Our 4some had a fine cruise, got tanned and enjoyed 4 weeks away from snow. So what's NOT to like about that you may ask? Well.. often had nearly no time ashore at some Ports-o-Call. That was the only down-side to an otherwise fine time. The STATENDAM, recently out of Drydock, seemed to be ship-shape and had a very nice shiny coat of paint and mostly new carpets throughout. For those who don't know...the STATENDAM is not new, it is 21 years old, but insofar it is sailing as an 'Upper-end' cruiser it didn't disappoint as regards being a clean and pleasant vessel to spend time on to cruise the tropics.
The food and service nevers disappoints us on HAL ships and STATENDAM was no exception.
Our Inside Cabin 412 on Deck #6 was fresh as a daisy and others who I queried said as much for their cabins as well. One bank of the Rear Elevators was out of service however; but we never experienced any mechanical breakdowns that impacted our cruise that I am aware of. Nary an unpleasant odor or annoying sound came to my attention.....and I snooped while killing time.
The smallish swimming pools were never crowded, perhaps because the clientele never actually got IN the water, but rather most seemed content to snooze and read poolside rather than swim. The open-air Mahogany walkaround Lower Promenade Deck #6 was very popular with the readers and walkers aboard. I can't say enough about Dining Room and Bar/Lounge service. What a cheerful and efficient bunch!!
As I hinted we weren't happy with our Shore Experiences. I will now explain why. In a Nutshell: We had very limited time at most Ports-o-Call. Period. What in the WORLD was HAL thinking?? 6/pm to 1/am in Panama City?? 5 Hours in another Port? Considering the fact that one would be crazy to not be back within 1/2 hr of Departure time coupled with the fact we were docking in countries with limited Infrastructure and traffic issues made for many grumpy cruisers. We'd been thru Central America before as land vacationers...so HAL's lack of Port time didn't make this cruise a bust for us. I and many others often like to strike off on our own and sample the local cuisine and culture or go for a hike to explore the hinterlands. That was almost impossible with the tight timeframe we had at nearly all Ports. Whyso?? Theories abounded. Perhaps the itinerary was overly optimistic on hitting all our Ports with the sailing times between them?? Perhaps the HAL corporate HQ tried to save fuel by not sailing full-steam?? Maybe they want us to commit to only HAL-sponsored shore excursions? Who the heck knows, but a dark peek at Panama from 7/pm to Midnight didn't cut it for me...so I sayed aboard and vented in the Ocean Bar. We noticed the STATENDAM was sometimes loafing along while a sea, which made $$fuel/money$$ saving the favorite conspiracy theory as to why we hardly had time to buy postcards in some countries. Fellow cruisers intimated they noticed small cutbacks in other areas such as 'Enrichment/Crafts' and some Music Venues....things that escaped me personally, but if so, they didn't impact our shipboard experience.