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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and my other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any of the cruise companies nor any travel or cruise agencies, etc! The author has been in the Passenger Shipping industry for a very long time and although now semi-retired, but I am delighted to share all my knowledge with those who love to take their vacation by sea! Thus I continue to write on worthy Cruise Companies and their wonderful Ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure, but more so to ensure that you, my wonderful reader will make the best-informed choice possible!

 

Please Note: All photographs are by the author or Mr. Hun-Eng Tan or as noted.

 

Page Two

Introduction to Page Two:

As I said on Page One I am writing this review in short stages and this will be the concluding page. However, what I have online this far, I do hope that you will have gained much from it and that you will not only enjoy it but will be able to reap something from it. As you will know by now, I honestly believe that Holland America Line (HAL) is not just a full 5+ Star Cruise Company, but one of the finest lines in its class I have sailed on! In addition there is no doubt that they offer some excellent value fares, it is just a matter of checking the media’s travel pages for cruise special’s and once you have sailed with HAL, you have become a member of the HAL “Mariners Society” and you will receive further special member discounted fares!

The author seen at the forward Lift Lobby on Rotterdam Deck (7)-

As I did for this 14 Day Pacific Cruise I had Holland America arrange our land arrangements in Sydney which was not just great value, but superbly arranged and such good value! We were picked up at the airport in Sydney by limousine and taken to the Sydney Sofitel Hotel for our overnight stay, the next morning two excellent HAL representatives were at hand to assist and the arrangements from the hotel to the ship went as smooth as silk, especially as I have severe walking difficulties these days and everything was handled with perfection in Brisbane and Sydney airports with wheelchairs at the ready, as well kerbside at the wharf. I could not recommend a better service and the price was less than you would pay for the room at the hotel alone!

Why is Holland America Line one of the best Cruise Lines?

There is a very good reason that I consider Holland America Line (HAL) to be one of the very best 5 Star+ Cruise Companies in the world today! The truth is that this company has been established in the shipping industry for just over 140 years and Holland America Line has been transporting passengers in great comfort and style over all those years! It used to be said in the Industry and by passengers; “It’s Good to be on a Well Run Ships,” for that was just what Holland America was so famed for as their ships were always so punctual and the engines operated in sheer perfection, with fine service great food and offering fine accommodations, etc! The other byword for the HAL fleet was; “The Spotless Fleet” and that says a great deal for this long and established company that has retained all their old traditions through to this very day, but with all the new and modern facilities so many Awards and Accolades from the most acclaimed sources in the word of shipping and travel writers, for being one of the finest and highest rated Companies as well as the best value Cruise Line year after year and that has been maintained for over two decades, something that no other cruise line has ever been able to achieve!

Below are just a few of the International awards HAL has received, including the prestigious Australian AFTA Award:

Best Overall Cruise Value (21 consecutive years) - World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society, Ocean & Cruise News.

Best International Cruise Operator - Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

Best Food Cruise Lines, 2012/2013 - Prow’s Edge.

Best Cruise Line - Zoover Holiday Reviews.

Most Ethical Companies List 2012, 2013, 2014 - Ethic Inside® Certification from Ethisphere Institute.

Favorite Cruise Experience, 2013 - National Tour Association.

Best Cruise Lines for Single Cruisers, 2012/2013 - Prow’s Edge.

International Five Star Diamond Award - The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

#1 Preferred Cruise Line - Portrait of Affluent Travelers™ survey by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell.

Consistently Among the Highest-rated Cruise Lines - Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards & Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards.

Highest-rated Premium Cruise Line - Condé Nast Traveller UK Readers’ Travel Awards.

High Deluxe Five-Star-Plus Rating - World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society.

Best Cruise Line Chef Master Chef Rudi Sodamin - Porthole Cruise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Award.

Taste of De Librije for Restaurant Design, Pinnacle Suite for Suite Design - Travel Weekly, Magellan Awards.

Best Dining Experience, Master Chef’s Table - 2014 Porthole Cruise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Award.

Best Onboard Art Collection - Porthole Cruise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Award.

Best Overall Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers - 2013 Porthole Cruise Magazine Readers' Choice Awards.

Best Cabins - Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards (UK).

Best Cruise Ship Spas 2013 - SpaFinder Readers’ Choice Awards.

Gold Medal: Eco-Friendly “Green” Cruise Ships.

Green Planet Award - Kuoni Switzerland for outstanding environmental standards.

Gold Rear Admiral William M. Benkert Environmental Protection Award, 2012, 2010 - US Coast Guard.

Other People & Areas on the ms Oosterdam:

This 82,318-ton ship is obviously like a considerable sized town at sea, as it has everything one can imagine, from the most mundane, such as the laundry, print shop, pantries and of course the important kitchen’s. Not to forget, that should it be needed, there is a medical centre and a hospital on board, for everything is taken care of should it be needed, but at most it may be just a short call to the friendly ships Doc occasionally when the weather may be a little unkind. There are also many offices for the staff at the front desk and the Hotel Director with his associated staff, etc. Then the Captain and his officers have their quarters and offices up higher and the list just goes on. Therefore, a cruise ship is far more than just a pleasure ship, for it is really a floating city and it has a staff of well over 800 on board to care for the ships passenger’s needs, which they do very well indeed, thus the many great accolades Holland America Line receives!

When I mention deck names each also have a number and I will show these as follows - Lido Deck (9)

A Question asked?

People have asked me, “But Reuben, why do you prefer Holland America more than (a certain cruise line)?” The cruise line I was asked about is one that in the past I had sailed with many times, especially when they had one of the smaller “R” ships, like of the delightful intimate 30,277-ton P&O International Cruises MV Adonia, but P&O is not the company involved! These folk believe that the company in question was far better than any other cruise company and they like myself for that matter were “Platinum Captain Club members,” being the highest level.

Although there are a number of issues that I have with the company concerned that I will not cover, but one of these is their interior ship design with a certain dinning venue being placed where most companies will have their Crow’s Nest, or Observation Lounge. Also on many of their ships there is total lack of intimate lounges that are suitable for those passengers where they are able to hide away from the ever moving crowd, for they just love to read a good book, and I know having sailed on one of that companies 103 around the night world voyages, the Library is the last place where you will find any peace and quiet! The ships I have sailed on (apart from the ex R ship) where their mid to large sized ships and their public venues are mostly busy public throughways, with people constantly walking forward to aft, thus there is always a great deal of noise and interruption. Then if you think you have found a reasonably quiet spot behind a low wall, some entertainment organiser will take over the small venue and that is the end of that, the lounge further forward is used for dancing and the bigger venue aft is an all day arts & craft, and Bingo and is used all day for other uses, that only leaves the Atrium and there is nothing else onboard!.

However, for me it all comes down to quality and the thought that the company, who considerers itself to be a luxury cruise line, yet it lowers itself by furnishing its deck with cheap plastic tables and chairs as well as sun lounges, the type that are found in “Kmart,” “Big W” in Australia, or other cheap outlets around the word. Not that there is anything wrong with these items around the garden, but on what is advertised as a luxury ship, one would expect far better and Holland America provides the highest quality furnishings possible!

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Note the plastic furnishings out on deck, these will be found on all decks, and balconies, even deluxe suites do not get any better!

I am sure you will have noted the furnishings on my verandah on Page One and every verandah has the same quality furnishings!

Therefore, for me it comes down to refinements onboard each ship that will reveal the quality of a company and the thought that has gone into the finish of the company concerned, for I do know the high standards of Holland America Line ships as they have been carefully created for the pleasure and the ultimate comfort for their guests! Thus, when it comes to furnishings, they were not designed and created just for comfort but each piece had to be functional and outwardly attractive and thus pleasing to the eye and this is what Holland America Line has become so famed for! Looking back in history it is well known that they have décor and furnishings down to sheer perfection and have become famed for its sheer beauty of lounges and the spectacular art, but this high standard has even gone outdoors and thus the excellent and stylish furnishings!

It seems that HAL has taken great care in ensuring high quality rattan and metal seating around the pools combined with timber-topped tables with metal pedals, whilst around the pools there are specially created metal sun lounges that have been created for HAL. However up on Observation Deck (10) and down on Promenade Deck (3) you will find the old style Traditional Holland America timber deck chairs complete with the HAL logo on the top bar. It is all this careful thought that makes Holland America different from 75% of most Cruise Companies today and yes there are some that are better, but they are mostly the higher graded super luxury cruise lines and Boutique all Suite lines! But they are mostly for the Connoisseur!

The Stylish rattan furnishings on my suite’s Verandah including a round timber topped dinning table

All Verandas’ have the same chairs!

 

Dinning at the Terrace Grill next to the Lido Pool amidships on Lido Deck (9)

 

Note the excellent quality sun lounges, but the out door ones are quite different

And they can just be seen far aft on the left of the Seaview Pool in the photograph below

 

This is a photograph taken of me, with my walking stick hidden behind me whilst on our New Zealand cruise on her in 2013!

 

Forward on Observation Deck (10) just aft of the Crows Nest is this wonderful area that has shading and glass screens

that are always spotless, with these thick timber tables and chairs and out in the sun are the traditional HAL Sun Lounges!

However is there anything else that makes HAL special?

There certainly is and you may well know what the popular saying is? “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” And how true that statement is, for food is one of the most important factors in making a Cruise very special! Above we have already read that HAL has already won a multitude of 2014 Awards for its amazing Cuisine, such as providing the “Best Dining Experience,” also for having the “Best Master Chef of any Cruise Line” and offering the very “Best food” and the list just goes on!

The dinning experience on the Oosterdam was very typical of Holland America and the truth is, it can hardly be faulted, and to be honest, if anyone complains, well they either made the wrong choice of menu, or they just are not used to quality cuisine of the highest order, which is presented in the most superior manner and diversified dishes! Holland America Line has its very own “Culinary Council,” which comprises, not of just one Head Chef, as you would find on every other cruise line, but Holland America Line has its own hard working team of seven International Master Chefs who hails from around the globe on its “Culinary Council,” they do not only create recipes that are featured in all the dining ventures onboard all of HAL’s ships, but they also ensure the demanding standards remain that HAL have set for a hundred and forty years and that has made this company’s cuisine so famous for its excellence and therefore has won so many awards over the years!

Aft of decks 2 and 3 is the multi level Vista Dining Room, the lower lever is available for Open sittings, “Dine as Your Wish” and the upper level has the more traditional First and Second Sittings, which I always choose as I prefer to get to know our two waiters and they will know us! The service as I explained on Page One was simply superb as was the food and below is just one of the Menus I remembered to retain together with one of the dessert lists.

The Upper level of the Vista Dining Room on Deck 3

 

Above: one of the evening Dinner Menus that comes in a leather folder

Below: The deserts that comes in a separate leather folder

 

What I love about HAL there is never any sales push for you to dine in any of the two optional restaurants, like there is on most cruiser ships and it drives me so mad! But on a Holland America ship it remains very low key.

“Pinnacle Grill. This is one of the ships alternative Restaurants, which is open for Lunch and Diner. It is vital that an appointment is made very early for this is without a doubt one of the most popular restaurants on the seven seas. From personal experience, I noticed long ago that the evening meal is usually booked out within the first 24 hours or two days of departure. You may ask, “But why?” Well this is very easy to answer; for once you have discovered the sublime cuisine on offer at the Pinnacle Grill, and its amazing presentation that will take your breath away and all this combined with the finest service you can possibly imagine, you will want to come back again and again as well, for I certainly do and each time I cruise with HAL I pre book it online before departure as do many regulars!

The Rembrandt inspired Pinnacle Grill has sea views on the port side or grand three-deck view into the Atrium

Just think about the ultimate luxury that will await you at the Pinnacle Grill, for you will dine in the grandest of style as your delicious and beautifully styled meal will come served on the ultimate of dishes and I do mean nothing less than, “BVLGARI China, and you will drink your wine, or drink of choice from fine “Riedel stemware or glasses, and the table is laid with the finest “Frette” Linens. Thus at the Pinnacle Grill you will be assured that you receive nothing than the world can possibly offer and that is why it is the “Pinnacle of Dining!”

Nothing but the finest China at the Pinnacle Grill – “BVLGARI” thus go and spoil your self!

This Image is © Holland America Line

In Conclusion:

From the above and Page One I am sure you will have discovered that the ship and the cruise was excellent, for me personally my only problem was the sheer size of the ship, but that was only due to my walking difficulties and I had no desire to use a wheelchair or a scooter, for I rather sail on a smaller ship and walk with an aid as long as I can! Myself and my travelling companion will be sailing on a 25 day voyage on the ms Volendam departing Vancouver on September 23, 2015 and cross the Pacific to Brisbane, being her repositioning voyage and that voyage will be followed up by a 46 day voyage on the ms Amsterdam from Sydney on February 11, 2016 and sail via Asia and India to Dubai. These ships are two of the delightful R-Class ships and are the perfect size and more than that they have a smaller passenger capacity!

Having been on well over 155 voyages/cruises covering countless shipping & cruise companies there are those that I consider to be good, very good and then there are those that are exceptional! I do take in account value for money, and therefore I cannot compare a 6+ Star all Suite and all-inclusive Boutique (small) cruise line with a 5 star large cruise company, for the are very different organisations and they need separate judgements. Keeping this in mind Holland America being one of a good number of 5+ Star Cruise Companies does come out as one of the very best and they have received the highest award from the Industry as you have seen above!

I would highly recommend cruising with HAL for you are guaranteed an excellent cruise, one with style, great entertainment, great food and some of the best service you will find on any cruise line in the world, as well ships that are some of the most beautifully designed, filled with over a million dollars worth of art each, and the accommodations are simple perfection to say the least! The large HAL fleet cruises worldwide and why not head overseas and discover the countless many new and exciting exotic places and horizons!

The latest ship of the Holland America fleet the ms Nieuw Amsterdam is seen in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, Venice Italy

Photograph provided by & © Holland America Line

 

For a more comprehensive review and photographs of the entire ship, please view my extensive ms Oosterdam 2013 Review.

 

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For Holland America Line enquiries or reservations, consult an established Cruise & Travel Specialist who is a travel professional. But do yourself a big favour, never book with any cruise company direct for they never offer you any service or any discounts something your experienced agent can do!

However for general information regarding HAL ships visit www.hollandamerica.com.au

But BOOK with a Cruise Agent!

 

 

-Also visit my other Holland America Pages-

Page One The History of Holland America Line and Today’s Modern Fleet

1872 to 2000

Page TwoThe History of Holland America Line and Today’s Modern Fleet

1993 to 2015

-Holland America Line Ships featured on Cruise-Australia-

 ms Koningsdam - ms Noordam - ms Oosterdam - ms Rotterdam  

ms Volendam - ms Zaandam & ms Nieuw Amsterdam

ms Prinsendam & ms Statendam - (A 4-page ship review)

-Cruise and Ship Reviews by the Author-

NEW - ms Oosterdam 2013 Cruise’n’Ship Review

NOW ONLINE …

The all NEW - ms Oosterdam 2014 Review

ms Volendam Cruise Review - ms Amsterdam Ship Review 

 

Also read the Holland America Line News Updates on Cruise-Australia

 

Please Note: Cruise-Australia and its associated pages are 100% non-commercial and privately owned cruise sites and are NOT associated with any cruise company or travel agency! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960 and is retired, but continues to write cruise and ship reviews and articles in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and provide information for those intending a cruise in the future.

Bon Voyage!

Reuben Goossens.

   

My recommendation: I highly suggest that you visit a good and a long established Travel/Cruise Agency for information, bookings and obtain the best possible cruise fares. Personally I never book with any cruise company direct, for they do not offer any personal service or discounts! I know that they do not like me saying this, but I have to be honest and provide you my readers with the very best possible advice! Reuben Goossens.

 

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Photographs on cruise-australia.com & .net are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. As provided by Shipping Companies and their Publicity Companies as well as by private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided without details regarding the photographer concerned., therefore I hereby invite if owners of those images to be so kind and make them-selves known to me, in order that due credit may be given!!

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