We embarked Statendam following a five night land tour to Michu Picchu organised by Reader Offers Ltd.
Initial impressions were not very favourable. Boarding in Lima was shambolic. There is no passenger terminal at Callao Port, it seemed that customs needed to inspect our baggage and we were kept standing around in the hot sun while everything was sorted out. The outside of the ship looked rather scruffy but once we got on board everything changed. Registration was quickly done and we were in our cabin within a very short time.
The public areas were lovely, plenty of seating areas, bars, quiet spots, sunbathing etc. In fact we never had any problems with queuing, finding a sun bed, a seat in the bar or getting food in the buffet.
Food - generally very good. There was plenty of choice. We usually had breakfast and dinner in the main dining room, service was very hit and miss. The Pinnacle was good, both food and a high standard of service. We particularly enjoyed eating in the Italian restaurant Canaletto. Again, service was excellent.
The entertainment, apart from the singers and clarinetist, Pete Neighbour, was very poor. All shows had very low production values and the so called comedians were not very funny.
The shore excursions in the main were not good value for money. The standard varied greatly and we made a complaint about one which did not really match up with the description given. Also there were no complimentary bottles of water which, considering the high prices of the excursions was pretty poor.
We were in Cabin 101 on Deck 9. It was classed as a verandah spa cabin. We were under the (mis)apprehension that this would give us access to the spa facilities. All it meant was a couple of yoga mats and a 'table top water feature' in our cabin. The water feature sounded like a dripping tap and we switched it off. Apart from this the cabin was comfortable with a sleeping area, sitting area and balcony. The position was good, very few people walking past.
Cabin service was not good. In fact three days into the cruise we complained. The cabin service manager contacted us to apologise and asked us to accept a bottle of sparkling wine by way of recompense! Room service did not improve but more of that later.
I had a couple of spa treatments during the cruise which I was very pleased with. However there were complaints about the beauty salon. There was also heavy pressure to buy salon and spa products which I found off putting. This, however, was standard for the ship. No extras, just pressure to buy.
Disembarkation was slow but well organised. We enjoyed our cruise in spite of the following but the Polish had definitely gone:-
This is why I said 'mixed feelings' at the beginning of this review. The dreaded norovirus. What we did not know was that the virus was doing the rounds BEFORE we boarded in Lima. At this point the Statendam was halfway through a 30 night round trip from San Diego and the first indication we had that there was a problem was when the captain made an announcement about health precautions to observe when ashore in Manta, Ecuador. It appeared that there were always problems following a visit to this port. As I said we did not realise that the virus was already on board when we joined the ship and some passengers felt that the virus had been brought on board by the 180 passengers joining at Lima! However the virus spread very quickly from this point and it was a problem for the rest of our cruise. It must have been a nightmare for the captain and crew. One could hear the frustration in his voice during his daily 'Voice from the Bridge' broadcasts. There was a continuous programme of sanitisation to little effect. The measures taken included staff with hand sanitiser sprays at all entrances to food outlets and all public areas, the buffet changed from self service to full service, menus taken away and paper sheets handed out instead, no cruet on the tables, hot tubs closed, paper hand towels in public and off duty staff 'mucking in' and helping out.
Nothing seemed to help. The most frustrating thing was passengers were concealing symptoms and walking around spreading the virus BEFORE they finally gave in and reported to the Medical Centre.
The crew were working their socks off trying to keep the ship sanitised. Apparently some were working double shifts and off duty 'hotel' crew were volunteering to help around the ship so the regular crew could get some rest. Room service went down the tubes. When we wanted anything, ice, drinks etc we just went and got it ourselves. The service in the Rotterdam dining room also disintegrated ranging from too quick, ie next course brought to table before the previous course had been finished to painfully slow, wrong orders or orders just forgotten. This is where we experienced a dilemma. The staff were very tired trying to keep on top of a very virulent virus, we really felt for them but on the other hand we had paid a great deal of money for a holiday which did not live up to expectations. Statendam is not alone in having problems tackling norovirus. At Manta we were docked next to Celebrity Infinitely and it seemed that there were similar problems aboard her as well.