Statendam Review: Christmas and New Years Holiday Sailing San Diego to Ft Lauderdale via Panama 14 days
Embarkation went exceptionally well - we stayed the night before at the Holdiay Inn By the Bay which is directly across the street from the cruise ship terminal. Walked over to the terminal at around 10:45 had bags checked, through security and checked in by 11:15 - Boarding commenced at 11:30.
Once onboard we found our cabin then began the first day exploration of the ship, public areas, spa, lido deck etc. We knew the Statemdam was an older ship but to us you couldnt tell - The public areas are so nicely (and uniquely) decorated with great color schemes - the furniture looks great with very little wear and tear noticed anywhere on board. What impressed me throughout the cruise was how each section of the ship had its own "flaire," unique to itself somewhat like moving from one room in a home to another with different style, decoration and color scheme. There was always a crew member cleaning railings, windows, carpets somewhere on the ship as we walked around on board.
We had a verandah cabin which had a queen size bed, chocolate leather-like sofa, a nice large sofa table (which as movable unlike some on other lines), a nice desk area with plentiful storage (3 rows drawers at the desk). Our bags slid easily underneath the bed.
The bathroom had a single sink, tub and shower.
There a 4 closets for hanging and additional storage (safe inside one closet). We did have trouble navigating in the hallway of the closets as the both of us could not be in a closet at the same time moving around each other in this space proved difficult.
We had early seating for dinner in the MDR table for 2 requested and received! Dinner service went smoothly, gracious and hard working staff - The food was well prepared and always came out piping hot! It did seem the dinner staff had too many table to attend to as sometimes there was a longer wait in between courses but the MDR is beautiful. We had a string quartet play for the first 30 mins of dinner, but then they left to be somewhere else - it would have been nice to have that live music continue through dinner.
Our cabin stewards were great - once they got a feel for our "routine" and knew when we would be out of the room - they did everything they could to keep the room done while we were gone. They cleaned the room in the morning and then again during dinner.
The cruise itinerary was for the most part great, stopping in Nicauragua wasnt so special and I understand the Statendam only stops there a few times a year unfortunately we got tagged for this one. This country is probably in the worst shape economically that we saw throughout. Costa Rica, Guatamala, even Cartegena seems more together with the housing situation (just my observations).
Going through the Panama Canal (one a beautiful sunny day) was memorable.
HAL also provided many very knowledgeable speakers on board to help us learn about Mayan culture, the Panama Canal itself and Jade - these speakers were great.
The Cruise Director and Captain of the ship we the most entertaining and personable team we have ever enjoyed on any sailing on any cruiseline! We normally dont normally interact with the CD but it was almost impossible this cruise - he was everywhere! Fun and entertaining. This was his last cruise before moving on the Maasdam. The Captain was also ever present physically and speaking daily as to where we were, what was coming up, etc.
My wife and I were having our picture taken on the first formal night and the Captain happened to be walking by and the photographer said "join in the picture Capt!" .... and he did!
It was very obvious the crew got along well and we saw this all over the ship.
Debarkation smooth and basically on time - we did the "luggage direct" service - for $19 each, you leave your bags outside your room night before and you dont see them again until your final destination. I was a bit worried about this wondering if our bags would in fact make it (out of my control) - All ended well in San Francisco as our bags appeared almost right away.
Negatives: Our cabin was the last veranda towards the back of the ship (with a great balcony) and directly under the Lido deck aft pool and directly above the MDR. The door going to the aft portion of the ship was right outside our cabin. The hinge on that door is broken so it doesnt slow the door from coming back into place so everytime sometime came in or went out, a horrific SLAM would rattle through our cabin - luckily this area only had people in it during daytime hours. Also early morning around 5AM the crew would hose down and line up all the deck chairs so we heard that noise every morning. The only time we heard anything from the MDR was on the last evening at late dinner seating when the crew puts on the extravaganza with everyone singing and music - this only lasted about 5 mins, and we heard nothing else the entire cruise from the MDR. Regarding Luggage Direct, one of the "perks" was that we got "priority disembarkation" being the first group off the ship since we didnt have to claim our bags we went right to the buses to the airport. The bad news was there was only one bus going to Miami Airport so we had to wait on the bus for everyone to get off the ship that had transfers to Miami (so much for the priority disembarkation - we could have stayed on the ship longer had a good breakfast etc.) but this situation isnt forseeable just unfortunate!