Holland America Line Reviews

Year Started: 1873
Ships in Fleet: 15
Category: Upscale

Summary: A high quality upper mainstream cruise line with smaller ships and value prices. A cruise line for people who want to step up from mainstream at great value prices.


Holland America Cruise Ships

20 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Central America, Transpacific, West Coast, Erope

Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.

15 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Eastern Seaboard, Mediterranean Western

Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.

48 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Eastern Seaboard, South America

Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.

5 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic

Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.

23 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western

Good for: Value for Money. Teens. Seniors.

42 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, West Coast

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

11 Reviews

Regions:Africa, Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.

14 Reviews

Regions:Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Scandinavia, The Orient

Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.

31 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic

Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Seniors.

22 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast

Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.

30 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Eastern Seaboard, Hawaii, Mexico, South America

Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.

23 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, The Orient, West Coast

Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.

26 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Central America, Hawaii, West Coast

Good for: Overall Service. Children`s Programs. Seniors.

41 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast

Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Foodies.

66 Reviews

Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Central America, West Coast

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
from 417 reviews


Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms


Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities


Shore Tours


Alternative Dining

User Reviews

417 User Reviews of Holland America Ships
Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: September 15, 2011

In September 2011 my wife and I boarded the Holland America ship Noordam for a 10 day cruise to Greece. This was our 19th cruise but our first on a Holland America ship. We had been upgraded to a suite and were happy about the spacious accommodations. In fact, on the first day we were talking about becoming regular Holland America cruisers.

On either the second or third day, we began to notice the smell of sewage in our room and in the passageway outside our room. It seemed to get worse as time went on. I began to make sure that the bathroom door was closed at all times thinking that the smell was coming from there. It did not help and I became nauseous from the smell. I called the room steward and he said the smell was coming from the AC unit and he would notify engineering. Engineering came and said that they would notify housekeeping.

The oder seemed to go away for a day and then came back as bad as ever. Once again, I called to complain. Some people came to investigate but I got no

relief from the problem. I was only able to tolerate being in the room by using a chair to hold the door open to the veranda. On the last day, before we docked, the odor went away.

We took a land tour and sat at a table with another couple that were on our ship. We all said we were having a nice time on the cruise until I said that I had only one problem: "the smell in our room." With that, the man went into a rant about how awful the smell was in his room and that he would never go on another Holland America cruse. I asked if he had complained and he said no. I told him that I had and it did no good.

I know that there is a tendency to blame the cruise staff for these problems and I want to say that I place no blame on any of the crew. In fact, at all times, they were friendly, courteous and respectful. Clearly, the blame for our terrible experience rests on top management for allowing such conditions to continue.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: August 25, 2011

A mediocre experience.

This was our 3rd cruise with Holland America; the entire experience did not measure up to our previous cruises.

Definitely, there were very good things: attention for safety and infection control was outstanding. Every single corner of the ship was sparkling clean. The decorations on the ship were of the best of taste (the Florentine mosaic table in the library, the valuable pieces of Dutch art, or Turkish carpets, the old books, etc) The suites were great: lots of storage, and a large veranda, on deck 6. We were able to get in the very moment we were on board The cabin and dining room stewards were indeed very professional. Room service worked well The good habit of HAL to welcome back the tourists after their shore excursion with cold towels, lemonade or cold water was a very nice touch; we noticed that other ships in the port (from Cunard, or Royal Caribbean) did not do that for their passengers.

Unfortunately, the list of "not so great", even negative things , is longer. Embarkation was less smooth than accustomed to. It was a very hot day of August, and everybody

would have appreciated some complimentary cold water or lemonade. Food in "Lido" was mediocre. For infection control purposes, food was handled by the personnel; they were not always in the best mood. There are no more plastic trays, that makes difficult to carry the food to the table. The personnel was less eager than we were used to to help the older/disabled passengers. Food in main dining room looked very nice; main course though was too salty, most of the time. The shore excursions were expensive. We were a party of 5 (15- 68 yr); we planned our own land trips, at a fraction of cost. There were much less fresh flowers arrangements that we were used to. The entertainment was probably the lowest point of the cruise. The string trio in the Explorer lounge was sub mediocre. Most shows in the Vista lounge were mediocre one man shows, the dancers and singers were OK, but the quality of productions was almost embarrassing, obviously done on a very low budget. "Very low budget", or, in better words "much lower budget than before" is the general note on board of Noordam in 2011.
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Publication Date: June 6, 2011

This ship is small, but adequate. The decor is red with various oriental ornaments and art. We purchased a balcony room and I must admit, I expected a larger room. It was extremely small and quite cramped. The couch made out into a bed and it was impossible to access the balcony when this bed was down. The cabin service was adequate, but nothing special.

We ate in the dining room once and from them on, the buffet, which was very good. We found the dining room to be too slow and the portions too small. We had "ship envy" whenever we saw the gigantic Princess cruise ship near. It was 3 times the size of the Westerdam! Overall the trip was very good, but I would not book a cruise on this ship again. I have sailed with Royal Carribean, Carnival and Holland America and definately prefer Royal Carribean of the three.

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Publication Date: June 6, 2011

We chose this cruise becasue of the destination, Bermuda. We were not disappointed. Bermuda is an incredibly beautiful island with the best beaches. Beware, however, the ship, the Veendam. We expected as is typical with Holland America ships for the rear deck to have a pool, as is listed in their brochure. We love to go for a COOL dip, every hour or so, after laying out in the hot sun. Cool pool...NO. how about 3 HOT tubs. That's right in their new Reatreat area they have removed the pool and put in 3 hot tubs!

The retreat area also has a bar area which we typically enjoy in the late afternoon for the social atmosphere. Not so here. The bar stools were so uncomfortable and uninviting, few people used them. And whose idea was it to put in the pizza bar in an area typically designed for adults? Who loves pizza more than kids? That's who used it.

We paid $40 extra to enjoy their fine dining experience, Le Cirque. I ordered my favorite fish, sea bass. It arrived dry. I sent it back. Another arrived dry. I expected more

from this supposed first class dining experience.
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Publication Date: May 28, 2011

My wife and I took a week long cruise from Seattle along the coast of Alaska. It was fantastic! Holland America's Westerdam was a first class ship. From the boarding experience to the cuisine and accomodations. We had two meals in the Pinnacle Grill - and both were great.

Our stateroom had a balcony and the views were very impressive. The only thing we saw that could use some improvement were the "Big Shows" in the Vista Lounge. They were more suitable to a high school production.

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Eastern Canada
Publication Date: May 7, 2011

First a disclaimer... be forewarned... I'm a glass half full kind of guy.

I sailed on the first Canada/New England cruise after a recent refurbishment and she looked great. This was my 12th cruise... 4 with Hal, 2 on the M-Dam.

On my sailing the ship was unable to get into port (Montreal) so the company pulled off a wondrous task of overcoming the muddle. My hat is off to the near flawless handling of a potential catastrophe.

Food: I found the food to be wonderful ... as always. One will see cruise reviews where the rater will claim that the food was not very good. That's nonsense! I've been on 12 cruises and the food on cruise ships is always simply wonderful. One can eat dinner once in the main ding room, then turn around and stuff their faces again in the Lido buffet. In the Rotterdam dining room and Lido buffet, I found the Maasdam's service to be friendly & attentive.

Service: The personnel on the ship attended to all my needs in an expedient manner and with a sense of pleasant enthusiasm. The crew all seemed to take joy in

speaking to me and at times learning my name.

Shows On this ship there appears to be a new emphasis on showcasing singers as opposed to dancers in the production shows. The first production show was a Broadway tribute and the second was called "Roadhouse" ... .which as the name might suggest was rocking/country. The performers are very talented!

On other nights, we were treated to a stand-up comedian who managed the task of being funny and tasteful at the same time. No F-bombs... thankfully! There was also a ventriloquist and a classical guitarist, both being entertaining. Fellow guest they tended to be on the older side and thus less active than on other ships. The Crow's Nest disco was mostly empty in the evening. On Karaoke, I and a few others seemed to do most of the "singing". The Maasdam is by no means a "party ship". That said I enjoyed my fellow guest.

Activities: Perhaps it was due to budget cuts, but I felt they needed more to keep us occupied, especially during our one sea day. There were some trivia games conducted.

Ports Montreal was the embarkation port. That is a lovely city and one must walk into the Vieux Montreal and see the Notre Dame Cathedral and cobblestone streets. I had lunch along the riverfront.

I took HAL's hotel, the Hyatt Regency downtown was quit pleased with the service. I do not recommend the hotel's over-priced restaurant. If possible one can get cheaper foods in the mall food court next door.

Quebec City is a medieval jewel which looks more like a European river city than anything in North America. I did not one, but two walking tours of the old town, one culminating in high tea at the Chateau and the other a ghost tour. Charlottetown Prince Edward Island... Like most, I took the Anne of Green Gables tour. This is a lovely island. Sydney Nova Scotia... My tour took me to Louisbourg Fortress which is a re-created town of the early 18'Th century. Even though my visit was out of season , re-enacters were present by prior arrangement by me being on a ship sponsored tour. Halifax... I did the Highland Experience at the Citadel. Where I was part of a tour group of three partnered with a costumed guide. I got to play Highland soldier. Bar Harbor... I was part of the ship's Best of Both Worlds tour which visited Acadia National Park and a Lobster museum. Boston... I took the bus tour of historic Boston which ended at the airport. We visited some historic sites of significance such the outside of the USS Constitution and the Boston Library. Historic Boston is worth the time to see.

All things considered, the Maasadam to Canada/New England is a worthy cruise for those of us who are tired of beaches and t-shirt shops as ports of call. It is the ideal cruise of those who value history, culture, and nature over tourist traps.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 28, 2011

This was our first cruise with HAL, and possibly our last (I’ll explain in the summary). We had a GREAT cruise, I just don't think HAL is the right line for us.

Cabin Review and Embarkation: I found our inside cabin (6065) to be wonderfully spacious. For a ship that is only 2.5 years old, I found the bathroom to be really run down (cracks in the shower base, stained sink etc). The cabin stewards were just okay. We boarded the ship just afternoon. It looks like the first group (of which we were part of) had just been given the all clear. Due to HAL’s new policy we had early access to our room. I’m not sure how great this policy is as I think the staff is rushing to get all the rooms ready; that cleaning may be sacrificed. There was a few mounds of sand on the carpet. These didn't disappear for a few days. Having just boarded, we didn’t bring the sand; it was there from the previous passenger. DH stuck the bar of soap in one of the bathroom drinking glasses. I later pulled it

out. The glass was merely rinsed and put back (there were still chunks of soap stuck to it). ewwww ~ I assumed we got freshly machine-washed glasses every day. I hope we had new glasses for our sailing, and not a quick rinse after the previous passengers left. There was also a silver earring back on the counter that was there when we got there and never left. In short, the cleaning practices were not up to par, but we didn't complain. Other than that, the room stewards were friendly and courteous. Any requests, were promptly attended to.

Mariner Lunch & Brunch We really enjoyed the welcome aboard lunch. It wasn’t our best meal on the ship; but it was nice not to eat in the LIDO. This was our first cruise with HAL but we had Mariner status from having sailed with Princess and/or Carnival. We also, by accident and not by invitation, attended the Mariner Brunch. We were given a nice coaster set. Not sure that I will ever use it, but I like free stuff! There were also a few events were complimentary champagne (sparkling wine) was given out. Not the best sparkling wine I’ve heard, but I like free booze!

Dining We only used the MDR and the Lido. Our dining steward (Yunis) was AMAZING. My kids loved him and especially the origami animals he folded for them each day. He was the best dining steward we've ever had. I wasn't impressed with the lido, but I haven't been on any ship other than Carnival dream. In fact, all the dining stewards were amazing (except for one grump we found on the last day). But Yunis was superb, it only took Yunis one night to learn our dining preferences (ex. that we liked our beef cooked to medium rare, or that my daughter liked her food without sauce (or the little ketchup pots that came with fries). After we told him how much we loved fresh berries, every night when we got to our table, was a silver goblet filled with mixed berries.

Club HAL I know many of you here don't have need for club HAL - but this is seriously the best kid's club at sea, albeit we have not yet sailed on Disney. The head counsellor Cassandra was amazing and clearly loves kids and her job. Let it be known that the Royal Family of Oakville won the Family Scavenger Hunt (okay, we were the only family that participated). We sailed Carnival last year and my son hated Camp Carnival and refused to go. I don't blame him because the counsellors were terrible. Granted, he is older now and is now used to going to pre-school, but he really enjoyed Club Hal.

This is mostly due to the counsellors who are amazing. We mostly engaged with Cassandra and Amanda who were AWESOME and energetic. The kids loved them.

The club itself is small but adequate. There were 140 kids on our sailing, with 40 in the 3-7 age group. I'd say about 12 to 15 regularly attended club hal.

They have great activities like spy night and alien night, and a pj party at the end. One night they met in the Queen's lounge and made chocolate chip cookies, and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

They do a lot of arts and crafts.

They also have about 1 family activity scheduled each day, usually at 4PM. I thought this was great because most ships don't cater to the family. Our sailing had a WII tournament, Karaoke, Scavenger Hunt, and a few other activities.

Other than Club Hal, there isn't a lot do to do on this ship for kids. My kids missed the waterslide and mini-golf which they enjoyed on Dream.

Overall, they really enjoyed Club Hal, and often (on sea days) opted to go to Club HAl than go to the pool. Club Hal on HMC was just okay. My son opted to stay with us, while my daughter opted to stay with Club Hal, until she started crying when someone poured water down her back! They did have waterslides at the beach, unfortunately there was not enough moving water to propel the kids down the slide. But HMC itself was beautiful; so who could complain!

Service IMPECCABLE! On Grandeur of the Seas in the MDR, DH asked if he could get a sandwich without cheese, and he was asked to scrape it off. On Carnival Dream, when my daughter asked for apple slices for dessert, we were told it was not on the menu. On Eurodam, there was not a single service request that was denied. We were VERY IMPRESSED with this.

Smoking We didn't have a problem in the rooms (i.e. smell of smoke) ... the only place it really bothered me was in the Casino. There was not a single non-smoking table to be found. I would have left a lot more money behind in the casino, if I didn't have to leave a table every time someone sat down beside me with cigarettes in hand. So perhaps thanks to HAL smoking policy, I left the ship with some money in my pockets.

Ports of Call: Grand Turk – we used the local beach right off the dock. We also used the pool (for anyone who's been to Costa Maya - it is a similar set-up.

St. Thomas - we went to Magen's Bay. The waves were a bit rough for this time of year, and the beach was a bit crowded. We were in port with Allure (or was it Oasis?). Early in the day a wave stole my daughter's sunglasses and then the ocean stole them. She was upset and still laments about "the worst beach EVER". We visited this beach on our honeymoon and it is not as I remember; mostly due to calmer water and the lack of crowds. On our next visit, I might try and find a more secluded beach.

San Juan - we just walked around but it was scattered showers so we quickly returned to ship. The roof over the pool was closed but the water was also too cool.

HMC - was beautiful! My kids just love to search for shells (not too many were to be found!) and build sand castles. They also have these nice floating beds which the kids loved.

Return to Everglades and flying out of FLL: You might want to tell the ship you have an earlier departing flight than you actually have!

We had a SW flight departing at noon. We were Grey 1.

We were done breakfast, and ready to leave the ship by 8:45. We had to wait another 20 minutes or so before we were called to depart. The security line at the port was pretty long. Nevertheless, we fought our way to the cabs, and made it to the airport just before 10. We tried to stand in front of the skycap; only to be told that the back of the line was - over there! It was a huge line; and we decided to take our chances on the inside. Another huge line; but it moved pretty quickly. We were told that we were among the last 15 to check in; so we had to get boarding passes at the gate. All was good until we got security around 10:30 or so. THE LINE WAS HUGE. There was the basic line, and then a reserve area, and then a line that circled all the way back around the car rental area. I've never seen such a ridiculously long line. We were worried we would not get our boarding passes in time. We did know they would call us from the line if our flight was due; but still, it was too close for comfort.

Oh, and then my 3 year old got randomly selected for a detailed security inspection.

Next time, we'll try not to fly out of FLL on a Saturday; or make sure we can clear the ship in time to brace the security lines.

The Ship and The High Seas I don't know if it was the rough waters, high winds, or the captain sailing 20 nauts, but that boat was moving. Eurodam is the second smallest ship I've sailed and for the first time in 7 cruises, I was sea sick. Towards the end of the week, the Captain slowed down to 12 nauts, and it was a much smoother ride. We spent most of the week in a bonnine stupor.

Summary We are in our early 40s, and found the ship a little too tame for us but we also were not particularly social as we were travelling with our kids and were not at our best because of the sea sickness. We found a lot of passengers were not particularly tolerant of children. We were actually refused seating at one table during the cupcake tea (the people sitting there did not want us!). Other than that, I found most passengers either looked lovingly at my children and tried to engage them in conversation or were looking at them with disgust as if kids did not belong on a cruise ship. When cruising with our kids, we might seek out a more family friendly ship the next time. However, the main reason we probably won't sail with HAL again is that we found the ship too small (with respect to feeling the movement). I know HAL is not headed in the direction of larger ships, which is too bad for us, because the service levels are excellent and HAL should be very proud of their crew. Even the guys cleaning or servicing the ships were well spoken and helpful; unlike on other lines where the behind-the-scenes crew don't want to engage with passengers.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 15, 2011

Our cruise on the Eurodam was wonderful. The food, accomodations, service,etc. could not have been better. However, disembarkation was a nightmare for us. My wife is in a wheelchair and needs assistance. I asked for an early departure because of our situation and was "reluctantly" given a departure from the ship 15 minutes earlier. Big deal.

No provisions were made for a designated area for handicapped, no attendants to help with departure. From the beginning of ship's disembarkation process to our getting to rental car just outside of Ft. Lauderdale terminal took 3 hours, part of it sitting in the rain waiting for a shuttle bus to stop because so many other ships were also disembarking at the same time.

I complained to HAL in writing. Their response was to use Express Departure (carry own bags). How they expected a 75 year old man with his own medical issues to carry two suitcases, a carryon bag and a woman in a wheelchair off the ship by himself boggles the mind. I wrote two letters back to HAL refuting their suggestion. Never heard back from them either time. For a cruise line that supposedly

caters to a more mature clientele, they have a lot to learn. Two years earlier embarking on the Norrdham in NYC there was a major problem with registering handicapped people that almost amounted to chaos because of the total confusion with registration.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 26, 2010

I am writing to report my experience in booking with Holland America Line.

I haven't taken the cruise yet but just discovered that a hold of $60 per day and per person will be placed on our credit card accounts "for our convenience" during the cruise. Nobody told us anything about this at the time of the booking, and apparently we had no other choices but to authorize this in order to get our boarding documents ("the Express Docs"). Either this or we would have to prepay cash in advance. Granted, Holland America claims that it is only a "hold" and that our balance would be settled at the end (unspent monies returned to us) but to me this sounds like very bad business practices.

I will certainly look at the other cruise lines in the future...

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Panama Canal
Publication Date: November 26, 2010

On the whole, our 28 days aboard the Statendam were enjoyable. However, those considering cruising on this ship, particularly those with respiratory problems, should be alerted to the recurring problem, especially in cabins located near the bow, of periodic venting of noxious marine fuel vapor / fumes into passenger cabins via the air conditioning system.

We also found the service in the Rotterdam Dining Room to be impossibly slow before the food is served, then hurried and unpleasant thereafter. Dining in the Lido Restaurant, while not as "elegant," is a much better experience, with highly professional and friendly service. Food choice, quality, and menu variety in the Statendam's Lido are not up to the high standard set on the larger HAL ships, but dining there is still good.

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