In June 2013 we went to Norway with Holland America on the Ryndam. We had been to Norway before, so this cruise was booked intentionally with Holland America, because we wanted to try them out. We paid to upgrade from an outside cabin to a Vista Suite, which gave us a balcony but was not (in our opinion) really a suite.
First of all, we should say that we very much enjoyed the cruise. Some of the best factors for us were the formality (two formal nights in a week, to which passengers responded splendidly), the quality of the food (plenty of choices on the menu, not all perfect, but you could always find excellence if you looked carefully), and the feeling of friendliness (from the Captain and the Cruise Director downwards we always found good humour and a genuine welcome). We thought that particularly good features were the embarkation process (best of all that we have experienced so far) and the sliding glass roof on the Lido deck, which could be closed in inclement weather, meaning not only that the Lido deck could continue to be used but also that the inside bars and lounges remained reasonably quiet and empty. Also we appreciated how many comfortable bars and lounges there were, when you wanted to sit quietly during the day.
If you are looking for Wow Factor, then the lifts, stairs and atrium may disappoint. Everything is comfortably decorated, with interesting touches, but there are limits to what you can do with make-overs to a ship that was built in 1996. So don't expect Ryndam's atrium to provide staircases to heaven and glass-fronted lifts. In particular we felt that the Lido Restaurant (buffet restaurant) was less well decorated and less well organised than other ships. We heard that on our cruise there were a lot of new staff being trained, so maybe that explains some of the service issues we met.
Other disappointments were the price of Shore Excursions (for most of the ports on our cruise you could do much better by just going ashore and making your own arrangements, but in Ulvik we closed our eyes and bit the bullet) and the price of premium dining (we thought that the Italian Restaurant, just a partitioned area of the Lido Restaurant, was a non-event - and we felt that a premium of $25 per head was too much for the Pinnacle Grill - the right price would have been $15 - I know that's not a lot of difference in the overall scheme of things, but it seemed a lot different at the time).
We have captured many of these thoughts in a video review, available on YouTube:
I don't think this website enables you to just click on a link, so you may have to copy and paste the link into the address bar of your browser. If you like our video and find it useful, then please give us a thumbs-up, or even better, send us a comment so that we can have some discussion.
Finally, we have made some negative comments, but overall we enjoyed cruising with Holland America and we think that you will do too.