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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
A message was sent by email the day before we were to embark on our cruise. We were already in Vancouver and did not receive this email until after the cruise. Even if we had received this message, it would have been expensive and ... Read More
A message was sent by email the day before we were to embark on our cruise. We were already in Vancouver and did not receive this email until after the cruise. Even if we had received this message, it would have been expensive and stressful to change our flights. Holland America did not offer any refunds or assistance in making alternate plans. IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION: Please be advised that we have been experiencing a heightened level of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) on the ms Volendam. Therefore, the ship will follow a special cleaning and sanitizing protocol developed in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to our departure from Vancouver, Canada, on September 17, 2014. Consequently, embarkation will begin at approximately 1:00pm for a 4:00pm departure. Our guests are encouraged to delay their arrival at the pier until 1:00pm, as there is limited seating at the Vancouver facility. We regret any inconvenience this may cause. Holland America's Volendam cruise ship is obsolete, dirty and diseased. Check on the age of the ship before you book a cruise. Take a cab to and from the airport. The cab would have been cheaper and faster than the big bus with passengers coughing and sneezing during the long slow ride from the ship to the airport. I rarely get sick but I came home with a painful deep cough and sore throat. We were handed a piece of paper while boarding informing us of an intestinal virus onboard. Too late to cancel. They had been having this problem for weeks. We would return from shore excursions to see people with rubber suits and what looked like gas masks working to sanitize a stateroom as we walked down the passageway. Not exactly reassuring. We were led to believe that this was a temporary problem but it persisted for the whole cruise. The ship desperately needed repairs and upgrades including: newer TVs (ours had a blurry picture), gym equipment (parts were missing). Age appropriate music in the gym would have been nice (this was not the hip hop or rap demographic). The fitness staff was uneducated staff. There were rude employees everywhere. They were broken toilets in the common areas. Older passengers who move slower were having trouble finding a working restroom. We were not allowed to borrow DVDs and books or serve ourselves at the buffet because of the virus. The servers at the buffet did not understand English very well so it was impossible to get your food the way you wanted it. They dumped buckets of dressing on the salads. Everything was over cooked. Most of the time the food was not hot enough, vegetables were limp and fish was dry.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This is my 3 rd sailing to Alaska but first time with HAL on this route. Having done several other cruises also to Europe with HAL and other lines I find myself comparing. My husband and I felt that the overall experience was pleasant. The ... Read More
This is my 3 rd sailing to Alaska but first time with HAL on this route. Having done several other cruises also to Europe with HAL and other lines I find myself comparing. My husband and I felt that the overall experience was pleasant. The crew were always smiling and obliging, even when dealing with some demanding passengers! This was our first time visiting Sitka and we felt it was the highlight of the ports of call with very lovely scenery. In each port we did our own thing which was good since flying excursions were canceled due to low cloud cover. State room was balcony on floor 7. No complaints except for my husband who is 6'4" and had to stoop while showering! Our adult, disabled son was traveling with us and had the fold out couch which needed extra foam and was brought by the cabin steward on our request. We had room service in the mornings twice and it was prompt. We chose to eat in the MDR for most meals because the Lido was a zoo making finding a table challenging and there are no trays which means going backwards and forwards for beverages etc. The Pinnacle was good as was the Cannelto. Entertainment re the shows was well done. We especially enjoyed the Captain and his talk and the backstage tour with the performers. The group Recycle Percussion were exceptional. The cruise director was energized and entertaining and ran the Dancing with the Stars competition for the passengers very well which resulted in the grand finale dance off with the qualifying passengers being paired with one of the professional dancers to perform on stage for their fellow passengers. I availed myself of the enrichment classes that involved computer/camera lessons which I have enjoyed in the past and enjoyed adding to my skills again! MDR was not as good as I remember from past experiences with HAL. The portions seemed smaller...my husband had ordered the appetizer with the descriptive "Tower of crab meat and avocado" which more accurately looked like a smudge on the plate. Both boarding and disembarking were smooth and we were certainly accommodated with our son who has autism so we did not have to stand in the long lines to board. We greatly appreciated this. The general ambience of the ship is one of understated elegance with dark woods and brass accents which was very pleasing. The crows nest was a favorite spot giving great views along with comfortable seating as one sailed along. We used the gym daily and felt that it was adequately equipped. Unlike other cruise lines we did not feel as though there was any undue pressure to buy.....be it in the bars or anywhere on the ship. The afternoon teas have changed from the elegant service with the staff in their national costume to a self serve buffet which was disappointing. Also gone was the traditional appearance at Formal night with the march in of the Baked Alaska replete with sparklers that used to be carried aloft by the head chef with staff marching behind. Also gone was the midnight chocolate/dessert extravaganza....ah me. The Lido also closed down at times and it was difficult to find something to eat! Yikes! A lovely final touch however, was at disembarking as one crossed the gang plank to return to the normal life....the heads of each department stood on shore in a line waving all the passengers goodbye.   Read Less

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