Bright colors prevail throughout most of the ship; the theme is "flowers," which indeed can be found in abundance on public decks. Floral fabrics and tapestries appear in unexpected places and huge vases of tropical floral arrangements and smaller vases of chrysanthemums are positioned on desks and tables in almost all public areas. Art and sculpture also seem thematic; you'll find many pieces throughout the ship, particularly at the bottoms of stairwells.
Volendam is an easy ship through which to maneuver; both its size and layout make it comfortable within minutes of boarding. While our sailing was completely sold out, not once did we have a feeling of crowding or experience any long lines, except in the Lido Restaurant during busy mealtimes.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this ship is the sundry hidden "nooks and crannies" located around the public decks. Perfect for intimate conversation or just to hide out and read, these spaces include the Explorations Cafe, Explorers Lounge, Ocean Bar and the area across from the Piano Bar. All offer sofas, armchairs facing sweeping vistas, and corner banquettes away from the crowd.
The central, circular three-story atrium -- anchored by a colorful, space-age crystal pole that we jokingly referred to as the mothership, since its base was right next to our cabin -- is surrounded by shops, offices and guest service counters. On the Lower Promenade Deck, a lonely piano sits off to one side, abandoned. The hotel director, beverage manager, culinary operations manager and cruise director have offices there, and you can also find scales to weigh your luggage before disembarkation. One floor up, the Promenade Deck holds the front desk, the shore excursions counter and desk for the guest relations manager. The Upper Promenade Deck has a wide assortment of shops surrounding the atrium, selling watches and other jewelry; duty-free alcohol, perfume and cologne; logowear; souvenirs related to the ship's itinerary; and sundries like toothpaste and candy bars. Passengers will also find cozy seating and little tables placed around the perimeter railing.
One of the most enjoyable locations on the ship is the multipurpose Explorations Cafe, which encompasses the ship's library, reading area (with super-comfy chairs), Internet center and coffee joint. The library is well-stocked, but it's only open during certain hours, and there's a drop slot for returning books if it's closed when you want to do so. There are several areas allocated for things like puzzles, chess and other board games, which, like the books, are also kept under lock and key. You will, however, find daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles available at all times. Ten Internet-ready desktop computers and printers are open for passenger use. Shipwide Wi-Fi is also offered for passengers who bring their own devices. Per-minute rates start at 75 cents. Money-saving packages can also be bought: 100 minutes for $55, 250 minutes for $100, 500 minutes for $175 and 1,000 minutes for $250. A one-time activation fee of $3.95 will also be charged, and printing costs 25 cents per page. We found connection speeds to be impressive.
The Crow's Nest, located forward at the top of the ship, is by night a hopping bar and club, with pre-dinner piano music and post-dinner dancing -- but this room truly shines during the day. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the large space, which has seating divided into intimate groupings and sofas along the windows. It's an ideal place to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee or glass of wine, or to just relax and ruminate, mesmerized by the views at the front and both sides of the ship. Daily trivia competitions and games like Battle of the Sexes are held there.
The Hudson Room on Deck 5 is used as a meeting space for everything from mass and Sabbath services to card-playing and jewelry seminars. The King's Room, another meeting space on Deck 5, was closed for our entire sailing. When we inquired about it at the front desk, we were told it's currently being used by the dining department.
Smoking is extremely limited on Volendam. It's allowed only in certain sections of the casino, on deck outside of the Crow's Nest on Deck 9 and outside on Deck 8, aft, starboard, by the Sea View Pool.
Five self-service laundry facilities are available onboard: one on Deck 2, two on Deck 3 and two on Deck 6. It costs $2 to wash one load of clothing and $1 to dry it. The machines are coin operated, and passengers can obtain coins at the front desk. Soap is provided. An iron and ironing board are available in each laundry room, free of charge.
The ship's medical center is located on Deck 1, forward.