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12 Holland America Shanghai Cruise Reviews

I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines ... Read More
I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines offer. I enjoyed the itinerary and all the ports visited. However, my experience of the Westerdam was a little disappointing and although the staff were polite and welcoming that really hid the lack of attention to detail and lack of service in some areas. Having spoken to a few guests who had travelled on the Westerdam previously it appeared I was not the only one experiencing a lack of service that would be expected on a ship of this calibre. Keeping it brief I experienced: A wait of over 20 minutes for food from the Dive Inn take-out only to find they had not switched on the little box that notifies you when the food is ready and then served me cold food. Having clothes returned from the laundry where on 3 occasions the clothes were not pressed or part pressed. For the whole cruise (apart form the last 2 nights after I had to highlight this to the waiter) I was not offered any alcoholic drinks with my dinner whilst watching other passengers arriving at their tables with wine, beer or soft drinks waiting for them. Whilst staff would acknowledge you with the obligatory good morning, afternoon or evening the Officers must of believed I was a member of staff because they were arrogant and rude on some occasions and this even includes the Captain who passed me one day and whilst I was attempting to see what his name was I got such a look of distaste, no hello or how can I help you. Being lied to by the EXC team (excursions) in regards to dis-embarkation resulting in many passengers paying $15 for a transfer when in fact there were plenty of options at the dis-embarkation port. The EXC team presented that taxis would be not available and even provided pictures of lines of people queuing for a taxi, there were lots of taxis on stand by! There were other little things which you normally brush off as 'oh well things happen' but a lot of these things add up and just highlighted the lack of control the management had on its staff and service suffered. First time on Holland America and not a good experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have traveled on many HA cruises and still believe that it offers value; but over the years there appears to be a greater focus on profit and less on quality of service. They have definitely lost out to the more luxury lines and it ... Read More
We have traveled on many HA cruises and still believe that it offers value; but over the years there appears to be a greater focus on profit and less on quality of service. They have definitely lost out to the more luxury lines and it shows. We selected this trip as the ports were exotic and the cost of cabin reasonable; and that proved to be true. What changed is the up-charge for everything from bottled water to premium steak in the dining room. We were actually told that on some HA ships that top-of-the menu and second portions are at an added charge; and that this is scheduled to implemented on all ships later this year. The wait staff in both the dining room and the Lido deck were attentive and well trained; there was always someone at the buffet willing to help either carry a plate or find a table. The Lido menu was a bit boring and would imagine to be redundant to those passengers on for 28 days. At times the food on the serving line looked old and dried out but that is likely the effect of heat lamps on less popular dishes that are not replenished as often. Additionally thee should be better crowd control at the more popular food stations as wait times are long and crowd gets anxious. The 3rd deck main dining room is rarely filled and the menu is much leaner than on past cruises. Gone are the cold soups and a lack of a greater variety of appetizers. While steak, fish and chicken plus a vegetarian offering are available every evening, the variety is sometime lacking. I do not cruise to eat meatloaf, fried chicken and liver. The cabin attendants were friendly and did a reasonable job replenishing towels and linens. In earlier cruises HA always supplied a "goody basket" in the BR but that is long gone, as is additional bars of soap. We were in a veranda cabin and unfortunately the weather generally was not conducive to using it but on the one day that we could it was so grimy with sea salt that one wondered if it had been cleaned between cruises. Otherwise ship was older but appeared maintained; public spaces were a bit cramped and lacked areas where one could sit and read or just relax without traffic. We will sail on HA again but only if the trip entices us and the price is right. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem ... Read More
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem we had was with the air conditioning was not strong enough to cool the room enough during the night. The main dining room was good especially in the anytime dining restaurant, food was well presented and there were plenty of menu choices available including regional specialities to suit everyone. The lido was a little bit of a let down, due mainly to the way it was arranged for service. Breakfast was the worst as I had to wait at two different counters to be served my bacon and eggs as the english bacon and sausage were not available on the same counter as the fried eggs or the omelette counter. The dive in was excellent as the burgers are cooked to order with fries etc.... The salad bar was also good with a lot of choice. Entertainment on the main stage was a little disappointing and repetitive, the enrichment program was better and I especially enjoyed the port talks and lectures on the places we visited. The entertainment staff were very visible and I especially enjoyed the trivia and games. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners ... Read More
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners often reflected that as well. Ship is well-maintained. Would sail on this ship again and again. Embarkation process was a little slower than other cruise lines but disembarkation was efficient and smooth. Lectures by Master Kam enhanced the experience in understanding the histories and cultures of the Asian countries we visited. He also conducted tai chi classes that were open to all. Shore excursions were a bit pricey but the Holland American EXC tours that we took were run efficiently and showed us the highlights of the regions that we visited. We also booked some tours with friends. These were less expensive than the HAL tours and often covered the same areas. The ship-sponsored tours have the "convenience factor" and consistently expert guides. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We joined the Westerdam in Shanghai having spent a great week discovering the exciting city of Shanghai. This was my third HAL cruise so my expectations were high. Unfortunately it was very disappointing overall. As a plus Embarkation and ... Read More
We joined the Westerdam in Shanghai having spent a great week discovering the exciting city of Shanghai. This was my third HAL cruise so my expectations were high. Unfortunately it was very disappointing overall. As a plus Embarkation and disembarkation had improved from previous trips. Cabin was standard and clean. Meals were very ordinary and on multiple occasions came to the table cold. Many experienced mariners commented on the HAL deterioration in food/meals compared to previous experiences. Senior staff were informed on several nights but nothing was done. Entertainment by HAL troupe was geared to a younger audience ( screeching, loud nightclub type of music) whenost of the target audience were seniors. Several nights there were excellent classical and pop performers ( one Australian & one English). They made up for the other nights. Initially two nights In Seoul were scheduled but this was changed to one after we booked. Very disappointing. Shore excursions were expensive and most we could have organised ourselves for half the cost ( as we did with Beijing two day trip). I would hesitate to travel with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included some places we had not yet visited. We chose a Signature Suite because it afforded more room for not a large premium. The veranda, although larger than many ships, was not important ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included some places we had not yet visited. We chose a Signature Suite because it afforded more room for not a large premium. The veranda, although larger than many ships, was not important since the weather was too cold to sit out there for even a short amount of time. We were very pleased with our cabin choice (8053) as it was very conveniently located. The cabin had a bathroom with a double bowl vanity, shower stall and tub with shower. Unfortunately, storage space in the bathroom is poor and not very convenient to use. There was only one shelf under the sink, so storage could not be organized. Our two big disappointments were the food, primarily, and the entertainment and shipboard activities, but less so. The menu choices were not as good as we have had on Celebrity, which is a similarly rated ship. On several occasions, food had to be sent back because it arrived cold. Entree choices were somewhat limited; however, the entrees available every day could be substituted, although they were not always very tasty. Portions for the most part are skimpy. I ordered rack of lamb, one of my favorites normally, but was disappointed when the entree came with only 3 small pieces of lamb chops, totalling probably less than 4 ounces of meat. Skimpy was typical of most dinner entrees. Desserts always sounded better than they tasted. They too were skimpy most of the time. The entertainment that was brought onto the ship was fairly good, but shows were short, most of the time less than 45 minutes. The production shows were uninspiring and most of the time lasted only 30 minutes or so. One show was stopped with no explanation and was not finished. We suspected a backstage "event" had occurred - perhaps an injury to a performer. The B. B. King Blues Club was very good and the sing along piano bar, with two pianos and male and female vocalsts, was also very good. Programming on sea days was limited and uninspiring. There were computer classes that were 30 minutes long, but not all computers were connected to the internet, making some of the people unable to fully participate. The one enrichment speaker was very entertaining but he seemed to always run out of time and have to rush through his usually good talks. Overall, it was an average cruise at best. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The ports on this cruise were fabulous. Even though it was cold for the first few weeks, it was well worth going. The crew on Westerdam are some of the best I've come across on any HAL ship. ALL of them were wonderful. The ... Read More
The ports on this cruise were fabulous. Even though it was cold for the first few weeks, it was well worth going. The crew on Westerdam are some of the best I've come across on any HAL ship. ALL of them were wonderful. The cabins however, are tired & need an upgrade. Our bath had a crack in it & poured water all over the floor every time we had a shower. We tried to get them to fix it but, in the end, we fixed it ourselves with gaff tape!! The public rooms however, had been upgraded & were excellent. Food in the MDR was great, as was the service. The Lido however, was another story. Food was usually cold or luke warm & some of the service attendants less than friendly, so we stopped eating there. The entertainment was OK. Production shows were ordinary & so were the guest entertainers. BB's Blues club band were fantastic but played VERY little blues so we stopped going!! The ports were excellent & the guest lecturer Master Kam fantastic. Also, they are now giving lots on talks with info about upcoming ports which, if you are an independent traveller, is invaluable going ashore by yourself. The ship's shore excursions that we went on were all good. Only problem, of course, is rude inconsiderate people who WON'T be back at the bus at the specified time making everyone else wait for them & losing sightseeing time at the next stop. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise because we love cruising in Asia and we prefer cooler weather over hot and humid weather. Holland America has a kind of a laid back atmosphere that we enjoy but their sea days are lacking in things to do. We did enjoy ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we love cruising in Asia and we prefer cooler weather over hot and humid weather. Holland America has a kind of a laid back atmosphere that we enjoy but their sea days are lacking in things to do. We did enjoy the lecturers on the various ports of call. They have worked on having better entertainment with piano players in the billboard on board lounge and BB King in the other lounge which was really good. The main show room was kind of a hit or miss, sometimes good and other times not so good. The singers and dancers from the ship were talented but the routines they did needs improvement because they sang a lot of songs we didn't recognize. The food in the Lido and Main Dining room was above average but a lot of the same kind of food. We did enjoy going to the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant (specialty restaurant) to have their crab legs and that was really good! The crew's overall service was very good. Had trouble 3 times with the guest services, 1st one was with exchanging money, they had me stand in 3 lines which took up a lot of time waiting, 2nd was when we received a note saying that after the first leg of our cruise (14 days, we were upgraded to 4 star Mariner), sent our laundry out but they charged our room for the service, eventually they took if off our bill but have to meet with them twice before it happened. 3rd, we received a note stating that on disembarking if we needed a wheelchair to report to the Pinnacle Bar 15 minutes prior to when we want to get off. We did report with other people but no one there with wheel chairs so I went to guest services and they said to just go back to the Pinnacle Bar and someone will meet us. We waited another 1/2 hour (1 hour by now), no one came so we decided to get off since we made private transportation reservations only to find the wheel chairs located on the second floor at the Ocean Bar. It was upsetting because when we got there and asked to have a wheel chair, the staff said there were a lot of people waiting and we would have to patient and wait our turn and that our color and number has not been called yet which really upset me. I told her our number was called over a hour ago and then she gave us the next wheel chair that was available. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have gone on several Holland America cruises in the past, but my 28-day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore is the last one I will ever take with Holland America. I agree with all the negative comments of the previous posters and have a ... Read More
I have gone on several Holland America cruises in the past, but my 28-day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore is the last one I will ever take with Holland America. I agree with all the negative comments of the previous posters and have a few more. The people who were satisfied must have never cruised before. A big disappointment was that in most ports we didn’t dock where the other cruise ships docked but at commercial docks that where cranes were loading and unloading freight all day. However, for $6.00 to $12.00 HAL would shuttle you into town. Once or twice it was free. The final straw, however, was when they didn’t get me to my flight at the end of the cruise. I had paid HAL for the shuttle service so I would be sure to get picked up when I arrived and get back to the airport for my flight when the cruise ended. When the ship informed me what time the shuttle was going to leave to take me to the airport, I immediately went to the front desk and told them I didn’t I would get to the airport in time for my flight. I was assured that I would not have any problems. The next morning while I was waiting for my turn to be shuttled, I went back to the front desk and asked to be transported to the airport sooner. Once again, I was told I would get there in plenty of time. They were wrong. I missed my flight. I called Holland America and was told they would book me on another flight, but I would have to pay for it. They recommended I contact Guest Relations when I got back to the US and request a reimbursement for the extra flight. I called. That was interesting. Guest Relations said they should not have sold me the transportation because company policy required a four-hour minimum time period between leaving the ship and the flight time; therefore, they could not reimburse me for the extra flight cost. They offered to reimburse me for the transportation service. When I mentioned that I gave the clerk my flight times when I booked the transportation and wasn’t told about the four-hour policy, Guest Relations said, “The clerk made a mistake selling you the transportation and that was why HAL would reimburse the transportation fee.” I want to say something positive about HAL, but nothing comes to mind. It is a company that no longer cares about the passengers. I would have given them two stars if They had gotten me to the airport on time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply. My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East. We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship ... Read More
Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply. My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East. We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship VOLENDAM) in Shanghai China. Prior to the cruise I was informed by my external cruise agent’s documentation that a visa was required for entry into China. I researched the visa process and discovered that the Chinese embassies in the UK, located in Manchester and London utilise external agencies to process and issue access visas for China. I accessed online the SHANGHAI GENERAL STATION OF IMMIGRATION INSPECTION. The document listed several visa exemption possibilities depending upon your travel schedule. There are several visa agencies online and be aware, the charges vary considerably from £175.00 to £250.00 per person, and the process is not straight forward. Having explored various cruise advice pages on the web, it was intimated that there is a facility for Chinese visa exemption depending upon how many days you would be in China and where your cruise schedule was destined. I contacted my cruise agent and they were no help at all, stating that it was the passenger’s responsibility to sort it all out and they the agent would not provide any guidance apart from a contact number for CIBIT Visa processing agents (who just happen to be the most expensive visa processing company). E-mailed the British Embassy in Shanghai, yes, thank-you for your e-mail, but we don’t answer any questions concerned with visas, (so I wonder what they do, do over there.) Next, I contacted Holland and America, not a lot of help or enthusiasm there, same story they were not really interested, but they did have a visa specialist in America who may be able to answer my question, “do I need a visa for entry to China when I will only be in china for a short duration before sailing on to Japan, within 48 hours?” Well thank you, H&M, could you contact your specialist visa person and get back to me, yes, they didn’t. After 3 phone calls to H&M, three different advisers, eventually they decided that for this cruise as we were only in China for 30 hours and were going to a third party country (Japan) we did not need a visa. So, 7 days before we go, a letter arrives from Holland America via my cruise agent informing us that a visa is required for China. Grrr, frustration, once again contacted H&M, who were at this point not sure don’t think you need a visa, but here is a number for the visa agency we recommend so I could check with them, (just happened to also be the most expensive visa agent.) Success, rang the visa agent, informed them of my itinery travel plans, and they assured me a visa was not required. So, feeling 90% sure we did not require a visa, we set off to Manchester airport, at check-in they told us we needed a China entry visa, we said no we didn’t, they checked and verified we did not need one, the same situation in Amsterdam initially refused check in without a visa, Amsterdam checked and verified we did not require a visa. When we arrived at Shanghai airport, there was a special passport checking area for the issue of visa exemptions. Passport control checked our travel itinery cruise documentation and issued permits, process took approximately 20 minutes. Be very, very careful if you need a taxi at the airport, there are numerous taxis touts at the airport entrance that are not officially, registered taxis. We agreed a price for the 20 mile drive to the cruise terminal. I am sure that he was a racing car and dodgems driver in his spare time, horrendous journey to the cruise port and then he asked for more money, holding our luggage to ransom in the boot of his taxi and would not unload it until we paid double the fare. We conversed with many UK Passengers over the next 14 days, many repeated the same visa verification nightmare, and in every case they had purchased very expensive China access visas, when they did not need them, because no one could or would give them positive visa requirements information. And yes this is a long story, but if it’s saved you £500.00 it’s been worth reading. And, so to the cruise ship itself, overall, average in every aspect. There were plenty of sitting/relaxing areas, good, as most cruise ships appear to have their relaxing areas replaced with specialist premium cost dining. Cabin was cramped due to excessive furniture. The dining experience, average in choice of menu and food quality and quantity. Standard cruise line overpriced drinks. The entertainment 50% outstanding (ships singers and dancers) the rest was dire with the exception of an outstanding guest violinist. The service was outstanding in every aspect. Ports of call, all city type, hence the overpowering traffic pollution. Interesting experience and lots to see and do. Shore excursions, they were probably the most expensive that I have ever come across, on any of the previous 14 cruises that we have experienced, hence, we did our own thing. There were very few children on the cruise. Would I go again, probably not, we enjoyed the experience and observing the different cultures, but in some respects it was all much of the same. The cruise line does need to offer promotional inducements, I doubt that we will be sailing with Holland America in the future. AND TO ALL YOU CRUISE COMPANIES AND AGENTS YOU DISAPPOINT ME, I EXPECT BETTER SERVICE, VERY EXPEDIENTLY YOU TAKE OUR MONEY, AND ARE CLEARLY NOT INTERESTED IN OUR WELFARE. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Frankly, I chose this particular cruise because I got a good deal! I had cruised before and loved it (though my husband did not!) and from the moment of that first cruise, I knew I wanted to take my grown daughter on a cruise with me. ... Read More
Frankly, I chose this particular cruise because I got a good deal! I had cruised before and loved it (though my husband did not!) and from the moment of that first cruise, I knew I wanted to take my grown daughter on a cruise with me. She's like me -- very outgoing, loves games, loves starting conversations with people at the next table, etc. So I decided to ask her if she'd be willing to go on such a long cruise with me and leave my lovely granddaughters at home with their Dad so Erica and I could have a mother-daughter outing. And as I suspected, Erica loved the cruise. We had so much fun taking advantage of all the shipboard activities like trivia and bingo (I won $145 one day and a cruise for two another day!!!), meeting and getting to know people from all over the world, and making friends with another mother-daughter set whom we are going to visit in Holland for the new year! My daughter was the hit of the cruise -- every time we got on the elevator, by the time we reached our destination floor, we were buddies with everyone else on the elevator. The food was good, the staff was wonderful, and we just had a fabulous time. Now we are planning to augment the cruise for two I won by taking her husband and my granddaughters, and yes, even my husband on a cruise next year! I think I made a believer out of her!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Chose this cruise as HAL always has excellent itineraries and we were meeting up with old cruise friends. Our Volendam is going into dry-dock in two weeks but I fear that will not be enough time to update our favorite ship. Despite a ... Read More
Chose this cruise as HAL always has excellent itineraries and we were meeting up with old cruise friends. Our Volendam is going into dry-dock in two weeks but I fear that will not be enough time to update our favorite ship. Despite a revised itinerary and missing a port of call (partially weather and partially politics) passengers were pleased with our little gem of a ship. We had a disastrous experience at the Pinnacle Grill and much prefer the gracious and professional service of the dining room staff. . We never take ship's excursions. The staff, especially Josh, was calm, collected, and professional working with passengers during a very trying time with revised itineraries. Entertainment was proper for this ship. The singers and dancers really worked hard and it was apparent. There should have been more attention placed on health restrictions as 20 - 30% of passengers had respiratory problems. We probably will not go back on the Volendam as we have traveled on her 3 times and covered most of her itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
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