We had just returned from a cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, when we lost our Yorkie, a friend of many years. We needed to get away from the house so we called HAL and were able to book the Ryndam for the following weekend. We let HAL take care of us. Two cruises one week apart.Now that things are a little better (thanks in part to HAL) here goes.
We drove to Tampa from West Palm Beach. Be booked the cruise package at the Holiday Inn Express. The motel is fine and the transportation makes the price a bargain. Wish the motel had a restaurant, we drove to one not too far away. Embarkation was a breeze. There way no wait. It was 12:30 and we in the cabin in ten minutes. The wait at Carnival went around a block twice and the temperature in Tampa was in the 40's!
This is a great introduction to the lovely Ryndam. It is small in today's world of mega-ships. This certainly proved to be an advantage in embarkation. We had not sailed on an "S" class ship in three years. Reuniting with the Ryndam make us (and many other passengers) realize what a joy it is to sail on a smaller ship. At first it seemed small especially the Lido pool and rear pool areas. The Lido restaurant which is small compared to the Nieuw Amsterdam and its predecessors, handled the guests much better than the larger ships throughout the cruise. Same with the outdoor eating areas and the pools. We noticed that many guests agreed. Certainly there were not complaints about the intimate size of the Ryndam.
About the shape of the ship. It remains elegant. Some of the furniture in the Crows Nest and in perhaps other locations needs attention as do some of the painted decks, but all in all, the ship remains as beautiful as when we first cruised on it in 2000!
Our mini-suite on the Navigation Deck is a knock-out with its beautiful red and brown color scheme. The bath was redone, and the verandah is still the most successful that we experienced in a mini-suite. All in all HAL makes better use of 295 sq. ft. than the competition.
The food. The dining room was fine, not great, but we were not dining in the Queen's Grill. Service was great and our Captain, Mark Rowden, walked the Dining Room talking to all the guests which did encourage the staff to even better service. I have never seen a Captain "Walk a Dining Room" like an restaurant owner in all my cruise experience save this. Everyone was impressed and appreciative. We ate in Canaletto and the Pinnacle. Canaletto was great. From now on I will skip the Pinnacle. See what you think. Breakfast in the Dining Room was fun and maybe to filling. We enjoyed it. Do it once.
The show with the two lead singers was better than great, unusual for HAL, but welcome. The Ocean Bar was great, not open as early on past cruises. Still the best watering hole of popular priced cruising.
Nice to stop at Key West instead of an instant island paradise. Georgetown on Grand Cayman is clean and has two good restaurants in town. Falmouth, Jamaica is interesting once you get away from the sanitized port area as is Cozumel. Perhaps you can sense that we prefer lunch in a civilized town to tramping on a pristine beach!
Disembarkation was a breeze.
Final impression. The smaller, more intimate (alas older) HAL ships are wonderful.