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Koningsdam Review

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It's been a few years since our last cruise on Holland, and it may very well have been our last. For reference, the cruise date was March 17, 10 days to ABC islands with other ports.

It appears that Holland, and rightfully so, has embarked on a campaign to reduce food waist. In the Lido restaurant they now dispense the food rather than allow self serve. Great idea. Some Holland ships are testing the idea of charging for an additional entree in the main dining room. Bad idea. They don't seem to care about the dietary needs of those desiring no sugar added desserts. Bad idea. No sugar free dessert on the chocolate parade featured on the 9th evening of the cruuse. Bad decision. But most appalling of all was the extra charge for a second entree in a specialty restaurant where we had already paid $25 pp for dinner.

Overall, the food and service were just ok, but the shows were not. They have cut back to where there were no singers, only dancers for the production shows. The was only 2 production shows with encore performances in the last two nights. There was four shows, a comedian, ventriloquist, magician and singer, that were basically average. The music walk was ok.

Reading this review, one might ask why would this be your last cruise on Holland. well here's why.

Holland used to be just a little better than the competition. In my opinion they have lowered themselves to meet a lower expectation. They are using the spirit airlines approach of nickel and diming themselves to profitability.  They used to distinguish themselves by making their mostly repeat customers feel special. That's no longer true. 

I can sail on Royal or Norwegian or any of the other average cruise lines of I want average. That was not my expectations.

 

 

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I agree on a lot of your points.  We recently did our first Celebrity cruise and really enjoyed it.  Many more entertainment venues which we liked.  However, we were in a suite so never dined in their MDR so no idea what it was like since suite guests have a private dining room (which was great-they sure treat their suite guests much better than HAL).  

 

We have two more cruises booked on HAL-next month and then Europe in 2020 which we may cancel-time will tell.  

 

 

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I agree with many of OP's comments. But HAL offers lots of no added sugar desserts, both in MDR and Lido. I can understand not having them on the chocolate parade. The waiter might not remember which items are no sugar, so it's safer to say they all contain sugar. 

 

This is the first time in a long time that I don't have a HAL cruise in my future. 

 

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Big ships with small service, that's HAL's future plan..

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We are cruising HAL for the first time this June and I am hoping that the experience will still be fun, despite any of the downsides that you have mentioned. It's good to go in with a realistic expectation on the cruise, so thank you for providing your honest take on your experience - it can sometimes be difficult to find such reviews online.

 

Just curious - what do you mean by production shows? I know they don't do a Broadway musical like RCL does but I had read about their BBC Earth show with dancers and had been hoping to see that one. Is a production show one that follows a storyline or with bigger props/costumes/show pieces? It's a shame that they don't include at least a few singers in those shows to provide a bit of variety though. It's nice that they don't offer only singers or only dancers as they include a magician/ventriloquist/comedian, but it's disappointing to hear that they were only average.

 

I'm really happy to hear about the self-serve service being removed from the Lido though. It sounds like it will help tremendously in preventing noro and I'm sure you can still request to have a particular piece/portion size if you ask. Hoping that they will have a decent non-dairy selection or at least the ability to amend dishes to make them dairy-free, seeing as most of my travel group is lactose intolerant... but that's what Lactaid pills are for, I guess! Wasn't really planning on hitting any of the specialty restaurants anyways, but we were on the fence, but not being able to order anything extra despite paying a fee is a bit of a bummer for me.

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Posted (edited)

I agree with some of the OP's points, But will say I was on the sailing before and there were plenty of no sugar added desserts with the exception of the chocolate parade.  I do like the fact that HAL does serve you in the Lido, it does cut down on illness on the ships, I wouldn't want to touch the same utensels as some of my fellow passengers serving themselves, thank you for that HAL.

 

I loved the addition of the BBKings and Rolling Rock rooms, never did make it to the dueling pianos.

 

for the specialty dining venues, we ate at the Canaletto and really enjoyed it.  For the Pinnacle Grill, that has gone downhill over the years, however, we were given dinner there complimentary, I wouldn't pay to go there.  And for paying for a second entire, I don't remember a time when you didn't have to pay.  I also know some other lines charge for a second entree.

 

I am sorry you were disappointed with HAL, hopefully you can find a cruise line more to your liking.

 

We had excellent service on our K'dam cruise, better than on some of the other lines and or HAL ships.

Edited by doone

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34 minutes ago, simplyrubies said:

We are cruising HAL for the first time this June and I am hoping that the experience will still be fun, despite any of the downsides that you have mentioned. It's good to go in with a realistic expectation on the cruise, so thank you for providing your honest take on your experience - it can sometimes be difficult to find such reviews online.

 

 

Always remember, any cruise is always better than no cruise :classic_biggrin:

You will have fun.....we always do :classic_love:

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I am also booked for a sailing on the K'dam for next year and found your review helpful.  I've sailed on HAL many years ago so basically, will be coming back as a new cruiser on this line.  

I find the music row a main attraction for us so not so concerned about the lack of production shows.  I've only seen a few that have really wowed me in the past.  We'll still check out the other shows they have but will most likely be spending most of our evening hours in that music row.  

Also, very glad to learn of being dished up in the Lido!  I see people leave the bathroom without washing their hands and going right into the buffet.  Yuk!!  

As far as the charge for the extra entree, I think most cruiselines are heading that direction.  I have no problem with it as I've never been able to eat more than one meal.  And, I suppose there are still places all over the ship where one can get something else if they are still somewhat hungry.  

Again, thank you for the review so I can set my expectations.  Very helpful!  

 

 

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Without being too critical I have seen many changes over the years.  The cuts in the main dining room are noticeable.  There are fewer entries at dinner each evening.  Soup choices are down from 3 to one.  Up unil late last summer, there was a both, a cream and a cold soup at each meal.  Suddenly that is gone.  There is no parade og the Baked Alaska and no baked Alaska on the last formal (gala) night, no dessert Extravaganza any more and now offering a President's cut of a steak at an additional charge.   HAL has indeed changed.

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Sorry you did not have a good experience.  My husband and I were on the Koningsdam in January and had a fabulous cruise.  We prefer Holland America line, but have enjoyed cruises on Celebrity and Princess.  Five years ago our Celebrity Panama Canal cruise was great, but I did notice that it seemed to be what I call more  "gimmicky" than before.  That observation did not spoil the cruise, though.  Let's face it.  We are all different and have different likes/dislikes, and that is not a bad thing.

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The first night's entertainment on my recent Nieuw Amsterdam cruise was "Mary Poppins Returns".  Really?  Thank goodness for BB King's and the piano players/singers.  Otherwise, entertainment was very weak.  

 

I agree with others that there are lots of no sugar added desserts in the MDR and the Lido.  It doesn't surprise me that you're charged extra for a 2nd entrée in a specialty restaurant.  I found service in the MDR to be spotty.  I'm very much OK with no self service in the Lido.

 

Roz

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Sad to see what is happening with HAL.   We cruised on the Oosterdam in late February (cruise review is posted in the review section) and have to echo most of what the OP has said.   We have been HAL loyalists for 15 years but perhaps no more.   Like the OP, the cutbacks in the MDR are obvious.   No cold soups,  limited appetizers and YES, my wife was charged $10 for adding a lobster tail to her veal chop.  

First night out there was no main stage entertainment.   No production shows.  Parts of the  promenade deck were closed almost always,  making walking it a chore. 

 

We cruised HAL because it seemed to fit nicely between the main stream lines and the luxury lines.  No more.  HAL is now another main stream cruise line.

 

As I said.....sad

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I've read reviews from people who cruise RCI & Celebrity who have said that they are coming back to HAL because the service has gone down hill on those lines. We have cruised five different cruise lines but prefer HAL, to us that's where we feel comfortable, to each their own. Enjoy what ever ship & cruise you're on.

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We just did the transatlantic on 4/7 and the two Mediterranean cruises for a total of 40 days on the lovely Koningsdam. Loved the ship, crew and the Music Walk was terrific. I hated that there was no Welcome Aboard show and really missed the production shows. The dance troupe did two very good shows but will never replace the live singer and dancer shows. Especially with the awesome stage. Hope they will bring them back as many people were upset with the entertainment. We had a wonderful cruise but the World Stage entertainment was lacking.

 

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We were on that same March 17th Cruise on the Koningsdam and we LOVED it.  Staff were almost universally friendly, well-trained and accommodating. We appreciated the smaller portions (for years we winced as we saw so much food wasted) and having staff serve in the Lido not only controlled portions (which are, in the end, unlimited), but reduced the chance of cruiser to cruiser germ spread.

 

The laser light/dance show Humanity?! was the BEST show we have ever seen on a cruise. It was fresh, hip and had current/popular music.  How many times can you see sailor/poodle skirt outfits and people singing and dancing to hits of the 50s/60s?

 

The Lincoln Center stage was excellent. They could have added a few more shows, but the shows we attended always had extra seats (did you attend any of the performances?).  BBKing was always good and well attended as well.  We missed Karaoke and there were no Enrichment Lectures or Educational Programs but if we had to sacrifice those 3 things to also miss Belly Flop contests, Hairiest Man Contests, etc. then it was an excellent trade off.   The roaming waiters were always available but not aggressive, annoying or pushy (5 stars for that!).

 

Finally, had you asked for No Sugar desserts, and explained what you liked/wanted, I am confident that someone (Maitre D, Waiter, Food Service Manager) would have accommodated you.  Did you ask/request for something from someone in authority? (not Lido staff who have very little discretion).  I agree with not having No Sugar items in the chocolate parade (sugar free desserts often give me and my family digestion issues - I would not have been happy to have accidentally been served one).

 

Do you ever eat two full entrees plus apps plus dessert when you're out at home? There is a nearly unlimited supply of food on the ship -- charging extra for an extra entree probably reduced the food waste that you celebrated earlier in your review. I doubt you could have eaten apps, 2 full entrees and dessert so they helped you help eliminate waste. 

 

We enjoyed the cruise so much that we just booked another HAL cruise for this summer. We had had no plans to cruise again this year when we stepped on to the Koningsdam.  Seems they may have lost 1 customer, but we stepped in to your place as they gained us.  

 

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Oh, there was a huge negative on that ship that no one has mentioned. The theatre is waaaaay too small. You have to show up at least 45 minutes early to get a decent seat. Often by 30 minutes before showtime, people were literally searching for two seats together.  In fact, on our sailing a bloody physical fight over seats broke out and passengers were confided to their cabins and kicked off the ship at the next port. Not Holland's fault, but upsetting to witness nonetheless.

 

There was also much too much smoke in the Casino and that smoke drifted out.  I suggest Holland makes all their ships Smoke Free.  

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1 hour ago, SunNFunCruzer said:

Oh, there was a huge negative on that ship that no one has mentioned. The theatre is waaaaay too small. You have to show up at least 45 minutes early to get a decent seat. Often by 30 minutes before showtime, people were literally searching for two seats together.  In fact, on our sailing a bloody physical fight over seats broke out and passengers were confided to their cabins and kicked off the ship at the next port. Not Holland's fault, but upsetting to witness nonetheless.

 

There was also much too much smoke in the Casino and that smoke drifted out.  I suggest Holland makes all their ships Smoke Free.  

 

It is a shame they don’t go back to the 3 shows. When we did 21 days on the ship in December 2017 we were so impressed there were 3 show times!  However the last 3X  I was on it it was back to 2 shows.  The theatre is WAY to small to handle the amount of people.  

 

It is also a shame when the ship was brand new they didn’t eliminate smoking in the casino.  

 

We still really like the ship though, especially the Dutch Cafe.

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A dancer was injured during our cruise and a few shows were cancelled. For whatever reason, they sometimes perform barefoot and my guess is that 3 performances, plus rehearsals is just too much weight/strain/wear&tear on those poor dancers feet and legs.

 

The cruise was light on activities, as I said, adding a game day/night or two and karaoke (which is really fun and really cheap to add in) would vastly improve the collegial environment. The cheesy, mostly MIA and uninspired Cruise Director was one of the worst we've had at sea (I think his name was Nathan).  But the OP didn't mention these issues in his complaint.

 

 

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We thought Nathan did a fantastic job as CD. He was very approachable and engaging. He made clear announcements and was never overbearing. We spent 42 days with him!

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2 minutes ago, smileyface1948 said:

We thought Nathan did a fantastic job as CD. He was very approachable and engaging. He made clear announcements and was never overbearing. We spent 42 days with him!

 

What exactly did he do on your cruise?  Since there were so few organized activities on the 17th-27th, we hardly saw him. In 10 days, we went to a few things -- nearly all the HAL organized events -- A staff game show that he hosted, a chat with the Captain, a Mariner's lunch where he straight up lied to me (when I called him on it, he apologized and followed-up with a researched answer).  Most cruisers we spoke with had the same impression of him. Maybe he read the comments and changed his behavior by the time April rolled around?  Making clear and reasonable announcements is a bare minimum for any staff member - the fact that you mentioned that as a asset of your Cruise Director is telling.

 

Again, the Cruise Director adds very little value to my cruise generally, so we still had a great time, but compared to the other staff we interacted with (and Cruise Directors on other ships), he was not impressive.

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