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95 Holland America Hong Kong Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise ,28 days, intending to visit major cities in the far east and Japan in particular and with detail. Cruised on the Volendam sept 2016 to Alaska. Summarize this cruise as a disappointment. To begin I got sick after 5 ... Read More
I chose this cruise ,28 days, intending to visit major cities in the far east and Japan in particular and with detail. Cruised on the Volendam sept 2016 to Alaska. Summarize this cruise as a disappointment. To begin I got sick after 5 days on board. On the previous cruise sept 2016 had the same symptoms after 4 days.I can't see how it can happen unless the air conditioning system is infected. This is not a statistic fact but 5 out of 8 people seated on the same table for dinner for diner got ill. The Frans Hals lounge is very dusty and many of guest sitting in lounge were coughing all their stay. I could feel the "dust screen" from a distance. The menu in main dining room some how repeated it self to much. On sea days not enough activities on board. Chairs in Lido restaurant, seats worn out and very uncomfortable. Air conditioning in main dining room poor. Service for breakfast in main dining room very slow. Would like to praise the Indonesian hotel staff who are very smiley and offer great service. Compared to previous cruise sept 2016 ship condition deteriorated. I think the ship needs refurbishing and maintenance very urgently. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This cruise had a wonderful itinerary leaving from Hong Kong,and visiting large ports like Shanghai, Tianjin (Beijing), Incheon (Seoul) and Yokohama (Tokyo) as well as smaller ports like Nagasaki, Kagoshima ,Osaka, Naha, Jeju Island , ... Read More
This cruise had a wonderful itinerary leaving from Hong Kong,and visiting large ports like Shanghai, Tianjin (Beijing), Incheon (Seoul) and Yokohama (Tokyo) as well as smaller ports like Nagasaki, Kagoshima ,Osaka, Naha, Jeju Island , Ishigaki Island and Hososhima. The Volendam, although older, is a comfortable well-sized ship. We had a verandah stateroom which we feel is worth the extra price. The food, in general, was very good. There were interesting lectures (kudos to Master Kam) and many activities to keep people busy. The passengers were mostly in the senior age-group but most were very well-travelled and active. The service by our room stewards was wonderful, as usual on HAL. The Lido seemed understaffed with less service than on previous cruises. The staff were always friendly. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly for us. However, at some ports, particularly in Japan, there were long waits and line-ups to get off the ship. We really enjoyed the cruise and our first visit to Asia. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We choose this cruise because it was to be our first time to visit Asia. The stops were super interesting with lots of variety. We hit the cherry blossoms almost perfectly. The ship was in fine condition with the exception of the ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was to be our first time to visit Asia. The stops were super interesting with lots of variety. We hit the cherry blossoms almost perfectly. The ship was in fine condition with the exception of the seating. It seems that the springs in the chairs in the high traffic areas (LIDO, MDR, and Franz Hals lounge) have lost their springs. They're pretty uncomfortable. We ate virtually all of our meals in the LIDO so that we could control the portion sizes and eat fairly quickly. This paid off in spades as both of us did not gain any weight during the cruise. There seems to be fewer staff in the LIDO and MDR The biggest challenge I found was with the way that HAL did immigration process for the ports in which we had shore excursions. For all of the times that HAL does immigration procedures, one would think that they would have it down. I realize they don't control the local authorities and my observations are not about them. It's about HAL. Sometimes they issue priority cards (and that process is varied and flawed), one time they did it by what stateroom deck you were on (the worst), On the positive side, the embarkation in HK was the best we've ever had, and the disembarkation in Vancouver went exactly as presented. The highlight of the entertainment were two performances: Elliot Finkle and Savannah Jack. Mr. Finkle is an amazing pianist and entertainer. He's the kind of fellow you'd like to have in your home and just chat with. Savannah Jack was a 5 person band from Nashville that performed for the first time on HAL and ALL 4 shows (2 each on 2 separate days) were different. On the final night, they played to packed audiences for both 8 and 10pm shows. Normally HAL puts a low key venue in those last time slots, but they were so high energy. The service continued at HAL's typical high standards (with the immigration process exception). We traveled with a 15 year old granddaughter and it would have been nicer for her to have others of the same age. We liked the cruise so much we booked it to start in Singapore in February, 2018 and sail to Yokohama. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We just returned from the Volendam China, Japan cruise. We chose it because of the ports of call and we had been on this ship previously. We enjoyed the trip very much but have to say the time wasted getting off the ship at the different ... Read More
We just returned from the Volendam China, Japan cruise. We chose it because of the ports of call and we had been on this ship previously. We enjoyed the trip very much but have to say the time wasted getting off the ship at the different ports if you are touring independently, is a big disappointment and time wasted at the port. We did not use the dining room more than 3 times in our 2 weeks onboard because the service is so slow and the food isn't very hot when it does arrive. We ate a Lido buffet mostly. The breakfast and lunch is great there. The dinner food has the same "not hot enough" problem. One evening I was asked by a manager how our food was. I did ask him for some hot fried rice and got some. We observed that they put the food out on the buffet line at 5 pm and it doesn't open till 5;30, so that could be the problem. They do have many choices. The MIX martini bar and Ryan the bartender are super great. We were regulars there1 Most of the ports of call were fabulous with the exception of Nagasaki, which we thought wasn't very good and not enough time to really enjoy it. Shanghai and Tokyo were our favorites. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the age of the ship we think. Balcony was quite large, although we did not get to use it much. Very smoggy for most of the cruise. Crew was really outstanding from cabin stewards to officers. Always willing to assist with smiles. Did not take in much entertainment, but did enjoy a flutist from Scotland and the trio in the Ocean Bar was really good. Port presentations were excellent. Pool was heated, which was nice. The buffet was very good and never terribly crowded. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. The crew was especially outstanding in their handling of the required immigration inspections at several of the ports. Those are always a pain, due to the local authorities, but the crew made them bearable. The ports were each fascinating in their own ways. We booked our own private tours in Shanghai and Beijing through a company called China Highlights. Had a guide, private car, and driver. So glad we did that as guides were really excellent. Only tour we did via Holland America was in Seoul and it was fine. We just got off the ship and wandered on our own in Nagasaki and Kagoshima. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and ... Read More
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and the history of the area. the weather was cool to cold at times but we were prepared. Few people spent time at the pool since it was often gray and cool. Sea days were a challenge since since the weather did not encourage outdoor activities. Thankfully two wonderful bridge instructors from Canada set up duplicate bridge and I played every sea day afternoon. They were not sponsored ACBL games or from HAL but they ran a great game for 36-54 people per day. The transpacific part of this cruise really needed bridge and other indoor activities since it was cold. There was no librarian or tech person but the staff at the customer desk helped. The wifi is great now and I could download my mail in two minutes. Sending pictures took more time. We bought 1000 minutes for $250 for the 44 days and ended up with leftover minutes. We had excellent cabin attendants and even though we had select dining we established our table and and 7:15 daily. The dining room staff were very thoughtful and made sure that one of our dining companions could have s sundae no matter what was being served. They did little things to make the cruise so special. I look at the pictures and can not believe what we did and where we traveled. I never expected to be stunned by the beauty traveling through the Aleutians and the snow capped mountains And yes we saw cherry tree wonderlands in Osaka and Aomori. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing-Seoul-Nagasaki-Kagoshima-Kagoshima. Firstly, this was a "shoulder" cruise making it a bit chilly and down right cold in some ports. The balcony was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing-Seoul-Nagasaki-Kagoshima-Kagoshima. Firstly, this was a "shoulder" cruise making it a bit chilly and down right cold in some ports. The balcony was almost useless. Wish I had selected a cheaper cabin and used the extra money on excursions, wifi, beverages and the many other ways they find to increase your bill once on board. Entertainment was poor with the exception of the Shanghai Acrobats. Other shows were not worth going to and many people walked out. Not sure who they thought would be interested in harmonica players as an evening show. Even most movies shown on board had English subtitles and we left because we could not read, watch and enjoy. The public rooms were not usually crowded and were comfortable. Many people on the ship were doing back to back sailings and would be on board for 28 or more days. I was very ready to head home after 14 days. Food became repetitive and in spite of the effort HAL put into trying to prevent the spread of illness, my husband was sick for the last five days. In the main dining room, there was always a huge wait between appetizers and main course. We were at open seating so I am not sure if it was the same if you were in the assigned tables. For the most part, the food was good. In the Lido, the buffet option, I found it annoying to have to search for a table and often to have to bus it and find our own silverware and napkins. The staff working was very busy and trying hard but clearly it was understaffed. When you have numerous small plates to carry, you either need a tray(not available) or staff to help you get it to the table(also not available for the most part). After two weeks, I found the buffet to be repetitive but we tended to eat most of our meals there(breakfasts, lunches and half the dinners) But the food there was prepared to order and hot. The lines were confusing (People coming from both sides) but the wait was not too long. We did use room service and found it to be good. The menu was limited but you could also request anything on the current dining room menu which they did not advertise. . We found the excursions expensive. But if you did not book with them, you were delayed significantly in disembarking so it really cut into the time you had to do any tours. Several of our stops were a long distance from the city of interest (Beijing, Seoul,Tokyo) so it almost forced you to do their tours so you knew you would be back in time. We used the fitness center most mornings. There was a water fountain but a water dispenser with cups would have been much better. Plus, I did not appreciate that many of the classes, (spin, yoga) were not free. I attended a fitness lecture and walked out as it was one of the worst on board experiences I have ever had. When I left the lecture, there were only two people left. Everyone else had already left and apparently had similar opinions of it. Bottom line, we had a good time. I am glad I got the cruise at a discount price as it would not have be worth it for full brochure price. Would I sail HAL again? Yes if the price was right and I would know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we weren’t disappointed at all stopping off in China, South Korea and Japan. As first time cruisers and just turned 50 we were some of the youngest couples on board with the average age ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we weren’t disappointed at all stopping off in China, South Korea and Japan. As first time cruisers and just turned 50 we were some of the youngest couples on board with the average age of the guests around the 70+ age group mark. In fairness the cruise was targeted towards this group and a mainly American audience followed by the Aussies and Canadians. Only 124 Brits on board !!!!! The ship and cabins were very good in our opinion but we cannot compare to any rival. Rooms cleaned very efficiently and to a high standard by out 2 stewards.The food was spot on mostly with a great choice however the Lido self service restaurant is very much hit and miss with over dry and cold food served very often in the evening. The main Dining room “The Rotterdam” was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Entertainment was generally of a poor standard from the on board production and I have seen better at my kids school play!! The guest entertainers were however very good and of high quality which included a magician, comedian, juggler and rock violinist. Most nights there were two showings and always a seat available. The Excursions were badly organised and a royal rip off for what they were. We found that the meals served were of a quality that was too be desired and best left to a night out having drunk 10 pints of beer !!!! It seems that that they inflate the prices and squeeze everything to make as much money as possible. Shame as the itinerary for the excursions were not at all bad. We had 2 days in Beijing ( note the ship docks in Tianjin which is 2.5 hours from Beijing) and completed 2 excursions with very early starts. We could have done the same excursions and fitted more with an overnight stay in a 4* star hotel for less than half of the price Holland and America are charging. My advice is go independent as we have learnt a very harsh lesson on this. Activities on board were generally poor and very scarce on sea days which meant we were bored and Holland and America need to get their act together if they want to entice a new and younger client but then we got the impression that they look after their high value return guests and do not bother or incentivise new guests. There seems to be a speech and education programme targeted to the older demographic on board. The whole cruise is very much a hard sell culture and you pay and I mean pay for everything at inflated rates plus a service charge even if I go and get things myself. The crew in general very warm and welcoming with the exception of a few in the spa area who were miserable and non engaging and the Captain of the ship who walked around the ship acting as if he were GOD and ignoring all guests other than the big spending regular Americans. All in all it was a pleasant first cruise with good food let down by a lack of sea day activities and overinflated prices. Finally although I have not been on any other cruise ship I would not consider Holland and America to be a premium brand imho from the experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Was a great cruise, missed one port because of bad weather. We stayed in Keelung, Taiwan an additional night to make up for it. Cruise Director Bruce was very good, Jeremy, the ports of call guide, was excellent, service was fantastic, ... Read More
Was a great cruise, missed one port because of bad weather. We stayed in Keelung, Taiwan an additional night to make up for it. Cruise Director Bruce was very good, Jeremy, the ports of call guide, was excellent, service was fantastic, menu selection in Lido Buffet could have been better, food was excellent though, entertainment was pretty good. They even had some local entertainment come on board at some ports, which added some local color and flavor. Embarkation and disembarkation was simple and quick. The only hassle of the cruise was all the passport meetings and documentation that was needed what with going into and leaving five different countries in a matter of four weeks. As far as the itinerary, we could have stayed in Yokohama, the port city for Tokyo, overnight. One day was just not enough time to explore a large city like that. The shuttle buses provided by HAL in most of the ports was a very nice feature. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some ... Read More
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some really interesting bustling Asian cities . The excursions were hit and miss . We rented a car with driver and guide from holland america for both days in Shanghai and Beijing. It was ridiculously expensive but worth it. A couple of tips about seeing Shanghai and Beijing this way. We got Chinese currency before we left home but still ran out of cash because we forgot touring this way doesn't take into account admission fees or tips . Also,when we booked the car and guide for 2 days in Beijing it was well worth our while to also book a hotel in Beijing because it's a 2 1/2 hour drive from the cruise terminal in Tianjin to Beijing . Sheraton hotel in Beijing was beautiful and cheap $163 US per night and included a wonderful breakfast . Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Last January I traveled from Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendaam. I have thought long and hard about this review, and I tried to contact someone at Holland America to talk about it, but I got no response better than a brush off ... Read More
Last January I traveled from Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendaam. I have thought long and hard about this review, and I tried to contact someone at Holland America to talk about it, but I got no response better than a brush off "You reported a sharp zip", which is an untruth. It is possible that they did act on my correspondence; if so, they gave no indication of that, so here it is. My concerns were about poor maintenance and safety. The poor maintenance applied to all parts of the ship. It was very cold throughout the ship for the first few days, people were leaving the dining room to go back and fetch their coats. Anyone with an engineering training kept noticing maintenance tasks that were just not being doing done when they should - engineers are trained to actively look for problems, it becomes a habit. The Lido area was in such a bad way that it just looked tatty. I did raise the issue with the front desk, and with the Lido manager (I think he said he was) but nothing got done. The overwhelming impression I received was that the Maintenance Department was seriously under staffed, or dreadfully badly managed. That was only disappointing. Then we got to Halong Bay and went ashore on a Tender. These Tenders have zip panels (4 in all) in sides for entry and exit which are a vital component of the Tender in a heavy sea. A heavy sea is what you will be in if the ship sinks and has to be abandoned, so it really matters. A heavy sea is what the Tender will find itself in, if during the 10 minute journey to shore it gets caught in a vicious sudden squall (it happens). If the panels don't zip up securely the water floods into the boat and passengers will get washed away. People will probably die. On this particular Tender the zips on the rear port side panel were completely shot, large sections of teeth missing, zip stitching failed and coming away from the canvas. There was no way that panel could have been closed, at all, not even slightly. It was appalling that passengers were being sent out in that boat, it was appalling that the seamen manning the Tender were apparently un-aware of its dangerous state, and were surprised when I pointed it out. It begged the question of who was responsible for ensuring this Tender was in a safe condition. As far as I could work out - no one. OK, one Tender, they got a report, I assumed that they would do what any organization would that has any kind of a safety culture, if one was wrong they would fix it and go round and check all the others. That is what you do, that is safety 101, and if you don't do that sooner or later, you get a serious accident. Then we went by Tender into Danang. This tender had similar problems (forward port side) in that the stitching had failed in three places. If a wave hit that weakened stitching it would rip the rest of it open in moments, and again people would likely be washed overboard. So bad stitching, shouldn't have happened. But it's worse that that. Those tenders are constructed as two fibreglass sections (top and bottom) joined together to form a monocoque structure. In the centre is a 2 metre high vertical steel square section that holds the steering gear and cabling up to the steering wheel on a mezzanine area. That square section also helps to hold the roof up and is an integral part of the strength of the roof of the Tender, the strength of the roof of the Tender that will be vital if a wave lands on it in a storm. The box section was formed from a C (aka U) channel with a plate screwed onto the front with screws every 15cms. That precisely regular distance between the screws tells you that the Engineer who designed the structure calculated how close together the screws need to be to get the full strength of a Box section, and not just the much weaker C section behind it. But most of the screws were missing. Clearly a maintenance worker had taken the plate off and when putting it back again decided he didn't need all those screws to hold a covering plate in place, and didn't bother with two thirds of them. But it's not a covering plate, it's a structural element; it really matters. Further there were no screws at all at the L bend at the bottom (where they were not conveniently accessible), which would be the most likely fracture point because bends are always a weak point. This was not a recent phenomenon. The empty screw holes had been over painted. So a maintenance engineer didn't do their job properly, whoever signed off that work didn't do their job, the Tender has subsequently undergone further maintenance, and the person who painted it didn't say "This isn't right", and whoever signed off that paint job didn't notice anything either. Further the dozens of seamen who have manned that Tender since haven't noticed or haven't commented. In the airline industry where safety is taken seriously any one of these people would have been sacked on the spot, immediate dismissal, and all their past work reviewed. But what does that mean for the sea worthiness of the Tender? Could it survive a heavy sea? Nobody knows; it is as simple as that, nobody knows. Unless you go back to the original designer's calculations, who will have designed for the roof to not collapse under a certain force (i.e. a great big wave landing on it), and put in a C channel to replace the Box section that was designed, you just don't know. It might be OK, it might not. Probably not, if it was OK without them the designer wouldn't have bothered with all those screws. Nobody designs in cost that isn't needed. So there we have it, it might be OK it might not, nobody's bothered. That seems to be the attitude to safety on the Volendaam. On the other hand, I hand traveled on the Zaandam the year before and found nothing to fault; nothing. How can two ships in the same company be so completely different? Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We are a 3 star Mariner with Holland America working towards our 4 star. We go away every winter and liked the itinerary of this cruise. We were on for a total of 42 days. We like to listen to the piano and violin entertainment with a ... Read More
We are a 3 star Mariner with Holland America working towards our 4 star. We go away every winter and liked the itinerary of this cruise. We were on for a total of 42 days. We like to listen to the piano and violin entertainment with a martini before dinner. Adagio, Andreea and Alexandru were fantastic. The food on this ship has slipped. The worst French Onion soup I have ever had. The service at dinner was very slow and the food often arrived cold. We like to eat breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck aft however this ship offered no service for these tables. That is no juice or coffee in the morning and nothing at lunch. We often had to get our own cutlery and clear a space at the tables. We used to enjoy the Culinary Centre and related activities however now Holland America has invited America's Test Kitchen to do the shows and they are very dry and poorly presented. Plus there are no samples. This is a big mistake on Holland America's part. We like Holland America however it seems evident that there is some serious cost cutting going on, at least on this ship. We will never book the Volendam again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose the cruise for 2 reasons. To experience the Brand with a view to using them again and to see the destinations on this trip. That was - Hong Kong down to Indonesia. The ship is dated and the air con is ferocious everywhere. People ... Read More
We chose the cruise for 2 reasons. To experience the Brand with a view to using them again and to see the destinations on this trip. That was - Hong Kong down to Indonesia. The ship is dated and the air con is ferocious everywhere. People were in the show lounge each night with outdoor coats on. Whilst some people do stick to the dress code, it is not encouraged and there are people in the dining room with jeans and Tshirts at dinner. The food was good initially but was quickly repetative and the standard dropped after the first fortnight. The cost of the trips is eye watering and the ship docks at container ports and long distances away from the featured destinations. It is then necessary to take their trips as the time schedules for departures are tight and there is a danger of not being back on time if you decide to go independently.Many people complained about this as this cruise was all about the destinations! We chose an ocean view cabin but were very disappointed as the noise from the next cabin was terrible. After enquiries it turned out to be 4 children aged 8 and 12 years who were in the cabin alone and unsupervised. Reception refused to move us stating the ship was full. This was untrue as it was not full at that time. We then had to wait to the end of the first leg of the voyage and pay for an upgrade to get the peace we were entitled. Reception saw no problem with 4 children alone in a room. THIS IS VERY BAD HOLLAND AND AMERICA. The entertainment was often poor with much repetition and weak resident singers.They need a new cruise director. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Usually, when we get off a cruise, we wonder how we will endure everyday life without a room steward or all those wonderful meals that magically appear. After this cruise, 14 days on Holland America’s Volendam from Hong Kong to ... Read More
Usually, when we get off a cruise, we wonder how we will endure everyday life without a room steward or all those wonderful meals that magically appear. After this cruise, 14 days on Holland America’s Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore, we didn’t find the transition back to day-to-day life difficult. For the most part, we found nearly everything okay on the cruise along with a few glitches. Today okay isn’t enough for us and especially for the experienced cruisers we met on the Volendam. The whole time we were onboard, we couldn’t help but remember Holland America’s history and the high standards set in years gone by. Those glory days are gone and Holland America’s standards are different now, perhaps because the cruise line is now part of Carnival Corporation. We boarded the ship in Hong Kong after a seemingly never ending 17 hour flight from Los Angeles. Exhausted, once we boarded the ship we stumbled through the day and the mandatory safety drill. We quietly sailed out of Hong Kong harbor during dinner heading for ports in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It was a comforting feeling to know that tomorrow we had a leisurely day at sea and wouldn't set foot on land until our first port of call in two days. The ship, despite its size, runs surprisingly quiet. Walking out on deck you hear the whoosh of the wind and the smack of the waves against the hull. After a while the sounds become a soothing white noise. Weather did not cooperate during the transit to our first port of call, Halong Bay, Vietnam. Through the cooler than normal temperatures, fog, rain and gale force winds, there weren’t the usual passengers on deck marveling at the area's dramatic beauty. Some hardier passengers wrapped themselves in blankets and relaxed on the deck chairs under cover on Lower Promenade deck. On the five days at sea, passengers relaxed and enjoyed the comforts of our floating hotel. Our itinerary for most of the cruise was a day in port and then a day at sea. On the at-sea days, on-board activities ranged from tai chi, to trivia and karaoke challenges, to meetings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some of the activities that in days gone by were free now have a fee. You could indulge at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, a fully equipped gym, (covered) tennis and basketball courts, two pools (one with a retractable roof) and hot tubs, performances by a comedian, and range of singers and dancers, several bars, a nightclub, movie theatre, library, an internet cafe, casino and duty free shops. Digital workshops on board help you learn about your computer and digital camera and software that would help you with both, while the Culinary Arts Centre featured cooking demonstrations which focused on the cuisines of our ports of call. Children between the ages of 3 and 17 are cared for in Club HAL, which has three age-specific areas stocked with games, toys, movies and activities to amuse younger travelers for hours. We tried to experience as much as we could - the seminar on folding towels into animals which the stateroom stewards do every night as part of the turn-down service was a highlight. Days at sea seem to revolve around the serious business of eating. To get the full cruise ship experience, it was our mission to attend at least one tea time held in the afternoon at the Explorer’s Lounge. The day we attended, there was a boisterous drink tasting held next to the tea time location. The antics of the drink tasting infringed on what should have been a relaxing atmosphere. Some people left disappointed. Not only was there noise, there were not enough seats for all who wanted to attend. And since the turnout was larger than expected, getting tea or pastries took much longer than it should. That experience isn’t the end of the world. But it shows the difference between Holland America in years gone by and today. Maybe that is why passenger loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Speaking with passengers, many who sailed on Holland America frequently, the reason they chose this cruise was the itinerary and price. For many cruisers, there no longer seems to be a loyalty to brand. To us it seemed that Holland America doesn’t give past passengers much incentive to sail on the cruise line again. On port days, there’s a range of excursions at a variety of costs or you can venture out on your own. Due to our size, we could only sail in the South China Sea. The ship was too large to dock in the heart of the cities of Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu My, Sihanoukville and Bangkok. Instead we docked at commercial ports among cranes unloading cargo ships and trucks picking up containers. Not seeing lovely towns or the scenic countryside while in port was disappointing but not a deal-breaker. One down side was that in most of the ports you had to pay for a shuttle or bus fare into town which for the longer trips was pricey. The bus trip could take two hours or more one-way to get to Bangkok or Hanoi, which used up a big chunk of port time. The cost of shore excursions was one of the biggest complaints we heard from fellow passengers. Since many were seasoned cruisers, here are a few of their ideas and strategies. 1. Avoid shore excursions that include a meal as there is usually a big price premium for the meal and the meal is mediocre at best. For instance, the Halong Bay cruise tour with lunch was $99.95 per person. Without lunch, the tour was $64.95 per person. 2. Check the cruise boards, such as Cruise Critic, and ask past passengers for independent tour recommendations. This needs to be done as early as possible. Our passenger informer booked all her tours online a month or two before the cruise and had several great tour experiences for half the price. 3. The three-day Angkor Watt and Saigon excursion was a whopping $2,899 per person (you can buy an eight-day land tour with airfare for half that cost). A savvy cruiser made his own arrangements for his group of fellow travelers. His travel agent arranged the same tour at the end of the cruise. In Singapore, the group flew into Siem Rep and stayed at a local hotel. Their Angkor Watt excursion cost them one-third of what Holland America charged for the excursion. 4. Wing it on your own. At many ports there are tour representatives roaming the docks. Just make sure you have plenty of time to get back onto the ship in case a bus or car breaks down or encounters traffic snarls. Little things seem to irritate long time cruisers. A number of passengers commented that Holland America now charges for things that were previously included. For instances, some classes in the fitness center now have a charge as do specialty coffees such as lattes and cappuccinos. In fact the Explorations Cafe by the computer center offers pastries and coffees, all at an extra charge. Not to mention the upcharge premium restaurants, the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto Restaurant. Another irritant for long time cruisers is comparing what your cruise line offers compared to another cruise. At Koh Samui, Thailand, the Volendam and a Princess Cruises ship both were in port the same day. Both ships had a covered waiting area at the pier so passengers can wait for the next tender. Holland America passengers noticed and commented that at the pier waiting area they were offered water and lemonade. Princess Cruises offered their passengers water, ice tea, lemonade and snacks such as cupcakes, fresh pineapple and coconut water. Dinner time was always a chance to try new foods or relish tried-and-true favorites. On the Voldendam, the two level Rotterdam Dining Room offers two dining options: dine “As you Wish” on the lower level any time from 5:15 to 9:00 p.m. Here you can choose to dine alone or with other passengers – your choice. The upper level offers the two traditional sittings at 5:45 or 8 p.m. at assigned tables. We selected a table for eight on the upper level and were lucky to be seated with six delightful table mates. We still keep in contact long after the cruise. Evening shows in the Frans Hals showroom are timed to the two sittings in the main dining room. Other dining options include the Lido Deck restaurant, which also serves breakfast and lunch and for-a-fee alternative restaurants such as the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto. For the most part, we found the 600-plus staff, largely made up of Filipinos and Indonesians, patient and friendly. Our dining room service for dinner was on the mark and consistently good. But breakfast and lunch service in the main dining room was inconsistent and disappointing. The staff in the main dining area ran around distracted as if they were unsure what to do. At times they simply disappeared. Servers came to our table and refilled the men’s coffee cups but completely ignored the women. This happened on several occasions. We were told many new servers came onboard when we did in Hong Kong. Maybe they had communication problems, or they didn’t know their duties or were tired from the long hours. Whatever the reason, we spoke with many people who left the main dining room after breakfast or lunch complaining and rethinking sailing on Holland America again. Breakfast in the Lido Restaurant wasn’t much better. It wasn’t the food, it was the staff and set-up. During breakfast, staff served and/or prepared the hot food for the Lido buffet. It was typical for long lines to form waiting for food and waiting for a table to open up. Waits of 10 to 15 minutes for food were common. Plus, there was no designation of where the line started. On several occasions, rude people cut in at the front of the line and arguments ensued. If you forgot something or wanted seconds, you had to face standing in line again. Things were particularly bad when the ship was in port and many people wanted to eat breakfast at the same time because they were heading out on excursions. The best solution was to order room service the night before. In tribute to the Southeast Asia itinerary by the covered pool on Lido deck, the area was transformed into an Asian food stall market for lunch and dinner one day. Even though we were at sea, it felt as if we were eating street food in Bangkok or Saigon sampling pha, exotic fruits, noodles, and Pad Thai. If you aren’t into Asian food, the Dive-In Restaurant still served burgers during lunch and the Rotterdam dining room offered a regular menu with a couple Asian specialties. Most of the people onboard won’t be youthful. These mature people were well- traveled and had lots of interesting travel insights to share. Everyone wasn’t a senior citizen. There were younger couples, singles and families on board: several couples with a toddler kids, a families with elementary school age kids and a number of families with teen age kids. Our room steward was attentive but the cabin had some short falls. We were assigned a handicapped accessible cabin on the lowest deck, Dolphin Deck – not our choice or request. The difference is that a wheelchair can wheel into the bathroom and shower. The cabin had two twin beds. If you wanted the beds placed together to form a queen bed, a wheel chair had trouble getting by the dresser and getting to one of the wardrobes. It wasn’t the best thought out design for a handicapped accessible cabin. Although the bathroom had a good amount of space because a wheel chair had to roll into it, there was little space on the bathroom vanity for toiletries. The medicine cabinet by the vanity offered little storage (poor design). The two wardrobes in the cabin had doors, rather than open space. One of the wardrobes was in the same space as access the bathroom. That meant if you had the wardrobe door open you couldn’t get into the bathroom. And if you opened the wardrobe door when someone was in the bathroom, they were trapped. A fridge was not available in the room, although an ice bucket was provided. There wasn’t a light stand on the bedside cabinets but a light was positioned above the bed. The design of the light switches over the bed made the controls difficult to find at night. And we accidently pushed the button for the front desk more than once. Since the Volendam is an older ship, launched in 1999 and most recently refurbished in 2014, in the next refurbishing go-round, it would be beneficial if more outlets are added in public rooms and cabins. We are in an electronic age where people travel with laptops, tablets, smart phones and cameras – all devices that must be recharged. Our cabin had one receptacle located near the dresser. There was a receptacle built into a non-functioning wall mounted hair dryer, but neither the receptacle or hair dryer worked. The dresser location was convenient to recharge electronics but an awkward place to plug in a hairdryer. Every day, we did the co-ordination dance, timing when our laptops, smart phones and cameras had to be charged. Lower Promenade deck cabins with large windows or sliding glass doors onto the deck are some of the more expensive cabins. We found that people who paid the premium price for those cabins did not get the full benefit due to their location. The Lower Promenade deck is the only deck that lets you walk completely around the ship on the outside. That means people are continuously walking around the deck as 3 ½ laps equaled a mile. Many passengers got their exercise by walking. The passengers who paid a premium for promenade deck cabins kept their curtains down and drawn shut as privacy and noise was an ongoing issue. A number of passengers seemed frustrated with the self-service laundry and commented that it was purposely ill-conceived so you use the expensive on-board laundry service. The main complaint was there was no change machine. Instead you must go to the Purser’s desk for change where there was usually a wait. Additionally, the washers and dryers were small and would only fit several pieces of clothes. What you thought would be one load turned out to be two loads. The laundry was also a source for conflict as some passengers put their clothes in the washers and/or dryers and left. On their return, they discovered waiting passengers took their completed loads of clothes out and placed them in laundry baskets because the owners were not around. This led to heated discussions on several occasions. The Voldendam can use some refreshing. A few areas on the ship are looking old and worn. Hallways walls in some places were scraped and gouged. Carpets were worn in several areas. During our cruise, the carpets were being replaced on some of the stair wells. Regardless the public rooms throughout the ship were still comfortable, with hidden nooks ideal for quiet reading time or intimate conversation. Holland America today can’t compare with Holland America of yesteryear. Even with the cons we experienced sailing on the Volendam, the cruise was pleasant and the routine was low-key and casual. All in all okay. But not the luxurious, pampering experience of years gone by. Your best strategy may be what many of the passengers did - wait until Holland America runs one of their deal promotions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My Volendam experience overall was positive . The Indonesia and Far East discovery cruise was perfect length of time to experience the flavour of SE Asia. As a single traveler I found the itinerary and the price reasonable. This was my ... Read More
My Volendam experience overall was positive . The Indonesia and Far East discovery cruise was perfect length of time to experience the flavour of SE Asia. As a single traveler I found the itinerary and the price reasonable. This was my second HAL experience and it was a great way to embrace cruising in a safe and interesting way. I cannot comment about the ship other than to say it was clean and other than minor floods in the theatre ( no kidding) the crew fixed the problem. One of the things I observed was the Captains commitment to safety of the passengers. I loved having a cabin to myself. The stateroom stewards were great. I had a problem with a noisy fan in the bathroom and it was fixed promptly. I did not go on the cruise for the dinners but I thought the dining room staff were polite and accommodating. Some more helpful than others but all in all great. the food was not rock and roll wonderful but the special dinners were very nice. I had dinner in the cannetello and was underwhelmed - waste of money. maybe I went of a bad night. My favourite entertainment was the Adagio group they were a treasure. I went once or twice to the theatre shows - it was a hit or miss. some people loved the shows I was sorry I missed the mime. I heard he was wonderful. Barry from Boston grew a following in the evenings. he is goofy bold and has a huge repertoire of music he was talented at engaging everyone in sing alongs. He also was kookie in the kiss the fish event. the activities on the boat were fun, lots of people enjoyed then, The singles event coordinator was wonderful she also hosted some cooking shows lots of interesting ideas lots of fun. I liked the lectures in the Indonesian leg of the trip there were not too many ( it would have added a lot to that leg of the trip) the second leg was terrific, we had Tai chi and chi gong classes, history of china, fantastic Phil gave special sessions in the Hudson lounge. We were informed about Buddha, food and cultural characteristics of people. The special martini events were fun too. the gym was clean and the staff in the gym were very helpful. Service was good. the staff at the front desk were great. The Ports - thank goodness for cruise critic . the trips I participated in through cruise critic were wonderful the excursions the I took through HAL were because of the 2 hour drive back and forth from the location to the Ship. Boroduru was wonderful, the HAL bus trip was terrible the use tried to squeeze too many people into too little space . So the stop mid way at the Eva cafe was good the World heritage site was amazing I loved it . the dinner provided was delicious.coming back we stopped at a silver factory it was okay. we had a police escort to get to and from Boroduru. Other people that took private tours got back in time they just took other roads. the trip to AYATHUYA was interesting It was TOO expensive and I would not recommend it. the ship takes two to two and a half hours to get into Bangkok. I was hoping to get some shopping in but the Ayatthuya trip did not allow for that. the elephant ride was okay, I had had enough of Kenny our guide by 2 hours into the trip. waste of money waste of my time. Day two was more interesting the trip on the river, the grand palace was lovely still no time to shop. when you have only a few hours to sleep who need such an expensive hotel? Bottom line just take the shuttle in to Bangkok and do it on your own. Halong Bay was through HAL and I would recommend this trip. lovely and wonderful. Tommy tours in Da Nang is wonderful. I have written a review in trip advisor . loved that day. In Bali we had a driver Mertee from drivers with distinction that showed us around the island. He was fun accommodating and a terrific person to give us an overview of Bali. I would also recommend him. Our private tour in lombock was great. we saw all kinds of temples I joined another cruise critics tour and I cannot find the operators name, but it was very good. Gokomodo tours was good. also arranged trough cruise critic. this was the only place that I made a mistake. there were lots of kids and one darling boy came up begging, he said he had no mother or father I gave him some fruit. right away I had 1 million kids surrounding me. our tour operator said this was a typical strategy kids use. and that he most likely had parents. Viet nam wonderful but crowded. Jakarta dirty and smoggy Singapore - I would go in a heartbeat. that orchid garden in amazing would I go again ? Maybe to revisit some sites and other new ones. I would definitely have more confidence to go on my own. The other travellers you meet are great. all have a variety of background experience. they are also a treasure. all in all those are some of my thoughts on my adventure. all best Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Overall it was an enjoyable cruise and trip, however, some things made the overall experience a little sour. What we enjoyed: the destinations and the ship amenities and food service. What was quite poor: The guest relations. ... Read More
Overall it was an enjoyable cruise and trip, however, some things made the overall experience a little sour. What we enjoyed: the destinations and the ship amenities and food service. What was quite poor: The guest relations. McDonald's treats its customer better. Before we embarked we called the guest relations to get an address for where the ship was in port. The lady on the phone gave us the wrong address! We had to pay extra taxi fee to get to the correct destination. And had to find it and navigate with no phone or internet service. Which, in a foreign country is quite difficult to say the least. We also had a poor experience with guest relations after the cruise. My iPhone was misplaced the second to last day of the cruise and not found so we put our name on the lost and found items list. Of course it never showed up before we disembarked. I contacted the cruise line 2 weeks after the cruise asking if it had been found or turned in and they responded they had not found it. Well a week later they email me with a picture of the phone asking me if it was the correct phone and it was. So I said hooray please ship to my address. Well, it has been over a month since then and still no phone. I have emailed two times requesting some update or status and have not received an answer. My suspicion is that my phone was not "misplaced", but was stolen by the crew. But because I protect my phone with pin and password the member was not able to hack into it and eventually gave up and turned it in. I scoured everywhere I was the night I lost it, it had to have been taken by someone. So, anyway, we won't be using Holland America Cruise Line for any future cruises simply because of the guest relations. We love cruise travel and never have had anything like this as far as overall customer service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise mainly to get a taste of Vietnam and we were not disappointed. We checked our ports and shore excursions on Trip Advisor and selected shore excursion with both HAL and private providers according to what we wanted ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly to get a taste of Vietnam and we were not disappointed. We checked our ports and shore excursions on Trip Advisor and selected shore excursion with both HAL and private providers according to what we wanted to see. We were originally allocated ocean view cabin 3318 but pre cruise that changed to 3366 which was more mid ships and adjacent to stairs and lifts. The cabin was compact but well laid out. Plenty of storage. The bed was comfortable but the cabin was warm . The air conditioning did not provide adequate air flow no matter what setting was selected on the control. There was occasional noise at night from above as well (galley?) There is no minibar but a refrigerator can be hired for $2.00 per day. The trouble is there is no where convenient to locate it. We Also experienced hot spots rhrough the ship including the main dining room, level 4 starboard side. WIFI on board was too expensive. We only connected during shore excursions. Our other concern was the lack of entertainment around the bars and pool areas through the day and pre dinner time. The ship was quiet and more suited to over 65's. Other on board activities were plentiful. I availed myself of all Microsoft Windows 10 classes and found them most helpful. The food and service in all areas that we visited was 5 star. The food and beverage stewards and customer service staff were well trained, friendly and extremely accomodating. The onboard band and singers put on great shows. Other entertainers were average at best except for the comedian who put on an excellent show. Our overall impression was that HAL had their hand in our wallets all the time. We would probably choose Celebrity for our next cruise as we have found they provide one or two inclusions that make a difference such us a standard drinks package or wifi packages. We also did not appreciated the mandatory daily gratuity fee of $12.50US per passenger. We would much rather have the option of tipping, or paying it as part of the initial ticketing cost. Seeing it appear daily on our on board account was annoying. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The ship was looking great & wonderful service which Holland America is noted for. Loved the itinerary we sailed. Wish they allowed more time in Cambodia to make it worth the Visa fees while in Cambodia. Considering it was just a ... Read More
The ship was looking great & wonderful service which Holland America is noted for. Loved the itinerary we sailed. Wish they allowed more time in Cambodia to make it worth the Visa fees while in Cambodia. Considering it was just a "stop" to pick up guests who went to Angkor Wat days before. Everyone on the ship had to pay for the Cambodian Visa regardless if staying on the ship or getting off. Would have given a 5 rating if the food had been better. In the dining room the food looked like it stayed under the heat lamps way too long. Very tired looking & not fresh. Buffet food a bit better, but not by much. Best French fries on the pool deck!! Entertainment has never been a strong suite with HAL. Sadly it still isn't . . . Still our favorite cruise line for more of the positives we enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose Holland America as were impressed with their publicity and thought we would like a little luxury as the cruise lasted for 24 days. Embarkation was the first disappointment as we were not given any cabin number unitl we booked ... Read More
We chose Holland America as were impressed with their publicity and thought we would like a little luxury as the cruise lasted for 24 days. Embarkation was the first disappointment as we were not given any cabin number unitl we booked in due to us paying extra for a balcony suite. We were also told that we would have to take our own luggage aboard and were not even assisted when onboard. The cabin was a good size however the drains on the balcony appeared to be blocked which caused the balcony to flood during rain and in a reasonable swell. Although notified of the problem they tried to rectify the matter once and then ignored it completely. Meals were basic and if you wished to dine in the Rotterdam Restaurant there was a wait of between 20 to 30 minutes before you were given a table. There was not Captains welcome aboard for new guests or any introduction of senior staff members. The ship berthed in ports which were some distance from our intended destinations and guests were charged for shuttle services except where the Harbour Authority supplied these. There was approximately a 2 hour bus trip from the port to Saigon and bangkok and appeared as though ports were a cost cutting exercise. Tours arranged by the ship were very expensive and it was a lot cheaper to obtain a taxi at the wharf plus the drivers had a better knowledge of the areas. Very little information was given by the ship to guests who wished to visit areas independently and very few maps were available of the ports. Life boat drill was poorly organised with very elderly people having to stand on the deck for approx. 30 minutes. The internet was not only very expensive but was unreliable and often dropped off line for no apparent reason. Generally the ship was poorly run and could be compared to a floating hotel without the service however everything on the ship appeared to have an extra charge if you wanted anything other than a room, meals and entertainment. No fruit in room as advertised in their publicity. There was no free water in the suites and the ships price for water was over four times the charges from shops on shore. A few staff were excellent however many were not really concerned about their guests which is possibility a training issue. If you are a loyal Holland America cruiser don't bother to pay for a better suite as this will not get you any better service. A very disappointing cruise and have cruised with other companies and received much better service. Would not recommend Holland America if you wish to have a relaxing and enjoyable cruise Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Cruise companies must recognise that the world has changed and even grey cruisers are used to unrestricted free internet access. The issues concerning internet access spoils what ought to be a relaxing experience. First cruise, so ... Read More
Cruise companies must recognise that the world has changed and even grey cruisers are used to unrestricted free internet access. The issues concerning internet access spoils what ought to be a relaxing experience. First cruise, so impossible to compare to other ships or companies. Ship was about two-thirds full, so no queues and easy access to all facilities. Very relaxed. Most people go to bed at 10.30pm, so little night life. The extremely high cost of drinks might be a contributory factor. They made an error in what time to meet me at the airport, thought l should have arrived earlier, took quite an effort to persuade them to fulfill their responsibility and take me to the ship. However, the agent was extremely pleasant. All staff on the ship were polite and helpful. Food was excellent, as was the service in the Lido buffet and Rotterdam dining room. Not a lot laid on during days at sea to facilitate contact between the customers. I traveled alone and felt that the company did not recognise the needs of single passengers. The open dining facility in the semi-formal Rotterdam dining room meant that l was able to meet a wide and interesting range of people. Mixing with the elderly clientele that Holland America appeal to, was perfect for me, so the company would be high on my list for any future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our fourth relatively long cruise aboard a HAL ship. The general hotel function was fantastic as usual with good food and very friendly/helpful staff. Our Vista Suite with verandah was kept neat, tidy and clean by hard working but ... Read More
This was our fourth relatively long cruise aboard a HAL ship. The general hotel function was fantastic as usual with good food and very friendly/helpful staff. Our Vista Suite with verandah was kept neat, tidy and clean by hard working but very friendly stewards. Evening shows were in general highly entertaining. However, the services/prices on board had declined, e.g. no longer any lectures during sea days, Pinnacle restaurant extra price was suddenly $ 35 instead of the customary $ 20, bar prices even increased by $ 1 during this cruise and appetizers were not of the type that should go with drinks. Prices for excursions had become absurdly high. The gravy on any cruise is the approach and arrival in ports during (early) morning daylight hours but on this cruise and all too often we were already tied up at quays before dawn. The so called "Hotel service charges" are hidden extra costs and should be included in the advertized overall cruise price. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We have cruised with Holland America Line on 14 of their cruises on various vessels. This was our first experience on the ms Volendam. First of all, the employees on the ms Volendam, like nearly all of their sister vessels' ... Read More
We have cruised with Holland America Line on 14 of their cruises on various vessels. This was our first experience on the ms Volendam. First of all, the employees on the ms Volendam, like nearly all of their sister vessels' employees, were superb and met our expectations for the most part, with some issues noted below. Our Suite Stewards were Excellent! A. The Pinnacle Grille personnel were all superb from top to bottom, as well as the food, though the menu needs to be tweaked. We ate there three times in the 16 days we were on the ship and would have liked a little more variety, but all the food we ate was outstanding, and worth the extra expense. B. Check in and Embarkation worked extremely well in Hong Kong. C. Disembarkation in Yokohama was also seamless. D. Front Desk personnel were also superb and very very helpful. E. The Canaletto was a nice experience at minimal extra cost though we only used it once during our cruise, this time. The portions are huge and could be cut back a bit in our estimation. Problem Areas on the ms Volendam.: 1. Maintenance on the ship was not up to par in our estimation, with many many rust areas on the outside decks, and the suite we were in had scratches and nicks in the desk area and around the wooden parts of the door frames, etc. 2. Reduced man power in the main Dining Room - the Rotterdam, caused extremely slow service for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that we ate there. 3. The lack of employees stretched those that were working in the Rotterdam to the point where 30 minutes was not unusal to get the first course or the main course, which were often luke warm by the time they were served. 4. Having so few personnel also meant it was difficult to get anyone's attention when you needed something extra or something simple like a cup of coffee. 5. Though most, but not all of the shore excursions that we took (costing over US$2500 in total for two people) were well done, the cattle car experiences of waiting in the Frans Hal theater for those excursions was very difficult with inadequate seating and the shore excursion staff in the Frans Hal were treating the guests as a bunch of children on a school outing rather than as paying adults. Repeating and being loud and "pushy" is not what should have been done. They need to break up the areas for assembling to more than this one venue, which could be done if they had adequate resources to man the Frans Hal and the Explorer's Lounge, or the theater as examples. 6. The Lido food and presentations need to be monitored better though we seldom use the Lido to avoid the buffet atmosphere and the "mobs" of people clamoring for food. This ship needs a dry docking to bring it back up to par with some of the other HAL ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We were drawn to the Holland America Volendam cruise because of the itinerary. We did not take the entire 35 days, but opted for the 16 days from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The ship itself is smaller than many these days but just right for us. It ... Read More
We were drawn to the Holland America Volendam cruise because of the itinerary. We did not take the entire 35 days, but opted for the 16 days from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The ship itself is smaller than many these days but just right for us. It holds approximately 1240 passengers plus crew of course. We enjoyed a pre-cruise stay in Hong Kong for several nights at the InterContinental Hotel over looking Victoria Harbor. Absolutely a lovely hotel. We signed up for a private tour for half a day to see the highlights. A wonderful guide by the name of Dino. Embarkation was smooth as could be. Our veranda cabin was lovely and the beds extremely comfortable. Our cabin steward Handa and work mate, Roy were hard working pleasant professionals and took great care of our needs and our cabin. We enjoyed the Lido for breakfast and lunch almost every day and a few dinners. All the food was very good--wide selection and the staff was very helpful if you had questions or needed help. The Rotterdam dining room was elegant in appearance. We had the early seating and our servers were Anto and Rim. They were top notch. Kadek the maître de was truly a gentleman and ran the dining room with precision. Our only negative comment is that the food could have been server at a hotter temperature rather than simply being warm. Also, if you did not want gravy, you had to specify no gravy. Other than these two things, we were very pleased with the menu offerings and the service. This crew was hard working and aiming to please the passengers! We dined in the Pinnacle Grill and were delighted with the quality and preparation of the food! We also dined in the Cannaletto and enjoyed a delicious antipasto and entrees of pasta which were prepared to order and delicious! We attended lectures on board and also participated in Tai Chi every sea day. Simply wonderful and conducted by Ping Wing Kam, a retired dentist and scholar of Chinese history. The entertainment was varied and excellent! I think we only missed one show on the night we were in Beijing. The Explorations Café, Library and Computer Center were the hub of popularity on sea days. We loved the espressos and cappuccinos, the huge variety of books and of course liked having computer access to touch base with home. As for excursions, we booked all with HAL except for the pre and post cruise. HAL's excursions and group leaders were all excellent. The highlight for us was walking The Great Wall! Our pre-cruise excursions in Hong Kong was excellent but we were not pleased at all with the post cruise excursion in Tokyo. The "English" speaking guide was difficult to hear and to understand. She left us behind at the Imperial Palace. We were left there not knowing one word of Japanese; did not have a phone and could not find an English speaking person. We had to chase down a tour bus with our tour name on the side. The driver kindly phoned the tour office, asked them to phone our guide, had her phone this bus driver to tell where we were located and our bus came back to pick us up. Not a happy experience. Then, we find out that the tour only had provided pick up service and not drop off service so we had to hail a Taxi cab and pay almost $50 US to get back to our hotel. All in all it was a wonderful itinerary. We definitely would sail with Holland American again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and ... Read More
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and straight to our room. Nice stateroom with veranda, good staff to take care of us (Omam and Galih); they were unobtrusive but kept our place spic and span. Best cruise ever, for us. It was all about the itinerary, and having a day at sea between almost all ports, plus overnights in Shanghai and Beijing, was perfect. We'd relax a little on the days at sea and go-go-go on our days in port. The Volendam is a really nice ship, a little smaller than what we've sailed on before, but we would sail her again in a heartbeat. The ports were amazing, and we feel very lucky to have been able to see everything we did. We tend to "stay in" at night, so we can't really say anything about the entertainment, shows, etc., but when we ventured out, we were very pleased with the ship and crew. Our wait staff, Anto and Rim, were excellent and efficient. Our wine steward Carlito was super. The food was great (with one exception;r the Asian BBQ by the pool wasn't very flavorful in our opinions), and we especially loved the Pinnacle Grill. We had dinner there 2 nights PLUS one of the Le Cirque nights (outstanding, definitely have the chateaubriand) and also visited for 2 lunches (our first time having lunch in the PG and we weren't hungry for dinner that night!). The room manager was great, didn't get his name, but he was funny, personable, and chatty when it wasn't busy, and he made our visits to the restaurant special. We didn't make it to Canaletto this time around, but hope to do so on a future cruise -we DID notice the menu had changed since we were there last, and now features small plates to share as well as pasta dishes. Room service was perfect for us, and we definitely appreciated our morning coffee and pastries or more-substantial-breakfast every day. We only went "out" to breakfast once, to the Lido, and we enjoyed the crepes and the Eggs Benedict there. We had the drink package (it was a perk when we booked, too expensive to purchase otherwise, IMO) and it was great. I had wondered if the bar staff would be scarce or look down their noses to us, but we were served quickly and with great smiles. Jovan at the aft pool bar was exceptionally sweet, he was the first smiling face we saw when we got our sail-away drink upon boarding, and he was smiling any time we saw him thereafter. We only took one ship shore excursion, at the stop in Jeju, and it was good. The lineup to get off the ship at the various ports (especially for those of us who had private shore excursions set up) could have been handled better, IMO. Anyway, it was an absolutely super cruise and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
HAL is one of my favorite lines. . I like long cruises of 30 day and have already booked next year's HAL Cruise to S. AMERICA why? 1.dining room service w/ yudi was as good as the pinnacle and i tipped xtra. my roomie was gluten ... Read More
HAL is one of my favorite lines. . I like long cruises of 30 day and have already booked next year's HAL Cruise to S. AMERICA why? 1.dining room service w/ yudi was as good as the pinnacle and i tipped xtra. my roomie was gluten free and i am vegetarian.and diebetic yudi was told once and after that always asked what i wanted for my evening snack when a table became available he moved us to a window table. hal now offers a full vegetarian menu - very nice! of course, there was surf and turf on a night; lobster on another and gigantic steaks any time.the saladsandchilled fruit soups were to die for and the desserts were decedant w/ a non-sugar choice the female the female wine stewart. instead of asking again and again when we said :no" to wine .like the male stewart. instead she came every nite and enquired about our day..low key -- no pressure -- polite and friendly i only had dinner in the dining room because lunch interfered w/ my trivia game. the lido buffet was boring the chef thinks vegetarians eat pasta. luckily i like mac and cheese. but daily. once i had asian noodles and korean/japanese pickles -- yes! i am from vancouver and prefer asian food. the sushi was ho hum. a gala asian buffet held on the deck andmost enjoyed it hal decorated w/ chinese lanterns and served food in street stalls. unfortunately, no vegetarian fare. strange. many chinese. korean and japanese folk r buddhist hence vegetarian. they tried. but thy r dutch. the specialty dutch tea was british interpreted by americans. (myfather's a brit) -- the indonesian hi tea was also british altho the actual indonesian tea was terrific the server let me take some back to my cabin.great service the only disappointment is the 24 hr. room service. if u order continental all is well. tricks of trade. if u r having ci=offee for tow write "large" beside coffee. if you risk a poachd egg -- write 'soft' beside egg. the coffee was not starbucks. but drinkable the vegetarian thai wrap is delicious. but only available til 10 pm. after that vegetarians starve. cabin cleaning on par w/ other cruises -- minimal. lectures: mr. terry greenburg lectured on the history of china. japan and alaska. terrific. factural w. human elements. cultural info regarding japan wee fascinating. dr. helen ayers lectured on geology incl. ice burgs the talk on oil mining was an eye opener and really clarified the conflict regarding fraking. wonderful. pARK Rngers came on board when we entered glacier bay. i've been to alaska twice so i skipped it. down side -- cruised for 6 days over date line and changed time 1 hr fwd each day so i was in constant jet lag (time lag) then changed 2 hrs fwd just b4 vancouver. activities - mixed -- steve was a phenomenal bridge teacher for two wks, then katherine took over and she sucked windows 10 couraes helpful. dynamic and patient teacher. trivial always fun. library/wifi area the best of any line. jazzy shore manager a dud, but available to hand out maps and provide tips for those going ashore on their own did not take hal shore ex. cruised w/ craig travel and took their tours and cruise critic hal tours too expensive. cabin inside as good as an inside can be. better than ncl. carnival and princess. boarding and disembarkation smooth Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
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