Jump to content
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

Comments on the Rotterdam 34 day transatlantic


Recommended Posts

Since Ruth did such a great job on her running commentary I decided to make some specific comments on the trip like the cruise notes I posted after last year's Rotterdam 17 day voyage.


As you all know, every cruise has it's own mood, flavor, and tempo, with most of it being extremely subjective.


Our trip was mainly influenced by the people we associated with, the weather, the logistics of each shore experience and lots(!!!) of at-sea days.


At first we were disappointed by HAL's miscommunication about the dinner table that we had requested last August. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise and set the mood for the whole cruise.


Our table mates were the most lively, and most fun of any group at the 8:30 seating. The maitre' D was trying to accomodate us even at the midpoint when we needed to add places or change tables. He gave us a table for 4 next the the original table of 8, and we continued our riotous dinners. Many mornings we expected to be escorted off at the next port. We had even requested the Captain's table as it had not been used the entire trip, but we knew that wasn't going to happen. We know we were a little loud at times but we had so much fun, and more laughs than any group of 11 people deserves. Even with our impeccible adherence to dress code, I know we offended a few people who had died but hadn't the good grace to lay down; just kept sucking their persimmons and giving us sour looks.


The opportunities for people watching were phenomenal. So many characters presented so many behaviors. Ruth told you about the man who rinsed his shorts in the whirlpool, well, another man disrobed on the Lido and got into the public shower unadorned, ....honey, iron that thing!!!

One lady "borrowed" a scooter and raced through the Ocean Bar and associated corridors.

The Irish sing-along constituted a need for hymnals, but we drank our Guiness and enjoyed leaving after 15 minutes.

The 2 large group events on the Lido deck stirred up some nasty attitudes, behaviors, and long-shoreman's language, absolutely un-called-for treatment of the crew related to running out of some food items.

Counter-pounding at the front desk related to tendering and removal of tips, wooh, some folks need anger management classes prior to boarding.

Lots of opportunities to laugh at human foibles, and to feel sorry for folks who spent good money to stay mad.


The service throughout the cruise was extraordinary. Yes, maybe dinner was a bit slow in being served, but the overall effort throughout the ship was phenomenal.


We had some rousing trivia games. One question, however raised the bar for the whole cruise. "What world-famous entertainer died on December 1 1997?" The answer, according to Scot, was, "Bob Dylan" Wooh boy, did that generate waves!!! One table won 33 days straight, all veteran cruisers, the room actually applauded when they lost on the last day.


I see Gerry in the piano bar differently than Ruth does. He's a kind, gentle man with a good voice who loves to entertain. we spent many a night in there dancing to rock and roll, making requests, singing along.... Gerry finally got the music for Piano Man during the last week...he really did try hard to please. He even put the piano on auto-pilot and taught a couple dance steps.


Red, the bartender, is a gem, very caring and loving. He gave us all pictures taken in the bar with him and added personal comments. He even gave the women hand painted dutch hats. All the bar staff of the Tropic and Ocean bars made lovely colored figures of animals and boats with our names and the cruise dates on them.

The Lido staff still carries trays, and not just for disabled people. They were kind and friendly to the max!


The renewal of vows was a well organized, dignified, personal, and lovely ceremony. The Captain did a wonderful Job, as did Susan, and the Hotel Manager Fealy. The champagne was a little iffy, but who noticed?


The ports, those of which we go to, were great. Some people didn't like Honningsvag because it was so barren, but it was our launching point to North Cape which was spectacular, even in the fog. Amsterdam, Hambourg, and Dublin were all great cities for walking and shopping as well as sight seeing. Zaanse Shans, the windmill city, is not to be missed.


I'll post more as I reminisce, but that's all for now,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks GN for a great review!! I also thought that Ruth did a very good job on her daily running commentary, as she did last year when we were aboard.


It was very unfortunate that the weather did not cooperate on this cruise as that can make such a difference in people's moods and actions. Also sorry that you had to miss a few ports, however the weather is one thing that no one can count on (even the weathermen).


As far as the Piano Bar goes, Ruth and many of the others who were sailing, were so used to having Perry Grant in there to entertain them last year that whoever followed him this year probably wouldn't stand a chance anyway. I feel sorry for the gentleman who's job it was to entertain in there this year.


Still love the Rotterdam and feel that the minor mechanical problems she had while you were aboard will certainly be addressed.


Thanks again, GN, for your extensive review. I had a good laugh about how some of the people acted. Tell me, did you miss Don W. this year??? I expect not!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, granny, we certainly do have a difference of opinion about Gerry in the Piano Lounge. But, Liz, I honestly don't believe it's because of my history with Perry. I knew Perry wouldn't be there and had no expectation that the lounge would be anywhere near the same.

I simply found that Gerry has a very poor concept of what is piano lounge music, a weak repertoire (especially in music before 1960-ish: when I asked for some Cole Porter he need me to name some songs!; when I asked for "old" music he thought of Stevie Wonder. Sheesh!), was way too loud at cocktail time, doesn't know the lyrics, and can't sing worth a darn.


Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I don't know a thing about piano lounge music or how it's supposed to be. I was just commenting on Gerry as a person and his role in trying to follow someone like Perry. God love him, he tried to make do with the repetoire and the talent that he has, and we appreciated his efforts and liked him very much as a person who was thrown into an impossible situation.

Lord knows I'm no entertainment critic, my tastes are pretty plebian in that aspect...but we did laugh alot.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruth, I`m with you in regards to what a piano bar player should be able to do. We were on one ship and had a guy that could only play jazz, no singing along or anything. Had another one once that only knew music from the 70s and on. I like someone who can play all of the old stuff, from the 40s on up. I like some of the newer stuff but can`t relate very well to it. Give me anything from WW2 era and I`m happy as a sandbag!!......jean

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grannynurse. Thank you for your review. Feel like we were aboard with you

all after spending 34 days anxiously awaiting Ruth C's posts. One question,

when was the Mariner party held for you? In the morning or evening? When

we were aboard May 17th it was at 11:30 am and was a complete bust.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you grannynurse for your comments and I look forward to reading more of them as you have time to reflect on your voyage. Through RuthC's entertaining and very interesting journal entries she posted from the ship, I feel that I have almost traveled with you.


Re: Piano Bar personnel. On my recent Royal Princess cruise to the Amazon and on to Europe, their Horizon Lounge had a wonderful performer, Selwyn Wright(an Australian gentleman), who would be perfect for the piano bars on HAL ships. After returning, Margaret Binnendyk was contacted with the suggestion that Mr. Wright be lured from Princess to HAL, and she replied that this message amd recommendation was forwarded to the Entertainment Department in Seattle. Selwyn is as personable and as good of a musician as Perry is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


We had 2 mariner parties. One for folks getting off in Amsterdam, to which we were not invited, and one for us who were doing the round trip. Ours was scheduled in the evening of a formal night in the Queen's lounge. Ruth described it in her running commentary. It was scheduled between the dinner seatings which was not convenient for early seating people who had to rush through their meals, and for 8pm seating people who had to leave early to make it to dinner on time. The early-early, and the late-late folks were not as rushed.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Mickey said on another thread, this was, indeed, a different cruise.


We had people boarding in many ports, St Johns, Reyjavik, Stavanger, Dublin, and I'm sure others that i was not aware of.

Talking to new people was one of the highlights of the trip. We gathered all kinds of new information.

For instance, Sydney will be the new home port for the Statendam in 2006. The Rotterdam will be doing South America and the Amsterdam will be doing most of the Hawaii cruises.


MaryAnn, the onboard cruise consultant, did a land office business during the trip, but we actually got to socialize with her in the Ocean Bar in the evenings. Boy would I love to have her job!


We were introduced to Mr. and Mrs Von Donselaar, the captain's parents who boarded in Amsterdam. We sat with them in the Ocean Bar one evening. She is a lovely, friendly woman.


The ocean Bar seemed to be the watering Hole for the officers in the evening and after dinner, most were quite cordial, and 1 or 2 addressed us by name. We wondered if it had anything to do with our notoriety as being part of the S*** disturber element on board.


It was amazing to meet so many people who had over 700 days with HAL, cruise numbers were flying, 90, 105, 120; apparently this type of cruise attracts multiple offenders and their stories.


We talked to very few people who had agendas or who were snooty, maybe they avoided us, d'ya think?


Except for main events, public rooms were never crowded, even tho we had a full ship. Even the dinning room at 8:30 had more than a few empty tables.


Elevator graffiti showed up again, but it was not there long enough to be read more than once. We had about 20 children, mostly tweens and older teens, who were very well behaved.


The crew shows were very good, fairly well attended, as opposed to most offerings in the Queen's Lounge. Some of the (?) talent had none, I'm afraid.


One feature that Susan added was an interview with various performers. We only went to the one featuring Frank Buckingham, who we think is a hoot. His wry sense of humor really made the port talks enjoyable. Some people wanted more than just his historic, geographic,and personal perspectives on ports, but it was just what we liked. He didn't preach to the choir, he informed, and didn't rely on the mundane. Well, sometimes he pontificated, like on his hatred for mayonnaise "just scrape the damn stuff off".

He should have mentioned it before Rekjavik as I got food poisoning from our $50 2 sandwhich and one beer lunch. I know it was the mayonnaise!!!


The currency conversion was a bit inflated as it always is on board. Euros and pounds deflated us. Kroner in Norway, Iceland, and the faroes were also high.


Norway was beautiful. The ship's excursions were fairly reasonably priced there, and except for Honningsvag, we had varied choices. We only took the ship's tour to North Cape, and to Lysefjord and Pulpit Rock in Stavanger. Don't miss this last one if you get the chance. The tour boat stopped at the small restaurant in a mountain fjord for waffles and coffee, stopped at a waterfall to collect a bucket of drinking water, pulled in close to see the mountain goats, and most of the trip was in a driving rain, but well worth it, as the scenery was spectacular.


The Callanish stones in the hebrides was another wonderful tour. Some folks rented private tours and taxis, but we went on a HAL shorex. The guide was lovely, informative, and very accomodating. Many of us got off in town to shop. Harris tweed was a big purchase item. My son bought some for us to wear on the bow as we came into NY harbor so we could pose as the "Huddled masses", unfortunately none of the group wanted to get dressed at 5am to gather on the bow, so he huddled by himself.

Time to sign off, more later


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, I've been home for a week and I can reflect on the undercurrent of dissatisfaction that I perceived.


I'll start with my own. There are some things that HAL does very well. Overall, however, there is a serious lack of communication company wide.


details related to this lack:

We received 6 gifts. Many cards were missing or incorrectly designated. Our Renewal of vows which we designated for the 2nd leg was scheduled for the 1st leg, flowers came on the 1st day 6/6, and our ceremony was to be 7/4. Our TA gifts were not signed, our kids basket was for a Caribbean trip (in the north Atlantic) and came without a card. Our requested table,(we've had the same one for all our Rotterdam cruises) was not assigned, even tho our TA kept a copy of the fax from HAL, the ship had no knowledge of the request. There is more, but you get the picture. No disasters, just frustration.


Two pair of my husband's jeans and one of my turtle necks went missing from the laundry early on and were never found. Wrong laundry was delivered to our cabin so we weren't the only "victims".


On the good side, minor cabin repairs were dealt with very quickly, others were not so fortunate.


Large group events like the BBQ's on deck were poorly handled, traffic-wise and preparation of sufficient quantities, however as Mickey pointed out, some guests were "grabbers". This obviously, is a combined problem and it focuses on what people think they're entitled to, like 4 plates of ribs at one swoop.


I have to admit, the photo shop was less aggressive this trip, the shop people were friendly, and the bar personnel were persistent, but not at all pushy.

The 15% in the bar seemed to make the wait-staff insecure however, and they would wait for regulars at the bar entrance to claim your business. If they seated you, they kept you. Of the 15%, 14.1% went to the server and the rest to the bar tender, unless he waited on you and then he got it all.


The cruise staff were mostly accomodating, but some had attitudes. One young lady to mollify would promise drinks to guests and never produce. But we found out that Hal had cut the bar discounts for cruise staff and cast.


Lack of training for new crew was obvious. Perhaps part of the problem was language barriers, and in some instances, this created "REAL" problems, like our smiling incoherent wine steward who only understood red and white and not mixed drinks.


We really attempted to make lemonade, but I feel HAL could do so much better if they concentrated on better communication with guests and employees.



Link to comment
Share on other sites



Lack of training for new crew was obvious. Perhaps part of the problem was language barriers, and in some instances, this created "REAL" problems, like our smiling incoherent wine steward who only understood red and white and not mixed drinks.


Sounds like the Wine Steward we had. Tall - big toothy smile, but sometimes not really with it. Don't want to say his name, but it started with Vi. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an interesting and informative thread. It causes me to sit back and reflect on what our future travel choices should be.


HAL is obviously going through a massive transformation regarding passenger service philosophy. Management is obviously pushing the cost-cutting envelope to the limit, seeing how far they can go before the bottom line is adversely affected.


Based on the problems we have been reading about the past several months, we elected to try Celebrity instead of HAL for our South American cruise next February. On our last two HAL cruises we have noticed the trend to mediocrity that is so often discussed here. Celebrity regulars are saying they see much the same thing as HAL regulars, although not to such a great degree. We'll see for ourselves in a few months. Interesting to note, however, how many HAL regulars are turning up for the first time on the Celebrity boards.


Should our Celebrity cruise wind up being "so-so" too, then we have to make another decision. (Forget Princess, their ships are just too big for us.) Do we continue on and resign ourselves to the fact that the cruise scene has changed forever, or do we move on to something new and different? Right now, I think we are ready to try travel ventures of a different kind. Another possibility is to cruise less and move up to Radisson or Crystal, although having cruised Crystal once, I find it hard to justify the extra cost. It just wasn't that much better.


The mass-market cruise industry is at an inflection point. Perhaps HAL can right itself and move back to being the premium mass market line, but right now the indicators are not positive.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

One additional comment on this wonderful cruise.

The speakers arranged by HAL were WONDERFUL. Frank Buckingham was delightful and his port talks were wonderful. He shared much of himself in an amusing way -I believe there wasn't a soul on board who DIDn"T find him delightful!

Tim Hughes and wife Heather from South Africa were AMAZING. This brand new democracy has a long way to go and some awful problems [ poverty/AIDS-HIV/unemplyment] but they have CHANGED a blood-filled warzone into a Democracy with great potential. Tim's talks on diamonds and the DeBeers cartel were wonderful as well- and I saw a similiar show on cable TV just last night, "Behind Closed Doors".

GREAT cruise.....HAL -Thanks for the memories!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments. All in all, it was a wonderful trip!


I forgot to mention something I found out that I never knew before. There is a separate vegetarian menu that can be requested. Also, anyone can order from the children's menu and get a full serving. One woman ordered "mac and cheese" several times and got a heaping plate full.

Mickey ordered pasta that was not on the menu on 2 or 3 nights when the menu was pretty gloomy.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: Explore 5 Unique Destinations With All-inclusive Pricing
      • Holiday Exchange - Jingle and Mingle 2023
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Cruise Critic News & Features
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...