When I am looking for a cruise, it is mostly the itinerary that I am interested in more so than the cruise line. This year my Husband was turning 75 and I had always wanted him to see Venice and Rome. The only cruise line that was doing these 2 ports of call at the time I was looking for was Holland America onboard the Oosterdam.
Upon arrival in Venice we took a private boat transfer from the airport to the main pier in San Marco Square. As I had stayed at the All Angelo Allegro Hotel in the past and it is about a 5 minute walk from the pier I booked the hotel again. Upon check-in I was amazed that the agent at the front desk welcomed me back to the hotel as their records indicated that I had stayed at the hotel in 2008. She advised me that my Jr. Suite which I had booked was not ready yet, but as a welcome back she upgraded us to a 1 bedroom suite on the 1st floor which was the only suite on that floor and overlooked the canal. We spent a lovely 2 days exploring Venice and during one of our many walkabouts discovered a fantastic outdoor fish & food market on the far side of the Rialto Bridge which my Husband enjoyed as he is such a foodie.
To get to the ship, I had booked a private boat transfer which came to the back of the hotel and picked us up. The boat took us up through some of the small canals before joining the Grand Canal. It was wonderful being able to cruise up the canal and see all the wonderful sites that we were unable to see by foot.
After having been on many high-end cruises in the past I was unsure how quality of the service & food would compare – especially given the size of the ship and number of cruisers onboard. Upon arrival at the ship pier, we were greeted by some of the staff from Holland America who immediately took our luggage and advised us we that it would be delivered to our stateroom within the next few hours.
They immediately pointed out the complimentary shuttle to the ship, but we opted to walk so they proceeded to give us instructions on walking to the ship. At the pier we were given a check-in # and entered a very short line where we presented our boarding passes and passports and promptly received our ship key cards. Our boarding # was called shortly afterwards and we quickly went through security and boarded the ship. We went directly to our stateroom which was ready and after refreshing ourselves went to the Lido Market for a quick lunch. I was immediately impressed by the selection of options available on the buffet for their luncheon menu. My Husband who really enjoys fish had chosen a piece of Salmon to go along with his other selections. After having a couple of bits of the Salmon he started to rave about how good the Salmon was, and told me that it was the best he had ever had. Needless to say, whenever there was Salmon on either the buffet luncheon or on the supper menu, he had some.
During the 12 days of our cruise I became more and more impressed that Holland America continued to more than exceed my expectations in regards too not only the service & food, but also the quality of the shore excursions and entertainment. One of the shore excursions we booked was Olympia in 3D. I didn’t really know what to expect, but when we got to the ruins of the first site of the Olympics BC our guide gave everyone an iPad to use during the tour. At several of the areas that we visited, after the guide spoke about the history of the building that had been on that site, he would tell us which colour code to choose and then which # to pick and then we would do a 360 degree turn around and we could see in 3D what the original building looked like on the iPad. Our group was the only ones who had the iPads.
Our stateroom Stewart & his helper always greeted us by our names and asked if there was anything we needed, and asked if we had enjoyed our day. If I should find another itinerary through Holland America that is what I am looking for I would definitely book them again.
Our cruise ended in Rome and we were picked up again by a private car transfer from the pier in Civitavecchia and driven directly to our hotel. Last year when I was in Rome with my Daughter & Granddaughter we had stayed at the Savoy for 2 nights, and because of the wonderful service we received I booked the hotel again. Our room was not ready, however, the bellhop promptly took our luggage and stored it for us. We started out on a walk not really knowing what we were really going to do but ended up booking a hop-on, hop-off which took us around many of the major sites of Rome. When we returned to the hotel we went to the check-in counter were upon presenting my passport the agent quickly looked up at me and recognized me from last year. She came quickly around the counter and gave me a bit hug and welcomed me back.
On the Saturday morning which was my Husbands 75th birthday, I had booked a tour into the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. He again really enjoyed the tour. For supper we went to the Hard Rock Café to celebrate with a wonderful supper.
On the Sunday we again had a private transfer from the hotel to the airport. I have flown in and out of a lot of airports and must say that I was not impressed with this airport. It is one of the worst I have ever experience.
My final thoughts on this cruise are, DON’T EVER HESITATE TO BOOK A HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE.
Posted with permission by
New Wave Travel, a division of Vision Travel
Photo provided by Holland America Line