This was our 14th cruise and our 5th with HAL. We'd been on the Ryndam and liked it's size and the itinerary so we decided to book. Relative travelling with us had never been to the Panama Canal before so there was lots for them to look forward to and we mentioned there would be port lectures & programming about the Canal, none of which really happened. The cruise was from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale. Embarkation at San Diego was a breeze and we were onboard quickly We like the location of our lower promenade cabins. The weather was cool when we left San Diego and for most of the next day. Thermostat in the cabin didn't seem to be able to change the temperature at all. Everything we tired it just stayed at COLD. I guess because we were headed somewhere warm, they don't have any way of changing the temperature of the cabin The first day I kept my windbreaker & long sleeved shirt on all times when I was in the cabin. Our first night we had to put the bathrobes over the bed to keep warm because the blankets weren't enough. I complained to the desk they sent someone to fix it, which I regretted when we got into the real heat of southern Mexico and Panama, most nights I had to sleep without the sheets to cool myself. Yes, the air condition was on full, but it just wasn't enough.
We loved the meals in the dining room and the lido, although everyone in my group felt the deserts were often tooo sweet for our tastes. The dinning room waiter and assistant waiter were great, very friendly, they asked our names and frequently called us by name, something I remember from our first HAL cruise. The ship is very nice, but it is showing some signs of age. As mentioned in previous reviews the escalators never work, and the fountain in the lobby only worked for 3 days. The bathroom in our cabin needed to be re-grouted and several of the tiles near the floor and under the sink were badly cracked. The tiles around the tub had mould on them, which was covered by a new layer of silicone that had started to peel. The bed sheets & bathroom towels MUST be replaced very soon, most days they were a splotchy pale yellow color. While these things were annoying they didn't ruin our cruise in anyway and I want to present a balanced review. The afternoon we left Cartagena we lost propulsion due to engine trouble and drifted for about 1 hour, the Captain made an announcement that we'd be OK and underway shortly and we did, but everyone around us on deck noticed a strange smell around the ship. That evening we went to the Wajung Theatre and we noticed the same smell. The ship encountered a bit of rough seas that evening and most of the next day so there was a bit a nervousness. At noon on the day before we reached Ft. Lauderdale (last day) the Captain announced we were about 3.5 to 4.0 hours late, which meant that MANY passengers would not make their flights home. We docked at 9:45 and embarkation started around 10:15am. The lateness we were told was due to the high sea, but we never really reached our maximum speed and there didn't seem to be any urgency during the last day to make up for lost time.
All of the crew we met did an excellent job, however as for the Captain I'm still not sure, several passengers RAVED about his friendly nature, while our people laughed at his never ending announcements. The cruise director also made way too many announcements each day, I've never heard so many on one cruise. The first announcement started each day at 9am, followed by 1pm then another at 3:30pm, each lasting about 5 minutes. These announcements were ALWAYS exactly what was put in the daily program, so they became a bit of a nuisance after awhile. The port lecture/guide was disappointing. The Statendam singers and dancers were about the worst we've seen on any ship. Three of the production numbers were OK, but The Hits Broadway & Designs of Mackie was very painful to sit through, the singers just butchered several songs, including The Rose!!.
Yes we will cruise with HAL again, but I'm not sure if we'll be back onboard the Statendam.