ms Rotterdam Cruise Review
Is Holland America Line right for you?
Prospective cruise passengers often agonize over the question of whether they'll feel comfortable on a ship. Will they be looked at like adult chaperones at a high-school dance? Or will they think that they've been shanghaied into a nursing home? Will they feel like Grand Old Opry fans at a Metropolitan Opera benefit, or like Bentley owners who have stumbled into a Monster Truck and Demolition Derby?
Our advice: Don't worry. Holland America Line's ships are large enough, and their customer base is diverse enough, to make just about anyone who speaks English feel comfortable.
On our voyage, the passenger spectrum ranged from infants through the elderly, with services to match the diverse customer demographics. (Club HAL's camp counselors kept children happy with games and other activities, while medical oxygen was available to the infirm or elderly through third-party providers.)
Still, if you're concerned about whether you'll fit into a HAL cruise (and whether a Holland America Line cruise will suit your tastes), a few observations may be helpful:
Nationalities on board
Holland America Line is best known for serving an American and Canadian clientele, but a growing European interest in cruising has begun to attract more customers from the the UK, Ireland, and Continental Europe--especially on Mediterranean and Northern European itineraries.
As we mentioned earlier, about 95 percent of the passengers on our Rotterdam-to-Rotterdam "Scandinavian Impressions" voyage were Dutch. HAL is likely to attract an even larger European clientele as more of its ships operate in Europe and it begins a series of year-round cruises from the port of Rotterdam.
Comparing cruise costs can be tricky, especially when you factor in early-booking discounts, short-term promotions, and what is or isn't included in the fare. If you're a North American flying to Europe, for example, your transportation costs will be a significant part of you cruise expense,. In contrast, a Londoner traveling to a roundtrip cruise out of Greenwich (or an Amsterdam couple taking an hour's train ride to Rotterdam) will spend very little to reach the ship.
We aren't experts on cruise pricing, but it's safe to say that Holland America Line's fares are competitive with those of most midrange and premium cruise lines. A travel agent can help you decide whether a HAL cruise will fit your budget. You can also compare fares and deals by visiting Holland America Line's Web site (see next page) and the Web sites of other lines featured in our European Cruise Guide.
Budgeting for extras
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