we were really looking forward to both the fjords and Holland America.
embarkation at dover was very good, excellent porters, they could teach Southampton porters a thing or 2.
our cabins were not immediately ready but no problem we went for a late lunch. after royal Caribbean it was a limited selection but ok.
we went to our cabins and I have to say it was disappointing.
the large ocean view window was old and tatty and every time I looked out of it well it seemed to be even tattier. in fact the ryndam is the oldest ship in Holland America fleet and although very clean parts looked a bit worse for wear.
the ryndam was built in 1996 and compared to more modern ships you can tell.
first evening dining, they were not as keen as rci on hand washing and if you wished to dodge the hand wash station you could very easily and a great number of people did.
the food the first night was average at best, I've had better soup out of a tin, we heard later on that a group of americans had made an official complaint about the food.
the second evening the food was a lot better but not as good as I had been told by previous ryndam cruisers. over the week the food was good, some dishes were excellent, most were good and some were rather poor.
service is something that Holland America pride themselves and do have an excellent reputation. on the ryndam the service varied from excellent to bizarre.
I was in a queue of 4 people for soup, the gentleman at the front asked for 2 soups, he given one and then the server walked off into the kitchen never to be seen again.
the problem was that there were not enough staff serving food in the buffet restaurant and some staff were excellent and others in need of training as we learnt later on that there was a lot of new staff on board.
the excursions looked expensive and proved to be very poor value.
ports of call, oslo great place walk, off the ship and get on to a hop on hop off bus, 24 hour ticket, it is best to take Norwegian krone, you can pay in other currencies but the exchange rates are very poor, I think the bus ticket worked out at around £10 in krone but £15 in pounds, a lot cheaper than Holland America version.
kristianstand is a nice place but not very big, it takes about 10 minutes to stroll into town, not a lot to see, the marina is very pleasant, a couple of hours and you have seen everything.
Stavanger - the town is quite small and you can see most things in a couple of hours, the main trip is to the pulpit rock which costs around £90 with Holland America but if you walk 10 minutes round the harbour and take the tour boat there it will cost around 60 euros nearly half price
the advantage of doing the pulpit rock trip yourself is firstly it is a lot cheaper and secondly if the weather is bad you don't do it and save your money.
the entertainment was ok but once again not up to rci.
Holland America is usually rated a star or half a star above rci but not on my ryndam experience, rci is at least one star better.
overall I found the cruise slightly disappointing, the ryndam is an old ship with an inexperience crew and falls short of what i'm use to on rci more modern ships