The ship was late arriving in San Diego, apparently because of a problem with one of the engines and so we were not allowed to board until 3:45 p.m. although we could check in and even leave our carry-on luggage with security. They arranged complimentary transportation to Seaport Village for those who wanted to go there and also gave each passenger a $10.00 shipboard credit for the missed lunch. Not really that big a deal although because of this delay, we did miss the 3:00 p.m. Wave which had been arranged with a few fellow CC members. We never did meet the people we had corresponded with. I asked a few people if they were CC members and they had no idea what I was talking about. I gave it up!
We had an outside cabin (#735) on Deck 4. Great location - close to the elevator and stairs and just 1 deck straight down to the gangway for the ports or access to the tenders. The cabin was a good size (the only one that we have had larger was years ago on the S.S. Norway) and it was in very good condition and kept clean by our very pleasant steward, Simual (sp?). The bathroom was a good size for a ship and the tub/shower combination is nice to have. I found the toiletries of good quality. I have short, fine hair so the blow dryer was adequate, but it got too hot to handle after just a few minutes and would not do for a lot of women. Suggest you bring your own. There is just one electrical outlet in the bathroom and one over the dresser so it is a good idea to bring a multi-outlet plug.
We bought the wine card for $72.00 for 20 house wine pours. It is a good deal and the house wine was quite good. We were quite happy with it,although we are not wine connoisseurs. You can use it in any bar or lounge as well as the dining room (although we bought bottles of wine for dinner and had the excellent wine steward, Danny, cork it again for us to use the next meal). Merlot was always available as was Chardonnay and sometimes Sauvignon Blanc.
We had requested a table for 8 at the 8:00 p.m. Upper Level dining time. The card in our room informed us of our table # at the requested 8:00 p.m. time. We immediately went to where the maitre'd had set up shop and on looking at the diagram of the dining room, found we were at a table for 4. We prefer a larger table and put our request in for a table for 8 and were told that the first evening was open seating and we would receive a card in our cabin the next day with our new table number. As promised, the next day we found out that our table number was 49. We hit it lucky again! We arrived to dinner the 2nd evening and found 2 very pleasant and interesting couples. The next evening another couple joined us and we had many lively evenings and were usually one of the last tables to leave the dining room. Our servers, Ade, waiter, and Sudi, assistant, were great - efficient and helpful. Ade was often on his own and he still managed to give us good service. This is the first cruise where we have had much contact with the Head Waiter, Nana. He was delightful, charming with a dry sense of humor. He does the Fruit Flambe each evening and is well worth cultivating.
We found the food mainly very good, both in the dining room and the Lido Buffet where you could eat in the air conditioned room or take your tray out to one of the tables surrounding the pool. We ate at the Lido each day for breakfast and lunch (except when out in port) and enjoyed dinner in the dining room. I usually picked a couple of the entrees I found appealing and asked Ade for his suggestion. Each time he was right on. We did not dine at the Specialty Restaurant.
I attended the wine tasting on the first sea day and enjoyed it. The head Sommelier was interesting and entertaining. A good deal at $10.00. My husband joined in on a few of the daytime fun mini-sports events (champagne toss, mini putt, lacrosse throw, hoops) and won enough of the DAM dollars to redeem for a DAM ship baseball cap.
The Pool area was never overcrowded and deck chairs were not being reserved. This ship has a retractable roof over the pool area and so the first and last day at sea when it was a little cooler, the roof was kept all or partially closed, letting in the sunshine but not the cool wind.
We loved the Crows Nest on Deck 12. Beautiful lounge with comfortable chairs, good service and a wonderful panoramic view. We especially enjoyed it at sailaway cocktail time with appetizers and quiet live piano music. Sailing out of Loreto was a highlight.
As to the evening entertainment, I was a little disappointed. There was a comedian who was quite good, a Neil Diamond impersonator who received mixed reviews and a classical guitarist who although very talented, was a little boring. Personally, I did not think that the "big" shows put on by the singers and dancers were as good as I have seen on NCL ships and other ships. There was no "WOW" factor. Also, we were not impressed with the Cruise Director, Mike. Seemed like a nice guy and personable when you talked to him, but had no charisma on stage. Same silly, stale jokes each evening.
There were only 7 children on board. The average age of the cruisers was certainly higher than on other ships. A very few 30 and 40 year olds, some 50's, more 60's and then a lot of 70's and 80's. There were quite a few canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters. However, this was not a problem and everyone seemed quite willing to slow down for the slower passengers. The staff was very helpful and certainly I would recommend the Ryndam for those with mobility problems.Our itinerary:- Sail from San Diego Sea Day Sea Day Puerto Vallarta - We have spent time in Puerto Vallarta and so just did our own thing. Took the bus to a hotel we have stayed at, shopped at a small shopping center, found an internet cafe, etc. There is a Wal Mart directly across from the cruise terminal in Puerto Vallarta and many people picked up forgotten items there. Friends did the Los Veranos zipline tour which they arranged independently. Loved it. Mazatlan - We walked to the water taxis and went over to Stone Island. We had planned on spending time at Victor's on the beach but it was closed that day (Monday) so we went to Molokay restaurant. Everyone else at Molokay seemed to be on one of the tours offered by the ship and received lunch and open bar. We had 1 soda, 1 beer, 1 Margarita and 1 plate of nachos with guacamole and salsa. It cost approximately $10.00 for the 2 of us and we could use the table and chairs and lounges for as long as we wanted. No pressure to buy more. The ships tour cost $69.00 each person and included transportation, a buggy ride, lunch and all you can drink for 6 hours. Definitely a rip off. Six hours would have been way too long on that beach. We stayed a couple of hours, walked the beach, spent a few minutes in the cold water and returned to the ship. We did enjoy the day though.
Topolobampo - This is the stop for passengers going on the Copper Canyon excursion. We did not book this excursion because of both the amount of time involved (18 hours) and the cost ($399.00 per person). We spoke to a few people who did go on the tour and one couple said that "It was well worth it". Two of the couples from our table took the tour. One said that it was "Okay" and the other said that they were "Underwhelmed". Both of these couples were normally happy and upbeat so I tended to believe that we would have felt the same. It may partly depend on your seat on the train. Some people did have trouble seeing out the window because of their seat location and were craning their necks for hours. One of those tours, I think, that is much a matter of individual opinion.
For those who did not go on the ship tour, the port had arranged a free shuttle to the city of Los Mochis. We didn't really enjoy this city. The guide on the bus kept stressing that the best part of Los Mochis is the people and that it is very good place to live. However, if you are only going to spend a couple of hours in a city, you don't get to know the people and really are looking for interesting and appealing sites. The port also arranged a shuttle to a beach in the area but we were too late for that.
Loreto - This was a lovely port. The ship is not able to dock and you tender in. The tendering was done quite efficiently and after getting our tender number, we had to wait only 10 minutes or so and because our cabin was so close to the tender area, we waited there in comfort. There really is just one main street in town and it is cobblestoned, with shade trees and souvenir stores and stands all along it. There is a main square with church. Music was being played most of the day. We strolled along the street. There is a beautiful hotel called Posada de las Flores which you can go into. Look up to the ceiling in the lobby. It is glass and is actually the bottom of the roof top swimming pool. You can eat lunch at their sidewalk restaurant. However, we had lunch at Mita Gourmet Restaurant which is on the other side of the square. It was excellent. The Tortilla soup was scrumptious. We could hear the music from the main square. If you are looking for good prices on tequila or kahlua, go one street over to the dirt road (local stores).
La Paz - We really enjoyed this city. La Paz puts on a free shuttle from the port to the city. La Paz has a beautiful malecon with very interesting sculptures along the walkway. The bus lets you off at the tourist bus terminal which is right across from the sea. Pick up a map in the terminal. It was very helpful to find the internet cafe. As you come out of the terminal, walk left along the malecon. There are a number of restaurants on this street. After our stroll, we walked into the city, found the internet cafe, viewed the main square and church, etc. We ate lunch in a pedestrian street bakery/cafe. If I were to do it again, I would wait and eat lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea, Walk right (facing the sea) from the bus station.
Cabo San Lucas - You also have to tender to this town. I know that a lot of people really like Cabo, but we didn't enjoy our time there. It was the first port where our ship was not the only one. A Princess and a Carnival ship were also in and it was CRAZY in town! Mad confusion of locals trying to sell you tours, water taxis, etc. We never did find the main square and church, but others said that it was quite nice. We had wanted to go to the beach but because we felt so bombarded, we left and went back to the ship early. However, they do have a very nice flea market in a permanent building where we bought a couple of gifts for grandchildren.
Sea DaySan Diego – We arrived in San Diego on time. We were in one of the last groups to disembark, probably because we did not have a flight to catch. A lot of people did the express disembarkation which means you do not have them collect your luggage the night before. You pull it off the ship yourself, and you go first. Couldn’t believe the elderly and mobility challenged passengers pulling their luggage off. Next time we will do it also. If they can do it, so can we.
We really do have to give HAL’s Ryndam a very good review. However, only one complaint. For 3 days of our cruise, maintenance work was taking place in the hall right outside our cabin. They were replacing water pipes. It was impossible to rest during the day with the clanging, banging and drilling. And, the loud talking of the workers. We had 1 day with toilet flushing problems. Apparently we were lucky because some areas had problems for 5 mornings. My husband complained to Customer Service and the manager said that all cruise lines do this kind of maintenance work during a cruise and other floors were also affected. This is our 9th cruise and we have never run into this before. I can accept minor repairs but work that continues for 3 days is more than a minor inconvenience. We received a letter of apology, a bottle of the house wine and a toy HAL ship. Better than nothing I guess.
This was a different itinerary and the fact that other than in Cabo, we were the only ship in port, was a real plus. Very calm seas in the Sea of Cortez and the only time we had a little rocking was the first night out of San Diego and then again the last night. The weather was cool the first sea day and then hot and sunny for 9 days. Lovely!! Enjoy!!!