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322 San Diego to Hawaii Cruise Reviews

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
My husband and I always wanted to go to Hawaii but we don't like long flights. The cruise was round trip to from and to San Diego. We were able to spend several days in San Diego prior to the cruise. We rented a car and drove up the ... Read More
My husband and I always wanted to go to Hawaii but we don't like long flights. The cruise was round trip to from and to San Diego. We were able to spend several days in San Diego prior to the cruise. We rented a car and drove up the coastline of California stopping in several towns. Entertainment and service on the ship was exceptional. The ship did a night time cruise around the big island to see lava flowing into the ocean. We loved the variety of the shore excursions offered, We took a tour in a helicopter and flew over the volcanoes and the calderas on the big island. The helicopter crew were very entertaining and pointed out many highlights on the island. The best excursion was snorkeling/snuba at the Molokini Crater. I snorkeled and my husband did the snuba. The water was crystal clear and there many beautiful fish and coral reefs. Staff on the snorkeling boat were very friendly and knowledgeable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Check in was slow, but due to our fellow passengers- elderly and infirm, more about them later. New HAL checkin of carry on wine was onerous, but brief. Once aboard had our first Mariner Lunch in Lido, which was fine, our cabin ready, ... Read More
Check in was slow, but due to our fellow passengers- elderly and infirm, more about them later. New HAL checkin of carry on wine was onerous, but brief. Once aboard had our first Mariner Lunch in Lido, which was fine, our cabin ready, and luggage arrived around 3pm. Our cabin was as advertised, snug, but comfortable- (we booked relatively late, verandahs were already sold out). Stewards were as always, excellent. We had an intermittent noise, apparently transmitted up a bulkhead from engine room, that took several tries to identify and fix. I can't fault ship, just like a noise your car makes, but you can't reproduce for mechanic. Guest relations, front desk, and an engineer persevered. It recurred, we reposted, and it stopped immediately. Dining and wine staff knowledgeable and excellent, tho wine steward was running entire time, an additional one 0r 2 in MDR needed to cover dinner. The MDR senior staff and officers, visible and hands, staff worked together seamlessly. Food in MDR a bit bland, but any/all special requests were cheerfully accommodated. Meat ordered rare, was served rare- thats often hard to achieve on shore. Wait staff seemed to work directly w/ cooks on individual requests, advantage perhaps of a smaller ship. There was fresh fish, and fruit locally sourced in Hawaii, something we wished for on a previous HAL trips in Europe and Central America, If only the food could be as good as the folks serving it..... HAL is pushy, and clearly pushes staff, w/ 3 and 5 bottle wine packages that do not stand up to arithmetic as bargain/discount, esp on a 17 day trip. If folks plan to share a bottle of wine at dinner, have a plan that works w/ them. Charge me up front when I book, hold my money, then treat me right. The waterfall/volcano excursion at Hilo was over the top good. The ground portion, including the cooked on the spot lunch was a great day. The Pearl Harbor/Arizona/ USS Missouri was v good, though long wait in line while scooters, wheelchairs, infirm were loaded. Tour of downton Honolulu- Palace, State Capital, all the original Hawaii 5-0 backdrop , thrown in as extra. W/ only a day on Oahu, I also took spouse to Royal Hawaiian beachfront for a maitai. As always enjoyed the classical music, down from quartet to duo. Violinist played from memory, they both seemed to genuinely enjoy performing. Their matinee' on stage was full, and great performance, must, and showmanship. Fellow passengers were polite and quiet while they played, a first- we have seen some previous rude behaviors. HAL please, at least a classical trio. Neptune trio had as much fun as they provided. We rarely do evening shows. Captain O'Driscoll did a fine job. I met him waiting for our eggs Benedict in Lido, and he subsequently spoke and was cordial every other time we crossed paths. A smaller ship, I guess he was more visible. WE briefly lost starboard engine to power surge, he addressed this w/ over the loudspeakers- The Pacific was a huge empty ocean, and it was good to feel personal confidence in the Capt. Safety is not just vital, but seen to be vital onboard, in everyone crew member and staff. Also virtual bride tour w/ 3rd officer and the charming Officer Cadet was informative. 9/11 made engine room, bridge tours problematic, but many- esp males- have curiosity and interest in the ship, and shipboard life. Disembark was easiest, best ever, except when Cunard had immigration travel onboard, you could clear paperwork at your leisure. CBP put about 20 people on board early Day of disembark, and the nicest group of folks imaginable. Overall, a good trip. That said, the demographic of fellow passengers were off putting. Not sure HAL will handle transition of generations, but the daily cabins and single cabins on new ship likely a good move. I am nearing retirement, and want to travel and keep traveling, but there was NO age diversity abroad. Maybe hire some young passengers? Discount you're folks? I have a medical background, and may folks seemed they should be in anything that moves only w seatbelt securely fastened, and not on ship in 15 foot seas. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were lucky to receive a good upgrade from an HH guarantee to a D category. Cabin 772 was on the fourth deck in the exact middle of the ship. We took a train and because of congestions on the tracks we were running about two hours ... Read More
We were lucky to receive a good upgrade from an HH guarantee to a D category. Cabin 772 was on the fourth deck in the exact middle of the ship. We took a train and because of congestions on the tracks we were running about two hours behind. I called HAL and they gave me a phone number for emergencies. I feel this was great to be assured that even though we would arrive with 1/2 hour of the gang plank being pulled we would still be allowed to board. They said they would call the Veendam and let them know we were on the way. This was a service I was not aware of but was glad to find. When we did arrive we were sent straight through to one of the fastest check ins we have ever had. We felt this was a good cruise and mostly had good things to say about it. I want to cover some of the good as well as some of the bad even though the bad was not enough to interfere with our enjoying the cruise. We organized the Cruise Critic meet and greet for both the Mexican portion and the Hawaii portion of the cruise. The crew was wonderful getting it set up, the refreshments and the area. The Beverage Manager, Omar went beyond what we expected to make sure we had all we wanted and even went so far as to organize a special wine and champagne party for our return sea days. I was a little disappointed that more officers misjudged an appearance. Two came an hour late, one came too early and some that had promised to come didn't show. But overall it was a very good M&G. We found the life boat drill was very drawn out and people were packed together so tight that there was a lot of rudeness among the passengers. We ate most meals in the dinning room and found the service good, sometimes really fast. There was a misunderstanding with our assigned table but the dinning room managers soon had that worked out. The food was good, not great, but many meals were remarkably well done. I think mostly the problem foods were things that are very much American but were cooked with a Dutch handle such as meat loaf and mac and cheese. The Lido was crowded but food was good and servers kept your plates cleared. Room service was quick and arrived warm and tasty. The Casino crew were friendly and gave many perks but we found that many passengers were using the slot chairs as a smoking lounge and were not even playing a machine. They would block two or three machines with their belongings and grumbled when you asked them to move so you could use the machines. Again, this was a passenger problem and the only complaint was that the crew should enforce the rules to allow more use by paying customers. The library was nice. The internet was normal until the last five days when it just shut down completely. We were unable to use the last of our minutes but felt that something should have been done to get everyone back on line. We were aware of the ship condition and here is some of what we observed. Everything was clean and freshly painted. One elevator was out the whole 25 days and some would act as though they had a mind of their own, going all the way up without stopping or stopping at every floor. We noticed some smells but they were generally not bad. The only location was on floor 4 around the kitchen dishwashing area across from cabins 798 to 810. I would never take cabin 798 as it had a horribly loud noise from a vent right above the entry door that seems to be present day and night. We enjoyed the cooking classes, the music all over the eighth floor, and most of the shows. One of the shows featured a woman who thought she was still a cute 20 year old but was actually 50 and should have learned to change her act to match her age. The comedians were good but we did not sit where we could become victims. We took no HAL shore excursions and one tender day it took over three hours to get on a tender. It was taking so long they started calling numbers over the ship speakers so you could get to lunch while you waited. I will go into our cabin more in the cabin section but for now I just want to say that while our stewards were very friendly and did a good job, they were a little loose with their key cards. While they were knocking they would have the door opening and caught us with towels and nothing else on coming out of the shower, and one time they interrupted our afternoon "nap". We took to locking the dead bolt which at least made them keep knocking until we opened the door on our own. During the Mexican part of the cruise there were many children, (one officer said 130) and parents would not keep control of their kids. Early in the mornings there were diaper races down the halls with screams of excitement after the parents put them in the hall so they could have some peace. At night kids would run down the hall and pound on the door while the parents slowly walked down to unlock it. On the Hawaii part there was six kids and it was much more quiet. Dress code improved in the dinning room for the Hawaii part of the cruise. Disembarking was almost too easy. No lines or searches, just stroll off and hand them a sheet for purchases made on the trip. These were the bad parts but nothing was bad enough to make it a bad trip. We enjoyed ourselves, were treated well by crew members and it was a good cruise over all. We are happy we went and will be cruising again as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
When we arrived in San Diego there was no line so we thought it would be easy getting on-board. How wrong we were - 40 minutes! It seems our cabin was booked to two different parties. After we were assured it was all straightened out ... Read More
When we arrived in San Diego there was no line so we thought it would be easy getting on-board. How wrong we were - 40 minutes! It seems our cabin was booked to two different parties. After we were assured it was all straightened out and we boarded, our first stop was at the Front Desk to tell them of our problems and ask for a different cabin. The staff wasn't exactly rude, but sure wasn't warm and welcoming. They told us that cabins are changed around all the time including the last few hours before a cruise - but they had no place for us to move to. We go to our stateroom and then outside for the sailaway. Mixed feelings now about even wanting to be on this cruise. When we returned to "our" stateroom there were three pieces of luggage, not ours, in it. Again a trip to the Front Desk where we were told that 'those people' shouldn't have put that cabin number on their luggage tags. My husband explained that they probably wouldn't have done it if they hadn't been told to! Long story short, the luggage was finally collected and we were told by the Front Desk that 'those people' were sorry they had messed up the cabin numbers. Never an apology from the Front Desk staff until a couple of days later when they offered us a cheap bottle of red wine. When I tried to use my room key and drink card the first time I was told they weren't activated and I needed to go to the Front Desk to have that done. Again, not treated very nicely - I was told it was my fault for carrying my cell phone near my cards. My cell phone had been locked up in our safe from the beginning. They didn't care about that - could have just said 'not a problem - can take care of that for you very easily' and reactivated the cards. It was just easier to blame me. On the next to last day of the cruise while sitting on the back deck near the pool, we were hit w/oil drops from the smokestacks. It was a mess: clothes, hair, towels - everything. Again my husband made a trip to the Front Desk to complain about a pair of shorts and a shirt that were a mess. They did offer to clean those clothes for him at no cost. But no apology - and it was just a mistake, easy to apologize for. The wait staff was not good about filling up water glasses, replenishing rolls and butter, just being there in the dining room. There were puddles on our balcony the first two days until finally someone must have tried to brush them off or mop them up. We are three star mariners so have done our fair share of cruising w/Holland America but probably won't be sailing w/them again for awhile. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I was a little apprehensive before boarding the Statendam for her cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific this February. After boarding all my concerns went away. My husband and I are 4-star Mariners, so had very quick boarding (which ... Read More
I was a little apprehensive before boarding the Statendam for her cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific this February. After boarding all my concerns went away. My husband and I are 4-star Mariners, so had very quick boarding (which wasn't the case for others who had to stand in line for an hour when the HAL computers went down) and we found our cabin, 164, to be very comfortable; clean and spacious with an exceptionally comfortable bed. What really impressed us, though, was the food and level of service. We dined mostly in the MDR and found the food very tasty and the proportions larger than we had seen in some time. Our MDR stewards were exceptional and our cabin stewards were almost invisible, but our cabin was kept very clean and comfortable. The entertainment was a little hit or miss, with the ship's singers and dancers appearing uncomfortable with the entertainment they were assigned to perform. It was pretty clear that they had never seen the entertainers they were celebrating, nor heard their music before their assignment. The other professional singers, musicians and comedians (with one exception) were outstanding, and several received standing ovations. We had three lecturers who provided more background and history of the area than we could absorb, and the opportunities for activities each day abounded. The ports of call were as expected. We were only two of 106 Cruise Critic members aboard this ship that only holds about 1250 passengers, but we were all treated royally by the officers and staff of the Statendam. They set aside entire bar areas for our get togethers and supplied specials for us. We hate to see the Statendam leave the HAL fleet in November as we really enjoyed sailing on her. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I am a dedicated Princess cruiser with about 12 cruises. However, due to chikengunya epedemic in Tahiti raging and not wanting to spend a good part of my cruise worrying about getting a mosquito bite I switched at the last moment to this ... Read More
I am a dedicated Princess cruiser with about 12 cruises. However, due to chikengunya epedemic in Tahiti raging and not wanting to spend a good part of my cruise worrying about getting a mosquito bite I switched at the last moment to this Holland America cruise since Princess had nothing else which included Hawaii at this time. The 5 sea days, the 6 days around Hawaii, and the 5 sea days to return (with a stop in Ensanada) seemed rather disjointed. I love sea days so that was not the problem. It just seemed like we spent very little time reallly seeing the islands. The ship was old but the staff was great! The food was great and the terminal in San Diego very handy in the middle of downtown. I stayed directly across from the terminal at the Wyndam and walked the one block to the terminal - very handy. I was not prepared for the age and poor health of a majority of those on the cruise. At times I felt I was on a hospital ship----many, many walkers, wheelchairs, and sick people. I would say the average age was around 75-80 (I am 68), I am used to being among the older on a Princess ship but not on the Holland America Veendam. The cruise to Hawaii was a little rough but back smooth as silk. The Captain was outstanding and made annoncements once or twice a day which were very informative. We did have one event on about the 4th day of the cruise...at 6.15am there was a strange sound and the entire ship tilted 7.5% which doesn't sound like much but was enough to throw you from one side of the bed to the other and break glassware. It felt like we were going down. About 2 hours later the captain came on and said it was a problem with the automatic pilot and they had to use a backup. Fortunately most were still in bed so few injured. The other major problem was one tremendous delay in tendering on our first stop in Maui. I know that ship tours are tendered first so I didn't even go down for 2 hours after this started. I was surprised to find that no one had gotten off. There were 4 small tenders; one was out of service, one had to be used for medicial transport and thus even after I got my tender ticket (not on a ship tour) I waited 2 more hours. It would have been nice if someone (like the cruise director or Captain had explaied the problem at the time) They did that evening about 8 hours too late. The ports were great - not to be missed are the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and the Vol. National Park. Ohau has turned into LA.....nothing but highrises and cheap shops. Last time I was there was about 25 years ago.. It is hardly possible now to see the beach and the area is jammed with people and buildings,,,,great disappointmet. One major plus is that they have a Catholic priest on board who celebrates Mass twice on Sundays and everyday for those who wish. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We were on the Veendam’s 18-day cruise to Hawaii that sailed on January 20, 2015 from San Diego and returned there on February 7th. The trip included stops at Maui (Lahaina), Honolulu (an overnight), Kauai, Kona, and Hilo plus a brief ... Read More
We were on the Veendam’s 18-day cruise to Hawaii that sailed on January 20, 2015 from San Diego and returned there on February 7th. The trip included stops at Maui (Lahaina), Honolulu (an overnight), Kauai, Kona, and Hilo plus a brief stop in Ensenada, Mexico on the way back. Some pluses: The weather was mostly sunny, and that includes the at sea days, which account for roughly 2/3 of the cruise. There were some rough waves heading out to Hawaii, but nothing that seemed to cause the passengers or the crew any problems. And the Pacific Ocean was remarkably calm on the sail back from Hawaii. The daytime temperatures were in the 60’s during the two full days heading out from San Diego, and they were in the 60’s during the final two full days of the cruise. The rest of the time, they were in the 70’s and low 80’s – warm enough to sit comfortably in shorts on the open-air “Retreat,” which is in the aft section of the ship on Deck 11. We had a starboard-side stateroom with a veranda, which means that we got almost no direct sun heading southwest to Hawaii, but plenty of sun heading back (northeast) from Hawaii. The veranda in the Pinnacle Suites is larger than it is on newer HAL ships (such as the Noordam or Eurodam), and that was a pleasant surprise. I am puzzled by some of the Veendam reviews I've read that complain that the ship looks old or rundown. I found it remarkably clean and well-maintained. It is also one of the most attractive ships in the HAL fleet. Since we almost never eat in the Lido, I can’t comment on it, but meals in the Main Dining Room (the Rotterdam) were quite good. The selections range from appetizers and entrees that will please folks with conservative tastes (e.g., steak, roast chicken, salmon) as well as those whose tastes are more adventuresome and are happy to sample various international spices and flavors. The Canaletto Restaurant was a nice surprise. We ate there when we were on the Eurodam some years ago and were not impressed. Then, the menu was comprised mostly of stuff you’d order from your neighborhood Italian diner (meatballs, lasagna, veal parmigiana, etc.), and while there is nothing wrong with those dishes, they are not what you’d expect from a premium restaurant. Fortunately, the Veendam was trying out a new Canaletto menu, and for us, at least, it was an unqualified success. The food is served “family style, which allowed my wife and me to sample a range of appetizers and entrees. They reduced the number of items on the menu, but these choices are all dishes that are imaginatively conceived and very nicely presented. The sea bass was outstanding, as were the gnocchi with short ribs, the fish soup (which is loaded with shell fish in a delicious broth), and the tiramisu dessert. With the new menu it seems to have found its niche as an Italian restaurant with imaginative choices of food and clever presentations. We hope that this menu is adopted by other HAL ships. HAL has changed internet service providers, and while it is still not as speedy as most of us are used to at home, it is a huge improvement over the past, when it took forever just to get logged on. We were able to access our email and pull up websites even when we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I was also pleased to discover that while we were in port in Hawaii, our Verizon FTE service was excellent, even when we were in our stateroom on board ship. As is generally true of Holland America, the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff are outstanding, whether it was dining room attendants, wine stewards, bartenders, or room stewards. The one absolute jewel, however, was Mei Michelon, the Neptune Lounge concierge. She is a miracle of efficiency, attentiveness, good humor, and intelligence. What a treasure she is for HAL! The talks in the Showroom, which were conducted by a lecturer named Lisa, were excellent -- a good mix of practical information with some Hawaiian history and culture. Her love for the Islands was quite apparent. My only complaint is that I wish that there had been more talks during the at sea days on Polynesian history and culture and on such scientific topics as navigation and volcanology. While I liked the Adagio Duo, I sure miss the old Adagio String Quartet. I realize that the latter means paying two more musicians, but a string quartet can provide classical music lovers with a far more enriching experience. Since the nightly performances in the Explorers Lounge is virtually the only opportunity to experience classical music on board, I think that a string quartet is worth the extra investment. Disappointments: One major disappointment was the Greenhouse Spa. For obvious health reasons (norovirus), the ship's captain and officers do not shake hands when they are introduced to guests. I was shocked, therefore, to see Spa staff extending handshakes even during the promotional events on the day we boarded. That struck me as reckless. Shouldn't the spa staff be as concerned about people’s health as the ship’s officers? In addition, the men’s sauna was out-of-order the entire cruise, and my wife had a terrible experience with the nail stylist and a fitness “expert,” though to their credit, the spa manager did offer her a refund. Although it didn't affect us directly, another disappointment was that some of our fellow passengers experienced problems with their room’s air conditioning, and there was also a water leak that affected at least one of the staterooms. As other reviewers have noted, the rooms need more electrical outlets. Bringing a power strip is probably a good idea, especially if you have lots of electronic devices that need charging. Another disappointment is that HAL still permits smoking on verandas and in the casino. Since the casino is located in the middle of Deck 8 it is hard to avoid breathing some smoke as you pass nearby. *** All in all, though, this was a very good cruise. The Captain kept us very well informed. The rescue at sea of the airplane pilot was a dramatic moment (http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/01/27/holland-america-pilot-rescue/22395031/), but even more important is that it demonstrated the exceptional competency of the ship's crew. I was also impressed with how that crew handled an unannounced drill late in the cruise. It was a surprise to the crew, as well as the passengers. It occurred during the Filipino Crew Show in the Showroom, and when the alerts sounded, the crew on stage immediately stopped their dancing and left for their posts, while Mario, the Cruise Director came on the PA to urge the audience to stay put in their seats. It was handled with a reassuring amount of precision and professionalism. Very impressive! Finally, the port stops in Hawaii, including an overnight in Honolulu, meant an opportunity to be moved by the Arizona Memorial, to tour the Mighty Mo (also in Pearl Harbor), and to see some gorgeous scenery. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and ... Read More
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and avoid the hassle of air travel/hotel expense. The embarkation was very smooth, and we were accompanied all the way to our cabin (one of us needs wheelchair assistance). Our stateroom was one of the Lanai cabins, with a sliding glass door replacing the ocean view window, allowing direct access to the teak walk-around Lower Promenade deck. It also includes two reserved wooden deck chairs right outside the door. We had been on this particular ship in March 2014, so the layout was very familiar for us. We had requested and received early fixed dining at the same table for two as last March. We had stopped for brunch on the way, and weren't hungry for the Mariner embarkation luncheon. Luggage arrived quickly, and we found spots for everything in spite of my penchant for overpacking. The standard bathrooms on this ship class don't have much storage; the over-door shoe bag is a must. Our stateroom attendants introduced themselves & we were more than satisfied with their friendliness & service throughout the cruise. They made some unique towel animals that we had never seen. We asked for ice twice a day and they always delivered it. The disaster drill was on deck (no lifejackets), and took a little longer than we were accustomed to, the passengers were restless and had lost interest after about 30". After a short rest on our deck chairs, we adjourned to get to the MDR by 5:15. Very easy to remember the table frome the previous cruise, and we met our dining staff - so very nice throughout the remainder of the cruise. We signed up for a wine tasting & ordered a bottle of wine. The meals for the duration of the cruise were all very good to excellent, temperature perfect, seasoning good. We do like spicy food, but understand that they have to season the food for the majority. When we ordered medium rare beef, it was perfectly done. We do like to try things we have not had before, or unusual (for us) foods. Lobster was on the menu only once (not even on the Pinnacle Menu), which didn't disappoint us, but we heard some grumblng from other passengers. We dined in the specialty dining venues once each, and had equally fine experiences. We try to avoid the Lido just because it is usually crowded, difficult to get around the entire serving counters and to find a table. The couple of times we did end up there we were OK with the food, but my husband said his was not even warm. The best food outside the MDR was the "Dive In" burger/hot dog joint at the end of the pool area. The fries were hot, crispy, and seasoned well. the burgers were really good. There is also a Mexican buffet there each day. Entertainment was mediocre in the showroom - we missed the Broadway show which was probably good, but it was only offered at 9:30 one time, we are early-to-bed types. The best show was "Encore", which showcased a good male & female singer, the Hal Cats turned orchestra, the violin performer from Adagio, and 2 female dancers. Light opera, Broadway show songs, very nice costuming. We had seen it last March, but liked it equally as well this time. The best one of the entire cruise. Entertainment is like food, depends on the person. There was a change in the crew shows - the Filipino crew show was at 2:00 PM, standing room only. We enjoyed it a lot, have never been able to stay up for the usual 11:00 Indonesian one, missed it this time too. We really like the layout of this ship, small & easy to get to everything. Best library of any one we have been on. There were daily activities for absolutely everyone, if you couldn't find something to do it wasn't HAL's fault. We attended several of the lectures on the history and culture of Hawaii, learned a lot of new facts. We only got off at one port, didn't do any excursions since this was our 3rd visit and we had seen most of what interested us before. We did get off the ship to go to "Hilo Hattie's", had not been to any of these stores prior to this trip. The sea days after we left the islands were great for us, our side of the ship was now on the south (sunny) side, and we camped out in our deck chairs most every day. Seemed like lots of the passengers were tired of the sea days & couldn't wait to get back; we didn't feel that way at all, we like being lazy & waited on. The day did finally come though, and I have to say that the disembarkation was the worst we have experienced on any ship. As I mentioned, one of us requires wheelchair assistance which we signed up for, but many of the passengers who showed up for it had not reserved it. There were more than 50 passengers in the Sea View Bar when we arrived, and more coming all the time. Not enough wheelchairs, or pushers who could handle the ramps that they had to negotiate. Passengers demanding that they be let off immediately, ones who decided they didn't want to wait & left,(why were they there at all ?) The poor man who was trying to coordinate the process was overwhelmed. We were more than an hour past the time we should have been let off, lucky we weren't on an early air flight. Overall we tried not to let this part of the experience negatively color the rest. I keep a journal each day, so have looked it over to read all the good parts. When I asked the onboard future cruise consultant she let us know that HAL will not be scheduling this cruise, the Mexican Coastal itinerary, or any other shorter R/T itinerary from San Diego after 2015, only the 30 or so days ones. So sad to see them go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
As a faithfull cruiser on Holland America Line, I found the selection of food on this cruise was poor. You can always fall back upon the "staple" items on the left hand side of the menu, but they get a little boring after awhile! ... Read More
As a faithfull cruiser on Holland America Line, I found the selection of food on this cruise was poor. You can always fall back upon the "staple" items on the left hand side of the menu, but they get a little boring after awhile! I wrote to Holland and told them there must have been a sale on braised beef and small shrimp as they appeared regularly on the menu. I also found there tended to be more deep fried selections than there have ever been before. We selected a lanai cabin for the first time and were disappointed in that also. It tended to be small and the deck chairs we had outside our cabin seemed to constantly have a drip from the tender above. If this is a problem for this cabin, why were the chairs not moved over some or the cabin taken out of the lainai category? We were exactly centre ship. Those things aside, the staff continues to amaze me with their constant smiles and good attitudes. Some passengers are a nightmare for them to deal with, yet the smile and good relations continue. All in all, I still consider Holland America to be one of the best cruise lines for those over 55. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as ... Read More
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as dining at 7 or 730 you are in a dining room emptying out around you with clatter of tables being set and moved and waiting staff rushing around in a frenzy preparing for the late seating. The food was excellent but the enjoyment was spoiled by the feeling of being in the way and also at times the service was slow as the waiters had to clear and reset their own table settings. We cannot understand why the By Reservation Diners are not put in a corner of the dining room together not dispersed around the restaurant like fish out of water. The afternoon tea was ok but if you arrived after the initial set up of tables and the waiting staff had to reset a table for you then you were given paper napkins and no cutlery and one time even given a paper towel folded which was more 2 star than 6. Our overall experience was good with lots of friendly efficient staff,excellent food in dining room ,Bistro and lunch buffet but overall tainted by the dining experience. Unless the Dining By Reservation is improved immensely the competition of Seabourn ,Silverseas and Oceania will be getting our future reservations . The cabin attendant was efficient but never introduced herself throughout the whole voyage or enquired if all was ok. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The ... Read More
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The last cruise we took was 7 years ago, also on the Veendam (26 days Mediterranean/Baltic), so this review will include the changes I’ve observed since then. If you are considering this cruise, please note: our cruise ended up having just 4 ports of call, instead of 6 in Hawaii, plus a day in Ensenada. That meant 7 days at sea, 4 port days in Hawaii, followed by 6 days at sea and a day in Ensenada (and since we live in San Diego, we are not too impressed with Ensenada.) We would definitely not have booked this cruise if we knew this was going to happen. Here’s why we just 4 ports in Hawaii: After a day at sea, someone fell down and was injured bad enough that we had to turn around and cruise back to San Diego for 12 hours, until the ship was close enough to land for the coast guard to use a helicopter to take her to a hospital. That put us one day behind, so they had to cancel the 2nd day in Honolulu and rearrange all ports of call. Then, at our last port of call, Maui, the sea was too rough to tender in, so we had to just leave and head back to San Diego. I was glad that the captain wanted to consider the safety of all cruisers first, but was disappointed with only 4 days in Hawaii. HAL did offer all cruisers a 15% credit toward another cruise. Here is my review of this cruise: Embarkation and Disembarkation went quickly. The ship was clean and well maintained. I was very impressed with the crew – they were all hard workers, smiling, and seemed very happy. I could easily find our room attendant during the hours he was cleaning rooms on our floor. During his off hours, if I phoned the front desk, I would get quick results. Service for dinner in the main dining room was also very good – I did not think they seemed “stretched”. Any time I phoned the front desk, they would answer quickly and take care of the issue or request. If I’d go to the front desk, I never had to wait in line because there were always 3 people working. They would address me by name, and be very friendly and helpful. The food in the dining room, and Lido for breakfast and lunch was very good. The exception was the desserts – pretty bland. I felt like they had not added much sugar or butter. Many times I wished that I had brought some canned frosting, or powdered sugar with me, so I could mix it will butter and sugar from the Lido, and make some frosting, because cakes were dry with almost no icing. If the “almost flourless chocolate cake” is on the menu in the dining room, order it. It was the one really good dessert during the cruise. I liked all of the chilled fruit soups in the dining room, but not the hot soups. One thing I noticed that has changed since 7 years ago, is that many entrees were made with hot/spicy seasonings, like jalapenos and cilantro. I do not like hot/spicy food, so I didn’t try these, but hopefully they were prepared with just a little of these spices. Also, I noticed that the vegetables are now served el dente, which is the popular way to serve them in our local restaurants. However, I prefer them soft – easier to chew. This made me think they are trying to appeal to a younger clientele. My advice regarding “open seating”: We had “open seating”, for the first time ever. Thanks to reading cruise critic reviews before we left, I knew to phone the front desk for reservations. Since the dining room opened at 5:00 p.m., I made reservations for then because we did not want to wait in line, as many cruise critic reviews said they had to. I soon found out that you could make reservations for the next 3 days. Therefore, each morning, I would phone at 8:00 a.m., and make reservations for dinner for another day. When we got to the main dining room, we discovered there was a very short line on the left, for open dining if you had made a reservation, and a long line on the right for open dining for those who did not make a reservation. Not many people knew you could make reservations. We were seated immediately at a table for 2, which we had requested. My advice for open dining: On the first day, look around the room for your favorite table location, and get the table number, which is on a card. Then, when you phone each day for reservations, ask for that table. After a few days, you’ll automatically get it. We had the same table for the entire cruise (via reservations), therefore out waiter got to know our preferences. For 5:00 p.m. reservations, the soonest you will finish dinner if you order dessert is 6:30 p.m. By the time your table is cleared and ready for the next diners, it is probably 6:45 p.m. So, I don’t see how anyone going to the dining room at 6:00 p.m. expects to get seated immediately – I think it is impossible. They stagger reservations, so some people are seated at 5:00 p.m., and some at 5:15 p.m. For open dining, you’d better go at 5:00/5:15, or 6:45/7:00 p.m. Breakfast on the Lido had everything you could want. Service was fast. They now serve several different variations of eggs benedict – with ham, or salmon, spinach, mushrooms, etc. The fruit was always fresh. They have a juicer, so you can always get fresh-squeezed orange juice. I agree – the French fries on the Lido were great. I usually don’t eat them, but couldn’t resist these – like nothing I’d tasted before. The hamburgers by the pool were okay, and I didn’t really like their hot dogs. The pizza was not very good. The entrees for lunch on Lido were better than 7 years ago. Also, one side had Asian entrees as well (really great), and the other side had Italian ones. The sweet potato fries were good. I noticed a big difference in their desserts on Lido: 7 years ago, there was this counter with tiers of whole pies and cakes – really good carrot cakes with lots of frosting, etc. Now the desserts are on a long counter, with ice cream served on each end. They are all on individual plates, very small servings, and really bland and tasteless. They had a good selection of ice creams and sherbets, not very high quality but quick service, considering the lines. I don’t think many people ate the other desserts. Tip: Go to the Explorations Café and request the lemon pound cake – really good and moist. Each evening, we liked to fill out the room service card for breakfast, requesting just coffee, juice, and baked goods. We place it on our door, and the next morning they promptly delivered it. We enjoy it while we are getting dressed, and reading the 8-page Times newspaper – you can request that they deliver it to your room as well. However, some days, they forgot to deliver it. I did not smell diesel anywhere on the ship, as another reviewer from last year stated. The air conditioning and heating always worked just fine, but it was never really that hot outside, since Hawaii is around 75-80 degrees F this time of the year. There was some sort of “varnish” smell in a cabin down the hall, one evening. Our room was very quiet and our window was washed down each day. My husband has a bad back, and felt that the mattress wasn’t firm enough, and should have been replaced, which could not be done. They flipped his mattress over, and then brought a foam topping, which made his side of the bed 4” higher than mine. It was just adequate. I love their bathtubs they are short and very deep – great for a good soak. But the shower nozzle was the hand-held variety with not much water pressure. We always had enough hot water. One issue we had with the bathroom: By the 3rd day, when I filled the tub up, the water was really yellow and left a yellow crusty rim on the tub. The plumber could not fix it. He said that the bath water is from the same pipe as the faucet in the sink that we drank from. The front desk person was very nice, and said we could bathe in another cabin each morning. However, she showed us 2 cabins - one on another floor, one way down the hall from ours – and when we filled up the tub, the water was also yellow. That meant the problem was probably in the entire ship! Also, during those days, the tap water smelled bad and tasted bad, although the water was much less yellow the following days, and clear a few days. The front desk gladly gave us complimentary liters of bottled water to drink anytime we needed it, which was for many days. I am glad to report that the last morning of our cruise, the water was perfectly clear in the tub, and did not smell when we tasted it from the sink faucet. There were walkers and scooters on our cruise. However, I never felt that they were hard to maneuver around, or made me wait longer for an elevator. They said the average age on our cruise was 70. I did not mind this, and enjoyed hearing the life stories of many fellow cruisers. As far as Dry Docks, I heard that after the Panama Canal sailing (which started on Feb. 8), they were going into dry dock, but for just 10 days. We were on the Main Deck, Cabin 611. I am glad we picked a cabin right in the middle of the ship (we always do this), as the sea was rough most of the way to Hawaii. I think anyone who had a cabin too far forward or aft might have gotten a little seasick. I liked that we were midway between both elevators. There were a lot of people coughing on the ship, and we both ended up with colds after the cruise. The Show Lounge: We went the night they were doing a Broadway dance/singing program, but it wasn’t that great. The other evenings, the entertainment sounded mediocre so we didn’t go. I liked the Explorations Lounge in the evening. They had classical music – a pianist and violinist – very good. We enjoyed dancing in the Ocean Lounge – very romantic! The other lounges had very good musicians as well. It was hard to get one of those wonderful lounge chairs with ottomans, facing the ocean, in the Exploration Café, because people would sit there for so long, and if there was an empty one, someone left their stuff on it to reserve it until they returned. I like their movie theatre, but I don’t think the movie selection was that great this time. They have 1,000 DVD’s that you can reserve and take to your room, but no explanation of what the movie is about. The TV in our room wasn’t that great of quality, especially the sound. There was a good movie channel, and most days we were able to watch the “Closing Bell” on CNNBC, I believe. The two ESPN channels always were available. I used to look forward to high tea, but since it was at 3:00, and we ate dinner at 5:00 (since we had “open seating”), there was no point to it. I tried it one day and it was good. I was really looking forward to the Royal Dutch Tea, but the day it was served, there was no special announcement in their program – it was just listed under the time slot, and I neglected to read that part of the program that day. Compared to 7 years ago, this time, instead of books, many of the seniors were using Kindles, Nooks or IPads. Also, many brought their Macbooks and used them in Crows Nest and other “hot spots”. All the computer classes were for Windows users, and I think HAL should consider some Apple classes as well, perhaps for Ipad apps, and IPhoto or IMovie (note: I use a MacBook Pro). We had previously booked a 7-day Mexican Riviera round-trip cruise out of San Diego, but right before our money was due, I checked, and this Hawaiian cruise was available for $100 per day ($3800 for both of us total, for 18 days), so we changed it for this one – so it was a very good value for an outside cabin. One of the 4 elevators on the dining room side of the ship was out of order the entire cruise. The part needed was on order. We had to wait a little longer for an elevator, but it wasn’t too bad. In conclusion, I like the Veendam for it’s smaller size and have never been on a megaship. I like the size of this ship - it's so easy to get around without a lot of walking. No public rooms were huge - so they felt kind of intimate. My favorite cruise line is Holland America because: it is the only one with a wrap-around teakwood deck; I like their library and it has ocean views; and I like the Crow’s Next Lounge and Explorations Café. I think it is a good value. Their food is as good as Celebrity’s, and is better than the food on other cruise lines in their price category. I love Crystal, but can take two cruises on Holland America for the price of one Crystal cruise. We’ve never been on the luxury lines.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to ... Read More
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to remove injured passenger & all turned out well. Because of the lost time we had our time cut short in Honolulu , another port because of sea conditions we were unable to visit. Holland America chose to offer everyone a 15% discount on a future cruise . My problem with this is why not issue a credit on the cruise where the losses occurred ? Not happy with that arrangement !!!! Notable problems I had with ship 1 Smoking in casino was not acceptable 2 On pool deck lounge chairs were one on top of each other 3 Water in swimming pool was never heated ( freezing ) 4 Limited number of public washrooms on ship 5 Common areas on ship were constantly too cool 6 No food trays to carry your food on in Lido Dining room 7 Ice tea glasses were so small you had to carry 3 of them & 1/2 the time they didn't have Lemmon 8 Only once saw the hot tubs being tested,on other cruises they were tested hourly 9 Only 1 electrical plug in bedroom at desk 10 Absolute wast of time stoping at Ensenada,Mexico Jones act or not TFavorable features of cruise 1 All entertainment was fantastic 2 Smaller ship was enjoyably 3 Priest on board was nice 4 Captain was fantastic with all his daily updates 5 Trainers in gym were great 6 Port of SanDiego Wes extremely convenient 7 The entire crew were polite & courteous at all times To sum it all up I felt like they were cutting back at every corner they could & it showed it. It's NOT the same Holland America we once knew   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My husband and I rather impetuously decided to sail on Holland America’s Statendam 45 day combined Hawaii, French Polynesian and Panama Canal cruise departing from San Diego on Dec. 16, 2013. He has cruised many times, including voyages ... Read More
My husband and I rather impetuously decided to sail on Holland America’s Statendam 45 day combined Hawaii, French Polynesian and Panama Canal cruise departing from San Diego on Dec. 16, 2013. He has cruised many times, including voyages taken with HAL several decades ago. The sum of our combined recent cruise experience (over the past ten years) was a total of 20 days of "free-styling" around the Caribbean; and so we had no recent experience with HAL or any basis of comparison for this class of ship. Since this was going to be a “once in a lifetime experience,” we decided to go for broke (literally) and booked a Neptune Suite on the 10th deck. This afforded us access to the Neptune Lounge and other amenities. What was really appealing was the fact that the Neptune Lounge was advertised as a WIFI hotspot. (More on this important “convenience” later.) Other than that, we had no knowledge of the current HAL and, therefore we were not aware of the Mariner Program which awards passengers Dam Stars for each cruise and for the amount of dollars spent on board. Despite our status as a “Suite Guest”, we quickly realized that we were in the unenviable category of “No Dam Stars”. It was during my first visit to the lounge when I realized that I had No Dam Stars, because some of the other suite guests were wearing their pins and medals and were actively engaged in what turned out to be a thirty-day competitive “I Can Out Dam You” conversation. The Neptune Lounge was a lovely, convenient amenity and the front desk crew members who staffed it were superlative. On a daily basis the captain got on the PA (and with a sole exception), he referred to the ship as the "Elegant Statendam." In all honesty, that is a bit of a stretch. Without question, the ship is immaculately clean, but it is worn and tired. The best description I heard was from a passenger who had earned a lot of Dam Stars was that the ship masquerades as "Mutton dressed up as Lamb." Putting a positive spin on it, the Statendam could be charitably described as “shabby chic” or “gently used.” One couldn’t help but notice the frayed carpet or the holes in the 8th deck Ocean Club lampshades, along with many other signs of wear in public venues, as well as in our cabin. Like I said, “elegant” cruising was a new experience for me; so I had no idea that the problems on the Statendam were not cruise customary. A few examples: Our cabin was located under the spa. Actually, we booked so late that it was the only available choice. Even so, I reasoned this would be a good location, since a legitimate massage overhead shouldn't be too noisy. True enough, but the spa renovations that went on for three weeks on port days were a deafening surprise. I'm talking about major hammering related to retiling the massage rooms, necessitated by a broken pipe behind said walls. Eardrum damaging noise from 9am to 4pm. I do understand that a ship is constantly undergoing renovations, but perhaps management should focus on the bigger issues - like the ship’s HVAC, plumbing and electronics – basic operational necessities. I personally think some of the repetitive issues had to do with the blackout we experienced at 10:15pm one night midway between San Diego and Hawaii. The “sound” of no engines for 45 minutes can be a bit disconcerting, but since we're from the Northeastern part of the United States and experienced with power failures, I had my trusty flashlight at the ready. The Captain promptly reported that an “oil mist sensor” in the engine room had shut us down. It must have also shut down the ship's air conditioning/temperature sensors, because from that point forward, the stateroom thermostats became useless. Here we were in a Neptune suite, being very careful to keep the curtains drawn in order to avoid extreme cabin heat. At least we could get access to fresh air; and I did sleep a night or two out on the balcony. At other times the cabin was frigid but we were afraid to make it warmer since we didn't want to risk roasting again. The bathroom was interesting. It took me a while to ignore the sink and bathtub gurgling and belching. I was concerned that the toilet geyser issue on the fifth deck might work its way up to the tenth deck. It actually did, but not in our cabin. The lovely couple in the cabin next to us suffered through a double whammy, and I have to say they displayed the patience of saints since they were displaced for almost three days due to a broken pipe resulting in sopping wet carpet. They finally got dried out from what turned out to be a ceiling leak, only to have a toilet gusher re-flood the cabin. As a matter of fact, the ship experienced a number of water-related issues as in: “No Dam Water.” “No Dam Hot Water.” “No Dam Cold Water.” “Really Dam Brown Water.” all followed by a scheduled shutdown of all potable water, which may or may not have had something to do with “another sensor” that caused both swimming pools to drain. The captain reported that this pool-draining action aided in the "survivability" of the ship in the case of a true emergency. I didn't quite get that connection, because I was busy trying to navigate the bathtub. Bathtubs that require an expertise in pole vaulting in order to get into and out of, with hand holds on the side away from the shower head and not wide enough to fit a shower chair for those of us who are not exactly comfortable showering while the ship is rocking and rolling. A number of passengers used the Spa to shower, but I was in a Neptune Suite, Dam it, and I didn’t really want to go traipsing to and from the Spa to shower. My husband and I actually lucked out. At the end of the 45 days, we were one of the few cabins on the Starboard side of the Navigation Deck that had avoided flooding. The cabin flooding was continuously interesting, as were the ever-present loud blowers placed strategically in both cabins and hallways. I have some great photos of the buckets used to catch the hallway ceiling drips. For the first two weeks, we endured the scent of Eau de Latrine towards aft on our deck, so we were thrilled when the maintenance guys finally got that leak plugged up. When the ship completed the Hawaii/Tahiti leg, virtually all of the passengers disembarked in San Diego and new folks boarded for the Central America/Panama Canal portion. I actually felt for the new occupants on our deck. Here they were, happy as Larry, but within a day or two, the same cabins that had flooded before and dried out, flooded again. Even the Penthouse took a hit. The explanations for these problems kept morphing. First the captain said the water was from a combination of a mighty squall combined with a sudden heeling of the ship. I'm not too sure about this because this heeling event took place during the sail away party heading off towards Tahiti (weeks earlier) and the three dancers on the aft deck didn't tilt at all. Then we were told that the Lido pool on the deck above us had a broken pipe beneath it. Ultimately we heard (confidentially from an impeccable source) that these leaks on the Starboard side of deck ten had been going on for months and were scheduled for real renovation "soon." I somehow doubt that HAL is going to pass on potential revenue from booking these cabins in order to fix the problems once and for all for the benefit of future passengers and/or the unfortunate crew members, who have to deal with repetitive irate passengers. I have no way of knowing, but I couldn't help but wonder what color of mold is growing beneath these carpets that are periodically soaked and dried out One of the selling points of the Neptune Lounge is the claim that it is an Internet hotspot, where wireless and Internet access is always available for "a small additional charge." When pigs fly. We embarked on this journey with a breezy message to friends and family stating that we would be only an email away. Accordingly, we had a laptop and tablet with us - as did the majority of other passengers. From the get-go, the Elegant Statendam "lost" it satellite. For the first three weeks, the Internet access was iffy at best, if available at all. Over the course of our six week voyage, we ended up purchasing 1800 minutes, and I was only trying to post a little blog. On one occasion it took 38 minutes to upload five photos. Heard a bunch of completely illogical reasons for us “losing” our satellite but finally got the real scoop. HAL corporate management decided to switch providers, which required a transition period of two weeks. Unbelievably, the IT folks on board just couldn't understand why the company they had terminated was not being responsive regarding server conflicts during the transition. Ultimately, on January 20, the Internet speed did improve and all was well, with the exception of a total inability to upload photos to Wordpress. That little problem was to be fixed by February 14th. Too bad for passengers until then which, of course, included us. Then there is the little problem of the ship’s antenna. The one they have is good but extremely sensitive to weather and position, or so they told me. Not to worry, they are getting a second antenna. Soon. In March. Maybe. OK. I'm just a passenger who was trying to post a personal blog. Other frustrated passengers were actually trying to conduct business. Worse, can you imagine being a member of the crew, away from home (for maybe 10 months), and the only link you have to your family is the Excellent Elegant Statendam's Internet Service? A service, by the way, that they too have to pay for! Trust me. If you need to communicate with loved ones when aboard this ship, follow the crew when you get to port. They know the location of every Internet café, everywhere. (The same holds true if you need to find a Walmart.) But using shore time to access the internet would mean that you wouldn't be able to avail yourself of the Excellent Elegant Statendam's excursions. If anyone ever deserved an award for creative writing, it would be the excursion folks. It isn’t that their descriptions of offered excursions are misrepresentative, per se. It is just that their rosy descriptions are not quite reality. Since we had No Dam Stars, we didn’t realize we could independently book identical excursions and save the ship’s upcharge (which on one occasion amounted to over $100 per person). Interested in snorkeling off a white sand beach that you may simply walk into? Not disclosed is the fact that to access the beach, you either have to navigate a concrete beachhead or traverse the side of a cliff with lots of steps and no handrails. It was not until I learned that the excursion folks earn their keep based on commissioned sales that I got it. Buyer beware. Having said that, the local folks who conduct these tours are fantastic (Costa Rica specifically not included) and make every effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. The fact that they can’t provide what you thought you signed up for is not their fault. Specifically, as to Costa Rica’s Red Macaw Sanctuary and Cruise through the Mangroves, skip it. Go to your local zoo if you want to see birds in cages. Further, if you want to see Central America’s exotic indigenous birds, wait until you dock in Cartagena, Colombia. They are right there. FOR FREE! As for cruising through the mangroves in Costa Rica, make sure the tide is in or make sure you have your binoculars with you. Given our cruise history (my husband’s dated and mine limited) we were a tad overwhelmed by the aggressive sales activity aboard the Elegant Statendam. I am not referring to aggressive crew persons but rather to HAL’s opportunist policies. We expected to pay for libations and photos but were a bit surprised to find an upcharge for enjoying a cappuccino after dinner, or for a bottle of water in the casino. The casino was pleasant, staffed with experienced, friendly dealers who were oppressively watched like hawks by the “suits”. What I found amazing was that it was a) difficult to get something to drink since there were few or no waiters circulating and b) if one was lucky enough to snag a waiter, there was a charge for a beverage – even water. This was a first for me. In my experience, casinos want customers to enjoy a beverage while playing. The “happier” the player, the greater likelihood that caution will be tossed overboard to the casino’s benefit, right? Nope. HAL makes every effort to ensure that all passengers know they should stay hydrated while in port and they are quite willing to provide a bottle of water upon exiting the ship, and they are happy to put that charge on your account. Quite a few of our fellow passengers commented on feeling like they were being “nickeled and dimed” in general, and we would have to agree. My husband refused to order after dinner cappuccino as a matter of principle. So what is right about the Elegant Statendam? Plenty. Some examples: The Excellent Elegant Statendam’s Laundry Service. We did not appreciate the significance of great laundry service. Free for Neptune Suite guests, and free for holders of sufficient “Dam Stars”, laundry and dry cleaning reappears within twenty-four hours, neatly wrapped with tissue paper. Certainly a shrunken sock or tee shirt now and then doesn’t matter. I’ve been known to do that at home. If we had known in advance about the efficiency of this amenity, we could have boarded with one suitcase each instead of the five overstuffed cases we brought with us. The food was good and there was always something for everyone’s taste. We generally enjoyed our dinners in the Rotterdam Dining Room. We really enjoyed our meals at the Pinnacle and since we were Dam Suite Guests, we were able to have leisurely breakfast there as well. We loved the two evenings that the Pinnacle converted into Le Cirque and really, really raved about the Cellar Master’s Wine Pairing Dinner. Maybe that had something to do with the seven different types of wine served, but the food was outstanding and beautifully presented. We found service in all dining facilities outstanding, and consistent. Germs - or the lack thereof. Aside from whatever is lurking beneath the repeatedly flooded cabin carpets, the Statendam is fanatical about germ eradication. The first 48 hours constitute a "you may not serve yourself" blackout period. Not even a glass of water. The crew has a no-touch, will-not-shake-hands, policy. Every eating venue has a person standing there squirting hand sanitizer. Get off the ship, you get squirted. Get on the ship, you get squirted. In Central America they even give you FREE hand sanitizer and that is saying something because they don't give anything away for free. Even so, passengers still got sick. I contracted the upper respiratory cruise crud that seems to pop up despite the squirting efforts. My medical history is rather complex and my husband and I had one of our five suitcases stuffed with medications, so I was a bit wary of visiting the ship’s Medical Department. What a relief when I realized that the doctor on board knew her stuff and had experience with my specific medical complexities. The nursing staff was wonderful and I was diagnosed, treated and hacked no more. The entertainment and activities on board also afforded something for everyone. We don’t play bingo but did avail ourselves of the team trivia challenge which was not only fun but also happened to coincide with happy hour. The shows that we saw were professional and enjoyable, but of all of the shows we saw, we most enjoyed the three that were performed by the crew. The Christmas Crew Show, the Filipino Crew Show and the Indonesian Crew Show. Which brings me to the most valuable asset that HAL has in the Elegant Statendam. The crew. I am specifically referring to the “grunts” – the working blokes – and this crew is awesome. I know that I was a No Dam Stars person but I spent my working career in the service sector and I was seriously impressed by every encounter. These folks work long hours housed in spartan accommodations, dealing with somewhat demanding passengers. And they do it with smiles on their faces. The crew is made up of three distinct groups. Filipinos, Indonesians and “all others” who are mostly the “non-grunts”. We met crew members who were counting the days, hours and minutes until their contracts were over. Each and every one of them was there because they were trying to make a better life for their families back home. The "all others" had a different life on board. They had cabins with showers and refrigerators and had privileges in the above-deck restaurants. Some even had a Dam porthole. Tough being a grunt on the Statendam. It was also tough returning to reality at home where people are grumpy. The general passenger consensus was we were really spoiled by this crew with one notable exception. The Excellent Captain of the Elegant Statendam needs a personality transplant. Really. The Captain’s resume includes a lot of years in cargo transport and a stint in commercial aviation. No great interpersonal skills needed there. The man blew off the “crossing the equator crew hazing” and in a final crazy event, blew off some Dam Stars passengers. One couple from London got rather annoyed that the Captain was a rarer sighting than the elusive Mexican Mot Mot trailer-park bird. They fired off an email to corporate in Seattle. They got a prompt email response, but not from corporate! From the Captain himself! The man couldn't get off his butt to go knock on their cabin door? Maybe it was because he was doing the friends and family thing. His wife was on board. They wined and dined together and rarely interacted with passengers. In his email response to the British passengers he actually said that (paraphrasing) a Captain’s life is much different today than in past years, not-so-subtly implying that he was too busy to mingle with passengers. My husband comments that this is not like old time cruising, although I did read on this very site, that other Dam HAL Captains do actually dine with their passengers. Collectively, as passengers, we had no such opportunity to chat with the Captain other than superfluous encounters at staged events. He didn’t even stay for the special luncheon held for Dam Suite Guests that we were invited to in his name. He stood at the door, said hello to each arrival and booked out of there. So, the bottom line? We had an absolutely great time and the days flew by. I would have stowed away for a re-do if I could have, especially since I have now been elevated to a three Dam Star veteran. We met passengers that have become dear friends. We met the most incredible crew members from dishwashers, to waiters and waitresses, to cabin attendants, to front office folk, to photographers, to performers and to officers. We would sail with HAL again in a heartbeat but not on the “not-so-Elegant” Statendam. Despite its age and dated atmosphere, the ship combined with the current remarkable crew could be a winning combination, if the powers-that-be would put passengers before profits and put the ship into dry dock for a thorough re-hab. Until they to attend to the very real problems they have been experiencing on a recurring basis - problems which cannot be addressed on an ad hoc basis – another Dam might be a better choice. What a Dam shame.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Right from the start I new we were in for a great cruise. Checking in took all of two minutes. No long lines and very friendly staff. Filled out the usual papers and we were on the Century in all of ten minutes. Definitely a record! We ... Read More
Right from the start I new we were in for a great cruise. Checking in took all of two minutes. No long lines and very friendly staff. Filled out the usual papers and we were on the Century in all of ten minutes. Definitely a record! We have been on 20 + cruises and 10+ on Celebrity and this one is certainly at the top. We boarded just in time for lunch about 12:30, went to our cabin first to see if by chance it was ready as it was only one floor above the Lido dining area and surprise, all ready so we left our carry on bags and headed down for a little lunch. The Lido was comfortable and not too busy at all. Unlike the Solstice class ships which are often mob scenes. We found a table and got a nice lunch. Great food, fresh salads, nice servers and spotlessly clean. This area was a real sour spot on our last cruise on the Eclipse. Rude staff, filthy tables and so crowded was this area on the Eclipse that this was a very nice surprise. Oh and no loud music blaring at us from the over head speakers, just nice soft background music so easy to have a conversation. Kudos to the staff off on the Century for realizing that most of us like to have a conversation during meals. We had lunch here all but one day. Never too crowded always clean and just super staff. From this moment on things just got better and BETTER! No Elite cocktails were done on the first night as usual so we decided to head to Cova and have a drink and people watch and listen to a super group, The Sound Track Trio, a wonderful latin jazz group. So into their music and so talented these guys quickly became our favorites of the many, many bands on the Century. Several nights they had Jam sessions with other band members from other bands of the ship. All I can say is WOW! You would pay big bucks in any city to see such talented performers and this was all free. There was more great talent and bands on this little ship then any of the larger ships. Great drinks were served here not just coffee though that was super too. Best part was Manuel Fernandes, one of the servers here at Cova, after ordering one drink from that moment on through out the cruise when ever we walked through this area he would make a point of calling us by name, asking how our day was, having a good time, anything I can do for you. Superb hospitality considering how many drinks he must serve in a day. Simply Amazing! Despite what some may say the Century still is in excellent condition. The only real wear we saw was on the furnishings in the Crystal lounge which according to the Captain are to be replaced during the coming dry dock. Everything else on the ship was spotless and beautifully maintained. She may not have all of the wiz bang gizmos of the newer ships but she is a very lovely traditional cruise ship in wonderful working order. The dining was spot on everywhere on the ship. Excellent food, superb service and spotlessly clean. We had the most professional waiters ever and a truly super Asst. Maitre'd. I always wondered who they were and what they did but not with this one. He was there nearly every night making sure everything was just right. The second night he asked if we had any other problems and one of our tables mates mentioned a strange noise in her cabin disturbing her sleep. He got on the phone called someone and it was resolved before she went to bed that night. No kidding. And again, soft lovely background music, made conversation at our dining table easy and pleasurable. Why do some of the other ships feel a need to bombard us with loud music? None here. Even the Martini bar had a bit softer music. Could it be that Celebrity is listening? We had five days at sea before Hawaii and again after. No shortage of things to do on board. The cruise Director John Grantham had everything covered from Zumba to crafts to music and everything in between. Never a dull moment. But also he was never in your face. Everything was done with style and class and a healthy dose of fun. He is now my favorite Cruise Director, sorry Sue Denning! What really makes the Century unique is her service and HOSPITALITY. Hospitality is something that is being over looked and lost on the newer and bigger ships. They are beautifully designed but cold spaces with the hospitality being overlooked in running these massive ships. What you get on a smaller ship such as the Century is true care and concern for the guests and their happiness. The Captain was ever present greeting and talking with passengers. The superb Hotel Manager Sheldon Thompson was everywhere leading by example for his hard working and super friendly crew. Have a question or just simply want to chat, feel free. He is so approchable and so friendly. He also leads the crew volley ball team! He and the captain run this ship as if they personally owned it and it was their private home.Kind of like being in a nice B&B. After the first day so many crew members were calling us by name greeting us everywhere. Wishing us a good day, can I help you, anything you need or I can do for you. I can not say enough good things about so, so many of the crew. I will simply say that the crew on board the Century easily, easily put the crew on the Eclipse to shame. I can only hope that Celebrity will read this and take a few lessons from the great people on the Century and apply them to the larger ships soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We chose this cruise because we can drive to San Diego, eliminating the hassle of air travel, also the itinerary gives plenty of sea days. My husband is somewhat mobility challenged, so we don't need the port-intensive, go-go cruises ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we can drive to San Diego, eliminating the hassle of air travel, also the itinerary gives plenty of sea days. My husband is somewhat mobility challenged, so we don't need the port-intensive, go-go cruises any more. This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and we had heard good things about their organization. We also dislike the newer, glitzy huge ships that take forever to get from one place to another. The embarkation was very smooth, and quick. We had stopped for lunch on the way, so made our way up to the pool deck for some liquid refreshment while we waited until the staterooms were ready. We were in cabin 1063, "Sky Suite", only one deck down, so it was easy to get there. The "suite" was not what we have experienced on other ships, just basically a little larger than a standard veranda cabin. The veranda, however was very large, and made for great room service breakfasts and reading in the lounge chairs. A couple of problems with the cabin, though, the door to the bathroom hit the toilet, not allowing it to fully open. I measured the opening, and it was only 16"; it was pretty annoying, especially at night, The toilet appeared to have been installed since the original construction and was too long for the space. I heard our cabin neighbor complaining to someone during a phone call on her veranda, so I know that there were more than our bathroom that had this issue. I made our displeasure know at the courtesy desk, but of course there wasn't anything they could do. I understand that this ship is going in for an updo in February, perhaps then. The other thing was that the sofa was right under the TV on the wall - hard to watch it from that position, and we are not fans of sitting of the bed to watch. There was a mirror on the wall across from the TV, so I was able to sit on the sofa & watch it in the mirror. The perks that came with the "suite" were nice, and we did enjoy our butler,(Savio) who pampered us every morning setting up our room service breakfast, and brought tea, coffee, and snacks in the afternoon. The staff on this ship was extremely friendly, and any one of them would try to do whatever we asked. The captaiin and ship officers were very visible; I think we saw the captain almost every day in different areas. We opted for fixed dining so we would have a consistent waiter and assistant. The first table assignment was for a table of 10, and we had requested a table for 2 when we booked. We are not unfriendly, but have a hard time hearing conversation with all the background noise in the DR. The assistant maitre'd was able to fill our request if we would change to the later seating. This was fine, and we had a great table with excellent servers. Food choices were great, we could have escargot every night! If we had the least problem with any of the dishes, the waiter would immediately get something else for us. The meals were imaginative, very nicely presented, and the temperature of them was hot or cold as appropriate. We didn't do much of the activities, we enjoyed reading on our veranda as the weather warmed up, and people-watching by the pool area. We also tried to watch NFL football in the Rendez-vous lounge, but the TV screens were smaller than the one we have at home, also had competition from Art Auctions, Cooking Demos, bands, trivia, etc, etc. Sure would be nice if they had a designated sports area with big-screen TVs; there were at least 50+ passengers who were trying to watch the games along with us. Maybe they could consider redoing the Martini Bar - there were usually 6 or fewer people there any time we passed thru, and the music in there was loud & horrible. We appreciated the smoking rules - it was great not to have smoke on our veranda, or choke while passing thru the casino. The entertainment was pretty average compared to other cruise ships we've been on - the production shows were entertaining and the dancers did a good job considering the ship motion. We had to pass through a cold front when we were returning to San Diego and the captain deviated from the usual course to make us more comfortable, but with 20+ ft. waves, & 40mph winds it was pretty hard not to have some motion. We've had worse. Disembsarking was quick & smooth. Off by 10AM, our parking company van was there in the lot, & we were on the road by 11AM. We would definitely consider sailing on Celebrity in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Century is a classic. We love the size and age of the ship...and the quiet beauty. The crew is, hands down, the best we have encountered. Our cabin stewards were superb...efficient and charming. Our dinner waiters were remarkable...highly ... Read More
Century is a classic. We love the size and age of the ship...and the quiet beauty. The crew is, hands down, the best we have encountered. Our cabin stewards were superb...efficient and charming. Our dinner waiters were remarkable...highly skilled, fun & good natured. We miss them...and will long remember each of them with fondness. Each and every member of the crew, from the Captain on down, smiled and offered friendly greetings with each encounter. The ship was kept sparkling. John, the Cruise Director, was simply stellar. Fun, dynamic and engaged....and very accessible. It is a ship for adults, which we truly appreciate. We found the level of entertainment to be excellent. The three guest musicians...The Estrada Trio, 5 O'clock Somewhere and Martin Andales...were talented musicians and a pleasure personally. Nightly production shows were fun, entertaining and well done. The evening the Polynesian dance troupe came on board was delightful. We loved that the Cinema was available with daily movies. Chelsea, the naturalist, gave enthusiastic, fascinating and informative presentations each morning at 10...which enhanced our knowledge and enjoyment. June, the Hawaiian ambassador, was a delight...she lit up every room she entered. Our friends enjoyed the ukulele lessons. The grand guest recital of ukulele playing and hula dancing was well attended and fun. Food was consistently good to excellent. Astonishing given the large number of guests and crew fed daily. The buffet was well laid out and efficient...an amazing variety and tasty. I so much appreciated the fresh fruit platters in the morning...and the omelet station. Belgian waffles were delicious...but we kept it to a one day treat! ;-) We selected this itinerary first for the large number of days at sea...secondarily the ports of call. It was an ideal itinerary to rest, relax and rejuvenate...as well as enjoy old friends traveling with us...and meet new friends on board. Fellow passengers we encountered seemed to be as relaxed and happy as we were. We had worked for several years straight with pressing deadlines so we relished planning nothing. We didn't stress over the tender ports...simply disembarked when it was quieter and stayed open to whatever we found to do in port. Unusual for us...normally we research and plan...but somehow we were sailing the Pacific and in Hawaiian ports and all was as it should be. We heard in advance of sailing that internet was slow and costly per minute. Cell service at sea is expensive. Before booking we decided to disconnect from the world for 15 nights. I highly recommend it. The first day or two was a bit (just a bit) odd...but soon we were in the moment and blissfully out of touch. On the downside, we found the shore excursions to be prohibitively expensive. Specialty coffees (such as cappuccinos) to be costly. And the corkage fee of $25 in the dining room to be unreasonable. Overall coffee quality could be improved with a better blend of coffee. None of this ruined our time...but they would be easily reviewed and worth reconsidering for Celebrity. Altogether perfect...just what we needed. We are well rested...still feeling we are floating in a bubble of ocean and sky. Thank you to the Celebrity Century crew for the gift of a lovely vacation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013

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