruise through the Stockholm archipelago; (3) the early morning cruise into Rotterdam with the waterspout boats heralding our arrival. With one exception, at all of the ports we were able to get by easily without taking an excursion. We took excursions in St Petersburg, but now that we've seen it, if we go back in the future we'll get visas. The ship was smaller than what were used to, but it was fine. The ship didn't feel crowded to us. It had pretty well everything the larger boats had. This ship had one of the largest libraries I've ever seen on a cruise ship, of any size. We really appreciated the access to the front deck. (No one seemed to be using the water-lounge set up on the back. It was never filled with water. Time to get rid of that?) The endless, excellent food was great, as usual. With a few exceptions, the food seemed to be more or less the same in the main LaFontaine restaurant as in the Lido restaurant, so after a while we stopped going to the Lafontaine dining room altogether. Yes, we brought formal clothes, and gave it a try. It's just not for us. Our cabin (Vista class suite with balcony on deck 6) was excellent. We were located amidships, with easy access to the lifts, laundry room and ice machines. No problems in our cabin at all. There were some children on board, but not many. Half of the passengers on this cruise were Dutch for some reason. (That doesn't happen for every Rotterdam sailing.) I prefer ships that are more of a mix. The entertainment was appreciated, although it did not always appeal to us. In the formal dining room, we got tired of the minor trouble it took to get a table for two at around 7 or 7:30. If I can make a suggestion: please get rid of those huge tables for 12 people. No one wants to dine with complete strangers. We certainly didn't. I'm afraid we've reached the point were wifi should be free, and the television more varied. This is the 21st century. We have the technology. Even airlines can do it, so why not the cruise lines? It was a great cruise, and I highly recommend this itinerary and this ship. We love HAL, and will try their cruises in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I was really looking forward to this trip as it would start almost literally in our back yard and we wouldn't need to travel more than 10 minutes by car to get to the ship. Everything started off very well until we got to our cabin. ... Read More
I was really looking forward to this trip as it would start almost literally in our back yard and we wouldn't need to travel more than 10 minutes by car to get to the ship. Everything started off very well until we got to our cabin. Our kids had arrange for a couple of bon voyage gifts for us and a couple of gifts for me for the next day which would be Mother's Day. Something had gone wrong and everything was there when we arrived. The gifts were one plate of choc covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne for our bon voyage and a beverage card and a plate of the choc strawberries for Mother's Day. Trying to eat all the strawberries before they started to mould became our goal for the first couple of days since they were very ripe and having them a day separate would have been better. The champagne was not cooled when we arrived and getting our hands on some ice was a problem. The ice bucket was filled with water. We had one huge problem during our cruise, namely - our toilet hardly ever flushed. This was extremely embarrassing since we didn't realize it wouldn't flush until it was too late, if you get my drift. Each time we complained about the non-flushing toilet, we received the same platitudes and even after a new vacuum system was installed, it still didn't help. Up till the last morning this issue was still not solved. We had already booked a new cruise for next year before we left on this 7 night cruise to Norway but we are seriously considering canceling it. We had the feeling that we were only being strung along and our complaint not taken seriously. I have complained about the above via the survey that we received after the cruise but we will probably never hear anything further. Their so-called 'signature of excellence' seems to be slipping.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
MS Rotterdam is one of the older ships in the Holland America Line (built in the 1990s), medium size by today's standards (1361 passengers), and of course HAL is the cruise line for people with white (or no!) hair. Nonetheless, it is ... Read More
MS Rotterdam is one of the older ships in the Holland America Line (built in the 1990s), medium size by today's standards (1361 passengers), and of course HAL is the cruise line for people with white (or no!) hair. Nonetheless, it is an extremely pleasant vessel offering adequate amenities, good service, fine food, and an altogether delightful atmosphere. We would be happy to book her again. The good news begins at departure, which is conveniently close to the Rotterdam Centraal train station, and takes place in a large, warehouse-like structure. One can sit down, book a FREE chair massage, and purchase a coffee while waiting. Baggage handling was prompt and efficient. We had a Verandah room, which means we had a private balcony -- just the thing for fjord-watching. The room was large by shipboard standards, more storage than we needed in fact. The ship's decor is a bit Baroque for our tastes, but the ship carries it well. She shows her age in places, but everything worked, and the functional design shows how many years of experience lead to an environment whose elements integrate well together. One very welcome amenity was the on-board laundromats. After tramping the cobblestones of historic cities in 30-degree heat, we needed to wash clothes -- badly! (My experience is that laundromats in European cities are rarely close to my hotel, and they usually cost an arm and a leg once you do find them.) HAL ships have American-style washing machines and dryers, both reasonably priced, as well as ironing boards and good-quality irons. Ours was just down the hallway. The laundry was done before we reached the Hoek van Holland! On 24 August, Douglas Ward, cruise critic for The Telegram, published a review of the Rotterdam where he summarized the vessel as "extremely comfortable," but "marred by the poor quality of service and food." We disagree about the service. We were entirely satisfied with both the quantity and quality of the food as well as the service in both the cabins and the dining areas. We chose "As You Wish" or open seating for dinner, which meant we were placed at a table in the La Fontaine dining room with other English-speaking travelers, and we always had a wonderful meal and a great conversation. Twice we ate as a couple in the Pinnacle Grill (for $25 pp. surcharge), and had great meals and superb service. We did not try the Odyssey/Canaletto Italian premium restaurant -- as Ward apparently did -- but we would certainly recommend the Pinnacle. We usually lunched at the Lido buffet/cafeteria, where the food was also quite good. The South Asian dishes were very tasty indeed. This itinerary involved two complete days of sailing between Rotterdam and Norway -- one northbound, one southbound -- which meant shipboard activities were important. Again, we found nothing to complain about. In fact we would single out "Techspert" Tony, Show Host Rena, and Glenn, the Cruise Director and Trivia-Master, for special praise. A Dutch vessel based in a Dutch port meant that most of the passengers were -- not surprisingly -- Dutch. We found them to be delightful travel companions, friendly, informative, and altogether civilized. We will happily cruise with Nederlander anytime, anywhere. Go Orange!!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Having done this cruise 7 years ago, the cooler summer temperatures of the ports enticed us to cruise here again for our 20th cruise. My husband, adult daughter (her first time to the Baltics)and I did have a few bumps along the road ... Read More
Having done this cruise 7 years ago, the cooler summer temperatures of the ports enticed us to cruise here again for our 20th cruise. My husband, adult daughter (her first time to the Baltics)and I did have a few bumps along the road getting to and from the ship. Although we had booked our air flights 10 months early and had picked our seats so we would be together for the long flight, Icelandair took it upon itself to seat us wherever they wanted which happened to be all over the plane. They also made us weigh our carry-ons and complained that they were a few pounds overweight. Irregardless of the fact that we were allowed 2 suitcases apiece but only had 3 total, the agent still made a fuss over the 4 extra pounds my husband and I had in our carry-ons. Needless to say, we won't be flying Icelandair any more. Then we had prepaid our transportation to and from the airport before and after the cruise with Taxi2airport. Both times they were a no show. Thanks to the kindness of the desk clerks at each of our hotels, they made repeated phone calls and got the drivers to finally show up. We stayed at the Inntel Hotel Rotterdam Centre for 1 night before the cruise. The price was right, the hotel was clean, it was a good location for our own quick walking tour of Rotterdam that night, and it was one of the few hotels which would accommodate 3 people in a room. We saw the Erasmus Bridge, the Cube Houses, the Blaak railway station, and the Euromast Observation Tower but were too exhausted to go up for the view. Then the next day after a short taxi ride, we boarded our ship, the Rotterdam quickly and efficiently. Having been on the Amsterdam last summer in Alaska, we knew our way around this sister ship. With 3 adults in 1 room, I worried that there wouldn't be enough storage space. No need to worry, everything fit. We loved the sleep sofa for our daughter. Usually on other ships, the opened sleep sofa took up half the cabin; not in this room. The entire seat cushion of the sofa flipped over and there were the sheets wrapped around the long cushion for her bed which she said was comfortable. Our cabin was in a great location - 1st one around the corner from the elevators. Our room stewards were efficient, friendly, and went out of their way to please. Kudos to them; wish I could remember their names. Since the next day was one of our few sea days, we had our Meet & Greet with the other Cruise Critic people. We were a little disappointed that no one from Holland America showed up but they did have the room set up with coffee, tea, juice, and cookies. So we all met and got to know each other and exchanged information about private tours. As to ship life, the Cruise Director, Michael Langley was fabulous, one of the best we have had. He was funny, approachable, and we were dazzled by his ability to go from English to Dutch in everything he said. There were many Dutch on board. We like to go to the shows every night and enjoyed all of them although some nights were more entertaining than others. On sea days, there would be dance lessons called Dancing with the Stars with the only 2 dancers onboard and, although I was only an observer, I enjoyed watching the people learn and then compete against each other for a spot in the final show to be held on the last night of the cruise. Trivia was played 3 times a day with a different theme for each one. Most of the time it was fun only spoiled by a few serious passengers who were out for blood. We opted for late seating for dinner at a table for 8, preferring to sit with the same people at the same table each night and getting to know them. Luck was with us on this trip. Our table mates were wonderful and a very lively group. A family of 3 was from NYC and I, being an ex-New Yorker now living in Maryland, got to polish up on my NYC accent again. The other couple was an Hispanic couple from California originally from Guatemala (the wife) and Chile (the husband). We all got along so well that after only a couple of nights, we became friends. The food was excellent, the choices were good, but the service to our table lacked. Although the 8 of us were always there on time and our orders were taken in a timely fashion, the first course never arrived for another 30-40 minutes. One night we waited 45 minutes for our entrees to arrive after our soup. The waiter would serve his other smaller tables long before ours. In fact, they would be served dessert and we were still waiting for our main course. Our complaint helped for 2 nights and then we were back to the same old, same old. The section captain never spoke to us but filled our water glasses after we complained about having to wait so long for our food. No apologies were ever offered or explanations given as to why we were last in the dining room. On nights when the show started 30 minutes earlier, we opted for the Anytime Dining. Other than that, Holland America did an excellent job. We were blessed with wonderful weather in all 7 ports. Getting on and off the ship at each port was well done. It was nice to always be greeted by a happy, smiling, friendly crew. I am a definite planner so each of our ports were researched as to see as much as possible. In most of the ports, although not advertised in some, the Hop On Hop Off buses were there waiting at the port. See my port reviews for more details. Thank you to those CCers who gave such great details and suggestions in their reviews. I hope my review can be as helpful to others. Some of our excursions were private and some cruise line. KIEL, GERMANY Since this city isn't included in the pull down menu, I will include my review for it here. There wasn't much to see in Kiel. So we took the local train to Lubeck. If you travel after 9 AM, you have unlimited service at a cheaper price for up to 6 people. The cost is 32.7 euros. There are 2 trains each hour: for example, the 9:04 leaves Kiel and arrives in Lubeck @ 10:32, stopping at every station. The 9:44 leaves Kiel and arrives in Lubeck @ 10:52, stopping only at larger stations. Before 9AM, the cost is 17 euro pp one way. It is a bit of a walk to the train station from the ship or we were told you could take Bus 42 or a cab. We walked. The Lubeck train station is pretty large so ask someone which way to go. We didn't and ended up walking all around in a circle. Lubeck is a quaint medieval town. We went to St. Petri zu Lubeck and paid to take the elevator to see the town from above. We went to Marienkirche, another beautiful church which, unfortunately, was being renovated so it was shrouded in construction netting. The shops and cafes were delightful and we were glad we made the train trip. Riding the train to and from Kiel was very picturesque. We did walk around Kiel for a bit but enjoyed Lubeck much more. We were sorry to see the cruise end. Many were staying on to do a b/b to the Norwegian fjords which we regretted not looking into. Oh, well, another cruise. Disembarkation went as smoothly as embarkation. We had planned to stay in Amsterdam for 2 days after the cruise. We traveled from Rotterdam to Amsterdam using dagtoetaxi.com recommended from a CCer review, arrangements being made through the internet. He was most reliable, showing up as promised and where to to meet as promised. We had toyed with the idea of taking the train to and from Rotterdam and Amsterdam but decided lugging our suitcases and carry-ons would make the trip difficult. We had booked the Ibis Hotel in Amsterdam near the train station. What a view! They were most accommodating, our room was immaculate, and the free breakfast each morning although not as good as the food on the ship, was still delicious. Having prepaid for a 2 day pass on the Hop On Hop Off boats, we toured Amsterdam by water. We had ordered our Anne Frank museum tickets on the internet (just Google "Anne Frank") and were glad we did. The line was 2 blocks long but we walked right in. We opted for the 30 minute talk beforehand and enjoyed the background information and pictures. She even let us take pictures of the photos on her wall although no photos were allowed in the museum. Again we were blessed with good weather as we rode each of the lines of the HoHo boat. Also not to be missed are Dam Square, the Hard Rock Cafe, the famous "I Amsterdam" letters, the Van Gogh Museum, the Skinny Bridge, and so many of the houseboats, canal houses, towers, bridges, little cafes and shops, and so much more. We took a suggestion from another review I had read and ate Dutch pancakes one night at the Pancake Bakery (191 Prinsengracht) down the street from the Anne Frank Museum. Thank you to the CCer who wrote that. We even went to a Dutch mass although we didn't understand anything. Yes, we walked through the Red Light District one afternoon. Amsterdam is a great city. It was an exhausting trip but worth every minute. The cruise was very port-intensive and we often wished for a sea day just so we could catch our breath. Would we do it again? Yes, in a blessed minute! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
we left from Rotterdam on the 6th July on a 21 day cruise from the outside the ship looks good pick up from the airport and transfers were all very good and on time but that is all I can say The first week we all seem to have cold to just ... Read More
we left from Rotterdam on the 6th July on a 21 day cruise from the outside the ship looks good pick up from the airport and transfers were all very good and on time but that is all I can say The first week we all seem to have cold to just luke warm showers and one time had to jump back into bed to warm up then we had a leak under the sink and that had to be repaired and the last 5 days had a blocked toilet that they did not seem to be able to repair so had to use the toilets on different parts of the ship and this was not very good and not very hygenic Also early morning calls were not always received as we had to be up early for some of the tours that we had chosen to take FOOD The same menu most days and you are not able to help yourself very little to chose from as we are gluten free and the HAL was aware of this and did want to charge and extra $11 a day The food in the Lido was very poor and often cold when we got it because of the lines of people and only one person serving we did try the dining room but our time was 5.15 and often not back from our tours and some night took 2 hours to serve 2 courses There seems that there is not enough staff to the amount of people on the cruise Lido had very limited hours and after 7.30 not able to get supper etc at abt 9pm as all closed this is the first time I have come across this Staffthey seem to be only interested in getting the 9 from you at the end of the cruise so they will be promoted and they have no idea what they should be doing and no polish abt them POOL As we had many children on our cruise they just took over the pool and spa and used the spas to do hand stands and spitting at each other in the pool Overall there does not seem to have a leader that can pull all the teams together the port window in our room looked like it had mould but think the rubbers were so old they falling apart We are not sure if we will use HAL again as the standard of this ship was very poor and would rate it below par and give it only 2/3 This did not add up to a good cruise and as we had travelled 30hours to get there we were very disappointed Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
Family of four, two teenage daughters. 2nd time cruisers first time on NCL as part of a family reunion. Cruise was part of a 3 week long Europe trip. Chosen somewhat because of HAL and Norway, but honestly more because it fit our schedule ... Read More
Family of four, two teenage daughters. 2nd time cruisers first time on NCL as part of a family reunion. Cruise was part of a 3 week long Europe trip. Chosen somewhat because of HAL and Norway, but honestly more because it fit our schedule of Europe travel. Embarkation Took taxi from Rotterdam train station to cruise port. Easy to figure out where to go at first. Dropped off luggage, then went upstairs to waiting room. We were there about an hour before our 1:00 time on our boarding passes and were ushered into a table like sitting area to fill out health forms, and we thought to wait until 1. About 12:15 we asked the person working if they would call the 1:00 group, and she said no we could go anytime. Guess they did not really want to say that, hoping more that they could sell some drinks before hand. Because we were in a Neptune suite, we got to skip most of the line and check in was quick and easy and it was up to board the ship. Did the picture thing, checked out our room really quickly and joined the buffet for lunch. Not too much of a zoo. After lunch we went back down to our room. Luggage was waiting outside of door, not sure if we had gone a bit later if it would have been inside, but it seemed most of the suites had luggage still outside. Lots of time to check out ship before leaving since it was not scheduled to leave until 4. This was nice. Safety drill - "changed so more realistic". We were ushered to our respective spots and shown how to put on life vest. None of us had them. I guess the more realistic is that is was done on the spot we would meet, but I'm thinking in a real emergency I am not going to watch someone put on a lifevest, I might put my own on.... Room Neptune suite 7030. Chosen because got a real good deal on the suite, plus with the family of four in the middle of a European scamper, we wanted this to be special for the kids and really get a chance to relax. Found the room to be fantastic. Couch made up into a bed at night during dinner and a couch again during the day. Kids never complained that it was an uncomfortable sleep. Parents bed was a king and incredibly comfortable. Changing area with an extra sink gave everyone plenty of room when dressing. Balcony had a table with chairs around it and 2 lounge chairs. Many an afternoon sail away was spent there with a glass of wine. 7030 was the first room with a "cover" over the balcony due to the deck above moving slightly out. This cover was maybe one or two feet and usually did not bother me much, but I would have preferred it not to be there. Lower numbers would not have had that cover. Service Neptune lounge concierges were fantastic. Changed out dining sitting right away to a fixed 8 oclock sitting at a table for four on window. Any other questions or issues were handled immediately. I had pre-ordered a tux which was supposed to be in my room upon arrival. It was not, but she handled the situation and had one before we left. When it did not quite fit right, a call was made to their tailor right away and the issue was resolved. The room stewards were fantastic. We had late sleepers so with the bed couch thing it must have been a pain for them, but they were great about it and we never saw them in the room. Dinner service exceptional with all involved, but especially the wine steward and bus boy who knew our names and kid names within a day and whom were easy to strike up conversations with. If I had to say one thing really stood out, I would say the service was the top of the list. Dining All dinners but one were eaten in the MDR. Food was good to fantastic. Proportions not huge so never got that too full feeling. Many times we wanted to try something for all of us, so never had a problem ordering a "table" dish of whatever (for example escargots!) One of my daughters is a vegetarian, and she was never at a loss of things to order. Only once did she not like what she got. Breakfasts were a combination of buffets, room service and once in the pinnacle grill. Did not like that the breakfast menu was always the same, with limited choices. I like breakfasts and like some different things that I would not normally get, but never was that an option. Lunches were usually at the buffet, pizza, or grill. Nothing spectacular, but nothing ever really poor. Same kind of thing as breakfast, basically the same things offered each day. Lots of choices so you would not have to repeat if you did not want, but some variety would have been nice. The one night we ate in the Pinnacle was a real hit and miss. Two of us really liked what we got, two did not. Overall, I would say not worth the extra cost. Entertainment. This was a giant let down. None of the shows was very good. Without offending anyone, maybe HAL on their Norway cruise realizes that the average age on the ship is about 70 and that travelers from Holland are not very enthusiastic so they don't try and make it great. But really, the entertainment sucked. What really disappointed me was that the audience on crew night and on the finals of the passenger dancing with the stars competition were so unenthusiastic. C'mon people, these are amateur entertainers, your crew and fellow passengers trying not to embarass themselves. Show some spark and cheer them on. Family 12 teenagers on board, but they did have a teen center. My kids did not participate, maybe because the one time they went, they were the only ones there. Didn't really bother them. They were happy to hang out with each other and just goof off. This was drastically different than our first cruise which was NCL where there were lots of kids. The great thing was, though, that they were never treated differently by any of the crew members. In fact, it was just the opposite. I think they got more attention and bonuses from the crew as one of the only kids on board. Activities We did the trivia challenge each day, and a few other things. But the reality is that this was not a cruise full of things to do that interested us. We loved the beauty of Norway and the time to relax as a family. Cruise director did a nice job trying to drum up excitement. Ports We did all excursions on our own. In Oslo we trammed then walked about 10 minutes to the Holboklen Ski jump area. Very cool museum, especially for skiers, and very cool to go to the top of the ski jump and see what these guys really face. TV does not do it justice to see how steep and huge these jumps are. Great view from up there also. From there we trammed and walked down to the "naked statue park". Beautiful park and funky statues. Trammed back to city center, walked on top of opera house and called it a day. Easy to do all by ourselves. Kristiansaand we walked around the area, it's not really big, and found a free wifi cafe so we check emails and have a coffee. Stavanger, walked around, again its not big. Nothing spectacular about the town, but the trip out through the fjords around there was spectacular. Lastly in Flam, we rented bikes and biked around the area for an hour. Nice easy riding and a beautiful area. We first had thought about taking the train up and biking down from the top which I still think would be great, but with two cruises in port, there were no open seats on the train. The fjords outside of Flam are one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. For those who have been to Yosemite, it reminded me of that on the water. Tons of waterfalls, sheer rock faces, ...Our other cruise was to Alaska, and while I would say overall the scenery of Alaska was better than Norway, nothing in Alaska comes even close to Flam and that area. Disembarkation. We wanted to stay on the ship as long as possible. This was due to the fact that we had teenage sleepers and more so because our next stop in Europe wasn't too far away and we knew we couldn't check in really early so there was no rush to get off. By the time they "kicked us off" at 9:30 almost no one was left so it was really easy to get off and get our things and go. Overall This cruise did just what we wanted. Gave the family a chance to relax a bit and enjoy each other and be pampered. The Rotterdam is a nice ship for what it does. Don't choose it if you are looking for bells and whistles and tons of things to do. It is showing some signs of wear, but in general is holding up really well. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
As first time cruisers we couldn't have chosen a better cruise line, and such wonderful ports of call. When we arrived dockside in Rotterdam everyone was so helpful and well rehearsed, allowing us to flow through quickly and get to ... Read More
As first time cruisers we couldn't have chosen a better cruise line, and such wonderful ports of call. When we arrived dockside in Rotterdam everyone was so helpful and well rehearsed, allowing us to flow through quickly and get to our cabin on board. The Rotterdam is lovely, up to date, very clean and the friendliest staff ever and can't say enough about them! The food was incredible and whether it was the Lido or La Fontaine or other eating spots, the service was terrific and everyone friendly and helpful. We chose open seating so we could meet different people each time we went to La Fontaine and would always do the same again, as met wonderful people who were charming, interesting, and some nights we could hardly tear ourselves away from the table. As we are gay men traveling everyone was so friendly towards us, and very warm. The ship was able to get us on and off at our ports of call splendidly, and at no time did we feel we had to wait too long, very organized. Michael the ships entertainment director was superb, as was the entertainment each night. Tammy organized where we sat in La Fontaine and although I forget his title, this man deserves great kudos for the fine job he does every day, so funny and friendly and efficient (this man certainly deserves a great raise). Ersa (works in the Lido) is another wonderful person making us all happy and loving her attention! Can you tell yet that we loved this cruise and all its staff, because there isn't enough I can say about it. Only that I want to do more and more of these cruises and Holland America has to be the BEST!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Our group was composed of two couples from Belgium and one from the UK. Two were first time cruisers, two were new to Holland America and two had cruised with HAL before. Our age range was mid 30s to mid 50s. PARKING As suggested in the ... Read More
Our group was composed of two couples from Belgium and one from the UK. Two were first time cruisers, two were new to Holland America and two had cruised with HAL before. Our age range was mid 30s to mid 50s. PARKING As suggested in the cruise documents, we parked at the SS Rotterdam (which is now a hotel) and took the shuttle bus to the MS Rotterdam. It wasn't very clear how to get the shuttle between the two but we worked it out. Coming back after the cruise, again there was very little information but we got there. It wasn't clear that to pay the reduced rate you had to go into the SS Rotterdam rather than use the machines in the car park, but someone kindly pointed that out to us. They had not been able to explain this on the ship when I had asked at the front desk. Also, we were charged for 8 days (i.e. two full Saturdays), despite arriving at 12 noon on Saturday 22nd and leaving at 10 AM on Saturday 29th (thus actually less than 7 full days)! The shuttle took approximately 10 minutes between the car park and the ship. EMBARKATION Being used to boarding the ship in larger ports such as Fort Lauderdale, I found this process rather disjointed. You had to drop your bags, walk, show your boarding pass, walk, show your passport, walk, clear security, climb the stairs, stand in line, pick up health form, sit at tables, fill in health form, sit in holding area, wait until called. It was only at this point that you did the actual check-in. Nevertheless the process did not take too long. This was followed by the customary embarkation photograph and walk up the gangway. There was no crew really to welcome people on board and definitely nobody handing out drinks. The cabins were ready when we embarked at about 1 PM and we quickly proceeded to the Mariners' lunch. The whole process from car park to being on the ship took approximately one hour. CABIN Less than a week before the cruise we were offered an up-sell to an A category cabin, which we took. We were assigned cabin 6240 which is an aft balcony. Our luggage was in the cabin when we arrived after lunch. The balcony is a wrap around balcony meaning that it has quite a bit more outdoor space than the other aft cabins. There were two chairs, two small tables and a lounger out there. The cushions and one of the tables were rather worn. The cabin itself was in wonderful condition, very spacious and with plenty of storage space. The bathroom has a whirlpool bath. There is one thing I hate, however, and that is finding the disembarkation questionnaire in my cabin as soon as I get on the ship. Surely this could be handled in another way, maybe as part of the online check-in procedure. EMERGENCY DRILL The emergency drill took place at 3:45 PM. We were not required to take our life-jackets to the drill. However, it was pointed out to us that the life jackets are now of a different design. As always, a certain number of passengers deemed it was not necessary for them to attend until they had been called out by name by the captain, wasting everybody's time. I wish they would be more strict about this since in my opinion there is no excuse whatsoever for not attending a lifeboat drill immediately when it begins. I like the fact that with HAL get to stand at your lifeboat station. I am still uneasy about the fact that they do not actually make you try on your life jacket. FOOD We ate all of our breakfasts in the Lido buffet. On the first day this was extremely crowded. In fact, it was crowded every morning and sometimes quite difficult to find a table. There is a wide choice of food on offer, but sometimes long lines formed at specific stations. For lunches, we ate at the buffet, the pizza place, the burger place, or the Mexican food station. There was plenty of choice, but the buffet seating remained quite crowded and we usually ended up eating by the pool. We found that the lunch service finished quite early and there wasn't much choice if you came back if you came back to the ship for a late lunch. We ate dinner in the La Fontaine dining room every night. We had a fixed table assignment for the 8 PM sitting and ended up at a table for six, on the top deck of the dining room, right in the middle, at the back and by a window. This was a great table! The food was usually very good, but sometimes failed to meet our expectations. On the second formal night, however, it was outstanding. ACTIVITIES Some of our group took part in the dancing with the stars ballroom classes and all of our group took part in the quizzes. Both of these activities were thoroughly enjoyable. Other than that, we also played ping-pong on the lido deck, tennis on one of the upper decks and made good use of the pool and hot tubs. Other games such as chess and shuffleboard were also available but we didn't use those. I found the aft pool area rather strange for this kind of itinerary. It is essentially a wading pool with loungers in it and only usable in hot weather. This is one of the areas where smokers congregate. FAMILY There were no children in our group and relatively few children on the cruise so there isn't much we can say about this. Those children that we did encounter though, seemed to be having a good time. ITINERARY We chose this cruise partly because of its Rotterdam departure. This meant that we could drive from home to the port in less than two hours. We knew that a Fjords cruise was all about the scenery. You also have to be very lucky with the weather, which fortunately we were. In fact, we were told that they rarely get weather that good. The scenic cruising from Stavanger is truly beautiful but the scenic cruising from Flåm absolutely takes your breath away! Do not miss these. In Oslo we were taken around by one of our group who knew the town. We visited the marina area, the Nobel peace centre, the fort and the Opera house. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk on top of the Opera house roof. In Kristiansand we walked around all the little beaches and marinas, to the fort and through the town, which is very small. We enjoyed visiting the cathedral and had a pleasant cup of coffee in a cafe nearby. In Stavanger, We visited the area of the town which is made up of picturesque old wooden houses. We passed by the canning Museum, after which we made our way into the centre of town. We visited the Cathedral and walked down into the marina area by the Petroleum Museum. After that we took a coffee break and strolled around the shops. For Flåm, we had elected to take the excursion on the train. People may find it useful to know that there is a tour sold to Dutch-speaking passengers which is just the train tickets with out the cakes and guide and which is considerably cheaper than the trip offered to non-Dutch speaking guess. The train ride itself is wonderful with spectacular views. Commentary is provided in Norwegian, English, German and Dutch. The train was packed full and it was very very crowded on the platform at the waterfall. Also, the stop here is very short so you really need to rush if you're going to take a picture. For some reason they play music here and there is a strange dance by a woman up on the rocks. On reflection, if we were to do this again we would probably do so independently. Overall, we found the prices for the excursions offered by HAL to be very high. These are probably aimed at a US (i.e. captive) market. SHIP The ship is older and smaller than what most of us were used to. But nevertheless we found her to be very pleasant. As with all HAL ships and there is constant painting and cleaning going on. Some areas were showing wear and tear however, such as our balcony furniture and some of the sofas in the explorations cafe. There also always seemed to be at least one aft elevator out of action. CREW As always, we received some great attention from the crew of the ship. This was in particular true of our stateroom attendant, assistant waiter and wine waitress. The service is more low key than on some of the bigger ships though. Those expecting to see the senior officers out and about and talk with them will be disappointed. We didn't see the captain until the last day of the cruise when we shuffled past him at the Mariners' lunch, and the only officers we saw around the ship were hotel staff. ENTERTAINMENT The theatre on the ship is very small and thus gives limited scope for big performances. The ship's singers and dancers gave good performances but are rather limited in number. The guest artists were variable. Bob, the pianist, gave an excellent performance but the so-called champion ballroom dancers were a massive disappointment. The Frank Sinatra impersonator sang well but treated the audience in what we felt was a condescending manner. The guitarist and singer were not so good but we really enjoyed the HAL cats and Adagio strings. None of the films on offer were of interest to me, but the room in which they were shown was very nice indeed. CRUISE DIRECTOR I have left the best till last. Michael Langley is an outstanding cruise director and an asset to the company. He switches effortlessly between English and Dutch and manages to keep the audience with him at all times. This is no mean feat. On top of this he is of a bright and cheerful disposition, ever present and always happy to be approached by passengers. We always came away from our encounters with him with a smile on our faces. We wish him a long and happy career with HAL and hope to bump into him again in the future. CONCLUSION All in all a thoroughly enjoyable cruise enjoyed by every member of our group whether new to cruising or an old hand. I think we would all be happy to sail on her again. Maybe the Baltics or even Indonesia where she has a really wonderful looking 14 day itinerary coming up. Read Less

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