36 San Diego Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes ... Read More
My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes rare but even he said it raw. Served luck warm and sent back several times. Sell excursions under false pretenses as they said Mira Flores locks were busy and we would most likely see a ship go through. Tour guide said no ships go through 9-3 and all cruise lines know this. Internet very slow and down a couple of days after I payed a lot for it. Guest relations just kept making excuses “it’s hot outside that’s why air does feel good. Paid for a massage and didn’t enjoy it cause it was so hot from no air!!!! Will never go on this ship again. Same activities everyday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We have taken over 25 cruises with all different lines and often select based on where the ship is going.This cruise went through the Panama Canal and stopped at some pretty neat ports. ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We have taken over 25 cruises with all different lines and often select based on where the ship is going.This cruise went through the Panama Canal and stopped at some pretty neat ports. The ship is in very good shape, small but elegant (we always find the HAL ships to be very pretty ships). The food was the best that we have had in a very long time. The Lido had a lot or variety and the Dining Room was really good as well. We loved our waiters, they were a lot of fun. Service was very good and professional. Our cabin was adequate for the 3 of us (our college age daughter traveled with us) and had lots of storage. We used the fitness center each day and found it to be very adequate. The entertainment was not very good at all. There was nothing to really do in the evening (trivia was big and very competitive probably so because of lack of activities). There was a speaker (Ian) who was very good and entertaining. Other than that, we were bored. Our daughter spent many nights doing puzzles in the library since there was nothing for her to do with her age group.We knew that this was a possibility but were hoping that since it was a holiday sailing that more would be going on. Ports of Call - Guatemala -Did a ship tour for the highlights of the area. Very well done. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We did our own thing here since our daughter actually lived here with host family, so we went to see them. You had to take transport from the port area (worth it) to get into the city.It is a tourist area for the Ticos, so lots of locals. Beach area is nice and people are friendly. Nicaragua - We did a private tour. They picked us up and brought us into the city. Again, our daughter had been here before so she acted as tour guide. Cabo San Lucas - Did a whale watch here - lots of fun. Cartagena - We have been here before so grabbed a taxi and walked around the old area of town. Puerto Vallerta - Walked around and shopped. Half Moon Cay - Nice beach - went off for a little bit to swim We love to cruise and would recommend this itinerary. HAL does a good job but we feel that it caters to much older people (we are in our 50's) so it will be some time before we cruise them again. For now, we will stick to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (we like the perks that come with cruising them a lot). Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on ... Read More
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on summer breaks. Most ports had free bus service to local area of interest & Starbucks for wifi. Be prepared for no Facebook or phone service in China & Japan. T mobile seamed to be a better service. My Verizon was not good. Several local groups were brought on ship for shows, crafts, dancing & exercise classes. Ports where crew families lived everyone had signs on cabins "no service" enjoy your family's. Pretty special. I packed way to many summer clothes. Much cooler then expected & of course air conditioning very cold in dining,show rooms, & movie theater. In Australia we used water taxis to vist fishing villages & guess what free wifi on dock & excellent fish lunch. Hop on buses were ok but expensive. Local buses were a fun experience if you had time. Polynesian islands easy to book trips on shore. A must to swim with sharks & huge sea rays. Most evenings we had late dining at a table for 8 (53) & our Waite staff was excellent. The decorations & themes according to the country we were visiting were grand every night. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We had a wonderful time on the Amsterdam World Cruise and made some lifelong friends. The ports were well chosen and interesting. I would have preferred Israel or Venice instead of Athens. The lecturers were quite informative. Look ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on the Amsterdam World Cruise and made some lifelong friends. The ports were well chosen and interesting. I would have preferred Israel or Venice instead of Athens. The lecturers were quite informative. Look forward to the next trip! We are dancers and enjoyed the music of the Neptunes and the bands in the crows nest. I loved Petra and Wadi Rum. The excursions were excellent(own our own) and we really enjoyed the group we traveled with. The service was the best. Our dining staff brought us ecactly what we needed and they tailored our dinners to our diet. The cabin stewards were very sweet and always prepared the cabin beautifully and made the best towel animals. Traveling on a ship can spoil you. There is no housekeeping, cooking,laumdry in my life on the ship. The laundry was returned beautifully ironed and cleaned. We certainly are spoiled on the ship! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Very friendly staff, amazing song and dance group, and my family (brother and sister in law) and I can't stop raving about what a great time we had! We were going to be happy with large inside staterooms but were moved up to ... Read More
Very friendly staff, amazing song and dance group, and my family (brother and sister in law) and I can't stop raving about what a great time we had! We were going to be happy with large inside staterooms but were moved up to obstructed ocean view at no extra charge! We have recommended the same ship and cruise to anyone who will listen. Loved the buffet, but found the formal dining room to be nothing special so we chose to take most of our meals in the buffet. (Not too crazy about wearing a tie on vacation) Not crazy about the casino, I enjoy blackjack but found the ships game seemed to be stacked for the cruise co. We adjusted to the fact that there are lots of extra charges for various activities and things, felt hustled at first but experienced cruisers shared that it's pretty universal in the cruise industry. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We had the most marvelous vacation from start to finish. We purchased a parking spot from the Westin Hotel across from the Amsterdam, and we literally walked across the street to board the ship. Embarkation was smooth and efficient, which ... Read More
We had the most marvelous vacation from start to finish. We purchased a parking spot from the Westin Hotel across from the Amsterdam, and we literally walked across the street to board the ship. Embarkation was smooth and efficient, which foretold of the good things to come. Our cabin was ready for us at 11:30--a pleasant surprise, as we have not had access to our cabin this early on other cruises. We spent the day enjoying lunch and exploring the various venues on the ship. Luggage arrived by 1:00, and we were able to unpack and get settled in to our interior cabin on the Lower Promenade Deck. Our stateroom was cozy and comfortable and we had good service. We were close to an exterior doorway, so were able to go outside to walk or relax whenever we wanted. We chose the 'As You Like' dining option, and after the first night of sitting together with a group, we opted to ask for a table for 2, because we were on a romantic getaway. We ended up loving our servers, so we set a standing reservation for our table at 7pm. After the first evening, we were greeted by name, the stewards knew our special request (a glass of milk!), and treated us like royalty! The Assistant Dining Manager made sure to speak with us every evening, and we eventually shared stories of our families and life outside the ship. The entertainment was top-notch, professional and varied. Be sure to go to every show and take advantage of the behind-the scenes tours. The singers and dancers were excellent in the production shows! We also enjoyed the culinary shows each day, and took a cooking class with the chef. After the 3 course cooking class, he then prepared the same meal for us in the Pinnacle Dining Room. What a wonderful experience! My husband attended all of the computer classes, and I really enjoyed getting the puzzle pages and reading the newspapers each day in various languages. The bar/entertainment venues had superb and varied entertainers, from classical to jazz to rock and disco. Oh yes, and there were movies each day in the theater--excellent! We kept as busy as we wanted to be! I also participated in the various Hawaiian activities, from learning a bit of the language to making an orchid lei, to learning the hula and how to play the ukelele. We attended the talks about the various ports and the history of Hawaii, which made us feel more prepared for our first time in the islands. We did not buy any shore excursions, but rather rented cars (very cheaply!) and explored on our own. Hawaii was beautiful and lush and everything we had hoped for. Our favorite island was Kauai, where we drove up to Hanalei and watched the surfers. The captain also treated us to an up close view at night of the flowing lava at the southern tip of Hawaii--amazing! Again, we can't stress how great the service was on the Amsterdam. Every staff member has been impeccably trained and you can tell that they truly enjoy people. Service is why we will be back! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our second cruise out of San Diego, and embarkation went very well both times. Disembarkation went well, although it is a long walk to the street, where you have to go if you are using Uber rather than one of the taxis or ... Read More
This was our second cruise out of San Diego, and embarkation went very well both times. Disembarkation went well, although it is a long walk to the street, where you have to go if you are using Uber rather than one of the taxis or shuttles at the pier. We never go to shows on cruises, so I can't comment on those. Food and service in the main dining room was good. Not great, but good. While the menu always had several delicious-sounding appetizers and desserts, more often than not they were seriously under-seasoned for our tastes. On the other hand, the meat, fish, and fowl were always cooked perfectly and were juicy and tender. On the one night they had surf and turf, my wife had two of the 5-ounce lobster tails rather and a filet with her lobster. She was happy! I quickly learned to request a "double order" of any appetizer that looked particular good, because with the exception of the soups the appetizer portions were tiny. One thing I did not like was the way the dining room staff aggressively tried to insist that we order our dessert at the same time we ordered the rest of our meals. We usually did not want dessert by the time we finished our entrees, and if we did we could order them at that time. It may not come as quickly, but it was better than throwing away food we didn't want. We ate most of our breakfasts in the Lido, preferring the cooked-to-order dishes there to the same thing cooked centrally and brought to the tables in batches some time later in the main dining room. The same for lunch. We ate almost all our dinners in the main dining room. Keep in mind that you can order room service from the main dining room menu, not just from the room service menu. It costs nothing, and if you don't feel like dressing up you can have the "gala night" food in your jammies! We never had trouble finding a place to sit without snuggling up to other passengers in the Lido. One thing that made breakfast easier there was that we brought our own trays (purchased at a thrift store). That made it possible to carry our entrees (milk and cereal in my case), coffee, juice, fruit, bread, etc. to the table in one trip rather than four. We ate dinner in the Pinnacle Grill twice. It was $35 each, plus an additional $20 for the 12-ounce lobster tail that my wife ordered one night. The rib-eye steak I had there was unremarkable, but the king crab legs and lobster were superb. The crab legs were on the menu there every night. We did not go on any excursions but I had reserved a car in every port except Kona and Ensenada, so we explored the islands on our own. It was a great choice. The one caveat I have: the rental center in Lahaina (Maui) for National/Enterprise/Alamo runs its last shuttle back to the ship at 4:00 PM and will take only one driver and one passenger from each party on that trip. Since our ship wasn't leaving until 7:30, we just put the car keys in the key drop and took an Uber back to the ship at the end of the day. Service on the ship was excellent. With the exception of the wine attendants, we never had the impression that they were simply trolling for end-of-cruise tips. (Nevertheless, we did tip the wine attendants, because they gave good service in additional to pretending to be our long-lost friends.) The cabin attendants, room service staff, telephone staff, dining room and Lido staff, and everybody else we encountered did a terrific job. The ship itself was in very good condition. Nothing seems worn, tattered, rusty, or broken. My wife spent most of her time on the balcony of our cabin, while I was usually wandering from public area to public area, reading. There are a number of areas, in addition to the Explorations Cafe, that have chairs that are quite comfortable for extended periods of watching the ocean go by with a book. I was in the Fitness Center early most mornings, looking for a treadmill. On three occasions there were no treadmills available, but 3.5 laps around the Lower Promenade was one mile, so if a machine wasn't available I could get my walk done in the great outdoors. I'm sure our next cruise will be on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The 17 day cruise to Hawaii was wonderful. It was the first time my wife and I have ever cruised and we both loved it. The staff of the Amsterdam could not have been nicer, more helpful and just as friendly as could be. The food was ... Read More
The 17 day cruise to Hawaii was wonderful. It was the first time my wife and I have ever cruised and we both loved it. The staff of the Amsterdam could not have been nicer, more helpful and just as friendly as could be. The food was always good, with a great selection. The Captain even changed his route to enable us to see the lave flow into the sea at night. The whole package was great! The housekeeping staff kept the room perfect, with chocolates and towel animals every evening and fruit during the day. They also knew our names after the first day. The Staff at the Ocean Bar treated us like family and knew what we were drinking before we sat down. One night one of our waiters made paper flowers for all the women in our group. Entertainment and activities were really very well done and if any one was bored on this cruise it was their own fault. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We have done this cruise previously and found it to be all of the above things as stated. The only suggestion I would have, is it would be nice, and I would be agreeable to pay more if we could have more time at some of the ports. There ... Read More
We have done this cruise previously and found it to be all of the above things as stated. The only suggestion I would have, is it would be nice, and I would be agreeable to pay more if we could have more time at some of the ports. There is so much more to see that 8-12 hours can afford. A very special evening was when the Captain changed our course in order to cruise slowly by the flow of lava into the ocean as we left Hilo after dark. It was spectacular. One thing that bothered me personally on this cruise is that so many people were so negative. Most were people our age (old) and complained about almost everything. I can only conclude they were unhappy to start with. An example, at breakfast in the Lido I heard a lot of complaints that a certain food did not taste like what they had eaten at other places. I thought the food was all tasty and hot, even tho it was not like I have had other places. that, to me, is just part of the fun of traveling is to experience new and different things. We are great fans of the Pinnacle Speciality Dining. The food is superb and the service was flawless, and the remainder of the dining choices were great also. The entertainment was very good, and in a few instances spectacular. While we had done this cruise before we only participated in two land tours, which were also quite satisfactory, in spite of rain at times. There is no question we will cruise again, and again. Holland America is the perfect cruise line for those of us a bit older, and content with experiences geared a bit more in our direction. That is not to say younger people would not enjoy it, it is just a bit of an easier cruise with a lot to choose from on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Planned this cruise to travel with friends, who at the last moment had to cancel due to illness. I met very nice people to hang out with, but had to spend more time than planned indoors because of big swells (12-16 feet) and winds that ... Read More
Planned this cruise to travel with friends, who at the last moment had to cancel due to illness. I met very nice people to hang out with, but had to spend more time than planned indoors because of big swells (12-16 feet) and winds that approached 50 mph when added to ship speed. One port (on Maui) canceled because wind and seas too strong for tendering. Schedule was already a little awkward, with Honolulu scheduled for Thanksgiving day and the last shopping site on Sunday. Canceled port was replaced by an additional day in Honolulu - on Black Friday! Many guests were disappointed not to get to visit the Arizona Memorial as no tickets could be gotten last-minute for the extra day... The food was very good to excellent, as usual. I especially like the way HAL works with vegetables; good variety and properly cooked. Nice portion control. I felt the nutritional value was good, as well as the taste. It was annoying that the news channels on the onboard TV system went dead before we got to Honolulu and were not repaired before the end of the journey. I did wonder if they had disabled the channels on purpose so the passengers wouldn't be at each other's throats in the week after the US election! Instead of the two lecturers I've heard on other HAL cruises - usually one scientist and one historian - this voyage had no lecturers other than the destination specialist. He did an excellent job, but it was disappointing not to have more varied presentations. This is an area where I hate to see HAL make cuts, as I think the kind of clients they attract really enjoy the lectures. I will probably stick with HAL forever because of the smaller ships, the lovely, kind, cheerful staff, and the walk-around promenade deck, but this was not my most memorable cruise with them.. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Let me give you a little of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Good: Staff, Ship, Cabin, Entertainment, Ports (for the most part), Food (for the most part). Spent two days in Honolulu instead of one due to cancellation of the ... Read More
Let me give you a little of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Good: Staff, Ship, Cabin, Entertainment, Ports (for the most part), Food (for the most part). Spent two days in Honolulu instead of one due to cancellation of the tender port of Lahaina due to rough seas. Which was fine with us as we got to see the things at Pearl harbor that we would not have seen. Food was fine for my wife and myself as we split our eating time between the main dining room and the buffet. We are not exceptionally particular about our food as some passengers seem to be. Never ate in port as the ship's food was very good. They had Lobster our last Gala (formal) night and it was served in the Lido as well as in the Dining Room. However, the buffet is not open as much as we would have liked and we only got room service on our disembarkation morning. The Bad: Difficulty getting a table for two in the main dining room. We had a bad experience with sharing a table with some overbearing people and did not enjoy our meal. Passengers in the Queens' Lounge Theater who save seats for people that show up an hour later or not at all. We got there 45 minutes before showtime to avoid this. However, some disabled and geriatric passengers could not find seats due to the saving that was going on. I brought this to the attention of the Cruise Director. The Ugly: A terrible Embarkation policy. Passengers have to lug their bags a city block and throw them up on a trailer by themselves. Nobody to really help. We had extremely rough weather most of the cruise with the ship pounding for days at a time. And, in fact, had the ship do a severe Starboard to Port to Starboard roll one night that caused concern among the passengers and sent things flying throughout the ship. I'm ex Navy and it concerned me. However, this is not the fault of Holland America as they do not control the attitude of the seas. Summary: In spite of a couple of negative things we had a great time. The entertainment on board was professional and superb. and our cabin was very comfortable and super quiet. Most of the passengers were pleasant, a couple in particular. We actually made some good acquaintances with some of the Indonesian and Filipino staff. Our flights both going and coming were uneventful, Gainesville, Florida to San Diego and return. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We chose this cruise not only because we hadn't cruised to Hawaii before, but also to find out what it was like to be at sea for two 5 day periods while taking a 5 day break in the middle to explore the Hawaiian Islands. And then to ... Read More
We chose this cruise not only because we hadn't cruised to Hawaii before, but also to find out what it was like to be at sea for two 5 day periods while taking a 5 day break in the middle to explore the Hawaiian Islands. And then to top it off, we got an upsell to a Neptune Suite which allowed us to determine if the additional cost was worth the upgrade. The two 5 day periods at sea: Let me first say, we do not sit around the pool all day or read books on a cruise. What WE like to do when there is down time and have a DVD player in the room is watch Dallas and we watched 2+ seasons while on this cruise. That should tell you there really wasn't a lot of fun "game-like" things to do during the day. Our days, besides eating and walking 2 miles around the promenade, included going to the 10 am and 2 pm lectures. Then we would go back to our room and watch a few episodes of Dallas. Afterwards, we would see if there was anything going on that interested us before going to dinner at 5:30. After dinner, we learned quickly that if you wanted to get a good seat for the early show, you'd better get there at least 45 minutes in advance. After the show, we would head back to the room, watch a couple more episodes and then it was time for bed. Now, for some of you partiers, that might sound like a boring day, but for us it was very peaceful and relaxing and have come to the conclusion that we will have no problem with longer transpacific and transatlantic cruises. Now, if there isn't a DVD player in the room on any of those longer cruises, we'll figure out something to pass the time. The main thing we're taking away from the 5 sea days in-a-row experience is that it's very relaxing and something to look forward to. The Hawaiian Islands: Had a lot of fun, went on a bunch of "around the island" excursions, and can now say we've been to the Hawaiian Islands. I wouldn't say it was better than cruising the Galapagos, Alaska or Australia and New Zealand, but we had fun and that's the main thing. Neptune Suite: This is the second Neptune Suite we stayed in as an upsell and we're now pretty convinced it will be our last unless some great deal comes along. Yes, we liked eating breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill every morning, but the Lido breakfasts may not be as good, but they are close enough. The blueberry muffins were definitely more moist in the PG. The Neptune Lounge definitely had some tasty chocolates and cookies, but that pretty much is the extent of the perks we used. We found the concierge service to be helpful but nothing we couldn't do ourselves. So the big perk was the large room with a big balcony. That was pretty cool, but since we usually book a vista suite and are quite comfortable in them, the extra space was just that, extra space. None of which was worth the extra $2,300 we paid to upgrade. But, that's just us. Some folks really love the Neptune suites and like the extra amenities that come with them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Never again will I take a cruise that takes 5 days of cruising to get there only to have a few precious hours in wonderful ports of the lovely Hawaiian islands. The worst stop was in Kona, where I finally got off the ship at 9:30 only to ... Read More
Never again will I take a cruise that takes 5 days of cruising to get there only to have a few precious hours in wonderful ports of the lovely Hawaiian islands. The worst stop was in Kona, where I finally got off the ship at 9:30 only to get into another line at the car rental counter. All aboard was 3:00pm, so the only advise I can give is do not rent a car there, it simply is not worth the $108.00 I paid for 2 1/2 hours worth of fun. To me it was most disappointing that the tender stop in Lahaina, Maui was cancelled, Adding another day in Oahu was not what I had signed up for and I feel cheated out of the thing I looked most forward to. We were told the cancellation was do to concern for the safety of the passengers, but rumor had it on the ship, that too many people were upset about Pearl Harbor being closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday, which again was very bad planning on the part of HAL. By the way, there is a wonderful port in Kahului, Maui where no tendering is required. Two days out of San Diego all the TV News channels went out and there was no attempt to repair them in the remaining 15 days, unacceptable! Entertainment was marginal at best, except for the Bellissimo show of the HAL dancers and singers. If you wanted to see the show you had better get into the showroom by 6:00pm for the 8:00pm or you could not find a seat. I had a lovely veranda cabin, (6110) that was seldom used. First because of the weather and on the few days were it was pleasant, my chain-smoking neighbors stunk up the air so badly that I went back inside. The best 20 minutes of the cruise were when we cruised by the Kilauea Volcano and watched the lava flow into the sea. That was fantastic. All in all, I have been on many cruises, but this one was the first one where I bored myself to tears. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
While a seasoned cruiser, this was my first long cruise ( 48 days ). The cruise, especially the itinerary was great. Holland America staff work very hard to make sure that every guest has their needs met and exceeded. I was very pleased ... Read More
While a seasoned cruiser, this was my first long cruise ( 48 days ). The cruise, especially the itinerary was great. Holland America staff work very hard to make sure that every guest has their needs met and exceeded. I was very pleased with the food selections, the wait staff, the excursions, the ports, the cabin and the on-board ship activities. Since there were quite a few sea days on this 48 day cruise I am happy to report there were on-board activities that were appropriate for a South Pacific cruise ( hula dancing, ukelele lessons, crafts such as bracelet and headband weaving, lei making, etc.). Also there were guest lectures dealing with South Pacific/sea topics. Then there was bridge, tai chi, boat making contests,and culinary classes and demos. Sadly, I am not certain I would sail on another long cruise. There were many, and I mean many, cranky, nasty guests on board. For a crowd of folks to be so miserable, cranky and foul of mouth, I was shocked and saddened. This amazing cruise and so many miserable acting guests. I inquired from several staff at various levels, and they consistently shared that the long cruises "attract" this type of guest. One upper level staff member said I hadn't seen anything yet until you have seen the "cane wars"...yes old people hitting each other with their canes. I was kicked, physically assulted, by two guests, on seperate occasions. I was told that some guests suffer from dementia, hence the crazy behavior and foul language. I loved the cruise in spite of the difficult guests. Unfortunately there isn't anything HAL can do about rude, mean guests. I probably will sail HAL again if they sail where I want to go, but it probably would be on a shorter cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Holland America can inspire you with excellence and then take you into the depths of mediocrity with poor execution. On our South Pacific cruise, we were very pleased by the quality of the wait staff in the Dining Rooms and Lido and the ... Read More
Holland America can inspire you with excellence and then take you into the depths of mediocrity with poor execution. On our South Pacific cruise, we were very pleased by the quality of the wait staff in the Dining Rooms and Lido and the overall consistently good quality quality of the food. . But then we had to contend with long waits for tenders into the ports -- even when I got in line at 6:15 AM to get tender tickets -- and things like running out of chips all the time for sandwiches, or tired old ho-hum daily itineraries that need to be updated after years and years of the same. And why not have some sandwiches, pizza and snacks around in the Lido for those coming on board late PM from excursions or want a small snack around 9:30? The Amsterdam is a nice ship even thought it is showing its wear in places. This is the best dining and room service crew I've ever seen in action. But I found the front desk people to be difficult at times and the captain and staff weren't all that friendly, except for the fine cruise director, compared to other cruises. We knew before the cruise we were due $1,400 in complementary money for booking the cruise but once aboard we found there was only $500 and the staff was indignant about our concern. When we got to Hawaii we quickly rectified the problem with the help of the vendor supplying the complementary money and I kind of got the feeling HAL was seeing if they could rip us off, especially when the money showed in my account online two months before the cruise. My wife also got food poisoning in the dining room one night and they would not cover the $140 fee for medical attention. One writer on CC noted people were nasty but I didn't find that to be true. There are always going to be a few bad apples and sour personalities. I did think the quality of entertainment was varied and generally acceptable, with a couple of truly outstanding performers. The ship's song and dance group was fine. The piano bar guy was truly outstanding. We were very critical of the casino which is simply too tight compared to many land casinos and doesn't give people enough enjoyment. The ports were fine. Highlights for me were Bora Bora, Moorea, Rarotonga and Dravuni Island in Fiji with its fabulous beach. I thought Papette, Tahiti was quite unfriendly to tourists and and was all that impressed with Tonga. HAL, though, needs to stop taking guests into top port on Sundays, when some of the shop and businesses are closed! Finally, we were told twice by HAL before the cruise we would not be updated to three star Mariner until after the cruise, yet the ship staff did upgrade us when we reached the milestone on board. HAL needs to learn to gets its act together on administrative matters so the right hand knows what the left is doing! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Wow. What a cruise. The ports were amazing. Hawaii, Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years. My husband finally retired so we had the time to do this 48 day cruise from San Diego. ... Read More
Wow. What a cruise. The ports were amazing. Hawaii, Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years. My husband finally retired so we had the time to do this 48 day cruise from San Diego. The weather was wonderful the whole time. I can't even remember having any rain. The seas were calm and quiet the whole trip except the night we left and the night we came back into San Diego. There must be something about ocean conditions off the coast of Mexico and California. The Amsterdam is an older smaller ship. I liked the size. Not too big and not too small. We usually get balcony cabins as we enjoy them so much but on this cruise the balconies were cost prohibitive. We made do with an outside cabin. It was okay. We did not like the TV. It was small and was pointed sideways. We couldn't enjoy it as we couldn't see it well from our bed. Also, there was no fridge in our cabin. We couldn't get any cool water to come out of the tap. I won a bottle of wine from the art auction and we had to drink it warm. We were told the lack of fridges was because it was an old ship. They seemed to blame a lot of things on it being an older ship. The food on this cruise was wonderful, however, I am not picky, if someone else makes it I'll eat it. We usually ate in the dining room at a shared table for dinner, however, service was very slow. We found out that the wait was cut in half if we managed to get a table for 2. Tables for 2 were in very high demand. Some nights we ate dinner in the buffet which was so much faster and easier. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the buffet. We were never allowed to serve ourselves in the buffet so the staff had to ask each person what items they wanted on their plates. This slowed down the lines in the buffet greatly at busy times. There was also the Dive In grill that had hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos. Needless to say we didn't lose any weight on this cruise. We loved the main pool area. It never seemed crowded. It was just very sunny and hot. There was no shade for the loungers. The pool itself was very nice. Cool but not too cool. It was deeper so it was so nice to dip into to have a swim. There is a pool in the back of the ship but it was only 4 feet deep. Much too shallow for my liking. I must say all the staff on this ship were fabulous. The bartenders, room stewards, etc were all so nice and friendly and did their jobs well. I hate being called Madam. In the buffet I met a waiter who called me Madam. I told him how I hated it and told him to call me by my name. For the whole rest of the cruise he recognized us and called us Miss Linda and Mr. William instead of Madam and Sir. We were upset that our captain did not take us past the lava flow in Hawaii. To go to Hawaii and not see the lava flow is like going to Alaska and not seeing a glacier. The Captain gave no explanation and just kept saying it was not on the itinerary. Funny how it was on the Noordam's itinerary who cruised past it just a day before. After complaining to the corporate office we found out the reason we missed it was because of fuel consumption. We had been on a Hawaii cruise a few months before this on Celebrity. Not only did the captain go by the lava flow. He stopped the ship and circled it 360 so everyone got a view of the flow. This does not make this captain or HAL look very good in our eyes as was the case for many on this cruise. We missed one port. Niue was cancelled. We do not mind missing ports when the need arises but the way it was told to us was very disappointing. The captain said it was due to heavy swells. We had never seen such calm seas that day. Hardly a ripple. So we found it very odd. We were talking to a tender officer on deck and he said the port was cancelled because the tender did not line up to the pier. The officer explained passengers would have had to jump up 1 meter from the tender to the pier. Now why would the captain lie and say heavy swells when it was due to the pier height. Had HAL never been to this port before? Bad planning on HAL's part. We did not appreciate being lied to by the captain for a second time. We were then slapped in the face when they refunded us .99 cents to our accounts for port charges. I love to snorkel. So I intended to snorkel in every port. I snorkeled in every port except Nuka Hiva. In Nuka Hiva we were not allowed in the water due to bad sharks. We were also warned not to walk away from the port area alone as cannibalism is still practiced here. (We found that hard to believe until talking to the cruise director. He said a tourist was killed and eaten in 2014. Yikes!) I did not purchase any shore excursions from HAL. They were all so over priced. I purchased all my snorkeling shore excursions on the pier and usually paid less than half of what the ship charged. Sometimes I just went snorkeling independently at public beaches or areas near the pier. I enjoyed all my snorkeling trips very much. Sadly, I must say a lot of the coral is dying. I had one snorkel leader who thought nothing of stepping on the coral with her fins. sigh ;-( We purchased $425 in internet time. The internet on this cruise was horrible. Most of our internet time and money was spent waiting for pages to load. We were told by the captain that the reason was because the Amsterdam was such a old ship. The internet could be improved on this ship however HAL corporate will not spend the money to upgrade the internet equipment. The entertainers on this ship were hit and miss. All of the production shows were great. The dancers on this ship were most excellent and the best I had ever seen on a cruise ship and I have been on a lot of cruises. They were exceptional. We had 3 local dance groups perform. One from Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti. They were very nice. Some comedians were good, some were terrible. Some singers were enjoyable some were boring. We had a lot of musicians. I think I have heard flight of the bumblebee on every musical instrument known to man. Some nights we had no entertainment and just had a movie shown. I must say I loved HAL's popcorn. We had to take tenders to most of these islands as they did not have piers for larger ships like ours. Tendering was such a pain. We would have to line up very early in the morning to get tender tickets. One morning I was 4th in line for tender tickets. I got tender number 4. I asked the crew member in charge how in the world could I be on tender 4 when I was fourth in line. She explained that the 3 people ahead of me had gotten 3 tender boats worth of tender tickets. I guess people were getting 30 tender tickets each for their friends, neighbors, groups etc. I don't think people should be able to get that many tender tickets. It should be limited to 4 or 6 per person. People on ship excursions and 4 star mariners with HAL did not have to line up for tender tickets. They were all the first ones off the ship. Disembarkation was a nightmare. All non Americans were required to go to a lounge and clear customs. Customs would not clear the ship or let anyone off until that was done. Many non Americans did not go in a timely manner. The cruise director kept announcing over and over again for people from certain cabins to go to clear customs. This took 2 hours. It was 9am and we were kicked out of our cabins to wait in the public areas. Finally the ship was cleared and self assist was able to disembark the ship. The problem was that so many people had gone down to the gangway to wait to disembark that the self assist people couldn't get off as all the stair ways and hall ways near the gangway were full of people. The cruise director announced several times begging people not to go to the gangway area until their colors were called. Then it was found that the gangway was not secured to the ship properly. Disembarkation had to be stopped while the gangway was re secured. Our color was supposed to get off the ship at 9am. Our color was finally called at 10:30am. Right then they announced that the elevators were all non operational. I am disabled and walk with a walker. Since my walker doesn't do stairs I had no way to get down 8 decks to the disembarkation area. My husband finally decided to carry my walker down the stairs while I slowly and carefully negotiated the stairs. When we got down to the disembarkation area we saw all the people waiting for their colors to be called. It was difficult to try to get around them and get off the ship. Now this nightmare was not all HAL's fault. Why do people not go when they are told to check in with customs? When people are told not to go down to the disembarkation area until your color is called why do people not listen and go anyway? We made it to the airport in plenty of time as our flight was not until the afternoon, however, I am sure many people must have missed their morning flights. We are not loyal to any one cruise line. When we cruise we have a choice. Most main stream cruise lines are more similar than they are different. We cruise a lot with all cruise lines and are used to getting affordable balcony cabins and booking perks. On Celebrity and NCL we usually get free gratuities, free beverages and free unlimited internet. Nothing is free on HAL. Because of this and the captains dishonesty I don't think we will not be doing many more cruises on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Just completed a wonderful cruise aboard the Ms Amsterdam, visiting most of the Polynesian islands. Service was exceptional aboard HAL's flagship, especially for those with a Neptune and Pinnacle suite on the Navigation deck. We ... Read More
Just completed a wonderful cruise aboard the Ms Amsterdam, visiting most of the Polynesian islands. Service was exceptional aboard HAL's flagship, especially for those with a Neptune and Pinnacle suite on the Navigation deck. We were greeted by name by bother servers and officers. Even deviations from the printed menu in main dining were accommodated (like the time an Ahi tuna main coarse was served when the menu only had the tuna as a Carpaccio appetizer) Food was excellent too, making it difficult to decide how many selections to make from the appetizer/soup/salad portion of the menu. A nice touch is that the menu was very predictable; the first appetizer was always a fruit melange, the second an appetizer of thinly sliced meat or fish, etc. ) but also, different in an enjoyable way if you appreciate good food. Only compliant here was that portion sizes were occasionally too large! (My Prime Rib was at least 1 Kg). Entertainment included the typical acts from Las Vegas in the main lounge at night, as well as educational lectures during the days at sea. A very nice touch was how the entertainment was shaped around the ports visited. There were classes to learn play U'kulele, dance the Hula, as well as exhibitions by native experts on the main stage. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My first time on a Holland America Ship. We took the Ms Amsterdam because it worked out great as a way to get to an Alaska cruise. The service on this ship was poor except for housekeeping. I would not recommend this ship until they do ... Read More
My first time on a Holland America Ship. We took the Ms Amsterdam because it worked out great as a way to get to an Alaska cruise. The service on this ship was poor except for housekeeping. I would not recommend this ship until they do some updated customer service training. The staff had been dealing with elderly passengers for several days that had sailed from Florida. Maybe they were fed up with the complaining guests by the time we got on board, but that is no excuse to be unhappy or unhelpful. We never saw command staff helping guests or fellow employees. We then cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship and it had very good service and better food. Reading the reviews is helpful. I wish I had checked out the cruise ship better prior to booking it. I hope this helps. Cruising can be a great and fun way to travel if the crew is professional! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" ... Read More
First let me say that I believe that my expectations were way too high. Having read blogs from Bill & Marianne on their world cruise aboard Amsterdam and being on Ryndam last year for the cruise before the "holiday Cruise" set me up for a huge let down! I also have been debating on doing a review because there were so many negative items about the whole experience that I don't want to "dampen" others enthusiasm. But anyway here goes. We had originally been going to stay in Florida this year for Christmas & New Years but on the 15th of December we saw this cruise. Luckily for us the kennel had a spot and we got decent flights and hotel reservations in Ft. Lauderdale and San Diego so we did it. We boarded which was very easy and found our cabin. WOW! Underwhelmed is an understatement. The whole cabin is about the size of a postage stamp and as far as being "partially obstructed" it should read "Mostly obstructed" We did find that the way to see out is to kneel or stand on the bed and crane your head sideways. From that position you can see out. We tried for an upgrade, but that is another long and boring story which I won't even go into. The first thing we find out and only by going to the dining room is that there is no Mariner's lunch. It reminds me how much I hate the Lido. But dh wants to get something to eat and so up we go. Big mistake. Lets just say I detest the Lido. We go back to our "cabin" and find that all our luggage is there. Since we are supposed to be "upgraded" we decide not to unpack but sit in the postage stamp with four suitcases. The next morning we decide that "we aren't going to be upgraded so we do the unpacking. Good thing as it took the front office two days to call and say "there are no upgrades available" DUH! I guess we can figure some things out ourselves. Then we come to the question of Electric plugs. We have none. The one and only one above the desk had a plug in it already and its attached to the refrigerator under the desk. I'm sorry, but where are we supposed to plug in things like dh's razor, the batteries for my camera and dh's camera and my lap top. Back down to the front desk. We will need to leave a $50 (25 each) for an extension cord and surge protector so we can plug in all our electronics. Our "postage stamp" comes with one other strangeness about it. It is actually brighter at night than during the day! I found this out the first night. I kept waking and couldn't get back to sleep. There are two flood lights just outside the window which flood the area with light but dim and turn off during the day. During the day we would keep the curtains closed after we had people come right up to the window, put up their hands around their face and try to look in! We started to wonder about some of the people on this cruise after that. As for decorations and Christmas atmosphere. Forget it! The only Christmas Carol we heard until the 23rd was coming aboard the ship. Once inside there was nothing!!! No decorations, no carols, no nothing! (Now remember the previous year we were on Ryndam the cruise before the Christmas cruise and the ship was beautiful. Totally decorated from top to bottom. On Ryndam at the bottom of the atrium not only did they have a wonderful tree, but a huge gingerbread garden It was amazing!) So here we are with nothing. We wait and we wait and finally about the 20th they start putting up some decorations. Let me just say that for the Amsterdam being HAL's "signature" ship the decorations were puny. Maybe HAL should change signature ships! And by the way there are still no Christmas Carols. Then we realize something else we are in port both Christmas and New Years day. Which means no Christmas or New Year's Dinner. (Where I come from Christmas dinner is served in the middle of the day as is New Year's day dinner) I go to the Front desk and ask if the dining room will be opened for these holidays during the day. No they will not be I am told. That is when I realize with out a doubt that we have just made a huge mistake. Forget about all you hear. If you love Christmas and the Holidays don't ever take a Holiday cruise. I guess its time for me to come to the food on this cruise. All I can say is OMG! The worse of the worse. The very first night in the dining room I ate right out of the freezer Perdue breaded chicken breast with melted velvetta cheese drizzled on top! Now I am no chef, but I would put my Beef stroganoff up against HAL's any day of the week. HAL's stroganoff had no sour cream in the gravy nor any mushrooms and there weren't even any noodles! The meal consisted of what would be called beef in drippings with a dab and I mean a dab of sour cream on top and on top of the sour cream was sour pickles! That sat next to a ice cream spoon full of rice! Hals Beef Bourguignon was another dish which did not resemble anything to do with my Beef Bourguignon. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is if you are going to call a dish something at least use the ingredients which are generally considered part of the dish or just call it something else. In my survey to HAL I did offer to lend them my copy of Julia Child's "Art of French cooking" if their "chef" needs to read what one of the items should taste like and my private recipe of beef Stroganoff. My husband said it best. Now, you have to know my husband. He is not picky, but he told me that the best food he ate on board the ship was the Nathan's hot dog he got from the dive-in counter. Most of the other food was pretty bad and he even said some of it was in-edible! Just wanted to interject here that for Christmas "dinner" (which where I come from is served in the middle of Christmas day) dh and I had "Nathan's hot dogs. That evening (Christmas night we would call supper) we did have turkey, believe me when I say it wasn't worth the wait! Now remember folks we are on a ship with 1200 guests and about 80 to 100 are children. I generally like children and have a couple of them myself, but I would not inflict my children and grand children on a small ship where most of the people are elderly. Putting it bluntly there isn't much for children to do on this ship. There isn't much for adults to do unless you want to gamble, learn to cook (sorry, but I really don't think HAL can teach me anything about cooking, I'm eating the food remember?) or work on the computer. Other than that it's reading or going to the pool. We finally decided that the children's source of entertainment was driving the elderly crazy at the pool! Now there are a lot of elderly who use the pool for their P.T. as I do. Forget it or get out very early. The children use it to jump around and generally cause havoc. The poor guitar player was trying to play his music over the screaming and splashing of all the kids. We felt sorry for him and clapped though most of the time we could hardly hear him. One family in particular was what we call "the awful" family. Their kids were not only out of control, but mostly unsupervised. I never did figure out how many kids they had with them as I think it was a number of families traveling together, but I believe they were raising them as a pack of wolves. Two incidents stand out in my mind. One, some poor lady thought she had bingo, but when the announcer announced that she didn't this "family" actually stood up and cheered, and the family was led by the "father" or a large male leading the cheering! The second thing was an item of mine went missing, it was gone for about two to three days and I go to the pool and one of the children is playing in the pool with my item. When she sees me she just lets it float away and leaves it there. Now picture this, your child has something that doesn't belong to the child and you don't turn it in to lost and found? You tell me who does that? The rest of the passengers were on the whole nice with only a few exceptions. I do know many were happy to know that they were getting off in Ft. Lauderdale and several were very unhappy about the cruise. Several people we talked to had paid big money and felt that it wasn't worth what they had paid. Since HAL is a part of the Carnival family I guess it is a good thing that they didn't offer to give you your money back after the first day or when you got to the first port. (I believe it was Carnival that had that guarantee several years back) I can see a lot of people taking them up on their offer on this cruise! Dh actually admitted to me later in the cruise that he had thought of leaving when we got to Puerto Vallarta, but he said he thought it would be too time consuming and too costly to fly home. I was very surprised. We did over hear a man talking to his wife (we weren't ease dropping, but at a two person table it's hard not to hear the next table over) he said he couldn't wait to get off this ... Boat! We saw him leaving the next day with a carry-on bag when we docked in Puerto Chiapas. We didn't see her leave. I will have to say that New Year's Eve was the most entertaining we have had in a long time. We loved it and danced the night away. We had dinner with two couples and they graciously allowed us to join them. We all laughed and danced. The seating was a bit squished, but who cares we were celebrating. The second wonderful thing about this trip was seeing the Panama Canal. Now this was our fourth time and each and every time it's wonderful. There isn't much more to say about the Canal. The entertainment was good. We love to listen to the Adagio in the evening. We also like the shows and really enjoyed the piano player in the queens lounge along with the guitar player and then enjoyed them when they teamed up and did a show together. We saw two movies which we really enjoyed. One was 'A walk in the woods" and the second was "spy". Now when "spy" first started we thought OMG what a corn ball, but then we realized it was a comedy and that's when we really started to enjoy it. The ports were I guess all right. The two that we had not been to before and wanted to take tours, but the one Puerto Chapas the nearest town was about 25 miles away and Puerto Quetzal the drive was 90 min each way. Now I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not driving 90 each way to see anything. So some we got off the ship and just walked around and some we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet of the pool! The crew was outstanding. They really went out of their way to help with whatever. We really can't say enough about our room stewards. They were great!!! All in all the trip was ok. Would I do it again NO! DH and I have no intention of having Nathan's Hot dogs for Christmas dinner any time soon! We booked on a HAL cruise for 42 days. I'm calling before final payment and asking how many children will be on board. If there are any more then ten I am out of there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our 32-day Inca Explorer cruise from San Diego to Lima and return was a mixed bag of pleasure and frustration. The M/S Amsterdam, one of Holland America’s older, smaller ships, is generally well maintained and quite attractive. Built ... Read More
Our 32-day Inca Explorer cruise from San Diego to Lima and return was a mixed bag of pleasure and frustration. The M/S Amsterdam, one of Holland America’s older, smaller ships, is generally well maintained and quite attractive. Built before balcony cabins were the vogue, she has many inside and outside cabins, most small but sufficient in size, and, I believe, most all with actual bathtubs, and quite large closet spaces. She is used primarily for extended voyages, and her 1200-passenger capacity is appropriate for such voyages. Previous reviews of the Amsterdam have highlighted the spotty dining room service and unexceptional food quality. Our experience suggested that these criticisms were generally valid, although a few dinners were excellent. While our waiter and busboy were attentive, caring and hardworking, there was little doubt that Holland America has purposely understaffed their main dining room: the wait staff had too many tables to serve properly, and the food when finally delivered was frequently not hot. Since dinner commences at specific times, there is no escaping the bottlenecks of essentially all guests at any one of the two seatings arriving, being seated, being handed their menus and then ordering, each activity occurring at the same time. Our small group of six friends travelling together frequently waited as long as 15 minutes after ordering before our appetizers were served. One evening, my wife and I dined alone while our friends went to the Pinnacle Grille. We were the (lucky) first of our waiter’s responsibilities to be given our menus, first to have our orders taken, and first to be served each course. Our service that evening was prompt and our food served at appropriate temperatures, indicating that our assumption that the wait staff was overburdened was a correct one. The inadequate wait-staffing in the main dining room was evidenced also in connection with the ordering and serving of alcoholic beverages. Wine stewards – no sommeliers here – were scarce: only two for our upper-level floor of the Fontaine Dining Room. While we were ultimately served, and with gracious smiles and helpful suggestions from the just-OK wine list, service was slow. The specialty restaurants, however, were excellent, the three times we tried them. The Pinnacle Grille is quiet and dignified without being stuffy. The food, and the food and beverage service were superb. Their menu also does not stint; at the $29 per person surcharge, this is a bargain. The wine list is reasonable, both in price and quality, though they claimed not to have a low-cost but excellent Shiraz, which was readily available in the main dining room. The Canaletto dining room is Italian, as one would expect, and provides good food and good service; another bargain a $10.00 per person. Contrasting the spotty and, in our opinion, deficient, service in the dining room, the room steward and his assistant were exceptional. Our room was always spotless, and our request for ice to maintain my wife’s medication found a plentiful supply in our ice bucket at all times. Any special request was promptly complied with, and invariably with a smile. Our friends reported similar service, although one of the rooms experienced plumbing and air conditioning problems that defied permanent correction for several days – certainly not attributable to the room steward. Breakfast service in the main dining room was inexplicably slow. On one occasion, when my wife was scheduled for a shore excursion departing 45 minutes from our being seated for breakfast, I requested expedited service. The maître d’ said OK, but cautioned against ordering anything hot, as “anything that must be cooked will take a lot of time.” Again, (it happened each time we ate there) when breakfast arrived, the supposedly freshly cooked items were just warm, suggesting that the main dining room venue was not a good idea for breakfast. Service at most bars and cocktail lounges was good to excellent, at least in the venues we tried. Our favorite (my wife is most tolerant of my fascination with sports) was in the Sports Bar, where we were greeted by name after the first day, and where our beverage preferences were known and offered immediately as we arrived. Prices are reasonable, in my opinion, and I don’t begrudge the 15% service charge for all beverages. Service in the Lido dining area – the buffet-like eatery common to almost all cruise ships – was good to excellent. Though the choices offered were mundane and repetitious from day to day, they were almost always of good quality, served graciously and always with a smile. The offerings were numerous in every category, an indication to me of Holland America’s desire to please their guests’ tastes and wants. That said, I have a personal dislike for their breakfast offerings of eggs (any style) and their pork-based breakfast meats: I found the scrambled or fried eggs and omelets to be inedible, and my suspicion is that this is a product of the oil that is used instead of butter. The poached eggs (as simply poached or as Eggs Benedict) were frequently overcooked – hard – as the server scrambled to get the English muffin toasted and the Canadian bacon grilled while the pre-poached eggs were heating. The bacon was either greasy or overcooked and crumbly – rarely was there a happy medium. The sausage links were never served hot and were almost always overdone, while the sausage patties were invariably greasy and not very tasty. I’d rather Holland America offer fewer choices cooked and served properly. My experience with the ship-provided Internet service paralleled that of virtually every review I’ve read: simply horrible. Internet speed is ridiculously slow, so coupled with the exorbitant charges all cruise lines make for this service, it must be a prime source of income to the cruise lines, as well as being as aggravating as baggage charges are to airline passengers. With today’s technology, there is little excuse for the turtle-like slowness of Internet up- and down-loading speeds, but also little incentive for the cruise lines to address this irksome problem. In my case, I wanted to return a group of books to Amazon from my Kindle Unlimited account, and download replacements. I purchased a block of 100 minutes of Internet time for $55.00 ($0.55/minute), then used 37 minutes to connect to Amazon and “return” 10 books while ordering 8 replacements. Since the shipboard system will not permit two devices using a single account to be logged on at the same time, I logged out, then attempted to log in using my Kindle Paperwhite: a frustrating experience, as the system and my Kindle said I was logged in, but the books I had “returned” still resided on the Kindle and none of the new books I had chosen were showing on the device. After struggling with this aberrant condition for some time, I gave up. I went to the ship’s Front Office to discuss my frustration, without receiving anything but commiseration: any unused Internet minutes are not refundable, and this was made quite clear when purchasing the service. A day later, I decided to visit the ship’s Guest Relations Manager, to whom I related my Internet problem as well as advising of our discontent with the dining room service. My wife made clear our recognition that no corrective action could alleviate the dining room service issue, as Holland America’s ship’s dining room staff was fixed and unalterable at least for this cruise. However, we did want the line to understand that the service deficiency was noticeable and objectionable. The Guest Relations Manager was not just sympathetic, but took extensive notes about our two issues. A day later, I received a call in our stateroom, in which the Front Office person, after restating the “no refund” Internet policy, said that I would receive a 30% credit against my Internet charge, as the ship’s Internet service did not accommodate the Kindle Paperwhite or earlier Kindle models, but only the Kindle ‘Fire.’ I agreed to discontinue use of my remaining Internet minutes, and was at least partially satisfied that they took some responsibility for the problem. At the same time, I must applaud the work and staff of the Front Office. On other cruise ships, the line of folks awaiting service was usually long, and waiting time stretched often to 30 minutes. Not so on the Amsterdam: rarely were there more than two people ahead of us, and the Front Office desk was staffed by no less than 2, and sometimes 3 or 4 people – all of whom were concerned, friendly and helpful in all but one case, as described above. The entertainment aboard this smaller ship was excellent, in our opinion. The musicians were almost all universally superb – with but a single exception. The evening programs were varied, with marvelous dancers, talented singers, funny comedians and a truly exceptional musical group. Kudos go to and are deserved by the persons booking these acts and the shipboard musicians. The itinerary was a bit puzzling: while one of the attributes of the M/S Amsterdam (and the Prinsendam, as well) is their ability to visit smaller ports than the larger ships require, a few of the ports left one wondering “why?” Only one port required tendering – a great relief – but the attractions at several are questionable in terms of general interest. At least this was our opinion. The 3-day visit to Lima was principally done to accommodate those wishing to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but it also facilitated tours of the city and its wonderful museums. One of the lesser-known facets of extended voyages on Holland America is their laundry and pressing “packages.” The $20/bag laundry service enables one to stuff a ship-provided pillowcase-like laundry bag with as much as it will hold, rather than paying a per-piece charge. When the laundry is returned, one can utilize the “unlimited pressing” service ($96 for the 32-day cruise) to have virtually anything pressed, including dress shirts, suits, tuxedos, dresses, etc. These packages are not widely advertised, and indeed, I found them only by perusing the Cruise Critic reviews of earlier M/S Amsterdam cruises. We found them to be convenient and money-saving services. Value? We paid a little more than $100/day per person ($200+/day/couple) for our “larger” outside cabin. (Government taxes added about $400 per person, and third-party insurance added another $800 in total.) That provided about 216 sq.ft. of total living space in terms of accommodations, all the food one can eat, gym facilities, entertainment, numerous cocktail and sitting lounges, a well-stocked and spacious library, an Internet room, no-cost lectures, swimming and hot tub pools, sundecks and chaise lounges, and the ambiance of 4-star (my personal rating) living. Our friends elected to have balcony cabins, essentially the same size but with a small balcony (I’m not certain if the balcony reduced or added to the “living space” cabin size), for just over double the per-person cost. In addition, a “service fee” of $11.50 per day per person for the inside, outside and standard balcony cabins add significantly to the cost ($23/day or $700+ in total in our case). This fee provides tips for the room stewards (35%) and dining service personnel (35%), other service staff (30%), and has been increased as of December 1st by Holland America. Counting all these charges, our total cost for our 32-day cruise amounted to $7,724, or $241/day, or about 20% more than the advertised “stateroom” price. And, of course, that was before the optional extra costs of beverages, shore excursions, specialty dining, spa and salon services, etc., which are controlled by each guest’s personal taste and pocketbook. A word about travel insurance: virtually all cruise lines offer travel insurance. Its purpose, of course, is to prevent significant loss resulting from such calamities as missed flights to the port of embarkation or medical conditions preventing a paid-for cruise from being taken. As with any other form of insurance, it pays to understand what coverage is being provided, as well as what reimbursement will be made in case of a covered loss. Some cruise lines will offer only replacement cruises instead of monetary compensation, which in many cases is insufficient to cover the actual monetary loss, and, of course, an unwanted burden for many. Several of the cruise-specific websites offer policies that do a far better job of protecting against monetary loss. It’s this writer’s experience that it really proved worthwhile and beneficial to have such a policy on a booked and paid-for cruise (not this one) when our airline cancelled its flight causing us to have to purchase next-day airline tickets at a substantially greater fare. Almost all cruise lines make a significant amount of money from a number of ancillary and optional services and products. All, excepting those marketing the considerably more expensive truly all-inclusive fares, impose beverage charges for everything except water, tea or coffee, accompanied by a mandatory 15% service charge again ostensibly for bartender and service personnel tips. Significant charges also are made for spa and salon services, optional “specialty” dining rooms, shore excursions (more about that later), and shipboard store and art sales, not to mention the ubiquitous casino slots and games. Yes, many – even most, perhaps – of these services were in demand by a very large percentage of our shipmates, and that’s been our experience on the more than 20 cruises we have taken over the years. (The all-inclusive cruises fares offered by Seabourn, Silversea or Crystal are many times those of the “mid-range” lines such as Holland America, Princess or Celebrity, averaging about $400 to $500 per day per person. Those fares on those lines provide superior food, beverages and service, as should be expected.) So, the question of value is in my estimation up to the individual. If one is accustomed to having wine with dinner, or a drink or two each day at cocktail hour, one will engender a substantial bill by cruise end for beverages. If a drink – or two – by the pool is de rigeur for a vacation experience, that bill will be greater. Spa services are expensive, more so than on land except for some of their specials or sales, and pampering has never been inexpensive. But, a cruise must be looked upon as a vacation, and vacation expenses are customarily greater – and are more easily accepted in my view – than daily living expenses at home. Shore excursions are a separate matter, and one where significant savings can be obtained with a bit of pre-cruise work. The cruise lines all offer shore excursions – the all-inclusive lines sometimes including them in their expensive fares. For all the others, consider that most shore excursions can be purchased at discounts approximating 50% by using independent services. Note that these are all in the caveat emptor class: you are neither guaranteed quality nor punctuality. If you are late returning to the ship, it will almost certainly not wait for you. Given those facts, one can almost always find services that have received good reviews or recommendations, that will provide less expensive and just as rewarding experiences. The Internet abounds with websites offering such services, and, considering what cruise lines charge for the packages they offer, one can save considerable amounts of money. In the cruise lines’ defense, they spend significant sums on finding, contracting and supporting the shore excursions they offer. Their brochures, the personnel to handle reservations and those charged with accompanying tours (even though these are additional duties for existing staff), and the myriad details involved in managing that business are all expensive and justify some recompense. In my view, however, the add-on margin is excessive. I suspect, however, that the popularity of these tours assures that these higher-than-necessary charges will continue, reflecting the desires of the customers for convenience; having someone else handle the details, and, as a consequence of the ship’s threatening message that it will not wait for tardy returnees. Note that the average age of the guests on this cruise was an unsurprising 75+ (in our estimate). Very few families with children, and those with school-age kids were homeschooling them (I think 2 such families). We do wonder how the severely handicapped would fare in an emergency, but the ship's staff is supposedly well trained to cope wit such an issue. Would we do this cruise again? This is the crux of the matter, of course, but I’m a bit ambivalent about giving a simple yes or no answer. It has been fun traveling with friends. We’ve done it before and would like to do it again. (If one can remain friends with the same people with whom you have met and dined for 32 days, they must be compatible!) The itinerary, as stated, left a bit to be desired, but cannot be considered a real negative. The food and dining room service could – and should – have been better (but we were forewarned about this by previous M/S Amsterdam reviews). The cost was moderate – fair, in my opinion – and certainly not a negative. So, my answer is a qualified yes, I would do it again. Having said that, I would definitely look at other offers, considering itinerary, cost and reviews, before re-booking the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped ... Read More
We took this 32 day cruise not knowing for sure if it might be too long. As it turned out it was terrific. The ship, The Amsterdam, had been refurbished at the beginning of the year and was neat and clean and simple to learn. It helped that we had sailed on it several years earlier. The itinerary was excellent. Although one of our ports had been cancelled and we revisited Hualtuco twice, it was fine. The food was well prepared and portions were very reasonable. Generally the portions are too big but the staff was good about not overloading your plate. You can always go back if you're still hungry. Hard ice cream is always a treat and Holland does it best. The dining room service was generally excellent. We did one night in the Pinacle dining room and although nice we felt the food was just as good in the dining room. The entertainment was excellent. In 32 days there were only a couple of times when a performer entertained twice and then their show was different the second time. This was one of the best varieties of entertainment that we have seen. The movies were generally first run with a few oldies. Music in the dance areas was fine and the dance floor was generally pretty open. We did two shore excursions from the ship and both were reasonably priced and we were pleasantly surprised. One was Antiqua on your own and the other was in Corinto. We were pleased with both. We were in Cabin 2604, inside and there was plenty of storage space for our things. The Cabin Steward, Asep was pleasant and if we needed anything he was eager to provide. Now for the bridge. We had a Bridge Director on Board, Bruce and his wife Penny. What I really liked about him was he was very up front from the beginning that his objective was for us to Have Fun and to Not Wreck anyone else's fun. The majority of players were respectful of that request and it made playing bridge much more enjoyable. Bruce provided a qualified duplicate game as well as open party bridge for those who did not want to play duplicate. He and Penny made the lessons and playing very enjoyable. The staff was very good and the clientele were pleasant. We did not feel crowded or overwhelmed at all. The ports of call were fun and we did 4 tours off the ship and 2 from the ship. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. Overall it was a great relaxing cruise and I would do Holland again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I enjoyed the 32 day cruise. The library was large, the food very good, the entertainment enjoyable, the ports interesting, the lectures very informative. What's not to like ? The wheelchair stateroom was very large & was easy ... Read More
I enjoyed the 32 day cruise. The library was large, the food very good, the entertainment enjoyable, the ports interesting, the lectures very informative. What's not to like ? The wheelchair stateroom was very large & was easy to park my scooter out of the way. The bathroom was also large with a handicap shower chair that was easy to use. The room stewards, the waiters, & all the rest of the staff bent over backwards to be friendly & very helpful. You could ask for almost anything off the menu & you'd get it with a small wait. The embarkation was easy especially since we checked in online. The debarkation was only as fast as customs could work. Everything was ready- from porters to help find & carry luggage to lines for aliens & Americans. I didn't like that scooters were in the same line as passengers because I ran over a foot inadvertently. I drove my scooter both on & off the ship, thru embarkation & debarkation. This cruise line is quite superior to others. Last year & the year before we took Princess. Nothing was as good on Princess as on HAL. I like lectures; Princess doesn't. I like a large library; Princess doesn't. The entertainment was comparable on both cruise lines, but the food was not as good on Princess as on HAL. The staff on Princess was OK, but HAL is superior. The activities were varied as well as the shore excursions, however expensive. We took an excursion from a new excursion company affiliated with Costco travel. The tour guide was outstanding & we travelled on a mini bus instead of a large motor coach bus.Hal couldn't tell me in advance whether I could take my scooter , placing it in the under compartment of the bus, whereas the new company could give me every detail. There was a children's club, religious services & a great cruise director . It's no wonder that we've travelled over 120 days altogether on HAL(over 15-20 different cruises on many cruise lines) & was rewarded for it with a medallion & discounts in many areas of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
In virtually all aspects this was the typically great Holland America product: excellent food, great staff, really really excellent entertainment crew, very good enrichment offerings and Cainoa, the legendary locations guide for this part ... Read More
In virtually all aspects this was the typically great Holland America product: excellent food, great staff, really really excellent entertainment crew, very good enrichment offerings and Cainoa, the legendary locations guide for this part of the world, superb cruise director Gene Young, well-thought out itinerary and high-value shore excursions. So what could go wrong- sad to report - in one, but very critical aspect- we were plagued by a sour sewer stench that made our premium-priced balcony cabin (Verandah Deck - mid ship -starboard) unusable for the vast bulk of the trip. This was duly reported to the front desk, attempts were made to provide maintenance and they even taped off the scupper vent but the problem persisted to the final days of the cruise. The repeated verandah maintenance flushings would give relief for about 24 hours and the smell was right back again. We had two extended 7-day at sea day periods as well as several long sea day sections between islands, so the inability to fully enjoy our balcony took away from the overall experience. Which, I again repeat, was in all other regards the excellent HAL product. Whatever causes this sewer stench problem problem was well beyond the ability of the ship's responsive maintenance staff to correct during the duration of the voyage. Nor is a dry dock scheduled, so any future verandah deck passengers need to be duly warned they may also run into this situation and to start the reporting process early in the game to get at least some relief from increased deck maintenance procedures for any similarly impacted cabin. Don't just hope that it will go away like we did the first week. It didn't. And overall the starboard side was the best side to be on when in most ports for this extensive South Pacific itinerary. Good thing is there are plenty of other public viewing options, including a special open back deck for this #6 deck level so one can have a slight degree outdoor privacy if you too get chased out of your own private verandah deck by the smell. Had we chosen a lower-priced ocean view cabin with no outdoor space this would have been a typical 5 star HAL cruise, but our inability to use this starboard balcony in the warm South Pacific was a material fail for this ship, the fleet's "flagship". I don't know if the port side had the same problems, but our starboard deck-side neighbors also reported the chronic stench too. In fairness to HAL, they did try to respond, sent up the usual notes, apologies, plate of candy, bottle of wine and a very modest cruise credit compensation. I don't know how passengers can avoid this situation in future sailings if you choose a verandah cabin or how you could get confirmation up front you will not face a similar situation. It appears the source of the smell comes from deep within the bowels of the ship so I would suspect it will take a dry dock to fully repair this. At no time did I think HAL was indifferent to this problem and if they could have fixed it, they would have. I wish they could have, for everyone's sake. Additionally there were enough delay flush, no flush or overflowing toilet issues that even the cruise director had to make jokes out of this apparently common complaint. Ours too had these problems, worse in the beginning of the trip as many passengers were probably putting all the wrong things down the toilets causing backups along the line. I do wish HAL would issue stronger warnings about the proper flushing procedures. One captain included these warnings in the life boat drill, and I commend him for that. The daily program would often explain how "environmentally efficient" these new low-flow toilets are, but they are a real bother for passengers (and the front desk) who have to constantly call for maintenance when they fail to operate. Overall, the Amsterdam will not be one of our favorite HAL ships in this class of her smaller ships - the decor (which is personal, I know) was either drab, dark, dull or garish. All in good condition and familiar to anyone who chooses HAL ships. Each ship has its signature decor package of colors and themes - this one just did not appeal to us as compared the the color and more whimsy of the Rotterdam, Volendam or Zaandam. So ultimately our experience on HAL's "flag ship' was flagging for us. Even though we loved the staff and the rest of the always excellent HAL experience. So our love of the overall HAL product continues and we happily booked another HAL cruise for next year, but not on the Amsterdam. With now hundreds of cruise days with HAL, overall this cruise line has been far better to us than this one unfortunate experience so we continue to think HAL provides excellent value overall. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This cruise was outstanding due to the great places seen and the song and dance entertainment was the best of the 20 cruises we have taken. We thought we were attending a Broadway Show in New York. If you enjoy snorkeling, you must take ... Read More
This cruise was outstanding due to the great places seen and the song and dance entertainment was the best of the 20 cruises we have taken. We thought we were attending a Broadway Show in New York. If you enjoy snorkeling, you must take this cruise. We spent a week sailing in Hawaii & we would encourage you to visit the WWII memorials. It will make you understand the sacrifices made by our military on that epic day Japan invaded Hawaii. The cruise will greatly enhance your appreciation of the dilemma some of the islands are facing due to rising ocean waters; some islands will likely disappear in the near future. Meeting people from the various cultures was an important educational component that can only be obtained by being there in person. Their ability to live and flourish is truly amazing. The scenery was breathtaking and should not be missed. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

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