- Pro: High-quality dining in both free and specialty venues
- Con: Up-charging can feel a bit overbearing
- Bottom Line: Quiet ship providing the ultimate escape
Editor's Note: Volendam now features 21 Lanai-category cabins, which feature one-way mirrored sliding-glass doors with direct access to the Lower Promenade wraparound teak walking deck and include reserved deck chairs. Additionally, all suites and select cabins received updated bathrooms with new whirlpool tubs, stone vanities, lighted mirrors, fixtures, floors, walls and sinks.
Deluxe and Veranda suites appear in large numbers on Volendam. The competitive pricing and elegance of these accommodations ensure that they are the first to sell out on almost any voyage.
Deluxe suites offer 563 square feet -- including what could reasonably be called a "terrace," large enough for a couple of loungers and a dining table for four. A marble entry foyer, curved seating area, separate dressing room and full bath with whirlpool tub provide a luxurious ambience. More utilitarian are the 284-square-foot Veranda suites, with smaller but comfortable balconies, separate seating areas and small whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms. All suites include refrigerators, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, down duvets, 250-count cotton sheets, bathrobes and personalized stationery. This ship also includes a single penthouse "apartment," at 1,141 square feet, with a dining area for eight, a pantry complete with microwave, an enormous verandah and a powder room. A "concierge club," The Neptune Lounge, is available for passengers in Deluxe and Penthouse suites. There, they gain access to concierge services, refreshments, Wi-Fi, a big-screen TV and a small library.
The 384 standard outside cabins boast 197 square feet of space with large floor-to-ceiling cupboards, desks and sitting areas with a sofa, a small glass-topped table and a chair. The storage space is sufficient for two or more people for several weeks of travel, with a combination of closets, shelves, drawers, cabinets and desk space.
All cabins offer flat-screen televisions that feature the usual network channels, as well as shipboard announcements, seminars and movies. DVD players are also standard in every cabin, and the ship boasts an extensive library of DVDs. Just take a look at the list found in your stateroom, and call the front desk to have your selections delivered. Also offered is a reasonably priced movie snack package that includes popcorn, candy and sodas. Note: On our sailing, we called twice to request movies; both times we were told our choices were "unavailable."
Holland America distinguishes itself in the premium cruise category by providing one of the nicest standard bathrooms afloat, with plenty of space and a small but deep bathtub in even the lowest category outside cabins. Elemis shampoo, conditioner and body wash are provided in dispensers in the shower. Elemis body lotion is also offered. Despite the presence of salon-style hair dryers in all staterooms, giant old-school wall-unit ones are still mounted on the bathroom walls. (They look a bit like the Ghostbusters' proton packs.) You'll also find a magnifying makeup mirror and a multispray showerhead, which can be used as a handheld or overhead. Additionally, the tub enclosure has several well-placed grab bars.
The water pressure is fine, but during a three-minute shower, the temperature varied between scalding and frigid. Be careful; the scalding range can really burn.
The tub/shower combinations are very difficult to navigate. (We stubbed our knees and toes several times when trying to get in and slipped while trying to get out.) For those who have hip, knee or joint problems the ship has a total of 22 cabins designed for physically challenged passengers, 13 of which are outsides with walk-in showers.
Our cabin toilet refused to flush several times during the first day or two of our sailing. It took three phone calls to the front desk to finally fix it. After the problem was addressed, the maintenance staff was (almost excessively) diligent with checking in to be sure it was still working properly. Throughout the voyage, we heard a handful of other passengers complaining about the same issue.
Inside cabins are slightly smaller, averaging 182 square feet, and have showers only. Smaller, too, are the 113 outside staterooms on the Lower Promenade Deck, a favorite of many repeat cruisers because of the easy access to the wide teak promenade, complete with teak loungers evoking an era of true ocean liners, that circles the ship. (Some of these outsides have fully obstructed views.) The wide overhang makes the cabins very dark, and although the windows are covered with a one-way film, prying eyes can still see inside when the lights are on. Unless one is an incurable exhibitionist, keeping the curtains closed whenever the inside is illuminated is requisite.
The use of pale burled-birch Formica, pale peach-colored walls, and orange and gold soft goods makes the rooms seem light and airy. As part of Holland America Line's Signature of Excellence initiative, the ice buckets have been upgraded from the uber-tacky brown plastic to sleek and trendy polished steel, a new steel wire-mesh fruit basket has been added, and high-quality linens adorn the beds. Fluffy Egyptian cotton towels have replaced the well worn but serviceable older ones, and, once the purview of suites only, all rooms now have bathrobes, which can be purchased (and personalized) for $49 each.
Regardless of the cabin type you book, prepare to receive an obscene number of notices in your cabin on a daily basis. You'll get everything from the standard daily schedule to ads for just about everything under the sun. Come to our excursions talk! Buy a photo DVD! Get a discount on spa treatments/jewelry/art/logowear/future cruises! Holland America is good about recycling and provides a separate slot for paper in its cabin garbage cans; the abundance of notices will help you get used to using them.
There's also plenty of storage space, with three closets, featuring a mix of bars with hangers to hang formalwear, and shelves, where you'll find an in-cabin safe. Drawer storage is also plentiful, with space in the desk/vanity area and in the nightstands on either side of the beds, which are twins that can be converted into a queen upon request. A small glass-topped table and an upholstered chair cluttered up the lounge space in the cabin; they took up badly needed extra space, which was always at a premium.
Hint 1: If you want a longer sofa, rather than the standard love seat, book a stateroom designated as a "triple," which has a pullout couch. You give up the largely unnecessary cabinet at the end of the sofa in double rooms -- but the tradeoff is worth it.
Hint 2: Some of the Lower Promenade cabins that are listed as "fully obstructed" really aren't; they are "partially" blocked by the outside bulkheads around the promenade, and from a few, you still have a limited ocean view. They are priced comparably to an inside and can be a fantastic bargain, especially the ones at the aft of the ship.
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