October 9-21 2007
by Hugh F. Barbour
This is my 16th cruise.
Embarkation was at the Port of Montreal, Canada. For a normal
Embarkation: Once you passed Port Security at the Terminal entrance,
you have to line up to check in. Have your passport out with your
passport for the check in personnel.
Our Embarkation: We arrived at the Ship at 4:00 PM on the last bus
from the airport. Sailing time had been moved up 2 hours because of
tide times. HAL had notified some passengers and we were among the
non-notified. After we cleared Port Security at the Terminal
entrance, we were raced up the terminal ramp system to the ship’s
gang way. We were directed past the Lifeboat Drill, already in
progress, where we then proceeded to the Purser’s Desk to check in.
CABIN & AMENITIES: We
had an Inside Cabin (562-K), a Triple (2 lower beds, 1 sofa bed) and
it was a let down after having Ocean View cabins in the past. I had
forgotten what a cabin was like without a porthole! Layout wasn’t
bad and size was 182 sq. feet. Good storage space (3 closets, lots
of drawers). The cabin was equipped with a small safe, Radio, and
Television. The television got 6 satellite stations (CNN, ESPN,
DISCOVERY CHANNEL, TNT, TLC, and ANINAL PLANET, Channel 4 is the Bow
Cam), 2 movie channels, and 3 ship originated channels. The radio
had 5 or 6 stations and had all the PA announcements.
The bathroom is very well equipped, with molded counter top, a
wall-mount hairdryer, and a 110 VAC and 220 VDC sockets were
provided for electric razors.
The onboard newsletter "Daily Program" was delivered every night
with announcements and schedules for the next day. Times Digest, a
condensed version of the New York Times, was delivered to your cabin
ON BOARD: Your door key
(these serve as ID, and credit card while on the ship) will be in
the Welcome Packet you get at check in. You will also find your
Dining Assignment, and Ship‘s Map in the packet. You do not need to
register your credit card right away to use your card to buy a drink
or anything else on ship. Wait a day and then register your credit
card to avoid the long lines. Oh, and do know that you will have to
pay a 20% port surcharge on drinks bought while in port.
Holland America was good about getting our luggage to our rooms
within a few hours of our arrival, and we unpacked and had adequate
storage space. Even large suitcases will slide under the beds!
The first night was all about learning where things are on the
ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a
disco, casino, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 2 adult pool, 2 hot
tubs, etc. Walk around with the little color coded map they give you
and get comfortable - there is a lot to see.
PORTS OF CALL: Same
tours as every other cruise line. Consider not booking on ship -
make your own arrangements in port or check and see if your travel
agency or wholesaler can recommend a local tour company if you don’t
want to use the ship’s tours.
- Quebec - This is an interesting City, with an interesting
History. Make sure you see Le Château Frontenac.
- Sydney, Nova Scotia - Acts as a major industrial hub for the
rest of Atlantic Canada and is Nova Scotia’s 3rd largest City.
Sydney Harbor, Sydney is a popular stopover point for cruise
ships on the Atlantic Shore. Make sure you visit the Alexander
Graham Bell Museum, located a short drive from downtown Sydney.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia - the capital of Nova Scotia and the
largest municipality in Atlantic Canada, lies on a peninsula
alongside one of the world's largest deep water harbors. Make
sure you visit Peggy's Cove, a picturesque fishing village
located a short drive from downtown Halifax.
- Bar Harbor, Maine - Arcadia National Park is beautiful, and
the view from Mount Cadillac is fantastic. A lot of shops and
restaurants around the water front.
- Newport, Rhode Island - Newport's history is remarkable in
many ways, but perhaps the most unique aspect is that so much of
its history is still visible on the landscape in an unparalleled
concentration of preserved architecture.
- Charleston, South Carolina - A city rich in history,
tradition, and Southern culture. Be sure to see the Historic
Club HAL® for Kids 3-12:
Holland America Line has reinvented its popular Club HAL
with new supervised play areas and age - appropriate activities for
kids ages 3 to 12. Creativity and fun are everywhere with art
tables, board games, toys, video games and much more. The enhanced
Youth Program also features separate, age - appropriate areas with a
variety of activities for every interest. Supervised by permanent,
full-time staff, children can meet friends and enjoy a variety of
safe and entertaining choices. Some of the features include; a
colorful, expanded playroom for kids 3 to 7 with art tables,
big-screen TV, puzzles and games (children must be potty-trained in
this area - no pull-ups); a separate area for ages 8-12 featuring
arcade games, foosball, karaoke, Sony Playstations, DDR (Dance Dance
Revolution), miniature golf, ping pong and much more; Family Game
Time, Family Olympics and Family Karaoke; Club HAL After Hours so
parents can enjoy an evening alone (extra charge) 10 p.m. to
SUPERVISION: You can feel at ease knowing that your child's onboard
experience is safe and managed. All activities are supervised by
permanent, full-time youth staff who hold degrees in education,
childhood development, recreation, leisure studies or related
ADDITIONAL FAMILY SERVICES: Holland America Line is dedicated to
making your family's cruise vacation memorable and happy for each
member of your family. It is for this reason that additional youth
services include: a wide variety of kid-pleasing food, including
special sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza; Baby
food, high chairs and booster seats (please notify in advance of
boarding); baby-sitting services for a small surcharge; Special kid
friendly birthday parties (please notify in advance of boarding).
The Loft & The Oasis for Teens:
The Loft and The Oasis provide teens ages 13-17 with the a
getaway from family and siblings. As an exclusive hideaway for teens
only, The Loft and The Oasis gives teen guests plenty of space to
relax and socialize with people their own age.
THE LOFT: Was designed to resemble a New York artist's loft, The
Loft has a contemporary, open feel with cool places to just hang
out. It's a place teens can call their own, with no children or
adults, exciting features include a modern environment with music,
videos and a video karaoke system, as well as a state-of-the-art
sound and laser light systems for dancing; a big-screen television
to watch the latest music videos and movies; Teen club nights; and
activities until midnight.
THE OASIS: Follow a special passageway upstairs from the Loft to
find the private entrance to The Oasis, a secluded teens-only sun
deck. Additional features include plenty of space to relax and
socialize, as well as comfortable lounge chairs and hammocks; a
nine-foot high water fall, cave and wade pool to cool off from the
sun; and a state-of-the-art sound system .
CREW: The crew is
multinational and all speak English. They go out of their way to try
to accommodate your every request, if it is possible for them to do
DINING OPTIONS: Holland
America has long been one of the more traditional cruise lines when
it comes to main-restaurant dining. On every ship but the Prinsendam,
HAL has offered four seating: 5:45 p.m. (first upper); 6:15 p.m.
(first lower); 8 p.m. (main upper); and 8:30 p.m. (main lower). But
that's changing as the line begins to incorporate As You Wish dining
onto its ships. Via As You Wish, passengers can opt for pre-set
seating and dining time, or take advantage of a new, flexible option
at dinner (breakfast and lunch are already open seating).
Rotterdam Dining Room offers fine dining at its best. This
beautifully appointed, formal in setting, the 2 story main dining
room features Rosenthal china, starched linens, silver service and
Pinnacle Grill is a beautifully appointed alternative-dining venue,
featuring Bvlgari china, Frette linens, and Riedel stemware. The
menu features Pacific Northwest specialties. Open for dinner only by
reservation, guests pay a surcharge of $30.00 per person for dinner,
and $15.00 for lunch.
Lido Buffet Restaurant is an upscale casual alternative-dining
venue. This is a unique spin on trend of buffet food stations. The
Lido offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Midnight Buffet is
served in the Lido at 11:00PM.
Terrace Grill is an outdoor buffet dining venue by the pool. Buffet
Stations feature pizza, nachos, tacos, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
FOOD: I can honestly
say - the best I’ve had on a Holland America. When I was on the
Nieuw Amsterdam in 1992, all the food had an Indonesian flavor,
which did not sit well with most of the passengers.
Buffet Area - Well done. Most passengers spent breakfast and lunch
here so I assume the food here was not bad. No soda machines -
juice, tea, and coffee only. At Dinner time this area became the
specialty restaurant (reservation only).
standard Broadway/Las Vegas type entertainment that we are
accustomed too. The dancer troupe was excellent. The crew talent
show was well done. Singing, dancing, etc - a real blast. All crew
nationalities were represented.
PHOTOGRAPHERS: They do
a great quality job. Photos were displayed on the Port side, between
the Shops and the theater entrance. Prices were about average for
INTERNET CAFÉ: I didn’t
use it. Located between the Main Dining room and the Coffee Bar and
the Library. About 12 computer terminals and WIFI at select
locations around he ship. The attendant was always available at his
posted hours. I believe the cost was $100.00 for the week.
LIBRARY: One of the
best I have seen on a ship! It is one step below a public Library.
Books are due back the day before you disembark. They have current,
hard cover and paper backs, and Magazines. Board games are also
DISEMBARKATION: You can
wait in your room but there is no room service for breakfast.
Breakfast starts at 6:30 AM. Because everyone is eating at once,
there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and
have breakfast there - it is tasty, hot, and they have a good
After breakfast you go to your color coded assigned waiting areas.
The system works very well, but you do still get some foreign
nationals who can’t follow directions and hold up the disembarkation
because they didn’t report to Customs and Immigration. When your
color is called, you go down to the gangway and use your Holland
America Card one last time to check out of the ship.
Once on shore, you proceed to the color coded area to claim your
luggage, then you go thru Customs. After claiming your luggage, you
hand in your customs declaration to the Agent at the Door and leave
the terminal to Historic Ybor City in downtown Tampa.
OVERALL: I think this
was a great ship with good food and service. The Inside rooms are
very comfortable and kept tidy. I disliked that we had too little
time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if
you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it.
- The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have
a great time.
- They have healthy food choices including sugar free desserts
- There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and
really I saw few people smoking anyway.
- The shopping on board was good according to the people I
- Check out some of the onboard games and dances with the
cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining.
- They have a good variety of food and never complain if you
want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile.
BEFORE YOU GO:
Ship's Registry: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Passenger capacity: 1,258
Crew members: 560
Gross tonnage: 55,758 grt. (One registered ton equals 100 cubic
Length: 720 feet
Beam: 101 feet
Maximum speed: 22 knots
Dedicated: January, 1996 by actress Debbie Reynolds
Total Number of Staterooms 629 (6 wheelchair accessible)
CASINO: 4 Blackjack Tables, 1 Texas Hold’em Table, 1 Roulette
Table, 1 Craps Table, 1 Caribbean Poker Table, 3 Card Poker Tables,
81 Slot Machines, 17 Video Poker Games, 1 High Roller Game.
Spa Facilities: Fitness Center, Dual Saunas, Dual Steam Rooms,
Massage Rooms, Beauty Salon/Barber Shop, Thermal Suite, Relaxation
Rooms, Volley Ball/Tennis Court, Basketball Court.
3 Launderettes (Self-service Laundromats)
2 Swimming Pools
2 Hot Tubs
INFIRMARY (HOSPITAL): An on board infirmary is staffed by a licensed
physician and three registered nurses. The infirmary is equipped
with emergency medical facilities and a well-stocked pharmacy
capable of handling a majority of medical conditions at sea.