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11 Vancouver to Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

We selected this cruise for the itinerary for 43 days. We wanted to see Hawaii, some of the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand. We opted for a Neptune Suite which had the perk of the Lounge, which we thoroughly enjoyed and ... Read More
We selected this cruise for the itinerary for 43 days. We wanted to see Hawaii, some of the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand. We opted for a Neptune Suite which had the perk of the Lounge, which we thoroughly enjoyed and used a lot for an intimate continental breakfast and lite bites throughout the days at sea. The suite itself had very comfortable beds and an abundance of space but horribly uncomfortable chairs at the desk and coffee table. It was also miserable to have a full meal served inside on the coffee table so we did not do that very often. The food that we enjoyed the most was in the Pinnacle Grill which had excellent meat and side dishes simply and tastefully prepared; not drowned in some weird 'gourmet' sauce. For that reason we avoided the main dining room and for the fact that green salads were very scarce on that menu. It was gourmet fare, which we don't enjoy, and required patience to wait for service. We took advantage of the salad bar in the Lido every night, frequently to the exclusion of other entrees offered and stuck with ice cream for dessert. I lost 10 pounds as a result...pretty good for a 43 day cruise! We are avid readers so loaded our Kindles and did not participate in ship activities or entertainment other than the casino and Bingo. I am mobility challenged and have found that I cannot fully participate in large bus tours so did not arrange but 2 with Holland America. I arranged private tours on my own. Accessiblity on the ship itself was very good. The most outstanding part of the cruise was the service. It was absolutely impeccable while on board. However, I was dropped on my own to disembark since I didn't request a wheelchair but I had a walker and luggage and was not offered any help from the ship into the luggage area. Miserable! Yes, I will consider Holland America for another cruise but maybe on a different ship with nicer décor. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our 6th cruise and the third aboard ms Noordam, our last cruise was back to back on this ship on the Med. And we really enjoyed that. So based on our previous Hal experience we booked Alaska on the Nieuw Amsterdam... ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise and the third aboard ms Noordam, our last cruise was back to back on this ship on the Med. And we really enjoyed that. So based on our previous Hal experience we booked Alaska on the Nieuw Amsterdam... EXCELLENT. The Noordam was a 29 night PACIFIC CROSSING and our expectations were high based on Hal experiences. BUT, our STATEROOM ( nice as it was, clean and neat with balcony) was on deck 8, number 8071. On day one late afternoon enjoying the obligatory wine on our balcony we were deafened by noise coming from directly above us from the "Dive In" grill. The noise was so disturbing it drove us into our stateroom AND continued until well past 10pm. THIS CONTINUED EVERY DAY, same time for the remaining 28 nights of our cruise. Complaining was a waste of our time. 8071 is mid ship next to the glass lifts.. they cause no problem ( quiet). From my investigation the workroom directly above is no issue until their clean up commences at about 4.30pm. HOLLAND AMERICA CREW must be aware of this horrific issue, they must have records of previous complaints unless prior occupants were totally deaf! SO HERE IS MY RECOMMENDATION.... AVOID STATEROOM 8071 like the plague! I can't complain about anything on this ship accept this STATEROOM. A " Clayton's offer" to level 5 directly below revealed obscured views and the top of lifeboats... for we paid a premium for 8071! I could not find any deck plan that detailed the "dive in" above this STATEROOM. HAL HAVE PROBABLY PUT US IN THE "Complaining category ", so beware sea travelers, you have been warned! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
There were two problems with embarkation in Vancouver, B.C.: the helpers didn't know where the luggage was to be dropped and the sign to Customs was not marked at all. We were on a B2B and in Honolulu the Guest Services manager ... Read More
There were two problems with embarkation in Vancouver, B.C.: the helpers didn't know where the luggage was to be dropped and the sign to Customs was not marked at all. We were on a B2B and in Honolulu the Guest Services manager bungled things for the 162 consecutive cruisers by first trying to write our names on the crews' hands to remember who we were. Finally someone came up with a document for our names/cabin #'s. MTD was good for our group except for 2 times there was an issue. We received our dining tickets every day but quickly figured out it was the host who seemed to be in over her head & messed up the reservations. There were too many MTD diners versus regular diners. We did have an issues with all the announcements by the cruise director: I can read the Cruise Compass for myself, or find it on TV, or on the computer screen at every elevator - I don't need him to read it every morning and every afternoon. Debarkation in Sydney went fast - we carried our luggage ourselves and were off within 15 minutes of leaving our cabin. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
On September 9 my wife and I boarded Celebrity's Solstice in Vancouver for a back to back cruise Hawaii and then on to Australia and New Zealand. This was our 12th cruise with Celebrity and we had already been on Solstice's ... Read More
On September 9 my wife and I boarded Celebrity's Solstice in Vancouver for a back to back cruise Hawaii and then on to Australia and New Zealand. This was our 12th cruise with Celebrity and we had already been on Solstice's sister ships so the layout and mechanics were very familiar. Boarding itself was painless and Vancouver knows how to organize it right. We were checked and and onboard in less than 30 minutes. Our stateroom was also ready, a pleasant surprise. Our cabin steward turned out to be the absolute best we have had both on Celebrity and on other lines - amiable, discreet, learned our schedule and always had the room ready when we needed it. Absolutely top notch. The first disappointment came with the Dining Room. We first noticed that the Menu format had been changed, apparently with the only purpose of discouraging passengers from ordering both an appetizer and soup or salad. Before,these had been presented as separate sections. Now, they are all lumped together, causing the impression that you need to choose one or the other. We continued to order both. The quality of the food had definitely deteriorated from our last Celebrity cruise late last year. There seems to be a very heavy reliance on serving braised cheaper cuts of meat, The soups were very hit or miss - one day the French Onion soup (a permanent offering) was excellent, the next almost inedible. Most of the other soups were just bad, I was offered a 'Pasta Fagiole' which had neither pasta nor beans, just a thin, watery tomato concotion. There also seems to be an aversion to any vegetables - on the rare occasion when one (Green beans) appeared with the entree the portion was so small as to be laughable. It appears that they are considered decoration, not part of the meal. One of the Assistant Maitre D's told us that further cuts to the menu are in the offing. The cafeteria was pretty standard in terms of its offerings and service. We did observe that some of the staff didn't seem to have their heart in their job. I once spent a long time waiting for some fries while a pan full of them was sitting 3 feet away from me and the server continued to chat with a colleague. When I finally called their attention they both seemed to be quite put out. The bar service was another huge disappointment. Not only did we have to send drinks back because of no perceivable alcoholic content but we were routinely served drinks where inexplicable mistakes were made. My wife ordered a frozen Margarita which turned out to have been made with tonic water. I ordered a Vodka and Tonic which was made with Club Soda, And, to be clear, all this took place when there was no rush or crush of people at the bar. At $10 a drink Celebrity could certainly do better. Entertainment was just awful. The live music in the main Atrium was OK, the usual but by 10:00 at night it was all gone and the ship was as silent as a tomb. The offferings in the Main theater were beyond mediocre and the ship could only bring itself to offer a movie in the movie theater twice - at the same time is was being shown on the in-room TV. Throughout the ship (and this is unfortunately true of almost every line now) the nice nooks and crannies where you could stop, sit, relax or read have all been turned into revenue-generating activities, The library is nice but tiny. In short, I'm afraid that what we commented on here is just a reflection of Celebrity's changing direction in terms of less service to the passenger. We're scheduled to sail on Millenium in January - will wait to see if these criticisms were unique to Solstice or if they reflect a different policy on Celebrity's part. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met ... Read More
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met our expectations and pleasantly so. We knew the average age would be senior and often less mobile, but that was ok. This was our first retirement getaway and we were under no time pressure. The cabin was prefect #6047. Midway between the main decks of #3 (dining and entertainment) and #9 (cafe, spa/gym, sun decks and pools). Not only did we get into the routine of using the gym and spa everyday, but we rarely used the elevators (only 6x's I remember). Cabin was as per our expectations. Lots of storage, a nice balcony, and a very comfortable bed as were the pillows. The cabin stewards, Rudi & Lee, were excellent and accommodating. The TV screen was small (14"+/-) and could have been larger as the 4 movies shown each day were well selected. Not that you couldn't choose from a large selections from the CD catalogue (free!). This is not to say we watched a lot of TV, but for what we did watch, the TV could have been larger. Food offerings were very good. The Lido cafeteria has nearly everything you would want for breakfast lunch and dinner. The more formal (mostly Smart Casual and once weekly Formal) Vista dining room was very good for dinner. Portions were smartly presented and were small in size, but a simple request for a larger portion when ordering was always pleasantly accepted. And second helpings are not an issue. Basically I saw this as a way to keep food waste to a minimum. We didn't try either of the "specialty" restaurants. We couldn't justify the added surcharge. But I did hear from many others that they very much like those offerings. We did take advantage of room service breakfast nearly everyday. Very effective way of starting each day. Overall we were very happy with this first cruise. Entertainment was very entertaining, and different every night over 25 nights. A very professionally run theatre program. We took full advance of the health club facilities and paid the surcharge for use of the hydro-thermal pool, steam rooms and thermal-beds (Love these!!!). For the 25 day cruise, these were well worth the surcharge. The administration and execution of activities, events and embarkation/disembarkation at the start, end and each port was well organized. If we have any criticism of the cruise, it was the background music and the age of the musical entertainment offerings. Yes, the average age of the guests were closer to 70+/-, but even a 70yr old was listening and concerting to Rock and Roll in the 60's and 70's. I am sure some entertainment playing music from the early Rolling Stone's, the Beatle's, CSNY I am confident would have been appreciated. I am only 55, but if I am on a ship when I'm 70, they better be playing music from "the Lost 80's". Hope this helps the next passenger. Ahoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our third cruise on the Volendam during past six years.Chose the transpacific repositioning cruise to visit LA, Hawaii and Pago Pago for the first time. We had no problem with the age of the ship and the condition of it. Very clean and ... Read More
Our third cruise on the Volendam during past six years.Chose the transpacific repositioning cruise to visit LA, Hawaii and Pago Pago for the first time. We had no problem with the age of the ship and the condition of it. Very clean and well presented.....and the flower arrangements!!!! Amazing that given the problem on the Alaskan cruise prior to this cruise that for 24 nights the problem didnot resurface, thanks to the wonderful crew and also the passengers for doing their bit to prevent it happening. The crew are wonderful at doing their work in such confined spaces and the hours they work. Always cheerful!! The food: Lido Restaurant catered for all tastes. Rotterdam menu has changed somewhat leading to a slight disappointment from our previous cruise. The activities keep one very busy every day. Thoroughly enjoyed the Hawaiian lead up from Long Beach to arrival in Hilo and Honolulu. The evening entertainment in the Showroom was great, catering for all tastes. Thank you to the crew of the Volendam, we look forward to sailing with you again and seeing the refurbishment results. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Review Star Princess Vancouver - Sydney Sep 21 - Oct 24 2009 We combined a coastal Vancouver - San Francisco with a Trans Pacific to make this a 32 day cruise. We spent the weekend in Victoria and took the bus from downtown Victoria ... Read More
Review Star Princess Vancouver - Sydney Sep 21 - Oct 24 2009 We combined a coastal Vancouver - San Francisco with a Trans Pacific to make this a 32 day cruise. We spent the weekend in Victoria and took the bus from downtown Victoria to Vancouver. Checked our bags at the bus and didn't see them again until they were delivered to our cabin. That is a great service. We arrived in Vancouver around 1:30 and was onboard by 2:00. We had cabin B601 which is a midship standard balcony room. We asked the steward for an eggcrate and it was on the bed that same evening. Our steward was a very quiet young man from The Philipines and even after 32 days we hadn't got to know him. We only said hello in the hallways when we saw him. We started out with Late Traditional Dining but after a few days changed to Anytime Dining as one of our tablemates was intolerable. He drank a bottle of wine by himself every night, and sometimes was drunk when he arrived, and would want to discuss controversial topics. After about 3 nights of this we looked at each other and said we don't have to put up with this for 30 days. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed the anytime dining option. We usually went to the Fifth Floor dining room around 7:30 and never had to wait for a table. We always said we would share and had some delightful company. We have decided that we will chose Anytime dining in the future when there is just the two of us travelling. We had some of the best entertainment on this cruise that we have ever had. We were extremely impressed with the band playing in Explorers Lounge. They were called Liquid Blue and was a very talented group. There were only a couple acts that we didn't like. We liked the soft serve ice cream available all day in the pool area. That is a nice new feature. The hamburgers are always good out there as well. I had one most days for lunch as I really don't enjoy the buffet that much. I think it is just me as I saw many loaded down plates so the food must be good for most people. There were the usual chair hogs at the pool area. One day I was out there and finally snagged a chair near the pool. There were towels on the two chairs beside me with nobody sitting in them for about one hour. They finally came and not only had towels on those two chairs in the sun but also two chairs behind them in the shade. I couldn't help but tell them my view on that. They didn't appreciate it.. Now for the ports and what we did: Hilo: We booked a tour through shore trips.com called KALAPANA VOLCANO ADVENTURE. We have booked with Shoretrips before and wasn't disappointed. We were met by the owner of the Paradise Excursions, Frank, in his SUV. We were the only two guests so it was very personalized service. We had a great day and we even introduced him to geocaching. Since we came home we heard from him that he has introduced a geocaching option to his tours. LaHaina: This was a tender port so we did a Princess shore excursion here. We did the Rainforest and Waterfall Hiking tour. It was very well done and we got to swim in two different waterfalls over the walk. Our guide was a very nice guy and he introduced us to quite a few different Hawaiin foods that can be found in the rainforest . Bora Bora: We went on a private tour here arranged by one of our CC friends. The company we used was www.maohinui.net. This is a company o wned and operated by Patrick. He has had excellent reviews on Cruise Critic and he didn't disappoint us. We had reserved 3 outrigger canoes for our group and I think there were 12 of us in each canoe. We stopped to visit the stingrays first and then we visited sharks. They were harmless reef sharks but it was still kind of daunting to get in the water with sharks around. Some of us just held unto the outrigger and snorkled from there but others braved the open water. After the sharks, we went to a motu where they had a traditional oven built in the sand and was cooking a suckling pig. They opened the oven for us and it had other goodies as well. They also had a BBQ going with lobster on the grill. It was a great meal served with champagne and /or beer. We did a complete circle around the island over the tour so we could see all the hotels with their rooms over the water. On the way back, Patrick dropped some of us off at Bloody Marys where we got a taxi back to the ship for $5.00 each. Papeete: We had planned on taking a private 4x4 excursion with Patrick but he had problems with his vehicle so we decided to take a similar Princess excursion instead. It wasn't all that great of an excursion although we did get to see alot of the interior of Tahiti. It may have been that it was raining quite heavily. All in all, Papeete was our least favourite stop on the entire cruise. After we returned to the ship, we went back out to do a bit of shopping. It is very expensive here. Moorea: This was a great day. I had arranged for a tour with Albert's Transport for our Cruise Critic group (http://www.albert-transport.net/p3_gb.asp). They met us at the dock shortly after we were tendered in. We paid $88.00 per person for all day on their Lagoon Tour. They have two catamarans that hold 60 people and we had 48 booked with us as well as two native musicians.. Our first stop was to swim with the stingrays while the sharks swimming around us. Our driver was Sooky(sp?) and he had fish to feed the stingrays and sharks. We had thought the day in Bora Bora couldn't be beat but this was even better. We could stand in the water and Sooky would bring the stingrays up to us for us to pet. The sharks kept their distance but there were lots of them swimming around. We headed to the Motu where the BBQ was heated up. He showed us how to make Poisson Cru and then we had the BBQ'ed chicken and tuna along with several different salads. .We had lots of time to swim and snorkle on the beach. After lunch he showed us how to open a coconut and get the coconut milk out of it. It was an excellent day. There was shopping on the tender dock and the prices were much better than in Papeete. Apia: I had arranged a tour with Mark Bertwistle from Berties B&B http://www.berties.org/tours.html Unfortunately, while we were enroute to the islands, the tsunami hit Samoa and our tour had to be modified somewhat. Mark was at the pier to meet us when we arrived. Our first stop was to visit the Robert Louis Stevensons Museum, which is lovely, then to the Bahaii Temple and then to a beach. This is where we had to change our itinerary as the beach we were scheduled to go was wiped out by the tsunami. He did find another lovely beach for us though and the water was like a bath, it was so warm. Because of the change of venue, our lunch was also changed to BBQed hamburgers and sausages and he had potato salad and coleslaw and bottled water. It was supposed to have been a traditional Samoan lunch menu. He stopped at a store where we could have bought soft drinks. During lunch some people went across the road and found a store to buy beer. The lady who lived there also allowed some of us to use her house to change into dry clothes. It is a beautiful island and we saw little evidence of the tsunami although there were quite a few new graves. Pago Pago: Another CC member had arranged a tour with Tisa of Tisa's Barefoot Bar. http://www.tisasbarefootbar.com/default.aspx She took us on a tour of the island and then ended at her beach bar. This island had also been hit by the tsunami and there was quite a bit of damage to be seen in the town. It is a beautiful island. Her beach bar is quite nice, the beach is a little rocky so beach shoes are needed. I didn't do any snorkling but others did and said there were some nice fish and coral. She served us a meal of chicken and potato salad. Another enjoyable day. Suva, Fiji: I had arranged a day with Discover Fiji Tours http://discoverfijitours.com/jewel_fiji.html We did Tour 1 which was called the Triple Challenge, Canoe,waterfalls and rafting. Unfortunately, the rain was pouring the day we were there and we were all drenched. It didn't dampen our enthusiasm and we had a great time. . We went by bus from the cruise terminal to the village where we were given life jackets and headed to the canoes. They stored our bags for us and gave us plastic ponchos to put over us. They didn't keep us dry but did keep the wind off of us while we went up the river in the motorized canoe. We went up some rapids, which was fun and ended up at a path to go to the waterfalls. The walk to the waterfall could be challenging for some people but most of us did the walk. When we got to the bottom of the waterfall, our guide said that they usually swim there. I decided to go in but nobody else joined me. I thought that since I was already wet, why not. The water temperature was actually warmer than the air temperature so it was quite comfortable. On the way back my husband and the guide jumped into the river from the cliff. We had lunch at the river bank (in the rain) and then took the bamboo rafts down the river part of the way. We transferred over to the canoes and went to meet our bus. There was some kind of misunderstanding about where we were supposed to dock and ended up having to go further down the river to meet the bus. They gave us hot coffee at the end and a place to change into dry clothes. It was a fun day but I think this would have been an awesome day if the weather had been good Auckland, NZ: I had arranged a tour for some of our CC group with Coast2Coast tours http://www.coast2coastnz.com/ Stewart, the owner, met us at the dock shortly after we landed. Our first stop was at a craft shop to look at locally made crafts. There were beautiful things at the store made by many different craftspeople. We then went to a nature habitat. Then to their sheep farm where we were served lunch, and what a lunch it was. We had BBQed lamb, quiche, chutney, honey glazed yam, salad and vegetables. All of it was delicious. There were 14 of us and Donna welcomed us to their home as if we were family. After lunch we went to the opening of a new tourist information centre where we met the New Zealand Prime Minister and had our picture taken with him. From there we went to a winery to do some wine tasting, then to BeesOnLine to taste some honey, to a gannet colony and then back to the farm where Donna had tea and dessert ready for us. After tea, we toured the farm, held a baby lamb, watched Stewart shear a sheep, and planted a tree on our behalf. It was the best tour I have ever taken and we were all sad to leave the farm. It was like leaving home. We didn't leave Auckland until 10 pm so there was time to do some walking around before we sailed. Wellington: We had arranged to a tour with Seal Coast Safari http://www.sealcoast.com/ We took the shuttle to the I Centre to meet the tour which left there at 10 am. It was a cold rainy day which took some of the enjoyment out of the day but the scenery was beautiful, what we could see of it. Since it was raining, we couldn't see very far at the lookouts. We did see some seals on the beach. We had to return the same way we came as it was a Sunday and the return road is closed on Sundays so locals can walk in the area. We walked back to the ship but we could have taken the shuttle back. We wanted to do some geocaching on the way back and did manage to get two geocaches. Christchurch: We went on a tour that was arranged by another CC member with Indigenous Tours. http://www.itrails.co.nz/Indigenous_Trails/Katoro_Heritage_Trail__IDL=1_IDT=1953_ID=16538_.html We were met on the dock in Lyttleton by the bus. We went over the mountains to Christchurch and it is quite an astounding view from the top. Our first stop was at a Maori Village where we were greeted by fierce looking warriors and after we were determined not to be threatening to the tribe they performed songs and dances for us. We did a tour of the wildlife habitat and got to see kiwis and other birds and animals. Then we went to the river where we rowed the war canoe and weaved flax. They served us a sandwich for lunch. We headed back to Chirstchurch where they dropped us off to do some shopping and then picked us up again to take us to the ship. It was a very nice day. Dunedin: I had arranged a tour with Chris Roberts of Back to Nature Tours http://www.backtonaturetours.co.nz/index.html Chris met us at the dock with a van and our driver was Anthony. He was a very good guide. We toured around the town of Dunedin, then to Lanarch Castle and then headed out to the Otaga Peninsula where we saw lots of birds and then went to a pub for lunch. Anthony even played the piano and sang for us. After lunch we headed to the Penguin Place which is quite neat. We were given a talk about the penguins and then we were driver out to the colony where they have built blinds so we won't disturb the penguins. This is spring and the penguins are nesting so they weren't up and about much but we could see them in their nests. In this area they have Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins. After the penguin colony we went to the Albatross Colony where we could see the albatross flying around. From there we headed back to the port and the ship. Sydney: We arrived in Sydney early in the morning. We were scheduled to leave the ship at 9:45 and we left almost exactly on schedule. From there we had arranged our own tours in Australia before flying home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
BACKGROUND INFORMATION I am a 58 year old who has taken four cruises in my life. I travelled with my wife on this cruise and this was our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia. We did not choose this itinerary, just the ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION I am a 58 year old who has taken four cruises in my life. I travelled with my wife on this cruise and this was our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia. We did not choose this itinerary, just the ship as it was the perfect way for us to return to Australia from a Round-the-World trip. While this review may seem overly critical, I think it is important to report the good with the bad so that is what I have tried to do. The cruise concept was good, but it wasn't the sensation that I've come to expect from Royal Caribbean. Overall, I don't think I can honestly recommend this ship. EMBARKATION Embarkation from Vancouver was smooth. We arrived at the pier around 12.00 noon and we were able to check in quickly. The process was organized but not as quick as previous cruises on which I've sailed. The staterooms were not ready until 2:00, but everyone was free to explore the ship. The Windjammer buffet was set up with a buffet lunch so most of the passengers were congregating there (it quickly became unpleasantly crowded as you can imagine). Luggage delivery was efficient; all of our bags had arrived at our cabin door by 2.15. CREW / SERVICE The crew was among the friendliest we have come across, with the exception of the Guest Services staff members. The majority were always cheerful and saying hello. Every crew member I encountered was smiling, friendly and displayed a genuine eagerness to help, with the exception of Guest Services who did nothing about genuine grievances, except to promise action - which never came! While the service was not quite as polished as, say, a Celebrity or a Holland America ship, we found it to be acceptable. Service in the dining room during dinner was slow and unprofessional at times (forgotten desserts, missing soup spoons, and very sluggish service) but overall it was average. Stateroom attendant service was excellent. Our steward quickly learned our schedule and accommodated us perfectly! ! STATEROOMS While the staterooms were dated, they were comfortable and ours was kept clean. We stayed in a Junior Suite, having been upgraded from deck seven. The stateroom itself was very spacious and met our expectation. That was until the ships engines stared and the stateroom began to severely vibrate. The cruise was for a period of thirty days and the stateroom vibrated severely for the majority of the cruise unless the ship was in port or moored. In total the ship vibrated for all the thirty days with the exception of three nights and eleven periods ranging from one to eleven hours. The vibration was so severe that we finally arranged for another cabin to sleep in as the bed was vibrating as much as two inches and sleep was almost impossible.., We took to sleeping while the ship was docked or anchored. The issue was reported to Cruiseco and to RCI Guest Services but between the two nothing was achieved until we were allocated a sleeping cabin after leaving Honolulu. Our Eighth Deck balcony suite was spacious, well laid out and very clean. We had plenty of storage space and there were lots of little cubby holes hidden all over the room. Beds had nice, crisp and fresh new bedding and were comfortable. A hair dryer was provided as was a pre-stocked mini refrigerator. The refrigerator had none of those "you touch it you bought it" sensors so you could put your own items in there without worry; this came in handy during the cruise. We also had a large fold-out couch and two sofa chairs. It was the nicest sofa I've ever had on any cruise. The balcony was adequate however there was a lot of rust and peeling paint. The balcony was equipped with two comfortable chairs and a small side table. The dividers between cabins weren't the most private either, as you can just be standing on your balcony and see your neighbors. If you peered around the side, you can see into other staterooms. I know this is an issue on most balcony cabins, but these seemed the least private of any ship. DINING Let me preface this by saying that the food on Royal Caribbean overall has vastly been improved since my last sailing with them. That being said, I still think it has some of the most average food of any major cruise line. The food in the dining room is much better presented than the food offered in the Windjammer Cafe, room service, or at the Solarium snack bar, however this was limited in choice if you were allergic to or did not like seafood. Edelweiss Main Dining Room menu in the main dining room at dinner was limited if you were not interested in seafood and duck! So much so that after the first leg of our cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii we ate in the Windjammer Cafe where the food was as good, just not presented on a plate, and the atmosphere more relaxed and friendly As others have reported, we also felt our chairs / table vibrating during dinner. We were seated on deck four and this happened on most nights while enroute to Hawaii. It didn't bother me, but it did feel like you were getting a nice massage with dinner! The cost of the wine was outrageous, with bottles of Australian wine cost as much as five times the price the are sold on a retail basis in Australia. While we all are adult enough to realize that cruise ships are there to make a profit the cost of wine was a blatant rip off, especially with all the sublime threats made concerning the bringing of your own wine or liquor on board! Windjammer Cafe: At dinner time, the Windjammer would serve some of the same items that were for dinner in the Edelweiss Dining Room. The quality was as good as that in the dining room, just not presented on a plate. Breakfast selections varied slightly each morning, but you could always find fruit, bacon, sausage, hot oatmeal, a good variety of cereal, a made to order omelette station, and a nice selection of breads and pastries. Juices were available at breakfast. ENTERTAINMENT Average! Some of the headline shows were good but overall it left a lot to be desired with repeat acts being presented that were far below average quality. While the showroom was really nice, the entertainment was on the whole the worst I have ever experienced on a supposedly First Class Cruise Ship.. There was no variety and most nights I just felt so bad for the ships entertainers. They were giving it their all, but it just wasn't very good. I guess when a ship is full of non-lively passengers; you'd expect the entertainment to be very, very low-key. SHIP The ship is really showing her age. We had a balcony cabin and the entire balcony had rust spots and chipped paint. The railing was worn and needed to be re-varnished. To their credit, Royal Caribbean did have painters and maintenance workers at work while during the cruise, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. The rooms and common areas are dated. The showroom was well laid out with seats were reasonable. It wasn't a terrible ship, but it was probably the worst I've ever been on. I do not recommend choosing this ship for your trip. DISEMBARKING Very organized and reasonably quick! We were off the ship by 8.00 a.m. The color coded tag system worked great and they were very careful not to crowd the gangway, and it was fairly painless. As a nice touch, the ship had the main dining room open and the Windjammer Cafe open the morning of arrival, and it was much appreciated. We were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before our numbers were called. It was so much better than having to sit around and do nothing. Claiming our luggage was easy and fast. A taxi stand outside provides for quick travel. OVERALL This was the most disappointing cruise I have taken. Having paid almost A$17,000 for the thirty day cruise I was not pleased with the Cruiseco representative on board from Vancouver to Hawaii or the Royal Caribbean International Guest Services staff who did nothing to alleviate our stress and anxiety caused by a Junior Suite that severely vibrated for almost all of the cruise. We did receive some help from the second Cruiseco representative but the inside cabin allocated to sleep in was claustrophobic and the bed was very poor. Since returning to Australia we have raised the issue with RCI on two occasions and I must say they are consistent with their response to any grievance - THERE HASN"T BEEN ONE!!! My Wife and I honestly believe that the cruise was a waste of money and will certainly never sail with Royal Caribbean International again!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
STATENDAM This is a review of the Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland New Zealand on HA's Statendam. I hope it is helpful to those intending to sail HA and specifically on the Statendam. This is my first Cruise with Holland America ... Read More
STATENDAM This is a review of the Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland New Zealand on HA's Statendam. I hope it is helpful to those intending to sail HA and specifically on the Statendam. This is my first Cruise with Holland America having cruised with Celebrity (3) Royal Caribbean (5) and Norwegian (2) Princess (2) my first cruise on a smaller ship (56,000 tons), and my first cruise over 14 days. (28 days). Embarkation Embarkation was a breeze though I can imagine that if several ships are leaving on the same day, the fact that everyone has to pass through one security check point and then for the most part US Immigration it could get very congested and slow down considerably. I arrived at the Port early at about 10.45am checked my baggage within 5 minutes and was one of the first 20/30 to take my position in line at the security check point. There were 2 HA ships in port and one Princess and as Princess Passengers were not entering a US Port, they quickly marched past us by-passing US Immigration. Within 30 minutes Statendam passengers started to move through Security then US Immigration and then to the HA check-In. All in all from arriving to boarding I would say it took about an hour. Once on the ship we were guided to the Lido Deck where the Luncheon Buffet was open and at 1pm the announcement was made that we could go to our cabins. The Cabin Travelling alone and with a budget in mind I had booked an Inside cabin on the Main Deck in the center of the ship. The cabin was large by comparison to some others I have had and well appointed. I am not sure of the size but would imagine it is about 180 sq ft ample for 2 and almost a luxury for one. Did I miss a window and/or a balcony -Yes, and especially on such a long cruise when there are many days at sea. When I would have stayed in my cabin had I had a balcony or even an Ocean View, I simply headed for one of the lounges and enjoyed the view from one of the public rooms. I also spent quite a lot of time on the Promenade Deck lounging on one of the teak reclining chairs and reading or listening to my I Pod. In the cabin there was lots of storage space. My suitcases one a 28" and one a 26" fit under the bed easily. Closet space is ample and there are large drawers both on the desk and in the bedside tables. The back wall of the cabin has drapes across the whole of the wall - seeking to give the impression it is covering a window. If HA really wanted to be different it could place a sea-view picture in a light box the size of a normal outside window and once lit from behind it would give the impression of a sea-view and make the cabin less claustrophobic. It would be inexpensive and I honestly believe this is an idea worth considering not only on HA but on other Cruise lines also. The only negative I have found with the cabin is that there was no fridge. All of the other ships I have cruised on had a small fridge in which I could store my water, soft drinks and a carton or two of milk to which I am partial at night. I know that there is room service but believe me a fridge is a nice addition to the cabin. On the positive side, the LCD TV and the DVD player are a nice touch. There is a minor design flaw in that it is difficult to use the TV remote unless you are directly in front of the TV. Remote usage from the bed is difficult if not impossible and this could be cured simply by lifting the TV about 4/6" above the shelf. It is fixed so you are unable to adjust it yourself. An issue which affects all Cruise lines seems to be the lack of electrical outlets. This cabin and most others I have been in have only one 110/115v plug and in this day of electrical gadgets, camera chargers, IPODS, Video cameras and cell phones, more outlets would be a great addition. I suggest you bring along a small 3 or 4 outlet extension cord or power bar. I also bring a night light which provides enough light to make a trip to the bathroom without having to put on the bright cabin lights. This would be useful in outside/ocean view cabins also. Incidentally the bed and bedding are very comfortable and the mattress is at least 14" deep and medium/firm. More and more Cruise Ships seem to be moving to luxurious cotton duvets which Statendam did not use but frankly I have rarely had problems sleeping on Cruise ships. Mattresses and comfort are a personal preference issue and some beds have been more comfortable than others. It was not a major problem but on at least half a dozen occasions the hot water in the shower was only luke-warm in the morning and on 2 occasions in the afternoon. Just a word of caution to those thinking of Ocean View cabins on the Promenade Deck. This deck has a wrap around walking area which allows passengers to exercise. It also has teak deck chairs for lazing and reading and as a result this deck is extremely popular for both exercise and spending hours reading. The negative is that the ocean view cabins on this deck overlook this area and hence if you want any degree of privacy while in the cabin during the day or at night you may have to keep your room curtains closed. This in my view turns an outside cabin into basically an inside cabin as daylight and view is limited. I am told that the crew wash down the deck at 4am and some fellow cruisers noted this as creating some noise which can awaken light sleepers. The Ship I was worried that the smallness of the ship would be a detriment. Not so, you get most things you get on the larger ships (climbing wall, ice rink, surfing excluded) but on a smaller scale. Given that there are only about 1200 passengers there is no more congestion and/or waiting for service than the larger 2000/3000 passenger ships. The Statendam itself is an older vessel well over 10 years old, yet it is well maintained and has no more signs of furnishing/interior wear than any other older ship. Of course being older it does not have the 7 story atrium or the flashy ambiance of the newer ships. It does have character however and nice touches of teak and brass and lots of beautiful antiques and paintings. The Deck is wood plank and the rail around the deck a rich highly varnished teak. The ship travels very well without the unseemly noise and occasional lurching at the starboard end one experiences on Celebrity ships (Galaxy and Mercury). All in all I was impressed with the ship. It should be noted that one of the big complaints relative to this ship has been "toilet problems". Vacuum systems are notoriously problematic especially if people do not heed the toilet paper only instructions. I heard of only one problem and that related to lack of vacuum for about an hour in one or two cabins. I did not experience any noxious smells as some reported in other reviews. There are two Pools on the ship. The larger pool on the Lido Deck has 2 hot tubs at one end and the whole area which includes lounges beside the pool and tables and chairs at the perimeter is covered by a moveable sliding glass roof. In cold or rainy weather the whole area can be enclosed and in warm sunny weather open to the elements. The second pool is at the rear of the ship on Deck 10 and is open and this too is surrounded by lounges. All lounges are comfortable and covered with a washable cover. Towels are available at pool side as well as on Deck 12 where there are also a number of lounges for soaking up the suns rays. The lounges on Deck 12 are rarely used but provide superb areas for sunbathing and peacefully relaxing. Cabin Service The Cabin stewards are outstanding. My steward introduced himself on the first day and apart from occasionally bumping into him in the hallway, he seems to have the ability to know exactly when you are away and the cabin is clean with new towels when you return. Each evening the bed is turned down and a towel animal and chocolate are placed on the bed. There is a telephone but no clock or clock radio however a wake up service is available. Room service is available should you wish to eat in the cabin and the choices are varied and plentiful. The small table in the room can be used as a low level coffee table or can be pulled up to serve as a table on which to eat meals. It is small however and while adequate for one person would be very difficult for two. Some cabins have baths but my inside cabin had a shower only which was perfectly adequate. There is a small 2" step into the shower which keeps the water from flooding the bathroom and this works well. The shower curtains in my cabin only touched this 2" step however with the result that sometimes water runs down the shower curtain and onto the bathroom floor rather than into the shower containment itself. Just a little thing but a slightly longer shower curtain would prevent this from happening. Some passengers (only a few however) complained during the cruise of an unpleasant smell (possibly sewage) which appeared early one morning and seemed to dissipate only after staff used scented sprays. There were also a few complaints about a banging noise in cabins, one complainant had an Ocean view on Main Deck. I believe this was rectified but only after a few days. Dinner Waiters and Bar The waiters and service staff are Indonesian (Filipino) and they are helpful and efficient and I have absolutely no service complaints. Amazingly as you walk around the ship not one but many of the waiters call you by name. How they remember the names of guests I do not know. Notwithstanding excellent service levels I did miss the "mix" of nationalities enjoyed on other Cruise lines. I also believe that a mix of nationalities in no small way helps to unite rather than divide their impressions when they leave the ship for their homeland. It's also great to chat with staff from several different countries and get a wider view of the world. Food The food in the main dining room is perfectly fine. The portions may in fact be a little smaller than I have experienced on other ships but they may be just right especially for a longer cruise and an older crowd who tend to eat a little less than 30-40 year olds. In any case, you never need to be hungry because if you want two portions all you have to do is ask. I maintain that it is difficult to cater for 1000 /2000 people in a Dining Room and if you expect food "cooked on an individual basis" as you might expect of a good restaurant you will not find it on any major cruise line. If I were to rate the food I would say that it is equal to but not better than Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. These days I do not think there is much difference in the quality, quantity or presentation of food served in the main Dining Room on any of these Cruise Lines. It is perfectly o.k. but not outstanding. The Lido Buffet is also perfectly o.k. There is a good variety of food and service is quick and efficient. One small thing is that on both Celebrity and RCL you had a choice of water, iced tea or lemonade with your meals as well of course as tea and coffee. I only saw water and iced tea on the Statendam and I did miss my lemonade with meals. There is also a Grill on the Lido Deck providing Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pizza and Mexican type foods. I did not use this so I am unable to pass any judgement. The Lido Buffet by the way has two identical serving areas one each side of the ship. If you like soups however check both sides because one side will have one type of soup and the other side another- everything else appears identical. Additionally in the morning only one side has "fresh squeezed orange juice" while the other has the usual frozen dilute juice. If you prefer freshly squeezed look on both sides and don't be afraid to ask. The Pinnacle Grill There have been lots of comments on the Cruise chat lines about the Pinnacle Grill, the specialty restaurant on board most of Holland America ships. As I ate there 4 times for what it is worth I will throw in my comments. One thing I love on a cruise is the experience of eating good food and hence I have eaten numerous times in Specialty Restaurants specifically those on Royal Caribbean - Chops and the Italian Restaurant (name I forget). On price RCL are the winners at $20 against $30 on HA. On quality of food and service in my opinion there is nothing to choose between them. There are more menu choices on RCL. I have found no dessert on any ship to compare to the Tiramisu on RCL or the baileys shooter which accompanies that dessert. I had the Pinnacle version of the Tiramisu one night and it was very good but not quite as good as that served on RCL. Holland America also does not have the extent of seafood choices in its Grill. On wines here again RCL win hands down. The prices of wines available at the Pinnacle is in the $50/$100 range while for those of us on a budget but who like to drink wine with our meals, RCL start at a more reasonable $30. Wines by the glass are available at about $8 plus tax but don't expect a good quality wine. Service in the Specialty Restaurants on all ships and specifically Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas and the Statendam is nothing short of superb. The servers make it their ambition to ensure that you leave the restaurant having had an eating experience second to none. While service and food quality and quantity in the general dining room and buffet are generally good on Celebrity, RCL and HA there is no comparison to the quality of food and service provided in the specialty restaurants. Obviously it's far easier to serve 50 people than 1000 and cooking to order and taste can be achieved for 50 but not as easily for 1000. If you have the chance, eat at least once on your cruise in the specialty restaurants. A note to HA however, you have to drop your price to a more reasonable $20 and improve wine selection and price to match Royal Caribbean in this area. The Spa I used the gym very little but it appeared to have all of the major exercise equipment and the fitness instructors were both available and extremely helpful. I signed up for the Spa for 14 days (a cost of $140) rather than for the entire 28 day cruise when it would have been $280. I think that the staff let me use it for more than the 14 days I had paid for but in normal circumstances considering what is available this facility is over-priced and very few people actually enrolled to use the facilities. During the entire 14 days I saw no more than 10 people in this facility. It consists of 2 steam rooms (one is very hot and the other moderately hot) and a mineral Jacuzzi tub large enough for about 4 people with only about 6 very soft jets. There were also 6 ceramic contoured and heated lounge beds on which you could lay and feel the heat on your back. This facility does not come close to the Spa facilities on Celebrity ships like the Mercury or Galaxy which incidentally are no more expensive. My tip is to leave this one alone. That way if there is limited usage perhaps HA will recognize that they charge far too much for inferior facilities. Internet There are several internet stations available and wireless access areas in a few areas of the ship. There are packages available to suit most people but whichever you choose it is not cheap. It was however fairly consistent with only a few annoying cut off's when halfway though an e-mail you are terminated. Internet availability, after a few problems the first day was very good. Indeed although I was told it was unlikely that I could get a wireless signal in my inside cabin on the Main Deck I was able to receive and send e-mails from my cabin on a fairly good signal almost every day. You have to expect loss of satellite systems now and again depending on the weather and ship location. If you bring a laptop with wireless capability my tip is that you type out your e-mail messages as a Word Document and then simply copy and paste this into your e-mail. This will save valuable minutes and reduce your internet costs considerably. Entertainment A word about the entertainment on board. There is the usual Bingo, pool games and one of the most extensive libraries I have seen on a ship. The evening shows were of good quality and included a comedian, a pair of jugglers/comics a multi instrument musician, female singer, trumpet player, a ventriloquist, pianist, magician, and other acts. I can honestly say that the overall quality of entertainment was the best I have experienced on any cruise ship. This might not have been what you would expect in Las Vegas or Broadway but it's a nice way to spend an hour or so each evening. With due respect to the Professional entertainers however, good as they were, nothing could match the "finals of the staff talent search" held one evening. Four young staff members from different areas of service performed 2 songs each and the last performance by "Tammy" one of the Lido Waiters in full drag including garter belts and (a self made) gown actually brought the house down. His/her rendition of New York, New York complete with the hand and body actions of a true diva was superb. Ship Tours Personally I am not a "pack them on a bus" tour fan and hence I tend where I can to get off the ship and travel around independently. On this trip I did book some excursions mainly because the ports were not always conducive to simply walking around. I found the prices of the HA tours expensive some running over $150 and only a few in the $60/70 range for a simple 3 hour bus tour. My advice is to select your tours carefully. It may well be cheaper and more enjoyable to form a group of 4/6 people and negotiate at the port for a personal tour by taxi or small bus. Also attend the Port lectures and where you can leave the ship and walk or take a taxi to the town center consider this a good option. While tours on RCL were perhaps a little cheaper my advice remains the same. Summary Those of us who enjoy cruising have a huge array of options hence I believe it important that as much information as possible be available to help in making a decision as to which Cruise Line or ship to select. Reviews are subjective and we all have our own personal views. I have tried to be as honest and objective as possible in writing this review and as fair as possible in comparing my experience on one cruise line over another. I have found no material difference in service, food quality and quantity, cabin comfort, entertainment or ship maintenance on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess or Holland America. Hence in my view there should be no "premium" on any of these Cruise Lines. I believe that the pay as you go concept is now paramount on them all and none of these Cruise Lines really offers anything extra. Most avid Holland America Cruisers will tell you that since HA was absorbed by Carnival there has been an appreciable lowering of standards. Hence if there is a cruise with RCL, Princess or Celebrity to the same destinations as HA at a lower cost I would have no hesitation in selecting that Cruise and saving money. Any difference in value is in my view negligible. I have no allegiance to any Cruise Line. Frankly I look for value for money and there is no doubt that those cruises which are re-positioning the ship are usually of extremely good value. A cruise which costs less than $150 a day per passenger (depending on the Itinerary) is usually a bargain. A decent hotel will cost you at least that or more anywhere in the world and on a cruise you get your transportation and food included. None of what I have said is meant to detract from what was a very enjoyable cruise. I found everything perfectly acceptable and I have no hesitation in recommending Holland America or the Statendam. US Immigration I am expressing an opinion on US Customs/ Immigration and while the Cruise Line is not of course responsible for them I strongly believe that the Cruise Lines have a voice and should be expressing concerns if and when they exist. In Summary my experience with US Immigration has been frustrating. Someone should tell them that it is possible to do the job with a smile and maybe wish travellers "a great vacation". U.S. Immigration seems to treat those entering the USA (99.9% of who are honest upstanding citizens of other countries) as criminals. I for one hate travelling through the USA any more and wherever possible restrict my travel to Europe where they still have a welcome for tourists. I would have thought that the tourist dollar was important to the USA but you would not know it by the way none US citizens (and sometimes US citizens) are often treated. Complaints are rampant about the late arrival of officers to clear ships, insufficient numbers causing long delays and serious rude and aggressive attitude problems. Lighten up! I also appreciate that those same criticisms apply at times to other countries including Canada but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Incidentally the above complaint was made even more relevant after New Zealand Customs and Immigration Officers boarded the ship in Fiji and cleared all of the passengers in an orderly and efficient manner and even had time for a smile, a welcome and wishes for a great visit to New Zealand. Now if only others would follow suit. Canadian Cruise Prices Finally I want to reiterate a tip for Canadians who are booking a cruise on Holland America Line (and other Cruise Lines). Insist on paying for your cruise in US Dollars otherwise you will end up paying up to 20% more than US based clients. The Cruise lines are simply gauging Canadians on exchange rates. The excuse is that they set the Canadian rates well in advance BUT that simply does not hold water. There is absolutely no reason why conversion cannot be done on the payment date at the rate in effect at the time. Now that the dollar is at or about par with the US Dollar we owe it to ourselves to ensure we are getting a fair deal. US based Cruise lines should quote one rate in US Dollars only - foreign nationals can easily calculate the cost in their own currency and either buy US Dollar Drafts or pay by Credit Card and let the bank charge the actual exchange. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
K. Johnson's review of this cruise covers a lot of the ground. Embarkation itself was OK, but HAL's traditional bus from the Seattle Airport to the pier in Vancouver was replaced by an air flight, which came with all the hassles, ... Read More
K. Johnson's review of this cruise covers a lot of the ground. Embarkation itself was OK, but HAL's traditional bus from the Seattle Airport to the pier in Vancouver was replaced by an air flight, which came with all the hassles, at both ends, that international air travel entails...bad idea! No problems with cabin a/c or plumbing, except when the water was turned off, not always with prior notice. Friends in the pricey verandah cabins complained of poor a/c, or none at all. Toilets in the public areas were a disgrace: when they worked at all, the rooms sometimes smelled like the rhino cage at the zoo. Of the 8 elevators, not enough to begin with, only 6 were ever in service, and on one day at least, only 4 were available. The onboard repairmen seemed to be doing everything within their powers, but this ship needs some time out for the kind of service that can only be done when passengers are absent. Dining room service was amiable, but irregular: my table's stewards had trouble remembering just who had ordered what. Many things came out of the galley not as advertised on the menu. Anybody ordering a flambe dessert had to wait until everybody else's dessert plates had been cleared. At the Lido salad bar, depleted items were replaced very tardily. With over 3 dozen cruises in my book, about 2/3 of them with HAL, I think I can speak with some authority. HAL remains my line of choice, but if this had been my first encounter with the firm, selling me another HAL cruise would be difficult, I hope this was just an aberration. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006

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