As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first impression of the Volendam was gloomy and dark and felt only half the lights were on. The same in our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on navigation deck and had everything we needed. The beds were very comfortable and I slept like a baby. The Indonesian stewards were very good but had limited English, and we did enjoy our towel animals every night. A bit too much of the Indonesian thing with 2 or 3 shows and even when I went for afternoon tea one day it was only Indonesian teas and food.
The food was excellent and we enjoyed Christmas night at the Pinnacle Grill. They brought round a trolley and described every cut of meat and where it was from. My DH had a T-bone steak which took up the whole plate. The chocolate volcano cake was delicious. Great service and food. We had anytime dining and had different tablemates and never had to queue.
We felt as there were a big percentage of Americans on the ship who had come all this way for the NZ experience that they should have had NZ entertainers as well as the Australian singers who sang a lot of Australian songs, etc. Also none of our beautiful NZ wines.
The weather wasn't very warm and the temperatures in the ship were cold as well. Definitely long sleeves day and night. We went to the late shows and there were only a handful of people there. The ports were good and the free buses, I think put on by each local council to the centre of town, were great. The seas were very rough around Stewart Island and the Tasman with 6 metre swells. Milford Sound was one of the highlights. The tendering process left a lot to be desired in the rough seas and I saw 2 potential accidents. Not enough crew supervising the tenders.
All in all I felt this cruise was rather staid and sedate. 17 days was a bit long and 4 formal nights - well the novelty wore off. If you like to read in a corner then this was the cruise for you. For me, I'm back to Princess.