On August 24, my wife and I took a family of 10 on the Alaskan Cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We chose HAL because Skagway was one of the ports of call and the company is often regarded as a premium cruise line. We built up the cruise beforehand, describing how excellent the food and activities would be, using our previous Alaskan cruise experience with Celebrity. Well, what a disappointment the Volendam was! The food was mediocre at best and on the first night of dining at the Rotterdam restaurant, we were totally ignored for 20 to 25 minutes. I had to ask for water for the table and the waiter did not even introduce himself as waiters have on our previous 13 cruises. The restaurant seemed understaffed. We were also disappointed to see that guests with bluejeans were permitted in the restaurant. During our seven dinners in the Rotterdam, we saw no evidence of fine dining or outstanding service.
Activities on the ship were few and far between. On the morning of entering Tracy Arm, our group assembled in the Crow's Nest because we were interested in hearing the commentary advertised in the ship's daily newsletter. Many others were also assembled there to hear the commentary. Well, we heard only loud music and we were disappointed to hear later that the commentary was heard on the outside deck, but did not reach the Crow's Nest. What a disappointment! We had been looking forward to learning about Tracy Arm on the public address system, but someone had neglected to channel the commentary into the Crow's Nest. Why advertise falsely in the daily newsletter and disappoint so many people? No apologies were given.
The room steward and his assistant did an excellent job on the cruise. The comedian in the showroom was also outstanding. Embarkation was also very efficient. These were about the only positive things we can say about the cruise. Prices for photos were ridiculous - $39.99 for a photo - very expensive compared to Carnival! The young people in our group of 10 were bored - really there was little offered for them while on-board.
No more Holland America cruises for us. Our Volendam experience has turned us off HAL. We will return our business to Princess and Celebrity, which have never disappointed us.