We are 4-star Mariners on HAL, but we are also frequent users of other cruise lines, so it had been two years since we sailed on HAL. The Koningsdam was our first time on one of the line's newer, larger ships. We like smaller ships, ... Read More
We are 4-star Mariners on HAL, but we are also frequent users of other cruise lines, so it had been two years since we sailed on HAL. The Koningsdam was our first time on one of the line's newer, larger ships. We like smaller ships, but we were looking for an Adriatic cruise, and we liked the ports of call on this cruise. In the end, we did not find the Koningsdam too big for our taste, but we did have a mixed reaction to what seems to be Holland America's new direction, though we found the crew among the friendliest we have have experienced in many years of cruising.
Getting There: We took advantage of Holland America's great prices on business class air and of their rather pricey hotel package and flew in the day before. I like the idea of having the airport to hotel to ship transfers taken care of for me--it reduces the stress of travel. Our hotel was the Savoy. The room was large and well-furnished, the staff was friendly, and the location was within walking distance of some sights--though we were too tired to take full advantage of that. Embarkation was smooth and fast.
Dining: For dinner, we prefer a table for two, though we enjoy sharing a table at other meals. We had a window table (169) for the early seating. We had wonderful service from Kelana and Arisman--when my wife developed a cough, Kelana insisted on bringing her hot tea with honey and lemon and generally fussed over her. The wine steward, Olga, was far more part of the team than usual, though our only order was Diet Coke for me. All three of them recognized and greeted us when we saw them elsewhere around the ship. They really enhanced our dining experience. We liked both the main dining room food and the Lido breakfast and lunch buffets. I would not rate it among the best food we have experienced, but they we certainly a step up from the food on the Princess ship we took earlier this year. The specialty restaurants seemed a bit over-priced based on our previous experience of them, so we did not use them at all this cruise.
Drink: I drink only soft drinks, since all of my pills seem to come with warnings not to take with alcohol, and my wife drinks mainly cappuccino and lattes, so I can't speak to the quality of the alcoholic drinks. As with dining, I was particularly impresse with how friendly and accomodating the staff were. Frits at the Grand Dutch Cafe particularly stood out. On the other hand, I never did figure out the arcane coverage of the various beverage packages--cans vs. draft sodas, which specialty drinks were covered, and especially how the package including the new multi-drink soda machine (Lido Bar only) works. The information on the web site is too vague; guest services seemed unclear about things; and different bars seemed to give different incomplete answers, though doing their best to be helpful. I found this very annoying.
Shore Excursions: At 80 years old, we try to avoid strenuous excursions, and that was a particular concern on this trip because I managed to develop tendonitis in my right foot just the week before we left. It was particularly irritating to find that the web site information we had used in pre-booking did not match the notes on the tickets we got when we boarded. The latter evidently reflect the experience of the ship's own shore excursion staff, and they did seem more reliable. The staff at the desk was very accomodating when we had to exchange tickets and did their best to recommend excursions we could handle. They probably over-estimated our ability to do walking tours during a historic heat wave, but I don't blame them for that.
Other Services: We paid for unlimited surfiing (without streaming) and were generally satisfied with internet reception--partly because our expectations for ship internet are pretty low. The Internet Manager, Danilo, solved a couple of IPhone problems for us, neither of which had much to do with the internet, so we were particularly impressed by him.
We checked our my wife's cough with the Medical Center, and again we thought well of the nurses and doctor there.
On the other hand, we really deplored the lack of a library. Having sailed just last year on Cunard's QM2 made for a painful contrast. I can understand that e-books have reduced the need for ship libraries, and I came myself with a bunch of e-books stored on my tablet, but my wife is among the many who still prefer real books. Even I miss the serendipity of finding something new while browsing a library--I've first met a couple of my favorite authors that way.
Entertainment: They seem to have really cut back on main stage entertainment. It's not just the loss of onboard singers and dancers. The ship's band seemed a bit smaller. And having variety entertainers perform two full shows on a 12-night cruise seemed a bit much. On the other hand, we liked Vox Fortuna very much, and the local kappa group they brought aboard at Dubrovnik was wonderful. Read Less