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14 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale

14 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

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Volendam
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Itinerary

  • Day 1
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
  • Day 2
    Half Moon Cay
  • Day 3
    Cruising
  • Day 4
    Cruising
  • Day 5
    St. Thomas
  • Day 6
    St. Kitts
  • Day 7
    St. Lucia
  • Day 7
    Cruising (Soufriere Bay)
  • Day 8
    Barbados
  • Day 9
    Grenada
  • Day 10
    Guadeloupe
  • Day 11
    Antigua
  • Day 12
    San Juan
  • Day 13
    Cruising
  • Day 14
    Cruising
  • Day 15
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Volendam

Volendam - Holland America Line

Pros

Incredibly polished service from friendly, well-trained crew

Cons

Does show its age in several areas throughout the ship

Bottom Line

Nice variety of activities, amenities and enrichment on a manageable midsize vessel


Cruise Reviews

3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this short cruise to introduce a 'newb' to cruising. It was intended to give her a taste of cruising.......more than a one day overnight repositioning. By the time you add airfare to SF, and cost to get home as well ... Read More
I chose this short cruise to introduce a 'newb' to cruising. It was intended to give her a taste of cruising.......more than a one day overnight repositioning. By the time you add airfare to SF, and cost to get home as well as port fee's and taxes that matched the cabin charge.....it all add's up to a 'not cheap' cruise.......it's something to consider---cost to value. Arrived in SF to find an 'annual coast guard' inspection underway. The ship had been sailing out of Ft Laurderdale all winter so this wasn't a back to the USA deal......but it delayed getting on board, and then delays getting documents signed caused the departure at 5 pm to be closer to 6:30....... For those that have visited SF going under the Golden Gate bridge is a highlight........unfortunately the ebb tide and delays due to the inspection made a mess of the first night transit. The food in the MDR was less edible than anything I had experienced before. Very few choices for anyone with dietary needs. (GF) We were told more than once that there weren't choices because things cost too much in SF so they had not restocked the ship for the jaunt back to Vancouver. They were simply 'out' of things that they should have had. I believe this was accurate........and further degraded the experience. On the last day we had some good food! While that's nice to see they can produce good entree's.......it's all the more upsetting that they DID NOT, until the last meal. The Captain stated that they have 5 motors/engines on the ship but only need 4. A good thing since he also said the 5th one was not working during our trip. So you spend all day with the coast guard and go out to sea with less than a fully functional ship? I don't care that you only need 4........I'd bet you NEED that 5th one if anything happens to #'s 1-4. We faced Beaufort 10 conditions at sea.............hmmmm, plugging along as best we could with the knowledge that she was not fully rigged. Parts of the ship were extremely cold (Crows Nest, Lido, etc)..........like they had failed to turn off the air conditioning from a more tropical zone (Panama Canal). Thruster and docking procedures took forever---which everyone knows is not a pleasant experience for anyone. I have never listened to so much noise and vibrations as well as the inching of the ship into port or docking or leaving port. So, yet more time was 'lost' with these processes. After docking an hour (or more) late in Victoria--after arriving on time, they 'forgot' to tell folks the ship was cleared for people to get off. During the Captain's talk he made a comment about other captains when a question was asked about an Alaska route. Basically stating that he would not endanger a ship as if other captains had done so when traveling last summer. Very unprofessional given the route in question (Grenville Channel) is a route available to smaller cruise ships and it is a known route to Alaska. This was just plain unprofessional.........if he'll never sail that route, fine, but it's on my list of things to do and sorry I missed the opportunity last year...... I suspect it is not a preplanned route and dependent on tides/condition on the water........for the Captains that have chosen it. Thank you to them........the guests had a rare experience these days! Staff were good overall. Room stewards were great, MDR first night was very slow and not sure if that was new crew or ??? Next two nights we ended up at a different table and service was great. Too bad the food cannot match the service on board! While I have sailed HAL over 5 times, I think this may be the end of our relationship. It's not worth it to have problems with food and the ship. This is not a one off as the last HAL experience 3 years ago had similar issues on the Zaandam. So two strikes are now seen.......dare we try for three or cut our losses and move on. There are other cruise experiences that have been better than HAL' s with Carnival..........it's easier to remember the good ol' days and move on then throw good money after bad........... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Panama Canal was on the bucket list, so we pulled the trigger. The price on the Volendam from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco was to good to pass up. This was a 17 day cruise in April so there were kids on board at all, and the average ... Read More
Panama Canal was on the bucket list, so we pulled the trigger. The price on the Volendam from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco was to good to pass up. This was a 17 day cruise in April so there were kids on board at all, and the average age of the cruisers was probably about 75. My wife and I are in our early 50’s so we were some of the youngest on board. We are very active so this review, especially the port stops is geared to the more active types. Volendam is now 20 years old and she shows her age a little bit but it is well taken care of and still very luxurious. It was below capacity (about 1200 passengers) so there were rarely lines anywhere and it is a very spacious considering it’s a small ship compared to most of the big beasts out on the Caribbean. There were plenty of activities on board to keep us busy on the sea days. America’s Test Kitchen was very cool and the EXC port talks and historical talks were fantastic. Pools and hot tubs were never crowded. Our room was an Outside View right on the promenade deck. We were right next to a door leading out to the wrap around promenade, so it was almost like having a balcony…. We loved the accessibility of the room to the walking deck. The had plenty of storage space even with all the clothes we brought for the 17 days. We used the $20 laundry bag service 1 time in the middle of the cruise. The bathroom had been remodeled and the new glass door shower was the largest we’ve ever had on a cruise ship and the temp and water pressure were always consistent. Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale took only about 20 minutes once we got to the terminal which was only a couple miles from the airport. Debarkation took about 30 minutes in SF. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning was also quite spectacular. All in all, with ship, the canal, calm seas, and 9 port stops, it couldn’t have been better. Every part of the cruise exceeded our expectations. The food and service in main dining room was fantastic and even the buffet was quite good. Room service was also excellent, with a different towel animal every night! That’s 17 different animals…. Cartagena: We took a taxi to the old walled city and walked around for several hours. Beautiful architecture and very Caribbean looking. The port had a shop and a nice aviary for no charge with many parrots and other exotic birds and animals. Leave a half hour to explore this area. Panama Canal: Awesome piece of engineering and history. Very cool to see the lock systems and the many other big ships transiting the canal. Costa Rica: Did a HAL zipline excursion. The place was near the coastal town of Jaco and we rode an aerial tram to the top then zip lined our way down the mountain. There were reptile and butterfly displays at the base that were very interesting. Sadly, we didn’t see any wildlife other than iguanas. Very fun tour though. Nicaragua: Took a peddle taxi tour of the little port town. The place was very poor, but our driver was very cool and spoke good English, so we learned a lot about the country and the politics. Not much to see, but made us appreciate what we have here at home. Guatemala: Took a HAL bus for a “on your own” tour of Antigua. It was about an hour bus ride through the countryside with guides giving some history of the area. Antigua itself was very pretty with many fabulous churches. We walked all over town and it was very nice. Puerto Chiapas: Took a HAL excursion to some Mayan ruins and then to a demonstration of how cocoa beans are grown and processed into chocolate. Nice tour but we thought a little over priced at $100 per person. Huatulco: Our favorite stop. Excellent swim beach right by the pier. We took a $5 taxi to Playa La Entrega a couple mile away and it was great. Excellent snorkeling and many restaurants right on the beach. We were there on a Sunday so many locals were there with us which actually made it more fun. The vendors pester the locals too….. Manzanillo: Ship docks right downtown. Lots of shops right there. We took a grueling hike up to the cross on the mountain to the right of town. We were hot and sweaty but the view was amazing. Puerto Vallarta: Did another zipline tour through HAL. This was a great excursion but only for the very physically fit. Right of the ship we boarded a little speed boat that whisked us about 30 minutes south to a bay where we switch to Unimogs to drive to the Zipline. Basically like an Army truck. Perfect for the crazy dirt road. Then after getting geared up, we rode mules up to the top of the mountain. And then it was more than just ziplines. We also repelled down a waterfall, did 2 giant waterslides, and then a new roller coaster zipline to end the tour. Very awesome!! This was our favorite zipline ever. Cabo San Lucas: Went parasailing then walked all over town. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Embarkation was organized by group number you're assigned as you check in. We spent a few minutes chatting with fellow passengers and soon enough we were called aboard. There probably is not a wait if you arrive after 11 or so. We ... Read More
Embarkation was organized by group number you're assigned as you check in. We spent a few minutes chatting with fellow passengers and soon enough we were called aboard. There probably is not a wait if you arrive after 11 or so. We were early for this cruise, unlike others where we sailed through embarkation. We chose the expedited group for disembarkation, meaning we carried our own luggage off at 7:30 AM. I highly recommend it because we were through customs and in a cab to the airport by 7:45. It sure beats hanging around the theater or a bar for a few hours waiting for your group to be called. We were very happy with the remodeled bathroom in the cabin. The glass walk-in shower is super-convenient, drained well and was tiled with a no slip surface. The clothes line in the shower served to dry wet clothes overnight, no problem. The cabin was clean and comfortable. Gatot and Sigit took great care of us including the towel animals and chocolates every night. The TV is small and could be upgraded, but it's just fine to catch MSNBC in the morning and maybe get a DVD for a movie one evening. There were plenty of hangers in the closets and there were plenty of drawers and shelves for all your things. We took advantage of the flat-rate laundry bag and got our clothes back and pressed the same day, both times! I'd say the food was very good. We ate at the Lido Buffet and in the Dining Room. I was very impressed by the caring service we got at anytime dining. The beverage service was prompt too. We shared meals with new table mates each time. There were always plenty of laughs. The final night was a standout, from the excellent service in the dining room to the excellent seared Ahi and the rest of the menu. The burgers at the Dive-In are delicious as are the crunchy fries. Be sure to visit the various musical venues as they're all very entertaining. The Adagio pianist and violinist were great! We met members of the house band and their music was as nice as they are in person. Don't miss the Blue Earth show! America's Test Kitchen is definitely worth the time. The presenter is super and you get new ideas. It's too bad that the food wasn't passed around for tasting at the presentations we attended. The gym is clean and has good, new equipment. It's cool to watch the ocean go by as you're on the elliptical. Bar service is great, as always. We spent most of our time at the Aft Bar in the smoking section. You always meet fun people there, and this trip was no exception. Bernard the bar man took great care of us and even arranged for servers to come by after he closed for the night. We found the Signature Beverage Package to be a good deal on this cruise. There are six sea days when you can really enjoy the package to your heart's content. The Panama Canal is the highlight of this cruise and it sure didn't disappoint. Just wrapping your head around locks without pumps takes some understanding. The on board narration helped make you feel like you're part of the experience, regardless of where you happen to be. The ship itself is beautiful. Be sure to notice the beautiful and creative flower arrangements all over the place. There's even orchids on the tables in the Lido Buffet. I noticed workers sprucing up the white paint in preparation for opening the forward decks to passengers during the canal passage. The naturalist is a gifted font of knowledge. Glenn-Michael, the lead EXC is super. He was all over the ship and uniformly seen chatting with one guest or another. He shared some great hints during his port talks too. The officers impressed me by being so accessible and always being around for sail-aways and sea day parties. Even the captain had time to chat for a few minutes. One of us needed some medical attention and found the crew there to be excellent. The check on you and make special arrangements as needed. The small charge for a bit of medicine plus the personal care turned around what could have been a major downer. Holland America does a great job; the Volendam is a fine ship with a highly skilled and friendly staff. Read Less
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