We wanted to go to the South Pacific and a 51-day cruise with 26 ports returning to North America was the best option for us, a newly retired couple.
was done as a back-to-back with the Incan Empires Cruise, so our embarkation was simple. Disembarkation was a little late in San Diego (about an hour), but it wasn't a problem for us.
The Amsterdam is a wonderful ship in terms of size and layout. Even though the decor is dated, we like the elegance of the ship and the ample public spaces. You rarely feel crowded on the Amsterdam. However, there are numerous opportunities for upgrades. A single outlet isn't nearly enough for 2019 and no USB charging ports just doesn't make sense. The TV's are outdated and passengers don't have access to interactive TV services the way they do on the newer ships. The ice machine on the starboard side of the Lido hasn't been working for at least 6 month and creates a big bottleneck and inconvenience with times when there is no ice to be found.
The cabin was perfectly adequate in terms of layout and storage space, as was the bathroom and bed. The biggest issues were in the bathroom where hastily repaired grouting in the shower fell out every time we used it and where the water temperature vacillated from cool to scalding all on its own. We also had a couple of episodes when water systems were disrupted.
The Lido Market was great for breakfast and lunch with generally short lines except the pasta bar (which is understaffed) and the ice cream bar which just gets busy. The food quality is very good and you have the advantage of being able to see it before you order it (there is very little self-serve). Afternoon Tea is a wonderful, but underutilized service. We went whenever we could and the staff were amazing. Evening dining in the Main Dining Room was good, but not excellent. If you recognize something on the menu, you almost certainly won't recognize in on your plate or in your mouth. Not that the food is bad in any way, but it won't be prepared the way you are used to it. Seating is good, but reservations are recommended at popular time for Gala nights. Service is good to very good with the speed dependent on the number of people at the table. They should really reduce the number of large tables (8 persons plus) because no one likes them (too slow and very hard to have a conversation). Desserts are generally a disappointment and the ice cream in the dining room always has ice chips in it.
The entertainment was variable, but generally good. The Amsterdam Singers and dancers were very good. It is just plain sad that they are being discontinued when they are the most consistently enjoyed presentations. I understand that they will have more of the other entertainers which range from bad to good with most being just fair. Too many acts that I would call "novelty" and too many comedians that are past their prime. Guest speakers were also variable, but mostly interesting. The EXC Coordinator did a good job of orienting the passengers to the many ports. The Excursions Manager was humorous in his descriptions, but not always accurate. We were disappointed in a few of the HAL excursions we took, but providing feedback is very hard and really not encouraged at all.
The staff is the best thing. With few exceptions they are friendly, efficient and helpful. I feel sorry for them trying to provide a great experience while the head office keeps cutting resources and services. A part of many passenger conversations is the ceremonial listing of the ceremonial listing of things that have been taken away and how despite the hundreds of loyal HAL passengers, HAL corporate seems bound and determined to chase them away with a bad loyalty program and never-ending cutbacks. Sadly, the reputation that HAL has earned in the past will be very hard to rebuild once it is gone completely.
It was a good choice for us, we probably won't be going on this cruise again. We just prefer to explore new terrritory.
This was a particularly good cabin with a large alcove that other cabins don't have.
San Diego is a good place to spend a day or so. The Zoo is very good and there are some good walking areas near the cruise port.
We enjoyed the long walk from the cruise port into Waikiki, but a lot of the old charm has been lost, only to be replaced with the high-end retailers that you find cluttering the boulevards of every large city.
Just sailed along the same coast the cruise ship sailed by. No commentary. Snacks and drinks were okay, but that is all.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Although pricey, this excursion allowed us to see multiple sights on the one tour.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Mauna Kea Summit Adventure was not up to standards. The excursion was modified due to the ongoing protests and we weren't able to go to the summit or visit the Kek Observatory. The lunch was pretty pathetic as we were given wraps and chips and told to go eat them in a mall food court. Some good explanations, but overall disappointing.View All 9 Mauna Kea Reviews
The excursion also included a visit to a coffee grower, church and black sand beach with turtles. Lunch was good as were the snacks and drinks available throughout the day.View All undefined undefined Reviews
There are no excursions to take, but the island is a wonderful experience. Buy some of their crafts and bring some donations for this subsistence island that needs all the help we can provide. Also, it is beautiful as are its people.
What a wonderful experience to meet, visit and eat with a family on a remote island. They have very few visitors and the experience was so authentic. The tour guide was very inexperienced, but will learn with time. Also, the "ferries" to the island were pretty "iffy"View All undefined undefined Reviews
A great view if you hike up the hill to see it. Snorkeling is only average, but peasant.
Tau Cave & Zip-Line was a great excursion with great views, and interesting cave and a great lunch.View All 3 Ziplining Reviews
This was a really good tour to the Blue Hole, Champagne Beach and Magical water Music (so interesting and unique). Lunch was a bit disorganized, but the tour operator was very interested in suggestions for improvements, so this will likely be improved.View All undefined undefined Reviews
This was an interesting Cultural Excursion with some nice scenic elements. Unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday and couldn't see the school in action.View All undefined undefined Reviews
There is very little on this island, but it is beautiful and the snorkeling is good.
Very good value for the money with visits to the main sights and a good commentary by the bus driver.View All undefined undefined Reviews
What a wonderful experience to snorkel with black-tipped reef sharks, stingrays, manta rays, moray eels and a cast of many fishes and corals. Sadly, we didn't see any lemon sharks.View All 8 Snorkeling Reviews
Off the Beaten Track: Tahiti by 4-Wheel-Drive and Walk was a good excursion marred by almost constant rain. Still, it was interesting to drive into the center of the island and enjoy a freshly picked snack. Unfortunately, the back of a 4x4 isn't the place to get a commentary, so mostly gathered little bits at the stops.View All 8 4x4 Safari Reviews
Aito Safari Adventure took us to Belvedere Lookout and Magic Mountain Lookout. What amazing views!!! The Tiki Village wasn't much, nor was the Pineapple "Factory" but the Archaeological Site freshwater eels, and pineapple farm were interesting.View All 15 4WD Excursion Reviews
Grouped Blue Lagoon was a very good snorkeling experience with opportunities to snorkel with black-tipped reef sharks, lemon shark (left before we got in the water), coral garden and "Aquarium". The lunch was great and fun to eat with baby sharks swimming around our feet. Only downsides were the 1 hour boat rides each way (weather was bad on the return trip).View All 18 Snorkeling Reviews