After looking forward to this Panama Canal cruise for 9 months, the day finally arrived. We flew to San Diego from Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise to avoid any mix-ups along the way. Embarkation went smoothly, and after some delay because of a disembarkation slow-down on the just returned cruise, we were on board ship for a tasty Lido lunch. Our cabin on deck A (lowest passenger deck) far aft of ship. (Better to spend a couple hundred more for midship or higher deck, but entirely my fault for being too economical; won't make that mistake again.) Baggage arrive soon and following unpacking, we went exploring. The Statendam is a small ship (1200+ passengers), which we prefer. No getting lost on her. We signed up for anytime dining, 5:15 for us, and got the same table at every supper. The supper was nicely presented, with excellent service. We chose the cobia as our entree, and, unexpectedly to us, found this cobia to be a very fishy fish, so we were disappointed with out selection. The desserts that first meal were fine.
Statendam has a full walk-around deck, (4 laps 1 mile) which we promised ourselves to do a mile daily, but .... Comfortable deck lounges were placed along the wall, offering many hours of peaceful reading and relaxing. Except for the very loud loudspeaker notices, the deck is very quiet, no jogging and blissfully no music.
The breakfasts were pretty much standard as on other cruises: lots of fresh fruits, eggs any style, smoked salmon, kippered herring, pancakes and waffles, a variety of juices, cereals, hot and cold, pastry, etc. Quick service and the food was usually hot. Lunches were like full suppers, with numerous tasty appetizers and soups and salads, delicious rolls and bread. Plus always a large choice of entrees, and except for hamburgers, seldom any repeat choices. Desserts like at supper.
Suppers were always a treat with mostly excellent appetizers, soups, and salads. The beef was always especially tasty, tender, flavorful and cooked to medium rare perfection. Lobster at 2 suppers also good; of course, not like just off the coast of Maine in August.
Our only real complaint was our cabin. The room stewarts were excellent, never a complaint there. But being on the far back of the ship and lowest passenger deck, we felt and heard more mechanical noises (stabilizers?) than at most locations elsewhere, except lower deck, far forward. During the latter part of the 2nd week, what was especially bad, was the smell and fumes of paint, paint thinner, petrolium based cleaner, that seemed to come from the air conditioner vents in our cabin. We had to flee our room several times and housekeeping finally provided us with a HEPA filter set up in the room. Other passengers also had this problem.
Passengers were very very quiet at night and the cabins almost soundproof as far as TV, talking, loud music.
We enjoyed several of the evening shows, especially the comedian and the vetriloquest and the ukelele player. Because we both contracted coughing/sneezing colds on board ship and were feeling lousy, we didn't get off the ship but twice, and then only to walk a few hundred yards.
The Statendam library is very well stocked and comfortable, almost, if not, identical to the one on Zaandam. There were also several nearby quiet areas, which we especially enjoyed. The music in the piano bar was delightful. There were numerous activities on board, with great presentations by Wallis the ship's travel expert on Ports of Call. Her 2 presentations on the Panama Canal history and what to expect on the canal passage, made the experience very meaningful. Anyone going on a Panama Canal cruise should absolutely first read the "Path Between the Seas", by David McCollough, to get a much better understanding and feel for this extraordinary human technological accomplishment. The Canal is certainly one of the modern wonders of the modern world.
Highest marks for making this cruise exceptional go to the Dining Room servers and the crew in general. They are flawless and delightfully friendly.
HAL except at holiday time when extended families cruise together, is NOT for folks in their younger years. The average age is about 70. Statendam is NOT your Carnival "fun ship" or "anything goes" cruise ship.