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jabcruiser

Koningsdam: Differences of note

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Just back from 11 Day Southern Wayfarer cruise.  This was our 6th HAL cruise and 4 of those were on the Vista Class ships in the past few years.  For those of you wondering about any differences experienced on Koningsdam from our previous HAL cruises, here are some things I noted.  Some good, some bad IMHO.

Happy Hour:  Yes they have it at 4:00 every day but not in Crow's Nest or ocean bar.  It is in Billboard Onboard and Rolling Stone Rock Room which are right across from each other.  $2 second drink..  They don't serve individual appetizers, but rather have a walk up station with about a dozen items including olives, cheeses, bread sticks, delicious pastry straws, great nuts, chips, salsa, vegies and dips and probably more items that I have forgotten. Liked this.

There is also a second Happy Hour in Crow's Nest at 10:00 but we did not attend that.  Also Blend seemed to have an evening happy hour with 2nd glass wine free.  Not sure if that was every day, but did see it at least a few days in When and Where.

Ship:  Yes it is bigger, and yes it seemed more crowded than our previous HAL cruises.  Lido buffet and pool areas especially where this noted.  But the outside seating is a huge improvement.  Lots of comfy sofa and big padded chair seating in pool area and on deck above pool and even on Sun deck which also had glass partitions which blocked the wind and provided some more private little cove areas to lounge.  But believe actual lounge chairs available were fewer.  Especially noted this aft lido pool area which seemed smaller in area than on other ships.  Pools more crowded than have experienced previously and several days shortage of pool towels noted. Outside table seating was good and way more comfy chairs there too.  Movie every night on Lido but we didn't attend any. One thing I noted was you could actually understand the PA announcements and Captain Timmers spoke really good English.  Usually can't hear or understand at least half of the announcements.  First time had inside muster and though more comfortable setting just did not make me feel very safe.  Just don't think it would work that well during true emergency.  Ship definitely lacked the classic art and sculpture we have enjoyed so much on previous cruises.  Artwork looked like they just got it from the Art Auction people on board.  Not our taste I guess.

Lido Buffet:  totally staff serve here.  Even juices in a.m. behind glass. Nice Hibachi station where you pick vegies and meat and sauce and they prepare for you.  Also sushi, dumplings and several pre made items here.  This was very popular.  Italian station appeared the same but pizza now has it's separate venue on deck above Lido.  That often very crowded with 45 minute wait one evening, but Pizza very good.   Didn't seem to serve as much lamb as on previous cruises.  It was served couple of times but prime rib, roast chicken, steak and roast pork seemed to be the standards here.  Of course always a fish item also.  The many stations on Lido were nice but it just seemed a lot more crowded with longer lines than have experienced before. All pre-made sandwiches with too much mayo or butter. 

No more taco station back by Dive In - missed that. Did note that Lido Buffet seemed to be open longer hours than on previous cruises with limited stations open until 4:00 in afternoon and dinner maybe until 8:30.

Specialty restaurants:  We tried Tamarind the first evening and liked it  Rather strange though that they were "out" of a couple of items on first day of cruise and first day of new menu. Pinnacle still offers lunch on sea days and we took advantage of that and loved it.  Canaletto about the same.  Enjoyed Grand Dutch Cafe free food items and thought that was very nice.

No Culinary Arts Center and no cooking demos.  Missed them.

HAL Navigator:  Used this every day and very convenient.  Booked a dinner reservation and worked like a charm.

Shops:  All new and not impressed.  Jewelry shops looked same to me but I have too much jewelry I never wear so didn't visit.  Separate T shirt shop had 2 types of t-shirts basically.  One with pocket and one without. Same logo on all that we saw.  Just small HAL ship logo.  That was it.  Gift shop had usual liquor and tobacco but very few smaller gift type items.  Nothing there of interest to us as have plenty of watches don't wear and plenty of dressy clutches don't use.

Room:  Yes the toilet seat is somewhat annoying but really no big deal.  Nice night light across from foot of bed that lights automatically at night from movement.  Glass shower doors - Yay.  Storage about the same.  Small round table (Veranda cabin) not suitable for in room dining so used desk. 

MDR:  Only visited during muster.  Too many stories of 30 minute waits for water glass fill, 2 1/2 hour dining times,  long open seating waits, etc. My impression was that decor appeared very minimalistic.

Room service:  Ordered both gala nights from MDR menu as usual for us.  Hope they continue this option but worried they may discontinue in future as a cost cutting measure.

These are most of the differences I noted from previous HAL cruises.  I am sure I missed some though.  Service was good and generally on par with HAL standards. We did enjoy the additional dining venues on this ship and the new BB King Blues club was really nice and band was great.  As I stated in other posts, did not enjoy the Rolling Stone Rock band but seemed busy every night so obviously others did. Just didn't think the band and especially singers were very good. New World Stage looked really nice but we did not attend any shows there.

Hope this helps anyone considering a Koningsdam cruise.  Any questions will be glad to give my two cents.

Jane

 

 

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Thank you, jabcruiser, for your well-balanced review of the Koningsdam.  Your review was useful as we prepare for our own cruise on January 13th.  Like you, we have not cruised on Holland America's newest ships, and we are a little apprehensive about crowding and the increased size of the ship.  We are specifically concerned about crowding during the embarkation and debarkation of the Koningsdam.  Can you share your experiences with us?

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40 minutes ago, GlennG said:

Thank you, jabcruiser, for your well-balanced review of the Koningsdam.  Your review was useful as we prepare for our own cruise on January 13th.  Like you, we have not cruised on Holland America's newest ships, and we are a little apprehensive about crowding and the increased size of the ship.  We are specifically concerned about crowding during the embarkation and debarkation of the Koningsdam.  Can you share your experiences with us?

The embarkation was longer lines than we have previously experienced on HAL.  More like our Carnival experiences.  Probably 30 minutes in line to check in, then another 30 minutes in seating area before our group called.  Heard from CrewNews that late embarkation due to workers still on board post dry dock so that may have been just an anomaly for our cruise.  Debarkation was late also.  We did expedited and carried off our bags.  Scheduled to begin at 7:30 but almost 8 when finally opened the gates.  Very long line by then, but it moved quickly and customs a breeze so no complaints there. Maybe 15 minutes to get out to shuttle pickup after debarkation began so that was good. 

Jane

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Just got off a 7 day holiday cruise on the Koningsdam, and agree with jabcruiser about most of what was said. The dining room is very PLAIN, and central area (seems like you're in a whale's belly) got very loud during dinner. The meals were good there though, and the staff worked hard and was very friendly. Long waits on the first Gala night (long lines, pagers) and all the chairs anywhere near the entrance were filled. It was a true zoo that first Gala night. Later in the cruise it seemed to calm down and became a more genteel experience.

The lido was generally very busy, and the stations were open until late afternoon. Food there was good too!

Main showroom was awesome, and the dancers were fantastic! Very upscale shows, interactive light show. Too much fun!

Rolling Stone Rock Room was excellent, and I thought the band and singers were very good. And we could still converse during the sets. Billboard- ugh. Piano players banging on the keys, screaming out songs. Not my cup of tea. The pianist providing predinner music in the Ocean bar area was also very heavy handed. Lincoln Center musicians were excellent.

The ship is beautiful, and in excellent shape. Our room (veranda) was delightful! TV/Movies in our cabin, excellent selection of movies, and the flat panel across from the bed was great!

One caveat: this is a FAMILY ship. Tons of kids, Marco Polo and cannonballs in the pools. The lido pool was not a place to kick back and take a nap in the sun- too noisy. When everyone was ashore, what a different experience it was- more like other ships in the HAL fleet.

Only one thing seemed missing: America's Test Kitchen- it was nonexistent. They've shut down the demo kitchen and turned it into Club Orange- which seems OK (if you're willing to add $50pp a day to your bill). Appeared half full during our evening meals.

All in all, it was a nice cruise. Not my favorite, but man was this ship beautiful!

 

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I felt that the service was "off" on the Koningsdam holiday cruise. They seemed understaffed and not as well trained as usual. I felt that many of the crew did not really care or go out of their way for guests. Many just seemed unhappy and unfriendly. There were many crew that did not seem to understand English very well. Not anything like level of service I have experienced in the past on HAL. HAL needs to work on glitches such as ridiculously long waits for room service, Dive In and NY Deli orders- sometimes 45 minute wait!!! Not acceptable!

I realize they give away a lot of these Pinnacle Grille dinners but if I am paying $70 to dine there the food should all be great and prepared properly! Unfortunately, this was not the case at all!

They also need to add daytime activities such as lecturers, cooking demos, matinee concerts even art walks to talk about the art on the ship- which I happened to like! Throw in a cocktail party for Mariners like they used to have and up the game on your Mariner lunch- when was the last time they changed that menu?

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Thank you Jabcruiser for a very helpful review.  We sail on HAL for the first time in 19 years in January on the Koningsdam.  I like to learn as much as I can in advance about our sailings.  I would expect that a January 13th sailing would have fewer families onboard and more single and double room occupants.  We sailed to Bermuda on Celebrity during early August and found that overcrowding was the norm due to all the multi-generations onboard.  A crew member told us that the third and fourth occupants in the staterooms caused the ship to be at full capacity.  After that sailing, we vowed to avoid cruises which would be heavily populated by families...except when we were traveling with our own grands.    We have a July, 2020 cruise booked with Viking Ocean which should be a safe bet.

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3 minutes ago, Nashna said:

Thank you Jabcruiser for a very helpful review.  We sail on HAL for the first time in 19 years in January on the Koningsdam.  I like to learn as much as I can in advance about our sailings.  I would expect that a January 13th sailing would have fewer families onboard and more single and double room occupants.  We sailed to Bermuda on Celebrity during early August and found that overcrowding was the norm due to all the multi-generations onboard.  A crew member told us that the third and fourth occupants in the staterooms caused the ship to be at full capacity.  After that sailing, we vowed to avoid cruises which would be heavily populated by families...except when we were traveling with our own grands.    We have a July, 2020 cruise booked with Viking Ocean which should be a safe bet.

Yes, I also noticed more multi generation families on this cruise and more kids than normally on HAL.  But really not at all bothersome to us.  The kids seemed generally very well behaved.  One evening at early BB King show some little ones really getting it down on dance floor.  They were so cute and everyone having a great time. We did enjoy this cruise.  Was just a little different than the normal HAL we are used to.

Jane

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Did you miss the wider wrap-around walking deck? Is that still on deck 3? Others have commented that it is very narrow and doesn't have the same feel as the outside deck 3 space on the Vistas. Wondering if you noticed that.  Are many out for exercise in the early morning?

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6 minutes ago, Moriah said:

Did you miss the wider wrap-around walking deck? Is that still on deck 3? Others have commented that it is very narrow and doesn't have the same feel as the outside deck 3 space on the Vistas. Wondering if you noticed that.  Are many out for exercise in the early morning?

We don't normally use promenade deck much but did notice it is much narrower than on Vistas.  That is why they have to do muster inside as promenade too narrow.  Not room for lounge chairs either i guess as didn't see any out there and would certainly block the narrower sections.  There is a running track up top on Sun deck and we did see it being used.  However there are cabins there at one end so there was a sign no jogging before 8, I believe, and an evening cut off time which I don't recall.  Also on Sun deck, which we found interesting, was lots of equipment for doing specific exercises.  Probably dozen or so total and each for specific purpose. Thought that was interesting and an option instead of spa.  We aren't exercise folks but noticed this one day wondering around ship taking some pictures.  Don't recall seeing these on any of our other cruises.

Jane

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We appreciate the reviews of Koningsdam . We are booked March 17th for the Southern caribbean  in a balcony state room & looking forward to the many  ports of which many are brand new to us :classic_biggrin:

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18 hours ago, Travrat said:

I felt that the service was "off" on the Koningsdam holiday cruise. They seemed understaffed and not as well trained as usual. I felt that many of the crew did not really care or go out of their way for guests. Many just seemed unhappy and unfriendly. There were many crew that did not seem to understand English very well. Not anything like level of service I have experienced in the past on HAL. HAL needs to work on glitches such as ridiculously long waits for room service, Dive In and NY Deli orders- sometimes 45 minute wait!!! Not acceptable!

I realize they give away a lot of these Pinnacle Grille dinners but if I am paying $70 to dine there the food should all be great and prepared properly! Unfortunately, this was not the case at all!

They also need to add daytime activities such as lecturers, cooking demos, matinee concerts even art walks to talk about the art on the ship- which I happened to like! Throw in a cocktail party for Mariners like they used to have and up the game on your Mariner lunch- when was the last time they changed that menu?

 

Its entirely possible that the crew you encountered that was "off" and "uncaring" were worried and concerned about their family and friends who are suffering from the devastating effects of the recent Indonesian tsunami. I can thoroughly understand why they might seem unhappy.  And yes, the ship was probably understaffed, due to some crew returning to Indonesia for family emergencies.   My heart goes out to any of the crew, and there probably are many, who have family affected by the tsunami.

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Baggal it is possible but I doubt that is the case. It is much more likely that they are just understaffed due to HAL saving money. The Phillipino staff were not any more cheery! It is also possible that they moved a lot of the more highly trained staff onto the N . Statendam. I know they changed the Captain over to the new ship. When I spoke to guest relations on the ship about the issues we were encountering they made no mention of losing crew members due to them going home after the tsunami. I think they are unhappy because they have to work harder and longer hours than ever before because the crew to guest ratio is less than it ever has been. 

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1 hour ago, Travrat said:

Baggal it is possible but I doubt that is the case. It is much more likely that they are just understaffed due to HAL saving money. The Phillipino staff were not any more cheery! It is also possible that they moved a lot of the more highly trained staff onto the N . Statendam. I know they changed the Captain over to the new ship. When I spoke to guest relations on the ship about the issues we were encountering they made no mention of losing crew members due to them going home after the tsunami. I think they are unhappy because they have to work harder and longer hours than ever before because the crew to guest ratio is less than it ever has been. 

I think that the above explanation is a reasonable approximation of reality.  It's not good news for people, like me, who have appreciated the outstanding level of service that we have received from HAL staff in previous years.  Thanks, Travat, for your comments.  I found them to be very useful.

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I was on the Christmas cruise and it was filled to capacity. I hope this is part of the reason that the ship seemed understaffed.

But I truly found a decline in both food and service from my experience on the same Christmas cruise on Koningsdam last year. I hope that HAL can fix some of these issues as I have always enjoyed sailing with them in the past. There are some super loyal HAL fans that find no fault with anything and make excuses for the line but I can only tell it like I see it. There are other cruise lines out there that are well worth trying for a different if not superior experience especially for mature cruisers. Oceania far surpasses HAL in food and after my last HAL cruise I have to say service. It may be a higher price point but there are 4 included specialty restaurants and 2 free cocktail parties on a 7 night cruise. The Viking cruise line will probably be the next I sail on. 

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We were on KONINGSDAM two years ago and while the ship itself was great found a number of service issues not typical of HAL at that time.

Going again the end of February so will be curious to compare to what we previously experienced and what OP is reporting now.

 

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I

On ‎12‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 4:45 AM, jabcruiser said:

Room:  Yes the toilet seat is somewhat annoying but really no big deal. 

Is it the angle of the toilet … as it appears somewhat crowded on the one side ...

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1 hour ago, foodsvcmgr said:

We were on KONINGSDAM two years ago and while the ship itself was great found a number of service issues not typical of HAL at that time.

Going again the end of February so will be curious to compare to what we previously experienced and what OP is reporting now.

 

We also were on the Koningsdam 2 years ago and experienced many service (and billing) issues we'd never had on any cruise before that or since.  It saddens me to hear that this ship is still having problems.  We're booked on her for 26 days next fall.

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Good to hear the different points of view on the service from past & present.

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6 hours ago, FM said:

I

Is it the angle of the toilet … as it appears somewhat crowded on the one side ...

You cannot sit straight on unless you are under maybe 5'3".  I am 5'6 and couldn't as glass shower enclosure blocks your knees.  

Jane

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16 hours ago, jabcruiser said:

You cannot sit straight on unless you are under maybe 5'3".  I am 5'6 and couldn't as glass shower enclosure blocks your knees.  

Jane

Thank you … that is so weird … don't know if I would like that … or if it would be difficult for individuals with mobility issues to sit at an angle …

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On 12/31/2018 at 3:25 AM, Moriah said:

Did you miss the wider wrap-around walking deck? Is that still on deck 3? Others have commented that it is very narrow and doesn't have the same feel as the outside deck 3 space on the Vistas. Wondering if you noticed that.  Are many out for exercise in the early morning?

 

Here is a photo from my first-after-drydock cruise on the Konigsdam that shows promenade deck:

 

image.png.b5f64e3d08420942301fc147a773baf8.png

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19 hours ago, jabcruiser said:

You cannot sit straight on unless you are under maybe 5'3".  I am 5'6 and couldn't as glass shower enclosure blocks your knees.  

Jane

 

Using the face of a clock as a reference, I would say your knees would be between the 10:00 and 11:00 position.  I will have a photo sometime today to post here.

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Posted (edited)
On 12/30/2018 at 11:36 AM, TonyC1952 said:

Just got off a 7 day holiday cruise on the Koningsdam, and agree with jabcruiser about most of what was said. The dining room is very PLAIN, and central area (seems like you're in a whale's belly) got very loud during dinner. The meals were good there though, and the staff worked hard and was very friendly. Long waits on the first Gala night (long lines, pagers) and all the chairs anywhere near the entrance were filled. It was a true zoo that first Gala night. Later in the cruise it seemed to calm down and became a more genteel experience.

The lido was generally very busy, and the stations were open until late afternoon. Food there was good too!

Main showroom was awesome, and the dancers were fantastic! Very upscale shows, interactive light show. Too much fun!

Rolling Stone Rock Room was excellent, and I thought the band and singers were very good. And we could still converse during the sets. Billboard- ugh. Piano players banging on the keys, screaming out songs. Not my cup of tea. The pianist providing predinner music in the Ocean bar area was also very heavy handed. Lincoln Center musicians were excellent.

The ship is beautiful, and in excellent shape. Our room (veranda) was delightful! TV/Movies in our cabin, excellent selection of movies, and the flat panel across from the bed was great!

One caveat: this is a FAMILY ship. Tons of kids, Marco Polo and cannonballs in the pools. The lido pool was not a place to kick back and take a nap in the sun- too noisy. When everyone was ashore, what a different experience it was- more like other ships in the HAL fleet.

Only one thing seemed missing: America's Test Kitchen- it was nonexistent. They've shut down the demo kitchen and turned it into Club Orange- which seems OK (if you're willing to add $50pp a day to your bill). Appeared half full during our evening meals.

All in all, it was a nice cruise. Not my favorite, but man was this ship beautiful!

 

 

It really isn't a FAMILY  ship, but when you travel during the holidays, you have to expect lots of families because the kids are out of school. That can also add to the feel of understaffing. All those extra (3/4th in the cabin) passengers put a demand on food service staff and all those sofa beds to be made and unmade add to the cabin stewards' work loads. When I was on K last winter, there weren't many kids and service was up to my expectations.

 

Sorry to hear the pianist in Ocean Bar was poor. The one we heard last winter was poor, too. Lincoln Center was my favorite entertainment. Can't wait to hear them in their new location when I'm back on the K in January.

 

Edited by 3rdGenCunarder

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Thanks for all the comments about the Koningsdam.  I am a four-star mariner, but shortly I will be doing my first cruise on this ship. I have always steered clear of it because of the extra amount of passengers.  I like the 1,900 to 2,000 range.  I have two questions - (1) Is there a welcome 3-4-5 star mariner cocktail party the first day or any day? (2) I received today a notice of embarkment times done by deck level which start at 1 pm.  Four and five start mariners can do anytime between 1 PM and 4 PM.  I usually arrive at 10:30 and they let you on at 11:30 or noon.  Is this procedure of 1 PM embarkment start time normal for this  ship?  Thanks in advance for replies!

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