We booked a family vacation on the Ryndam for late January 2012. We had read that although it was an older ship (build in mid 90's), it has been refurbished in the last year or so. Once we boarded and walked around the ship, we were extremely disappointed to see that pretty much everything still looked very dated and in desperate need of a refurbish (wait, wasn't the ship just refurbished?). Having been on some of the nicer Celebrity and Princess ships, and considering we had paid similar prices on the Ryndam, our expectations were high. Eventually we "got over it" and made the best of it.
We have to say that at least the staterooms were very nice (refurbish more apparent there) and the food was amazing... one of the best food experience on a cruise ship in a long time! Kudos to HAL for that.
But the service... where do I begin? We have cruise MANY times and always come across one or two people who don't appear pleased to be there but the majority of the staff are always pleasant and friendly. I don't need anyone to go overboard for me but I do appreciate a smile and a friendly demeanour. We were shocked to find that the friendly smiley staff were the exception and that in all parts of the ship we ran across one person after another who was unfriendly and didn't appear to want to be there. We even met one individual who was a big HAL fan having done over 20 cruises with them and even he said this was the worst cruise he had done.
Overall, the experience was not a great one and we would not recommend Ryndam (for more reasons than just the dated ship!). If the service was great, I could understand the preference for this smaller ship. For the price though, you can get a comparable cruise on nicer newer ship!