1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. British Isles & Western Europe Cruises
  4. British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Reviews

12 Rotterdam to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

Deciding that we would like a Christmas holiday together, my cousin and I chose CMV Magellan for the “21 night Christmas & New Year Cape Verde, Madeira & Canaries Cruise sailing from Tilbury on Dec. 18, 2019”. To start this ... Read More
Deciding that we would like a Christmas holiday together, my cousin and I chose CMV Magellan for the “21 night Christmas & New Year Cape Verde, Madeira & Canaries Cruise sailing from Tilbury on Dec. 18, 2019”. To start this review on a positive note, my first impressions were all positive. The terminal at Tilbury was decorated beautifully and had a festive air about it. Embarkation went without a hitch and upon entering the Magellan, I was struck by its cleanliness and the beautiful Christmas decorations that were throughout the vessel. We had an ocean-view cabin on Deck 6 and it was bright, clean and inviting to enter. And then the issues began. The storage space in the cabin was limited (one tiny shelf in the bathroom; night tables were just small tables without drawers; and in the desk area there were only 6 small drawers, one of which was home to the hair dryer (which had little power to adequately dry your hair). While we were struggling to find homes for our belongings, it became unbearably hot. There was no thermostat on the wall and in order to *try* to control the temperature, I had to stand on a chair and attempt to turn a knob in the ceiling! Eventually we came to the realization, that there were only two temperatures available to us: boiling hot or freezing cold. The showroom is always cold, take something to cover you, when you go. The first port, Rotterdam, went without a hitch except that we were told that there was a storm coming in that would delay departure and that we would have to shelter in Cherbourg, France for 24 hours to wait out the storm. Fair enough, better safe than sorry. However, the 24 hours turned into almost 48 and our itinerary had to be changed. We missed the port of Vigo and the stop in Tenerife to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve (the reason many of the passengers took this cruise) was cancelled. Our next stop to Agadir, Morocco wasn’t until December 26th and wasn’t on the original itinerary. A medical evacuation caused the ship to turn around to allow a helicopter to access the sick individual (again human life comes first and that had to happen) but it delayed our arrival at port and shortened the shore excursions significantly. CMV did refund 20% off of the excursion price as an afterthought But since we didn’t see 50% of what was advertised, it should have been more. I believe the total time in port was 4 hours in total. Also CMV did give everyone £100 for all these changes BUT it was given as an onboard credit – spend it there or lose it. Getting back to Christmas. There was no Christmas programming or Christmas music anywhere until Christmas Day. Boxing Day it was back to the same old routine. A guest choir was organized to sing Christmas Carols on New Year’s Eve Day and a pantomime was put on after Christmas. It all seemed backwards. New Year’s Eve was celebrated near the pool and the venue was too small to dance or to seat all the guests. Top marks to the galley team for putting on some eye-popping displays for the various special displays. They were visual feasts. Top marks to the hard-working crew who kept things very clean. The food was okay ... just okay. Certainly not what I have come to expect from a cruise line. Raffles Bistro does not offer cold drinks like lemonade throughout the day. You can get juice at breakfast, otherwise there are only juice glasses available for water throughout the rest of the day. Only one water dispenser has ice (when entering from the pool area, go to the left hand side). Ice seems to be a precious commodity on this ship. There were some interesting guest lecturers on the ship.However, the entertainment wasn’t that good. The dancers were excellent but at least one of the singers couldn’t carry a tune if you put it in a bag for him. The guest entertainers were mediocre at best. Overall, I would say that port time was extremely limited. The service was generally good. I stress that I cannot fault the hard-working crew, but this cruise left a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The itinerary and the price together with promise of a couple of weeks of sunshine over Christmas seemed a very attractive propositio. Transport from Victoria and embarcation were very efficient and we were very happy with our Outside ... Read More
The itinerary and the price together with promise of a couple of weeks of sunshine over Christmas seemed a very attractive propositio. Transport from Victoria and embarcation were very efficient and we were very happy with our Outside cabin on Deck 4.First impressions of the ship were good: clean, bright & open. From the beginning, however, the ship was cold both in the cabin and in the public areas. Whilst we were able to regulate the temperature in the cabin, the rest of the ship remained cold throughout the cruise and was commented on by a number of other guests. The food initially was fine but the standard was not maintained throughout. Lunch & afternoon options in Raffles Bistro were repetitive & unimaginative: triangles of processed cheese & luncheon meat were the only options available as an alternative to hot food; no variation of sandwich fillings and fruit selection was okay - as long as you liked melon. The itinerary was disrupted by a storm in The Bay of Biscay over which the captain had no control & so two days had to be spent in Cherbourg and four more ports - Vigo, Oporto, Lanzarote & Tenerife for the whole of New Year's Eve - had to be missed. Whilst decisions about personal safety are paramount & the two day delay unquestionably correct, it adversely affected the overall enjoyment of the cruise as 12/13 days were spent at sea and only 5/6 days were available for comfortable enjoyment of the sun onboard. CMV awarded us €100 each as compensation but this had to be spent onboard which was less beneficial to those of us who were cruising all-inclusive. The entertainment generally did not compensate for the additional sea days & lack of port time. Apart from Quizzes & Bingo,there were few alternative activities and the daily talks/lectures were adequate at best. Two films were shown yet the theatre remained largely unused for the best part of each day. Entertainment overall was poor. Also disappointing is CMV's recent policy not to stock non-alcoholic wine yet provide 0% beer & non-alcoholic cocktails. Were were offered Schlor at €25.00 per bottle which is available for 1.50 in most supermarkets. Most of the crew - waiters, cabin steward etc; - were friendly and helpful. Overall, for various reasons, this was a disappointing festive cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
WHY CMV COLUMBUS? --Baltic sailing --Smaller ship --Price DINING --We chose the late dining option for the Waterfront Restaurant. We also took most breakfast and lunch meals at the Waterfront. The food was good and nicely ... Read More
WHY CMV COLUMBUS? --Baltic sailing --Smaller ship --Price DINING --We chose the late dining option for the Waterfront Restaurant. We also took most breakfast and lunch meals at the Waterfront. The food was good and nicely presented. The pasta selections tended to be soggy or firm. Otherwise the entrees were satisfactory. The appetizers, however, were outstanding. The cafeteria on DGck 12 was always crowded, so we used it sparingly. ENTERTAINMENT --By far the best entertainment of any cruise we have taken. The small troupe of dancers and singers are exceptionally good. The comedian was outstanding too. The tenor regaled us with traditional opera as well as popular vocals. The Entertainment Team gets an A+ from us. LECTURES --On sea days we attended Power Point lectures by a Russian specialist on Peter the Great and the Romanov's as well as St. Petersburg's history and the Siege of Leningrad. She was very informative and set the stage nicely for the highlight of the cruise, namely our two days in St. Petersburg. There were other lectures and demonstrations as well, but we did not attend them. STAFF --All staff members struggle with English. It was often difficult to make our wishes know or understand them. The Reception Desk staff was very helpful however. CABIN --Out cabin steward was great, always looking after the room. 8133 is centrally located, but is above the Connextions Lounge so it could be a bit noisy at bedtime. Fortunately I have a white noise app on my phone that covered up the partying below us. WINE AND BEER --Being moderate drinkers, we opted for the on-board opportunity to purchase five bottles of wines for 85 GBP and ten beers for 49 GBP. We'd have a half bottle of wine at dinner and the Waterfront wait staff would save the other half for the next night. Occasionally we had an ala carte glass of wine for about 5.60 GBP. We did not have any specialty coffees or colas. EXCURSIONS AND PORT CALLS --We took only one CMV Columbus excursion, at Stockholm. The panorama portion of the excursion was horrible. Big bus, narrow streets, no views. But the Vasa museum was spectacular and we had plenty of time to see this amazing old ship that has been restored. ROTTERDAM. --We took the train to Delft for a self-guide tour. If you use the station nearest the ship you need correct change or else a credit card with a PIN. We walked to Rotterdam Centraal Station and took the trains (about 20 minutes). AAHRUS. --We hit stormy waters so we were diverted from Copenhagen to Aahrus, which was a pleasant surprise. Everything you want to see is just minutes from the ship and there is no need to buy an excursion. ROSTOCK. --A bust. The ship docked away from Wandemunde where you could catch a train into Rostock. A free shuttle was provided, but there was an hour and a half line to catch it. We did not go into Rostock or into Berlin (three hours bus ride each way). TALLIN. --We did this on our own. Outstanding. The old city is just a 20 minute walk from the dock. We toured both the lower and upper city and enjoyed a great lunch. ST. PETERSBURG. --We opted for a small group, private tour that cost about half of what CMV was charging and we had an outstanding time. HELSINKI. --For a small charge, I took the ship shuttle to the city center to meet an old friend. On my own. STOCKHOLM. --Too little and too far. The port time was shortened by the fact that the port is an hour away from Stockholm. And we had very limited time. Bummer, except for the Vasa museum. COPENHAGEN. --Rain, rain, rain. Plus very little port time. Just about the time the rain stopped we had to leave. More time needed. SEA DAYS --Two of our sea days were stormy and the ship rocked and rolled. It caused a three hour delay into Tillbury on the last day. EMBARKING AND DISEMBARKING Perhaps our best ever embarking and worst ever disembarking. We walked on quickly on Day 1. On the last day there was mass confusion, missing signs, and a traffic jam that prevented us from express embarking. Fortunately our hired car waited an hour overtime for us, but we had to pay an extra 20 GBP because of the ship's incompetence. Certainly they have had late arrivals before and ought to know what to do to relieve the chaos. They seemed clueless. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
this was our first cruise with aida...and i loved it. We are Dutch, so the fact that there is almost nothing spoken on board but German is no problem for us. This ship does not cater to Americans and they are proud of it. The food is ... Read More
this was our first cruise with aida...and i loved it. We are Dutch, so the fact that there is almost nothing spoken on board but German is no problem for us. This ship does not cater to Americans and they are proud of it. The food is amazing with wine and beer included in the buffet restaurants. In the restaurant french kiss you can get great french cuisine for free, you only pay for the drinks. There is no big theater, the shows are performed on a stage in the atrium. This makes for a very relaxed environment...you walk in and sit when ever you want. The nightclub nightfly is something different. Burlesque style cabaret in German...it makes for an interesting evening out. With a large inside pool and a smaller outside pool this ship is totally built for European weather. the rooms are very beautiful and i have never had a shower facility that was this big in an inside cabin. the ship has the biggest spa at sea, and its beautiful. all in all i loved the cruise even though i didn't really care for most of the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Everything about this cruise was wonderful: staff, itinerary, service, food EXCEPT THE ROOM. Warning: this ship is way past it's time to be renovated, and the rooms, specifically the VISTA SUITES, should've been shut down ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was wonderful: staff, itinerary, service, food EXCEPT THE ROOM. Warning: this ship is way past it's time to be renovated, and the rooms, specifically the VISTA SUITES, should've been shut down long ago. Bottom line: after complaining, Holland America execs were gracious with 1) a heartfelt apology and 2) a sizeable refund. BUT, to pay 12 thousand dollars and enter into a "suite" (not really, just a standard narrow room) that had broken glass! in the panels between the room and the balcony, and old furniture suitable for a motel 6 garage sale - this is inexcusable. This is clearly taking advantage of older guests who don't know better, and I find this unacceptable. Furthermore, "entertainment" (with exception of four Rotterdam singers who did a special show that was wonderful) - was sexist, homophobic, agist and dated. Shameful. I would not recommend Holland America again until I hear clearly that these problems are addressed. That room should never have been open to a guest. I'm a hotel owner, I know the business, and I couldn't sleep knowing I had put a guest, who had paid!, in that room. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Decided to treat ourselves and have Holland meet us at the airport,take us to a hotel,pick us up the next day, bring us to the ship,and at the end of the trip take us to the airport. A bit pricey, but well worth it.Cabin and food are ... Read More
Decided to treat ourselves and have Holland meet us at the airport,take us to a hotel,pick us up the next day, bring us to the ship,and at the end of the trip take us to the airport. A bit pricey, but well worth it.Cabin and food are average,but suggest booking the free Merabel restaurant for dinners, as you will soon tire of the Fontana buffet.We use Holland because there are usually few kids and many seniors with whom we have much to discuss. The cruise left Rotterdam, south past Spain and Portugal, through the Straits of Gibralter, and back to Rotterdam.Our excursion ratings follow: 1)A Cortona and Betanzos: beautiful scenery, 2 14th C.churches,free time,tapas,4 stars. 2)Fado and Tapas: Native food and dancing. Both excellent. 4 stars. 3)Seville Alcazar: Very long waits at gate and cathedral left little free time.Suggest not going in Spring. If you have the strength,the waits are worth it. 4)Cadiz and Jerez: One stop at a winery. No free time. worthless bus tour . forget it. 5)Grenada: the Alhambra is well worth the crowds. Excellent tour and time to take pics. A must see. 6)Gibralter :the Rock, Town,Apes,tour,cave, all excellent. Take this one! 7)Obidos:Like a medieval Disneyland. Forget this trip. 8)Lisbon and Estoril. Pleasant,but nothing to do. Forget this one. 9)Santiago de Compostela: left on our own, for 3 1/2 hours,not promised 6, to see wonderful cathedral,etc.Excellent excursion. 10)Porto: forget both tours that go here.Do Fados and Tapas instead. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Good port choices, dining room dinners and breakfasts. Lots of lunch options but on the heavy side. Lido deck burgers and pizza were good along with the salad. Courteous and helpful staff in dining areas and cabins. As per HAL's ... Read More
Good port choices, dining room dinners and breakfasts. Lots of lunch options but on the heavy side. Lido deck burgers and pizza were good along with the salad. Courteous and helpful staff in dining areas and cabins. As per HAL's reputation, the dinners were first class and beautifully served. However, in cost cutting moves, HAL has shorted the number of servers and it was very difficult to develop a good relationship with them as they were totally on the move throughout the entire dinner. We really missed that part of the dining experience. It was always an enjoyable, integral part of our previous cruises. We chose the seven bottle Navigatior wine package, for dining, and out of the 7 or 8 bottle on the list 2 were out of stock. Cruise director, Michael, was a bit stuffy and aloof. Jan the evening pub trivia guy was delightful. However, the activities presented onboard, for the days at sea, were boring and unimaginative. Sixteen days of trivia, costly Bingo and Microsoft workshops don't provide for those cruisers looking for more action and involvement. Evening entertainment was the usual HAL - C level performances with the exception of the evening show put on by the BB King band. They livened up the ship with their entertainment. Fitness equipment - out of five stationary bikes, only one worked properly. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and efficient. Shore excursions were mediocre and not as diverse as on other HAL itineraries. We only booked 3 days with HAL and 4 we independent tours that we arranged before we left home. We are frequent HAL cruisers but may start looking at other lines for better onboard activities. There were seven children onboard and I never would have know that, if we hadn't run into one of the childcare providers on a shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We flew the day before from London to Rotterdam with British Airways, It is so easy so have a direct fight from London. We arrived in Rotterdam and made our own way to the Hilton Rotterdam by tramway. The cost was around 3.50 euro per ... Read More
We flew the day before from London to Rotterdam with British Airways, It is so easy so have a direct fight from London. We arrived in Rotterdam and made our own way to the Hilton Rotterdam by tramway. The cost was around 3.50 euro per person. We booked an executive room as you pay a bit more but receive a lot more advantages like drinks and nibbles, breakfast. On the morning of the mini cruise, we walked all the way to the ship to burn the calories from the breakfast. That way we could also see the hull and the design from Peter Max. I found the design very nice. The embarkation process in Rotterdam was very disorganised. No proper lines to enter the cruise terminal, nobody from NCL around. Dutch people who don't know where to start a line and just jump in or push to get in front of you. The port of Rotterdam staff need to go to the USA for some training. We were handed a colour card to give you access to the ship as they arranged boarding by colour. When we finally arrived in the terminal, we went directly to the Latitude check-in area. One lady was asking us to wait while the checking agent was asking for us to go to the desk. Again no organisation. We finally boarded the ship 30 minutes after we checked in. When we arrived aboard, one of us went directly to the room to put or bags and the other one went to book the restaurant Moderno for that evening. We were in a mini suite and we could not really tell the difference with a normal balcony stateroom. Just that you have a larger bathroom and a better shower. The balcony was very small. Tea and coffee facilities were available in the room. We went for lunch to the Garden Cafe before the rush. The food selection was amazing. You could find for every taste. Asian, Indian, pasta, sandwiches, salads, burgers,... The quality was excellent too. For me one of the best buffer at sea. We started to tour the ship. The ship was very clean, all the staff aboard were smiling and saying hello. This is going a long way with us and from that we can see that the staff is very happy. The ship was very nice. Maybe a bit of lack of space at the pool area. I could not imagine a day at sea in the Caribbean. It would have been packed. The pools are very small too for a ship of this size. The boat drill at 3.30pm was a bit chaotic. The sail away from Rotterdam was very nice. For dinner we went to Moderno, the Brazilian restaurant. The service and the food were excellent. Well worth paying the $20. If you are a vegetarian, do not go there as you would only be able to eat the salad bar. After dinner, we went to see the show. We were a bit disappointed that Rock of Ages was cancelled due to the lead singer being a bit sick. The replacement show was excellent. 10 out of 10. Again one of the best show at sea. In the evening, we walked around the ship and discover the ambiance aboard. We went to the martini bar and decided to have a cocktail there and listen to the pianist. The lady had a great voice. A shame that some rude Dutch people could not stop screaming. They were drunk and they should have been asked to leave the area. Also one inconvenient from the area was the smell of people smoking in the casino. The morning of disembarkation, we decided to go to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. The place was full and this with only 2000 passengers aboard. I could not imagine if the ship would have been full. We didn't have the choice than to seat in the outside area. Disembarkation was again a bit chaotic. Would I spend a week aboard NCL Breakaway, maybe I would. I am not decided yet. Did it get the wow factor like our week aboard Oasis of the Seas. No. Did it get our wow factor to compare with NCL Epic. Yes. My 3 tops on this one night cruise: - The great staff of Norwegian Breakaway - The excellent food served - The excellent show My 3 downsize: - The checking was disorganised - The smoking areas inside the ship and outside the ship - You can't find a quiet corner if you would like to read a book Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was a perfect example of how better NOT to introduce past or future (paying!) customers to a new ship or product!! Boarding did not start till shortly before noon, no explanation why and despite the fact some 2000-3000 passengers ... Read More
This was a perfect example of how better NOT to introduce past or future (paying!) customers to a new ship or product!! Boarding did not start till shortly before noon, no explanation why and despite the fact some 2000-3000 passengers were already checked in, waiting to be let on board, hoarded like cattle. Not a good start. There was absolutely no reception of the passengers. Since it was some sort of an inaugural sailing, well it was the first sailing with paying passengers, one would have at least expected a welcome glass of champagne. No, not with NCL, nothing comes free with them. Staterooms were of course ready by the time we boarded ( they only had agents on the night before anyways which surely did not trash the ship ), again no sight of any recognition or welcome aboard or any other approach or appreciation. One leaflet was delivered later in the afternoon but that was it. Not even the arrival time or deboarding process in Southampton was explained or mentioned. No ice in the buckets, a sealed fridge, no attendants nearby, nada, nothing. I did not even hear the captain speak, I guess that's falling out of fashion with NCL these days since I did only thear the captain once(!!) on an 11 day Jade cruise recently Not a good first impression. The ship was full, again, how can you do that if you want to show your new product and make sure it "shines"? So instead it seemed extremely crowded everywhere and in the end left me disliking this otherwise pretty ship, uncertain whether I want to book NCL again in the future. I did go to Ocean Blu restaurant for dinner, paid the premium charge of USD 35.- After all the hype about the restaurant I was quite puzzled to see how small and tucked away it was. Well, dinner was very good, but one incident again left me puzzled with NCL's strategy and attitude towards customers. When I asked whether I could have a second appetizer, the soup, I was told I had to pay an addition for this and in the end was charged an additional USD 4,25 on top of the cover charge of USD35.-. Unbelievably cheap from NCL, especially given the fact that all the portions were extremely small and the main course, obviously a fish, had absolutely nothing on the side, no rice, no potato, no veg no nothing. It was just a fish, well done, but still simply not enough as a main course. I left for the show after dinner, which , without any information other than on the daily planner, had been changed from Rock of Ages to Burn th Floor. Ths show was nothing to write home about and simply was not well received by a European audience. Quiete a few people got up and left early. I felt sorry for the dancers who were incredibly good! Other impressions from the ship: - Haven area - did not look half as nice as on Epic but might be better suitable for NYC cruises. If Getaaway however will feature the exact same enclosed area, I doubt that it is gonna be a success. - Sports Complex on deck absolutely fabulous, the Aqua Park slides are amazing and so is "The Plank". - Waterfront . The weather wasn't cooperating so I won't comment on this. It looked good and could work just fine and as advertised! -Ths ship is quite identical to the Epic when it comes to its looks. It has a lot more glass and thus views of the ocean but it is also smaller which, if full, leaves you with a " way too many people" feeling. - POSH Beach Club excellent, better rhan on Epic. - Pools small, the whole deck area a big improvement over Epic but still quite "packed". - Buffet. Very crowded, selection quite basic with not too much variety. The revolving doors to the buffet, whoever thought of that should be slapped on the head. Nightmare and will lead to a lot of anger! - My inside cabin did not even have a picture on the wall. Very basic, very very small, much too small by today's standards. - Gym has now been divided into one area for cardio ( they have the views ) and one area for the weights ( they are tucked away ). Did not care for it. - Spa looked quite nice but is probably too small on a longer and sold out cruise. So overall Breakaway was not my cup of tea. NCL's beahviour/attitude towards the guests on this cruise makes me look elsewhere first. They made it very clear that they did not value the European guests on this mini cruise. All the talks, all the advertisement is geard towards Americans. So where does that leave us Europeans. I guess we are just good enough to fill the Jade... Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I booked a balcony cabin at the aft of the ship. PRE CRUISE I had a ship visit in BRISTOL so booked a klm flight to AMSTERDAM then a train to ROTTERDAM the trains were so packed i had to waited ages to get on the nest one. HOTEL. ... Read More
I booked a balcony cabin at the aft of the ship. PRE CRUISE I had a ship visit in BRISTOL so booked a klm flight to AMSTERDAM then a train to ROTTERDAM the trains were so packed i had to waited ages to get on the nest one. HOTEL. I stayed at the MARITIME HOTEL overlooking the PORT. I have used this hotel before and always had a lovely cooked breakfast but this time hardly anything cook and all the meat and cheese had gone. Plus the wi fi was awful my laptop could not even pick it up. EMBARKATION I walked over to the port and joined the queue got a color card but was not told i had to check in 1st so when my card was called handed it in and then had to to check in and then had to explain i had no card. CABIN. BALCONY cabin aft DECK 14. Has to ask if the cabins were ready and then find it myself. No sign of the steward. No ashtray and no ice i called for these and hours later nothing if i had not seen the steward later i would have got neither! the mini bar was locked and was not going to be opened. the bathroom was ok apart from no proper soap. FOOD Market cafe cafe was full up so had to go outside to sit and the revolving door kept stopping. No trays or any mention of washing your hands. DINNER i had in the CIRQUE DREAM AND DINNER only 1 food choice and the wine was too pricey. ENTERTAINMENT Only did the CIRQUE DREAMS JUNGLE FANTASY which was worth every penny of the $29.99 sadly no pictures or video allowed. i wanted to see "RICK OF AGES!" but this had changed to "ROCK OF AGES" and the show was full. i much prefer a dinner and walk in show. LIFEBOAT DRILL A good location in the restaurant names cabins go into their machine but no talk from the captain then it was over. LIBRARY Very poor selection CIGAR ROOM A great idea but much too small BOWLING Sure small ships have a big one but only 2 lanes??? DISEMBARKATION Very quick had to take own luggage off and no shuttle to the station. FUTURE AWARDS A great idea paying $250 towards a deposit on another cruise and $100 off your bill but no interest i9n booking a cruise and no brochures at all!! OVERALL IMPRESSION better than the one on the EPIC 2 years ago which was 3 hours waiting to get onboard and 1 engine failing. But i think the ship is too big and does not have some things smaller ships have. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We flew from Newark, NJ. to Amsterdam to begin our cruise of the British Isles and were met immediately by the HAL representative. The transfer to the ship was wonderful. However, once at the port I asked myself why I was taking another ... Read More
We flew from Newark, NJ. to Amsterdam to begin our cruise of the British Isles and were met immediately by the HAL representative. The transfer to the ship was wonderful. However, once at the port I asked myself why I was taking another HAL cruise. Passengers were embarking while others were disembarking, so there was no place for the bus driver to stop. Once in the building, we were told that we had to wait - only those with suites and pent house cabins were being called to register. The place was full of tired, hungry passengers and they just kept calling those with suites and pent houses.I don't know why they just don't have a special area set aside for those people so that they don't have to wait in line and everyone else can register when they arrive. Once onboard, we here herded, like cattle, to the Lido dining room which is cafeteria style. There we found, as usual on HAL, lots of food which is mediocre at best. It was being served as though it were the finest caviar - a very thin layer of tuna salad that didn't even cover the piece of bread on my sandwich The cabin itself was fine but we were told that our verandah was private - not the case. Everyone above us could look right down upon us. Our cabin stewards were wonderful. We chose to eat dinners at our own time by ourselves in the Vista dining room but we could never get a table to 2. When we tried to make reservations they were always booked. The only time the there was a table for 2 was when my husband told the maitre d' that this was going to be our last HAL cruise if he had to sit a a table for 10. The problem is that so many of the people on Holland America are elderly and that is fine but it is hard to make dinner conversation with people so much older. And, we just wanted to eat by ourselves. Breakfast in the Vista Restaurant is always a disaster on all HAL ships. They just can't get the timing right - my food would come 15 minutes before my husband's, most of the time we were never served rolls. The wait staff just walks in circles and we wait and complain and wait some more. They really want you to eat the cafeteria food in the Lido. We visited PORTLAND, ENCLAND (We took the excursion to Stonehenge which was very interesting), the ISLAND of GUERNSEY,(We took the excursion around the island that included a trip to a jewelry store, a store that sells pearls, and a store that sells Seiko clocks. These were a waste since nobody bought anything at any place. The island has beautiful scenery,and of course Guernsey cows.) DUNMORE EAST (This is the port closest to Waterford, but not that close. We took the trip to Tipperary which was quite interesting), DUBLIN, a nice city that is struggling economically, HOLYHEAD, WALES,( beautiful scenery- we went to Conway, a quaint town with shopping and a medieval castle. They took us shopping to an outlet with lots of junk - a waste of time), GREENOCK (the port near Glasgow - we took the excursion to Loch Lomond and Inverrary which was absolutely the most beautiful scenery of the cruise but we never saw Glasgow since it isn't near the port.), BELFAST (an interesting city, which unfortunately has many scars from the fighting), S. QUEENSFERRY,(the port is about 20 mins. from Edinburgh. This was the only port from which we could actually walk to something easily. Once we walked to S. Queensferry, we turned around and went back to the tender for the ship. We definitely needed another day there. We went to the Military Tattoo which was THE HIGHLIGHT of our trip), and the last port was NEWCASTLE ( We took an excursion to York was the best place for shopping but a 2 hour ride each way. We returned to Rotterdam. Getting off the ship was quick and efficient, the ride back to the airport in Amsterdam was fine until the driver let all of us off at the wrong terminal and we had to find our way to the right place with all of our luggage. The excursions were very expensive and all fairly good, but not worth the cost. We, as well as many others on our cruise were not happy that we paid almost $200 each to go to the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. The tickets cost about $50 each (35 pounds was the cost printed on the ticket). How much did HAL make on this? The tour operators should be advised that Americans don't want to spend the little time that they have in each port visiting typical "tourist shops" selling junk. If there is going to be shopping on a tour, take us someplace where we might buy something - not junk. There is a "port consultant on the ship who is a complete waste of time. She know NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING. All she can tell you is "I don't know." The ship itself if fine. The problems are that the entertainment is barely mediocre, the food is alright - not great, the shops on board sell HAL logo clothing, souvenirs but not of the places we visited and lots of costume jewelry. Of course, they also sell so high end jewelry, but there is nothing to buy in the middle. Somebody must be buying this stuff, but I cannot imagine why. We had a wonderful time and the cost of the cruise itself was extremely reasonable, but this is a fine example of getting what you pay for. We have decided that next time, we'll pay more and get more. Once you have cruised on Celebrity and Crystal, you tend to expect more. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and dates. . The British Isles are wonderful We came home safely with great memories and lots of photos, and that is what is important. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We chose the August departure on the Westerdam from Rotterdam around the UK because of the itinerary and were not disappointed. The weather was (for the most part)accommodating (although the crew had a challenge with tenders in Portree ... Read More
We chose the August departure on the Westerdam from Rotterdam around the UK because of the itinerary and were not disappointed. The weather was (for the most part)accommodating (although the crew had a challenge with tenders in Portree with 50 mph winds and five foot swells. The service was exemplary and the food quite good. The dessert extravaganza was not to be missed. The only negative part was the smoking. With so many Dutch on board, smoking in some of the lounges (and especially in the casino) was annoying, and some of the hallways smelled a bit of smoke. Our, non-smoking cabin, though, was pristine. We enjoyed the extended stay in Edinburgh, which is crazy at festival time. The scenery in Skye was magnificent. Those were two reasons we chose this cruise, and we were happy we did. One area that I think HAL can do better is their packaged shore excursions. In general we struck out on our own or did a pre-arranged tour. In all cases they were far less costly, more personalized, and in general better, than the HAL tours. In Belfast we had a private cab from BelfastAttactions for less than the packaged HAL bus tour. The driver, Girard, was very informative and very personable. He had a full history file of "the Troubles" which he shared with us. It gave us a lot more insight into the history than we had picked up from the media. The North Antrim Coast is spectacular and not to be missed, the best parts being off the standard tourist tracks. Girard was also taking pictures with his iPhone at each stop and e-mailed them all to us; a nice touch. In Inverness we used ocean-links-golf. That tour was again, less costly and far more personalized than the HAL tour. We visited a number of places where the large coaches simply could not get in, and avoided some of the coach tourist traps. Our guide Cyd (in full kilts) was great. We initially viewed Newcastle as a "throwaway" but found the city's Georgian and Victorian architecture quite interesting, and its riverfront (and bridges) enjoyable. Newcastle was a pleasant surprise. On the other side of the coin we were disappointed in Stirling Castle. While there's a lot of history there the castle itself it a bit of a downer, and the rush hour traffic though Glasgow made for a tedious trip. From a castle standpoint we did, however thoroughly enjoy Cawdor (which by the way has a very good small cafeteria); and Eileen Donan, while not particularly historic, is a lot of fun and has a spectacular setting. By the way, if you have some extra time in South Queensferry (Edinburgh) walk the five minutes into town. It's cute and has some nice pubs and galleries. As a final note; try to avoid the internet access on the ship. It's quite expensive and very slow. If you buy 30 minutes of time expect to do about 10 minutes of work at best because of the connection speed and the technology they use. McD's and Starbucks on shore have WiFi, and for the price of a cup of coffee you can get a lot more done. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click