The review by "dockman" is spot on. It's remarkable how sometimes one might think that one is the only person feeling in a certain way when in fact many would be feeling likewise.
Like "dockman" I consider it a pity that much of this review is negative; but I make no apology for this as Holland America has been in this business for over 150 years and should know better than to try to hoodwink its passengers especially those like me who have sailed with them and others scores times.
As to the taxi mafia in the ports on this itinerary, Holland America has been to these ports over and over just in the last few months alone so they would be aware of what's going on.
They know what's going to happen to us hapless independent cruisers and should use their muscle to protect its customers; rather it fed us to the wolves.
It was especially galling when I discovered that in Laem Chebang, Thailand, as the independent cruisers were being ripped off $US50 for a one way trip to Pattaya, (5 or 6 times the taxi meter price) the crew had a special deal and 5 of them could travel by taxi for US20.
This is profiteering from secret deals derived from the rip off of the independent cruisers. This is criminal and hurtful.
I propose to report this to Better Business Bureau in the USA. I realize that these shady business practices are taking place in foreign ports, but US companies have a responsibility to behave responsibly wherever they operate if they are to uphold their reputations as good corporate citizens.
This itinerary left a lot to be desired. Spending 8 hours in a bus to achieve 2 hours in Saigon was a joke I refused to be part of. Likewise Bangkok which was described as a 90 minute trip from Laem Chabang "if there is NO traffic". When is there "NO" traffic going into Bangkok.
And why did we need TWO visas to get into Vietnam? This was because the ship went from Halong Bay to (Sanya)China and back to Vietnam so two separate entrries. Why couldn't the ship go Hong Kong, Sanya and then Vietnam?
The ship itself was fine and the food acceptable. I did point to the head chef wwhile he was running a cookery class that the beautiful aromas he was concocting were decidedly absent from the meals in the dining room, which were on the bland side. Evidently they cook for the digestive systems of eldrly Americans. This needs to change so that people who like spicy foods can get them.
Some decks do not have fridges in the staterooms; but you can hire one. I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life. Which hotel even in darkest Africa does NOT provide a fridge? Which cruise line? Yet they provide soda cans for purchase in these cabins; do they expect us to drink them warm?
I objected and got a fridge. I think that Holland America should state this on their ticket (which it does NOT) as I consider it outside the expectation of any passenger taking a cruise on a recently refurbished Volendam to find that there is no fridge in their stateroom. This is unacceptable and dishonest advertising.
The quality and price of the wines are an ongoing sore point with all cruise lines. The $40+ wines are rubbish and you wouldn't drink them if you paid the $5 per bottle they are worth.
After trying a few ordinary wine bottles at rip-off prices we gave up and bought good French wine ashore and drank that.
From time to time we took a glass with us to the dining room and no one seemed to mind.
Holland America Generally
I tried to report this by phoning Holland America in Seattle. The Guest Relations person who answered shouldn't be anywhere neqar anything called "Guest Relations". He excuse was that this is an exotic itinerary and HA goes there a "couple of times a year". I couldn't get through to her that the Volendam has probably done this itinerary backwards and forwards half a dozen times this season alone.
Holland America has a lot going for it. The crew and staff are usually exceptionally good with people. However I have yet to get off a cruise without thinking, why do they go through so much trouble and then shoot themselves in the foot every time"...