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95 Holland America Hong Kong Cruise Reviews

Having cruised over 10 times and with several cruise lines we are definitely not new to cruising. Overall the itinerary made us glad that we went but Holland America seriously needs to consider what customers they are targeting. We will ... Read More
Having cruised over 10 times and with several cruise lines we are definitely not new to cruising. Overall the itinerary made us glad that we went but Holland America seriously needs to consider what customers they are targeting. We will not go with them again for 4 main reasons. 1. The crew seem to have become jaded and not as responsive to customer needs as would be expected of an industry leader. This was the first time we have felt that the crew's needs have impinged on the needs of the passengers. To keep this short just a couple of examples: this was the first time that we found crew pushing past passengers on the gangway, and on excursions with local guides running the operation a crew member was 'escorting' but they would keep the customers waiting on the bus because the only person late back after a stop was the crew 'escort'. It got so bad on one occasion that the passengers spontaneously started clapping our 'escort' when he finally appeared. 2. The food is generally poor. The good dishes are like islands in a vast sea of mediocrity. The buffet needs some serious attention as to how it can be managed better. A couple of examples of poor food: the dreadful quality of vegetables and the same two hot puddings every day for 2 weeks. 3. The passenger mix is very diverse, which could be a very good thing but there is a high percentage of non-English speaking passengers. However pro one might be of a multicultural society there is nothing more frustrating than having to spend nearly 2 hours at dinner in the evening on a table where you are not just the only ones able to speak English but you get the feeling that you are crashing a private party. 4.We all expect cruise lines to try to squeeze as much revenue out of their captive market but it went too far. A fairly high percentage of the on-board activities advertised daily were charged for. However, this was our first experience of having to pay for a shuttle bus to get to the advertised place from a sea port that was in a 'no walking zone', and too far away. It smacks of fraud to me to sell a cruise on the basis of visiting certain places but then charging US$16 per person for a round trip on a coach to be able to actually visit the location on the cruise itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our first and probably last trip with Holland America. We had previously done a 19 night trip with Cunard which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cruise ticked all the boxes when we booked. It was travelling from Hong Kong to Japan and ... Read More
This was our first and probably last trip with Holland America. We had previously done a 19 night trip with Cunard which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cruise ticked all the boxes when we booked. It was travelling from Hong Kong to Japan and was stopping at Shanghai, Beijing, Nagasaki and Osaka. The cruise was really a way of getting from Hong Kong to Osaka and the visited ports. I am just glad it was only a 14 cruise and not a 6 week cruise like Independents. My wife was ready to get off after 12 of the 14 days! We did a short independent holiday in Hong Kong first. We stayed at the Peninsula and everything was more perfect than even we expected. We then moved to the Marco Polo Hong Kong where we stayed in a continental club room. It was also good place to stay and it had the advantage of being close to the cruise terminal. A hotel porter took our luggage to the terminal and we appreciated the service. My concerns about the cruise arose on boarding when the gentleman ahead tried to collect my wife's purse and he had to be pulled away by his wife. He clearly was not with it. It soon became apparent that we were one of the few people of working age on the cruise and that the number of older cruisers on board was at an exceptionally high level. It was also apparent that it was more of a floating old peoples home than anything else. One of our friends had travelled on Holland America on a Mediterranean cruise and he had not encountered this problem. Things got off to a bad start as we were not told that there was a problem with the water. After my wife had a shower the face washer was very brown. We are not used to brown water where we live and it is not something that you should have to endure on your cruise. It took days for the problem to be acknowledged and it had not been resolved by the time we disembarked. My wife's experience with the front office in relation to this was very negative. Dining was another experience. We ended up giving up asking for a table for two in the Rotterdam dining room as it was invariably unavailable without an extended wait. Nor were we able to secure a reservation for a table for two. The treatment we received from the staff member allocating the tables is almost identical to that noted by a previous reviewer. That is, almost a sense of pleasure in saying that a table was not available despite us then walking past vacant tables for two. The range of meals and the quality of meals was below expectations as was the service. However, it tended to better than the food in the Lido which was more in the way of institutional food. The chicken was overcooked and the curries undercooked. The food was quite bland, which might be a reflection of what it is thought the target market want. Then again, it might be what they do want. After returning from the Beijing excursion where not surprisingly, Chinese banquet food was served, one traveller remarked how nice it was to come back to 'real food'. The fruit was problem. It was either too ripe or too unripe. When we were in Beijing there was a vendor's cart at the Tomb and they had a really nice range of fresh fruit. I would have liked some of it as what was on the boat was not great. We did go to the Pinnacle Grill and it was a real contrast. The food and the service was what you would expect of an up-market restaurant. If we were on the boat any longer I suspect we would have eaten there more even though you have to pay extra to eat there. Unlike the Cunard cruise, there was minimal to be offered in the way of intellectual stimulation. Lectures about gems etc were really not so thinly veiled sales pitches. Nor would I count casino activities as such activities. We paid for nearly all the Holland America shore excursions and while there were some issues that ought to be addressed they were good. We paid top dollar to stay in Beijing overnight.The main issue is that some of the passengers who had mobility issues did not seem to understand the Holland America brochures. Some wag suggested that the three people sign stood for "needs three carers to push you". They did not understand that structures built in a time before lifts and escalators have access and mobility issues associated with them and that it is not easy with a walking frame on cobble stones. They are also world heritage listed so it is not as though lifts and escalators could be installed without desecrating these sites. These issues were poorly dealt with by the boat's shore excursion staff. Those who suffered were the more mobile. If you have only 20 minutes to see something and it takes the person with mobility issues 10 minutes to get off the bus then you are impacted on adversely. I have to say there was one person where there was mobility issues and they were very responsible. They waited until everybody else was off the bus before getting off but this was the exception rather than the norm. There is also a problem with disembarking at ports. We were told that the Holland America groups would have priority in Nagasaki but when we got to the immigration hall it was full of independent travellers who had been let off the ship before us. It took about 40 minutes for us to get through immigration and it took the edge off the excursion before we even got on the bus. Disembarkation was also a bad experience. We waited 20 minutes in our bus for a rude traveller who did not care about their fellow travellers. There was no apology offered and apparently this traveller had 'form' for this type of behaviour. We stayed at the Imperial Hotel Osaka after disembarkation. This was arranged through Holland America. The Holland America staff in Osaka in contrast to the staff in the boat front office were very helpful and the hotel was also excellent. It was quite a contrast to the service on the boat. Australians do not believe in tipping and that is an issue that Holland America needs to address when selling cruises to Australians. The underlying philosophy in Australia, as often repeated in travel pages here, is that wages should be adequate to live on rather than having to depend on tips. It was not all negative on the boat. The service from the room attendant was superb. I have looked at the reviews since we have returned home and find myself in agreement with Independant and wonder whether the favourable reviewers travelled on the same boat. Maybe our expectations are higher. As you can see our issues were primarily with the service on the boat and as people who paid top dollar we were left somewhat underwhelmed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My first cruise on Holland America and my LAST Have done at least a dozen cruises with all companies and this was without a doubt the very worst. The food was dreadful, the photos on HALs website are certainly not from Volendam. Portion ... Read More
My first cruise on Holland America and my LAST Have done at least a dozen cruises with all companies and this was without a doubt the very worst. The food was dreadful, the photos on HALs website are certainly not from Volendam. Portion sizes are very small and most people ate in the Lido buffet - tell you anything? Cabin was spacious and very nice but one small cake of soap for 2 wks? ( had to buy soap ourselves) No hand cream so took a glass from the cabin and filled it with cream from the public toilets. Our toilet didn't work for 2 days so had to run up 2 floors to use a bathroom. Brown water coming through the taps on and off for the entire cruise (reception was so fed up with complaints!!) Had a flood in our cabin while we ashore. Had the smell of stinking wet carpet for a week and a huge big fan in cabin running night and day to dry it. Both of us had food poisoning from Room Service. Both started vomiting around an hour after eating the suspect hamburgers! Really slow embarkation, no one to show us our cabin on boarding. Have NEVER had my water bottle confiscated on boarding -we did here. Brought a bottle of champagne on board ( as per regulations) what we went through with recording it, signing for it and being abused over it! Even found those little plastic things you clean between your teeth with, from the past passenger on our dressing table when we arrived in cabin! Staff were grossly undertrained If you ordered a 4 glass carafe of wine you HAD TO HAVE 4 glasses even though there were two of you. It just went on and on. The ports were fabulous and we had a great time in port but NEVER NEVER NEVER book a trip on Volendam. Don't waste your money Princess would leave them for dead on ALL fronts. Wrote to HAL with all the above complaints and they replied that through the " isolated incidents" we still should have had a great time. FORGET IT, DON'T DO IT TO YOURSELF. There are heaps of cruise companies out there all competing for your $$$$ and who offer a memorable experience. We were advised by our cruise specialist to try HAL and from what I gather they used to be good. We were told we would never want to cruise with anyone else. NOT SO YOUVE LOST US HAL! Hated every minute onboard and have NEVER complained EVER on any other cruise. We're very easy to please. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We boarded the Volendam in Hong Kong. Embarkation was a breeze and we were happy to hear that our cabins were ready even before noon. Our cabin had lots of storage space. The newly installed lanai cabins had great new showers ... Read More
We boarded the Volendam in Hong Kong. Embarkation was a breeze and we were happy to hear that our cabins were ready even before noon. Our cabin had lots of storage space. The newly installed lanai cabins had great new showers and we enjoyed the amenities like lotions and soaps. It was nice to have the shelves on the bathroom wall and the shelf under the sink. We did find that the thermostat made no difference to the temperature in the room. Since dry dock in December and the installation of the lanai cabins, the ship had obviously not sailed in cold temperatures. As soon as we left Japan and the weather cooled off, our cabin was freezing. A lot of cold air was coming in under the lanai door. Our stewards put wet towels on the door sill and that helped. We informed the front desk and they sent someone fairly promptly who checked our air conditioning. After several days of cold temps, weather stripping was installed around the lanai doors and this helped a lot. Meanwhile the front office phoned everyday to ask us about the temperature and they checked the room twice/day to monitor it. We were satisfied with how this was handled. There were also common areas on the ship that were very cold - particularly the Lido cafeteria. Servers there were wearing coats. The lanai door was very heavy and difficult to open and close. There was not sufficient space for your hand on the handle. Both of us jammed our hands between the handle and the door frame which caused our wedding rings to be crushed to ovals. We had to take them to a jeweler when we got home to have them straightened. We found the staff very friendly. There seemed to be good morale on board. Our cabin stewards, Dedi (big Daddy) and Joko were the best. They learned our names on the first day and called us by name whenever they saw us. They kept the room clean, responded promptly to requests and did a great job of chatting to the guests to smooth over problems. We very much enjoyed the evening shows. The performances by the HAL cast had beautiful costumes. We also enjoyed the violinist, Kateryna Sychova; pianist, Maiko Mori; and the Unexpected Boys. The Dancing with the Stars Competition seemed to reward those with the most popularity rather than their dancing ability. We often found that several things were scheduled at the same time and it was difficult to choose which one to attend. I was very disappointed that the Royal Dutch tea was scheduled on a port day when we were off the ship for an excursion. We very much enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar every night. They played music that was both easy to dance and listen to. The Dansant tea in the showroom with music, dancing and tea on the last afternoon was a new, welcome activity. The results of the model ship-building competition were lots of fun to watch. Everyday we looked forward to attending the lectures. We really enjoyed Dr. George Sranko's talks. He was down to earth, humorous, and informative. Another great addition was the "On Location" guide, David Happe. He gave very informative, well-balanced presentations about the various ports and their history. He also provided good information about transportation, etc. for independent travelers. Mr. Ishibaru gave great insight into Japanese culture and we particularly enjoyed the demonstration of how to dress in a kimono. We enjoyed the food although the soups were very salty. It was really nice to have lobster on the menu on formal nights. For the most part service in the dining room was satisfactory. We appreciated being able to walk in at whatever time and secure a table. Occasionally we requested a table for 2 and were dismayed to be seated at a table that was only inches from another table for 2. It was awkward to know whether to converse with the other guests or if they wanted privacy. We liked the daily updates from the captain about our location, weather and sea conditions. Cruise Director Carlos made announcements only twice/day so it was nice to not be bombarded by announcements. I felt that this cruise had less emphasis on buying merchandise and photos than previous cruises. We took 4 HAL excursions. They were expensive but they were of very good quality with good guides and worthwhile sights. There were issues with the tenders when we were in Kodiak. Some people waited for many hours before getting off the ship. We were lucky to have a HAL excursion that day and were only delayed by 1/2 hour. We really appreciated having a self-serve laundry available on such a long voyage. It was always busy but the machines were all in working condition. Because of its smaller size, the Volendam was able to dock in excellent locations near the centre of cities, particularly in Shanghai and Tokyo. Disembarkation was efficient and timely. We took the expedited option and had no problem getting our luggage into the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our 3rd cruise with HAL. The first 2 were on Amsterdam,which immediatly set a high standard, which Volendam couldn't quite attain. More on that later. We had booked this itinerary a couple of years ago, but unfortunately ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with HAL. The first 2 were on Amsterdam,which immediatly set a high standard, which Volendam couldn't quite attain. More on that later. We had booked this itinerary a couple of years ago, but unfortunately it was chartered away from under us.We ended up doing a 37 day Grand Voyage sector on Amsterdam from Fort Lauderdale to Sydney, which was absolutely magnificent. We flew from Melbourne to Hong Kong and spent 3 days at the beautiful Royal Pacific Hotel & Towers before boarding Volendam. Even though we enjoyed a wonderful tour of Lantau Island and the shopping, we were counting the hours.We got a taxi from the hotel to Ocean Terminal and felt sure he drove the longest possible way. Didn't matter, we were on a high. Checking in and doing the obligatory paper work went smoothly, and it wasn't long before we crossed that wonderful gangway and found ourselves "home". I had arranged for a small bar fridge to be in our room and half a dozen Budweisers which were on ice. I ordered a bottle of house chardonnay. So we were having a sip while unpacking. All good. Unfortunately our first visit to the Lido Buffet ended with my wife returning one our favorites, shepherds pie, because it was nothing but gristle. Definately not good enough after what we had been used to. Even though she is physically identical to Amsterdam, that's where the similarity ends. The sail aways were low key without the band at the back of the boat and the nibbles which were the norm on Amsterdam. There appeared to be more effort put in on the pier by the locals than on board. We left Tianjin hours after we were supposed to , without any explanation given. We also missed the little surprise gifts when we returned to our cabin. On a positive, the cabin stewards and the rest of the staff were hand picked and wonderful. One thing HAL has to look at is the tendering procedure. We had booked a tour independently in Kodiak and missed out after having booked it 6 months before. It seems HAL have 2 lots of catergories to board a tender. Those who booked a ships excursion, and those that didn't, which included us. We sat in the Franz Hals lounge for 2 hours with people who had no bookings of any kind. Our tour waited for one and a half hours with people already in her bus so had to leave. There has to be some consideration given to those who have not booked through HAL. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Any relationship is based on trust. After close to 200 days sailing with HAL, I expect that I will be treated with respect and the trust I put into the company to work in my best interest be upheld. I do not know how HAL will heal the ... Read More
Any relationship is based on trust. After close to 200 days sailing with HAL, I expect that I will be treated with respect and the trust I put into the company to work in my best interest be upheld. I do not know how HAL will heal the distrust I hold after this trip. I realize that Carnival, the "mother-ship" holds all the cards. But as an "almost" 4 Star Mariner, I will not be back on board for quite a while. I went through 4 cabins (Deck 2 forward... brown water; Deck 1 midship...vibrations; Deck 3 aft...a constant "thumping"; Deck 2 forward...brown water) before realizing the situation had no remedy on this cruise. The "GI" outbreak began about 4 days into the cruise (and must be noted that it was held in check by immediate attention).Though there was no handling of common items as newspapers and books, salt and pepper shakers, handshaking...the casino stayed open. Though the staff did disinfect the casino before and after operations, the cards, chips and slot machines were handled by any number of possibly contaminated people. I guess there is a price to the passenger's welfare! The cost of the HAL excursions are outrageous! I do not want to have my time in port wasted with stops at shopping areas / malls or restaurants.When there is a port with an extended stay (ie: into the evening, overnight as in Yangon), I do not want to be back on board by 4 or 5pm. Seeing a city at night is another experience of the visit. I understand the Excursion agents, using deception and "scare tactics", are to make money for the company, but, I believe, the Shore Desk agent should be working for the guest. Withholding information that would make the shore time of guests easier (and less expensive) is, I feel, wrong. (ie: there is a train that goes from Port Klang to KL for about $1.25, available city maps for other than shopping centers, going to a port in Cambodia, having paid the $63 visa fee and being too far from anything of interest (Angor Wat or Phnom Penh). The cruise director, Jonathan, was the WORST in the position I have ever experienced on HAL's or any other company's ship. His closing was "see you around the ship" but you never, ever did! He had no communication with guests, no sense of humor. He was obnoxious, selfish and very, very arrogant! Tom, in the piano bar, could play the piano and sing (a bit). But he had NO personality. He basically played with his head down with no interaction with those in the room. He had no flair, no fun banter or musical "games" / jokes. There were no sing-alongs unless the guests took it upon themselves to sing (the hundredth time he would play his "My Fair Lady" medley). The Front Office staff tries to be helpful but their hands are tied by company policy (I was "subtly" warned my third room was not suitable but didn't heed the warning). The restaurant, deck and cabin staff were always up-beat and friendly. Chase, the assistant social director (though not given that title) did a Herculean job of lifting spirits. He was incredibly kind, cheery with a good sense of humor, thorough and available. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I just backed my cruising from Hong Kong-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Singapore for 15 days by m/s Volendam-Holland America Line. This is my first time for Holland America Line. So, I was so excited before we cruised with Holland American ... Read More
I just backed my cruising from Hong Kong-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Singapore for 15 days by m/s Volendam-Holland America Line. This is my first time for Holland America Line. So, I was so excited before we cruised with Holland American Line. Before that I have experience with Cunnard, Princess and Royal Carribean even Star Cruise. 1. No entertainment all the time even at sea. 2. Cruise Director always disappeared. 3. HAL Cats Band during show time they wouldn't show up on time and one day at poolside show, she said that she felt it's so hot and stop the show immediately and say good bye, Is it professional? 4. Food too salty, not the 4 star standard. 5. All restaurants menu are the same, never changed within 15 days. 6. So many flies flow over the Dining Room until we complaint, 7. Shore excursions are very expenses. 8. No free shuttle buses provided at port, except Cambodia due to Cambodia Tourist Association provided. 9. Visa fee overcharged than the other cruise, such as Vietnam Visa US$65, Princess only charged US$31. Cambodia Visa US$60, the other cruise only charged US$25. 10. Beware of it looks like as mobile cash Debit Machine, everything will charge to your room bill automatically, such as mini bar even you have not consumed. And they have charged me the Thailand Visa Fee(my nationality is no need to appy any visa in Thailand). I have to approach to Front Office to explain what nationality I am, and disputed the mini bar charges. So I have to check my room bill at Front Office daily to avoid they overcharged. 11. Toilet always clog. 12. One day in Vietnam, it was around 28C, The generator was out of order. No air conditioning, No Escalator, No flush water. 13. Sometimes, you need to inform room attendants to refill the amenities. But, the servers of the Lido Restaurant and Rotterdam Dining Room are good. Finally, consider before you take the HOLLAND AMERICA LINES. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
When we disembarked in Singapore I was ready to write a really nice review, then we disembarked (reason for the 1 star) The Food - I didn't take the cruise to eat, and basically the food was good, we had open seating so we were put ... Read More
When we disembarked in Singapore I was ready to write a really nice review, then we disembarked (reason for the 1 star) The Food - I didn't take the cruise to eat, and basically the food was good, we had open seating so we were put on the lower lever, and the first night was a zoo, but we believe that was due to the safety training at the lifeboat stations, so everything ran behind. Like other reviewers said...anything extra be prepared to pull out that card because it will cost you...we enjoyed eating at the Italian restaurant because of the small plates offered, and we enjoyed the pinnacle grill, it would have been better had they offered different daily menus. I enjoyed the spa, but I hate the sale pitch at the end, all I want was the spa treatments and not the products. Can't offer any insight on the shows, we didn't attended any. All of the staff we encountered was always nice and courteous (see end). Being on deck 7 we had access to the Neptune Lounge, and John C was a great Concierge and always so friendly and helpful. The excursions - Halong Bay we did he deluxe where lunch was included and it was fun. The islands were beautiful, the guy friendly and attempted to tell jokes, if you go on shore be prepared for girls on motor bikes to pull over and want to sell you pearls...which we bought for the grand girls (better than a t-shirt). Just go back and forth on $. We had private drivers in the other Vietnam locations because we're not big bus people and this was a return trip for my husband so it was special. THe one tour we did that wasn't from the ship was a country side and cooking class http://www.vietnamprivatetour.com great great tour, and it was less than other tour cost, plus it was so much fun, Big bus tour in Cambodia, just be prepared it's a 3rd world country, there are little children smiling and saying money but they are clueless to what they are asking for. Unlike our brats that cry because they don't have, or they need...they looked fine happy and dirty because they don't know what they don't have. If you don't want to see this, then don't go...if you want to educate yourself and want to make a difference someday, then go! We did go to the pepper plantation which was interesting. also big bus to Thailand, and pretty much it was what we expected. Departing in Singapore, easy.....But then my nightmare. My fault I know it, but when getting ready I got distracted and then the call came for us to depart. I left my ring, necklace and bracelet on the table. As soon as I cleared customs I realized it. Ran back thru security had to have an escort back on board, in tears ran in to the suite and in less than 30 minutes time - they were gone! GONE, I was sobbing, tore the room apart went and got John, told him the 2 guys that came in the room to clean balcony as we left, about the guy that was in the room when I ran back in (he came to get breakfast tray). My 2 days in Singapore was miserable, my ring which I just got for Christmas, my priceless necklace that my deacsed dad had given me back in the 70's gone. They did a 2 week investigation and were sorry to inform me it had not be found. So no matter how nice, helpful or whatever - it doesn't matter. I would have gone on another Holland vessel, but never again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We were really looking forward to this cruise. Embarkation was fairly swift via a shopping mall in Hong Kong. Well signposted and staff to send us in right direction. Good idea to take passports at check in to arrange visas for Vietnam ... Read More
We were really looking forward to this cruise. Embarkation was fairly swift via a shopping mall in Hong Kong. Well signposted and staff to send us in right direction. Good idea to take passports at check in to arrange visas for Vietnam and Cambodia. Glad we did this, rather than arrange back in U.K. O.k. more expensive, but a lot less hassle. Cabin was adequate for our requirements, and bathroom was well equiped. Don't think our bathroom had been updated, but shower was perfectly good. Our friends had cabin next door, and although supposed to be same size, only had 1 chair instead of sofa and stool. That is not satisfactory, there are 2 people in the cabin, where is 1 person supposed to sit? Food in Lido good, athough finishing lunch service at 2p.m. did not allow for people who were late back from a morning excursion, or the 8p.m. finish in the evening. I, for one, do not want to start eating my main meal of the day, at 7.15p.m. and finish at 8p.m. Food in main restaurant was alright. Choice was limiting and there were the 4 options every day the same, making the choice look larger than it was. Can't Holland America put a separate sheet in to offer these options should the days choice not be satisfactory rather than make it look bigger choice? Other cruise lines do. Formal nights - as a previous critic has said - is virtually non existant. Why bother when no one else does? Jeans and t shirts are, in my mind, not formal wear. Ports of call - The only one which should definately be removed is Sihanoukville. Absolutely awful. We arrived for the shuttle transfer into the town at 9.30a.m. Buses coming back had people on them. We had only docked at 8a.m so that should have told us how bad it was. I am sure the only reason the boat stopped here was to collect the people who had been to Ankar Watt and needed collecting 2 days later. Think again Holland America with regard to this stop. One thing that caused us great concern - one morning at 5.15a.m. the alarm bell sounded for a short time. No explanation until 5.45a.m. by which time, people were thinking the worst. The Staff Captain told us that smoke had been detected in the Crows Nest. All fine now. What he didn't tell us, the Captain did at 8.30a.m. (or thereabouts) was that the PA system went down at the same time! That is very frightening to think that we COULD have been in trouble with no means on alerting the passengers, other than trying to get staff to allert everyone. Surely, that is something that must be checked out. The library, where we spent a lot of time, is excellent. Wonderful seating and good atmosphere. Disembarkation at Singapore, satisfactorily done. All in all, a good cruise apart from a few niggles which should be addressed. Not sure I would consider Holland America again unless good bargain price for destination I wanted to go to. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I write this review to be helpful - if you really want to go to the places this cruise goes to, my comment's won't really matter, but as a fairly experienced cruise passenger I hope that my comments will at least forewarn! My ... Read More
I write this review to be helpful - if you really want to go to the places this cruise goes to, my comment's won't really matter, but as a fairly experienced cruise passenger I hope that my comments will at least forewarn! My overall impression was one of being a walking ATM for HAL to tap into with every opportunity. Even after you've paid for the cruise, you're still expected to pay for every query via a premium phone line (About 13p per minute in UK) "Come and join us for a sail away Sangria party" booms the PA Great, you think, what a lovely idea - however the charge is $5 for a lemonade flavoured with red wine - it's a bit like the neighbour inviting you round and then charging you for attending! Unlike most other cruise lines, you'll be lucky to get any free drinks One half of deck 5 is given over to shopping - jewellery, watches etc. all with large slogans 70% off etc. however you never really know 70% of what price!!! The drinks packages are expensive, but if you drink even socially, say 3 or 4 drinks a day, this is the cheapest option to take. $7 is the minimum drink price then add 15%! Then add a further 'service' charge of $11.50 a day per person, per cabin!! Tough if one of you is teetotal however, the drinks package HAS to be taken by ALL cabin occupants!! Although not advertised, Coffee, tea and cold tea and iced water is available FREE most of the day We were on board leading to Superbowl week-end - join them for a ringside (Large TV) seat - only $49.50!!! You could, of course have watched it in your cabin, FREE The excursions are vastly overpriced and not good value (We managed to get out to a lovely beach, have 2 drinks each at a cost of $15 each - for the same excursion - to a far more crowded beach, after all there's a coachload with you, HAS will want $95 each, yes, I know, you could miss the boat, be mugged, have an accident etc. etc. But you Could have fun at sixth of the price!) On the plus side HAL rates no worse or less for amenities and quality of service - all staff are cheerful and helpful. Dress code on this particular cruise was non existent - I think formal night resulted in the Americans putting a belt on their slacks, the Australians changing their training slacks and the Brits finding a jacket - all so disrespectful to the ladies who all (with a few exceptions) made an effort. Just don't think of he dress code for 'casual' night! So as long as you aware that this is the cruise that keeps on costing and you don't need to take any smart clothes you'll do fine   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Took a 28 day cruise on the Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore. Countries visited included Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. The overall cruise was good. The food was good, not great. Variety was limited. My ... Read More
Took a 28 day cruise on the Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore. Countries visited included Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. The overall cruise was good. The food was good, not great. Variety was limited. My favorite meals were off the ship in the ports of call. The entertainment on board was mixed. The house band, the HAL Cats, tried to make up for lack of talent by excessive volume. A piano and violin duo, Adagio, was excellent. The solo guitarist, Michael, was very good but stuck in a bad venue between the casino and the shops. I was disappointed with the lack of lectures on the trip. Other than one lecture on Hong Kong, there were no lectures about the history and culture of the places we visited. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
On board Holland America Line’s Volendam Jan 19-Feb 16 2015 directly after spending a week on Norwegian's Pride of America in Hawaii. The ship had stops in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore. Great trip! ... Read More
On board Holland America Line’s Volendam Jan 19-Feb 16 2015 directly after spending a week on Norwegian's Pride of America in Hawaii. The ship had stops in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore. Great trip! Food was very good. Unlike the Pride of America, there was no loud obnoxious music during return boardings and sailaways -- very welcome change. The lounge entertainment was top notch and the shows were always delightful – although sometimes a little surprising in nature. Had a large, oceanview stateroom that was very comfortable with lots of storage and room for two to maneuver [request a cooler (read fridge) however as many rooms don't come with them]. The room location -- aft on the Main deck --was excellent in terms of accessing the dining room, buffet, and Lido deck pool/lounge area. The only concern here was that the room was a bit noisy as the ship was docking as it is directly above the area deployed for tying the ship up. Drinks were better priced than on Norwegian and they often had 'happy hours' during sailaways where there was a “buy one get the second for a dollar” deal. (ln terms of alcohol, we didn’t feel we were being gouged quite as much on HAL as NCL. At times, the price of drinks seemed more than reasonable! ) A number of the ports required visas. However, they took are of this on the ship for reasonable cost – in some cases less than it would have been to do it ourselves. I would highly recommend just leaving this detail to them. As is generally the case, the excursions were quite expensive. However, at every port there were taxi drivers and tour operators standing by at the terminal gate, where transportation and tours could be obtained for at least ½ of what the ship was charging. It was often cheaper to secure a car and driver for the day rather than negotiate a one way fare, and negotiating was relatively easy, although language could be a challenge. On the other side, the people we met who did book on board excursions all reported good experiences. A number of people co-ordinated tours amongst themselves using this website and in the future I think we will try that ourselves. However, we booked a number of tours on-line prior to departure and they all worked out well. One of the most interesting we took was with the Don Bosco Hotel School in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and I highly recommend this experience. (Just Google “Don Bosco Hotel Sihanoukville). As the ship stayed over one night at the port servicing Bangkok and two nights at the port for Yangon, we booked hotels on land on both these occasions. Getting to and from the hotels was easily accomplished using local taxis and car services and getting off the ship for a day or two made and for an interesting and welcome diversion. As other writers have noted, the Volendam is not the shiniest ship on the seas, nor is it the most lively. However, it is very pleasant and comfortable, and the crew are particularly friendly and attentive. This SE Asian itinerary is well chosen and executed and provides a fascinating peek at life in what prove to be quite different countries. All the people we met off ship were very pleasant and friendly, although once in a while they did try to short change us – but with good humor. All in all, it was a particularly enjoyable trip and, having cruised in the past with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, and Costa, HAL seemed to offer one of the best overall experiences.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Our cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe this year was our seventh HAL cruise and the second on Volendam. Whilst she is remains a comfortable mid sized ship with spacious public areas and decently sized cabins, she is showing her age. My main ... Read More
Our cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe this year was our seventh HAL cruise and the second on Volendam. Whilst she is remains a comfortable mid sized ship with spacious public areas and decently sized cabins, she is showing her age. My main observation is not so much about the ship but what appears to be cost cutting by HAL. Compared with our last cruise on the same ship, there were far fewer activities, virtually no lectures or talks except by the port lecturer who showed a collection of novelty photos, and fewer serving staff at the Lido. A cruise to Asia provides a wealth of opportunity for presentations on local history and culture, not lease about China. What a pity that this opportunity was lost. The port lecturer appeared to be confused as to his clients. This is not unusual on HAL cruises, but on this cruise in particular, the port lecturer came down pretty much on the side of the HAL Shore Excursions Unit, rather than providing accurate, comprehensive and timely information for those (like us) who prefer to make our own arrangements. For example, the lecture on Beijing made it clear that it was far too difficult to catch the bullet train from Tianjin to Beijing. Much better, we were told, to take the two hour "luxury coach" journey provided by HAL, than spend half an hour on the fast train. HAL also has a preoccupation with on-ship wifi. So the port lecturer only reluctantly provides information on on-shore wi-fi, and much of that is inaccurate.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
To put things into perspective, we have cruised on over a dozen cruise lines for a total of about 800 days – almost 500 of which were logged on Holland America Line. Most of our friends know that we enjoy longer cruises, but frankly, ... Read More
To put things into perspective, we have cruised on over a dozen cruise lines for a total of about 800 days – almost 500 of which were logged on Holland America Line. Most of our friends know that we enjoy longer cruises, but frankly, this one was boring. While there are probably many reasons for this, I think the major one is the large number of sequential sea days (as the ship bypasses what might be interesting ports – such as in Vietnam, the Maldives, Madagascar and so on). While my watercolor painting is improving (I’m still having difficulty using the word “art”) and trivia and bridge are entertaining, I am still not old or sedentary enough to adopt sitting on cruise ships as a life style, so I will be paying more attention next time and avoid cruises which exhibit this property (especially when charged for at a premium as a “World Cruise”). I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that the average age of the passengers on this cruise was about 77 and many had been on multiple World Cruises – and maybe that’s the reason HAL thought that more sea days was the sort of itinerary this constituency would tolerate. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound, but at least forewarned is forearmed. While we will likely take long non-sequential cruises in the future (some of which may be world cruises – whether on HAL or one of their competitors), we will pay more attention to the itinerary and be more willing to link together a string of short cruises with an aggregate more interesting itinerary. With specific regards to Holland America, they seem to be penny pinching at every conceivable level and have changed the feel of this cruise, which sells at a premium, into one which has feelings of belt tightening. Despite our elite “loyalty program” status on this cruise line it is important to remain agnostic and our next scheduled cruise (is on one of their competitors – we’ll see (I have always felt that loyalty programs are to show how loyal the vendor is to the customer, rather than the other way around). While the service is excellent, as is the food, the entertainment is mediocre and the itinerary was almost 2/3 sea days. In addition, because of a concern about stopping on the west coast of Africa, one of the segments we booked turned into a transatlantic sailing capped by a couple of stops in the Caribbean. Until HAL makes an effort to address my desires and structures their World Cruises accordingly, they will have to do without my business on this type of cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
we are first time cruisers with Holland America. was interesting to be on a smaller ship, only problem with smaller ships is when sea is rough you feel the movement of the ship more. The ship was well maintained, but found that crew would ... Read More
we are first time cruisers with Holland America. was interesting to be on a smaller ship, only problem with smaller ships is when sea is rough you feel the movement of the ship more. The ship was well maintained, but found that crew would be cleaning the decks either early evening or in morning just before breakfast, so decks were wet, especially aft deck near Lido restaurant. Food was very good, we ate most of our evening meals in the Rotterdam restaurant, service was very good. it was lovely that all the ladies received a red rose in the dining room on Valentines Day....nice touch!! the ports were good, but the travel time from the port of Laem Chabang into Bangkok is around 2 hours. it actually took over 3 hours getting back to the ship..........beware! do your tours on first day in Bangkok as the traffic jams are horrible. The staff seemed to go that extra mile to make the passengers feel at home and well looked after. the entertainment wasn't too bad ( not as good as larger ships) our cabin was very noisy....cabin no. 3374 on Lower Promenade, mid ship. lot of engine noise. we paid the extra for an unobstructed view, but had railings in front of window. were also on the deck that everyone used for their morning constitutional...... front desk were extremely helpful and we were moved to another cabin. it was on the dolphin deck (lowest deck) but it was a larger cabin and we had a better view! We would cruise again with Holland America...found the experience very relaxing! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Second time cruising with HAL. Had previously been on the Oosterdam to New Zealand and this time was introducing my father to cruising as he has long been a critic and swore he would never go on a large ship. We had two days in Hong Kong ... Read More
Second time cruising with HAL. Had previously been on the Oosterdam to New Zealand and this time was introducing my father to cruising as he has long been a critic and swore he would never go on a large ship. We had two days in Hong Kong prior to departure and it was busy in town as was Chinese new year. Embarkation went smoothly after a fairly long walk through the shopping centre. It was quite amusing as the route that you had to take traversed a number of floors and corridors of a busy shopping centre and HAL had placed staff at each point to direct you. There was an orderly system in place using numbers and drinks available. Seemed to be a large number of Australians on board but also considerable Americans and Canadians. We were very happy with the size and amenities of our Oceanview stateroom. To be honest it was larger than our room in Hong Kong. Beds were comfortable, plenty of storage space and a nice lounge. I had read extensive reviews about the Volendam and was slightly apprehensive about the conditions on board. I needn't have worried. I can't comprehend how previous reviewers have described this ship as old and run down. My father is extremely discerning and not once did he find something to complain about. There were so many nooks and crannies to explore and the artwork was great to look at. We became regulars on the Lido poolside for the sail-away music sessions and also loved the Explorations café and library. Crows nest chairs were extremely comfortable and one of my only gripes was that you couldn't get coffee service up there (the bar staff there told me to go down to the Lido and bring up my own cup of coffee and we saw a few people doing this. I recall on the Oosterdam the café was next to the Crows nest so this wasn't a problem. We loved the Lido restaurant and the regular Philippine and Indonesian themed nights. Food was of an extremely high standard in all restaurants and only negative was the night my father had rack of lamb when it was served very rare. My father didn't send it back but the server was aghast that he hadn't eaten it. We loved the formal nights and the final night international night. Activities onboard were many and varied. I did the Asian beer tasting and found it excellent (as was the beer). The entertainment was varied and of a pretty good standard. The comedian from South Africa was excellent (can't recall his name), we went most nights and would generally sit up the back as my father would want to leave after a few songs/minutes. The one exception was the 'amore' performance on the second last night. He loves his music and both the male and female lead vocals were exceptional and the performers had obviously put in a lot of practice and thought. We loved it so much we almost went back for the 10pm act. Service was of a high standard and I really take my hat off to the long suffering front office staff who had to endure the ridiculous questions and downright rude people. I had the misfortune to lose my credit card in Hong Kong so had to spend some time at reception sorting out a cash deposit and got to see the staff in action. They all deserve medals. My favourite was a man who came across to complain that the tour desk had refused to book him on a tour (which was booked out), "I don't care if it's booked out-I want you to book me on the tour right &^*%$ now '. The team handled it well. Our room attendants were both very discreet and always seemed to be able to sneak in and do the room when we were away. The briefings by 'Ian' on what to expect in each new port were exceptional and spot on. His photos of each port and what to do were insightful, knowledgeable and amusing. We did the Halong Bay cruise and the transfer to Saigon from Phu My. In Laem Chabang we took a privately arranged tour for just the two of us (Thailand Attractions with Jo- thoroughly recommend it). We went to the Bridge on the River Kwai and the Thai Burma Death Railway cemeteries and Hellfire Pass and museum. Was a 3am departure from the ship (and we still got served in the lido at 2.30am) but well worth it as Hellfire pass was humbling. Coming back to the ship on time was a nightmare as it was a 4 hour drive and it was raining and traffic was heavy. We returned to the Volendam with 20 minutes to spare. Loved all the ports and especially Sianhookville. So undeveloped it was hard to find commercial souvenirs. We walked a few blocks away from the markets and found the most amazing little cafes and bars. Saigon was also excellent and if you are doing this cruise certainly look at the HAL transfer option as it gives you the freedom to wander at your own pace around Saigon. All in all we loved the cruise on the Volendam and it converted my father (he's already planning his next cruise). I would cruise on this ship again. Disembarkation was smooth Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was my first cruise with HAL and as the 11th time I have cruised there were some areas that disappointed me. 1. was the lack of supervision of sanatizing hands prior to entering a restaurant. Whilst there were bottles of the liquid ... Read More
This was my first cruise with HAL and as the 11th time I have cruised there were some areas that disappointed me. 1. was the lack of supervision of sanatizing hands prior to entering a restaurant. Whilst there were bottles of the liquid there, noone was superevising to see if people used the solution. I was shocked to see people leave the washrooms and not sanatize hands before entering the dining areas. Other cruise lines have rigid rules regarding this. 2. Standard of dress. On formal nights when men were dressed in dinner jackets, suits etc. some individuals were allowed into the dining room in Tshirts. To me this was an insult to those men who had flown to our embarking port carrying the appropriate attire. 3.Cabin. As this was a cruise to celebrate our Golden Wedding we had 11 months before the sailing date requested a quiet mid ship cabin and were allocated cabin 3385. Not knowing any different we accepted it as assumed HAL were acting in our best interest. It was under the galley and the noise early hours of the morning was disturbing. We were able to shift after 4 nights but why when we were so specific as to our needs did they allocate this cabin. There was nothing wrong with the cabin apart from the noise. As to the rest of the cruise. The ports in Vietnam, Cambodia, thailand were excellent. Entertainment was good, food also and the lectures were first rate, especially the port information. Tipping is steep but we found out from previous HAL passengers after we returned home that you do not have to pay this and can tip those crew you only wish to. Pity we did not know this before we sailed as the amount billed to us and then converted by our bank from USD to NZD was a lot. Previous passengers have told us that standards have slipped a lot but as this was my first HAL cruise I cannot comment on this. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
What a disappointment after all we had heard about HAL and particularly after paying an extra $2,000 for a upgrade and being placed under the lido deck and being woken up at 5.30am every morning by the crew scraping chairs and tables ... Read More
What a disappointment after all we had heard about HAL and particularly after paying an extra $2,000 for a upgrade and being placed under the lido deck and being woken up at 5.30am every morning by the crew scraping chairs and tables around the deck. It is very hard for me to say anything nice about this cruise from the cold food to the weird thumping at the rear of the ship that mysteriously stopped in Ho Chi Min. The whole ship was just badly managed. Unfortunately from day 1 the signs were there ,at lifeboat drill one of the officers made a man pushing his wife in a wheelchair stand in a different line -even when the wheelchair started rolling off down the deck with the woamn still in it all the officer did was put the brake on and still made them stay in different lines ? We went to the service desk and all five people in front of us were there complaining (still day one) We went for dinner that night and ended up on a table with Seven people (we asked for a table for Two) when we ordered all the meals placed in front of us were wrong -then the waiter with the senior waiter worked out the meals weren't even for our table -by this time they had been there 10 minutes -but they just picked them up and delivered them to another table -they must have been stone cold by then (still day one). I could go on and on - with the waiting for shore trips, camera shop not selling batteries (go ask the general shop we're told -general shop -sorry we are stocked out) people being charged on their on board accounts for returning a video a few hours late ($30.00) without being told - they discovered it on the last day. This cruise was purely a money making exercise - which can be expected but not with poor management -food that looked a million dollars and tasted like 20 cents- bland!! Docking in places hours away from the advertised destination - $70.00each for a shuttle to Ho Chi Min city (for one day -we were there for Two) so had we used this ship service both days myself and my wife would have payed $280.00 US dollars just to get a ride into town -similar situations in other ports. Most of this we shrugged off determined to enjoy the holiday we had worked so hard for all yearhowever we could not get past Two things -One the pompous attitude of the Senior officers & the arrogance of the service desk (they walked right past you without even a glance your way like you didn't exist -and the other was the fact that breakfast ,lunch or dinner -the food was served luke warm at best - and I could just go on - but whats the point this will fall on deaf ears just as it did with everyone else at the service desk every day complaining. HAL time you got out of the game ,there are many better cruise lines and ships better value than yours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I have been on 60 + cruises to include many Holland America. I also did the first half Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendam last year and this year decided to do the entire 30 days to include 14 days Indonesia. Without going into great ... Read More
I have been on 60 + cruises to include many Holland America. I also did the first half Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendam last year and this year decided to do the entire 30 days to include 14 days Indonesia. Without going into great detail suffice it to say the Volendam is a nice size ship and is overall in good repair and well maintained. The Indonesian/Fillipino staff is generally always smiling and provides an exceptional level of gracious service. The food is overall good with plenty of options that should satisfy all but the most picky eaters. The entertainment is mediocre at best although there are a few good shows mixed in with some fairly awful ones. Rather then dwell on the same things as most other reviews I'd like to highlight a few suggestions as to how Holland could improve the overall cruise experience with little or no expense. 1. Bring back the enrichment programs. In times past cruises nearly always had some author or college professor onboard who would do several interesting lectures on the history of the ports visited. This cruise from Hong Kong had four stops in Vietnam a country and war that had a major impact on most of the older passengers aboard. Yet not a single lecture about the history, the war etc. Naturally there are the usual shore excursion presentations but these are designed to push tours rather than give any interesting insights into the countries visited. We also visited Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and several Indonesian ports but not a single enrichment lecture was offered. Come on Holland it would cost peanuts to invite some experts onboard to give an educational/enteraining lecture. The microsoft windows 8 and cooking classes get old very quickly. It seems Holland (and most other lines) have forgotten that a cruise is about more than stuffing one's face...it should and could be about also stuffing one's brain with interesting information. 2. Bring local entertainers onboard for shows. Hard to believe but not one single local entertainer or troop came onboard. Holland could EASILY have its port agent contact a local school and invite a troop of kids on to sing/dance/play instruments to highlight their local culture. The shows could be held at 4 pm or so before sailing and I have no doubt they would be a major hit with the passengers. Either a small contribution to the school or even a tour of the ship and let the kids go through the buffet line would likely be greatly appreciated by a lot of very poor kids. Set up a small contribution box at the back of the showroom for any guests who'd like to throw in a few dollars in donations. Why in the world would Holland NOT do this and give back a bit to the poor kids as well as bring some smiles to the faces of the passengers? 3. The daily newsletter is truly AWFUL. I have no idea who writes it but it is BORING and very poorly done. Once upon a time there would be a bio of the entertainers giving you a few paragraphs about who they are, where they are from, etc etc. Now it seems maybe one or two sentences at most. Not one word about any of the officers or the crew. Imagine if every day there was a small box in the newsletter featuring one of the crew with their picture and a bit about their life, their family, hobbies, etc. It would be a way for passengers to get to know the crew a little better and I suspect it would be a proud day for the crew member featured on a particular day. Certainly a win win for morale and to recognize some of the workers who can make or break a cruise line. It would also be nice to read a bit of bio on the captain or some of the officers. Once newsletters had daily facts like how many eggs, lbs of shrimp, etc the ship uses daily etc. If the cost of paper is the concern I suspect most passengers would be quite happy to have another page in the newsletter rather than one or two sheets printed on one side pushing yet another art auction or jewelry sale EVERY day. 4. Shore excursions and port information: It is simply inexcusable how little information is provided re port calls. Would it absolutely kill Holland to at least list the exchange rate and a line or two about how far it is to the nearest town and approximately what one could expect to pay in the daily newsletter for each port? Would it be the end of the world to mention where one might find an ATM or free wifi? In one Indonesian port there were several piers but the taxi drivers weren't sure which pier held the Volendam....and wouldn't you know that the daily newsletter NEVER even tells you where the ship is docked much less MAYBE show the ship location in the local language so one could just show the taxi driver? While I realize Holland wants to push it's ridiculously priced shore excursions over and over I see passengers who do not want to spend the day riding around on a bus struggle to figure out how to spend a few hours ashore on their own. As for the tours is it really necessary to try to SCARE your passengers into buying tours by harping over and over about how going on your own you might miss the ship or get ripped off blah blah blah. I'd say your odds of getting ripped off are MUCH higher on an overpriced shore excursion purchased from Holland than a local taxi driver. On this cruise Holland charged 999 usd for a one day car with english speaking driver in Thailand (not including any admissions)....wow....my guess is the car/driver maybe got paid about $100-150 max and Holland pocketed about a 750-800 usd PROFIT. How many businessess get that kind of mark up? Even a simple ten minute shuttle bus in places like Nah Trang are priced at $12 per person roundtrip. Sounds not bad until you realize you can walk five minutes to the front gate and get a metered taxi to take you for $4 per car. A few other examples: Holland sells a BUS transfer from the port in Singapore to the airport for $39 per person....OR...you can take a nice a/c metered taxi for $20 usd per CAR and be there quicker and with less hassles. In Halong bay you can buy a boat ride around the bay from Holland for $100+ OR you can walk ten feet from the tender port and take a taxi to the boat landing about five minutes away where you can buy the same boat trip for a whopping $4 usd.....but if you think Holland is going to tell you this you are truly dreaming.....unfortunately a lot of passengers seem to think it's the local tour company in a port that is charging the big bucks...but I would bet that the vast bulk of the money goes to Holland and the local driver gets very little. The lesson is DO YOUR RESEARCH before you go regarding the ports and what your options may be...otherwise you will be at the mercy of Holland's shore excursion pricing. Naturally Holland realizes that many passengers see a cruise as a once in a lifetime adventure and so they charge accordingly as the "two week millionaires" usually just grin and bear it and then have a small heart attack when they get the bill at the end of the cruise. 5. Port selection and timing: Once again it seems for some unknown reason that the times in various ports are set arbitrarily with little or no regard to common sense. Last year for example we were in Sihanoukville Cambodia on new year's eve. The locals were out in force and were planning serious fireworks on the beach that eventing but of course we sailed away into the darkness at 6 pm and missed the entire show. Never mind that our next port was close by and we literally went out and sailed around in the darkness very slowly to kill time. Is it impossible to just sit offshore and view the fireworks? In Indonesia the port times were often downright stupid. We spent all day in little ports with NOTHING to do then only a few hours in a few of the larger ports/cities. Why? As for port selections both Laem Chabang/bangkok and Saigon are both very industrial ports. Bangkok is 1 1/2 hours away and Saigon is almost 3 hours. Both ports are firmly ruled by taxi mafias charging outrageous prices only surpassed by the even more outrageous prices charged by Holland for tours. Holland and other cruise lines could of course threaten to not visit these ports if the local tourism authorities do not clean up the mafia but naturally Holland has no financial reason to care. Indonesian ports were perhaps the worst set of ports I have ever experienced in over 60 cruises. While MAYBE the idea was to allow the crew to see their families other than that I really don't think 8 ports in Indonesia was anyone's idea of a great itinerary. 6. A few simple suggestions: How about a camera showing at least the view from the front of the ship that is shown on the in room TV like most cruises? Better yet would be a front and rear camera. The cost to beam these videos into the rooms would likely be close to zero and it's nice for the passengers to be able to get an idea of whats going on outside from their room. How about more than ONE outdoor BBQ by the LIDO pool? We had one on each half of the cruise and naturally it is well attended and a nice break from the usual Lido and dining room. How about a ship's clock on the walking deck like most other ships have? What ever happened to the fresh fruits? We spent a month in southeast asia which is absolultely overflowing with inexpensive tropical fruits like pappaya, mangoes, pineapples, and the like but from what I saw Holland bought NONE of it and instead served the same old watermelon, prunes, etc day after day after day. So there are a few observations and suggestions from an experienced cruiser. While I suspect that someone at Holland may read some of the reviews I truly wonder if they care. I do understand that they are out to make a profit but many of the items above really involve little or no money outlay but could make a Holland cruise stand out as something exceptional as it once did prior to the Carnival take over. I am sure that there are lots of geeky MBA bean counters sitting in the CCL corporate headquarters figuring how to cut a buck or two here or increase revenues a buck or two there.....but....do they even consider how many passengers may not return for another cruise or tell a less than pleasant tale of their experience to EVERYBODY they know in their home town? While the above sounds more negative than I would prefer I must say that overall I still prefer Holland to most of the other mass market cruise lines.....BUT....just because you may be better than most does that mean that you don't try and be even better by tweaking a few things?   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Itinerary: Hong Kong - Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand - Singapore The Volendam ship carries about 1,400 passengers and was built in 1999 so it is considered a medium-sized, older ship. We boarded the ship in Hong Kong, but since it stays ... Read More
Itinerary: Hong Kong - Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand - Singapore The Volendam ship carries about 1,400 passengers and was built in 1999 so it is considered a medium-sized, older ship. We boarded the ship in Hong Kong, but since it stays overnight in Hong Kong, we were able to come and go which was very convenient. While the ship was docked in Hong overnight, we got to visit some of Hong Kong's family attractions like the Peak Tram, Ngong Ping Village and the Big Buddha, riding the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island and doing some shopping in Mongkok, Kowloon and Causeway Bay. Having the ship docked as your hotel is very convenient and since the ship is parked right next to the Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, we got to know that area better as well. At night, we could catch the Symphony of Lights show right from the deck (without the music) of the cruise ship for some amazing views of the Hong Kong skyline at night. A lot of complaints about cruise ships can come down to personal interactions and experience that is either not worth complaining about (oh the cruise parks so far away from where I want to get to - so do all the other cruise ships...) or whining about how they should have gotten more compensation by being put out because such and such inconvenienced them etc... These are one-off situations, however repeated comments about things like slow dining room service or unstructured teen activities may give the cruise line incentive to improve their operations. It is no use complaining about internet being slow, it is on almost all ships we have been on as they use limited bandwidth satellite connections when at sea. Just don't use the internet during the popular at-sea times of day since everyone onboard is fighting for the same, limited bandwidth. This was a holiday cruise and the ship was festively decorated, the largely Filipino and Indonesian crew put on a great Christmas show on Christmas Eve in the showroom. Restaurant service in the main dining room was slow almost every night, the food was good. They may have been short staffed over the holidays, but everyone on board was very friendly. We also chose the open seating to give us more flexibility and end up at different tables with different waiters every night, but there is also a fixed seating available on the upper level of the Rotterdam dining room where you would have the same wait staff every night so they may get to know you better in that case. Although there was a teen activity planner that came to the room every night, in reality hardly anything was organized and the kids were left to create their own fun. At least they have a teen club and Oasis deck to keep them occupied at sea, albeit somewhat unstructured vs. for example Sapphire Princess. Posting review here since when we got home after sorting out the laundry and getting back into daily routine, the comment card the ship sends you by email already expired. You would think they would leave those open for longer than 2 weeks.The email sent to them requesting another comment card went unanswered. I guess they don't want our opinions after all, but there's always Youtube :). We have posted some videos of our journey at http://www.youtube.com/travelraters. All in all, this cruise was great because of the itinerary and the people we met during the voyage. The cabins were comfortable and a nice size. The crew were all very friendly. Not so hot was the slow dining room service, the unstructured teen activities in an older style ship. There is something to be said for the relatively smaller more personal size of a 1,400 passenger vessel like the Volendam vs. the 3,000+ megaships. There was always plenty of room and plenty of good food at the Lido buffet restaurant where we especially liked the breakfasts. Be prepared for a very long line getting off in Singapore and another very long line to catch a cab. For our next cruise, we will pre-arrange pickup from the cruise terminal so we won't have to stand in line for over an hour to get a cab and let you know how that goes. The ship has a helpful location guide and a shore excursions office, but it is best to plan your shore visits ahead of time and decide which ones are best to do through the cruise line and which ones you should arrange to do on your own or for private tours instead. Just remember, if you are on a private tour the ship may not wait for you if you are late! The ship gives you everything you need to make your own fun and enjoy your vacation. Having such a great itinerary that compliments the ship makes for a wonderful vacation, and all the great people we got to meet (mainly from Australia on this voyage) made for a fantastic trip.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Yet again the HAL ship and crew exceeded my expectations- we were delighted with our Christmas/New Year cruise on the Volendam. The itinerary was well planned giving an overnight in Hong Kong on the ship which was berthed at a glorious ... Read More
Yet again the HAL ship and crew exceeded my expectations- we were delighted with our Christmas/New Year cruise on the Volendam. The itinerary was well planned giving an overnight in Hong Kong on the ship which was berthed at a glorious harborside airconditioned multistory shopping centre. This is particularly rare in Hong Kong and whilst the centre was crammed with Christmas shoppers, it was very easy to access the ship and slip off the ship for last minute shopping and free internet at starbucks. Of course the view from the lounge, dining room or decks of the harbour lights and laser show was spectacular. This trip had extensive port calls and I especially liked the 4 stops in Vietnam covering the north, centre and south, which gave a nice taste of the regional variety and hsitory of the relatively small but fascinating country. Cambodia provided contrast as an early emerging country, very poor but historically rich. HAL might like to think about enriching visits to Cambodia with more effort into giving customers some stories from travellers experiences of culture. We took a sightseeing trip which really lacked heart as sightseeing hard lives without context is more sad than enriching. I have visited Thailand before and again enjoyed this vibrant country although we declined the arduous transfers to Bangkok and took some short local excursions which were well conducted. I still get a bit sad with the tourist elephant shows though. It might be time for tour providers to move to presenting these majestic animals in a natural environment rather than a circus. A mother even had her 3 month old calf chained to her during the "performance". Arrival at Singapore unfortunately coincided with three other ships so we plastered a smile on our dial to cope with unusual crowds, baffling directions and long waits for our transfer to the airport. It made a few people less than cheery, but honestly it was a minor annoyance after such a lovely trip. The Volendam is not my favourite HAL ship- that would be the Oosterdam, but who would like to be on the same ship over and over- or have each ship in the exact same design and decoration? Whilst our oceanview cabin was perfectly placed midships and hardly allowed for any movement I really missed the balcony for a convenient private space to enjoy the sea views. I have only compliments for the cleanliness, attention of the stewards and comfort factors of the stateroom. There is plenty of storage space, mini bar and ice, but a secret is that you can hire a barfridge for a small cost to keep your own wine and cans cold. The other tip is to spoil yourself with a "suite amenities" package (cost variees with duration of the cruise). This package provides unlimited daily laundry; initial 2L spirits and wine set up; two monogrammed bathrobes to take home; dinner at the Pinnacle; daily canapes or high tea in your cabin; and $100 in beverage cards. You also get suite disembarkation privilages including final day breakfast in Pinnacle and a final joy of NOT having to place your luggage outside the cabin on the final night. We discovered all her sides and loved the lounges tucked away here and there. The fellow passengers were an amazing mix from absolutely all corners of the world, not surprising as HK is such a central embarkation port. This alone provides the crew with new challenges trying to cater for massive variety in tastes, language and culture. In my observation they were alert to this and proved why HAL is well know for its international appeal rather than appealing to the american cruise segment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We have just returned from our Volendam cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe. Firstly, the company is let down by poor administration. Questions emailed to HAL in both the US and Australia were sometimes responded to in very vague terms, or ... Read More
We have just returned from our Volendam cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe. Firstly, the company is let down by poor administration. Questions emailed to HAL in both the US and Australia were sometimes responded to in very vague terms, or were ignored altogether. A requested "Roll Call" meeting was not advertised on the relevant web page until several days before departure, consequently its existence was unknown to most of the 40+ registered users. This was very disappointing. There was a late change to embarkation dock in Hong Kong, identified on page 1 of the check-in documentation, but on page 3, the previous dock was identified. Whilst acknowledging that the change of embarkation port is beyond the control of HAL, they could have been a little more helpful to their customers on how to find the dock. Many of the passengers reported that their taxi drivers did not know where to find the right port entrance and indeed our own went through three different port gates before finding the right one. Otherwise, embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and with little wait. Our cabin was ready by midday. On entering the cabin, it smelt very stale. It took some days to track down the cause of the odour as the pillows. They really needed washing or replacing and the smell could not be disguised by fresh linen. The WC in our cabin was not functioning properly and a plumber had to be called on the first day, and again several days later as the problem was not fixed properly the first time. The ship underwent some refurbishment recently. Curtains and cushion covers in the cabins have been replaced. Some resealing around the bath had taken place. Otherwise, the ship is showing its age somewhat. As an on-board video explained, it is important to think carefully about the location of your chosen cabin, particularly in relations to its proximity to the laundry (lots of passing traffic), proximity to lifts and stairwells (if walking long distances on board is not what you want). In our case it was a location underneath the galley of the Dining Room. The clanging and banging above our heads, late at night and very early each morning was unwelcome. Like a previous reviewer, we do not understand why HAL does not warn people about this. It is a far more important consideration than knowing whether your sea view is partly blocked - something they do tell you about, and adjust the fare appropriately. The crew, as usual, are extremely polite and helpful. Meals in the Rotterdam Dining Room and the Lido were generally good, with a wide variety. The standard appears to have dropped slightly from previous cruises. Stewards occasionally got meal orders muddled and there were occasional other issues in the Rotterdam Dining Room, but nothing major. The introduction of a fee for "special" coffees in the Rotterdam Dining Room (such as an espresso) was diappointing. The Pinnacle Grill experience was excellent. Afternoon teas in the Rotterdam Dining Room were very good. The entertainment was "so-so". Some acts were very good, some downright awful. Movies seemed often to shown at puzzling times so that it was very difficult to complete dinner in time to go, or to get any dinner after the show! Craft activities were infrequent, but Microsoft lectures were held daily. There was a daily "happy hour" in the Crow's Nest, and wine tastings for a modest fee. Shore excursions were expensive and many passengers had made their own arrangements for excursions, especially in Xingang (for Beijing) at a fraction of the cost. Information on ports of call was limited. Maps were generally not helpful, especially when asking locals for assistance, as maps made no sense to them whatsoever! There was a great encouragement, on the part of HAL, to take shore excursions rather than risk getting lost/not seeing the right sites/not getting back to the ship on time. Tourist authorities in Pusan and Nagasaki met the ship and provided helpful advice, maps etc. Free shuttle buses were provided in some ports. It would be so much more helpful if that information was made available prior to embarkation, since some passengers will always want to do their own exploring. The repeated reminders of the wonderfulness of the crew, the fabulousness of the cruise and the importance of the hotel service charge became irritating. If the crew rely on the distribution of this optional service charge, in order to draw a reasonable wage, then it would be preferable for HAL to pay them a respectable wage, and raise their fares accordingly. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We have just returned from our Volendam cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe. Firstly, the company is let down by poor administration. Questions emailed to HAL in both the US and Australia were sometimes responded to in very vague terms, or ... Read More
We have just returned from our Volendam cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe. Firstly, the company is let down by poor administration. Questions emailed to HAL in both the US and Australia were sometimes responded to in very vague terms, or were ignored altogether. A requested "Roll Call" meeting was not advertised on the relevant web page until several days before departure, consequently its existence was unknown to most of the 40+ registered users. This was very disappointing. There was a late change to embarkation dock in Hong Kong, identified on page 1 of the check-in documentation, but on page 3, the previous dock was identified. Whilst acknowledging that the change of embarkation port is beyond the control of HAL, they could have been a little more helpful to their customers on how to find the dock. Many of the passengers reported that their taxi drivers did not know where to find the right port entrance and indeed our own went through three different port gates before finding the right one. Otherwise, embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and with little wait. Our cabin was ready by midday. On entering the cabin, it smelt very stale. It took some days to track down the cause of the odour as the pillows. They really needed washing or replacing and the smell could not be disguised by fresh linen. The WC in our cabin was not functioning properly and a plumber had to be called on the first day, and again several days later as the problem was not fixed properly the first time. The ship underwent some refurbishment recently. Curtains and cushion covers in the cabins have been replaced. Some resealing around the bath had taken place. Otherwise, the ship is showing its age somewhat. As an on-board video explained, it is important to think carefully about the location of your chosen cabin, particularly in relations to its proximity to the laundry (lots of passing traffic), proximity to lifts and stairwells (if walking long distances on board is not what you want). In our case it was a location underneath the galley of the Dining Room. The clanging and banging above our heads, late at night and very early each morning was unwelcome. Like a previous reviewer, we do not understand why HAL does not warn people about this. It is a far more important consideration than knowing whether your sea view is partly blocked - something they do tell you about, and adjust the fare appropriately. The crew, as usual, are extremely polite and helpful. Meals in the Rotterdam Dining Room and the Lido were generally good, with a wide variety. The standard appears to have dropped slightly from previous cruises. Stewards occasionally got meal orders muddled and there were occasional other issues in the Rotterdam Dining Room, but nothing major. The introduction of a fee for "special" coffees in the Rotterdam Dining Room (such as an espresso) was diappointing. The Pinnacle Grill experience was excellent. Afternoon teas in the Rotterdam Dining Room were very good. The entertainment was "so-so". Some acts were very good, some downright awful. Movies seemed often to shown at puzzling times so that it was very difficult to complete dinner in time to go, or to get any dinner after the show! Craft activities were infrequent, but Microsoft lectures were held daily. There was a daily "happy hour" in the Crow's Nest, and wine tastings for a modest fee. Shore excursions were expensive and many passengers had made their own arrangements for excursions, especially in Xingang (for Beijing) at a fraction of the cost. Information on ports of call was limited. Maps were generally not helpful, especially when asking locals for assistance, as maps made no sense to them whatsoever! There was a great encouragement, on the part of HAL, to take shore excursions rather than risk getting lost/not seeing the right sites/not getting back to the ship on time. Tourist authorities in Pusan and Nagasaki met the ship and provided helpful advice, maps etc. Free shuttle buses were provided in some ports. It would be so much more helpful if that information was made available prior to embarkation, since some passengers will always want to do their own exploring. The repeated reminders of the wonderfulness of the crew, the fabulousness of the cruise and the importance of the hotel service charge became irritating. If the crew rely on the distribution of this optional service charge, in order to draw a reasonable wage, then it would be preferable for HAL to pay them a respectable wage, and raise their fares accordingly. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We enjoyed the trip tremendously and we would be perfectly happy to do it again. My review will sound more negative than I mean it to be. The cruise was mostly terrific with relatively minor issues that did not affect our experience ... Read More
We enjoyed the trip tremendously and we would be perfectly happy to do it again. My review will sound more negative than I mean it to be. The cruise was mostly terrific with relatively minor issues that did not affect our experience very much. Holland America moved the embarkation pier from a cruise terminal close to downtown to a container port 8 miles north. They set up a marquee in the middle of the commercial pier with giant cranes and mountains of containers all around. It was a bit disconcerting. The process seemed a little show compared to my last embarkation with Royal Caribbean but, to be fair, the passport and visa check was more complex. We found that our luggage had made it to our cabin before us so we were able to unpack before departure which is always nice. Our cabin was a grand sounding Vista Suite which is H/A's term for a balcony cabin. It should not to be confused with a real suite which they call a Neptune Suite. The cabin was a good size with a queen sized bed, a couch, an adjustable height table, a chair and a built-in dresser/wall-unit. The balcony that was a little longer than I've had before as there was room for a lounge chair as well as a regular chair and a small table. Not bad at all. While the cabin was well laid out with plenty of storage, the decor is starting to look a bit tired. The couch had a tear on the seat which had been poorly repaired, the veneer on the dresser was broken, the adjustable height table did not adjust any more and the commode and bathtub had water stains. This brings up the silliest feature of the cabin. They put a whirlpool tub in the bathroom but it's so small that it's completely useless as a whirlpool or a tub. It is very short and narrow and can't really take enough water to cover the jets. Fortunately it wasn't a complete waste of space as it made a great laundry tub. They seem to maintain the public rooms better than the cabins. There were no major signs of wear and tear and we could see the cleaning staff scrubbing away keeping it all shiny, even at ungodly hours. The food in the Rotterdam main dining room went from mediocre to pretty good. It started poorly with the first dish of the first night when I had a seafood cocktail that was tasteless and rubbery. I thought, oops here we go. But while there were things I didn't like over the next two weeks, most dishes were perfectly acceptable and some were pretty good. On the bad side, they often offered cold soups as a gourmet vegetarian entree. Their description on the menu was much more interesting than what they actually served. I gave up after the third night. On the good side, their lamb, beef, surf and turf and fish dishes were simple but good. Their desserts were also pretty good. We only ate dinner in the Lido cafeteria once. Boring. Lunches were available in the dining room, inside at the Lido and poolside. Poolside had a grill and a hot table with things like pizza and salads. They also set up an Asian buffet with different countries being represented every day. The quality was uneven. There were several tasty selections like the Indian curries but some of the others were less than great. I would suggest avoiding the Chinese dumplings. The dessert extravaganza buffet near the end of the trip was lots of fun and very popular. I had no idea how many desserts could fit on one single plate. We did not try the Pinnacle Grill, their extra-charge dining room. The one time I tried to get a reservation, they had a computer malfunction and asked me to call back. I never got around to it. I kind of feel that they should have been the ones to call me back and not the other way around. The entertainment was the weakest part of the cruise. Since there are only 1,400 passengers, it's not surprising that we didn't get Broadway at sea or an ice review show but what we did get was pretty poor. Comedians that weren't funny. Mediocre musical acts and a chorus line of 2 girls that no one had actually bothered to choreograph. There were some good points. The ship's band was sharp and they did a great job backing everything from the ship singers doing show tunes to a soloist doing opera. They were very good. The Ocean's Lounge jazz trio were also very good. They were tight and worked well together. I particularly liked the bassist. One of the ship's show singers, Ebony, was also very good with great stage presence and a good pop singer voice. But on the whole, the evening shows were mostly disappointing. The ports we visited were amazing. It was an incredible itinerary. We were in downtown Shanghai with Pudong right across from us and the Bund in walking distance. From Taijing, we made it to Beijing and the Great Wall. Dalian gave us a taste of Manchuria. Busan was absolutely fascinating. Nagasaki was walking distance to Glover Gardens and a short tram ride to the Bomb museum. With the exception of Beijing where we were around 100 miles from the city, it was easy to get around on our own and we did not try any of the ship excursions. The disembarkation process was the easiest we ever experienced. We took expedited departure and were off the ship by 7:45 and through to Kyoto by train before 9:30 am. Altogether a great success but there were a few things that really bugged us: Our number one peeve was the quality of the coffee. The standard coffee served in the dining room and the cafeteria was sour and weak and it had a chemical taste to it. The only drinkable coffee on the ship was in the Explorations Cafe and they charged extra for it. Curse you H/A. The first time we ordered a glass of Merlot at the bar we were charged around $10.00. The next day the charge was $6.00. When we asked, we were told that the $6.00 wine was the house Merlot. We could not find it in the drinks menu anywhere but from then on, we were house Merlot drinkers. There's something a little dishonest about hiding a less expensive selection to force the client to blow the extra dollars. In the Rotterdam dining room, a cavalcade of staff - waiters, team leaders, asst. head-waiters and head waiters would come by to ask how we were enjoying our meal but keeping my water glass filled seemed to be beyond them all. In Busan, the international cruise terminal is quite far from the downtown area. There was no shuttle bus, the city buses were jammed by 1,400 H/A passengers trying to travel to the same place at the same time and there was no taxi stand. There were stories that some taxis finally appeared but they were asking for $40 US for a $6.00 metered fare. Holland America really could have organized something a little better. None of these points were serious enough to spoil our trip. This was a great trip and I would be happy to cruise with H/A again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We embarked at Hong Kong.Should have been Ocean Terminal but changed to Modern Terminal,a container port,which incurred a taxi fare of around £25. Checking in was relatively easy and fairly quick. We had booked a guaranteed o/s large ... Read More
We embarked at Hong Kong.Should have been Ocean Terminal but changed to Modern Terminal,a container port,which incurred a taxi fare of around £25. Checking in was relatively easy and fairly quick. We had booked a guaranteed o/s large cabin with allocation on arrival.(we were told the cabin no.2 days prior to departure).The cabin was a good size, queen bed,and bathroom had tub as well as shower which was good. Public areas very clean as was our cabin. Rotterdam Restaurant was good.On 2 nights a little slow,but overall, very good.Food was tasty and good selection.Not continually pestered by photographers, which made a change from other ships we have been on. Entertainment average only.When in port at Shanghai,a group of girls came onboard to perform acrobatic moves.They were absolutely brilliant!! How they got into the positions that they did,was unbelievable! The best entertainment of the cruise! Docked in centre of Shanghai,the Bund and Padong directly opposite ship.Buildings were illuminated at night which made for good photos.Spectacles very cheap in Shanghai.(prescription pair £12 )!!! The old town with its pagodas was good to see. The Great Wall in Bejing is best visited by onboard cruise tour.Long journey to get there and very difficult to negotiate if doing it on your own.The pollution in Bejing is bad.You can taste it, and there is a permanent 'fog' hanging.Summer Palace pretty but not enough time allocated to it as time spent in heavy traffic in Bejing. Dalian our next port but never took a tour.Went shopping. Pusan in South Korea was interesting.The ship was charging $69 each to see the Beomeosa temple and Jagalchi fish market.We did it ourselves by taking bus 66 from outside cruise terminal to Lotte dept.store where the subway was situated (10min ride).We took subway line 1 (orange line) from Nampo(111) to Boeomosa (133) which took about 25 mins.Outside subway we took a taxi up a very steep hill(about 2.5km) to the temple.We returned in the same manner. When we reached Lotte dept store on return, it was a 10 min. walk to the market where EVERY type of fish could be viewed.The market was HUGE and well worth a vist.We returned to he ship by taxi which was very cheap.The total cost for 2 of us for everything was£14!!!! All the stations are numbered which made it relatively easy to negotiate. Nagasaki was really nice and very easy to see on your own.We came out of the port and turned left where a tram stop was situated in the middle of the road.We got a tram into town and then changed to another to take us to the Peace Park(approx 20 mins in total). The museum,epicentre etc are all situated around the same area.From there we took another tram to see the Kofukuji temple and Spectacles bridge which are near to each other.We walked back towards the ship via a large shopping area and onto Glover Gardens,which is situated opposite the ship.Cherry blossom was out all over Japan which made everywhere look lovely. A day ticket for the trams can be obtained for 500Yen (about 4 pounds) which allows you on any tram as many times as you wish. Disembarkation in Kobe was smooth and we were transported to the Belle Vue Garden Hotel near Kansai airport for an overnight stay.The hotel was nice but nothing going on in the area so we decided to go to Osaka Castle.we took the local train from Isimisani station and then changed to the Osaka loop line which took us direct to the Castle.All stations are numbered and signs also in English which made the Castle relatively easy to find.The Castle was huge and very picturesque, especially with the blossom in full bloom.Nice walks around the castle with picnic areas everywhere.The journey took around 45 min. and cost about £15 return, for both of us. We have cruised wth HAL before and have really enjoyed this itinerary. It was different. We would recommend this to anyone thinking of doing it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
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