8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary and the full transit of the Canal on a smaller ship. We were not disappointed - our 3rd HAL cruise. Food was very good, as usual, ship is spotless and beautiful and crew are outstanding. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary and the full transit of the Canal on a smaller ship. We were not disappointed - our 3rd HAL cruise. Food was very good, as usual, ship is spotless and beautiful and crew are outstanding. Our main disappointment would have to be the entertainment. Rotterdam dancers and singers were very good, but other entertainment only mediocre. We enjoy the destination experts and the specials events they present, and wish they had additional destination experts besides on Mexico. We also ttok advantage of a few of the Digital Workshops. Main dining room service was great and we only had to wait for a table a couple of nights at the beginning of the cruise. We did the open seating, rather than fixed time seating and telling the maitre d that you enjoy eating with a group of others gets you a table very soon. Menus tend to be quite gourmet in the MDR and I wish they had some explanations of the food ingredients and preparation on the menu for those of us non-foodies. There are many choices in the Lido DR and we also tried Slice (pizza & salads) and the Grille for burgers and tacos, both in the Lido Pool area, which were a break from Lido buffet lunches. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled well and I have seen some negatives reviews of the Port of San Diego, but we were the only ship in port and it went smoothly for us. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
My boyfriend and I both wanted to experience Central America and go through the Panama Canal. For Christmas he surprised me with a cruise. He had experienced Holland America cruising before, and raved about it. This was my first time on ... Read More
My boyfriend and I both wanted to experience Central America and go through the Panama Canal. For Christmas he surprised me with a cruise. He had experienced Holland America cruising before, and raved about it. This was my first time on a large cruise ship. I can't say enough about the pampering and quality of the experience. The Rotterdam is a mid-sized ship, luxuriously and elegantly appointed, sparkling clean everywhere, and staffed with a top notch team of restaurant, hotel, and other staff. An endless variety of Chef-prepared food was available 24 hours a day. We could dine in our stateroom, choose from a huge buffet with many specialty stations, or enjoy the formal dining rooms. Our comfortable cabin was looked after twice daily by our attendant, who deftly came and went without disturbing us. They cheerfully accommodated our every want and need. We were truly treated like royalty. Our cruise was 15 days, and we did not want it to end. The music and entertainment was fabulous. Shore excursions were well-planned and though they were an extra charge, they were a good value. I can't wait until our next cruise, which will probably be our honeymoon, since my boyfriend proposed to me on the Rotterdam. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
Easy embarkation and disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale, just bring a little patience. Great service & food was very good in lido deck and in dining room. The excursions were fine & interesting if you like third world countries. ... Read More
Easy embarkation and disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale, just bring a little patience. Great service & food was very good in lido deck and in dining room. The excursions were fine & interesting if you like third world countries. Going through the Panama Canal locks was amazing. My wife and I are retired and we enjoyed the 15 day cruise. Some of the entertainment was satisfactory if you like classical music. Dance group was more energetic and did an amazing job. Ocean-view cabin was OK, nothing fancy. Carpeting throughout the ship needs to be replaced. Overall cruise-ship interior is good. One thing we found was getting around the ship was confusing. Many other passengers shared the same confusion. Fitness room was very good. However, while in the men's locker room I observed two men stepping out of the same shower. I reported incident to front desk and didn't return to locker room. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
Our journey began out of San Diego. We went the night before and stayed at the Hacienda Suites Hotel in Old Town. It was a perfect choice. The rooms were spacious and lovely, they provided free transfer from airport to hotel and again ... Read More
Our journey began out of San Diego. We went the night before and stayed at the Hacienda Suites Hotel in Old Town. It was a perfect choice. The rooms were spacious and lovely, they provided free transfer from airport to hotel and again from the hotel to the port. Old Town is quite charming and there were lots of fun places to eat within walking distance. This cruise was filled with sea days and the activities for on board entertainment were disappointing. Scheduling was really bad for events during the day and in the evening. We prefer fixed dining and were upset that the only option was to eat at 8:30pm which I consider rather late. The primarily Indonesian staff were quite charming. It seems like we were always rushing to get to the Lido Buffet or dining room because of the very limited amounts of time they were opened. Even when we had a night tour in Fuerte Amador there were no accommodations for our late arrival back on the ship and were told to use room service. That night while we were on a tour they had a bar b que on board. Strange scheduling! The entertainment was very mediocre. There were four singers as part of the ensemble and two female dancers who must be pole dancers when not on the ship. Sometimes it would have been better if they just sang and didn't have some of the hokey dialogue in the show. The 60's show would have been so much better. During the course of the cruise we had a screeching electric violin, comedian, comedian/magician, and the one bright spot was a performance by Bobbie Brook Wilson who is the son of 50's rock icon Jackie Wilson. His performance was the only good show on the cruise. This was one cruise where you didn't have to rush to find a seat because most nights the theater was empty. The slots in the casino have all been altered in some way to only let you play certain lines and after one night I decided there was no need to ever return there. The primary day activity was sort of New Age exercise classes, current movies or sit by the pool. Not much for so many sea days. At least there were quite a few bridge players so my husband was happy. Our first stop was Puerto Vallerta. It was Good Friday and there were many reinactments of the carrying of the cross towards the crucifixation. Very interesting. This is a lovely port and there is lots of over priced silver jewelry available. Nice port. I'm not going to mention the sea days inbetween ports, just will focus on the ports themselves. Huatulco was our stop on Easter Sunday. There was a charming open air church were we attented Easter Services with a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" in a very 3/4 Mexican version. Loved it. This is not a large port but there are lots of little ships and they have dancing and lots of entertainment in the area. Puerto Chiapas is without a doubt the worse port ever. There are two pyramid structures which are not air conditioned. One has a large pool and the other has shops and a pit where dancers perform. It was at least 110 degrees with about 90% humidity that day. They do advertise $2 beers but the heat is unbearable. The shops, once again, are very over priced and in one stall a woman tried to bargain with the vendor and he told her to leave. They seem to be out of touch with pricing and expect that the ship has all "rich" people so prices are high. Not worth getting off the ship but there was an Internet Cafe so I guess that made it a good stop. Next stop was Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala. Very nice port. Lots of shops but also very hot. We took the bus tour to Antigua which was very interesting. There are over 400 active volcanoes in Guatemala and along the way you pass some of them. Went to the jade factory which was a nice stop. In the center of town there is a large fountain and the women were lined up there doing their laundry. The women carry almost anything you can imagne on baskets on their heads. One person said she saw a baby up there. Since this is in the mountains it's nice and cool up there. Shopping was a disappointment because once again the prices are very high. There were some beautiful woven jackets but they are just cut square so when you put them on the fit is awful and they were priced at $70. This was probably my favorite stop on the cruise. We arrived in Fuerte Amador in the evening and were tendered to the dock. The ship didn't handle this very well at all. There were approximately 1,500 passengers trying to go ashore and they used two tenders. It took forever. We took a tour of Panama by night and walked through the old Colonial areas and drove through the streets of Panama which are lined with skyscrapers. When we returned to the dock the line for the tenders was about a mile long so we went to eat at a restaurant near there. Finally the line dwindled enough to go back on the last tender. The next day we started our crossing at around 8:30am. It's a very interesting experience and takes almost all day. Along the way we saw the Guayacan trees in full bloom. Apparently they only bloom 4 days out of the year so this was a special treat. Saw crocodiles sunning on the shore and enjoyed the slow process of going through the canal. Reached the exit around 4pm. Last stop was Cartegena. We were there the same day that the big president's conference was happening so we had limited access to the sights. We did take a tour so had permission to go through the old colonial area but just saw the downtown skyline from the distance. People who tried to go independently weren't allowed to go anywhere. It was a nice tour. That area is quite charming and the flowers on the balconies were magnificent. Then we had two more sea days to Ft. Lauderdale. Wondering if any of the other passengers came home sick. My husband and I both contacted pneumonia. Not the best way to return from a nice cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2012
My partner and I just returned from the 30 day Incan trip to Lima, Peru. Here are my musings on this trip, We have sailed on Holland many times and it was not our first time on the Rotterdam. The ship on this trip was on code red at least ... Read More
My partner and I just returned from the 30 day Incan trip to Lima, Peru. Here are my musings on this trip, We have sailed on Holland many times and it was not our first time on the Rotterdam. The ship on this trip was on code red at least 3 times and on the preceding cruise had many folks down with upper respiritory problems. We were luck and did not get sick. Many also reported reactions to the cleaning materials used to keep the various illnesses at bay. Our cabin was 2643. Our cabin was large and in good shape. I know that on our floor there were "wet cabins" due to flooding. We had no such trouble. Thank goodness, The food in the Lido was great. It seemed to us that very few people ate in the main dining room. The service in the main dining room was very slow but the food was good. The shows in the evening were on a scale from 2-10. I personally loved the aft concerts and the oscar night party on the aft deck was great. We are a senior couple but honestly I have never seen so many elderly, barely able to get around people on a cruise. The average age on this trip was 72 but I really felt sorry for some of the cruisers. It must have been very difficult for them. This is the first time I have ever done this review thing so hope I am doing it right. Overall it was an ok cruise. The crew and the cruisers were all under lots of stress due to the illnesses of so many people. We will cruise on Holland again but hope that next time we are on a healthy ship with at least a few younger folks to balance the activity level. Oh, yes one more small but annoying thing. Holland has got to do something about the awful kleenexes they use. They are small and a waste of time. Bring your own... Until the next time.....aloha pam Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We finally got the air conditioning in the Dolphin Deck cabin fixed after complaining to ships customer service, officers, and finally by email to Stein Crus, the HAL CEO. While they were apologetic, and compensated us the equivalent of ... Read More
We finally got the air conditioning in the Dolphin Deck cabin fixed after complaining to ships customer service, officers, and finally by email to Stein Crus, the HAL CEO. While they were apologetic, and compensated us the equivalent of 1.5 days of travel, nevertheless, there were other uncorrected problems. The maintenance activities went on at 1:00 AM in the morning with staff coming and going through a doorway opposite our cabin and hammering and banging at odd nighttime hours. The AC went out again a day or two more intermittantly. The ports we went to were mostly commercial container ports, and buses to get off the docks were not free. The Lido Restaurant hot food was not kept thermally hot and the cold food served at the Lido Pool was not kept cold. This was after warning us that this was not sanitary, and should be avoided off the ship. By the 25th day we succumbed to problems, due to the passengers coughing into our faces or onto our food. The sneeze shields were not low enough. Passenger handling of food at the self-serve counters was also unsanitary. People would pick up items with their hands, then change their mind and put them back into the serving dish. We had originally chosen this trip for the chance to go to Macchu Picchu. However, we declined to go because of the outrageous price for a 1/2 days visit to the site, much more than our total cruise cost. We would have done it independently,and actually priced it at 1/4 of the cost for the same accommodations, but were not convinced we would make it back to the ship. Rotterdam was repositioned from Lima to Pisco, 180 miles south, and local transport was only by bus and not reliable.The cabin attendants dining room and spa staff were all excellent. We thought that the quality of the food was lower than on the three previous HAL cruise ships that we took in the prior three years: Westerdam, Amsterdam, and Prinsendam. The evening showroom entertainment was so-so. That is, while the staff singers and dancers were very good, the contracted entertainers were for the most part terrible. Not worth staying up for. In all the best part of the trip was disembarking in San Diego, and spending 5 days there, before heading home to Columbus, Ohio, on Christmas Day. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
From the moment we booked this cruise, the efficiency of Holland America was fantastic. We booked the cruise with flights from the U.K. included and Hotel accomodation for one night in San Diego. As this was our first cruise we werent ... Read More
From the moment we booked this cruise, the efficiency of Holland America was fantastic. We booked the cruise with flights from the U.K. included and Hotel accomodation for one night in San Diego. As this was our first cruise we werent sure what to expect. We were met at San Diego Airport by a HAL representative and again at the Hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina which was ideal and we could see the ship at the Cruise Port in the morning when we awoke. Transfer to the ship was well organised, and embarkation was very quick and much simpler than we had expected. Our cabin was on dolphin deck - outside, which we absolutely loved especially at night when we went to bed as we would sit and watch the flying fish. Absolutely amazing - one benefit of being lower down on the ship! The cabin was compact but plenty large enough for the two of us. It was very clean and our 2 cabin stewards looked after us very well for the 2 weeks. Only once did we arrive back at our cabin when they were there - all other times they managed to sneak in and out whilst we were having breakfast or evening meal! We loved the layout of the ship, and thought that all facilities were great. We found all staff amazing - all went out of their way to make our holiday the best. The politeness and efficiency of the Indonesian and Phillipino Restaurant staff and Bar staff was outstanding. We dined at 8pm each evening which we found perfect as we could then go into the Explorers Lounge to watch the string quartet and then to the theatre to watch the shows at 10pm. Entertainment on board was top notch. Every show we saw was outstanding. Standard of the singers fabulous. Guest entertainers were also brilliant and one of the comedians was so funny! We would ofter finish the evening in the Ocean bar and relax with the Jazz Musicians playing - also great! Food on board was perfect. Our Restaurant meals were all first class with a very good choice each day. The Lido restaurant food was fabulous too where you could eat a wide selection from 6am to midnight - One evening many passengers arrived back from a trip at 11pm and the poor chefs were frantically cooking - but as usual thy were still all smiling! We ate one lunch time in the Pinacle Restaurant - Perfect! Coffee in the Explorers lounge was good for anyone having withdrawal symptoms from Starbucks!We only took 3 trips whilst we were on board but all 3 we enjoyed and felt had been worthwhile. We enjoyed the itinerary for this cruise as we one day did the zip line tour at Puerto Vallarta and another relaxed on the Beach at Huatulco. The evening trip to the Miraflores locks was really interesting as we could watch the Cargo ships entering and exiting the locks by floodlight. The transit through the Panama Canal was very interesting and very beautiful in parts. The Guide that came on board for the day was brilliant and told us lots of interesting facts. Also I must mention the travel Guide onboard was most helpful and knew anything we needed to know about the places we visited.The disembarkation and transfer to Miami airport was smooth and trouble free. We had an amazing Cruise and would definately travel again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
April 3-17, 2011 Summary As always with Holland America, the service was excellent and accommodations were comfortable. Dining was good though it can be very subjective and the ship itself was well ... Read More
April 3-17, 2011 Summary As always with Holland America, the service was excellent and accommodations were comfortable. Dining was good though it can be very subjective and the ship itself was well maintained. Weather during our cruise was near perfect with only one storm late at night which provided some entertainment. Pre-Cruise We booked flights and hotel separately from the cruise itself. We flew JetBlue direct from New York Kennedy to San Diego's Lindbergh Field on Friday April 1st with a return flight direct from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood back to New York LaGuardia on Sunday April 17th. We used Priceline for hotel and got the Marriott Hotel and Marina at 333 West Harbor Drive near the Convention Center and the Gas Lamp District. Using some advanced bidding techniques more fully described on a site named Bidding for Travel, we got the Marriott for two nights for about $78 per night. The fact that they were doing renovations of the pool areas while we were there may explain the lower price. The hotel itself is a four star which means everything is separately priced and not cheap, however, the staff provided excellent service and offered an upgraded room for an additional $25 per night plus tax which we took. The room itself is not large but came with a balcony that overlooked the bay and part of the B Street terminal. The Marriott does have free wifi in the lobby and lounge areas but it has limited bandwidth and will often default to pay access ($13 per day plus tax). We were in the north tower which seemed to have more bandwidth issues. If only pay for access is available, you can move to another area under the south tower. Cab from the airport to the Marriott was about $20 with tip. There are plenty of restaurants in the Gas Lamp area. For breakfast, we went to Cafe 222 on 222 Island Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, about four blocks from the hotel. They have excellent (and very large) orange and pecan pancakes. While the Seaport Village area is nearby, the restaurants there are mediocre and the shops are overpriced. There are art displays along the West and North Harbor Drive from Seaport Village past the port terminals. For lunches, we ate at either the Field Irish Pub on 5th Ave between Island and Market Avenues or Karl Strauss Brewery on Columbia between B and C Streets. Karl Strauss brews their own beers on premises and both they and the food were quite good. We met several cruisecritic members for a nice dinner Saturday at the Athena Market Taverna on 109 F Street just south of the Federal Building and west of Horton Plaza. It is a nice quiet (for a Saturday evening) place for reasonably good Greek food with pleasant service. For pre-cruise stocking up, there is Ralph's Grocery store between 1st and 2nd Avenues on G Street for liquor and wine as well as regular foodstuffs and beverages. There is also a CVS drugstore on Market and 6th Avenue and an Ace hardware store on 6th Avenue as well. Note that grocery stores and drugstores in California can sell wine, beer and liquor. Further north, there is a RiteAid drugstore on Kentner Boulevard and Ash Street near the cruise ship terminals. Also in that area on India Street is San Diego's Italian district with a number of good places to eat. We boarded at the B Street terminal which has free wifi available in the terminal. We arrived about 11:30A and we were on board about noon. The terminal is rather plain but quite functional. Cab to the pier from the Marriott was about $10 with tip. The Ship The Rotterdam is a medium sized ship of about 62,000 gross register tons and carries about 1,400 pax. We booked a Cat BQ spa veranda cabin (6116) on deck 6 forward portside. Our cabin was in good condition with no maintenance or a/c issues. The room stewards Neuman and Gooday (sp?) were efficient and unobtrusive. Our cabin also had access to the forward observation area on deck 6 which was perfect for the canal transit. Just as well as the observation area forward of the gym was taken over for expanded spa services. We did not care for the Retreat area in the back which replaced a deep pool with a shallow wading area. It was not used much and new cabins installed where the pool was had some water leakage in the halls. Itinerary The cruise was a 14 day transit of the Panama Canal from San Diego April 3rd to Fort Lauderdale April 17th. Leaving San Diego on Sunday April 3rd, we called at Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico on Friday and Saturday; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala on Sunday; Fuerte Amador which was our only tender stop on Tuesday evening to Wednesday early morning, Panama canal Wednesday all day and Cartagena, Colombia on Thursday. Unfortunately, Mary sprained her ankle prior to Puerto Vallarta and we were unable to take the city tour we previously booked with HAL. The shore excursion staff did arrange a refund after we explained the injury that necessitated the cancellation. We docked on the north side of the terminal basin with the Norwegian Star on the south side nearest the terminal and the Disney Wonder on the east side of the basin. I went over to the WalMart across from the terminal to get some medical supplies and to obtain Mexican Pesos. There is a Cirrus ATM inside WalMart for pesos at an exchange rate of about 11.5 pesos to the dollar including ATM fees. I had considered using Travelex in San Diego for pesos but they charged a service fee of $10 for transactions of less than $500 and their exchange rate was 10.6 pesos to the dollar. Use an ATM in Mexico for a better exchange rate (with ATM fee, about 11.4 pesos to the dollar). While we did miss seeing Puerto Vallarta, with about 9-10 thousand pax in the city, we also missed out on a lot of crowding as well. We took a ship's tour of Huatulco as a replacement for the tour we missed at Puerto Vallarta. Huatulco is a new cruise port developed by the Mexican government to spur economic activity in the area. There are a number of new hotels and some residential development that was halted by the 2008 recession. The tour covered the hotel areas on the coast and the town or La Crucecita which is a modest town near the port. There we had a tour of a local museum of Mexican crafts and a short shopping break (we did not buy anything). Afterwards, we were taken to a nearby restaurant for a light snack and beer and returned to the ship. Huatulco itself has some shops and restaurants fronting a nice beach area next to the ship pier. Puerto Chiapas is also a newly developed cruise port and on the advice of several cruise critic members who previously visited the port, we did not take any excursions which mostly included coffee plantations and some eco-tourism. There was a shuttle service to the nearby city of Tapachula. The port area itself is new with nice port facilities that Bayonne's cruise terminal at Cape Liberty should take a page from. We did buy some coffee and some other items at the port stores. There is a public pool next to a bar/restaurant with $2 beers and $4 margaritas. While not much to do tour wise, this port is a nice place to just hang out. Puerto Quetzal itself is a plain industrial port but it is the gateway to the highland areas of Guatemala including the colonial city of Antigua. We took a ship tour since this was a 90 minute drive with what later turned out to be flood ravaged roads. We had to detour off the main highway on to twisty secondary roads being repaired after recent floods. There were a total of 11 buses going on this tour from our ship. Since this was the run up to Easter, the tour was an on your own basis with no guides supplied. We did want to see some of the religious procession that was going on that day (Sunday). Once at the drop off point in Antigua at the Jade museum on the east side of the city, we were given basic maps of the central city area (relatively small) and were strongly advised to hire a tour guide ($10pp for 2-3 hours) which we did. While he was pleasant enough, our guide was unwilling to take us to see the religious procession, preferring to offer tours of luxury hotels and other tourist targets. After several requests by various members of our group to see the procession which were firmly turned down and taking us to a hole in the wall for lunch with no obvious place to sit, we settled up with the guide (base fee but no tip) and headed back to the Jade Museum. After a brief go through of the museum (small but mildly interesting, we found a nice quiet place for lunch across and slightly north of the museum called El Casseorle, a Guatemalan version of French food. It was located in the central courtyard of a large home and we were the only ones there at first. While there was an English menu, the staff spoke only Spanish. We ordered a couple of beers to start which took a lot of stress off and then a simple but pleasant order of sandwiches and pasta. We were later joined by another couple from the ship who did get to see some of the procession. They did not say whether they had hired a guide or went on their own. After a late lunch we caught the bus back to the port. In retrospect, we could have dispensed with the guide and gone on our own to see the procession. Not seeing the procession was a disappointment but there are issues with pickpockets hitting the tour group and the streets are cobblestones with very uneven surfaces. Also being a mile above sea level the slightly lower oxygen content could be a problem though it was not for us. This tour yielded mixed results for us, YMMV. We did not go ashore at Fuerte Amador which was just as well as the Rotterdam staff had problems with tendering people ashore quickly enough. This and some delays in boarding at San Diego resulted in all the pax, not just the ones affected, being offered a complimentary glass of sparkling wine at dinner the next evening. A nice touch by HAL, Panama Canal This was the reason for the cruise. We weighed anchor about 5 AM and slowly sailed under the steel cantilever Pan American Highway Bridge towards the Miraflores locks, a two step lock that lifts ships up to Lake Miraflores and then to the San Pedro lock. When transiting the locks, there is no sensation of up or down motion. While the forward and aft areas of the decks are great for photography. The lower promenade deck (deck 3) and aft main deck area (deck2) offer interesting views of the lock walls and lock mechanisms. We had to wait about 40 minutes since there was a ship ahead of us with engine problems. Contrary to popular opinion, the electric locomotives do not pull the ships through the locks; the ship engine(s) do that. The locomotives help to position the ships within the lock to avoid damage to the lock walls and gates and to the ship itself. This does not always work as there are some paint smears along the lock walls. We finally entered the Miraflores locks a little before 9 AM. In addition to radio instructions, there is a mechanical arrow that swings right or left to indicate which lock the next ship should take. Thereafter, we sailed under the cable stayed Centennial Bridge and into Gaillard Cut which the Panama Canal Authority is widening in conjunction with the addition of larger locks. You can see the area where the new locks will be build just west of the current Miraflores and San Pedro locks. After transiting the cut, we entered Gatum Lake about noon. By 3 PM, we were entering the three step Gatum locks to exit into the Atlantic. The new locks for the Atlantic side would be added on the West side as well. While hot and humid, the weather was much better than our prior transit in 1999. Thursday April 14, we stopped at Cartagena, Columbia. The port area is very industrial but there is a newly developed downtown area with modern glass curtain wall buildings. We took the city tour offered by HAL which took us through the colonial parts of the city including the fort. We did quite a bit of walking and our guide took us through various museums and kept to the shade as much as possible. Cartagena definitely has a European feel to it but it is very hot and humid. The tour buses were well air conditioned and there was bottled water available on board, but do bring additional water as you will need it. We were fortunate our tour returned early as there was a long line of people waiting in the hot sun to reboard later when the other tours came back. Thereafter, we had two pleasant days sailing back to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Food Service This is a highly subjective area and what we found we liked or disliked may differ for you. There is a fixed menu for breakfast with four daily specials. Lunches had a selection of appetizers, salads and soups and four entrees. Dinner offered four appetizers, three soups and a salad and five dinner entrees with a red meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian option. Dinner also had an always available selection of French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled chicken, broiled salmon and a rib steak. While the soups and sauces tended to be salty, everything else was good. On one or two occasions, the seafood entrees were dry or had an off-taste. There were four formal nights; the first sea day out, the sea day between Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco, the first sea day after Puerto Quetzal and the first sea day after Cartagena, Columbia. As I recall, the last formal night was also the Master Chef Dinner which was nice but unexceptional. The Lido cafe no longer has the single long line that snakes past everything. For lunch, there are separate stations for salads, Asian, Italian and other hot foods plus a separate station for sandwiches which also does made to order omelets at breakfast. We found this to work better since you can go directly to the food type you want with only one or two people ahead of you. The busboys come around with refills for coffee at breakfast and ice tea and water at lunch. Tableware and napkins are set up at the tables. Not having trays was not much of an issue and does cut down on crowding, food waste and additional cleaning. We did not eat in the extra tariff Pinnacle Grill this time though we have enjoyed in the past. While the Calamata Bistro was open on the starboard lido cafe at night, we did not try that. The Wajang Theater was used for the culinary demos which we enjoyed on sea days. We usually had our pre-dinner drink at either the Crow's Nest (deck 9) or the Ocean Bar or Mix both on 5. Two bartenders we had met on the Zaandam to Hawaii in 2009 were at these bars so we rotated through either before or for a late night drink. Hot appetizers are still available if you ask and once the bar staff knows you, they appear automagically when you order your drink. For three and four star mariners, there is a cocktail party and special brunch on a sea day late in the cruise. Entertainment We did not partake of much of the entertainment but some of the musical groups were very good. The port lectures were the usual stuff though the one on Puerto Quetzal was informative. If we saw any of the shows, I really cannot remember. The cruise staff was friendly and helpful. Medical Services Hopefully you will never need to use these services, but Mary's sprained ankle did require medical attention. Fortunately, we carry a folding cane (I used to suffer from gout) and Mary was able to use it to go to the medical center on deck 2. The doctor x-rayed the ankle and found nothing broken. They gave her some anti-inflammatory drugs and an ice pack. We were not charged for these services and the staff was very helpful and supportive. Disembarkation Went reasonably smoothly and we got a cab to FLL by 9:30A. At that point, everything imploded as there were six ships in port including the Allure of the Seas, all excreting pax many of whom were flying out of FLL. It was also the Sunday before Easter/Passover which did not help. We waited 45 minutes to check in with our luggage (no curbside for JetBlue) and another 45 minutes to clear security. The security line for concourse E, terminal 2 extended outside the terminal around to terminal 3. Fortunately the lime moved at a reasonable pace. We had plenty of time to catch our flight and arrived home late in the afternoon. Still a somewhat aggravating way to end an otherwise great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Just completed our 30 day cruise on the ms Rotterdam. Inca Empire Cruise. We are veteran HAL cruisers, having sailed several other lines for comparison sake. We LOVED our previous HAL cruises. This last cruise, which took us ... Read More
Just completed our 30 day cruise on the ms Rotterdam. Inca Empire Cruise. We are veteran HAL cruisers, having sailed several other lines for comparison sake. We LOVED our previous HAL cruises. This last cruise, which took us southward to Peru with very many stops was by far the BEST. Ship itself was top notch. Clean. VERY clean! Crew were outstanding. Cruise Director (Steve James)was the best C/D we have encountered. Very professional and engaging. Food was simply awesome. Who needs the Pinnacle Grill?? Chef Rudi is a true master of his craft. Entertainment was simply great. Whoever packages these 'acts' really deserves a pat on the back :) Ports of call were generally very interesting. We were able to explore the culture's of the many stops with ease. For more specific info on this cruise, you may contact me at tlc_grantsburg@yahoo.com Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2010
We had to wait 4 hours in hot crowed warehouse before boarding. We had a "guaranteed" stateroom B or better. We got an "A" and thought it would be wonderful. What a JOKE. We got one of the "NEW" rooms on the ... Read More
We had to wait 4 hours in hot crowed warehouse before boarding. We had a "guaranteed" stateroom B or better. We got an "A" and thought it would be wonderful. What a JOKE. We got one of the "NEW" rooms on the 7th level the best level. Think again. First, we entered our room and it was under-construction. The toilet did not work for 24 hours; yes it took two days to have a toilet we could use. My wife and I had to go up stairs to the LIDO to use the restroom (community restrooms that did not work all the time). Very nice at night and the morning. Great fun. Paid for a great room and get an outhouse. But here is the best (WORST) part it; the toilet was full of someone's (Construction worker's?) URINE. That's right - 24 hours of smelling someone's URINE. The front desk, managers had NO SOLUTIONS. A/C worked on and off. During the entire cruise (19 days) Water leaking from the ceiling 5 to 8 days. Our stateroom was totally flooded on the 10th day of the cruise. Could not use out [aid for room for TWO (2) days. Hot water problems. First no hot water, then later on cruise no cold water, and even on the 18 day had no hot water. COLD SHOWERS and I had to pay full fare. Beautiful balcony was UN painted as of Dec. 16th, later on cruise they got around to painting it. Could no use it for two days because of their painting and the smell was just so fine it really made you want to seat out there with the paint odor. Pool. After the 5th day the water turned GREEN. Finally after enough complaints they drained it. Oh I forgot they also broke glass lights on day and the glass fell into the pool. You think they would have drained it again. Think again. The dinning experience was also lacking. This was the worst I have experienced. We sailed three months prior on a CHEAP Carnival Mexico cruise and the food and service was as good if not better. The Pinnacle room (Their FINE dinning) was also very poor. The staff was School teachers who had never waited tables. The food was so, and sometimes COLD. A beautiful steak COLD. Lobster salty. One night waited 1 hour to get BREAD. Did not get out of the place for 3 hours. CORPORATE made a decision to sail KNOWNING the problems. Corporate past the buck to the Cruise ship personnel. The manager and captain gave us letter of apology on the last day. Their solution was to give a SMALL credit for another HAL Cruise that had to be used in one year. NOT GOOD. This is the Worst showing of a cruise ship I have had. From the first day until the last. The desk personnel was in-experienced and without a clue of what to do. This should be a mark on their records. The Captain and Hotel Manager should look at this as their VALDEZ. Do not sail on a retro-fitted SHIP for the first 6 months. BEWARE! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2009
The Rotterdam was just out of dry dock when we boarded for the Dec. 16/09 cruise thru Paqnama Canal ending up in San Diego. When we finally were able to board the ship after sitting in a extemely hot hall for 3 hr it looked lovely. But as ... Read More
The Rotterdam was just out of dry dock when we boarded for the Dec. 16/09 cruise thru Paqnama Canal ending up in San Diego. When we finally were able to board the ship after sitting in a extemely hot hall for 3 hr it looked lovely. But as we started for our state room we noticed workmen working everywhere on the ship trying to put it together in order to leave port. We were suppose to leave at 5pm & we left at 9pm. When we got to our state room it was lovely until we looked in the bathroom. the floor was filthy & the toilet was filled with black water. Tried to flush it & it would not flush. Called the front deck & a plumber was dispatched promptly to fix it. He told us it was fixed & the room steward cleaned up the floor.The next morning the used the toilet & would not flush. Again called the desk quite irate & another plumber came to fix the toilet. again he told it was fixed. The next morning used the toilet & this time it would not flush but for some reason the water & content of toilet started to overflow into cabin & out into the hall. We were absoletly mortified & my husband was down at the front desk in a robe going ballistic. Again everyone is extemely apologetic but by this time we are both thinking 3 days of this & we have 16 more days to go. I don't know whether I can stand it. Anyway the toilet was good for a few days but did break down again. On to all the other problems. The A/C was not working properly all over the ship. Some folks had to go & sleep on the couches in the common rooms because either the rooms were freezing or stifling. Panels from the ceilings fell off & hit people in the head & sprinklers fell out of the ceiling & water poured down the walls. Holland America had cut staff on this cruise & it was very evident in the dinning room. Our cabin stewards & dinning room steward were wonderful but extremely overworked. We were told in confidence by one of the crew that the ship truly needed at least 2 more weeks in dry dock to be completely finished. When the life boats were used for tenders one of them each time broke down. This really didn't give a lot of confidence if anything did go wrong & we had to abandon ship. Several of the ports were really bad - Mayaguez, Santa Marta, Corinto(awful). When we finally reach San Diego debarqation was a nightmare. People were standing in the stairwells up to the Lido deck for up to 2 hr. Some people missed flights. Holland America should be ashamed. There were many other problems but not enough space to list. The only compensation HAL were giving was bottles of wine & 1 hr. of free drinks. What if you are a non drinker & the hr. of free drinks was a stampede. Some people were so fed up before the end of the cruise several of them got off at the various ports & flew home. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2009
We have been cruising about 40 times or. Many cruise lines, many ships. With the Holland America Line more that 100 days. Our last cruise with the Rotterdam during the holidays was memorable, unfortunately not in a positive way. Many ... Read More
We have been cruising about 40 times or. Many cruise lines, many ships. With the Holland America Line more that 100 days. Our last cruise with the Rotterdam during the holidays was memorable, unfortunately not in a positive way. Many problems were already mentioned here, and we encountered them too. My biggest problem is that the total experience when cruising with the HAL is deteriorating, your by year. They are small things but they add up, year by year. No entertainment in the dining room, we used to have live music, during the holidays at least. Could be piano or violins and it gave a nice atmosphere. No entertainment in the crows nest. The DJ is a joke. He is just sitting there, playing a tape. We had 2 kids with us, teenagers and the had nothing to do in the evening. After midnight, the DJ just left. There was hardly any holiday decoration on the ship. No holiday atmosphere was tried to create. Just another cruise. Than the itinerary. On paper looked good. In practice it was bad. HAL is choosing new ports, without descent facilities. In my opinion because for the cheap harbour dues. At one time we were docked next to a ship loading facility for coal. It looked awful and it was dusty. In other places you were in the middle of no where, while there was also a docking facility nearby, right in the town. Cheap thinking again. The biggest disappointment is that there is no pool anymore on the aft. It means there is no outside pool anymore. On many occasions, even when the weather is nice, the roof of the pool at midship is partly closed. Also the space on deck has been dramatically reduces because of this "improvement". And you know, HAL has ordered to refurbish many mores hips like this. We will never cruise with HAL again. Think twice before you book. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2009
I have been on the Noordam, Zandam, Westerdam and before this trip last June, the Rotterdam. Until now I have always enjoyed Holland America Cruises and look forward to the ship, ports and great service of HAL. This cruise compared with ... Read More
I have been on the Noordam, Zandam, Westerdam and before this trip last June, the Rotterdam. Until now I have always enjoyed Holland America Cruises and look forward to the ship, ports and great service of HAL. This cruise compared with June was completely opposite. From the time we boarded until the time we left the ship, there were huge contrasts. Some of the highlights... A 3 hour wait to board on December 16, air conditioning in the cabin that could NOT be fixed for the entire cruise, a toilet that failed and not repaired for a day, few public restrooms working when needed, hot or freezing temperatures in main dining room and theater, elevators not working around the ship, rust everywhere, paint chips not cleaned up, constant painting (not just usual maintenance items) bathroom supplies not replenished, new retreat useless most of the trip, three and half hour meals in Pinnacle, poor activity planning, only once where staff followed up on reported problem and almost missed flight because HAL employees not supervising stairwells and coordinating number announcements. To add insult, charged for items not used after final bill. Frankly, the ship was in extremely poor shape, I'm guessing that all normal maintenance was curtailed and the ship was not ready for passengers. Although there were a few shining stars among the crew, clearly, they were overworked and completely overwhelmed by the problems and work needed on the Rotterdam to accommodate passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We have been cruising for several years and have experienced more than 50 cruises in different companies. We hold 3 star status in Holland America with more than 100 days at sea. More likely will never again travel with Holland America. ... Read More
We have been cruising for several years and have experienced more than 50 cruises in different companies. We hold 3 star status in Holland America with more than 100 days at sea. More likely will never again travel with Holland America. After a terrible embarcation day (waiting almost three hours in line in Fort Lauderdale and not getting our bags until past dinner time. Additionally there was no A/C in the cabin and the safe was closed and not available for anybody in the ship for more than 2 days. We were told that the ship had just been refurbished in the Bahamas and some "details" were incomplete. Well, among the incomplete details were the facts that 3 out of 4 elevators in the mid ship area did not work for the entire lenght of the cruise. Instead of A/C we got a fan.Many other passengers complained of problems with the toilets, leaks and sewage smell. The staff was overwhelmed and definite undestaff. In the Dining room our server had to attend 28 guests. Obviously dinner took more than 2 hours and we were late or couldn't see the shows. But, because in general the entertainment was lausy, nothing good was missed. Food quality was not to the standards of a "signature of excellence" and for the holidays there was nothing special. Practically no decorations, no festivities, nothing exciting and the worse cruise director in any cruise. Terrible and conflicting schedulling of the few activities. Dissapointing holiday cruise for many passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2009
Well we left the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale on the 16th of December to embark on our honeymoon cruise. We got to the terminal and got the news that they could not board us right away, no reason given, they said a supervisor would ... Read More
Well we left the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale on the 16th of December to embark on our honeymoon cruise. We got to the terminal and got the news that they could not board us right away, no reason given, they said a supervisor would talk to us asap, that really made us feel good. When the supervisor finally got around to talking to us 3 hours later she informed us that our cabin was not ready because the ship had just came out of drydock from getting refurbished in Bermuda and that the pipes had burst on deck 6 (our deck) and they would have to switch us temporarily, they did not say to what or where. I called our travel agent right away as to what was happening and she said that they would have to give us at least what we had or upgrade us. They basically said we would get what they gave us, take it or leave it. We ended up with an ocean view cabin on the Dolphin deck, the lowest floor going. We were to be given an apology letter and a credit of $100 per day each plus the difference between cabin rates would be refunded. We got moved into our veranda cabin that same night actually finally at 9 pm, we finally got our luggage to our cabin the next day. 31 other people were inconvenienced as well this way. Some waited 4 days to get into their cabins. We also waited 3 days for them to find our shore excursion tickets, they never did actually, they just reprinted them all again. We also waited 3 days for the air conditioning to be fixed on deck 6, the phone had not worked properly the whole cruise, the wiring in the room was not even completed and I took pictures of this and sent them to my travel agent who forwarded them to HAL as proff of the shoddy work, why they even let this ship out of drydock in this condition is beyond me and why they did not even offer everyone on board some type of compensation is beyond me as well. So much said for the customer service of Holland America, has it deteriorated this much since our first experience with them aboard the Zandam 9 long years ago.?? Our one bright spot out of this might be that thankfully we were not still on deck one, 3 days into the cruise the toilets backed up and that was not pleasant, the entertainer made a comment that night welcoming everyone aboard the Rooter Routerdam. I told Gail it was not going to spoil our honeymoon cruise, it seemed like everyone still wanted to try though, the indifference displayed showed this, the line ups at the front office of people complaining showed in the shortness of tempers of the staff as well as the customers complaining. On the second last day of the cruise we finally noticed a credit on our shipboard account for $416 aptly named credit for plumbing issues. No letter of apology which I asked again for at the hotel office and almost a month after the cruise still no letter forthcoming. The crew was in and out of our room numerous times to try to fix the tv, the reception was terrible in this part of the ship, they did finally put the light back on the desk area though so at least we would not have to worry about the bare wires there, but they never got around to fixing the bare wires under the end table by the couch, never got the telephone working properly and the temperature control to actually work, air conditioning worked perfectly 24 hours a day, no matter were you set the temperature control at, cold or hot it only blew cold. Gail got phemonia by the time we got home. Overall this ship got a big zero from us as to customer satisfaction, the captain and cruise director Joesph kept on telling everyone to have a good day, with all the problems onboard that was almost like sticking a knife back in and twisting it a bit more. We might only be star mariners but we overheard onboard and see it here as well in the other reviews the 4 and 5 star mariners that have said they will sail no more with HAL. We are waiting to see what happens because our travel agent has lodged our compliant with HAL and as it moves up their corporate ladder, we will see what the outcome is. As a post note I showed the pics I took of the wiring in our suite to a friend of mine who is an electrical inspector for the city and he said if that was a hotel room here the hotel would have been fined. Who inspects HAL's ships Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
After checking in at around 11.30 am, they made me and a very large number of people wait, in an extremely hot warehouse before boarding. As a result of this treatment, a large number of people fainted in the heat and I believe it would ... Read More
After checking in at around 11.30 am, they made me and a very large number of people wait, in an extremely hot warehouse before boarding. As a result of this treatment, a large number of people fainted in the heat and I believe it would have been unlawful to treat cattle this way, let alone humans. I eventually boarded the Roterdam at around 4.30pm only to find my cabin was not ready for occupation but was in fact in a filthy and dirty condition. My cabin in fact was not fit for occupation until about the fifteenth day of the cruise. However, throughout the cruise the cabins carpet had the odour of vomit. The Air Conditioning did not work in my room until the 15th day of the 19 days holiday, inspite of my multiple complaints to the front desk and indeed an email to Holland America, which continues to remain unanswered. I only received fresh towels and any toiletries on the third day. It was most unpleasant and uncomfortable to have to sleep in these elevated temperatures. The television remote control did not work and after 3 days of complaining I bought my own batteries for the remote control, which resolved the problem. My bag took eight hours to reach my cabin so I was unable to have dinner in the restaurant and had to eat in the Lido on the first night. I subsequently found the Lido to be insect infested and was not the most pleasant of dining experiences. At this point I discovered the ship had just come out of dry dock, after a failed and incomplete attempt at refurbishment. Unfortunately and throughout the voyage there were trades men working to fix the major faults, meaning that lesser problems such as air conditioning and TV removes were completely ignored. The ship also had a new crew. It was evident none of which had been trained. Also many of the new crew did not speak English. The passengers often ended up helping the crew because they did not have a clue what to do. The main restaurant was an absolute disaster. It was impossible to get your water glass refilled and ordering any type of drink or wine was ridiculous to say the least. I am still waiting for my drinks, as they never arrived! Actually dining was quite an interesting experience, as you could compare problems with other guests. I count myself lucky as to only have a room without air conditioning and the smell of vomit. Many other guests had far greater problems including raw sewage floating around in their cabins, as indeed there was in the deck 1 port side hallway aft to mid ships. Many passengers had multiple room changes due the foul leaks. I believe more lifts were out of order than in order, certainly mid ships, only 1 out of 4 worked. In recognition of all the faults with the cruise, we were given a free bar for 1 hour. I was so disgusted at this inadequate offer; I did not have a free drink. There were simply so many problems, and staff were finding it very difficult to cope. However, I believe it is completely wrong that the hotel manager could be found every evening in the crows nest bar getting inebriated. I believe he should have been training and or helping his staff to fix all of the problems before he drank himself into a stupor with the passengers. Incidentally, the bars continuously ran out of drink and 4 days before the end of the voyage, the entire ship had run out of light beer and Bookers. The front desk was an absolute joke. There was three or four staff but every time I went there the staff interfered with each other issues, so they could only deal with two passengers at a time. I found this to be extremely rude. Every issue I visited the front desk with, they failed to resolve. Including Air con, TV remote, being charged 3 times for the same bottle of wine, paying my Internet bill (they charged me twice). The plaque beside the front desk claiming five star service also insulted me. This should be removed until the ship and crew attains that standard of service. The penultimate insult was the immigration process, which turned out to be another Holland America absolute disaster with many passengers missing their flights. Immigration for non-Americans should have started at 6.15am and finished at 7.30am. The process was unable to start until 7.00am due to the incompetence of the ships staff, combined with a total lack of organisation. By 8.00am many passengers who have flights to catch were becoming very agitated and distressed. Jason, the cruise director quickly exited once things become heated, leaving his non-English speaking colleagues to deal with unhappy passengers. Subsequently pandemonium engaged and the environment became so dangerously heated, immigration staff had to stop the immigration process and take control of the situation (thankfully they did). The staff were paging passengers that required interviewing by immigration. However, these people could not be interviewed for queuing and because of the length of the queue, so many people were paged 3 or 4 times. I have since discovered the paging people already there, was to enable ship to blame the disorganised immigration on overseas passengers. Let me be clear, the reason the ship disembarked late was the ship was not ready for the immigration process. Not passengers arriving late. The ship should have been cleared by 8 am. It actually took until 10 am. The final insult was disembarkation. There were so many people desperate to catch their flights due to the delayed immigration clearance that many queued up in the gangways and staircases. It was not possible to exit the lifts for the number of people queuing. They did not clear the gangways but made those people wait. They then called people with priority forward, but these people had to climb over the waiting people to get off. Many people fell and suffered injures as a result. Simply put, there were just so many problems with this cruise, it is very hard for me to list them all. In summary this was the most disorganised and chaotic cruise I have ever been on. Thankfully there were no emergency safety issue during the cruise because I do not believe this crew could have coped. If they cannot serve dinner correctly how would they cope in an emergency? The ship was certainly not fit for purpose. The crew were not fit for purpose and the cruise overall, was not fit for purpose nor a five star cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Well, the Rotterdam is a dead ship as far as I am concerned since I will never step on board her again. If you are like my wife and I, one of your favorite things to do is sit on the promenade deck with a good book, feeling the clean sea ... Read More
Well, the Rotterdam is a dead ship as far as I am concerned since I will never step on board her again. If you are like my wife and I, one of your favorite things to do is sit on the promenade deck with a good book, feeling the clean sea air in your face while listening to the water rushing by the ship and looking at the wonderful colors of the sea. HAL ships were the best for this with the teak decks and the cushioned wood chairs; it gave us a sense of the past, of tradition. However, with the advent of the Lanai staterooms, 95% of the passengers are relegated to the stern area of the promenade deck were you get to sit behind a steel plate wall, listen to equipment noise, and smell the smoke from Lanai occupants. You see, each Lanai stateroom gets two lounge chairs reserved on the promenade deck looking out at the sea for their use. This leaves the 1200 or so other guess fighting over the 10-15 chairs that have views of the ocean not assigned to the Lanai staterooms. Apparently HAL is looking to pass these off as rooms with balconies. The promenade is a poor excuse for a balcony. For an additional $500 (quote from Lanai guest at the Meet your Captain and Hotel Manager which became nothing more than a bitch session) you get no privacy and are limited to one side of the ship. Did I mention the smoke? The Lanai staterooms do not have any partitions separating them on the promenade, as such and as observed, occupants on both port and starboard sides were puffing away. Usually the port side is non smoking as evidenced by the lack of ashtrays. There is no way as a non smoker I would book a Lanai. I asked the Hotel Manager how I could ensure I could get a smoke free Lanai, he indicated that I could not, that was something that needed to be addressed with management. Also the Hotel Manager indicated that HAL ships do not designate the port side as non smoking as some more progressive lines do even though there are only ash trays on the starboard side of the ship. This surprised me since this is my sixth cruise with HAL and the first in which smoking was so prevalent on the port side. The only difference I see is the Lanai rooms. I guess with the advent of the Lanai rooms, HAL is not interested in having non smokers. I was also surprised to see on numerous occasions people flicking their lit cigarette butts over the side of the ship, which is offensive to me. We cruise several times a year and I have not seen this behavior in years. But then there were no public announcements stating HAL policy and commitment to the sea. I guess this behavior is to be expected with smoking is allowed everywhere and ashtrays provided only on the starboard side of the ship. It was not like this on our last cruise with HAL - Zaandam Nov 08 SD to Hawaii. I would not have booked this cruise if I had known about the Lanai staterooms and restricted access to the promenade deck. I was ignorant and made the wrong decision in booking the Rotterdam. Hopefully, if you read this at least you can make an informed decision for your next cruise. According to the Hotel Manager only two HAL ships have been modified with the Lanai staterooms to date, the Rotterdam and the Veendam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Remember this nursery rhyme? "There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good and when she was bad she was horrid." Those words sum up our 19-day ... Read More
Remember this nursery rhyme? "There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good and when she was bad she was horrid." Those words sum up our 19-day trip on the Rotterdam from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego, crossing the Panama Canal on Christmas Eve. First the good part: • HAL was very good to us when we informed them, through our travel agent, that my husband had emergency knee surgery just 4 weeks before the cruise. They assigned us a cabin midship near the elevators and assured us that help would be available at embarkation and debarkation. Our TA advised us to wait until 2:30 to board so that we would not have to stand in line, and the timing was perfect. We got out of the cab, porters took our luggage, and we were on the ship in record time. The Rotterdam is a classic, stately ship with beautiful public spaces. The Atrium in particular is impressive. The lower promenade deck is excellent for walking and the Crow's Nest offers magnificent views. • The service was first rate. All the HAL employees we met were helpful, friendly, polite and professional. From our cabin stewards to the dining room staff, the bartenders and front desk staff, they were a highlight of our cruise. As you will see, they had an enormous number of problems to solve and they worked gracefully under immense pressure. • Dining was pleasant and food was tasty throughout the ship, from the main dining room to the Lido to room service. The variety of food was impressive and it seemed to be available all the time, from early breakfast to a late night spread, not to mention 3 meals and afternoon tea and 24-hour room service. My own favorite time was being wakened every morning by a knock on the door and a voice calling "Room service!" The coffee — always hot and delicious — was a great way to start the day while standing on the balcony looking at the sea. I especially appreciated the "available every day" feature on the nightly menu (Broiled salmon, chicken or steak, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes.). We chose "at your service" dining, which, for such a long cruise, is an excellent idea. The dining room captain was very accommodating, seating us "with people" or "without people" as we wished. The gym was big and beautiful and we used it every day. The view from the treadmills was extraordinary! I visited the spa several times for massages and manicures. The service was fine and relaxing. HAL's lecturer Michael gave several very interesting talks on the history of the Panama Canal. It gave us lots of new insight as we passed through the canal. Later, as we approached Mexico, he told us how a few Spaniards managed to conquer the immense Aztec empire. I would count his programs as one of the best parts of the cruise (even though I can't remember his last name.) The captain invited us to a lovely Mariners Club luncheon, which was very nice indeed. And we are still chuckling over the jokes told by comedian Marty Drill, who kept his audience in stitches for two hysterically funny evenings. The horrid part was that the Rotterdam needed 3 more weeks in drydock. The biggest problem was that numerous passengers encountered floods in their staterooms, bathrooms that didn't work, toilets that did not flush, and air conditioners that did not work. Luckily we did not experience any bathroom, plumbing or flooding problems in our stateroom. But we heard horror stories about them every day. Some passengers had to move to other staterooms but it was a very full ship so others were returned to their repaired cabins. Apparently, during the first part of the cruise, some people whose staterooms were on the lower decks could not sleep in their staterooms because the air conditioning wasn't functioning and it was impossible to sleep because of the heat. Some of them took refuge in the public spaces around the ship, sleeping on couches or chairs. This problem seemed to be solved eventually. For the first couple of days, several ladies' bathrooms were closed for repairs. When the one in the gym finally opened, the only working appliance was the toilet. At the sink (over which there was a sign urging us to "wash your hands thoroughly") the faucet didn't work — there was no water at all. This was eventually repaired. The heating and cooling system did not work properly. Both theatres (Wajang and the Showroom at Sea) and the Crow's Nest were so frigid that people had to wear layers of sweaters, jackets, and shawls. This problem existed for the entire trip. No matter how we turned our thermostat up or down in our cabin, the temperature remained the same. In our stateroom, we could hear our next-door neighbors' television all day long and sometimes into the night. (We heard nothing from the cabin on the other side, but we think that's because there was a firewall between us.) We could also hear conversations from the hallway. People were not shouting, they were just talking, but we could hear every word. Three of the midship elevators (to which we were so close because of the knee injury) usually were out of order. My husband was supposed to limit his walking up and down stairs, but sometimes we waited so long that it was just less frustrating to walk anyway. Many people - those who were in walkers or in wheelchairs — had no choice but to wait — and wait, and wait. Two treadmills in the gym were often not working. A third one started shaking when it was turned on. I asked the gym director when they would be repaired. He replied that he had turned in a repair request. The Captain realized how many problems there were and so he gave all the passengers an hour of free drinks in the bars one day. Naturally, they were packed with passengers, and for that hour, at least, everyone was happy! More of our experience on the Rotterdam Embarkation was fine. But debarkation took an hour longer than scheduled. Luckily we did not have a plane to catch that day. Fellow passengers ran the gamut from very young to very old. Quite a few young children were onboard, and a good number of extended families. There were many German, Dutch and Canadian passengers as well as those from all over the U.S, and also lots of Spanish-speaking folks. Passengers of all ages basked happily in the sun every day on the pool deck and the Retreat deck. There seemed to be room for everyone. We enjoyed the Exploration Cafe, where we could read by the window, check our e-mail, order a latte or borrow a book. (I always wore a jacket.) No one port of call was especially memorable, but it was nice to set foot in new countries, especially in South and Central America and Mexico. The trip through the Panama Canal was splendid. We still prefer the Prinsendam, the Noordam and the Oosterdam, primarily because the Verandah Suites are quite a bit larger than those on the Rotterdam. In our cabin on this cruise, we had to walk single file between the wall and the bed to get from the front door to the living area. Even another foot wider would have been a big improvement. We'll probably travel on HAL again — but not on a ship that's just come out of drydock. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Until this cruise, Holland America had been our favorite cruise line. We always enjoyed the feel of old time crossing elegance that had made Holland America cruises feel more special than the other cruise lines. We were disappointed; ... Read More
Until this cruise, Holland America had been our favorite cruise line. We always enjoyed the feel of old time crossing elegance that had made Holland America cruises feel more special than the other cruise lines. We were disappointed; however, to see that HAL has done away with the very features that made cruising with them feel special. Now, cruising with HAL is the same as any other cookie-cutter cruising. My husband and I cruise about 3 times a year. Our favorite onboard activity is sitting on the promenade in deck chairs watching the ocean and sea life, feeling the cool breezes and listening to the sound of the waves as the ship travels along. If you, too, enjoy sitting in the deck chairs reading, sleeping or just enjoying the ocean, then you will be as disappointed as we are with the "improvements" made to the Rotterdam. In an effort to provide more "balcony rooms," they have changed many promenade level rooms to what they are calling "lanai rooms." This consists of adding sliding glass doors to promenade level rooms. Each of the lanai rooms has 2 reserved varnished deck chairs. The result is that the rest of the guests are treated like second class citizens, relegated to sit behind plates of sheet metal with no view of the ocean, listening to sounds of the motor and smelling the exhaust in the back of the ship on the unvarnished deck chairs. There are a very small handful of spots where unreserved deck chairs have a view of the ocean, and these are fiercely fought over by the guests. We have heard people being quite cross with each other, seen others take seats that someone else has dragged to an ocean view spot, or yet others have placed belongings on the chairs effectively reserving their seats for the whole day even though they are not in these chairs for more than a couple of hours. This is way too much stress and hard feelings for what is supposed to be a relaxing get-away vacation! The worst part is that even the lanai guests do not have a very good deal, especially if they are non-smokers. Their "balcony" is in a public area that others are walking around all day. There are no partitions between the cabins so the smoke from cigarettes floats downwind to all of the other lanai guests. If someone leaves their curtains open, then everyone else can see fully into their cabin. We have been told by an officer on board that the Veendam has received these lanai additions and the rest of the HAL fleet is scheduled to receive the same retrofits. To make matters worse, they have reduced staff leading to significantly slower service in the dining room and lack of personalized attention around the ship. HAL advertises as offering "timeless sophistication" in cruising, yet they have eliminated the very things that had set them apart from the rest of the pack. There is no longer anything special about sailing with Holland America. It is time for us to look for a new favorite cruise line. You should choose your next cruise based on price and itinerary, forget about looking for that feeling of "specialness" that you remember from cruising with HAL in the past; that is a bygone era. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We decided to take advantage of a window of low fares for the Panama Canal cruise which left Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 23, 08. Embarkation went smoothly;lunch was served on the Lido Deck. By 2:00 p.m. it was announced that the cabins were ... Read More
We decided to take advantage of a window of low fares for the Panama Canal cruise which left Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 23, 08. Embarkation went smoothly;lunch was served on the Lido Deck. By 2:00 p.m. it was announced that the cabins were ready. Within an hour the luggage was delivered. Since we drove to Ft. Lauderdale from Atlanta, we remembered to bring extra hangers. We were surprised to find that they were not needed. The cabin was roomy and comfortable. We had booked obstructed view guarantee and were upgraded to a oceanview cabin. The Rotterdam is a comfortable ship with lots of space for quiet reading. Plentiful bars and every night a "happy hour" in two bars. Enjoyed the library where we checked out dvd's for free. There were a few days of internet specials - we took advantage of those days to go online to check emails. Crew were very friendly;ship was going on a "round the world" cruise upon our return. Most of the crew's contracts were up at the end of this cruise. Everyone on board was polite, friendly and professional - from the captain on down. Since we would be cruising over Christmas and New Years there were plenty of families on board including the ships officers' families. We appreciated and took advantage of the laundry service provided. The bag rate was reasonable. We were happy to discover that the ship offered any time dining which we prefer. The Maitre D seated us nightly with interesting people. Unlike assigned dining where you may be 'stuck' with tablemates you have nothing in common with. We prefer to have breakfast in the dining room. It's impossible to find seats on the Lido deck. We enjoyed a few lunches in the dining room as well. We are not fans of the Lido Buffet. The on board barbecue buffet did not look appetizing and we went back to the dining room that night too. The Chocolate Extravaganza was a nice touch. There were 3 formal nights - 3 too many for us. We prefer Country Club casual. With luggage weight limitations, it's difficult to bring formalwear. We have been on other cruise lines and compared the food to Princess. The Rotterdam offered a varied menu each night and considering how many people they cook for the food was very good. We had dinner two nights in the Pinnacle Grill where we thought the food was outstanding. Definitely worth the extra few dollars. One more thought: the dessert was not good! My husband had 'trifle' one night and everyone at the table had the same reaction. What is this - it looked like jello? There is definitely room for improvement with the desserts! I kept asking where the souffles were - they were served only one night. Entertainment: This area needs work! The comedians and singer that was brought on board was not even level C - more like "D" grade! The only entertainer that was really good was the banjo player-believe it or not he was really good. The staff dancers were fine (similar to Disneyland shows). The bar entertainers were very "karaoke" and not up to the entertainment we've enjoyed on the Princess cruise. I was very surprised about the poor entertainment. The cruise director was young and perhaps this is an area where HAL can save some money. It certainly showed. Also, we were in the Caribbean but no steel drum music. Yes, I know this isn't the party ship Carnival but come on. What's wrong with some reggae to get you in the spirit. There was never any live music by the pool, another cut back? I would have been happy with some reggae cd's as background music. Pool: Definitely not enough lounge chairs at either pool. There were children swimming in the Adults only pool and I only saw an officer request that the kids leave the pool one time. I guess parents can't read " Adults Only." The ship was decorated nicely for Christmas and New Years. Many guests even decorated their cabin doors...wish I had thought of that! Christmas morning it was announced that Santa Claus was arriving. The ship provided gifts for each child that attended Santa's entry. It was so cute to see the small children - that's what Christmas is all about! New Years Eve was festive and fun. Excursions: Unfortunately for us, this is the second time we have been rained out of the private beach. We were looking forward to enjoying a day on the beach. Since we've been to Aruba many times we just got off the boat and did some shopping. My husband took a snorkel tour in Bonaire which he enjoyed. I stayed onboard. In Curacao we went into town in the morning and found some great buys, beautiful jewelry and Royal Delft porcelain at better prices than when we were in Amsterdam last September. Note - if you see something you like, buy it. It may not be available on another island. We went on a beach excursion in the afternoon-big disappointment. The beach was rocky, and the bus ride was longer than the time spent on the beach. I don't understand why they didn't take us to a resort beach. I would have liked to see what Curacao's resorts are like - never saw a resort. Not sure I would go back to Curacao. The Panama Canal was a thrill. The ship had a guest lecturer give the history of the Canal-well worth it. We chose to take an excursion where once we got to Gatun Lake we got off the ship, took a bus to a small boat (approximately 200 people) and went through the remaining locks to the Pacific Ocean. We highly recommend taking this excursion. You see so much more on the smaller boat. Once we arrived at the Pacific side, we could see countless ships waiting to go through the canal. Panama City had a beautiful skyline. We boarded a bus to take us back to the ship in Cristobal. We actually had a police escort the last few miles to the ship to get us back in time. I was told the reason there are no excursions to Panama City is because of kidnapping. I'm not sure if this is true or not, just what someone told us. We chose to take the tram Rainforest excursion in Costa Rica. Again, I would have liked to see where the resorts were located. We drove through banana plantations and small village towns to get to the rainforest. Our guide was interesting and informative. All in all we had a wonderful cruise and very special Christmas and New Years. We've just booked a Princess cruise to Alaska in June. I'll be comparing HAL and Princess. There are some great deals out there for cruising - if you can take advantage of them, do so! It's a great way to travel! Thanks Rotterdam for a wonderful Holiday season 2008. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We boarded the Rotterdam after a smooth embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. We were on the ship in under 20 minutes despite the additional security measures that have been added to embarkation. The captain of the Rotterdam for this cruise was ... Read More
We boarded the Rotterdam after a smooth embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. We were on the ship in under 20 minutes despite the additional security measures that have been added to embarkation. The captain of the Rotterdam for this cruise was Peter Bos, the Hotel Manager was Robert Versteeg, and Executive chef was Rene Rojas Olea. The entertainment included Attillio at the piano bar, and Martin Lass, a violinist with incredible talent! We found the Rotterdam to be very clean and this was the first cruise that I can recall never smelling any kind of foul odor anywhere on the ship. Our suite was lovely, well kept with the new (and very wonderful) linens and duvet. We did have a few days of a "slow" flushing toilet, and the captain. announced this was a ship wide problem that was thankfully rectified by our 3rd day on the cruise. We never had another problem, nor did I hear of any reported by fellow passengers. Our cabin steward was Bambang, an Indonesian steward who had been with HAL for over 7 years. In fact, he was part of the crew that prepared the ship at the Italian shipyard. (I know this as he lamented to us about the food he ate in Italy and the lack of rice in the meals.) He was wonderfully efficient and friendly, we enjoyed him a great deal. While onboard we saw familiar faces from our other cruises, and each greeted us like old friends. This time we traveled with 2 friends. They were in an outside room and reported that their cabin steward was also friendly and efficient. Unfortunately, our friends encountered so many "problems" on board the ship that they have vowed to go back to another cruise line. Their problems began with a disastrous first night in the dining room. We and our friends were seated at a table for 8 with a view of the kitchen door. It was amazing to me that although our other 4 table mates were also in suites, we were placed at what proved to be the worst table in the dining room. When we arrived at the table, we had the menus shoved in our faces by a stone faced waiter without even a hello. We requested ice tea at the beginning of the meal, and received it after the main course had arrived. It had been warm and we requested a refill, which never was provided. Our orders were totally screwed up that night and 2 of our table mates ended up getting no main course with the steward insisting in a surly voice that they had not ordered them!! The topper of the evening was that one of our assigned table companions had obviously partied quite heavily before coming to dinner, and she continued to drink through dinner with no entree....needless to say it was not a pretty picture. Needless to say this was not a good way to start the cruise and I fretted about having to approach our concierge the next day with the problem as I am not one to whine about things on a cruise. Nevertheless, I presented the situation to her early the next morning and within 2 hours we were put at a different table, this time for 4, with very efficient wait staff. The second problem they encountered sealed the deal for them. One day while many were coming in from shore there was an announcement that all the elevators would be inoperable for the next ½ hour as they were testing their emergency generator system. Those of us who were onboard the ship heard the announcement but those just reboarding did not. Not knowing of the inoperable elevator, they got into the elevator on "A" deck without any of the staff attempting to stop them or the 5 others that got on, including a man in a wheelchair with serious medical problems. Anyway, they got on the elevator, it went up a bit and stopped dead. The people in the elevator attempted to use the phone inside the elevator to call for help and it wasn't working either. For over 20 minutes our friends were stuck in the elevator with one man tapping out SOS in morse code with his cane on the door. No one responded. When the elevators resumed service 20 minutes later, no one was there to ask if anyone was okay and when my friend told the security officers of their traumatic ordeal, they received a curt answer that an announcement had been made and they were "stupid" for not heeding the warning. Miffed, our friend went to the front desk to also report the incident, and were also brushed off by the staff. Unfortunately, that left a lasting impression with my friends, who now vow to never return to HAL. I myself feel terrible as I was the one to rave about the cruise line and they relied on my recommendations and went home with a sour feeling. After this I can understand how different people have vastly different experiences on a cruise. We had a fabulous time! We found the food in the dining room, the Lido and from room service to be wonderful. We did not find any problems with tough beef and the 4 of us enjoyed every meal. I was thrilled to see that the cold soups were back on the menu, as I didn't recall seeing them on the Ryndam this last summer. This ship and cruise felt more formal than our cruises on other HAL ships, including the 17 day South America cruise on the Amsterdam. This surprised me for a Caribbean cruise. The dress code was strictly adhered to by the passengers including no shorts in the dining room. Many of the men wore tuxes and I saw no one "underdressed" in the dining room. This was very different from our experience in Alaska this last summer. We did have an opportunity to eat at the Pinnacle this time and noted that they still are staffed by the Indonesian waiters. During a cocktail party we were seated with Captain Bos, who stated that he feels that the crew is happier when there isn't a mixing of staffs nationalities. I had to wonder if this was why the Pinnacle was not staffed by Eastern Europeans as on other HAL ships. One thing we did miss was the lack of any Caribbean music on board. In fact one day we were docked next to the Brilliance of the Seas and from our balcony we could hear their steel drum band, it accentuated how sedate our experience was with Frank Sinatra being piped into the Lido. Many commented on the lack of Caribbean music on board. Despite our friends' unfortunate experience, we found this cruise to be very lovely and the service to be top notch in general. My fears that I had about a lessening of quality on the ship were again not proven. I would recommend this cruise and this ship, but I may shy away from ever inviting friends who've not cruised HAL to join us as experiences can differ greatly among passengers on the same cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
The Rotterdam is a beautiful, classic ship. The interior decoration is elegant and tasteful, with gorgeous fabrics used throughout. Food was about on par with other lines- dishes that don't mind overcooking, like lamb shanks, were ... Read More
The Rotterdam is a beautiful, classic ship. The interior decoration is elegant and tasteful, with gorgeous fabrics used throughout. Food was about on par with other lines- dishes that don't mind overcooking, like lamb shanks, were great, but fish is understandably overdone. Yes, the line does lean strongly toward the over 60 (heck, over 80) crowd- one person in 10 had a cane or a walker. We were on a long trip, with many sea days, during the school period, so there were very few children. I wondered why there had been talk of HAL abandoning this age group to court the under 50 crowd, but it was obvious on the trip. My impression was that these people don't drink or gamble much, expect to be waited on like royalty, and plan to squeeze every penny out of the cruise humanly possible. There were more crotchety and downright rude cruisers on this trip than I have run across on other lines- including the woman who stood over my shoulder at the slot machine even when I asked her not to, because it was HER machine. I am the first one to condemn seat saving abuse, but when 4 of us went to the show, and the women got up to use the ladies room, the men nearly had to come to blows to keep our places from being squatted upon- "NO seat saving allowed!" Service was hit and miss. Our steward did a nice job, but liked to stay and chat, and couldn't seem to remember that we wanted ice at 5 daily. THe neptune lounge concierge couldn't have been sweeter, but when I asked if alcohol was included in the cabanas at half moon cay, she assured me it was. When we got there the cabana girl said soft drinks and chips and dip only. After we walked down the beach for lunch we were told we could have lunch in the cabana. We didn't think it was worth $219 for 6 sodas and a bag of chips in a plywood hut. Bottom line-this cruise was everything I expected after reading the HAL message board comments. Many people love it, but it is not the line for us- we don't like regimented meal times, being told what to wear, and the constant nickle and diming. We are going back to Windstar, Silversea, or even NCL. Read Less
Rotterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 4.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.1

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