Review of cruise ship Ryndam September 2008
My wife and I took our first repositioning cruise on Holland America's Ryndam from Vancouver BC departing on September 24 arriving on September 28 at San Diego CA. We have taken sixteen cruises on most of the major cruise lines and this was our second on Holland American. Our first experience with HA was on the Osterdam and we were pleased to find this time that the demographic on Ryndam was much younger with most passengers in the forty to seventy age group. Since this was a repositioning cruise, not likely to be repeated until next September I'll confine myself to comments on the ship itself rather than the ports and excursions.
We flew from Indianapolis to Seattle the day before the ship's departure and stayed there overnight. On the day of the cruise we took the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver, the fare was $74. This trip of about 150 miles took four hours but the train was roomy, quiet and comfortable. On the advice of a fellow train passenger we walked from the Vancouver train depot to the Skytrain station across the street (Skytrain is an El) and for five Canadian dollars traveled the four stops to Canada Place which is the cruise ship terminal. Embarkation was quite easy taking no more than fifteen minutes and the Lido buffet was open and uncrowded. Service in the Lido was welcoming and helpful and we thought the food was above average for a buffet. Most of our meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner were in the main dining room reserved for free style passengers. There were never any lines for our party of two and we chose to share a table when it was suggested. We find that to be a good way to make new acquaintances. Food on the ship was average for a major cruise line and service was quite good.
As was the case on Osterdam and probably throughout the HA fleet, there were far too few activities on board with usually only one choice for each time frame. For example, we took the kitchen tour along with about 350 other passengers, far too large a group but again, this was the only planned activity at that hour. We would be reluctant to take another cruise on HA that had more than one day at sea because of the very limited shipboard activities on those days although a number of passengers were happy visiting the library or the lounges to read a book or play board games.
Ryndam is a relatively small ship, about 750 feet in length but it didn't seem too small for walks. However, the sea on the second night was rolling and although the captain said the stabilizers were deployed many passengers became sea sick and had to retreat to their cabins. I am not usually susceptible to that condition but was this time. My kind wife went to the medical center and was issued several motion sickness tablets at no charge and they worked well. I had tried ginger and motion sickness wristbands which didn't cure my symptoms fully to permit me to move about. The remainder of the cruise was calm enough.
Entertainment was, well entertaining, not inspired but pretty good. The comedian/ ventriloquist was quite funny and the pianist was good also. We missed the production show because of the motion sickness issue mentioned earlier. My wife found the entertainment to be much better than I did, however.
Disembarkation was, for a time a confused mess. Passengers were given written instructions two nights prior stating that only one passenger per cabin need to appear before the customs agents. Our deck's assigned time to meet customs was at 6:00 AM. The ship was in error on this and we discovered that all passengers had to present themselves so many of us had to return to our cabins and awaken the other passengers there and deliver the very unwelcome news that they had to get up immediately and get in line. Additionally, the ship was about fifteen minutes late in arriving so others from higher desks began to back up with passengers standing in the stairways, filling the hallways. There was a terrible traffic jam as a result. Passengers, some with strollers and in wheel chairs arrived on the assigned deck (seven) via elevators to find that when the doors opened the hall was packed with people and they could not exit. This was horribly confusing and bordered on being dangerous. There were no crew members present at this stage to provide guidance or help in crowd control. My fellow passengers were very calm and civilized and we worked through the problem ourselves, thank goodness. Eventually, things resolved themselves and passengers began leaving the ship on schedule. We stayed a night in San Diego, a beautiful city and returned home uneventfully.