Once my wife and I, with two friends, decided to cruise the Ryndam for a winter break, we did not know what to expect. The "You Tube" videos seemed limited, so it was a little hard to know much about her. However, because the Ryndam is part of HAL, we had faith everything would be OK.
For embarkation/debarkation, it could not have been more easy than what we experienced in Tampa. I could be more specific, but there is really no need. We were on board in no time at all and enjoying lunch in the dinning room. The room was ready right away, and the luggage arrived quickly.
I have read some Ryndam reviews where some things were written about scratches here and there, worn paint, and assorted blemishes. Yep, I saw them also. However, at age 57, I have more than a few myself. For me, the Ryndam is a lady of elegance. She might not be the fanciest or biggest ship on the open seas, nor does she have zip lines or mega-sized rooms, but she has an abundance of class. The Ryndam is a beautiful ship that exceeded my expectations. I guess it could be argued she is going into the twilight of her life, so I am glad I got to experience her grace before she really does get old.
For the sake of complete honesty, I feel obligated to mention three areas that could be improved on with this cruise. The first is more of a warning. We found the water in the cabin very hard to regulate. Be very careful before you get into the shower. Let the water run for a few minutes before you enter to insure the water is not too hot. Before all that is holy, finding a good temp is a challenge. Also, with only a few exceptions, lemonade is kept under lock and key. I'm not sure what is up with that, but it is the first time in my life lemonade was treated as a precious commodity. Finally, what executive decided guests do not need trays to carry food? If the person had seen me trying to juggle multiple plates and three very small glasses of tea (not lemonade), surely mercy would have been taken on me and a tray would have been provided. I did try taking some of the plates to the table as I visited each station, and it is true after all that walking I no longer needed to visit the gym that day as I got all my walking in carrying plates to the table, but I bet I would have heard fewer crashes of plates on the floor if HAL would free up some trays for guests. So, water in shower, OMG hot, lemonade, let the lemons flow, and trays, for God's sake, bring them out to reduce dropped plates. I'm feeling better now, thank you.
Now, back to the positive points. It is always good to mention the staff who make a trip special. After the three negatives, thank goodness there was a man of God on board. With the exception of the first day, we went to Mass each day. I counted the people who attended Monday through Saturday, and the average was 40.6. Father Mike was the Priest, and his services were both comforting, and thought provoking. Thank you HAL for providing this service. It really was a nice touch, and we very much enjoyed meeting the other members of our HAL faith community. Also, Alex, the Lifestyle Specialist, was outstanding. Between the great ping pong tournaments, the hole-in-one golf challenge, the sunset strolls, and so much more, Alex kept us moving. His work really made the trip fun.
As for the food, it was great. I have been on ships where there was more/better food, and I have been on ships where the food was worse. So much depends on your likes and dislikes, and whether you make wise decisions. Oh yes, the steaks were great. The bottom line is if you went hungry on the Ryndam, the problem was not that of HAL. As for the coffee, it is hard to match what you make at home. The coffee was fine, not my special brew from my kitchen, but it was fine. I do suggest that serious coffee drinkers bring their own large coffee containers. The cups are too small, but there is no news there.
The ports were great. In Key West, we did the Trolley Hop, and then met some friends at a bar. We had a great day, and had fun on Mallory Square before getting back on the ship. In Jamaica our planned tour was canceled, and we did not book another. We stayed in the port area, but for a quick visit where we stayed close to the ship, it appeared to me the port has a way to go to really be good. I'm not a shopper, but I always enjoy watching the people. Sometimes, people offer the best entertainment, and Falmouth did not disappoint. In Georgetown, we did the Reef N Rays Snorkeling. I really recommend this tour. It was outstanding. The snorkeling was good, and spending time with the rays was truly unforgettable. In Cozumel, we returned to Carlos and Charlies. What happened there is, well, none of your business. Between the conga line and rum shots, well, I may need to talk to Father Mike about that.
One nice touch HAL offers is that one night, the towel animal was not there. Instead, they left a nice HAL tote bag. I feel this was a nice touch. If you are an experienced cruiser, the towel animals are nice, but sometimes fall apart once you move them. The tote bag will be with us for years to come. The cruise director, Glenn, was both nice and available. The singers were very good, and I hope to see them again sometime in "Broadway Across America" shows in my home city. They are that good. A nice touch was also the chocolate extravaganza the staff had one of the nights. This thing was right out of the old days of cruising. It was a performance to be experienced with chocolate flowing everywhere.
I have probably written more than I should, so I apologize for going on as I have. However, the Ryndam is a special ship, and I suggest you experience her elegance and grace. She is a beautiful lady, and the fellow cruisers we met on her made our adventure more than a little special. HAL, take good care of the Ryndam, as you really have a magnificent vessel in your care.