Statendam: Statendam Cruise Review by daryleann
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We had never cruised with Holland America before, but the chance to see Japan and other places that we had never visited was too good a chance to pass up. We booked a full year in advance, and were very glad, as it was sold out before Christmas. After the paying deadline, a few more cabins opened up, but were quickly sold.
We did not use the cruise lines air as we went in early to spend some time traveling to Hiroshima and Kyoto. (This worked out extremely well, and my husband is willing to return since we had no troubles English is everywhere!) We flew into Kyoto and took the airport shuttle to Osaka, and hours drive.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which had daily shuttles to the train station, and we moved More about from there, returning in the evening. After four days, we took the train from Kyoto to Osaka and switched to the subway, getting off at the stop a couple of blocks from the ship terminal. The only hang-up was the lack of elevator or escalator at the Osaka train station but a lovely young man came along and carried my bag up the one flight of stairs.
Upon arriving at the Osaka port about 12:30, we saw that the STATENDAM was the only ship in port. We left our luggage with the guys (no tipping! WOW!) and entered a large room, where we had no lines. We filled out the medical form, after reading the letter that said there had been an outbreak of flu later to be whispered as Norovirus. Then we entered a waiting room, where they had drinks and water. The time for boarding had been about 1:00 pm but we didnt get on until closer to 2:00, as they were really disinfecting the ship, but we met several people, so the time went smoothly.
Upon being called to board, we found our room and our luggage was already there. Lunch!! With the RED ALERT we had everything handed to us and I mean, even the packets of sugar! Nothing was self-serve. This lasted through the first week, and then went to normal. After lunch, since we were overnighting in Osaka, we were free to go, but we chose to wander the pier area. Fire drill/muster, the welcoming ceremony (mentioned later) and dinner (early) filled up the day. We road the ferris wheel at the pier that evening. Dinner proved upsetting, as very few at the table, and one woman filled us in on the health of the previous cruise. Good to know, but she didnt stay at our table, as well as another woman who got up and left mid meal!! We began to feel unloved! But it turned out that we had much more pleasant company after that first night, as they reassigned people who were wanting to change, etc. They were pleasant enough companions throughout the rest of the trip.
Help got a bit distracted some nights and it would be really slow, but other nights we were done early. It was good to see that they alternated getting the tables out other cruises I have been on, when we were the last table out every night, it meant no seat at the show.
Our cabin was very near the front of the ship so we had a long walk to the dining hall (our seating was on 7) each night enough to justify dessert! Then all the way back to the front for the shows, but no elevators were used. Even going up to the buffet every morning was a good workout on the stairs, so we didnt feel the shrinking of our clothes as much as we could have.
We never even entered the casino except when in port, as the smoke makes me sick, and we walked through the spa and gym one sea day. No one was using anything, but it looked very complete. The elderly (91) lady at our table used the treadmill on the days it was too windy on the deck, and she said it was very nice. I guess I am a slouch she sure made me feel guilty!
We did our own thing at all the ports, but used the shore excursion list as a guide as to what to see. That said, we did very little actual shrine/temple visiting. We wanted to soak up the feeling of Japan. In Osaka, we rode the subway to the Floating Observatory area. This meant walking a ways, but the side streets were interesting, with the fish kites waving from roofs, etc. The observatory was very interesting, as it involved an escalator that crosses from one building to the other, across open space an eerie feeling.
In Tokyo, we were docked right in town, and we had a copy of the bus schedule, for the two buses that stop right there. We got an all day pass but couldnt get it until we got to the main station, so we paid the 200 yen to the driver the first time. We got the all day pass for the Yamanote (JR) line and got off at several spots. Most interesting was the Yanaka cemetery (Nippori station), and at Harajuku station which is mainly for teenagers. We got off here, but the crush of people was unbelievable (and Ive been to many championship football games!) so many of us just took pictures down the street and went back into the station. The teens, however, forged onward sort of!
After a quick meal at the buffet that night we used our all day bus pass, and then took the monorail to Odaiba, seen from the ship, and walked a bit. It was pretty late and most was closed, but the teens were in great numbers there in line for the ferris wheel. We took the monorail back and the bus to the ship. The next day we got another all day subway/bus ticket and hit the area we had missed: the govt buildings to get the free view from the 45th floor, the grounds of the Imperial Palace very abbreviated stop&and rode the bus through Ginza were not shoppers, so it wasnt of interest to stop, although several people did. We had wanted to do the water cruise, but the lines were terribly long there holiday made for crowds everywhere! So we will have something to see the next time!
I should point out that all of the Japan ports were a first time visit, so each port had a welcoming ceremony, which was interesting. In Osaka, they broke the sake barrels and gave each person a wooden bowl full of sake. In Tokyo, there were some other activities far more crowded, as the rumors of sake had spread. But I doubt if they will do any of that in the future.
Aomori was very interesting. Since we had not seen any cherry blossoms yet, we walked to an area along the canal that had plenty. Those taking the tours said the park had many trees beautiful, although that was the only good thing I heard about the tours. We visited a department store that had free internet and a 100 yen shop, where I got a sun hat (I lost mine on the train in Tokyo). Then we went to the large A (ASPAM) building at the end of the pier, where they had an observatory as well as handicrafts and vendors of traditional items. Outside, a huge Nebuti float was pulled up and there were performers encouraging people to join them all very colorful. So, we got to see the floats and no excursion! As the ship pulled out, there were dancers and flag wavers, as well as colored water spouting from fire tugs all very colorful!
Petropavlask was an interesting port, but people were very turned off by the trash they saw at the lookout. My husband took a taxi to the military museum and I just walked around, seeing the statues and the people. I stopped in one large souvenir store and people were buying with American dollars although we were told they wouldnt. A lady had come on board and exchanged money not a great rate, but evenly divisible, and she offered to re-buy anything at the same rate, so it was a good deal. Many forgot this part, so just gave big tips to the guides. If you are intending to buy any of the lacquered objects do it here, as they are more than double in Alaska.
Dutch Harbor, Unalaska. What can I say? It was a very far walk to anything. Husband stopped at the war museum and I continued into town -- or as far as I could get. Taxis were charging $5 apiece, but I didnt realize how far it would be just looked a few blocks. The blocks turned into miles, but it was a lovely day and the eagles were soaring right overhead- some very close! Stopped at the local Safeway and saw the prices of food and bought a small souvenir. Passengers were stripping the shelves. On to the library where I had free internet, then to the small town and the Russian Orthodox Church. Lovely overlook from an office building. Would have missed so much, with the taxi drive! But I did take the taxi back from the church -- dumb, Im not!
Kodiak was beautiful! We were told probable rain but it couldnt have been more perfect several people had dressed too warm! Wandered around town, after a free shuttle into town, and saw the highlights.
Sitka was the first rain, but that is typical Alaska and it wasnt cold just a light mist many times. Walked to the Raptor center and then through the woods to the totem pole museum. Found the Russian church there but decided to spend some time looking at shops, as the carvings were magnificent.
Vancouver was pleasant and the disembarkation went very quickly and smoothly. One woman was rather angry and yelling about losing her luggage she had found it by the time we got there, but she was letting everyone know how awful everything was. (We stayed on in Vancouver for two nights and used the hop-on trolley to get around town for the two days, seeing the sights.) One thing I did not like was the maps of the ports given on the ship. I dont know what service they used but they were worthless! I am glad that there were always people in port to give us other maps, as no one could figure out the ship ones. There was never even a notation which direction our ship was in. In Tokyo there were all sorts of different maps, but we stopped into a small office to ask about the bus and a lady printed off a sheet of the times. A good thing, as there were 3 different buses and each stopped on a different side of the two-block train station. We only had to walk around one time, when I mistakenly asked for one bus rather than one of the three.
Our cabin was very comfy, especially after we switched to the single beds more room to maneuver! Steward brought a fruit bowl at the end of the first week very tired banana and orange. We set it out in the hall as we didnt want it and the banana was very pungent. It was our only complaint. The waiters were very conscientious about cleanliness and it was a real testament to them that we were able to go off the red alert.
Entertainers were great, although youd think comedians could come up with new jokes after a few years. Wed seen a couple on other ships and they were the same routines. It was hard to get seats for the first show, as there was usually a game of some sort beforehand and those choosing to eat in the buffet were usually there first. But we never were without a seat. And the movies were always poorly attended in the evening, so that was always an option.
We are not drinkers, so I cannot tell you anything about the bars. But my favorite hangout was the Crows Nest, during the day. I could read, stitch or just watch the scenery. When we passed the Kuril Islands, it was fantastic, and got crowded, but the rest of the time it was very open except for the recliner chairs they filled up right away for people to nap in. Even though the hot tubs had been promised to be open after the red alert was over, they never were. And there were other little things that bugged people, like the temp in the movie theater, (it was either take a blanket or pass out from the heat) but all in all, it was a great trip and a fantastic itinerary. I would love to do it again sometime! Less
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