Western Caribbean Cruise - March 10-17 from Tampa. The smaller ship ended up being one of the biggest bonuses of being on the Ryndam. Nothing seemed a long walk, and they had enough of everything on the ship that you didn't seem to be missing out on anything that the bigger ships had - other than the crowds. We found that it was definitely a quieter ship - which was nice - less running around - fewer lines at the breakfast and lunch buffets and lots of room around the pool on sea days. There never seemed to be the huge lines and crowds you usually encounter when on bigger ships.
Our EMBARKATION was very smooth. We arrived via cab to the port in Tampa at about 11:40. They opened the doors for registration at noon and we were dropping off our carry-ons in our cabin at 12:30 and were off to the main dining room for lunch.
Our CABIN was midship on the Main Deck - Quiet and easy to access the elevators and stairs. We tried to use the stairs as much as possible, but when using the elevators we never had to deal with full elevators. It was an interior room - nothing special as far as decor or size - but clean and updated. The stewards did a great job and seemed to invisibly know when the room was empty. The one problem we did have was with our air conditioning. They immediately brought a large fan to our room which worked out fine - did the trick while we were sleeping and spent little time in the room anyways. When it was fixed after a couple of days we found a letter in our door apologizing for the inconvenience and a generous credit to our account for the troubles. Nice touch to make the offer without even asking for it.
The PUBLIC ROOMS were nice and well kept. The Explorers Cafe/Library had a surprising array of current magazines, novels and reference books - many to sign out from the 'librarian'. The little bars around the ship never seemed to crowded. Before and after dinner a classical pianist and violinist played to full crowds every evening. The piano bar always had a good late night crowd to partake in the interactive activities that the piano player had going. By the end of the week he had a hard core following. I was actually surprised at the quality of the shows in the main theatre. I thought that with a small ship they would cut back on their performances. They had 3 shows per night and most were very good.
DINING - We ate all of our dinners in the main dining room at the late sitting. Our service was excellent. I know that ships are cutting back on staffing, however I give credit to the staff for their non-stop energy. The food was very good - I leaned towards the sea food entrees and they never disappointed. The lunch buffet also had a surprising variety and quality of food available. Again, for a smaller ship, I was expecting less.
PORTS - We picked the itinerary because it was different, plus we were more interested in a relaxing cruise - not one running around at ports. Most of the stops (other than Key West, which was our favourite stop) didn't really have anything there to get off the ship and explore around. Two of the ports - Costa Maya, Mexico and Mahogany Bay, Roatan were really just 'fake' ports built by Carnival, with a variety of bars and shops. Mahogany Bay had a nice man-made sandy beach. The port in Santo Tomas in Guatemala is a container port with a large local arts and crafts warehouse by the ship. There is nothing else within walking distance. A group of us did take a taxi van for a tour of the neighbouring city - definitely an eye opener.
Our group was called to DISEMBARK at 8:15. After going through customs and getting our bags, we were getting into a cab by 8:40. A very smooth end to the cruise.
The best indicator of what my wife and I thought of the ship is that we have already booked an 11 day cruise on the Ryndam for this summer from Dover to Barcelona.