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Sail Date: December 2017
As other cruisers have put it, this ship should have stayed in drydock. The information published on the internet about the refurbishment indicated some great changes that would certainly enhance the cruise. Coupled with our previous HAL ... Read More
As other cruisers have put it, this ship should have stayed in drydock. The information published on the internet about the refurbishment indicated some great changes that would certainly enhance the cruise. Coupled with our previous HAL experiences, we had high expectations. Unfortunately the information was inaccurate and, to be frank, this ship is a piece of junk. More info about the ship- leaky pipes and a near flood on our first day at sea. Some of the ship's public rooms were clearly renovated, while others were not. What HAL's calculus was in why certain places should be renovated first was unclear. Cabin- See below for cabin review. It was supposedly a suite, but I think that's false advertising. The AC system either didn't work at all or couldn't be turned off when we sailed into colder climates during the cruise. Fortunately, beyond the room being old and needing massive upkeep was the extent of my cabin's issues. A lot of fellow passengers had flooded rooms/toilets and other serious issues. Dining- Pinnacle Grill was great, and the Dive-In was pretty good. Beyond that, the food was not up to HAL standards. I hate to be so harsh, but some of the food tasted like something I would eat at my college dining hall. That all said, I thought it was great that they offered local cuisine from the countries we were visiting, so people could sample the fare without worrying about local cleaning standards. Entertainment/Activities- The America's Test Kitchen lectures were great, and the port lectures weren't too bad. Other cruise lines have subject matter experts on board who can do deep dives into what we will experience. I can't speak to any of the other entertainment beyond the movies at the Wajang Theater. Service- The major bright spot. My cabin stewards were excellent and the staff did a great job, I would also like to highlight the work of the maintenance people who were, unfortunately, constantly at work fixing issues that should have been identified during the drydock. Ports and Shore Excursions- The reason we booked this trip. All things being equal, we'd take a ship in lousy shape if it meant getting a chance to visit those places. Excellent itinerary. Embarkation was poorly organized, especially the lines to go through immigration. The guy "directing" was completely disorganized and eventually passengers took matters in to their own hands and just walked up. HAL, drydock the Volendam and do a top to bottom thorough check. I can think most passengers would have been happier if you had done that and pushed our cruise dates a bit. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We recently finished a 14-day Hong Kong to Singapore cruise on the ms Volendam. We have sailed with Holland America before and, as always, the staff and the service they provide cannot be beat. The food was also very good. However, the ... Read More
We recently finished a 14-day Hong Kong to Singapore cruise on the ms Volendam. We have sailed with Holland America before and, as always, the staff and the service they provide cannot be beat. The food was also very good. However, the ship itself is showing its age and, fortunately, is going in for upgrades and refurbishing before the next cruise. We had an obstructed view cabin and the air conditioning never worked for the entire cruise. Considering that the temperatures were very hot the entire cruise and humidity was very high, this was a major concern. They did not seem to be able to address it but did give us a $300 credit at the end of the cruise to make up for it. There were also problems with several of the units in the fitness centre and we were told that they would not be addressed because the ship was going in for major work at the end of our cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed all our excursions but, as we used private tours, cannot comment on the ship's excursions. Holland America does need to put some extra effort in handling tenders though -- the set up for getting tender tickets and the process for boarding the tenders was handled extremely poorly at both ports where tenders were required. Come on, HAL -- this isn't something that you haven't done thousands of times! As noted at the start, our cabin attendants were fantastic, as were the waiters at our table in the Main Dining Room. The staff on HAL and the service they provide has been outstanding on all of our cruise. We will definitely sail with Holland America again but will be sure to check the status of a given ship before booking our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2017
We always wanted to see Japan, have been all thru' China & Thailand before , the rest of the cruise was a very pleasant Bonus, especially Vietnam, loved the food and the people there. I tell you that having Dr. Kam's lectures was so ... Read More
We always wanted to see Japan, have been all thru' China & Thailand before , the rest of the cruise was a very pleasant Bonus, especially Vietnam, loved the food and the people there. I tell you that having Dr. Kam's lectures was so amazing, what a wonderful man he is, a real bonus for HA. I also would like to comment on Markus who gave the Gem-stone talks this boy knows his work, so fun. I journal for every cruise so I take notes on every lecture and presentation. I always want to learn. Josh and Phil were great too, took their notes as well. The entertainment was awesome, loved the Volendam dancers and singers, good variety. Movies pretty good. The cruise director never could spell her name, was awesome so fun at the trivia contests. The Captain too was great, he hd a lot to deal with, especially in Shanghai. All of the crew were superb going the extra mile for all of us. I heard some of the beef was tough but on the night we had surf and turf it was excellent. In general the food was good, could be a little hotter but it is hard to do for so many people, soup always hot and delicious, and the bread pudding, to die for. I just want to say some of the comments I have read were not pleasant, not all people are pleasant, you can please some of the people etc. It was a busy tour, but we made it and what a great place to end it but in Singapore---Wow what a beautiful place!!!!!!!!! Evelyn and Russell Green Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this 42 day cruise as a one-time trip to the Far East. It was supposed to include stops in Korea, which were prevented by Chinese sanctions, so that it was slightly disappointing before it even began. Things just seemed to go ... Read More
We chose this 42 day cruise as a one-time trip to the Far East. It was supposed to include stops in Korea, which were prevented by Chinese sanctions, so that it was slightly disappointing before it even began. Things just seemed to go wrong whenever possible. We were awakened at 3am in Shanghai by an announcement that there might be contamination in the water (false alarm), we were kept in Shanghai an extra 38 hours by a storm without the ability to go ashore. No extra entertainment, other than a one hour open bar on sailing. The air conditioning went out and the captain blamed mussels in the inlets which had been acquired in Alaska and had to be flushed. There was a lack of organization in dealing with disembarkation in several ports, mainly blamed on the local officials, but often with the help of the staff. Although the cruise was 58, 42, 28 or 14 days, the entertainment was repeated every 2 weeks. The shows cast was talented, and the performances spirited, for such a small group, and quite entertaining the first time around. Additional entertainment was mixed. The repeating of a BBC documentary did not do much to enhance this aspect. The kitchen was light on no sugar food, having only no sugar added, and it ran out of ice cream 2 weeks before the end of the cruise. The food in the dining room was excellent, but portions were very small, and the service exceedingly slow. Several times meals lasted over 2 hours. Ashley Wade and her trio in the Ocean Bar were excellent for their Jazz, and she had a great rapport with her audience. The crew was exceptionally friendly and tried to be helpful. They made the voyage into a much more positive event. Working hard to please, they were the best we have seen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply. My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East. We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship ... Read More
Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply. My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East. We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship VOLENDAM) in Shanghai China. Prior to the cruise I was informed by my external cruise agent’s documentation that a visa was required for entry into China. I researched the visa process and discovered that the Chinese embassies in the UK, located in Manchester and London utilise external agencies to process and issue access visas for China. I accessed online the SHANGHAI GENERAL STATION OF IMMIGRATION INSPECTION. The document listed several visa exemption possibilities depending upon your travel schedule. There are several visa agencies online and be aware, the charges vary considerably from £175.00 to £250.00 per person, and the process is not straight forward. Having explored various cruise advice pages on the web, it was intimated that there is a facility for Chinese visa exemption depending upon how many days you would be in China and where your cruise schedule was destined. I contacted my cruise agent and they were no help at all, stating that it was the passenger’s responsibility to sort it all out and they the agent would not provide any guidance apart from a contact number for CIBIT Visa processing agents (who just happen to be the most expensive visa processing company). E-mailed the British Embassy in Shanghai, yes, thank-you for your e-mail, but we don’t answer any questions concerned with visas, (so I wonder what they do, do over there.) Next, I contacted Holland and America, not a lot of help or enthusiasm there, same story they were not really interested, but they did have a visa specialist in America who may be able to answer my question, “do I need a visa for entry to China when I will only be in china for a short duration before sailing on to Japan, within 48 hours?” Well thank you, H&M, could you contact your specialist visa person and get back to me, yes, they didn’t. After 3 phone calls to H&M, three different advisers, eventually they decided that for this cruise as we were only in China for 30 hours and were going to a third party country (Japan) we did not need a visa. So, 7 days before we go, a letter arrives from Holland America via my cruise agent informing us that a visa is required for China. Grrr, frustration, once again contacted H&M, who were at this point not sure don’t think you need a visa, but here is a number for the visa agency we recommend so I could check with them, (just happened to also be the most expensive visa agent.) Success, rang the visa agent, informed them of my itinery travel plans, and they assured me a visa was not required. So, feeling 90% sure we did not require a visa, we set off to Manchester airport, at check-in they told us we needed a China entry visa, we said no we didn’t, they checked and verified we did not need one, the same situation in Amsterdam initially refused check in without a visa, Amsterdam checked and verified we did not require a visa. When we arrived at Shanghai airport, there was a special passport checking area for the issue of visa exemptions. Passport control checked our travel itinery cruise documentation and issued permits, process took approximately 20 minutes. Be very, very careful if you need a taxi at the airport, there are numerous taxis touts at the airport entrance that are not officially, registered taxis. We agreed a price for the 20 mile drive to the cruise terminal. I am sure that he was a racing car and dodgems driver in his spare time, horrendous journey to the cruise port and then he asked for more money, holding our luggage to ransom in the boot of his taxi and would not unload it until we paid double the fare. We conversed with many UK Passengers over the next 14 days, many repeated the same visa verification nightmare, and in every case they had purchased very expensive China access visas, when they did not need them, because no one could or would give them positive visa requirements information. And yes this is a long story, but if it’s saved you £500.00 it’s been worth reading. And, so to the cruise ship itself, overall, average in every aspect. There were plenty of sitting/relaxing areas, good, as most cruise ships appear to have their relaxing areas replaced with specialist premium cost dining. Cabin was cramped due to excessive furniture. The dining experience, average in choice of menu and food quality and quantity. Standard cruise line overpriced drinks. The entertainment 50% outstanding (ships singers and dancers) the rest was dire with the exception of an outstanding guest violinist. The service was outstanding in every aspect. Ports of call, all city type, hence the overpowering traffic pollution. Interesting experience and lots to see and do. Shore excursions, they were probably the most expensive that I have ever come across, on any of the previous 14 cruises that we have experienced, hence, we did our own thing. There were very few children on the cruise. Would I go again, probably not, we enjoyed the experience and observing the different cultures, but in some respects it was all much of the same. The cruise line does need to offer promotional inducements, I doubt that we will be sailing with Holland America in the future. AND TO ALL YOU CRUISE COMPANIES AND AGENTS YOU DISAPPOINT ME, I EXPECT BETTER SERVICE, VERY EXPEDIENTLY YOU TAKE OUR MONEY, AND ARE CLEARLY NOT INTERESTED IN OUR WELFARE. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
I have gone on several Holland America cruises in the past, but my 28-day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore is the last one I will ever take with Holland America. I agree with all the negative comments of the previous posters and have a ... Read More
I have gone on several Holland America cruises in the past, but my 28-day cruise from Shanghai to Singapore is the last one I will ever take with Holland America. I agree with all the negative comments of the previous posters and have a few more. The people who were satisfied must have never cruised before. A big disappointment was that in most ports we didn’t dock where the other cruise ships docked but at commercial docks that where cranes were loading and unloading freight all day. However, for $6.00 to $12.00 HAL would shuttle you into town. Once or twice it was free. The final straw, however, was when they didn’t get me to my flight at the end of the cruise. I had paid HAL for the shuttle service so I would be sure to get picked up when I arrived and get back to the airport for my flight when the cruise ended. When the ship informed me what time the shuttle was going to leave to take me to the airport, I immediately went to the front desk and told them I didn’t I would get to the airport in time for my flight. I was assured that I would not have any problems. The next morning while I was waiting for my turn to be shuttled, I went back to the front desk and asked to be transported to the airport sooner. Once again, I was told I would get there in plenty of time. They were wrong. I missed my flight. I called Holland America and was told they would book me on another flight, but I would have to pay for it. They recommended I contact Guest Relations when I got back to the US and request a reimbursement for the extra flight. I called. That was interesting. Guest Relations said they should not have sold me the transportation because company policy required a four-hour minimum time period between leaving the ship and the flight time; therefore, they could not reimburse me for the extra flight cost. They offered to reimburse me for the transportation service. When I mentioned that I gave the clerk my flight times when I booked the transportation and wasn’t told about the four-hour policy, Guest Relations said, “The clerk made a mistake selling you the transportation and that was why HAL would reimburse the transportation fee.” I want to say something positive about HAL, but nothing comes to mind. It is a company that no longer cares about the passengers. I would have given them two stars if They had gotten me to the airport on time. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We enjoyed a wonderful 14-day cruise to Japan and China, starting in Tokyo and ending in Shanghai. Our flight was part of the cruise package and worked out well. We had a pre-cruise stay in Tokyo. Great hotel, but disorganized ... Read More
We enjoyed a wonderful 14-day cruise to Japan and China, starting in Tokyo and ending in Shanghai. Our flight was part of the cruise package and worked out well. We had a pre-cruise stay in Tokyo. Great hotel, but disorganized embarkation procedures at the hotel. Once on the ship, everything was fine. Service was exemplary by all the staff. They just couldn't do enough for us. When we told the Steward that the room was too cold, he reported it immediately and within a few hours it was fixed and the front desk called to verify that we were now satisfied. When my husband fell on an independent excursion, the front desk called to find out how he was doing and sent a plate of chocolate covered cherries to our room. When we couldn't get our phone to work on the ship, the front desk ushered us over to a complimentary phone to use. When we couldn't get the Wi-Fi to work, the people at the front desk patiently walked us through the procedures. When we arrived on board we found that our travel agency had paid for a free meal in the Pinnacle Grille. The card in our room said it was a free dinner, but that turned out to be a mistake - it was only supposed to be a free lunch. However, the ship graciously honored what the card said and gave us a free dinner. The meals in the dinning room were excellent. The dining staff gave great recommendations and graciously made any requested alterations to the stated menu items. On at-sea days we enjoyed the 'America's Test Kitchen' cooking demonstrations and lectures by Master Kam on China. We never attended any of the evening entertainment, so I can't comment there. Disembarkation was very smooth. We were organized into groups and called by group to go off the ship. Our luggage was waiting for us. We only did two ship excursions; we prefer independent ones. But there were no independent ones available in those two ports. The ship excursions were typical large group affairs. We also did one ship excursion to see an acrobatic show. It was not the famous one in Shanghai that I wanted to see. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the ship to give us adequate information ahead of time to determine what show we would be taken to. I called their excursion office twice before the cruise and each time they promised to call me back, but never did. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
Chose this cruise as HAL always has excellent itineraries and we were meeting up with old cruise friends. Our Volendam is going into dry-dock in two weeks but I fear that will not be enough time to update our favorite ship. Despite a ... Read More
Chose this cruise as HAL always has excellent itineraries and we were meeting up with old cruise friends. Our Volendam is going into dry-dock in two weeks but I fear that will not be enough time to update our favorite ship. Despite a revised itinerary and missing a port of call (partially weather and partially politics) passengers were pleased with our little gem of a ship. We had a disastrous experience at the Pinnacle Grill and much prefer the gracious and professional service of the dining room staff. . We never take ship's excursions. The staff, especially Josh, was calm, collected, and professional working with passengers during a very trying time with revised itineraries. Entertainment was proper for this ship. The singers and dancers really worked hard and it was apparent. There should have been more attention placed on health restrictions as 20 - 30% of passengers had respiratory problems. We probably will not go back on the Volendam as we have traveled on her 3 times and covered most of her itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
This was our third cruise (2nd with Holland) and we had a fantastic time. I think the Volendam is in need of some updating though - which I believe is taking place in the upcoming months. The service once again was extremely good - along ... Read More
This was our third cruise (2nd with Holland) and we had a fantastic time. I think the Volendam is in need of some updating though - which I believe is taking place in the upcoming months. The service once again was extremely good - along with the fantastic food. We ate at the Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants which we thought were just average and not worth the extra money. The entertainment was very good every night - a good variation of shows. Having a before dinner drink and dancing in the Ocean's Bar was a great way to start off the evening. The embarkation and disembarkation went extremely smooth and very well organized and staffed. The excursions were a bit pricey and very rushed. We didn't get any time for shopping. The day we were to see the Great Wall of China we got caught in a 7 hour traffic jam which was horrible and got to the Wall with less than an hour of daylight left. We also never got to see the Summer Palace. The "lunch" that we finally ate at 6:30 was very good. When we returned to the ship that night the staff all met us outside to welcome us back and purposely kept the buffet open. They also refunded our money back for the excursion - once again very good service by Holland. A new stop for Holland was Quindao, China which really was not very interesting at all for the money you pay for excursion - there wasn't enough interesting places to see there. The tour guides that they used could barely speak English and were so young and inexperienced that it made for not a very good day. The overall experience with Holland was very good and we will be traveling with them again on another cruise to Australia/New Zealand next year. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this trip for two main reasons: 1. the Holland America experience (this was my 8th cruise with HAL) 2. the locations to be visited (Japan & China) We planned this trip, with our dear friends from the U.K. whom we had ... Read More
We chose this trip for two main reasons: 1. the Holland America experience (this was my 8th cruise with HAL) 2. the locations to be visited (Japan & China) We planned this trip, with our dear friends from the U.K. whom we had met on a previous HAL cruise, for over a year. We were so looking forward to our journey!!! What we experienced was a huge & bitter disappointment! Our cabin had a distinctive & very strong smell of urine (akin to an outhouse) which seemed to come on and off through the pipes. Given that the cruise was completely sold out there was no point in complaining as there was no alternative cabin to move to. There were other areas where it appeared that the company has cut back, perhaps cost saving measures had been applied (service, food, entertainment), which was also disappointing. For example: the entertainment included a few nights with no show, a few nights of the "Volendam singers & dancers", a harmonica duo, an accordion player and a man sitting at a table doing card tricks. As mentioned I've been on 7 previous cruises with HAL and am used to cruise ship entertainment but this was a poor showing indeed. However, the worst experiences were the shore excursions! I have never felt so cheated & used in all of my previous travels and I am still smarting from the experience. For the entire time we were in Japan it was raining, cloudy and gray which was absolutely no fault of HAL. However, what they decided to do with the shore excursions was another matter. In Shimizu we booked (at a cost of just under $100 USD each) a visit to a lookout to see Mt. Fuji and then a visit to a shrine. As we boarded our tour bus it was evident that our guide knew that we could not visit the lookout and would not see Mt. Fuji. This was not their fault but what they did instead was unacceptable. We drove to an isolated, very small tea store where we were told we had to wait an hour. We stood under an awning looking out at a gray, hazy world for an hour before boarding the bus once again for our next stop. We visited a shrine where we saw everything there was to see in about 15 minutes and then, once again, were told we had to wait an hour in the wet miserable weather with nowhere to go before we could head back to the ship. I can't for the life of me understand why they didn't cancel the excursion or, at the very least, offer us a refund so we could explore alternatives as they knew we could not do what our itinerary listed. Another, extremely sad & disappointing excursion was the overnight trip to Beijing. This trip cost each of us almost $1,000 USD and we were so very, very excited about all that we would enjoy. Our bus was absolutely filthy, the seatbelts were inaccessible (though we would be spending hours on the highway) and some of the seats randomly reclined on their own crushing the knees of the person sitting behind. At lunch neither the guide, nor the HAL rep on the trip, would help ensure the 4 of us could sit together but instead insisted we squeeze in at two separate tables earmarked for bus #16. There were lots of places, in the same room, that we could have sat together but this was not a part of their agenda. Finally, after a dismal lunch we headed off to the main event, the Great Wall of China! However, because we still had to visit another temple we were only allowed a brief time at the wall - not nearly enough time to climb to the top as planned. After a long and extremely disappointing day we finally headed towards our hotel. The four of us were really hoping to salvage something of the day by exploring the nightlife of Beijing on this, our one and only night in this amazing city. However, the hotel selected by HAL was way off in the business district and so there was nothing near by. We felt trapped in the hotel where drinks were approximately $20 each so sad, tired and disappointed we went off to bed at 9:00. In the morning we headed off to breakfast determined to start the day with a good attitude. I won't go into detail about the appalling way things went at breakfast but suffice it to say it took the 4 of us over half an hour to chase down a simple cup of coffee after being told that they had "run out of cups" at the hotel. Wow, that was a new one! I honestly felt sick to my stomach that I had convinced our dear friends to pay the $1000 USD for this excursion which proved to be worth considerably less than what was paid! I was so unhappy that the next day I went down to the front office to complain about the experience. This is something I have never done before! Later that day I received a call from the excursions office "thanking me for my feedback." On yet another excursion we were to visit a silk factory to watch how silk is made. However, that turned out to be nothing more than a sales pitch after which we had to stand around and wait for an hour while people were encouraged to buy silk bedding. While standing around we learned that a number of people had received refunds for an excursion where they didn't get enough time to visit one of their temples. I was stunned by this news given that we spent an hour standing in the rain at a tea shop, rather than visit the scheduled lookout, but no one had ever offered us any kind of refund. I have always loved travelling with HAL but this was one of the worst experiences I have ever had on a vacation. My husband and I are not wealthy and the cost of this cruise + the multiple shore excursions was considerable. I truly felt horribly cheated by most of the shore excursions in which we participated and I am deeply disappointed and saddened by Holland America's response. We had previously booked two additional cruises with Holland America this year (one in the winter and another in the spring) and given our unpleasant experience in October we cancelled our winter cruise upon our return home. We asked that our agent tell Holland America why we were doing so and she kindly did so. I was deeply offended by the response from Holland America. They did not offer to reimburse the $100 USD each that we paid to stand in the rain at a tea shop nor did they offer any recompense for any of our other excursions. Instead they offered us some shipboard credit, NOT on the cruise we still have booked for the spring, but instead only available if we book yet another new cruise on Holland America within the next year. Wow! That is a stunning response. My husband and I are 4 Star Mariners who have enjoyed a wonderful, lengthy relationship with Holland America. However, I'm afraid this incredible response (i.e. buy yet another cruise and you will receive some extra credit) has pretty much determined that our relationship with Holland America has likely come to an end. Shame on you, Holland America. Read Less
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