This was my 45th cruise, 26th with HAL, and my eighth Transatlantic. Obviously I enjoy days at sea and usually enjoy HAL's cruises and the Ryndam. I have never taken a cruise that I did not enjoy, but this one came close. I will get my "beef" out of the way and go on to more pleasant observations.
WORD of CAUTION! Perhaps it is better not to take a cruise when your ship is scheduled to go into dry-dock upon disembarkation. The Ryndam was scheduled for a minor (one week) dry-dock in Freeport after dropping us off. Some preparatory work commenced on our cruise. The work that I object to was cosmetic and in one way affected the safety of the ship. Two or three days into the cruise the crew began to remove tiles from the Lido enclosed pool area. The work proceeded in the afternoon into the early evening both on port and sea days. We were in cabin 006 directly below a quiet area of the spa complex and for several hours each afternoon until we went out for pee-dinner drinks the banging reminded me of Verdi's Anvil Chorus.
I complained to the Concierge and to the front desk several times. The banging would stop only to restart after an interval. Lest you think I am too picky, others on the Navigation deck also were quite upset. I believe that the executives in Seattle should allow HAL's fleet more time in dry-dock so that noisy preparatory work does not have to interfere with the enjoyment of HAL's guests.
This was the major beef. We got to Barcelona several days ahead of the departure date. We stayed at the Avenida Palace, a well priced Four Star hotel in the Eixample near to everything, subways, fun restaurants and cafes, and La Rambla.
The cabin, a good size suite with a huge balcony was beautiful. The Neptune Lounge available to these 28 cabins and the penthouse was great. The food in the Neptune Lounge is definitely better than the other venues on the ship. We often had breakfast there (more wonderful berries!).
The food in the dining room was usual HAL, sort of like a wedding banquet at a mid range hotel. The fish dishes were good and one vegetarian dish was great. Unfortunately the vegetarian stuffed cabbage needed to be braised for several hours, not minutes. Canaletto was disappointing not because of the food which was very nice, but because it was so poorly attended on the night we ate. By 8:15 we were to only party in the room. Evidently the $10pp charge (it was free) has put a damper on the room -- too bad.
The ship was in okay condition considering it was going into a minor dry dock and several non-annoying refurbishing was being completed as we crossed. I did note that the railing at the bar at the Ocean bar was always sticky. A fellow passenger explained to me that this is due to the hand sanitizers. Luckily none of the other bars have handrails. We moved to the non-sticky Piano bar at Mix, end of problem.
The shows were excellent especially "encore" which had not only the showroom cast but included all the musicians from the other venues as well.
The staff was wonderful as usual from the bottom to the Captain. We were lucky to be included at the captain's table on one of the four formal nights. Captain Timmers, like Captain Costen, really likes to visit with his guests. We had the opportunity to visit with him several times when he stopped at the Mix bar prior to dinner.
Disembarkation was quick and efficient.
P.S. Evidently my complaints were recognized by guest relations. Without any request on our part, we received a $175 reimbursable credit by way of apology. I would rather have had less bucks and more quiet in the cabin!