Easily the most impressive public room onboard Ryndam is the Explorations Cafe. With its colorful, scarlet carpets set against dark, wood-like furnishings, the room takes on an elegant yet whimsical ambience. It's comfortable, with Internet stations mixed in among cozy seating areas. The walls are lined with books, and several tabletops are printed with huge crossword puzzles (with erasable pencils). A few Eames chairs and ottomans face the large windows.
Internet access was consistently slow and difficult -- more so than on almost any other ship on which I've traveled. Packages are available. Wi-Fi access is also available throughout the ship, though folks with their own laptops had as much trouble getting connected as the Internet cafe patrons.
Two outstanding features of the Explorations Cafe must be noted. First, as a result of its partnership with the New York Times, passengers on Ryndam can access that newspaper's Web site -- free -- on a daily basis. Also, the book selection is outstanding, and we were told that New York Times consultants helped make the choices. It's easily the second-best library at sea. (It's hard to top Queen Mary 2
's.) DVD's can be rented there, as well.
One down note: Staffing of Explorations was uneven on our cruise. The folks who work the desk there are members of the entertainment staff, and we found they were rarely able to answer a question, simple or not, and their attitude was often curt.
The ship has a staffed medical center on Deck 4. On Deck 8 (Upper Promenade), a handful of shops sell a lot of jewelry, some logowear, a small selection of casualwear (though no formal outfits), perfume and cosmetics. A new addition to the mix is an upscale jewelry shop.
Slightly forward of the ship's center is the Atrium, with spiral staircases that drop through the public areas on Decks 7 and 8 to the staterooms on Deck 6. Side-by-side -- and thus often crowded in the relatively small Atrium area on Deck 7 -- are the Shore Excursions Desk and Front Office. The staff in both always seemed pleasant, no matter how busy they were or how often they answered the same questions.
There are coin-operated, self-service launderettes on three of the five cabin decks.