This was our first Christmas cruise ever. We enjoyed ourselves and may do this again. The Ryndam is one of the smaller ships in the HAL fleet and we find her size to be just right. It was easy to see the same people again and again, not like on a big ship. The ship was decorated for Christmas and everyone was in a festive mood. Mama Lou was on our sailing and will be on the sailing for New Year’s as well. She is a very interesting lady and extremely sharp. She is 90 years old now and has been cruising HAL for 18.5 years. The crew love her and dote on her.
We had a small Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. 14 people attended. Seattle had scheduled us for The Mix. The area was not ideal but it served our purpose. The only problem was Seattle neglected to let the ship know about our meeting so no crew came by and no coffee and cookies were served. The Beverage Manager called to apologize when I made the Front Desk aware of the oversight and was ready to schedule another meeting for us. I declined but thanked him for the offer. I really just wanted them to let Seattle know that they had messed up. Our meeting went well without the cookies but a visit from a Staff member would have been nice.
Cabin 628 – I had bought an HH guarantee, fully obstructed outside and we were placed in an unobstructed outside. That was nice. The cabin was in good shape. Everything worked. The toilet was a little slow occasionally but it always flushed. I set the air conditioner when we entered and never touched it again. It remained at a constant comfortable temperature until the last two days. Then the cabin would warm up until the air kicked in. Others had issues with their air, some never getting it to work. They were provided with fans. I cannot quote room numbers, I wish I could, but these comments were all heard in passing or while waiting at the front desk for other information.
One member of the Cruise Critic group did have to get moved from their cabin. On returning from Key West, the toilet in their cabin was spewing water, flooding right out the door. Maintenance had a hard time shutting off the water. On two occasions, the water in our cabin ran a tan colour before it became clear. Not sure what that was but I noted it on my survey.
Several areas of the ship were quite cold. The Showroom at Sea was always like an icebox. The library and Explorations café were also quite cold. The balance is certainly off in how the air conditioning works. I was told by one of the front office staff that the Ryndam is going into dry dock in March of 2014 but he couldn’t tell me what was being done – only soft goods or more extensive repairs. The furnishings in our cabin looked fine as did much of the public space. There are chairs that have seen better days but generally everything looked pretty good.
Food – We ate in the Lido most nights and only made the dining room on the formal nights. There was prime rib on the first formal night and 3 people at our table ordered it. Not one was able to finish it since it was very sinewy. The second formal night had surf and turf. The lobster was a good size but the turf was small, but it was very tender. The first 48 hours in the lido under code orange went much better than I expected with no long lines and the code was lifted after 48 hours. We seem to have a healthy ship. Because food is so subjective, no further comments are necessary. We enjoyed our food and had lots of choices.
There were many multi generational family groups on board. We were told that there were 150 children. For the most part, they were well behaved. I didn’t run into any elevator issues or running children or really loud children either.
The Ryndam had three shows most nights – 6:30. 8:00 and 10:00. This worked well since the Showroom is not very large.
Listen to the Music – cast introduction (Only one show) - enjoyed
Rock Legends – Ryndam cast – did not see
Rich Purpura – comedian, mind reader – did not enjoy
Classique – Ryndam cast - enjoyed
Dave Hempstad – Comedian - enjoyed
Droom – Ryandam Cast - enjoyed
Dancing with the Stars finale (only one show) – did not see
Happy hours were in the Ocean bar from 4 to 5 pm and the 9 to 10pm or 10 to 11pm in the Crow’s Nest. This varied from one day to the next. It is buy one get one for $1 more.
Explorer’s Lounge – Adagio – Piano and violin - enjoyed
Ocean Bar – The Neptunes
Mix – Solo Guitarist – Terry - enjoyed
Piano Bar – Jamm
The Halcats – on deck and the Crow’s Nest – actually quite good
Cruise Director – Rick
We had booked no excursions, preferring to get off at each port and wander. However, if you do this cruise, do yourself a favour and book an excursion in Santo Tomas, Guatemala. There is a port building with some souvenir shopping and some entertainment and food but there isn’t much else. We booked a trolley excursion at the last minute. It was one hour and took us to Porto Bario where we saw some of the city and how the local people live. We had a very good guide, a local teacher, who does these tours while the winter vacation is on. School is out from November to the middle of January.
Santo Tomas gave us the best send off of all the ports. The locals congregated on the pier, danced for us, played music and as we pulled away from the dock honked the horns of the cars and busses parked at the pier. They love the cruise ships and are really a very friendly people.
Sadly the pillow chocolates are just little golden squares of milk chocolate, not as good as before but as RuthC would say, still chocolate!! We received a blue HAL bag on our second night and I won a bottle of champagne at the Future Cruise presentation. The Champagne this cruise has been better than on the last couple of cruises. They seem to have changed their brand.
Being Canadian we were invited to a Commonwealth Party in the Crow’s Nest. We were provided with appetizers and buy one get one for $1 drinks. This is the first time we have seen a Commonwealth Party although others told us they have been to them before. Different happenings on different ships.
There were two Mariner Brunches. Ours was early in the week on the first sea day (two star) and people we met who were 4 star had theirs on the last sea day. I can only imagine we have lots of Mariners aboard.
For the Non US citizens reading this, I should tell you we had a strange disembarkation routine. First, we were not eligible to do self disembarkation. The walk off option was limited to US citizens only. Then on Saturday, after we had already completed our requests for a disembarkation time, we were left a letter that we would have to appear in the Wajang Theater at 6:45 am to meet with Immigration officials. The ship could not be cleared until all non US citizens had been interviewed.
This has never happened at Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Boston. There, we were allowed to walk off and both Customs and Immigration were done in the terminal. I wish we had known about the early timing before we requested a disembarkation time since I would then have picked an earlier time. So, non citizens, be prepared for this type of disembarkation in Tampa.