Some friends and I wanted to take a cruise vacation in December 2009. One of my friends took the lead in making the reservations for us all and I was very grateful. We all learned a few things we should ask in the future:
1. When is the ship going into dry dock? Come to find out the Ryndam is going in February so the up keep hasn't been kept up!
2. What kind of tub/shower is in each stateroom category? My Mom was with me and is in a wheelchair with limited mobility. She was unable to get into the extremely deep and tall tub in our stateroom. When I called the Guest Service desk to help I was told that my only options were that they would send up a stool for her to stand on to get into the tub or she could take her shower in the spa shower 8 decks above us! The stool option didn't work at all. It was dangerous. The spa option got my Mom clean with with the lose of some dignity....didn't feel good for either of us. What made matters worse was that we met some folks in a handicap room who weren't handicapped! We also found out that inside cabins had walk-in showers and not tubs, we would have gladly downgraded and swapped had we know that other rooms had different options. When I find this out on day 6 of our 7 day cruise and spoke to a manager, she was very apologetic and told me that the tubs are being changed in February when the ship is getting an overhaul. (She also gave us an on board credit which we did not ask for or expect, which was very gracious of her.)
3. What is the average age of the passengers? I'm 50 and I felt like a baby on the ship. I was totally fine with it but I've never been on a ship that had such a high number of senior passengers. The night life was a reflection of the average age however the Crow's Nest did offer some late night fun.
4. What exactly is your connection to Food and Wine Magazine? We thought that since HAL had an alliance and culinary class offerings with Food and Wine magazine that the food would be influenced and fabulous. It was mediocre at best. Not a lot of yummy good eats!
5. Is there always a seat down dining option for lunch? On several days the only seated dining for lunch was the Pinnacle Grill which was $10.00 per person. I did it one day and the food was the best on the ship...I'd give it a 7 out of 10 where the rest of the ship was a 5 out of 10. When you have someone in a wheelchair buffet dining is not something you want to do a lot of so this was about practicality and not pampering.
6. In the future I'll ask to see an example of a daily activities. There didn't seem to be a lot going on although the stale and insincere Cruise Director kept telling us that there was so much going on...there wasn't! I like to partake in activities and I like options so I was disappointed.
Here are some other things to note: The $99 for the thermal suite was the best money I spent on the cruise! I loved relaxing on the heated tile beds and jumping in the peppermint shower. If you want to try your hand at a table game in the casino try it on the first night where the starting bets are usually $3...after that it's $5. The slot machines do not dispense paper receipts...they give you dirty, icky coins! If you want a cappuccino, latte or espresso have it in the dining room...they are free however they charge at the coffee shop on deck 8. The cruise director said on several occasions that the crew spirit was high on the Ryndam and I'd agree however it was to the exclusion of the Guests. I felt as if we were Guests tolerated in their home and not appreciated, invited friends. To illustrate the above point...when we took the tour of the spa and gym we were told not to work out around 8am because that's when the cast of the show works out so the gym in crowded. Hmmmm, if the cast sees Guests in the gym waiting for a machine shouldn't they give the paying Guests preference?
All in all, I've been on 5 cruise lines...the experience I had on the HAL Ryndam was one of my least favorite cruise experiences.