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stephensfamily5

What I like about Holland America

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My DH and I have been on at least a dozen cruises on various cruiselines, including Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Pullmantur, and Holland America. We just returned from an Alaskan cruise on the Westerdam, and had an incredible time. I will try to take the time to write a full-fledged review at another time. But many people like to compare the cruiselines, and I think that Holland America has definitely set itself apart in some areas, so let me explain.

 

First of all, a little about our background. We have lived overseas and traveled quite a bit, so we prefer independent travel, whether the entire trip or just on a port day. At the same time, it is very convenient to let the ship do the traveling for you. No packing every night or two, no finding the next hotel, just head back to the ship and choose where to eat. The next morning you will find yourself at a new destination! You should also know that we tend to choose cruises based more on the itinerary and price than on the ship or cruiseline. After this last cruise, though, Holland America would definitely be preferred for more exotic locales.

 

Many people talk about the food, but we have never had a hard time finding food that we enjoy on any cruise, so that is secondary to me. Where HAL excels, in my opinion, is their enrichment activities. Most cruiselines offer talks about the ports, but, when you go, it ends up trying to sell you the ship's excursions, or pointing you to their shops. Not what I'm looking for! HAL had 2 EXC Guides who were specifically for the independent traveler. They had an afternoon talk in the large theater with an overview of the ports and suggestions. They also gave very interesting talks about topics related to our ports. Just a couple of the titles were, "Alaskan Bush Pilots", "Mercy & Greatness on the Last Frontier" about the Iditarod, "The Secret Language of Ships", and my favorite, "Dreamers, Schemers, & Stampeders", the famous and infamous characters who gambled for gold in "The Last Frontier". There was also a Naturalist on board, who had times scheduled to watch for wildlife. He also gave talks on the wildlife, paw prints, fauna, etc. The day we spent n Glacier Bay we had the Park Rangers board the ship, set up a display and shop, and narrate what we were seeing. There was such a variety of information presented in a very interesting way! There was a BBC presentation called "Alaska in Concert" set to live music one evening that was fabulous! On other cruiselines, most activities involved selling me something or getting my money somehow. However, on the Westerdam, there was a free kitchen tour. There was a Digital Workshop with classes related to Windows that were always well attended. The Windows specialist, as well as the naturalist and the EXC Guides all had times scheduled if you had additional questions.America's Test Kitchen offered a variety of popular demonstration classes. We did not get to sample the food, however. Evenings provided the typical comedian, illusionist, and production shows (mediocre). We loved the music venues offered each evening. The BB King Blues Club, the Lincoln Center Stage ( a fabulous classical quintet), and Billboard Onboard (dualing pianos) guaranteed that there was always someplace to enjoy listening. I should note that, although, there were people who danced in the Blues Club, there was not a venue for dancing.

 

If you are wanting to party past around 1am, then HAL is probably not for you. It usually closed down between midnight and 1am. If you want wave machines and climbing walls and tons of activities for teens, then you may not like HAL. If you want a different restaurant every night or the huge mega-ships, then you might try another line. But, if you want a variety of classes and desire to learn about the destination that you are traveling, especially if you enjoy music, I would highly recommend HAL and the Westerdam.

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We have also cruised on 4-5 different cruise lines and keep coming back to HAL for the same reason.

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There are many reasons to like/appreciate HAL. And we do. But we also like and appreciate the offerings of other cruise lines.

 

OTOH liking HAL does not mean that we make excuses for them. At the end of the day HAL is simply another for profit business in the travel sector. We have zero emotional attachment to any large corporation. We clearly understand that their first loyalty is where it should be-to their shareholders and to their bottom line.

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I went on my first HAL last year in November on Maasdam and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Unfortunately this year HAL is no on my plans and it so sucks because I'm getting offers to free interior rooms from Casino program but my vacation is paid and set in stone for this year. I did book a few cruises with the $1 deposit for next year and can't wait to sail HAL again.

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we like HAL primarily because we don't need to fly to be on one of their cruises here out of San Diego . HAL & Princess are now our favorite cruise lines . We have done other cruise lines like Celebrity ,RCCL & Carnival

 

Also now approaching 80 we find our likes have changed & HAL fits us the best :D

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We have just returned from our first NCL cruise and were very disappointed. They have got nothing on HAL by any means! We are now looking at booking our next cruise and it will probably be back with Holland. We missed this classy outfit!

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Thank you for giving us your reasons for liking HAL.

on dec 30 2017 we took our first HAL cruise why we took so long baffles me. This dec 29 we our going on our third cruise with Ooseterdam and will be spoiling ourselves with Neptune Suite. We love the ship size and its fantastic helpful workers

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We've got our first HAL trip planned on the Nieuw Amsterdam next year. Thus, cannot say what we like best at this point, but rather, why we booked. We are looking for a relaxing trip- quiet spaces and places to see beautiful scenery, places to be connected or near the ocean (ie the promenade), some places to curl up and read a good book and relax, a kicked back day in a spa, and friendly staff. From the reviews we have read, HAL offers these things. Anxious for next year's trip to arrive.

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We like HAL because of itineraries, fantastic friendly crew, very few but well behaved children and teens and well maintained ships.

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We have sailed Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Disney as well as HAL. Each cruise was enjoyable on different levels. But it seems HAL is just a fit for us. We enjoy their ships and their crews. The food is right up there, too. I think I could best describe our experience with Holland America as "comfortable."

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When coming on board, we feel as if we are coming home--familiar, comfortable, taken care of, great staff providing care of everything from cabins and public spaces to wonderful meals in several different venues and knowing that we will see fascinating places that many other lines don't offer. It's a great way to start off a vacation!

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When coming on board, we feel as if we are coming home--familiar, comfortable, taken care of, great staff providing care of everything from cabins and public spaces to wonderful meals in several different venues and knowing that we will see fascinating places that many other lines don't offer. It's a great way to start off a vacation!

 

I was just getting ready to post when I saw your post and it made me laugh. You took the words right out of my mouth...coming home!! I have tried to explain that feeling to other people and they often look at me like I'm nuts (OK - maybe a little). We have also sailed on Princess, RCI and Carnival. We do our long cruises based on itinerary and our shorter cruises based on the convenience of leaving out of Fort Lauderdale which is a 1 hour drive. But there's something about that first step onto a HAL ship that lets me know "I'm home."

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on dec 30 2017 we took our first HAL cruise why we took so long baffles me. This dec 29 we our going on our third cruise with Ooseterdam and will be spoiling ourselves with Neptune Suite. We love the ship size and its fantastic helpful workers

 

You are going to love the suite. I love Oosterdam too for a very special memory. My last cruise with my darling husband was aboard Oosterdam in April 2017. After cruising over 200 days with HA, all of them in J-K categories, we finally booked a Neptune Suite aboard Oosterdam. I am so grateful that we got to experience it together because he died 4 months later.

 

Although I continue to cruise with family and friends, I have avoided ships DH and I sailed. That's a lot of ships, almost all of the HA ships, except for 2. This spring I'll be returning to the Oosterdam with friends, and I must keep in mind that DH would encourage me to go and enjoy myself.

 

So glad you like HA, and for the same reasons, I do. Their welcoming and friendly crew can't be beat IMO.

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While Ir eally do like the Neptune Suites, very much, it is the People of HAL that mean the most to me on HAL. The crews on the ships are fantastic, IMO>[/b]

 

 

It is the crews of HAL that kept me and my DH returning for dozens and dozens of cruises. ( I think it is over 100 )

Edited by sail7seas

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We cruised with Celebrity, Princess, Holland, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, MSC and Carnival. Well, Carnival isn’t in our plans anymore.

 

We only had 2 cruises with HAL.

Zuiderdam Western Caribbeans in 2004

Veendam Boston to Montreal in 2016

 

Experiences were very inconsistent, but I will list only positives.

 

Overall ambiance

Ships design/decor. I love arts, so paintings and other arts on Holland ships are very interesting for me.

Size and comfort of cabins, even insides.

Quality of food

Ports’ lectures and TV programming. I love that you see more than just shorex sales pitches.

Theater entertainment overall

 

There were negatives too. I think Holland can do better in terms of service and ships maintenance sometimes. Also buffets times aren’t always the best.

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We've got our first HAL trip planned on the Nieuw Amsterdam next year. Thus, cannot say what we like best at this point, but rather, why we booked. We are looking for a relaxing trip- quiet spaces and places to see beautiful scenery, places to be connected or near the ocean (ie the promenade), some places to curl up and read a good book and relax, a kicked back day in a spa, and friendly staff. From the reviews we have read, HAL offers these things. Anxious for next year's trip to arrive.

 

Sorry, right church, wrong pew, Nieuw Amsterdam has no promenade seating where you could listen to shush of the sea, no library as it is on the older HAL ships where you could curl up on a comfy chair and maybe doze off.

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Sorry, right church, wrong pew, Nieuw Amsterdam has no promenade seating where you could listen to shush of the sea, no library as it is on the older HAL ships where you could curl up on a comfy chair and maybe doze off.

 

Not sure what Nieuw Amsterdam you were on but here is a picture of Nieuw Amsterdam Promenade Deck. Lots of seating- none reserved. Lots of comfy chairs all over the ship.

 

Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship and classic Holland America

 

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Sorry, right church, wrong pew, Nieuw Amsterdam has no promenade seating where you could listen to shush of the sea, no library as it is on the older HAL ships where you could curl up on a comfy chair and maybe doze off.

 

Thanks. From videos we've seen of the NA, thought we had seen lounge chairs on the promenade deck. As far as the proper libraries, we realize the NA does not have one, but, saw seating around the ship that would may suffice.

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Where did you get this information from?

Sorry, right church, wrong pew, Nieuw Amsterdam has no promenade seating where you could listen to shush of the sea, no library as it is on the older HAL ships where you could curl up on a comfy chair and maybe doze off.

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I'm always happy to hear of good experiences from other HAL cruisers. We fit into the same category as the OP and enjoy HAL ships, food, entertainment (mostly), passengers and crew. What stands out for us with HAL are the enrichment programs and being able to walk all the way around deck 3! So many other ships cut you off at the bow.

 

We were just on the Voyage of the Vikings July 18 - August 25 on Rotterdam and loved every day, every port, almost every speaker, the food, the MDR, the Lido, the viewing area on deck 6 forward, etc. Was there anything not good? Well, there were some problems with the automated wake up calls and one evening with no cold water but hey, we didn't let it ruin our vacation. Sure, the ship is old but we just walked around the buckets collecting leaking rain water. (We were on a brand new MSC ship which had the same thing and worse that were worthy of complaint - and we did!)

 

We still sail Carnival due to the price but our expectations are low. We let everyone else do their thing and have always been able to find a quiet place to eat, relax and enjoy the sun. Any cruise is a good one but HAL's are special.

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Sorry, right church, wrong pew, Nieuw Amsterdam has no promenade seating where you could listen to shush of the sea, no library as it is on the older HAL ships where you could curl up on a comfy chair and maybe doze off.

 

It is probably the other "Nieuw" - Nieuw Statendam, the new build, which will have no seating on the Promenade deck - that you are referring to.

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