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Review of ship/cruise
Ship: This is our second time on Holland America's Rotterdam. We definitely prefer these smaller, 1200 passenger ships. A change we noticed in the buffet line - you are served rather than being able to help yourself and there are no trays, just individual plates/bowls.. They explained they did this for sanitation reasons. They also have Purell dispensers all over the ship.
We had a suite which is like the ones on their other ships. Beds are very comfortable, a selection of pillows, lots of closet space, and bath robes/slippers provided for on board use. The TV had several movie channels, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and a few others. They do have a small movie theather also. We love having the Neptune Lounge which is for suite passengers only and it was only about 10 feet from our stateroom. There's a concierge to help with whatever you need along with beverages and light meals/snacks. There is also a lounge sitting area with a TV and computer.
We used Open Seating for dinner and met a lovely couple the first night who became our constant dinner companions. We had a wonderful time with them.The Pinnacle Grill restaurant was as spectacular as usual with their large portions, great food and attentive service. We ate there twice, once with our favorite couple. Most of our meals were in the dining room for dinner and only once for breakfast. On early tour days we ate breakfast in the Lido or grabbed something quick from the Neptune Lounge. As suite guests we also were able to eat breakfast in the Pinnacle (normally closed) and we ate there twice. Lunch was in the Lido buffet, with once on shore. Their poolside burger bar now has an extra charge and we never made it to the Pizza bar.
Overall service was up to HAL's usual high standards. The only deficiency was in the various bars. They are very short staffed (maybe intentional) so service is painfully slow. We waited for service in the Ocean Bar for over 15 minutes and walked out.
We found the showroom entertainment somewhat lacking on this cruise and only attended one show. Although they had an excellent guest lecturer in the afternoon on sea days.
Amsterdam - to Rotterdam
We flew into Amsterdam and spent the night there. Of course we had to eat at our favorite pancake house for dinner. HAL arranged for a bus to transport us to Rotterdam. The ship left from Rotterdam, Netherlands which is the home of Holland America Lines and then we sailed up the west coast of Norway.
Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger, and Bergen NORWAY
The ports we visited were generally small towns. They are set in the Fjords and are surrounded by mountains. In most ports we were the only cruise ship. In one port there was another ship but it was smaller than ours. To get to some of these towns we cruised down the fjords seeing hundreds of beautiful waterfalls.
We took less strenuous bus tours but there were walking, hiking and kayaking tours available. We did the Hop On/Hop Off bus in Alesund and Bergen and big bus tours in Alesund and Geiranger. We saw a lot of mountains and beautiful scenery.
EIDFJORD - Our bus tour in Eidfjord was cancelled due to lack of participation but there was a small one hour train ride (on roads) around the hills and small city. Eidfjord is about 575 square miles and a population of about 900.
ALESUND - This was a stop on the TV show Amazine Race in their 2017 season. There are a group of 7 islands which are connected through sub sea tunnels. The population is about 45,000. Their aquarium is one of the largest in Norway. We took a morning bus tour that took us to their highest point Mt. Aksla. Then we drove to two of the islands through the tunnels. In the afternoon we did the hop on bus and toured the aquarium and were there for the feeding of the sea otters, penguins and the seals.
GEIRANGER - This is a very small tourist village of about 200-400 people depending on the season. They are on the fjord with mountains surrounding them. Our bus tour drove up and down the zig zag roads of some of the mountains but we were prevented from going to the top (Mt. Dalsnibba) due to heavy snow on the roads.
BERGEN - This is the second largest city in Norway (after Oslo). It is known as the city of 7 mountains. Their population is around 400,000. We toured the city in the hop on bus and ate lunch in a local fish market.