This is a great ship with a great crew looking to serve you in every way they can. Great shore excursions are available, but much less expensive if you book them outside Holland America Line. This is a cruise that offers entertainment and shipboard activity but is not focused on the cruising. It is focused on the ports of call. So if you're looking for a "party boat" or a family/young kid's cruise, this trip (Baltic Cruise) on the Zuiderdam is likely not for you.
5 out of 5
The port and ship's crew made this process easy and quick.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food choices and service were excellent. I do, however, have two issues. The first has to do with soft drinks during meals. To charge for beer and/or wine during mealtimes is disappointing but perhaps acceptable to keep fares lower. To charge for soft drinks, especially during meal times, is just nickel and dimeing customers to death. The second issue is a similar one. HAL charges extra to dine in the specialty restaurants. No problem there, but again charges extra (on top of the original "specialty restaurant upcharge) for certain entrees in these locations. It just feels like HAL is "milking" us every chance.
5 out of 5
We did not use the activity facilities as we spent all port days on tour and at sea days recovering!
We were too tired to enjoy the entertainment, but fellow passengers said all choices were excellent.
We did not have children with us.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
While some staff really went over and above required standards, all the staff really performed well.
5 out of 5
The ship is well organized and the staff maintains all in good order.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
This veranda stateroom is a bit cramped, but not much time is spent there so it's adequate. The stewards did a great job straightening, cleaning and providing anything we needed.
Great city to visit. Lots of history, great shops and restaurants. Really no need to take a tour. Just use the "Hop On/Hop Off" bus. The port is actually close enough to walk into town (historical district) in about 25 minutes.
We used a 2 day package from Shore Excursions Group for half the price of the HAL package. We could not have been happier with our excursion. St Petersburg was definitely the highlight stop of the entire cruise. Unfortunately, we really needed at least 4 days to cover everything, so be prepared for a whirlwind tour!
Incredible experience. History (museums), shops, restaurants, canal trips, all outstanding. One day is not enough. The Hop On/Hop Off boat package is all you need to get from ship to town and around town. Everything is within walking distance from the boat stops.
Rostock itself is not a tourist town. We took a tour to Wismar. It was interesting, but was not something we would recommend. Except for the visit to the brewery. It has been in (and out) of production since the 1600s. The history was great and the beer tasting was fun!
Kiel itself is not an attraction, but offers access to two wonderful opportunities. Hamburg (which we did not visit) and Lubeck which we did. Lubeck is a medieval town that survived WWII mostly intact. It is a day well spent with historical sites, shops (especially Neideregger Marzipan!) and cafes. We took the bus excursion without the tour guide. It is an easy (small) town to walk about.
Once again the port and ship's staff did a great job. Disembarkation was quick and easy. Cabs were plentiful and priced somewhat less expensive than the HAL transfer bus so there was no need to book a transfer to the airport.
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