To begin with we had never been on a ship the size of the Statendam before but would not hesitate to travel on a small ship again.
We began our cruise by travelling from CA the day before the cruise and spent the night at a Best Western near the airport. The hotel was filled with fellow cruisers including the Statendam and Westerdam. We enjoyed a good night's sleep after eating at a nearby Cuban restaurant. Holland emailed us that embarkation was to be delayed by one hour. So, on Friday morning several fellow passengers took a shuttle to Total Wine where we stocked up on wine, soda, and bottled water for our two week cruise. My husband could have spent hours in the wine shop and said that the prices were very close to those found in CA. We took at shuttle from the hotel for $8 per person to the port. The driver loaded and unloaded our luggage and we gave an extra tip to the baggage handlers at the dock to make sure our wine was not broken. Embarkation was a breeze. We signed our health form and got into a very short line and were soon on the ship and to our room. We had not booked a non-balcony room for several cruises but were impressed with the size of our outside room and the large window over our bed. We were surprised that our luggage was delivered within a half hour to our stateroom. The mandatory muster went fairly fast and only one person had to be paged tersely by the captain before we were cleared.
This was the first cruise that we did not sign up for late seating but instead opted for open seating. We ended up going to dinner at about 7 pm every night. We had travelled with 6 other family/friends. The first night we all ate together but from then on four of us usually ate in the dining room while others opted for the Lido or Italian venues. The longest wait was 10 minutes and the staff did their best to seat us right away. We ate at different tables each night but on several nights had the same wait staff. Our food was good to very good. All food was hot and we had good service(even with Code Red). We even ate in the main dining room the final night and I believe the food selections that night had improved since our last Master Chef dinner in 2010. We ate in the Lido for breakfasts and lunch. We did not eat in the specialty restaurants on this trip. We thought the food in the Lido was very good. I believe that the eggs were better than on the Eurodam in 2010 and 2011 as they were not as salty.
The purpose of this cruise was to see the Panama Canal. That was the high point of the cruise. We awoke at 5 am and after dressing made our way to the bow of the ship. We were able to get a spot on the railing. Soon the staff set up a station with coffee and Panama buns. We spent the entire day going to various locations throughout the ship to view the canal, locks, and lake from different vantage points. There was a narrator on board who spoke about the canal and there had been an orientation earlier in the trip. We also had a brochure about the canal placed in our stateroom. The weather was perfect, not very hot at all so we spent a lot of the day outside.
Ports of call....Before even embarking we had been informed that the ship would not be stopping in Acapulco. Once on board we received a memo that our OBC was credited for the port charges/taxes for that missed port. After the first two days at sea we landed in Aruba. We had booked a private tour for our group of eight. The guide took us to the hot spots of the island. After the 3 hour tour we spent sometime shopping in town and my husband sampled the local beer. After the Panama Canal we were scheduled to be in Costa Rica. We had booked a Holland American Favorites excursion and we were to meet at 6 am. The ship opened the Lido early due to the early arrival in port so we awoke at 5 and went to the Lido to eat. Just after eating there was an announcement that there were unusually high waves for this time of year and they were assessing the situation. We went outside with our binoculars and we could see the waves crashing on shore. A pilot boat took one of the ship's officers to the dock and later we were told that it had been determined that it was too dangerous to attempt to dock. Thus, a second port was now cancelled. We of course were disappointed but understood that the captain did not want to endanger the ship/passengers. By 9:30am the staff had printed up new daily programs that included more activities. We had our cost of the excursion credited to our account plus another $7 for fees. Huatulco, Mexico was our next port of call. We booked a Holland America river rafting trip. It was really a floating trip but VERY FUN. There were 7 rafts and we lazily moved down the river passing women doing their laundry by hand and other persons bathing. The weather was close to 90 degrees and so we cooled off by having paddle water fights with passengers in the other rafts. It was a blast. The float lasted about 1.5 hours and the river ended up at the ocean. Our final port of call was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This was the only tender port. Those not taking Holland excursions were told not to come down to the theater for tender tickets until after 8:45. We showed up at that time and it was chaos. Many persons with excursions were still waiting. There were two large Carnival ships also in port and the Statendam was the furthest from shore. It appeared that not enough tenders were in operation. We had to wait for over an hour before we could get on a tender. Cabo was a short stop and the last tender was at 1:30pm. So
we did not have much time on land. We took our friend on our own walking tour as we spend 3 weeks a year in Cabo and know the area. We had a cool drink at a restaurant on the harbor and showed the group the resorts on the Pacific side. We also had a few tacos at Godo Le Le taco restaurant.
Ship Life....We really liked the variety of activities onboard. We participated in the Olympics, trivia, pub trivia, name that tune as well as used the gym and I saw three movies. We also attended the computer classes and a few cooking classes. We had time to play cards, read, and just relax. The musicians on board were excellant. I went to all of the nightly shows and enjoyed them all. We never used the casino so cannot write about that. I did attend Mass and the room was packed. Due to Code Red the priest was not allowed to give communion. The ship's staff were a 10!!!
The ship condition...Much has been written about the ship. We did have about two days where the AC was not functioning properly but the staff was working on it. Our room was clean and in good repair. We noticed that the atrium area needed to have the carpeting repaired as it had stretched. All bathrooms were in operation in the public areas. We had no problem with our own room but we talked to a few who had problems flushing their toilet in their stateroom. One night our room smelled of fresh fish. The next day we spoke to another passenger on our end of the ship who also smelled the same thing. The smell by that time was gone. On another day we noticed a strong smell of fuel near to culinary arts area and we reported it to an officer. We were told that they were working on an elevator and the odor was going through the vent.