The Indonesian and Philipino crew were excellent as usual as were the rest of the staff. The Statendam was the first Hal ship that we cruised on in 1997, she is showing her age a bit but is still a classy ship.
All things considered, we enjoyed the cruise, however there were a few items which will make us consider whether to cruise with Hal again.
1. The baits for this cruise are scenes of Macchu Pichu and "Inca Empires", a lofty theme. If you look into it in detail you will find that only in two ports (Salavery and Lima) will you come close to the Incas. As well, the trip to Macchu Pichu was over $3,300 each for two nights off the ship. Some people did the trip privately at less than half the cost. If we were to do this trip again, we would book it one way (SD to Lima) with one way airfare back, then go to Macchu Picchu with an established Peruvian guide company. It would cost about the same and take the same amount of time, but you would see more.
2. The shore excursions are very expensive. As well, it seemed to be HAL's policy to discourage people from doing anything on their own as "it is a dangerous world out there". One has to realize that if you go out on your own and miss the sailing time, tough luck. Also, you have to be careful. When we started travelling, we took a few shore excursions and said never again- too many people, too much of being herded around. However, over our years of travelling we have travelled independently and found it to be much cheaper and more interesting. For example, in Salavery, Peru, the Moche Temples and Reed boat HAL excursions were $149.95. We did the same tour for $20.00.
3. It now seems to be Holland America's policy to, in some ports, dump people off either in container ports (Callao, Salavery, and others), or in ports away from the sights (Panama, Guatemala) then say how dangerous it is and you should take one of their excursions or busses. It used to be that Hal would supply a free shuttle out of the danger areas but no more. In my opinion, it is irresponsible of Hal to drop people in a dangerous area and then not take responsibility for getting them to a safe area. For example, on our shore talk on Salavery, questions were asked about transport to Trujillo; after much obfuscation and raised voices in the room, we were grudgingly told that there would be a bus and it would cost $20.00. In Panama, same thing, but we were also told by a policeman not to take any taxis outside they gates. What we weren't told is that there is a Hop-on-Hop -off bus right at the terminal, for $25.00 they would take you through the city and up to the locks for the two days in Panama.
4. We were also encouraged to eat off the ship to taste the local cuisine, admirable if misguided advice. We have worked, lived and travelled for many years and have been sick in the darndest places so eating ashore is not for us. A lot of people did eat ashore and guess what, for the last four days the ship was under almost quarantine conditions with a many GI and respiratory problems. Is there a connection? Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. You can think about it too.
While the above review may appear to be negative, there were many positives; the cruise was a wonderful experience and we would recommend it. If you are young with lots of cash and strive for security, take the excursions, eat ashore; but if you are older with lots of cash, take the shore excursions, however if you are old (mid 70s) and on a pension like us, eat on the ship, have a beer on shore and find your own way. Get guide books (we use Lonely Planet) and thoroughly research the cruise destinations and ports. Above all, don't lose your sense of wonder at the world and it's people.