Our cruise was awesome. We saw beautiful fjords, waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, early ruins, small fishing villages and bustling cities all on one cruise. If you have not seen Iceland or Greenland, I highly recommend this cruise. Our high point was the scenic cruising through Prince Christian Sound. We even saw the Northern Lights briefly. HAL is known for its food and fine service. The ms. Rotterdam was an easy ship to navigate. The entertainment was good and the shore excursions were educational, interesting and very enjoyable. Now I understand why so many passengers have repeated the Voyage of the Viking Cruise four or five times.
4 out of 5
We flew to the departure city of Boston, on August 1, 2017 a day early in order to do some pre-cruise sightseeing and meet a friend for dinner in the North End. The following morning, we were picked up at the Langham Hotel, our hotel for the night arranged through HAL. HAL transported all of us staying at the hotel to the ship by coach. Unfortunately, the ship was undergoing a surprise Coast Guard Inspection so there was quite a delay in boarding. Later, we heard that the ship scored well. Our stateroom was ready on our arrival and our luggage arrived later in the afternoon. The safety drill was well-organized and proceeded smoothly.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
We chose Open Seating Dining and arranged with our servers to keep our table for the entire cruise. We never needed, therefore, to wait on a line for seating. There was always a small vase of fresh flowers on our linen dressed table. From our table, we had an excellent view out the tall windows. Food in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was consistently good. My husband's Special Request Meals arrived in a timely fashion and fit his dietary restrictions. Only once was there a problem with his meal. His order of a steak cooked rare arrived well-done. The meat was quickly replaced with apologies from everyone.
Our servers Budi and Fitoni were excellent, as was Benny who departed the ship in the middle of the cruise. Doni, Assistant Dining Room Manager and Ronald, the Dining Room Manager were friendly and very helpful, too. Jennalyn, our Wine Steward was prompt, helpful and always pleasant. We looked forward to seeing her smiling face in the Lido Market and other venues around the ship. She, too, is a big asset to the HAL. Executive Chef Peter stopped at our MDR table nightly to chat & often was visible in the Lido Market at lunchtime. He was so friendly and seemed to enjoy his job and meeting the guests. We ate lunch in the MDR on a couple of afternoons and service was good there.
New York Pizza made delicious pizzas with many choices as well as custom ordered pizzas, too. The Dive-In had excellent burgers cooked to order and delicious fries. Food in the Lido Market was quite varied and we always found food choices to please us. I especially enjoyed the complimentary ice cream choices and toppings. Besides Vanilla, Chocolate & Strawberry ice cream, there was also a Special Flavor of the Day - my favorite was Rum Raisin. In addition, there were many other dessert choices.
Rarely did we experience any trouble finding a table on either side of the buffets stations. The servers were quit helpful pouring guests' beverage selections, removing used plates, even offering to carry your food from the buffet to your table. Service was very friendly, too.
Bar service in the lounges was good also. Bartenders were friendly and competent. Even when I just requested water, they were friendly and prompt. Service was always with a smile.
4 out of 5
Trivia & Bingo were quite popular activities on board. I especially enjoyed the Art & Antiques Walking Tour with Barbara Haenni, Behind the Scenes Backstage Tour and the Galley Tour. Many of the activities on board were un-hosted; a few were extra charge such as the wine and beer tastings and the Mixology Classes. I saw several movies on board, The Last Word, The Founder, The Lovers and the Zookeeper's Wife, while munching on complimentary popcorn. My favorite talks were the ones on the Universe, Lighthouses and Greenland and It's People. Barbara Haenni was a great Location Guide and her port talks were timely and informative. Digital Workshop classes were quite helpful. Ask the Captain Sessions were interesting as well. I learned a lot from the Q & A session with the Ice Pilot who came on board the ship when we cruised Prince Christian Sound twice. I also enjoyed the Culinary arts Demonstrations.
5 out of 5
The evening entertainment in the Showroom was quite varied and I especially enjoyed the four production numbers of the HAL Singers & Dancers. The cast members were very friendly around the ship as were the various other performers. Two outstanding performances that were favorites with me as well as other passengers judging by the standing ovations that they received were the sensational Mersey boys and the very energetic and talented Flyrights. The HAL band was very talented and the audiences appreciated their performances in the Showroom.
I didn't have any children with me. There were only a handful of children on the ship & I rarely saw them.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
We received excellent service everywhere on the ship - the lounges, the Showroom, in the stateroom, poolside, the buffet and in the MDR. The Front Desk personnel were very helpful with the passengers especially the Floridians who needed to make alternate arrangements getting home due to Hurricane Irma. Judith was a big help to us personally. The ships photographers were wonderful, too. We bought the videos of the cruise. Executive Chef Peter stopped by nightly at our table in the MDR to chat. The two ship captains (different on each leg of the voyage) were personable, competent and professional. Our wine steward Jennalyn was very pleasant, helpful and courteous as were our servers and the entire staff in the MDR.
4 out of 5
The ship was always clean. The Public Areas were lovely, too. Still, there were some leaks around the ship, even in the Lido Market. One tender also leaked badly. These will need to be address when the ship soon goes in for refurbishment. Problems were always attended to promptly. The art work around the ship was wonderful. The Showroom was inviting and the Crow's Nest was my favorite place on the ship.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Our mid-ship stateroom #2621 was quite comfortable and the A/C worked well. Although our stateroom was located quite near the middle bank of elevators, it was quiet. The stateroom storage was sufficient for our needs and the bed was comfortable. Water pressure in the shower was good and the hot water was steady. I wished that there was more storage room in the bathroom, though and a nigh light would have been welcomed. The absence of a fridge was our only issue. My husband had to visit the medical office frequently to retrieve his medications that needed refrigeration. The audio on our stateroom TV when the Captain or the Cruise Director made announcements was so indistinct that we had to open our cabin to hear clearly. Since the Rotterdam is an older ship, the stateroom TVs are not interactive. You could not make dinner reservation, view menus, make /cancel shore excursions or view your statement right from your stateroom. By the front desk, there was a machine to print out statements but several times it was down during the cruise.
Take a leisurely walk around the ship and enjoy all the beautiful art decor. If an organized tour is available, take it. I walked away with a greater appreciation of the art on board after my tour led by Location Guide Barbara.
The port of Boston is excellent. We walked to Chinatown from our hotel the afternoon we arrived. Later that afternoon we walked to Quincey Market. That night we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the North End. The following morning, we walked to the harbor and did more sightseeing.
Not too much here but we did enjoy our HAL excursion, In the footsteps of Captain Cook
Red Bay, Newfoundland
3 out of 5
It was drizzling here when we arrived but we did enjoy our excursion out to the Lighthouse. We saw3 a huge iceberg just behind the lighthouse. Several building here to explore and you can climb the stairs to the top. Our guide was excellent. We tasted some local tea after our climb. Bring bug spray. I got stung twice.
Small port - just fun to explore the port on foot. The village is rural and hilly. We shopped in a couple of stores and walked to the Post Office where they took our American Currency when we maqiled our powst cards.
Big city. Fun to walk around the town. We did the HAL excursion, Best of the Golden Circle: Thingvellir, Gullfoss & Geysir, which was excellent. We saw a lot! The overnight stay permitted us to take another excursion with HAL called Glacier Safari by 4-wheel Drive & a Walk in a Glacier Cave. It was such an unusual excursion. We saw snow falling on the top of the glacier. You need warm clothing for this tour.
This was another good port, one we had visited previously. We chose the HAL excursion, Romsdal & The Troll Path, which lasted 8 hours. It was very worthwhile & interesting - plenty of scenery. We drove through Spjelkavik to Sjoholt Village. I enjoyed the shoreline of Storfjord along the road. We passed Stordal Church, and drove through Liabygd & Valldal. We drove the Troll Path passing a beautiful gorge. In the Trolltindene Mt. at Olav, we stopped for a Norwegian hot & cold buffet lunch. After lunch, we made hairpin bends in the road to Isterdalen Valley. We stopped at the Troll Wall. On our ride back to Alesund, we passed picturesque villages before crossing the Orskog Mt. It was a wonderful experience that i recommend.
There is so much to do here just in the city itself. Since we had spent three days here previously, we chose to go outside the city to see Hardangerfjord & Highlights of Scenic Norway. The tour lasted 7 1/2 hours. It was an excellent tour that I highly recommend. The tour includes a panoramic city tour, too. It was fun crossing Fusafjord by ferry. There is plenty of miles of scenery along the shores of the fjord with the majestic mountains on the opposite side. After a Norwegian buffet we stopped at the Steinsdal Waterfall and could walk under the falls. Unfortunately, just as we arrived at the falls, it began raining steadily. By the time we reached the Tokagjel Gorge and the Kvamskogen Mountain plateau the rains stopped. This is a great tour if you enjoy scenic driving.
I loved this charming port. There is some shopping right in the town where we tendered. Originally, we were scheduled to dock in town. We took a HAL excursion, Eidfjord Cruise & Voringsfossen Waterfall. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the waterfall, it was surrounded in fog but just before we left, the fog cleared and we got some good photos. There is a large souvenir shop at the waterfall and the lovely Fossli hotel located at the far end of the Upper Eidfjord Lake. The cruise in the fjord was wonderful. The sun shone the entire time. .
What a nice port. It is overshadowed somewhat by Amsterdam & the ship did not offer any sightseeing excursions in Rotterdam itself. So, we toured independently. We walked along the waterfront to visit the ss. Rotterdam now a hotel, restaurant and attraction. I bought several items in the gift shop. After lunch, we took the complimentary shuttle into town and explored the iconic Cube Houses, the Old Harbor, the Lawrence Cathedral & the nearby huge inside Market Hall. Plan to spend some time in the wonderful city.
Dublin is a favorite city of mine. Since I have visited several times already, on this visit we did The Guinness Experience: A Taste of Dublin. We saw many historic sights on the way to the Guinness Storehouse Museum. We passed the Old Parliament House, Trinity College and the Irish Parliament. We visited Georgian Dublin with its lovely homes, The national Gallery of Ireland, City Hall, St Steven's Green & St Patrick's Cathedral. Our guide made a photo stop near the cathedral in St. Patrick's Park for more explanation. We also passed Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral before heading over to the Guinness Museum. The Guinness tour ends up at the Gravity sky bar for a pint of Guinness and beautiful views of Dublin. We bough two sets of engraved glasses in the huge gift shop.
Since my daughter & our grand kids visited us on the ship, we toured the city with them independently. We visited the old harbor, the Beatles Story, rode the Giant Wheel and went to the top of the Radio City Tower. We all enjoyed walking around the city. It was a lot of city walking, though. Hop On Hop Off Buses are also available. The following day, the grand kids & my daughter rode the ferry.
Douglas, Isle Of Man
4 out of 5
This was my first visit to the port of Douglas, which is part of the UK. We rode the Victorian Railroad from the promenade at Douglas Bay to the station of the Manx Electric Railway. Our tour lasted around 3 1/2 hours. The journey to Laxey takes 30 minutes. Here we transferred to the Snaefell Mountain Railway, which climbs to the summit of Snaefell, the highest point of the isle. Unfortunately, for us, the summit was shrouded in fog only clearing for a brief period of time. Nevertheless, the excursion was very worthwhile. After a short stop here for snacks and photos, we climbed aboard for our trip down the mountain. Part way down, we rejoined our coach for our trip back to Douglas. It was a fun outing.
This was a new port for me. I chose to visit the Iconic Eilean Donan Castle & The West Highlands. The HAL tour ran about 4 1/2 hrs. We passed the Cuillin Mts. along our route. We crossed the Skye Bridge to reach the castle. This is the most photographed castle in Scotland. You reach the castle by crossing a stone bridge. Inside the castle, guides tell you stories about the castle and its history. Great opportunities for taking photos outside. I made several purchases in the lovely gift shop.
We took a HAL Excursion called, Rural East Iceland. The tour lasted 5 hours. After leaving the tiny fishing village of Djupivogur, we stopped in the tiny town of Hofn. Then we continued through a picturesque mountain region and proceeded to the Hoffellsjokull Glacier. We stopped for a half hour to explore on our own. After our stop we visited a family-run horse farm. Here we were served pastries. Dress warmly for the stop at the Glacier.
This was a wonderful stop. I chose the HAL excursion, Jewels of the North. The tour lasted a full 6 1/2 hrs. We drove along the coast of Eyjafjorour, the longest fjord in Iceland and through the picturesque Fnjoskadalur Valley. Then we drove to the Lake Myvatn area and stopped at the Skutustadir Craters. After a lunch stop, we visited the Dimmuborgir Lava Labyrinth. Finally, we stopped at the geothermal field of Namaskard. On our way back to the ship, we drove though the town of Akureyri. It was a long but exciting tour.
We took the HAL excursion, the Dynjandi Waterfall & Sudureyri: A Taste of the Westfjord. The tour was good and we enjoyed the scenery. It lasted 6 hours. There are plenty of stops for photo opportunities. The Dynjandi waterfall is beautiful . We took a walk up to the falls for a closer look. The fishing village was a interesting stop. We tasted some of the local fish delicacies.
This small town is easily seen on foot. Not much to do here but the town is rugged and interesting. There was a gift shop where everyone stopped in to buy souvenirs. Be sure to see the dancing show put on for visitors. There is lots of opportunities for photographs but the area is hilly.
St. Anthony, Newfoundland
4 out of 5
We enjoyed this port but not the transportation provided by HAL on our excursion to L'Anse Aux Meadows. The school bus ride was exceptionally bumpy and the mic didn't work for the first half of the ride. Otherwise the 4-hour tour was great. Our experienced guide was terrific and she had to work under difficult conditions. It was interesting to tour the first European settlement in the New World at L'Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Guides along the way explained in detail what we were seeing. We visit the various huts where costumed guides demonstrated life in the settlement. We toured the Chieftain's Hall where the Viking warriors slept.
Our HAL tour, Old St. John's & Cape Spear was wonderful. It lasted about 3 1/2 hours. We took a panoramic drive through the city then visited Signal Hill where the first trans-Atlantic wireless signal took place in 1901. The day we visited it was extremely windy. We had to hold on tightly to our hats and sun glasses. Then we traveled to Cape spear and had time to tour on our own. We visited the old lighthouse. It was a bit of a climb. I had time to walk down to the water for a lovely view of the waves hitting the rocks below. Before returning to the ship, we stopped briefly at a very picturesque fishing village, Petty Harbour.
High winds prevented the ship from docking or tendering here.
5 out of 5
Immigration occurred on the ship seamlessly the night before departure day. We departed on time, carrying just our hand luggage. Everything proceeded smoothly for us. We quickly found our large luggage already in the terminal. Instead of getting a taxi to the airport, we took a taxi to an Avis car rental location at Government Center. There were plenty of taxis outside the terminal. There were few amenities at the terminal.
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