I will not go into too much detail, just list the likes and dislikes and overall opinion of the ship. Embarkation & disembarkation is one thing that HAL do very well. Always quick and well organised. Only negative, they need more signs in Auckland so you know exactly where to go. The Volendam has everything you need but is starting to look a bit tired in places. A huge amount of restaurants to choose from, pools, theatre (movies) and then the show lounge. 75% of people on the ship where 70yrs and over (or the was a few families) which was a surprise to us. Not too many couples in the 40's etc.
Food was good but not great. A bit bland sometimes. Probably aiming at the older age group. We requested the late siting on table of 8 but one the first night had the early sitting for just us (we travelled with another couple). HAL did what the could to accommodate us at the late siting afterwards but we only had the table so us.
HAL offer great laundry packages on this More
cruise. US99 for unlimited laundry & US35 for unlimited pressing. Great having to not worry about it. Alcohol is around normal cruise prices. You can purchase beer & wine at port as long as you consume in your cabin. Corkage for a bottle of wine in restaurants was US20 per bottle which was still okay as we picked up some fantastic 2006 bottles in Napier.
Day tours - I highly recommend people to do some research of their own and book private tours or tours independantly. For 1/2 to 2/3's of the price of what HAL was offering on their tours, we did a fantastic tours, especially Napier for just the two of us in a private sedan with driver/guide. We highly recommend Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours Ltd with John & Margaret Halon. They will come and pick you up from the ship and the tour can be flexible if you are on your own. Also car hire in NZ or Tasmania is greatly recommended if you are independant travellers as the roads are easy to follow. One word of advice though - book ahead and don't just rock up hoping to get car hire. Most are always booked out in advance.
Staff - amazing. The always went out of their way to make sure your trip was enjoyable as always ie: Our cabin was a outside porthole, lower deck up front. We had a anchor banging against the ship for most of the trip & in really rough seas, furniture was moving underneath us. The staff gave us an extra cabin to use for sleeping for a few nights through the rough seas from NZ to Tasmania. I do not recommend this cabin to anyone and will ensure in future we are never of the lower deck again. As I said staff were great and what shocked us was how so many rude people try to go out of their way to belittle them. They somehow deal with it. I know I couldn't and I take my hat off to them.
Overall experience was good but not great but if you are in the older age group, I am sure you will have the time of your life. Less