Year Started: 1873
Ships in Fleet: 15
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.
Regions:Alaska, Central America, Transpacific, West Coast, Erope
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Eastern Seaboard, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Eastern Seaboard, South America
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Value for Money. Teens. Seniors.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, West Coast
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Africa, Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Scandinavia, The Orient
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Seniors.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Eastern Seaboard, Hawaii, Mexico, South America
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, The Orient, West Coast
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Central America, Hawaii, West Coast
Good for: Overall Service. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Alaska, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Foodies.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Central America, West Coast
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
This was our 6th cruise on the 4th different cruise line (RCL, NCL and Carnival). I must admit, I was a little hesitant about booking a HAL cruise for my family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 girls ages 14 and 10). I had read stories in the past about HAL catering to “older” seniors and not being a good line for families with kids. But, because my ultimate goal is to try all the major cruise lines at least once before I choose a favourite, I booked the Eurodam. What a pleasant surprise! The picture I had of everyone being in their 80s was all wrong. It was March break and there were people of all ages (including over 200 kids).
As everyone says, the embarkation was a breeze.
Food - The food was the best I've had on any line – hands down. Each line has areas where they excel and Holland America's is the quality of the food. The Lido Buffet had a wide variety of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it was all excellent. The freshly squeezed orange juice, waffles, eggs benedict station, fruit,etc. were delicious! Lunch was equally as good. We also tried the pizza and the 5 different burgers from the Terrance Grill - all excellent. Best turkey burger I've ever had!
The Tamarind was everything you've read about and more! I had the filet mignon and it was perfect. My daughter tried duck for the first time and liked it too! The chocolate dessert was one of the best, if not the best, dessert I've ever had!
The Pinnacle Grill was excellent too. My mother and father-in-law are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year and they surprised us with a special chocolate mousse cake – very nice. Again, the beef was excellent!
The Canaletto was equally as good. The reviews I read said it was average but the antipasto, lasagna and veal parmesan were as good as any top rated Italian restaurant I've ever been to. I guess HAL's average is better than most!
The dessert extravaganza was unbelievable. It was set up around the pool and there was a huge turnout but we had just eaten at the Pinnacle and were too stuffed to try anything. Have a light dinner on that night!
I also went against the grain and finally ordered room service for breakfast which was also very good. I don't know why people write complaints about the delivery being 15 minutes late or they get extra food with their order??? I loved sitting on the balcony in my pajamas watching the waves go by (or whales which we saw a few times!).
Ship – The ship is beautiful – very tastefully decorated instead of being overly lavish or bordering on tacky. We had a balcony room on the 5th deck which was great. Lots of storage space for 4 people. When the 2 extra beds were pulled out it was a little tight but that's to be expected. The beds and linens were the nicest we've had on any cruise. Our cabin steward was great – I hardly saw him but the room was always done perfectly. We never made it to many bars but dropped by the Explorer's Café on the last night and wished we had found it sooner!
The only thing I think the ship could use is a bigger pool or a 3rd pool. Both pools got pretty crowded on the sea days. We found it easy to get chairs despite the private cabanas taking up space but a bit more pool room would have been nice!
Entertainment – the shows were as good as any other cruise line and the Magician was the best I've ever seen (and it's not because he was a fellow Canadian either!). The kids loved him too!
Ports – Turks and Caicos was devastated by a hurricane 2 years ago but it doesn't mean that there's nothing to do on the island. The guys rented a golf cart and went geocaching and the girls walked the beach and sat by the pool at Margaritaville which was very relaxing.
San Juan is always fun. We took a taxi to the Coronado hotel/beach area which was beautiful. Next cruise may be a southern one leaving from San Juan!
St. Thomas was as picturesque as usual. Rented a car and went to Megan's Bay for the morning. The guys went geocaching around the island while the girls shopped in the afternoon and bought some jewelry of course! You never know when you're going to be back there again!
Half Moon Cay is the nicest private island I've ever seen. Beautiful beaches with sand like white flour and lots to see and do. If I ever go there again I'm definitely going horseback riding in the water! The BBQ they served was good and it was fun to spend a day on the beach for a change!
Summary – Overall, I would recommend HAL and the Eurodam to anyone and everyone. I will definitely try it again – and I can't say that about all of them!
BRIEF DISCLOSURE This was my first cruise. Before cruising, I read the other reviews of the Eurodam and they scared me silly. After the cruise, I felt like I had just finished sailing on a ship utterly different from those who gave Eurodam such bad reviews! How does one account for this? I'm not demanding enough? They are way too demanding? Who knows?
While I will note features I found disappointing, they are not the cruise-spoiling sorts of things; not by a Texas mile.
EMBARKATION My wife and I arrived in Fort Lauderdale the afternoon before the sailing, to ensure we had all the wiggle room we might need in transportation, and to allow for an unhurried approach to the cruise. It worked, and I recommend this to anyone if they're able to schedule it. Seek for hotels that offer shuttle service from the airport and to the cruise port.
Upon arriving at the Eurodam's pier, I was amazed at the efficiency, ease, and speed with which we delivered our bags to friendly, smiling porters; and, then, proceeded into the building, guided by friendly red-coated guides stationed along the way, as well asby a large blue line on the pavement. We stood in one line for less than five minutes. We sat on airport-waiting room seats for another five minutes, and then we were called to board the ship. Start to finish was about 20 minutes total. To us, it felt like a breeze, but we'd never been there and done that before.
Novelty is great entertainment and makes time fly.
ARRIVAL ON SHIP We were boarded directly onto the Lido Deck which contains the long buffet-style casual-dress restaurant. Yes, it was packed. Why not? It wasn't designed to accomodate the entire passenger list! But, everyone first appeared on the ship in this restaurant until the rooms were ready for occupancy. We did get food (plenty of it), and a seat for two with no difficulty. It would have been off-putting if this were the atmosphere of the place throughout the cruise; but, it was crowded only during this embarkation period. Once the rooms were ready, the crowd diminished immediately.
CABIN We had booked what Eurodam calls a Deluxe Verandah Ocean-View Stateroom (No. 5043, for those who want to see where it is on the deck plan). For what we desired and needed, it was entirely satisfactory. It was clean, the bed was fantastic, the pillows and linens were clean and exceedingly comfortable. The closets and cabinets easily held all the contents of two very large suitcases, a hanging bag, and the largest carry-on the airlines allow. We unpacked everything and found storage for the bags under the bed. The room came with a bath/shower combo. Towels were abundant and soft. Two bathrobes were provided. The cabin steward removed an excess of hangers from the closets. An easy-to-use room safe provided peace of mind.
The view from the veranda never disappointed. With floor to ceiling windows you could see the sunrise over the moving sea each morning.
Possible disappointments: there are only two 110 AC electric outlets in the room, and they are located at the desk/vanity. Also, the assignment of light switches on the walls must have been determined by rolling dice. It took a day or two to figure out how to get the lights you wished on to be on.
Another disappointment: the glass wall on the verandah was stained with sea water spray, so that one could not sit on the veranda and get an unclouded view of the ocean. As we disembarked, we noted these panes being washed. Evidently that washing was overlooked before we arrived.
FOOD: GENERALLY It's everywhere and effectiely it's all the time (except, perhaps, between midnight and 7:00 AM.). In-room dining for no extra charge is always available, though the menu is less varied. Each night, a card for ordering in-cabin morning repast is available. You can select delivery times within 30 minutes (i.e. 6:00-6:30; 6:30-7:00; 7:00-7:30; etc.). Whatever we ordered invariably arrived in the middle of the period. So we always had coffee in our cabin upon arising, my wife always ate a full breakfast in the cabin, while I ventured forth to meet new people over a lavish breakfast in the Rembrandt dining room.
FOOD: REGULAR MEALS IN THE REMBRANDT We booked the cruise late, so traditional early/late seating was alrady full. Instead we had open seating, and in future I will always choose this, as it guarantees you will be eating with new people at every meal, something I enjoy. It also gives us greater flexibility in our schedule. Open seating dining in the evening is available from 5:15 until 9:30.
The Rembrandt dining room is a two-level affair, pleasing to the eye, but regrettably noisy when full. Breakfast and noon meals don't have this problem; but evening meals are difficult for conversation at your table, unless you eat late or eat there on an evening when many passengers are in port for the evening.
We heard a few passengers complain of slow service. I never had that problem. The pace was leisurely, but so was I!
The four-course meal was generous (appetizer, soup/salad, entree, dessert), and plentiful. If you wished two of something, it was yours for the asking. One man one evening finished his 10- ounce New York Strip steak and asked for a second one, which came promptly to the table. I usually added a scoop of ice cream to the dessert I selected. For each course, you had at least six choices. Plus, there was a list of "always available" items for every course, no matter what the menu for the evening.
Again, service for us was always satisfactory. We never waited longer than one would ordinarily wait in a normal restaurant. I really enjoyed being served by efficient, nimble young men (no waitresses in the Rembrandt) who did NOT want to become my best buddy and engage me in tacky banter during the meal. Drinks were always filled without asking and with minimal intrusion. Our waiters were like our cabin steward (see below): easily summoned, minimally verbal, accurate and prompt when fulfilling requests.
FOOD: THE LIDO The Lido Deck contains the Lido Buffet in most of its central area. At either end of the Lido Deck are swimming pools and sunbathing areas, along with hot tubs and dry saunas, all available to any guest. There are numerous buffets -- some serving "tastes of the world" cuisine, others more conventional American fare (meats, vegetables, starches, breads). Salads, drinks, and desserts all have their own separate buffet stations.
The whole point of the Lido Restaurant seems to be speed and convenience. Patrons seemed to be mostly those folks in the pool areas that flank each end of the very long Lido Buffet. It was common during lunch to see "pool people" in the Lido, gathering their food and returning to the outdoors areas of the pools, where one found an abundance of tables under shade.
My wife and I often ate in the Lido at lunch. I usually ate a large salad, tempering my GI tract for dinner, dontcha know! After that first very crowded experience in the Lido when we arrived at the ship, we never found the Lido to be disagreeably crowded. It IS self-service. Most of the staff on the floor are busing tables, though they will respond politely and quickly to requests for refills on drinks (or, at least, those we asked did so).
FOOD: SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS The Canaletto: This is tucked into a corner of the Lido Restaurant. We missed it, so have no comment. Others we consulted were very pleased with it. No extra charge, but reservations are needed since it is small.
The Pinnacle Grill: a softly lit, wood-and-brass decorated steak place (plenty of other options available too: fish, chicken, lamb, pork). $20 a head extra to dine here, reservations required. The seating is by reservation, so you decide. My wife and I had our anniversary dinner there the second night at sea. Service was very good and the food was excellent. Knowing it was our anniversary (I had mentioned this when making the reservation before the cruise started), we were seated in a fantastic corner booth for two, giving us a panaramic view of the restaurant. A special anniversary cake came with dessert.
The Tamarind: this is billed as an "Asian fusion" restaurant, which seems to mean varied forms of Oriental-influenced fare. $15 a head extra to dine here, and my wife and I ate there the last evening of the cruise, forgoing whatever hoo-haw had been planned in the Rembrandt for the last night (who knows? maybe we missed something special?). The Tamarind was special. Very excellent service, and extremely tasty and exotically spiced food served in generous portions. Again, the four-course format with at least six choices per course.
Our Wasabi Soy-Crusted Tenderloin Steak was fabulous. The appetizers were abundant and plentiful. The ambiance of the restaurant was peaceful. I heartily recommend it.
My single quibble -- and this applies generally to the ship -- is that my ear is not tuned to English spoken with a very strong Indonesian or Filipino accent. So, I often found myself saying "Beg pardon?" and "I didn't understand you." But, we always got through these challenges, and we decided to face them with a gaming interest rather than irritation.
The Terrace Grill: this is a hamburger joint at one of the Lido Deck pools. The one day I grabbed something from it, they were offering cheeseburger, lamb burger, veggie burger, and turkey burger, all with fries and condiments. It was fast food on the ship, and though I was expecting to be underwhelmed, I was shocked and delighted with the charcoaly taste of the burger. Yum!
The dessert buffet was just inside the Lido Restaurant, so I ducked in there for cookies and ice cream, carrying them back to my bride with no problem at all.
Sundry Food: Hors d' oeuvres are served in many of the bars in late afternoon, but I never partook of those offerings. I'd be surprised to learn they were subpar, as all the othe food I ate was excellent. There is a coffe/pastry shop on the 11th deck that contains the internet stations and library. Imagine a smallish Starbucks and you'll know what it's like.
EVENING ENTERTAINMENT Almost every evening, there was a show in the triple-deck space of the Mainstage auditorium. Lasting about an hour, these shows were quite good. I feared there might be a lot of raunch (such as one might find in a Las Vegas floor show), but these were free of that sort of funk. The singers had strong, on-key voices, the dancers were athletic and nimble; the shows (according to someone I spoke with) are designed by Barry Manilow. Given the space constraints of a ship, I was intrigued with how lively a show they produced with the sets and lights available.
The show was offered at 8:00 and 10:15 in the evening, the earlier audience far more "packed" than the latter. A highlight for us was a magician. I'm sure the shows change frequently through the year, so I won't comment further. If Holland is able to secure the same quality of performers as what we saw, no one will be disappointed.
ON BOARD ACTIVITIES These were abundant and varied. In a week, I could not possibly partake of most of them (even if I had wanted to; I don't gamble, for example). There was a cooking seminar running through the week; also one on digital photography, with laptops supplied. Lectures in the Mainstage on various ports and their attractions were common. The ship contains a library with a couple of thousand books of varied fiction and nonfiction (my wife found and read a 400 page work on the Congress of Vienna in 1814).
Internet service is pricey -- from 85 cents a minute to 45 cents a minute if you buy access in chunks. I purchased 100 minutes for $55, so I could monitor a few potential trouble spots at home. I used up about 60 of those minutes. I could also read one blog of personal interest by pulling up the page on the screen, and then hitting the print button. Actual reading took place via ink on paper.
Internet stations are plentiful. I never saw anyone waiting to use one.
Personal Complaint: I could find no place on the ship (other than my cabin) that was truly quiet. There was always noise -- people talking, overhead music -- which prevented me from reading a book I'm reviewing for a publication. I really needed a genuinely library-quiet atmosphere for this, and I was disappointed that in a ship as large as the Eurodam there is no such spot (not that I could find; and, I queried several staff about this).
EXCURSIONS Holland offers many of these. We did only one -- I parasailed at Half Moon Cay. Otherwise, on this first-cruise experience, my wife and I kept ourselves to wandering around the ports, looking to see what we would find on our own. It was fun. It was successful. We were entertained. On St. Thomas the shopping was a blast, particularly if you're looking for distilled spirits or jewelry. Much to my delight I found and purchased a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings for my bride -- lovely, dangly, sparkly things -- for a price that was unbelievable, from a long-established and highly rated jeweler (Cardow).
As I scanned the excursion list from Holland, they seemed pricey to me for what they described. Obviously, I can be wrong here. But, with so much in port to do and see without paying someone to herd your around --- well, we'll exhaust these possibilities before we feel attracted to excursions.
SERVICE Paul Motter's essay concerning service on Holland, available at this site here says it all. Read it. I confirm what he says.
Our cabin steward obviously studied us to know what we wanted, how we wanted it, when we wanted it, and he delivered it totally behind the scenes. Example: I asked for ice within two hours of arriving in the cabin. The bucket never lacked for ice for the remainder of the cruise.
Every time we returned to our room, it had been tidied up, even if we were gone for only an hour. One cruiser joked that the cabin stewards were like ninjas -- when you are in they're out, when you're out, they're in. You begin to think they hid in a secret compartment in your cabin, jumping out as you depart to tidy up you little messes. It was one of the most astounding things I've ever seen. Beds turned down every night, lights dim, chocolates, ordering card for in-cabin wake-up coffee and food as we pleased. I don't know how they do this for over 2,000 passengers at a time.
OTHERS' IMPRESSIONS This was our first cruise. Most of the folks we met had cruised six, twelve, even more cruises, on differint lines. We invariably asked them to rate the cruise lines they had used, and to compare them to Holland. In every case, they said that this cruise on the Eurodam was superior to anything they had encountered elsewhere. I wonder if I am now set up for disappointment if I ever cruise another line!
We recently completed our 8 day cruise on the Eurodam. At the outset, let me offer two points. One, I think we are fair and reasonably objective people. Two, I have always appreciated people who have taken the time to write a review and help us have a more enjoyable vacation. So, we really wanted to return all the effort others have taken on our behalf.
Embarkation The embarkation was as smooth and efficient as we have every had on a cruise. Our time in the line waiting could only have been 5 minutes. Holland staff members were very pleasant and helpful,truly the easiest part of the cruise. Holland can be very pleased at their staff
Cabins We opted for a deluxe veranda. Upon entering our room, we immediately felt claustrophobic. Rather than an modern elegant feel, the room had unattractive bedding, cheap cardboard prints on the wall and poor lighting. The balcony was decent sized but we were left feeling very very disappointed in the room. It was impossible for two people to pass each othter between the bed and the door to the veranda. The Eurodam reports to being oneof the newest ships in their fleet but "reads" like a Holiday Inn circa 1984. Certainly not "luxury" cruising. The public areas below the main deck were not much better. I'm not sure who was making the design choices for the ship but the overall effect was not good.
Food There is good news and bad news. The good news - the speciality dining was very good with Tamarind (their Asian fusion dining) being excellent. We're from NYC and this could hold it own with any restaurant in NYC. Pinnacle Grill, their steak house, was solid. The maining dining was acceptable with one or two high spots, but mostly just pretty average. Holland should be embarrassed about the Lido. The theme seems to be substitute quanity for quality. What you end up with is alot of really really really bad food. Room service was so bad that we almost enjoyed seeing what would be offered. We used room service for coffee in the morning to wake up on the veranda
Excursions I have to respect Holland for cancelling our Power Snorkeling. They weather was iffy and rather than have people have a bad experience, they cancelled. We ended up just enjoying the sun in Turks and Caicos.
There was much to much emphasis on shopping on St Thomas. What the shopping winds up being is a seemingly ending string of jewelry stores...literally over a hundred offering essentially the same thing. Shop for an hour, then jump in a cab and go to Megan's Bay. Truly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There is inexpensive food and changing areas, so just bring your swim suits with you.
San Juan was lovely. We enjoyed just walking around Old San Juan much more than I thought we would. Others who had taken the tour in the rain forest loved the tour but hated having to travel almost 1 1/2 hours in each direction. Just get off the ship, and walk one minute to old San Juan. It's impossible to not be charmed but this part of town.
Half Moon Cay Their private island was one of our favorite parts ot the trip. The beach is one of the most beautiful we had ever been on. It requires a tender to get to the shore so go before 8AM or after 10Am. The line to get to the tenders is very very long between those hours.
Our fellow cruisemates We were truly shocked at the average age on the cruise. The average age was easily over 70. People under 65 were VERY few and far between. I'm not against crusing with a varity of ages, but wished it had been a little more balanced. We felt very much in the minority.
Overall I can only say that we were very very disappointed with the cruise. We had previously cruised with Holland (Zuiderdam)and were excited about a newer ship. I would never suggest people cruise with Holland and wished we had chosen to go with Celebrity or Princess, as what we had orginally planned to do.
Boarding the Eurodam was fast and easy. The ship was very beautiful. After everyone got settled in the ship did not seem crowded except for the aft pool area. The food in the Main Dining Room was very good.
The lido buffet was average. Our veranda room on deck 5 was very good with lots of storage. Half Moon Cay was nice even though it rained that day, then on to Aruba then Curacao. The New Years Eve Party was great with food stations placed all over the ship and champagne handed out to the adults and sparkling juice given to the kids. Good Job Holland America and crew. My family will be back soon.
We went on a 7 day cruise over New Year's on Holland's Oosterdam. The crew was very helpful and extremely friendly. Our balcony cabin was a joy and it was nice having the sunshine in the middle of winter sitting on the balcony - well worth the money difference. We went to Mexico and were in Cabo on New Year's Eve. Although we didn't make it till midnight on the 31st, we heard it was delightful. The dinners were good but we like the food better on Princess. The live flowers everywhere were a nice plus. It was easy boarding and not so easy disembarking, only because we didn't want the fun to end. If we were to change anything it was the fact that breakfast was cut off way before we were scheduled to disembark. They hadn't told us the day before and there were some mad folks. We had a wonderful, memorable time for bringing in 2010!
This was the worst cruise we had ever taken. We were to go to 4 Island only went to 3. Then there was a lifeboat in front of our window,here we are out at sea and we hear scraping and banging right in front of our window ones are working on the hanging lifeboat right there and looking in our window. I called the front and they said we'll have them move, which they did only to come back later that day. Why would they do this when ones are at sea and can be in the cabins? Then then the shore excuision thur the ship as a joke not good at all. Would never go with Holland America again.
Also beware of the casino. They will let you have $1000 a day credit per person in your room. And you will lose. So watch out for that snake pit!
By the way, we had a verandah room. The verandah, or tiny little outside deck, is way nicer than the room.
The rooms are about the size of a large walk in closet -- very tiny.
Also watch out for the constantsales pitches. They have whole channels on television devoted to selling you stuff on the ship. The shore excursions are dynamite, but my advice is for the price you pay just to get on the boat, fly to a city, and pay for your excursions, staying in a nice hotel room. You not only get a way nicer place to lay your head, but you can pay for way more excursions also. You can easily spend several thousand dollars on shore excursions off the ship, and they are expensive!
Also watch out for illness. Way easy to get sick on this ship.
Holland America devotes a whole channel on the stateroom tv to selling you jewelry.
They have seminars on the ship just to sell you stuff.
This was probably the best cruise we've taken out of about 10 and on everything from Independence of the Seas to Emerald Princess, NCL Pearl and Carnival Liberty. The ship was very clean, the cruise had 2200 folks on board which is full, and no problems with lines or getting a lounge chair at the pool or any inside/outside deck. The food was excellent and you could get anything served in the Rembrandt dining room (formal) at the buffet for dinner without dressing up. Ice cream and dessert selection were outstanding. Crow's nest library and coffee shop was outstanding. Movies on board were excellent in the best appointed screening room at sea. Broadway shows and singers and dancers were excellent. Rooms were very nice, most with bathtubs. Excellent value for the money and very relaxing time. Easiest on and off the ship so far in 10 different cruises! Some older folks but generally a good age range of fellow guests. Very user friendly gym. Love the ability to close in the center pool whenever necessary, which makes it useable in any weather.
Holland America Line Prinsendam by Mike Newburger Eastern Mediterranean October 28, 2009
Our itineray started in Athens, and went to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Croatia and Albania. This was a continuation of a cruise that included Rome and other destinations.
The ship is the smallest in the HAL fleet, but the size was perfect for our itineray. Only 750 guests were on board, and after travelling on larger ships, I felt that the size and capacity fit our needs. There were, because of the length and timeof year, virtually no kids on this cruise, Our cabin was quite spacious, and we loved the walk in closet, which was fully used by my wife and I (mostly her!!).
We had A/C prblems for the first 4 days of the cruise, but we weren't alone--a whole section on our deck suffered similar problems, and by the time we got to Israel,the sauna like effect in our room had been solved.
With regards to service, we've been on 6 other HAL cruises, so we knew what to expect. our cabin steward was just OK, in that he couldn't figure out whe to do our turn downssince wwe liked to eat early for dinner. We lucked out in finding a great dining room team, but when we requested them on the 3rd night, somehow we got another team who had to start from sqare one to fin out about our likes and dislikes.
The evening's activities were varied, and we took advantage of some of them. We had two-2 day stops in Egypt and Israel, and would recommend them highly, even though they were expensive. The shore excursions were very thorough, except for the 1/2 day in Albania, which is not set up for tourists by any means.
The staff on the Lido cafeteria deck was very helpful, and we ate many meals there. The food quality was B+/A- and breakfast room service was prompt and very good. The captain kept us up to date wiht current weather and destination information, and was accessable during the cocktail party. Oursocial director did an outstanding job getting groups organized and off the ship in a timely manor as well as hosting evening events.
I now have crossed off my bucket list things like seeing the Pyrmids, going to Bethlehem, and and taking a cruise on the Nile. It was a trip of a lifetime, and even 2 months later, I'm still organizing my pictures on the computer. I think the staff on and off the ship does an outstanding job of making their guests feel like family, and that is a bar set very high.
I and my husband (we 30 and over) took this cruise based on itinerary. It’s our fifth cruise so we knew what to expect, we knew how it should be.
We booked cruise shuttle from airport to the ship (only one thing which we booked through the cruise, because everything overprice). People in airport was slow and confused, did not know what to do with extra luggage event it was not full bus, but we got to the ship fine, embarkation was very quick and we were in a ship in10 min. We got there maybe 12:30, waited for room maybe 20 min.
Room was nice (a little old fashion, but its older ship so we expected that),enough space for luggage, nice size balcony. Then looked around, ship was clean, small compare to previous cruise ships, atrium tiny. A lot of hand sanitizers all over the ship, we liked that, because we have been on the ship with norvovirus (no fun), but sad is that not a lot of people using them. Luggage came quick to the room. We packed 2 bottles of wine and wine opener of course. This way youdon't need to pay any opening charges.
We had open seating for dinner, I think that's the way to go, because some days cruise leaves from ports after nine, this way you choose when to eat. Most of the stuff was Indonesian (mostly guys) and not all with the best manners.
Barcelona. We stayed overnight there. We walked first night to La Rambla street, it's about 30 min walk. A lot of young people there, a lot of scary people (you afraid that they will steal something and something like that), trying to sell some cans or who know what. But city itself very nice. Next morning we went back to La Rambla, this time took port bus (3 Euros round trip or 2 one way).Then we took the Hop on hop of 2 deck bus (21 Euros per person one day), we took blue route, then I wanted to take red route but it was long line waiting to get on them and route take about 2 hours, so we didn't have enough time to do that (time change mixed our plans, we slept too long that morning). We just walked around, we used McDonald’s restrooms for free, and then walked back to the ship (didn’t want to wait in line for port bus).
Before that I gave my Hop on hop of bus tickets away to one couple, they gave me 10 euros, so it worked well. When we walked we saw already people attending drill with the wests, we didn't go. How silly to do that, when people still ashore. I am Europe union member so I got letter that I need to bring my passport to front desk. We did, but front desk not helpful we heard so many different stories from them why they need my passport. Next day they where collecting U.S. and Canada citizen. My husband didn't give them, so they did a copy and said they will call in a room in case they would need to check original, never did. (It’s good idea to have certified copy, in case somebody would lose it.).
Monaco, Monte Carlo That morning we got the note, that we need to attend drill, but note came at 10am, drill was scheduled for 9 am, so we missed it again . They had tender boats from the ship to shore. We got there early so they announced that we can get on tender boats early, when we got to them, they announced that now will go only people who booked excursions, cruise director Jason Venner was blocking the stairs checking excursion stickers. He was rude, he said that now we need to wait almost an hour, but the boats were almost empty, so we sneaked in them anyway. EXPECT TO BE TREATED DIFERENT IF YOU DON'T BOOK SHIPS EXCURSIONS. WHEN YOU GETTING OUT FROM THE SHIP THERE IS NOBADY TO GUIDE YOU WHERE TO GO.
In Monaco it's easy to walk (my easy means - people who fit), it’s beautiful there. We walked first up to prince palace, then down toward casino (IF YOU WANT TO GO THERE, DRESS NICE AND KEEP YOUR PASSPORT, the reason for that, they don’t let gamble for Monaco people. They have beach there (not the best one), but if you planning to go there bring water shoes (rubber shoes); all beaches which we saw on a trip had a lot of rocks. Restrooms in Monaco was free, some places had plate so you can put some money if you want. It’s just nice to walk there, peeked in Casino, and didn’t go in.
On a ship it's really not a lot what to do. We didn't go to all shows; it was enough 2 first ones. The dancers not good, not graceful, singers just ok. I liked there costumes liked how stage moves, rotates. The last show with the car was o k, but it was more like a play, not a lot of dancing. During the day most of the people ashore, then they go eat dinner, would be nice to use pool or hot tub after that (GOOD LUCK,THEY CLOSED AT 7PM ,HOT TUB AT 9PM, sometimes even earlier with no notice. Back pool supposes to be adult, but nobody controlled that.
It seemed that a lot of things cruise employees did for there convenient, it's always would be closed areas in buffet for stuff members, saw few couples of working people, I don't need to see their romances. We saw once how they where closing curtains in buffet on people heads. A lot of times I would bump in the worker, guess who needed to move ME, they didn't. Rush to eat before nine, otherwise you not find a lot, buffet after 9 will have just pizza and dessert, you can get room service (that's kind a nice thing) but menu limited, after 10 only few things you can get from them.
Internet cafe nice, together with the library, close to bar. We got 100 min for 55 $ plus 3.95 onetime connection fee. The internet really slow and in a lot of port we saw internet cafes, so if you don't need it for work better to take your own computer and go ashore, faster and cheaper.
Front desk always looked mean if you would have any questions. When our TV broke (power problems) we called them every 10 min, they didn't liked that, after over than hour they fixed the problem.
Next stop Livorno Remember, you can’t walk in port, only taxi or shuttle can be used. We didn't know that, we walked back, but then they told us to wait for shuttle (200 meters was left) we didn't pay, but usually it's 5 Euros for the day, it takes to Piazza grande.. We decided to take train to Florence, taxis from port to train 20 Euros, so try to find who would share it. I asked whoever I saw, we found one couple. Got round trip tickets (27 Euros round trip for both). Train times were on July 8:11, 9:11, 10:11 don’t forget to validate them in a yellow machine in train station, they don't have them in the train. But one couple forgot to do that; conductor said them to write date on a ticket. We got out at Firenze S.M.N. Before that stop was Firenze stop. Don’t get mix up. It’s everything so close in Florence, easy to walk. We didn't go to any galleries or museums, so had enough time to stop at Pizza on the way back to Livorno. Train times 2:27, 3:27, 4:27, 5:27 we validated our ticket, got out at pizza stop, then used the same ticket back to Livorno. From the train station you can get on bus, but it's only 15- 20 min walk, you can’t see tower from there, ask people. We went straight from the station, and then saw when to turn left. From Pizza train times where 3:45, 4:34, 5:34, 5:45
From Livorno train station took no 1 bus (that would work if you get cruise shuttle from piazza grande,but we didn't know that, so from the stop closest to ship we walked, a lot. So or share taxi, o pay for shuttle and from there no 1 bus (cost euro or something like that)
Civitavecchia From ship shuttle took us to port gate (for free, its only 5 min walk maybe 10) then we walked to train station, just few blocks straight ahead. (10 min). Got round trip tickets. Times where 8:41 , 8:59, 9:17, 9:41, 9:59. They gave without asking B.I.R.G (18 Euros for both of us), its work for buses and metro in Rome too. It’s a lot of stops in Rome S Peters close to Vatican. But you can get out on the last one, then take bus, depend where you want to go. We got out at Ostensia stop, took bus to Coliseum (bus 60 if I am fight, I just asked people all the time). We waited in line for tickets 45 to 60 min. 12 Euros per person, for Europe union members 7.50 so get your passport if you want to get discount. We went to complain about that in front desk, after talking with supervizor,they said they will put difference on our card, guess what, they didn't so last day we needed to talk about that (and it's not about 4.5 Euros it's principle) but they looked at us like we would be crazy. This entire passport situation made a lot of problem for a lot of people. They just needed to inform about that in their website, don't you think?
Then we took the bus to Fontana trevi (we asked people again, which no to take). You can't see it from the bus stop, so ask somebody let you know where to get out. It seems confusing but it's really not. Then we took bus 62, it took us to Vatican. That we saw from bus stop. Then 40 or 64 bus back to train station, we went to Roma centrale, this way more likely you'll get seat. Trains comfortable and clean, restrooms not really. Times back were2:09, 2:39, 3:09, 3:39, 4:09, 4:39, 5:09, 5:14, 5:39, 6:05.
Messina, Sicily we got in port at 2pm. We wanted to take train to Toarmina, train station is walk able distance from the ship, but we got there close to 3 o clock, next train was at 4:05, we didn't want to wait, so stayed there. Train times from Taormina to Messina 3:55pm, 5:22, 6:41, 7:13, 8:36 (it's about hour ride)
It's really nothing what to do in messina, first everything close till 5 or who knows. It's really dirty in a streets, even poop (I hope it's just dogs), my husband decided to fish there, so we bought fishing rod and all other stuff (25 Euros we spent) and he fished for hour and a half, then I started to see strange people around, one guy was using some drugs from the bag, other kid (maybe 10) was smoking, a lot of people smoke in Europe. So we decided go back to the ship with the fishing rod, no problem.
Sea day finally we can relax and not rush anywhere. It was second formal night, first was on second Barcelona day. They had crab legs that day for appetizer. Finally they had karaoke, we went there, the list of songs was a mess, not all song artists in there, one girl was singing when we got there, the cd was scratched, cruise director was laughing, next to him some employee women was laughing with him, they were really "lovie-duvie" and then he's "ok, try again, first tell about yourself, but he's not intelligent, he even didn't lift his butt to feel this poor girl better, all karaoke was like a joke. So we left. Tats it, no more karaoke nights (so don't spent time practicing).
Navplion, Greece They had tender boats there. We stayed there, its cute city. We walked by fortress and found road to beach, it was small, rocky beach, so we sat in there, had some drinks, just relaxed.
Katokolon We decided to take train to Olympia, the train station close to ship,5-8 min walk, it looks like restroom building, very small. Tracks start there. First train was 8:36am, its only 2 wagon train which goes to Olympia and back (I think it's only one train). Cost 6 Euros for both of us round trip. From train it's close to Olympia site place. Tickets 6 Euros each, 9 if you want to see site seen and museum. Then we took 12:05 train back, walked in Katokolon and back to ship.
Corfu We didn't plan anything there, just got out and walked, a lot. They had ships shuttle (16$ round trip, 9$ one way to old town.) We walked there in 30 min, then went to fortress (4 Euros each) its nice view from there. Restroom I used in McDonald, but you need code on receipt to open the door, or just wait for somebody walk in or out. Then we found tiny beach in a cafe territory, paid 1.4 Euros entrance fee, they had changing rooms, 1.5 Euros for sun beds, towers you can take from the ship. They return passports that day.
Dubrovnik Ship had shuttle 16$ round trip,9$ one way to pile gate (old town). Don’t do that, there is a public bus right there, take mokosica-pile bus,we paid 20 kunas it’s about 3 Euros for both of us. Old town very pretty, then we walked to the beach, it was one closer, but we walked more and found more quiet, nice beach, with rocks of course. It didn't cost, just rented sun beds 20 kunos each (3 euro) they took Euros. Then back to the bus and back to ship. That night ship had dessert extravaganza, it was nice, I missed strawberries dipped in chocolate, and they had a lot of cakes, crapes, some hand size desserts, but nothing too crazy.
Next day Venice We loved Venice. We stayed there one extra night after cruise, so we bought 23H bus and water bus tickets, 23euros each. We used them a lot. They go from Piazzale Roma. About 25 min. from the ship. One way would be 6, 50 Euros per person. 12h ticket for land and water bus 16 Euros per person. Gondola rides 80euros, but you can find somebody to share the ride, 6 people fit, then the price not so bad. If you just want to go one time to Piazza San Marco then just use right there alilaguna water taxi, 6,5 one way. On Venice day you can set your credit card, you can adjust tips which they adding automatically, Next morning we paid in cash what we owned to the ship, ate last breakfast and rolled with the luggage to the bus stop, took no. 5 bus to Russot hotel, then went back to the city.
We had a lot of fun, from ship we expected more, but we saw nice places, had nice room with balcony (where we spent most of the time when in ship), had decent food. So we will have only nice memories about this trip.