Arrived at darling harbour Sydney to check in, no one at the main door to give us directions. We were half way into the terminal only to be redirected outside, we arrived early to people watch and have coffee only to find out the kiosk in the terminal was on holiday, we were directed somewhere away from the terminal but declined as we had hand luggage. No one could answer questions or give us clear directions, finally HAL arrived with cold water, no juice or coffee. A line was formed and we got into the customs and check in area, had priority check in but with only one counter were advised to use any check in, the person I dealt with did not know how to swipe my credit card and after having to call the supervisor twice to make sure everything was in order we were ready to board, made comment to the HAL rep who was supervising behind the check in that it was the worst we ever experienced.
We finally arrived at our verandah suite on deck 6 and it looked good. Volendam itself was in a spotless condition if you used the restrooms there was a sign to open the door with the tissues provided. Fresh flowers everywhere and a lovely ambiance created a perfect setting for our cruise. The standard of cleanliness never wavered the whole trip.
The Lido was chaos the first two days bearing in mind there were over 1500 passengers on the ship. Breakfast in the dining rooms was hit and miss, after three times we either eat in our room or in the Lido. Room service was excellent for breakfast and dinner although it broke down on our last night at sea. The use of trays with so many passengers made for slow and long queues. I believe if the trays had not been used quicker service would result as we are NCL past passengers.
HAL staff listened to our comments regarding the Lido and to their credit things slightly improved. Although we only dined four times for dinner in the Rotterdam restaurant including a formal night Prima was excellent. We had the same experience from the Lido and room service.
Our cabin steward was excellent bearing in mind he works 7 days a week 11 months of the year and we found out not from him only after our room was not made up 11.45am they have now more cabins increasing their work load by an extra hour. We gave him three nights and one full day off.
Entertainment we did not participate in but were told off by our friends that we missed some really good shows, one in particular got a standing ovation.
Activities we did not participate we were happy in the library or doing our walk on the promenade deck but most of all enjoying our lovely cabin and balcony.
The officers and crew were really great, helpful , friendly nothing to much trouble but some of the officers need to smarten up their dress code. White shirts were grey if you are going to wear a uniform make sure it fits that includes the use of belts, long sleeve shirts with the winter uniform without a jacket is not protocol. My old sergeant would have been in his element getting some of these officers smartened up, if restaurant and Lido managers can look smart there is excuse for some of these officers.
All our ports were excellent the only change I would like to see is Hobart Tasmania included on the list of ports. We did not take any ship's tours as we had been to most of the places before and keeping in mind the excessive amount of money they charged. The Captain along with Spencer gave us awonderful commentary throughout the cruise.
Captain Bos needs to keep personal comments about Captain Cook to himself,also thankall passengers and not single out a particular group . This was the only blotch on his record but he was so nice we forgive him. All officers were more than helpful answering questions regarding information coming from the bridge, even the poor first officer we ran into at Auckland airport on his way home to Holland was still happy to talk about the weather we had at sea.
The food was very good and regularly varied and there was always a good range of choices. Loved the freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast and it was hard to resist the delicious sweets. We did not have a chocolate night as such but a sail away party which we enjoyed with all the sweets and ice cream.
Disembarkation was a breeze, overall we enjoyed the cruise, any small complaints from us were dealt with right away, they were few and far between. We would do this cruise again anytime, we mark it 9 out of 10.