Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well as on other lines.
First, the positive. The ship was in excellent condition. Never did I see any worn carpet, or worn upholstery on furniture. Contrary to other reports, all the the ship's water supply was properly filtered and treated. We had no problem with foul looking or tasting water as reported on other reviews and information about the Volendam. Our shower could have had more water pressure and hotter water, but it was adequate.
While our initial boarding was delayed, the ship's captain made the correct decision by ordering a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas of the ship. The previous voyage had experienced much illness of the GI type. A free shuttle bus was provided from and back to the boarding terminal. The bus went to and returned from a very nice and large Kobe department store. I was able to purchase four bottles of good wine for later consumption on the ship.
The captain correctly continued having the ship areas disinfected and insisting that all passengers and crew wash hands and use the hand cleaning dispensers available throughout the ship. As a result, the extraordinary procedures for sanitation were relaxed about half-way through the cruise, although reinstated for a short time a few days later.
The entertainment was generally good, although sometimes not well attended. The Piano Lounge pianist, Steve, was very skilled, clever, and entertaining. My wife, more of a knowledgeable musician than I, said he was an excellent pianist and accompanist.
Steve also organized, was Master of Ceremonies, and accompanied singers for the guest talent show. I believe all the participants performed well, and that the two to three hundred in the audience enjoyed the show. I think, and hope, my 'Ol Man River was appreciated.
As is proper, there was no determination of a winner, etc., for the talent show. These shows used to occur on most cruises, but now seem to have been replaced with Karaoke contests, with winners determined by ship staff personnel. While I enjoy Karaoke as much as anyone, I believe making it a contest is inappropriate.
The adagio performers in the Explorer Lounge were a violin and pianist from the Ukraine. They were good musicians and played well, but attendance was too often sparse. They did give a fine performance at their own show one afternoon.
Our favorite waitress was Marivic, who served us in the Explorer Lounge. She is from the Philippines, always pleasant, and with a great sense of humor. Our Neptune Lounge concierge ladies were also exceptionally pleasant and helpful.
Now for he disappointing factors.
For the first time ever, we splurged for a Superior Suite, named a Deluxe Verandah Suite, or Neptune Suite, on this ship. The pricing, changes in pricing, and our final attaining of the best price by contacting high level management are too detailed to get into here.
The suite in general was what we expected, although perhaps a bit smaller than those on larger ships. Our main problem with the suite itself was the bathtub-shower. We only showered, never using a filled tub or the water jet function. We found the width of the tub base to be extremely narrow and uncomfortable for showering. Two feet would barely fit, and we are not large people.
The verandah was very wide, as much as 11 or 12 feet. While this would be nice for warm weather cruising, the great width would hardly compensate for the very narrow bathroom and its narrow tub. Why the ship was designed this way in the first place escapes me. However, except for the very small bathroom and tub and waisted verandah area, the suite was nice. The complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service for suite guests was a plus. Cabin cleaning and service was fine, given that we seldom saw the cabin steward or assistant. In room breakfast service was good and on time. A minor problem occurred with the one live plant in the suite. One day my wife noticed it was drooping and lacked water. She watered the plant and it recovered. The cabin steward should have done this.
Our major problem occurred during our first night on board, and continued for several nights. It happened that our cabin was immediately under the dishwashing room on the Lido deck above. Early every morning at about 6:30 am the dishwashing machines would be started. As they were drained the night before, the start-up was accompanied by a loud water hammer, or other such noise. Then, for a few more minutes, other noises occurred. We occupied 7028. I soon learned the suite guests on both sides, 7030 and 7026, were also awakened each morning by this noise. One of these guests inquired and was told nothing could be done about this noise. I then visited with our nice concierge lady in the Neptune Lounge and discussed the problem. She went to the Lido deck, asked about what correction could be made, and was told nothing could be done. I then asked to see the Hotel Manager. An intermediary then had the problem fixed by the dishwashing people using a different procedure. However, I still later met with the Hotel Manager who maintained that no one had previously complained about the early morning noise.
What! Are you kidding me?
I also spoke with this gentleman about the fact that shuttle buses in the Japanese ports we visited were never announced in the Explorer, the daily "poopâ€ sheet. He responded that each city provided these buses, and it was not known if the buses would really be there. Well, then write a probable/possible entry for the Explorer to inform people that he buses could be available.
While the Cruise Director spoke to our Cruise Critic "Meet and Greetâ€ group the first cruise day and said Karaoke would be several times, it was provided only once.
Our dining room experience was sometimes fine, but often lacking. Escargot was offered only once. As an example of our disappointment, I offer this. Once the menu included pheasant. The serving consisted of only the leg. The same occurred with duck. Neither menu stated leg. It is expected that if nothing is otherwise specified about the pheasant or duck part, the serving will be the breast. But I repeat, neither menu stated leg. I will not further elaborate about dining, but the experience was mixed. We did not participate in Pinnacle dining except for the complimentary lunch for Neptune Suite people, That was very good.
So I could write much more, but the above may provide a flavor of our cruise experience on the Volendam across the Pacific.