6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots ... Read More
It was a great itinary. Wanted this for years and now was the time to do it. But the ship was a dissapointment . No more then two or three stars and that is being kind! Old is no problem ,but this ship was neglected . Lots of buckets on decks 1 and 2 .Lots of leakage . All kinds of not matching carpets to hide the fungus .One meter red , three meters with a patttern , 1 meter blue and so on. The pool on the outer deck was without water and filled with sunbeds . You wonder if the interior of the ship is so badly maintained ,how is the outside ? Is it save ? We had a complaint about the guest service .At guest service they asked to report our complaint after our holiday .No 8 weeks later ,we still not have a reply..After 6 weeks iasked if they forgot to answer . But no I had to be patient. The food and service in the restaurants was excellent .Compliments are due. Entertainment was poor , No big shows like Royal Caribbean . You had to pay for dancinglesses , fitness 12 dollar . And also for coffee after your meal The cruisedirector was a dispair .Did not do much good . Even introdeuced the captain with a complete different name. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The Rotterdam is an older ship and does show some wear especially in the bathtubs and the décor in some of the areas. However, once you experience the friendly and helpful staff, the great food and the awesome atmosphere you quickly ... Read More
The Rotterdam is an older ship and does show some wear especially in the bathtubs and the décor in some of the areas. However, once you experience the friendly and helpful staff, the great food and the awesome atmosphere you quickly forget the age of the ship. Embarkation was a bit rough in that requested wheelchair was not available and had to wait in the chilly air outside until it arrived. Wheel chair also had to be requested upon disembarkation. Our balcony cabin was fairly spacious, in fair condition and was always kept clean and well stocked by cabin staff. We did not participate in most ship activities and the entertainment did not seem to suit us but there were plenty of activities if you wanted to be more active. The ports of call were amazing and included Eidfjord, Geiranger, Alesund, and Bergen. We did not purchase any shore excursions and did the ports on our own and had a great time; a bit of walking and HOP ON/HOP OFF buses. We absolutely loved the laid back atmosphere of the ship and we were extremely pleased with the phenomenal service we were provided. We cannot wait to go back! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We choose this cruise because of the destination. Island, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. The boat starts to be a little bite old (old fashioned decor) but everything on board is made to make you feel happy and confortable. Really clean, ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the destination. Island, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. The boat starts to be a little bite old (old fashioned decor) but everything on board is made to make you feel happy and confortable. Really clean, confy, warm and beautiful. Staff is lovely, food and activities are good. (very interesting conferences, shows, teachings....) The ports were nices and beautifuls. Locals make us feel really welcome and often advantages by being a cruise traveller (lower prices...) We were youngers than most of others guests and basically not English-speaking people but we were feeling like home. The only problems we met were mealtimes, too early schedules and finally not enough time of opening and sorry but the coffee was not good. It was my first cruise then i realized that something was missing.....advices not to be to much in pain with seasickness. It was a wonderful voyage. Good times, Good memories and we cant be more satisfied Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
My partner and I are in our early 30s and this was our second cruise. Our first was with Royal Caribbean to the South Pacific. We chose Holland America expecting a better experience considering the price difference was substantial (almost ... Read More
My partner and I are in our early 30s and this was our second cruise. Our first was with Royal Caribbean to the South Pacific. We chose Holland America expecting a better experience considering the price difference was substantial (almost double compared to Royal Caribbean). Unfortunately we were disappointed across the board. Food: The food was actually very bad across the board, from in room dining, to the formal dining room, to the buffet restaurant. If food had been perhaps average, it would have improved our perception of the cruise overall, however 3 weeks of meat so hard it crunched when pierced with the fork ( beef bourguignon!!), exactly the same options for breakfast and almost tasteless lunch options really impacted our experience. Comparing the food to our Royal Caribbean experience where you could order practically anything as room service (Holland America had a very limited room service menu), had dessert buffets after dinner and awesome BBQs by the pool with ribs that melted off the bone, we were grossly disappointed. The specialty restaurant at $29/person was pretty good, the steaks were actually edible, but it was a bit expensive, we ended up going 4 times because we couldn't stand the food elsewhere in the boat. Room: We initially had a balcony room on level 7, highest level with accommodation. It was directly below the smoking area where other guests would drag chairs and tables every 5-10minutes as they were sitting and standing up. Each time this happened the dragging echoed in our room like someone dragging nails on a chalkboard. It was unbearable. By day 3 of our trip, having been kept awake till midnight by dragging chairs, we requested to be moved. The staff were very obliging and at the end of the first week we moved to level 6 in a blissfully quiet room. The second room however was not refurbished to the same standard as that on level 7! The bathroom was visibly tired with the bathtub chipped in a number of spots and the door jamb scratched to the point where there was almost more metal showing than paint! Lastly our toilet was leaking, filling up the bowl and eventually, given time, overflowing and filling the bathroom floor with water. We alerted room service, the front desk, and guest services 5 times all up, nothing was done and our bathroom continued flooding on almost a nightly basis. Perhaps the worst part was forgetting that the toilet was filling up and getting up in the middle of the night and sitting on the toilet only to impact the body of water inside... Very unpleasant!! Onboard Activities: Very scant. Other than music after 5pm there was very little to do on board. The best thing was the art lectures hosted by the Art Auctioneer who was delightful and incredibly knowledgable. Evening performances were largely lacklustre. Service: The only area that I can say something wholeheartedly positive about is the service by the crew. Everyone was very accomodating and polite, with a smile on their face. Most of the crew is either Philipino or from the Indian subcontinent and Service was really their middle name :) Locations: As far as the destination is concerned, we felt Choosing to cruise around Iceland was a good option as you see a lot of the island and don't feel like there is much you missed. Norway felt a little rushed and we probably will be back in Norway to cover what we missed. Overall: On the whole we found the experience very disappointing. The ship itself was pretty average with no 'WOW' factor. Coupled with the terrible food and the unfortunate room incidents we are unlikely to ever cruise with Holland America again. Next on the list to try, Princess Cruises! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 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
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
After booking this cruise almost 12 months ago we were allocated a cabin 10 days prior to its sailing. The booking in Rotterdam was very slow there were not enough personnel booking passengers in and this created long delays. We booked ... Read More
After booking this cruise almost 12 months ago we were allocated a cabin 10 days prior to its sailing. The booking in Rotterdam was very slow there were not enough personnel booking passengers in and this created long delays. We booked an o/s cabin on main deck and all was fine the cabin size was good but from the beginning we had problems with the a/c controls when the weather was getting warmer the cabin got so hot that you woke up sweating and the a/c was as low as you could set it. we were told there was nothing they could do about this as it was an old ship mind you in some of the public areas you needed a jumper as it was so cold. HAL has really slipped to a 3 star line the food was average to say the least we send many dishes back as it was cold or the taste was terrible like under cooked liver good to make you sick. but we never saw the head chef we were told he was not available as there were to many complains/ The captain we never saw during the whole voyage or any of the senior officers. the ports were fine and leaving procedures in Singapore were fine we have done 6 cruises on HAL ships this was the worst. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Interesting itinerary from Rotterdam to Singapore plus a 14 day loop around Indonesia and then back to Rotterdam ... 91 days in total. We got off in Singapore and enjoyed the trip. First a number of European ports (Southampton, Lisbon, ... Read More
Interesting itinerary from Rotterdam to Singapore plus a 14 day loop around Indonesia and then back to Rotterdam ... 91 days in total. We got off in Singapore and enjoyed the trip. First a number of European ports (Southampton, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malta, Athens, Crete and then the Suez canal ... 8 sea-days in total before you arrive in the Gulf states! The full day through the canal was interesting though. After that 3 Gulf states, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Next ports were in India, Mangalore and Cochin. Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Yangon) and Phuket and finally Singapore. Service on board is still very good but slightly less then our first HAL experience about 20 years ago. Ample activities on board and definitively something for everyones taste. Food is good and there are a lot of different options to choose from ... from very formal in the Pinnacle to very informal in the burger shack and pizza counter. The entertainment was good, although we skipped a number of performers ... especially the British stand up comedians were hilarious. All in all an great experience and a good way to get to Singapore without flying! Next up is our cruise with HAL from Sydney to Vancouver (including the 14 days New Zealand circumnavigation), starting March 25. Looking forward to making new friends again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
We were told that we would not be sailing from Amsterdam due to a congested harbor, we sailed from Rotterdam. We were met at the airport by a very nice young man from Viking and put aboard a bus to Rotterdam. We were the only ones on the ... Read More
We were told that we would not be sailing from Amsterdam due to a congested harbor, we sailed from Rotterdam. We were met at the airport by a very nice young man from Viking and put aboard a bus to Rotterdam. We were the only ones on the bus. This change was no problem. We were also told several days ahead that the water level on the Danube was low, not the fault of Viking and we might have to change boats with a Viking boat that could not get down river. This we did and our tour director came with us. We packed before a shore trip and our bags were in our room on the new boat when we arrived. Viking even went so far as to give us the same room number, do not remember the name of the new boat The same problem faced us below Budapest so Viking took us to Budapest on a tour bus.To make up for the inconvence we were taken to lunch at the four star Gundel Restaurant . The food was out of this world and the chocolate crape, WOW. Viking did every thing they could to make our trip great. The service on the boats was great and also the food. We learned to make a strudel on the second boat. I have made it twice sense we have been home. All in all we had a great time and could not have been more pleased. All the shore trips we took were fun and we learned a great deal about that part of the world. I am a WW2 student and the WW2 trip to Nuremberg to the Zepplin field and the Court House where the War Trials took place, took care of two items on my bucket list. The highlight of the trip was the concert in Vienna. This was another item off my bucket list to hear the BLUE DANUBE WALTZ played in Vienna. You need to schedule 2 days there please. Great trip. Ready to schedule our third one. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our 35th cruise, 5th with RCI. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise itself, however, the booking process, the safety drill and getting on and off the ship were such a nightmare that we will likely not return to sail a 'mega ... Read More
This was our 35th cruise, 5th with RCI. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise itself, however, the booking process, the safety drill and getting on and off the ship were such a nightmare that we will likely not return to sail a 'mega ship' like that in the near future. It appears to us that while the ship itself is absolutely stunning, RCL's ability to manage the passenger load is nothing more than a disgrace. The Booking: We booked on line at the RCL web site. We booked four cabins for a total of eight passengers. A few days before sailing we noticed that the prices had dropped and my sister expressed an interest to join us. She is a single and RCL quoted us a 200% supplement for her. When we asked about her joining us in my cabin, they told us we needed an upgrade to do this, which would still have resulted in an increased cost equivalent to the 200% supplement. We offered to pay for two passengers, with only her showing up, but this was denied as well. The rep told us that they would rather sail with an empty cabin than sell it to us at the advertised double occupancy price. We ended up going without her. The Embarkation: We boarded in Rotterdam. We did buy the RCL air and transfer package and this worked great. We were received at the Amsterdam airport and bussed to Rotterdam. When we arrived at the port our jaws dropped. There was the mother of all line-ups. And it was outside and it was raining. We stood in line and after an hour my wife needed to go to the bathroom. No bathroom. She tried to get into the building, but access was denied. She ended up crossing the road and sneaking into a restaurant to use the bathroom. It took us two hours to get onto the ship. Apparently, the same experience was shared by our fellow cruisers boarding in Southhampton. The Safety Drill: It was a disaster. Staircases plugged with people, some moving up, some moving down. Some went left, some right some just stood there not sure where to go. We did end up getting our cards scanned, but I don't think we were in the right place. The Cruise: Once on the ship, we had a good time. It is indeed a beautiful ship and it does have that 'Wow' effect. Except for the first day, the public spaces did not feel crowded at all. This ship has so much to offer that it took us 10 days just to experience the essence of it. For example I've seen complaints that there was no Salmon for breakfast, but this was only the case at the marketplace buffet. The complainers did not realize that there were at least five more venues where breakfast was being served, and that they all had different offerings, some including salmon. In general, the food was good in quantity and variety, and average in quality. Appetizers, soups and desserts were above average. We did try the 150 Park specialty restaurant and felt it was ok, but not worth the high extra cost. Especially not when adding the abnormally high cost of the wine (they have a few sub$50 a bottle wines on the wine list, but none of them was 'in stock'). We enjoyed the entertainment offered, especially the comedy show, the ice show and the Oasis production show. We were somewhat disappointed at Cats. How long can you watch heavily accented English dancers crawl around the floor? At the beginning of the show there was standing room only, but by half time about one third of the audience had left. Yes, we did make reservations for all the shows we went to, but except for the comedy show, it was not really necessary. Especially not if the show was a repeat. The crew was very friendly and we especially enjoyed the services of Vince, our head waiter. Superb service. The Disembarkation: The lines to get off the ship started to form around 7am. By 12 noon, nobody had gone off the ship yet. The announcements were that there was a customs delay. We finally got off at 2pm. Luckily we did not have flight reservations for that day!! The Bottom line: Great ship, great crew, enjoyable cruise, but not recommended if you are elderly and cannot stand in line, in the rain, for two or more hours without washrooms, chairs, hot drinks, etc.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers ... Read More
My wife and I are retired and in our late 60's and have primarily cruise on Princess. This cruise from Rotterdam was only our third Holland America cruise and our 22nd cruise overall since we took up cruising in 2003. My wife prefers large ships (Ruby Princess) while I prefer small ships (Pacific Princess). The Rotterdam is a perfect compromise for us. We flew out of Seattle on Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Keflavik, Iceland where we had one and half hour layover before boarding another Iceland Airline 757-200 airplane to Amsterdam. Iceland Airline is the UPS of passenger airlines, all of the "packages" are flown to Keflavik and then "sorted" and put on airplanes to their final destination. You have the option to delay in route and spend up to seven days in Iceland at no additional cost in the total fare which if booked early is much less than the major airlines flying to Europe. Arriving in Amsterdam we took a prebooked Schipol Business Taxi from the airport to Hotel New York in Rotterdam less than a 100 meters from the cruise terminal. With three large suitcases, two backpacks and two small personal bags there was no way of getting all of that on the Inter City train. The Hotel New York is housed in the former Holland America Line Headquarters building. The exterior is unchanged from the original building. The corporate offices were replaced with 72 guests rooms, several meeting rooms and a large restaurant while retaining many of the architectural details of the original building. In many ways it was like staying in a museum with comfortable accommodations and great food. We spent two full days in the Hotel before making the short walk at noon to the cruise terminal on embarkation day. It only took 20 minutes from dropping off our bags to entering our Vista Suite on deck six just a few staterooms forward of the amidships stairway. After dropping off our backpacks we went up to the Lido restaurant on Deck 8. I was expecting the usual chaotic embarkation day lunch time scrum and instead it was a more normal sea day lunch experience. We actually found a table in the Lido in just a few minutes. Departure down the Maas river to the North Sea was delayed two hours to complete refueling of the ship which for some reason took longer than normal. The 6:00 pm departure was somewhat disappointing since I was looking forward to taking some pictures of the river transit to the sea and the ambient light was poor for photographs due approaching sunset and a partially overcast sky. This was our first time on a R Class ship our two previous cruises were on the Vista Class ships the Westerdam and Oosterdam. It was hard to believe that the Rotterdam was built in 1997. The ship's public areas and are stateroom were in amazingly good condition and very clean for a 16 year old ship. It was the first time we have encountered dual language announcements (English and Dutch) which well done by the Cruise Director and not a problem in any way. We later found out that over 1300 of the passengers where Dutch speaking and around 100 passengers were English speaking. We had requested and received late dining (8:00 pm) at a table for 8. Two of the couples were from the US and the third couple from the UK. The wait service on the first night was slow and a bit disorganized. We did not finish diner until after 10:00 pm and while dining service improved during the cruise, most nights very slow causing us to be late for the 10:00 pm shows several times. I am not sure if the issue was short staffing of the waiters or kitchen staff but it was not up to the standard we experienced on other Holland American or Princess cruises. As to the food. I am a vegetarian and I will say I did not starve and even gained two pounds during the cruise. My at home diet for protein consists primarily of beans, lentils, tofu, yogurt and cheese. On the ship I was very happy with the breakfast. Lunch was a problem, it was either cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza or pasta with or without cheese. Dinner was better than lunch with better variety of vegetarian items. My issue with dinner was in that no way was the vegetarian choices equivalent to meat and fish dishes. On the third formal night, my table mates has steak and lobster while I had a cabbage roll stuffed with rice and corn with red pepper sauce drizzled on top of the cabbage roll. Not exactly a formal night dish. My other issue was with the second course which half the time only had a cold soup as the vegetarian choice. Off the anytime menu there was the Caesar Salad which was very bland. However, the deserts were great. I particularly liked the fruit crisps and the ice cream selections. The vegetarian meals on both Holland America and Princess are behind in selection and taste when compared to the food of the vegetarian restaurants in Seattle. We really like our Vista Suite and it was a step up in space and comfort from the normal balcony rooms we choose on Princess. It was also correspondingly more expensive. We always book a balcony/verandah stateroom which is not available on the R Class ships. The Lanai staterooms while a good value do not work for us in terms of privacy. We choose this cruise because of the itinerary. We has always wanted to spend more time in Rotterdam after a port call there several years ago and both Cadiz and Lisbon which we have port calls twice before are both some of our favorite European cities. It was a real treat to overnight in both of these cities. The other thing my wife really like was that we docked at all of the ports. She does not like tendering after we have experienced rough conditions returning to the ship. We do not do excursions and prefer to get off the ship and explore the city by walking and using local transportation. For attractions further from the port we will rent a car. During my working career I had the privilege of doing a lot of international travel and as a result I am very comfortable driving on the left or right and in any country not on the State Departments Advisory List. We enjoyed visiting all of the ports except Leixoes, Portugal which was a half day port call in the morning and in windy and wet weather conditions. One of our favorite stops of the cruise was A Coruna, Spain were we toured the San Anton Castle and archaeological museum and the Tower of Hercules, a second century Roman Lighthouse which is still operational. It was renovated in the late 1700's and is opened to visitors. We were able to climb to an observation level near the top of tower and enjoy an incredible view of the city and coastline. The entertainment on board the ship was excellent . We really enjoyed the piano and violin group, Adagio, which performed every night from 7:00 to 11:00 pm in the Explorer's Lounge. The two young ladies from the Ukraine very talented classical musicians and real joy to hear perform. Our favorite showroom performance was on the night of the last port call in Vigo, Spain. Jazz singer Denise Thimes accompanied by Llew Matthews on the piano who previously had performed on Holland America jazz cruises gave her first performance on a regular cruise. It was an hour of really incredible music. Dismbarkation was just as easy as the embarkation 14 days earlier in Rotterdam. We got off the ship at 9:00 am picked up our bags in the terminal and took a cab to the Hilton Hotel in the central business district in Rotterdam. The Hilton Hotel is only two blocks from the Central Trains station so it was easy to go further afield. In the subsequent 6 days in Rotterdam we took the train to Amsterdam and toured the Rijksmusem, went to Brussels and also Delft. Rotterdam is almost the direct opposite of Amsterdam as far as architecture as the result of being flatten by bombing during World War II. It has some incredible architecture and great museums which we really enjoyed. Also, they are few tourists so it is very easy to get around and into museums without having to deal with long lines. In summary we liked the itinerary, the friendliness and great service of the crew, the spacious explorer's cafe and library on Deck 5, a very comfortable and well maintained stateroom and the politeness of our fellow passengers. We did not like the smoker in the adjacent stateroom whose verandah smoking made it impossible for us to use our verandah nor the below standard service in the main dining room during the second seating. All in all we really enjoyed the cruise and have booked Alaskan cruise out of Seattle this summer on the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
As first time cruisers we couldn't have chosen a better cruise line, and such wonderful ports of call. When we arrived dockside in Rotterdam everyone was so helpful and well rehearsed, allowing us to flow through quickly and get to ... Read More
As first time cruisers we couldn't have chosen a better cruise line, and such wonderful ports of call. When we arrived dockside in Rotterdam everyone was so helpful and well rehearsed, allowing us to flow through quickly and get to our cabin on board. The Rotterdam is lovely, up to date, very clean and the friendliest staff ever and can't say enough about them! The food was incredible and whether it was the Lido or La Fontaine or other eating spots, the service was terrific and everyone friendly and helpful. We chose open seating so we could meet different people each time we went to La Fontaine and would always do the same again, as met wonderful people who were charming, interesting, and some nights we could hardly tear ourselves away from the table. As we are gay men traveling everyone was so friendly towards us, and very warm. The ship was able to get us on and off at our ports of call splendidly, and at no time did we feel we had to wait too long, very organized. Michael the ships entertainment director was superb, as was the entertainment each night. Tammy organized where we sat in La Fontaine and although I forget his title, this man deserves great kudos for the fine job he does every day, so funny and friendly and efficient (this man certainly deserves a great raise). Ersa (works in the Lido) is another wonderful person making us all happy and loving her attention! Can you tell yet that we loved this cruise and all its staff, because there isn't enough I can say about it. Only that I want to do more and more of these cruises and Holland America has to be the BEST!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Embarkation We arrived in Rotterdam the night before the cruise. Our hotel the Rotterdam Hilton was extremely tired but within a quick taxi ride to the cruise terminal. We arrived at the terminal around 1 PM as specified by the ... Read More
Embarkation We arrived in Rotterdam the night before the cruise. Our hotel the Rotterdam Hilton was extremely tired but within a quick taxi ride to the cruise terminal. We arrived at the terminal around 1 PM as specified by the cruise line directions. There were a large number of passengers who obviously had received the same directions. At first I thought this was going to be a bad beginning to our cruise. But lines moved smoothly and everything was extremely well organized. When we arrived in our cabin all luggages was accounted for and prearranged flowers and reservations were waiting. The Ship The Rotterdam is the largest vessel we have ever cruised on and carries approximately 1400 passengers. The ship was built in 1997 but you wouldn't think it by looking at her. Everything is freshly painted and the interiors are new, inviting and very well maintained. We particularly enjoyed the large collection of art on board. Our state room was another change in selection from our previous cruises. Our cruise counselor suggested since it was late in the season and the Baltic region would be most likely cool that we forgo a veranda suite and choose a large window view cabin. She proved correct. Our cabin was comfortable and as well appointed as our experience on Sea Dream Yacht Club and slightly larger in size. Fellow Passengers Since our cruise originated in the Netherlands we were pleased at the wide variety of fellow passengers we had the opportunity to meet during this cruise. About 40% of the ship's passengers were Dutch and most announcements were done in both English and Dutch, which gave things a little bit of a continental flair. The remaining 60% was a good mix of Americans, Canadians and Australians. We chose open seating so we had opportunity to meet a wide range of couples during the 12 days. We noticed that many of our fellow passengers seem to ignore formal nights. Since my wife and I carried a wide range of formalwear for this cruise we were disappointed in the lack of participation. This was not quite as apparent in the main dining room but certainly apparent in other areas of the ship. We will certainly pack differently the next time we travel on HAL. Itinerary The highlight of this cruise for us was St. Petersburg. We were not disappointed with choosing Alla Tours as an alternative to tours offered By Holland America Line. Our tour group was made up of 15 fellow passengers a driver and our tour guide. We had two mishaps during our stay in St. Petersburg. The first thing our Mercedes-Benz bus was hit in the side by an oncoming taxi. Since we only had two days in St. Petersburg I was concerned immediately about how many hours we might be delayed. Alla Tours responded so quickly we had a new bus in less than 30 minutes. The next mishap occurred in the afternoon when our Mercedes-Benz bus started smoking. Again Alla Tours quickly came up with plan two and did a quick swap and provided a replacement. So even though neither of these mishaps were their responsibility they responded quickly and still provided each participant with a discount for their inconvenience. On top of this our guide Marina was outstanding and we covered all the tour points we had planned on seeing while in St. Petersburg. We are impressed and grateful. Our other port tours, HAL tours, were quite enjoyable (Lubeck and Tallin). They were not popular tours so the group size of 18 - 20 was just what we liked. The Food In our opinion the food on MS Rotterdam was as great. We enjoyed the main dining room using it for breakfast as well as dinner. The service was exceptionally good and the food presentation and taste outstanding. We also had two dinners at the Pinnacles Grill where we found the steaks and chops cooked to perfection. We found the Italian themed restaurant located next to the Lido to be satisfactory. The best part of that meal was the wine and an anti-pasta tray. Service I couldn't say more about the high-quality of service we received. Each evening before dinner my wife and I would have a glass of wine or cocktail in the Explorers Lounge within days the attendant Mark knew us by name and anticipated our requests. The staff were always friendly and helpful. Summary We had a wonderful 12 days on the MS Rotterdam and could not more highly recommend this ship or itinerary. We will certainly cruise on HAL in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
When we arrived at the ship, we learned that there had been a possibility for a tour for family members before sailing away. Pity we did not knew that in advance.. Where was that mentioned in the info we received?? When sailing out ... Read More
When we arrived at the ship, we learned that there had been a possibility for a tour for family members before sailing away. Pity we did not knew that in advance.. Where was that mentioned in the info we received?? When sailing out of Rotterdam (quite a trip as the cruise terminal is right in the City), HAL missed the opportunity to teach the passengers on the many interesting things to see on both sides of the river. HAL should hire an Rotterdam guide for this part. Not only the industrial areas are of interest, but also the waterworks that protect Rotterdam were passed without notice. Not many Europeans wear often formal clothes, so the tuxedo can stay at home. During formal nights, dark suit and tie is ok. It was the last trip of this season, but to find underwear from previous cruise passengers under the bed... Cabin steward was very sorry... As for the prices on board: a cup of tea will cost you [incl service charge] 1.80 US Dollar, A Beck's beer 5.75 US Dollar an Orange juice 2.80 US Dollar a Coca Cola 2.20 US Dollar and a bottle of wine for your dinner approx USD 40 and up.. Our first excursion was "Castles of North Zealand" around Copenhagen, Denmark Nice and relaxed tourguide. We visited 3 castles and went into one of them. Trip started at 09:00 and we were back on the ship on 14:30 The was no stop for coffee, there was no stop for lunch, while there was time enough, as the ship departed around 16:00. If we had known this in advance we would have taken care of some sandwiched.. However, eating was not allowed on the bus...grgrgrg. On a previous cruise we commented on an excursion to HAL, but there standard reply was "Sorry, but trip was carried out as described" (with that logic they can extract all air out of the bus and still say that air was not part of the package...). So we did not complain to HAL directly. Conclusion: we do not recommend this excursion. In Warnemunde (Berlin on the Cruise schedule), we stayed in the area. (Seen Berlin before). From the other passengers we learned that the Berlin trip was ok. Special train, 3 hours to and 3 from Berlin and approx 5 hours there. We did a trip with Dave into Schwerin and enjoyed that very much. It was a small group. You probably find him when googling "Dave excursions Warnemunde" or "Friends of Dave" or something.. He reacts promptly to your emails and advance payment is not required. Just give him the cash after the tour, which also includes local train rides. Time for lunch and coffee breaks! Perfect tour. (He keeps the groups small and uses microphone and earphones to talk to you.. very convenient) In Tallinn, Estland the excursion "The best of Tallinn" was ok. Good guide, good stories, nice city, nice views, even a short medieval concert in a church. Very well organized. Also a perfect experience. (although it was helpful that I had downloaded the OpenStreetMap of all the Baltic cities on my Garmin...so that we could wander around). St Petersburg, Russia is somewhat of a problem because of the Visum regulations. You need a visum if you want to go to the city by yourselves. Obtaining a visum is possible, but you need an "invitation" from some Russian agency.(And with that you can ask for the visum at your local Russian consulate) Even that might be arranged. But the agency HAL referred us to, asked for all my creditcard details as well as the cvc code.. That is where we stopped. I do not like our creditcard info to wander around in Russia somewhere.. So we stayed with the HAL excursions.. "Journey Through St Peterburg" was indeed all it was. A coach without airco and hardly any windows that could be opened. A hard-seat bus in which we all asked the guide to turn off the heating.. But there was no heating on! The guide "explained" That it was mostly cold there, so airco was not needed.. We drove to the city and hardly saw any tourist attractions. We stopped at a tourist shop [which main attraction was the bathroom, as she said they were rare there.. ], and then she explained where and when the bus would be waiting for us. Waste of money... We certainly do not recommend this excursion... But... we had a journey through St Petersburg, so.. the trip was executed as described...grgrgrgrg... But even with a visum, there were no taxis at the cruise terminal, and to the next busstop, I estimate a 2 mile walk at least...the cruise terminal was very remote. As the guide explained, Russians need a visum to visit Europe and the USA, so this is there way to respond to that.. Only when you go on HAL tours there is a way around.. (Otherwise, cruiseships probably would not stop at St Petersburg at all..) The excursion "Evening at the Hermitage" was amazing. (By comfortable airconditioned bus this time) . The guide was using mic and had earphones for all of us, and knew very well what he was talking about. He did not introduce himself (not a Russian habit?) but he obviously knew about art, Russia and its history. Hermitage in the evening exclusively for HAL groups was a wonderful experience. Impressive! Certainly worth it. Recommend this one! The other Petersburg excursion that we did was "St. Petersburg through the eyes of the Russian people."We expected to get some insight on how ordinary people lived and worked. None of that. The guide only responded to specific questions on that subject and had no story of her own. We did a 7 minutes journey on the subway and that was what we saw of "Petersburg through the eyes of the Russian People". Before that we were off loaded at a shopping mall, which most of us had seen the day before, and afterwards we were pushed into a souvernir shop. But the "best part of the trip" was a wodka tasting... So our conclusion is "save your money" and don't do this trip. HAL probably will respond that "trip was executed as described".. A pity. The Stockholm roof excursion was an experience. Although it was limited to one building only, it was well organized and the guides were ok. If you take this trip, you'll be around in a few hours, so there might be some time left in the afternoon. Be ware that later in the season, the time you can spent in Stockholm is limited, as the ship has to leave the archipelo before sunset, and cannot arrive before sunrise. On the shore excursions, I also mentioned my complaints with the shore excursion officers. However, when they started again "was executed as described..." I stopped that discussion. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This is such a simple review. There is no bad or ugly. We are "later 60's" seniors from California and evidently easy to please. This was only my second cruise on HAL, the third for my better half. The most recent previous ... Read More
This is such a simple review. There is no bad or ugly. We are "later 60's" seniors from California and evidently easy to please. This was only my second cruise on HAL, the third for my better half. The most recent previous cruise was Celebrity Solstice in the Med last year in October, a great experience. Previous to that was the Maasdam in June last year, Boston to Montreal, also a great experience. Having spent two and a half glorious days in London we took the Eurostar train from St Pancras station (beautiful) to Brussels, then Thalys to Rotterdam, the departing port. We spent the night there, as we usually do. It makes for a very relaxed no-rush boarding. Again, as we usually do, we checked out of the Manhattan Hotel at 11 and taxied for ten plus minutes to the port for 12 Euro. Boarding was a non-event, no long waits whatsoever, and we were having lunch in the Lido at noon. Perhaps we are just lucky, but this timing has always worked for us. And YES, I had read the horror stories about boarding in Rotterdam. Not true! We lunched with new-found friends, having been welcomed to join them at a table for 8. Finding a seat was no problem though many were onboard already. As a new custom, food was served by the ship's staff for the first 48 hours. This, too, was a non-issue. Just point at want you want. It is very quick. Lunch provided the opportunity to evaluate the service staff of mostly Filipino and Indonesian staff. Good grief, incredible! Perfect English, smiling faces, bending over backwards to be of service. This portended of good things to come! At exactly 1:30 the cabins were available. We immediately encountered our cabin stewards on deck 5, Cabin 5048. Sodig and Harris were delivering our luggage! As I warned, there is no bad or ugly. All is perfect! To say that these two provided superior service would be an understatement. More on that later but, yes, there were animal critters provided each night and impeccable cabin housekeeping. Everything worked as promised, including the A/C, except a "drooping" shower head which was replaced while we were at dinner. Again, great service. As we did on the Maasdam, we elected "open seating" for dinner. Now I know you won't believe this but we went to dinner every night in the MDR (Vista) at about 6 and never waited (not a minute) when requesting a table for 6 or 8. We enjoy meeting new people and boy did this work. HAL is amazing, given their data base, to seat like people together given age and language. In every instance we were seated at the window overlooking the aft wake or nearly so. We met wonderful people and just flat had a giggle at every dinner. Later in the cruise we managed to hook-up with many of those folks as 6 became the time for chow, Speaking of chow, hot was hot and cold was cold. We have never had better menus or better food. The service staff, though many, were simply incredible. How is that for a simple review! Of interest was the galley tour we did, more than interesting. I had no idea that HAL is attempting to do "cook-to-order." Perhaps that accounts for our pleasure with the cuisine. To back up a bit my better half selected this itinerary, a genius move in retrospect. I had not been to any of locations save for Rome. Okay, so I am sheltered! As said, London was wonderful. Never have I met such courteous fun-loving people. We thoroughly enjoyed the play "Deathtrap!" at the Noel Coward Theater. See it! It is terrific. To be honest the train trip to Rotterdam was a struggle for me, having to do with schlepping luggage on and off the trains. I guess I am just to old and tired for that! Once onboard however the trains were wonderful with beautiful views of the country side, excellent food and wine, all gratis. Of interest was Brussels. I smoke (no stones please) so went outside for same where the taxis arrive. We came back inside the terminal with our luggage and found our way to the platform. There were no English signs, no English speaking staff and ZERO security. We literary had a free pass to do bad things. Very scary in my view. So we shoved off from Rotterdam with great fan fare and headed for Guernsey (St Peters Port) with a booked tour with HAL there. Too good, great value, beautiful, very English driver (and very funny), and a great crab sandwich. It was the "Guernsey Island Drive" in a fairly small bus and highly recommend. The tides there are significant so seeing boats a half mile from the sea sitting on the harbor sand (it was low tide) was remarkable, certainly different than boring old California where we always have access to the sea! Being an airplane guy I found a bonus of watching two biplanes with wing walkers and four Extra 300's flying formation practicing for an air show the next day. The Guernsey air port is beautiful and very busy with small commuter aircraft. Too cool! Next stop was Brest, France. We booked "Mythical Coast" with HAL. This was a large bus with an excellent tour guide, including the wonderful French accent.. The history was interesting but only included 3 stops for pictures. Again the tide was low and the differential between low and high tide was reported to be 40 plus feet. We couldn't even see the sea from one harbor stop, with hundreds of boats patiently waiting to be "floated" soon. Again, too cool! After a day at sea we arrived at Lisbon. This was special as a colleague where I work has a sister living there who plays the flute for the Lisbon Symphony Orchestra. It was a very short walk (just across the street) from the ship to the hop-on-hop-off bus booked through Viator. We toured all of beautiful Lisbon before meeting the sister and her 8-year old daughter who is learning the Cello. What great fun, seeing her home and driving about, eventually arriving at a wonderful restaurant I had selected from the internet. There we met her "boyfriend" and had a fabulous Portuguese lunch with a fine local red wine. We walked about, finally entering the opera house through the performer's door, where she plays with the symphony. While the exterior is a bit (very?) common, the interior is gorgeous and particularly the "royal suite." After another day at sea we arrived at beautiful Cartagena, Spain. Not much was offered there so we took the free shuttle to the city center. It is spotless and quite beautiful, with many excellent shops. Being a bit under the weather required an early return to the ship, but worth the short visit. Barcelona, Spain, was next. We had booked "Picasso and the Gothic Quarter" with HAL. This is a short bus ride to a fairly long walking tour, including the Picasso Museum where no photos are allowed. Bummer! This is not to be missed if you appreciate art. As I have bum feet the walking was a bit much but I survived and throughly enjoyed old Barcelona. Do you appreciate absolute wealth? So do I, but have none... Monte Carlo was unbelievable, exactly as I have seen on the TV while watching the Formula 1 race there. We had booked the "Panoramic Riviera" with HAL and had a great tour guide, replete with lots of history. The bus climbed to the top of the adjoining mountain for great views, then on to Eze for a stop. Beautiful by any account with great shops. Then on to Nice, which has become a large problem for me. The better half wonders why I can't buy a villa there... Just for summers of course. This was by far the best tour of the cruise... Absolute beauty and extreme wealth at every turn. Though the cruise continued for 3 more days we elected to depart the ship in Rome. This required advanced permission from HAL, which was granted after several days. As said, we had done the Med last year and had little interest in departing in Athens. Why you ask? My better half has a new grandchild at home. It was a simple priority, with which I completely concurred. We had lunch onboard and departed in Civitavecchia via a private car (Romecabs) at 2 to spend the night near the airport for an 11 o'clock flight home. Remember Harris, the cabin steward? He caught us coming from our cabin with 4 rolling bags and immediately offered to escort us off the ship. What can I say? Two old (older!) folks with this young man doing the bags all the way to the waiting car at the dock was more than pleasant. Well, I can say this... Harris got a big and well deserved tip!!! We stayed at the Hilton GARDEN Airport Hotel. I emphasize garden as there are two Hiltons near the airport. This was not a great choice, so I mention it. While they do provide a free shuttle to the airport we found the bland soup for 11 Euro a bit much (other prices to match!) and for 235 Euro a night they provide no bag services (porter?) for the older folks (or anyone else). Well, welcome to Rome. We should have shopped better and the Marriott Park Lane in London was far superior. As a funny aside (so I think), we when checked in, loading our large bags on a cart I found, the elevators didn't work. After suggesting I could not lug the bags up five floors the manager got the elevators working after several minutes. Too funny! Well, or not. Shame on Hilton!!! There was no more drama, leaving the hotel the following day at 8 by shuttle gave us a relaxed time to the airport for boarding at 11:10 on our United flight to Washington Dulles, then on to Los Angeles. Actually, we missed our first connection at Dulles but got lucky with seats on the next bird out. Be sure to allow at least 2 hours at Dulles if continuing. Thanks to the better half for getting those seats! In all, we have never had a better trip. The Westerdam was beyond every expectation in all respects... service, food, entertainment (Vista Lounge, usually quite good), DANCING (Ocean Bar with Robert, Zach and Zach) and comfort (that would be the cabin). As I said, no bad. No ugly. Did I mention the weather? Perfect! Thank you HAL (though HAL just got lucky with the weather)! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
I had many personal problems but I can differ between my individual problems and the general condition on the ship. There was a t-shirt available: DAM good ship DAM good crew DAM good food DAM good shows DAM good cruise DAM good ... Read More
I had many personal problems but I can differ between my individual problems and the general condition on the ship. There was a t-shirt available: DAM good ship DAM good crew DAM good food DAM good shows DAM good cruise DAM good vacation I will be very proud in the future to wear this t-shirt when I am going on other cruise lines. DAM good ship I was "mission control" of totally four cabins 3 VA and 1 VF (handicapped). Without the handicapped cruise-mates I would say: I love this ship. But I need to learn that due to the high numbers of non-automatic swinging doors it was a nightmare for wheelchair-guests. Nevertheless I did not have the impression that it was crowd and even in the Crow's Nest it was never a problem to find a seat to relax. I liked very much the promenade. I liked very much the spacious theater. I liked very much our cabin - what I did not like too much was the different standards of the cabin stewards. We had three teams for the four cabins and it was surprising that there was no supervisor to check that things were missing (like fruit basket, "Do not disturb"-signs etc.). Although we claimed that the a/c blowed too much dust in our cabin: we had black cell phones and all were full of dust after the first night. But none came. The only thing I did not like in our cabin was the swinging door to our veranda. DAM good crew yes - you always have idiots but with those we mostly had to do (our stewards in the restaurants) we must it varies very much: We had few who gave us a service we need to pay extra on other ships. We had few who were obviously there because of the inauguration of a new ship: NIEUW AMSTERDAM. Any time you have new ship in your fleet be sure that you get some weaker crew members as all the bests of the bests are on the new ship to make it running and on all other ships you experience somehow a weaker service as the number of unexperienced crew members are higher. We were afraid that our parents could adopt their cabin stewards as they did so much for them that we really were afraid that they will take us out of their last will and put them in. Very disappointing was the ship's management: Never experienced before that you have a reception and no friendly word or handshake came from Captain, Cruise Director or Hotel Manager. By the way he was not willing to talk to guests as he was to busy to manage a department of 700 crew members. But I did not want to talk about a missing towel animal but a wheelchair we ordered and paid and it came after 4times claiming at the front desk and 8 hours after embarkation. We should put our wheelchair-cruise-mate into a chair in the Lido Cafe and let him wait there until the delivery of the wheelchair. But I am glad: normally I do not need to talk to a Hotel Manager if he understands his business and run the hotel department excellent. DAM good food: Disappointing in the Lido Cafe - everytime we came there was no grilled lobster etc. I heared by rumors of my parents who loved the Lido Cafe that it should be good but we do not like buffet-restaurants so we did not visited them too much. It was angry: the embarkation started late because of the mis-management of the charter company who did not book the buses right on time so the guests from the previous cruises could debark. So when we came onboard: the Vista Main Dining Room was already closed before the first guest came on board. The Hotel Manager rufused to be flexible to the schedule of the ship with the success that 400 guests wanted to have a the same time their breakfast in the Vista Main Dining Room as all of us wanted to go for our tours which started soon. But he refused to open the restaurant earlier. The food we got was outstanding and it will be very hard for me to go back to other lines after the food experience. The Pinnacle Grill experience was 100.1% perfection of food and service. And Canaletto was wonderful. Only things I did not like: Biscuit and Gravy and Scottish Eggs Benedicts were somehow disappointing. Wonderful: the Hors d'oeuvre before dinner. DAM good shows I do not need Blue Man Group or any artists on ropes. So I love musicals, I love classic rocks and I love movie themes. I was perfect there. Only the volume in the theater was somehow too loud. If you were not hear impared - now you were and fit perfectly to the guest structure of HAL. DAM good cruise Although I had so many personal problems it was a great experience on Holland America. So we booked now 14 nights on ZAANDAM in Asia in 2012. I want more of them. I loved when they opened the bow in the morning to have the scenic entries into the fjords with a cup of hot chocolate and some pastries. There were so many good things and the bad things became so unimportant and far far away. You need to know: what they do well they do perfectly well... what they do bad they do perfectly bad... So that's why we had all the desasters on board - especially you try to make it more perfect by booking your gifts and you it becomes now a never-ending-story and running gag to keep me booking HAL. One reason why I book 2012 again: they have now about 1 1/2 years time to get me the t-shirt I ordered and paid for more than one year on different ships... The selection of the ports was perfect: we went from one highlight to the next. From all highlights the weakest came first and the strongest came last. No shore excursion booked on board due to language request and as we had a wheelchair with us. But all places were breathtaking. DAM good vacation: after all: if you did not enjoy your vacation and take all problems too serious you are the idiot. There were so many good moments on board. Read Less

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