I was very spoiled after taking an April 2010 transatlantic Celebrity Equinox cruise then turning around less than 2 months later for this June 2010 Volendam trip. I really didn't pay that much more per day on Celebrity than I did on the Volendam. But what a difference! Celebrity is a floating W while the Volendam is closer to a Days Inn! And the sad fact is I was taking a first-time cruiser who clearly saw how sub-par the ship is in many respects. I continually apologized and ensured him that it wasn't like this on Celebrity. The scenery on the whole trip is unbelievable; it's difficult to pull yourself away especially when the sun didn't set til after 10pm! Now the bad: The ship though built in 1999 is a riot of tacky colors, sheens and patterns; it looks like the worst of 70's tacky disco decor. All this is weirdly juxtaposed by some pretty dark and gloomy original Dutch (I think) paintings from the 1800s or so. The main dining room's vaulted ceiling is BLACK with BLACK chandeliers; a very macabre place to have dinner indeed. Waiters lacked attention to detail (I always had to remind them I ordered iced tea) and the dining room food was pretty bad. Seating was also a nightmare ( I had such an easy time with Celebrity's no reservation dining, that I chose it for the Volendam--what a mistake!) We eventually gave up and found the food more pleasing in the general buffet area (where they served buffet breakfasts). Unlike Celebrity Equinox (though I did have 3 extra days on board that ship)I didn't get to know any of the staff (some of Celebrity's staffers are my Facebook. friends). Funny thing, I realized later that I had been on an Holland America Caribbean cruise 5 years prior. For some reason, I don't remember anything about it good or bad. But now that I've sailed Celebrity, the bar has been raised for the kind of quality I expect on a cruise.
Port stops: Except for so-so Juneau (but see Mendenhall Glacier), the port stops were excellent with plenty of excursion options or just for walking around. In Ketchikan we did the more adult-oriented zipline excursion (there are two offerings) which was not for the faint of heart but fun. If you like the dares on The Amazing Race, this is the one to take!!!
TIPS: #1 Bring binoculars! As you cruise in and out of Glacier Bay National park (unworldly and beautiful), the ranger will point out wildlife on the shore which is pretty far away for the naked eye. #2 If your cruise is out of Vancouver and you are of average fitness, take the metro to/from the airport. It's only $3 each way and the metro stop is a few blocks from the ship terminal. Their metros are frightfully clean! #3 Vancouver is gorgeous (at least in June); spend time there. #4 If you are arriving by foot, go inside the terminal and ask for directions; the outdoor signs make you think you board somewhere outside (you don't). We wasted a half hour trying to find the boarding area.