Embarkation was very smooth, once we got past the traffic jams and confusion outside of the terminal. Once inside our luggage was handled with care and after a short check-in process we were aboard the ship. After a snack we found our luggage in our cabin and were able to be unpacked before the lifeboat drill.
Having been on the Noordam the past spring, we found the Statendam, although smaller, to be as well furnished as the larger sister ship. The dining in the Rotterdam during the cruise provided us with more than enough excellent food provided by a very professional wait staff. The Lido was used for our breakfasts and lunches and provided us with a very good and healthy selection of food. On several occasions my wife requested room service breakfast. This was always found to be hot, with the correct items and promptly delivered at the time requested. Steak and Lobster, usually served on formal nights, was always a treat; the food was cooked to perfection. We preferred "open seating" where we could choose the time we ate. Being willing to eat with anyone else assured us of quick seating and exposure to people of all ages experiences and cultures. The crew was continually cleaning and keeping the ship in a fresh and sharp condition.
The ship is beginning to show "her age" and is scheduled for overhaul. The escalators never worked during the cruise, but this was a minor inconvenience. The only problem with our cabin service was during the two days that a new cabin attendant was being assigned after our first cabin attendant fell and broke his collarbone. Once the new attendant got to know us and our schedule our cabin service was again outstanding.
The only problem with the ports of call during this cruise was the late arrival at Panama City. It would have been better had we arrived during the day, and would have had an opportunity to see the city during the day, rather than for 4 hours in the evening.
Other ports on this cruise provided good opportunities for shopping (wife) and exploring local sites (myself). A special arrival was at Puerto Chiapas where we were serenaded at 7:30 AM by a band on the dock and then had the opportunity to explore the area.
During this cruise we were notified of some maintenance being done with the water system, and were told that there was some engine maintenance also. Neither of these issues was notable and we did not experience any inconvenience. Liz (Cruise Entertainment Director)always was there to provide introduction to entertainment and did a very good job. The Lido manager also provided good service and responded promptly to a special request. The gym and spa were always clean and welcoming when they were being used. After setting a schedule of using the treadmill every morning, I would go to the Lido for some juice and coffee. It only took the staff about three days to recognize my schedule, and I would be greeted at the gym, and I would be observed entering the Lido and a cup of coffee and V8 juice would be handed to me. How can anyone expect any better service than this? We can only say that with the "aging" of the Statendam, only the physical is showing problems, the crew is still presenting her as one of the very fine HAL ships and is not letting the physical problems deter them from outstanding service.
Huatulco - took 3 1/2 hour scenic tour. Very interesting - best lunch during a tour on the cruise. They are just developing their tourist base, and with what they have to offer this should become a very good stop on a cruise.
Puerto Chiapas - One of the most interesting and entertaining arrivals at any port that we have seen. Great welcoming presentation. Good tour to city and Mayan ruins. The tour guide had never worked with a group as large as ours, but did a very good job. Provided good information about the port, city and the ruins.
Puerto Quetzal - getting a tour into Antigua while driving past smoking volcanos is a highlight of this port. Seeing the ruins of earthquakes and what has been done to create a 5 star hotel and restaurant on the ruins is an experience that should not be missed.
Panama City (Fuerte Amador) - a tour of the new city, the rebuilding of the old and an excursion through the "old" American zone should be required for any US citizen on a cruise in this area. To see what is being done in this city is amazing, and you need a good tour guide to explain it to you.