We used self-ticketed air travel to Vancouver from Austin, TX...arriving in Vancouver a day early and stayed one night in the Pan Pacific Hotel at Canada Place. It was a great decision--as the location allowed us to explore Gastown completely and was super convenient for embarkation on cruise day. (The hotel rate almost doubled for our disembarkation day--so we did not stay in Pan Pacific on departure). We walked downstairs to the cruise terminal around 11:30 am and the baggage drop and embarkation process was fast and super-efficient. (We had electronic cruise doc's). By 12:00 noon we were on the ship--heading to the Lido for lunch. (This was our 5th cruise--but our first on Holland America/Ryndam.) We explored the ship after lunch (the smallest ship we have sailed). The ship was well laid out and easy to navigate. We found all the common areas to be (or feel) larger than on other ships we have sailed. The library was particular impressive--with a huge selection of books and large comfortable reading areas. Though and older ship, it appeared to have been well-kept and was spotlessly clean throughout. About 2:00 we were notified that our cabins were ready for occupancy--so we headed to the Lower Promenade and our cabin--416--an outside cabin at the extreme aft of the ship. We were really pleased with the location, as there was a door to the promenade deck immediately outside our stateroom--and we love to walk on the traditional style teak wood deck. Our stateroom was spacious, with plenty of storage. The bathroom seemed slightly larger than others we've had--and had a bath tub, a first for us. While we were examining our cabin our room steward stopped by to introduce himself and his assistant. We were to see him many, many times throughout our two week cruise--and he was always smiling and initiated a pleasant conversation with us--inquiring each time if we were having any problems with out stateroom and if there was anything he could do differently or additionally to make our cruise more pleasant. His attitude was reflected by all of the staff on Ryndam. They were (by far) the most constantly up beat, pleasant, attentive and friendly crew/staff we have encountered. Needless to say, their performance made the cruise a real pleasure. Our luggage was in the room by 3:00 pm and we were totally unpacked and back to exploring by 3:30 pm. We enjoy walking the ship, and had made a resolution not to use the elevators, unless exhausted (which would happen, later). We had "open seating" dining--which in our opinion is always a trade off. We really enjoy having the same table steward/staff throughout the cruise--as they anticipate your desires so well. You miss that with open seating. On the other hand, we had the opportunity to meet SO many other travelers--which is the up side. It does get somewhat tiresome to have the same "where are you from and have you cruised before?" conversation several meals in a row--until you have enough ports behind you to shift the conversation. The staff in the open seating dining room was up to the task and did a fine job. The food was well well prepared and came in a wide variety--with a vegetarian option always available. Another thing we liked about the menu was that salmon (on the Alaska cruise) was available every evening--and uniformly excellent in the various preparations. We chose to participate in the on-board wine tastings (three tastings of five wines each)--which were really fun and allowed us to meet (and establish friendships) with a variety of folks from around the globe. The wine tastings (and the sommelier's dinner in the Pinnacle Grill) were some of our most pleasant activities on the ship. We found the area on the Lido deck around the pool to be a very pleasant place to hang out--far less crowded and less chaotic than on other cruises we've taken. The staff on that deck were particularly good--and made reading, eating, sight seeing, or just resting on that deck a joy. My favorite place on board was deck ten aft--which was open around the pool and (I think) a little too windy for some folks. Consequently--there was hardly anyone ever there and it was a great place to take a cup of coffee from the Explorations Cafe and hang out with a book. In the evenings, we found the entertainment to be good--but not what we would consider excellent. With a little planning, it was easy to get a seat in the theater (not always our experience on prior cruises--where one had to get to the showroom very early in hopes of getting a seat). We also enjoyed the cooking programs (and other events) in the Wajang Theater. We went to the gym most days and it was always clean, staffed, and most times--not too crowded. The equipment was in good repair, with a sufficient number of most exercise machines. We also purchased the "add on" package for the thermal suite in the spa (thermal tub, steam rooms, and thermal couches). We liked those amenities--but found that in the mornings (spa opens at 8:00 am) the thermal pool, steam rooms, and couches were not warm/hot as one would want--and did not become comfortable till 11:00 or 12:00. Consequently, we did not renew that option for the second portion of our cruise.
Hubbard Glacier: This must have been a special cruise--because we had sunny weather EVERYDAY! The Hubbard Glacier was awesome and on our first-half (northbound) portion of the cruise we saw the glacier calve an iceberg about half the size of the ship. It was awesome and the largest the ship captain or the local rangers/guides had ever seen.
Seward: As we were on a two-week cruise, we had a port day in Seward. We explored the town on foot and walked to the Aquatic Life facility on the far side of town from the cruise ship dock. This facility has some fantastic displays on habitat and wildlife of the region and the aquarium portion of the facility is one of the best we have seen (and we have been to many--including Monterrey, CA and Baltimore MD). It is really worth seeing.
As noted, one of our main objectives on this cruise was to determine if we could cruise for 14 days without becoming terminally bored. (We had taken an Alaska cruise about five years previously--so that added to the potential boredom factor--as we had been to all of these ports previously.) We liked the relatively small size of the ship and the feeling of spaciousness in the common areas. We found that because of the enthusiasm, attentiveness, and friendliness of the crew/staff--it was an extremely enjoyable cruise and left us looking forward to future (long) cruises. This cruise definitely put Holland America at the top of our list.