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97 Holland America Hong Kong Cruise Reviews

The main reason for this cruise was the fact Chinese New year was celebrated while we were docked in Hong Kong and to celebrate our anniversary with the renewal of vows package. Embarkation was a dream - arrived 11am - checked in ... Read More
The main reason for this cruise was the fact Chinese New year was celebrated while we were docked in Hong Kong and to celebrate our anniversary with the renewal of vows package. Embarkation was a dream - arrived 11am - checked in immediately - on board - early lunch - room ready around 1pm. We were sent the wrong way around the deck as the entry to the ship was the same as our cabin, and when a steward let us through a doorway back to where we started, the security staff almost screamed at us that we shouldnt do that and "how did we get there !!" When I pointed to the steward, the guard lowered the volume of his voice to the steward and promptly ignored us - charming chap Information for our ROV was not in the cabin as specified and the knock on the cabin door was a steward standing there with the flowers for the ROV. With no info on when it was supposed to be and the fact the flowers for the ceremony had arrived, I hot-footed it to the front desk to enquire when the ROV will be taking place. I was told by the front desk that the flowers were for the room but when I pointed out there was a card with the flowers saying ROV gift he changed his mind and said they were sent in error and an invitation to the ROV will be sent to the cabin when they knew when it was scheduled to take place. Later that evening a letter arrived with the date set for later in the week and to expect an invitation on the day. DW on the day went to the obligatory hairdresser and we both started to preen ourselves for the event and realised there was still no invitation. Hot - footing it down to the front desk with letter, I asked if it was still going ahead and he confirmed that it was and the dept that dealt with the invitation had forgotten to send it out. We arrived in The Crows Nest and were joined by quite a few others with invitations in hand, captain present and chapagne flowing. After about half an hour we realised there was not alot happening regarding the ROV and spoke to another guest if she was waiting to have her vows renewed and replied that she was with a party of 26 there for the captains Dutch cocktail party. I collared a hotel manager, showed him the letter and he started to apologise and said the ROV had been moved to the following week. Uh..Oh, DW rather angry and disappointed at this point, promptly stormed down to front desk and told them how she felt. We had arranged the Pinnacle that evening anyway and thanks to Andrew the manager, he forwarded our distress to people and he certainly gave us a meal to remember. Two days later the front desk manager called and admitted it was all a mistake on their part and would like to make ammends and rebook. The moment had been spoilt but we were offered the ROV, dinners, wine, hairdresser free of charges and in the circumstances couldnt really do anymore so we accepted and she would rebook the Pinnacle for us. A couple of days later we returned there for another meal and thanked Andrew for what he had done but then said "its not over yet" - the restaurant was fully booked and he couldnt fit us in but managed to book Canaletto for us and would send some wine up to compensate. The day finally arrived, hairdresser - preen etc., invitation arrived - off we went. greeted with chapagne and wait..... another hiccup !! The printer for the photographs was broken !! We had a very nice photo album with the ROV certificates and words in there and a CD ROM. The ceremony no doubt was a very nice one and brought DW to tears so no complaints and when finished we went to Canaletto for our meal but guess what? No wine - that had been forgotten too. When we finished the was over half a bottle left so we had it sent to the MDR for the next day, and they even forgot that too. It finally arrived half way through the main course. As mentioned the main reason for our cruise was the CNY celebrations. We left the day free on the day itself as we were not sure of the crowds etc for the night parade that evening so kept things flexible. An announcement over the tannoy at 9.20 that morning saying that the muster drill was at 5pm and that HK immigration needed face to face passport checks meaning we could not leave the ship after the drill. We were disappointed that we would miss the night parade as this was one of the reasons we came. To our disgust it seemed that the excursions arranged by HAL were allowed to come back late and all those who left before the announcement came back after the parade finished too. Thanks HAL. We thought there was something peculiar happening as on embarkation they didnt take our passport as they usually do. The whole pre-cruise experience with HAL was mismanaged especially when in came to Visas - Sanya for instance. The night before Saigon after dinner about 10pm, there were 8, yes eight immigration forms to fill in with the message they had to be handed in by 5pm the following day. We were going to Saigon for the day at 7am therefore they had to be filled in that night or at the crack of dawn, yet the example of how to fill them in had a date of 3 days before. Last minute again. The MM grade cabin quite acceptable with the exception of banging in the night sometimes, sound like something was rolling around. Was informed it was the stabalisers flexing... hmmm. Motor noises quite loud about an hour before we docked and for about an hour after we sailed but we were the last but one cabin at the front on deck 2 and didnt disturb our sleep so was bearable THe food was mediocre and at times not cooked or kept correctly. The exaggerated descriptions tended to excite when reading and dissappoint on arrival , having said that Canaletto and the superb Pinnacle grill to a point compensated The wait staff and stewards we thought were very good indeed, its just a shame that on the questionaire at the end of the cruise, it seems to be geared to critisising them for the trivial of things yet the front desk and management who seem to be at the heart of any problems, dont get a mention. We cancelled our onboard tips in favour of giving to our steward/waiters directly once it was announced that only 70% of what we give, goes to the people it said, and that 30% goes to behind the scenes people. I know tipping is an immotive subject but I will only tip those that have served me in a deserving manner and the "behind the scenes people" who I cannot judge for myself should be paid appropriately by the cruise line. Even at 70% with the cabins our steward has to do, he would make over a $1000 a week. I dont believe HAL or anyone else paying a Phillipino that sort of money, so I pay him myself. Other than any involvement by the front office, the cruise was a nice one. We may go on HAL again but it would only be to the Alaska/Carribean/Americas as they obviously cant cope outside their bubble Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Our port of embarkation was Hong Kong and the boarding process was good apart from numerous Visa forms we were handed, and which had to be completed (balanced on your knee) prior to boarding. The formal process of checking passports, ... Read More
Our port of embarkation was Hong Kong and the boarding process was good apart from numerous Visa forms we were handed, and which had to be completed (balanced on your knee) prior to boarding. The formal process of checking passports, tickets, credit card details etc etc is always a bit fraught, so when a handful of forms are added to the mix, it's not conducive to you remembering to read all the small print. It wasn't until much later in the cruise that we found out that by signing those documents without question, we were accepting an automatic on board charge for two Vietnamese visa's and a further visa for Cambodia -- regardless of whether we were getting off the ship or not. My annoyance is not in whether the laws of each land visited forced Zaandam to make these charges, it was that the first we knew of it was at embarkation. HAL seriously need to get their act together and provide customers with these details at time of booking. Our cabin was ready as soon as we got on board, and our luggage arrived very soon after. The overall impression of our cabin was one of refined elegance but you couldn't help noticing that the fabrics were in need of upgrading. The balcony was roomier than most I have had in the past with two chairs and a recliner along with a small table. The bed was the comfiest I have experienced on a cruise, and in the bathroom, the shower pressure was just right. I liked the large soap, shampoo and conditioning dispensers on the wall in the bathroom -- saves all that fumbling with small plastic bottles that invariably fall at your feet once opened. One niggle: I have never seen a cabin with so much drawer space -- at least 16 in ours! But not one of them was easy to open -- nail breaking stuff. And once you'd stored items away, it took an age to remember which drawer you'd put them in! That might be age related, but hopefully a re-fit will make the space more user friendly. The only other problem we had was shared by nearly all cabins on the starboard side of Deck 6 and also affected the toilets in public areas. On at least 3 occasions during our cruise, the toilets stopped flushing. Some cabins were even flooded. The problem was addressed and corrected quite quickly each time, but the accompanying smell wasn't nice whilst it lasted. Our first night on board was berthed in Hong Kong harbour. We were lucky enough to be there for Chinese New Year and particularly to enjoy the New Year Parade. On checking our cruise personaliser a couple of months prior to sailing, Zaandam were not offering any tours to the parade, so we (along with quite a large number of fellow Cruise Critic Roll Call members) decided to pre-book with a local HK agent for a tour which included Dinner & reserved seats for the parade which were in close proximity to Ocean Terminal where the ship was berthed and due to sale at 11.00 p.m. the same night. All was fine until we received in our cabin "Special Embarkation Arrangements" informing all passengers that HAL and the Hong Kong authorities required everyone to be on board by 5.00 p.m. on the night of the Parade, so that passports could be checked personally -- deck by deck -- and that once this had been done, nobody would be allowed off the ship. Did I say everyone? Well I should have said everyone EXCEPT all those passengers who had paid for a HAL arranged tour (including a Parade tour which had been organised at the last minute!!). They were allowed to return any time up to 10.00 p.m. !! You can imagine how busy the Front Desk became with irate guests who had similarly made their own plans for their last night in Hong Kong. It was well after midnight and during my fourth trip to the Front Desk that I received a glimmer of hope that our prior made independent arrangements would be honoured and dealt with in the same manner as the HAL trips. All it required was a list of names of the persons on our independent trip and a note of their cabin numbers -- job done. So common sense prevailed at the end of the day, but how many fellow passengers did HAL upset? I definitely got the impression that we were an annoyance to them -- how dare we -- as mere passengers -- interfere with their arrangements. In my opinion, the Zaandam is either being very badly advised, or else HAL as a cruise line feel they no longer need to put their passenger's enjoyment first. Zaandam's staff were great. We couldn't fault their willingness to help and friendliness when called for, but there was just something lacking, compared to staff on other ships we have enjoyed. Maybe HAL have cut back on numbers which means their willing staff have less time to pay attention to small detail and interact with passengers. We were "Anytime" dining in the Main Dining Room, but it soon became apparent that the ship isn't built to easily accommodate this system. As on other cruise lines, the system operated when a table is not available when you arrive is to be handed a "buzzer" which shrieks at you when a table of your required size does become free. Unless you are happy to stand around at the entrance to the Dining Room, the closest place to sit and enjoy a pre-dinner drink while you wait is one floor down -- and then it is only a Lounge which requires a further walk towards the Atrium of the ship to obtain drinks. Invariably, by the time we had walked to the Lounge, and then waited for our partners to obtain drinks and return to the Lounge, the "buzzer" would sound! This noise then accompanied you (to the amusement of fellow passengers), whilst you collected your drinks, walked back through the Lounge, up two flights of stairs (or one stop in the lift), and arrived back at the entrance to the Dining Room. Larger and newer ships offering the "anytime" option invariably have bars on the same level and closer to the entrance to the Dining Room -- much better. Our normal practice on any cruise is to pre-purchase & pre-pay for a Wine Package. This we did with HAL -- but beware anyone thinking of doing the same thing. We have no complaints about the choice of wines, nor even the price, but there is a total lack of organisation in being able to obtain a bottle of your pre-paid for wine, and have it delivered to your table anytime sooner than half way through your main meal. Indeed, we were three days into our cruise before we even managed to get a bottle delivered to our table AT ALL ! Yes, we did complain -- in as polite a way as possible so as to not cause embarrassment to fellow diners. We eventually involved the Head Sommelier who personally took our order, and returned just a few minutes later to say that they had run out of our particular choice!!! His replacement recommendation was very good however, so not a real issue. Things were looking up, but because the wine was so late in arriving at our table, we were unable to finish the whole bottle. No problem, we were informed. They just write your cabin number on the bottle and keep it for the next night. Now this system works on every other ship we have been on, but yes you guessed it, it doesn't work to well on Zaandam. It may work on other HAL ships, but this one seems to lack any kind of organisational skills. The staff on the ground are only as good as the organisation behind them, and the food and beverage wait staff are being badly let down. After complaining again to a senior wine waiter on the eighth night of our cruise (and only 3 1/2 bottles into our package!!), we were told that our best course of action in future was to look for him personally each evening and ask him to find our wine. Otherwise, he informed us, you will keep encountering the same problem!! It was nice of him to try and personally avoid any further problems for us, but he shouldn't have to. Instead, we decided to avoid any further angst in the MDR and enjoyed a few evenings in the Buffet Restaurant where we encountered a wonderful wine steward who had no problem finding our wine and delivering it to our table in good time for us to fully enjoy it with our meal -- result! To be fair, the wine steward in the Buffet wasn't exactly overworked, so I put it to you HAL, give your employees sufficient time to do the job correctly and they will. In fact, we found the food served at Dinner in the Buffet Restaurant to be of excellent quality and beautifully presented. Our only complaint in this area was that half of it closed around 7.30 p.m. each evening, and the shutters came down on the remaining half at 8.00 p.m. prompt. I should also mention that we could find no fault with the food served in the MDR. Everything was well cooked and well presented. Having previously cruised on much larger ships than the Zaandam, I was concerned that I would find it too small. This was not the case. I loved the overall feel of the ship which gave an air of refined elegance, with lots of extremely comfortable areas to sit and enjoy a book or just relax looking out to sea. The entertainment wasn't as glitzy as RCI, but it was sufficient for this port intensive cruise. I'm not sure it would be sufficiently stimulating on a longer cruise. We enjoyed the Cinema on a couple of occasions, but beware of the "Popcorn Rush". We were new to HAL, so were not aware of this daily ritual where a tray of popcorn is delivered as the lights go down. Anyone standing in the way would be flattened!!! Our British reserve resulted in no popcorn for us, but we were ready for them on our second visit -- another result !! In summary, we actually enjoyed Zaandam. There are lots of things that could be improved, but we didn't let them spoil our holiday. I'm not sure I would take a lengthy voyage on this ship, and I think HAL is struggling in getting ASIA right. I am more inclined to look at HAL for an Alaska cruise which by all accounts is where they shine best.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Getting there: We left Dallas at 8:30 on Monday, January 22. Thanks to frequent flyer miles we were able to fly executive class, which makes it so much easier on long flights. We flew Dallas to Tokyo, had a layover in Tokyo, and then ... Read More
Getting there: We left Dallas at 8:30 on Monday, January 22. Thanks to frequent flyer miles we were able to fly executive class, which makes it so much easier on long flights. We flew Dallas to Tokyo, had a layover in Tokyo, and then continued to Hong Kong. We arrived in Hong Kong about midnight, caught a quick shuttle bus into town to the Holiday Inn Express Golden Mile, and nearly 24 hours after leaving home, we were in bed again. Embarkation: The next morning we walked around Hong Kong for a few hours, and then at 11:30, made the 15 minute walk to the ship, where we had the fastest embarkation we had ever experienced. As quickly as we could fill out a few forms, we went directly to a check in station, and were on the ship eating lunch in the Lido before noon. Just after noon they announced that the rooms were ready, and we went down, dropped off our carry on, and went off for a day of exploration that included the Chinese New Year's flower garden in Victoria Park, and a display of floats and illuminated laterns in the area near the Star Ferry. Since Chinese New Year is a week long celebration, we saw these decorations at every port we were visited, with the exception of Cambodia. We were back on the ship by 4:00, and went down for our open seating dinner. Only one show that night, at 7:30,a welcome aboard show, so one show and early to bed. We were fortunate to be in Hong Kong for Chinese New Years. We had obtained tickets by booking a tour through Gray Line, so after sleeping in and having breakfast in the MDR the next morning, we met the tour, and spent the day with them, culminating with grandstand viewing seats in the television taping area of the parade. This was HAL's first sailing from Hong Kong, and I don't think they realized that there would be a conflict between the passengers attending the Chinese New Year's parade , the lifeboat drill at 5:00 p.m.and a required face-to-face inspection by Chinese immigration prior to sailing. We sailed at 11:00, but and the all-aboard was at 7:00. Since the parade didn't start until 8:00, people with parade tickets had problems. I to the main desk,and was told not to worry about it, just to be back on board by 10:30 or so to go through immigration. Luckily the grandstand seats were just about 10 minutes from the ship, so we left just as the parade ended and rushed back aboard to meet with immigration. We got there about 10:15, and were no where near being the last on board. After clearing the face to face immigration, we found a note on our bed asking us to show up in the atrium for a mandatory lifeboat briefing the next morning. It was pretty crowded, as a large number of passengers had gone to the parade. Passengers took the briefing seriously, as did the crew, who at one point yelled at passengers who were laughing and talking during the safety drill. The ship: Yes, the ship certainly is ready for dry dock, but it certainly is not falling apart. Some stained carpeting, windows that seemed to be salt etched, rather than dirty, and a few rust stains here and there, did not detract from the fact that this is a beautiful ship. We were disappointed that the room did not contain a refrigerator. The biggest problem we had was with the room was a strange delay in the flushing of the toilet after you pushed the button. The first time it happened I called down and reported it, and then in a few minutes it flushed. The second time I called, I was told it was a ship-wide problem, and would be fixed shortly. This became a daily situation, and we finally stopped calling, because it seemed to fix itself in a few minutes. We also had a fire alarm go off due to a problem in the laundry, and a 24-hour red alert due to a 7 person outbreak of stomach virus. The ship seemed very empty, even though I know that this cruise was sold out. Both my husband and I commented on how empty the lounges and public rooms were. Food and Entertainment: The entertainment was as good as any I have seen on a ship. We especially enjoyed Preston Coe, a tenor from Texas with a beautiful voice. We also enjoyed the comedian, the Viet Namese cultural show, a classically trained hammer zither player and all of the shows done by the ships singers and dancers. There was a magician, but we did not go to that show. The passengers were a mix of north Americans, Brits, Aussies, Asians and Europeans. Americans actually seemed to be in the minority. The food seemed to be designed to meet the needs of the more eclectic passenger list, but over all was as good as you usually get on a cruise ship. I ate a lot of beef, all of which was prepared well. My husband was disappointed that the variety of fresh seafood, was not better, but did enjoy what he had. There were four formal nights, and it seemed to me that people were dressed less formally than usual. It actually seemed that there were more men in tuxes, but the wives were less formal, wearing more after-five outfits and dressy pants suits than long gowns. Excursions: We did a mixture of independent and HAL shore excursions. In every port we found people who spoke English, so going out on our own was never a problem. Our first stop was Ha Long Bay, a tendered port. We took the Red River Delta excursion which took us to Hai Phong, where we visited a pagoda, and a traditional Vietnamese home, and walked around the downtown area before a lunch buffet at a local hotel. At Sanya, we were not sure that we would even get off of the ship, as we were not sure that we could get off without a Chinese visa. The day before we got to Sanya, I went down to the excursion desk and talked to them about getting off. They said that HAL had obtained a group visa, and that everyone would be able to get off of the boat. In addition, HAL provided a free shuttle service to a shopping area in town. We rode the bus to the shopping area, and walked to 2 to 3 miles back to the boat, visiting shops and malls along the way. At Nha Trang we did the Nha Trang Highlights. We visited the Po Nagar Cham Towers, the Long Son Pagoda, an embroidery shop and a beach front cafe. Then on to Phu My, which is the port for Saigon. Those of us on the tour referred to it by the new name of Ho Chi Minh City, until we noticed that the tour guide was calling it Saigon. Someone asked if the name hadn't been changed, and he said that it had, but that the name was just too long and hard to say, so that the locals now call it Saigon again. HAL has an excursion that drives you the 2 hours into Saigon from the port, drops you off at the Rex Hotel downtown, and picks you up about 4 hours later. You are free to explore on your own, and there is plenty to see within walking distance. We visited the market and the reunification hall (the old presidential palace) and walked around the town seeing things such as the city hall, the opera house and the market. There are a number of buildings that show the French influence on the town, and in places the architecture reminded us of New Orleans. Then it was on to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It is never a good sign when part of the shore talk deals with the fact that "you may see things that make you uncomfortable" as far as the level of living goes. This was by far the least economically developed area we visited. There were only 2 ship's excursions offered at this port, and they both involved beach time. Not being beach people, we took the ship's free transfer into the market area of the town. Before the bus stopped the guide gave us a warning about the aggressive tuk-tuk drivers and tour guides who would assail you as you got off of the bus, and he didn't exaggerate. We finally pushed our way through the crowd and made it to the main street, where we walked around just looking at the town. At the shore talk, Michael had mentioned that French wines were well priced in Cambodia, so we stopped at a grocery store and bought several bottles of wine to replenish our supply, and then found an unbelievably cheap internet cafe to supplement the time we had bought aboard ship. The town's market is well worth a visit to get a sense of how the people live, however it deals mostly in the day to day needs of the people, and is not much of a souvenir shopping area. I could hardly wait to reach Laem Chabang, as we had made independent arrangements to spend the night in Bangkok. We found that we could make our own arrangements for less money, and have more time to spend in Bangkok, if we did it ourselves. There was one small glitch in our plans. HAL takes your passport before you reach Laem Chabang, and Thai immigration officials come on board and process all of the visas on the sea day before you reach Thailand. You don't get your passport back for a couple of days, and we realized that we would need documentation to check into our hotel in Bangkok. I checked with the front desk, and they told us that we would not be able to access our passport until late in the day on the first day in Thailand. They did offer to get us a copy of our entry card early on the first port day, and we had the photocopy of our passport that HAL gives you. We checked with our hotel, and they were willing to accept these as documentation for check in. Our limo service was waiting in Laem Chabang when we left the boat at 9:00, and 2 hours later we checked into our hotel in Bangkok. We stayed in Chinatown, because of its proximity to the water taxis, which we utilized frequently as we toured the wats, temples and the Grand Palace. A dinner cruise on a restored antique rice barge, with wonderful Thai food, followed by an exhilarating tuk-tuk ride back to our hotel rounded out the evening. The next morning we spent a few more hours exploring the town, until our limo service picked us up and took us back to the ship. Koh Samui was our last Thailand port. It was a tendered port. None of the excursions interested us, so we walked around town, stopping at a waterside cafe for a local beer. As we were walking, we turned down a small road and walked out into the countryside. We came upon a coconut plantation, and stood and watched the trained monkeys climbing the trees to throw down the ripe coconuts. Disembarkation: Like embarkation, disembarkation was the best I have ever experienced. You turned in a card requesting a disembarkation group. We asked for and, received, group 1. Within 10 minutes of the captain's announcing that we could leave the ship, we had disembarked, claimed our luggage, and cleared customs. We took the metro to the airport, about a 25 minute ride, where we stayed at the Omni Hotel which is attached to the airport. We were there before 10:00 a.m., and they allowed us to check in and go to our room. We caught the metro back out, and spent the day exploring Singapore. We went to Raffles, and then to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where we ate lunch, visited the Sky Tower, looked at the shops, and walked around the casino. Back at the hotel, we walked around the airport, a destination in itself with a full shopping center and numerous entertainment options. It was early to bed, and then up early to catch a flight back Tokyo, and then on to Dallas. It was really great to have only a 15 minute walk from our hotel to the gate area of the airport. Final Thoughts: I truly enjoyed this cruise. I felt that some of the ports, such as Sanya and Shinoukville had been put in just to give another port stop, but even though there were not a lot of touristy things, i.e. temples, palaces, etc., to see, you could still see the culture and observe how the people lived. To a person, the people at the ports in which we stopped seemed glad to have us there, and were friendly and welcoming. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit ... Read More
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit and miss for a suite as we were surrounded by non suite staterooms and the allocation to each steward would be higher. Rarely did we see a child(I think there were 2 on board), most passengers were American Australian UK then South African average age 65. Loved the free laundry and staff in Neptune lounge were fantastic. Shows were nothing like the big ships so were a bit hit and miss. Pinnacle restaurant was great especially their degustation but MDR food was also great and service perfect. Always hard to compare different ships particularly of different size. Suite benefits vary dramatically in different cruise lines so check what suites you. As a 1900 passenger ship it is less crowded with fast elevators less queuing but the trade off is less shops and activities and shows of a lower standard. Tours in china and Japan were poor value with communication issues with the guides but they were well organised. Internet even on the premium package was hit and miss. Would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We initially chose Holland America's 15-Day Far East Discovery because of the itinerary and dates. Having sailed primarily on Princess and Carnival many times, we were able to compare cruise lines. We actually loved Holland America. ... Read More
We initially chose Holland America's 15-Day Far East Discovery because of the itinerary and dates. Having sailed primarily on Princess and Carnival many times, we were able to compare cruise lines. We actually loved Holland America. We flew into Hong Kong four days earlier and stayed in Singapore two days after our cruise. We probably should have extended our stay in Singapore by one or two days because there was so much to see and do. The Ship: The Westerdam is much smaller than other Princess and Carnival ships, but the cabins tend to be larger with a sofa in our ocean view room and sensor floor night lighting for late at night if and when you must get up. The whole atmosphere is one of relaxation. Being a smaller ship means fewer passengers (1,850) which also means that you tend to meet the same people quite often on the ship and on excursions. So there is much more in terms of quality and quantity of personal interactions. And there are almost no children (I counted three!), which helps with the relaxation. You won't find loud music playing on the Lido Deck by the pool areas. There are no crowds on board. It's relaxing. Additionally, the Internet is 100% better than what we have found on other cruise ships. For $170.00 for 15 days, we had Internet 24/7 on board with no limitation to minutes used. It was quick and effective 95 percent of the time. And there were real interesting hour long talks on each country where we stopped and another on the history, geography and culture. If you wanted to know about a particular city that you were going to visit, the knowledgeable staff on Deck #10 give you detailed info on each city to help you explore with the organized tours or on your own. The food and entertainment were perhaps less exciting and scrumptious than on Princess, but it was fine. And the gym was not as modern as other ships I have seen, but it was a gym. They don't have a laundry room on board, but they do have laundry service for $30.00 USD per rather large bag of whatever clothing you can fit in the bag. You are served at the informal buffet style dining area for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's no scooping up oatmeal by yourself. The HAL shore excursions were O.K., but I would avoid the ones that transport you 3 - 3 1/2 hours one way like the 3 hour ride to Ayuthaya, an ancient capital in Thailand where we saw a replica of Angkor Wat. It was too long for the short visits to each site and definitely not worth it.We got back to the ship around 10:30 pm! We chose to go with another tour company for our Halong Bay cruise. It worked out well, but my guess is that Holland America's excursion might have been more convenient and just as enjoyable. Of course, the staff's professionalism is what I would expect on any cruise ship. The dueling piano musicians were awesome! The captain was one of the best in that he was personable, likable, transparent, decisive and prepared. He kept us safe and went out of his way to make our cruise even more enjoyable, especially in our over night stay and morning sunrise in Halong Bay. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and everyone was pleasant. We did notice that for some reason, many of the public areas were very cold to the extent that we avoided them. There were two pools, one that had a retractable roof top. The pools were never crowded because there were only 1,850 passengers on board. Finally, I should mention that because we traveled through so many visa requiring countries, HAL made it so much easier by helping us with immigration forms and having the individual customs officers on board to facilitate and expedite our entrance to their countries. HAL was really organized on that. The HAL excursion process, especially during tender egress was less smooth than expected because everyone meets in the same MainStage area for their excursion tickets. All in all, we really enjoyed a different and more relaxing cruise on Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was my first time on the Volendam, but not my last. The captain skillfully maneuvered this medium size cruise ship through high waves at the port of Nha Trang, Vietnam, and kept all the guests well informed. This my first HAL cruise ... Read More
This was my first time on the Volendam, but not my last. The captain skillfully maneuvered this medium size cruise ship through high waves at the port of Nha Trang, Vietnam, and kept all the guests well informed. This my first HAL cruise with in depth cultural sessions, such as feng shui, temple etiquette, or coffee culture, in addition to the regular tips for touring various ports. One minor quibble is that only maps of some ports/cities were readily available at the front desk. Major disappointment was the wait to disembark in Singapore due to long lines at immigration/customs. Although customs at Changi Airport experienced over the last 20 years is efficient, this disembarkation wasn't. However, the cruise itself was outstanding with a good food (loved the tropical fruits at the Lido Market daily -- guava, lychee, mango), flawless dinner service, and a variety of entertainment choices. Our compact cabin on the walking deck was comfortable and cozy with our own added décor; the steward furnished a vase for flowers acquired and used a bed runner also purchased in Vietnam. I was completely satisfied with 3 of the 4 tours, and highly recommend the My Son, an UNESCO World Heritage site, in Da Nang, Vietnam. The escort on the HCMC city transfer only provided general information on Vietnam and nothing city specific; he didn't even recognize that the street of the meeting point was the same where we were meeting our friends for lunch. We took shuttles (one paid & one free) in 2 cities and were able to explore on our own. Despite its location in a large, busy commercial port Terminal 1A in Laem Chabang Thailand has WiFi ($3.00 for 3 hours), an indoor souvenir market, and a small massage corner. Whether or not this is your first trip to Southeast Asia, you are in good hands sailing on the Volendam. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My experience on the January 31, 2018 sailing of the Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore far exceeded my expectations. Having owned a large Incentive Travel planning company, I am admittedly very critical of services provided by hotels, ... Read More
My experience on the January 31, 2018 sailing of the Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore far exceeded my expectations. Having owned a large Incentive Travel planning company, I am admittedly very critical of services provided by hotels, airlines and cruise companies. It was my job to provide the highest customer service and to make sure every detail was planned to perfection for my discriminating High Tech clients. For that reason, I am simply amazed that my experience on the Volendam was so wonderful. Let me explain....The ship was gracious and elegant. The food service was so outstanding, that it was shocking! The dining room, unlike other cruise lines, was quiet, spacious and every meals was better than the last. It was truly like dining at a fine restaurant. Even breakfasts were wonderful. Although the ship had nearly 2000 passengers, it felt empty. There was never the mad rush for a lounge by the pool, or fighting for a seat at the piano bar. The LIdo Market, while providing outstanding options,it was never a problem finding a table.It was delightful to sit outside by the pool and have breakfast, as we watched the sea. So, what makes this cruise so special, besides the dining experience? The shows were great, a small cast...but they really delivered delightful shows. The America's Test Kitchen surprised me by how great it was. I attended five classes. The lectures were wonderful. Our stateroom was very, very comfortable. It was clean, and when we had a problem, the Guest Services staff were right on it. Amazing! The Ports were great, too. I loved the itinerary, and especially with four stops in Vietnam. We spent three days in Hong Kong prior to the cruise, and then sailed for two weeks. Cambodia was not my favorite, but I think it was my fault, as I just took the transfer to the town and it left much to be desired. The two night stay in Bangkok was great, as we spent the night in Bangkok. If there is one challenge with this cruise, is the port is a long way from the major cities, like Hanoi, Saigon and Bangkok. Hoi An (Da Nang) was my favorite....beautiful town, with great shopping. I highly recommend Holland American Cruise line if peacefulness, great food, not feeling crowded or hassled, enrichment classes, and a beautfful library are important to you. Finding the right Ports is important,and I found the Asia cruise to be wonderful. PS: This is my eighth cruise, and our travelling companions 37th. They felt it was the best cruise they have had, as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Choose this cruise for the itinerary and earlier good experiences with Holland America Line. Had a very comfortable outside cabin on Main deck with renovated bathroom, now having a spacious walk in shower. Cabin stewards did excellent ... Read More
Choose this cruise for the itinerary and earlier good experiences with Holland America Line. Had a very comfortable outside cabin on Main deck with renovated bathroom, now having a spacious walk in shower. Cabin stewards did excellent job, just everything was looked after very well. Food on Volendam was very good. We especially liked the meals and service in the Dining room. This cruise had great and very experienced Cruise Director, in charge of all the activities on board. He kept an eye on about everything and was always thefe for questions and so on. We very much recommand this cruise, next season to be operated by mv Westerdam. Only remark is that Thailand port Laem Chabang is rather far from Bangkok, 2,5 hours by car one way. For more time in Bangkok one should think of 1 overnight in a Bangkok hotel (tour or on individual basis, what is very well possible). Join HAL for this cruise and have fun! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I chose this cruise because we wanted to revisit parts of Asia that we had been to years ago. We enjoyed all the ports; interesting. The food on board was wonderful, the service was excellent. The shows were o.k; many of the songs ... Read More
I chose this cruise because we wanted to revisit parts of Asia that we had been to years ago. We enjoyed all the ports; interesting. The food on board was wonderful, the service was excellent. The shows were o.k; many of the songs performed were not familiar to us. Our cabin was always kept neat and clean by the attendants; they work very hard! The ship itself is in good condition and also very clean. I enjoyed the port talks, they were extremely informative and to the point; excess information was not given. Embarcation and disembarcation was smooth and quick. Dining room service was excellent; our waiter was always ready to meet my requests for alterations or additions to the meal. We cruise on Holland America more than any other cruise line. I can still say I enjoy the company very much and would highly recommend the ship, the crew and the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the age of the ship we think. Balcony was quite large, although we did not get to use it much. Very smoggy for most of the cruise. Crew was really outstanding from cabin stewards to officers. Always willing to assist with smiles. Did not take in much entertainment, but did enjoy a flutist from Scotland and the trio in the Ocean Bar was really good. Port presentations were excellent. Pool was heated, which was nice. The buffet was very good and never terribly crowded. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. The crew was especially outstanding in their handling of the required immigration inspections at several of the ports. Those are always a pain, due to the local authorities, but the crew made them bearable. The ports were each fascinating in their own ways. We booked our own private tours in Shanghai and Beijing through a company called China Highlights. Had a guide, private car, and driver. So glad we did that as guides were really excellent. Only tour we did via Holland America was in Seoul and it was fine. We just got off the ship and wandered on our own in Nagasaki and Kagoshima. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and ... Read More
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and the history of the area. the weather was cool to cold at times but we were prepared. Few people spent time at the pool since it was often gray and cool. Sea days were a challenge since since the weather did not encourage outdoor activities. Thankfully two wonderful bridge instructors from Canada set up duplicate bridge and I played every sea day afternoon. They were not sponsored ACBL games or from HAL but they ran a great game for 36-54 people per day. The transpacific part of this cruise really needed bridge and other indoor activities since it was cold. There was no librarian or tech person but the staff at the customer desk helped. The wifi is great now and I could download my mail in two minutes. Sending pictures took more time. We bought 1000 minutes for $250 for the 44 days and ended up with leftover minutes. We had excellent cabin attendants and even though we had select dining we established our table and and 7:15 daily. The dining room staff were very thoughtful and made sure that one of our dining companions could have s sundae no matter what was being served. They did little things to make the cruise so special. I look at the pictures and can not believe what we did and where we traveled. I never expected to be stunned by the beauty traveling through the Aleutians and the snow capped mountains And yes we saw cherry tree wonderlands in Osaka and Aomori. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some ... Read More
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some really interesting bustling Asian cities . The excursions were hit and miss . We rented a car with driver and guide from holland america for both days in Shanghai and Beijing. It was ridiculously expensive but worth it. A couple of tips about seeing Shanghai and Beijing this way. We got Chinese currency before we left home but still ran out of cash because we forgot touring this way doesn't take into account admission fees or tips . Also,when we booked the car and guide for 2 days in Beijing it was well worth our while to also book a hotel in Beijing because it's a 2 1/2 hour drive from the cruise terminal in Tianjin to Beijing . Sheraton hotel in Beijing was beautiful and cheap $163 US per night and included a wonderful breakfast . Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and ... Read More
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and straight to our room. Nice stateroom with veranda, good staff to take care of us (Omam and Galih); they were unobtrusive but kept our place spic and span. Best cruise ever, for us. It was all about the itinerary, and having a day at sea between almost all ports, plus overnights in Shanghai and Beijing, was perfect. We'd relax a little on the days at sea and go-go-go on our days in port. The Volendam is a really nice ship, a little smaller than what we've sailed on before, but we would sail her again in a heartbeat. The ports were amazing, and we feel very lucky to have been able to see everything we did. We tend to "stay in" at night, so we can't really say anything about the entertainment, shows, etc., but when we ventured out, we were very pleased with the ship and crew. Our wait staff, Anto and Rim, were excellent and efficient. Our wine steward Carlito was super. The food was great (with one exception;r the Asian BBQ by the pool wasn't very flavorful in our opinions), and we especially loved the Pinnacle Grill. We had dinner there 2 nights PLUS one of the Le Cirque nights (outstanding, definitely have the chateaubriand) and also visited for 2 lunches (our first time having lunch in the PG and we weren't hungry for dinner that night!). The room manager was great, didn't get his name, but he was funny, personable, and chatty when it wasn't busy, and he made our visits to the restaurant special. We didn't make it to Canaletto this time around, but hope to do so on a future cruise -we DID notice the menu had changed since we were there last, and now features small plates to share as well as pasta dishes. Room service was perfect for us, and we definitely appreciated our morning coffee and pastries or more-substantial-breakfast every day. We only went "out" to breakfast once, to the Lido, and we enjoyed the crepes and the Eggs Benedict there. We had the drink package (it was a perk when we booked, too expensive to purchase otherwise, IMO) and it was great. I had wondered if the bar staff would be scarce or look down their noses to us, but we were served quickly and with great smiles. Jovan at the aft pool bar was exceptionally sweet, he was the first smiling face we saw when we got our sail-away drink upon boarding, and he was smiling any time we saw him thereafter. We only took one ship shore excursion, at the stop in Jeju, and it was good. The lineup to get off the ship at the various ports (especially for those of us who had private shore excursions set up) could have been handled better, IMO. Anyway, it was an absolutely super cruise and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
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
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
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 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
We have never been to the Far East before and so were very excited about this HAL cruise. We made excellent use to the CC forum and booked all our trips as part of our 51 strong CC group. We found the forum invaluable and made many friends ... Read More
We have never been to the Far East before and so were very excited about this HAL cruise. We made excellent use to the CC forum and booked all our trips as part of our 51 strong CC group. We found the forum invaluable and made many friends on our numerous trips. We flew out to Hong Kong and spent an extra day exploring this fascinating city. Embarkation was very chaotic and as previous reviews have stated the visa process paper the most complicated l have ever seen! You do only need group visas if you are not staying over night anywhere. This will save you loads. Ship is very comfortable and cabin spacious. I especially liked the amount of room in the bathroom. We were worried about being so far aft and wondered if we would hear engine noise. I'm pleased to report that except for 1 night when it was rough and the Captain had his foot down we heard nothing. It was also very handy for stairs to the LP deck at the back. Crew without exception were wonderful and seemed to have time to interact with passengers. The best crew on any ship we have sailed on. Food was very good, ample, hot and tasty. We did not however feel the Pinnacle Grill was worth the extra 50 USD. The steaks were massive and just too much for us. Maybe we just choose wrong on the night. Entertainment was very poor and the worst we've had on any major cruise line. This was the one thing HAL should work on otherwise everything else was excellent.Itinerary was great - full of fascinating ports: Halong Bay - easy to arrange on the day. 4 hours is enough and the caves are really worth seeing. It was a wonderful hot sunny day here which l am told is very rare. We went with 20 other CCs and booked a whole junk with transport to and from the pier for 20 USD each with a guide Saigon - arranged in advance with CCs. Wonderful day out especially enjoyed the water puppets and the sight of all the bikes I think this was 65 USD each Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Holland America -- Volendam -- 14days Hong Kong to Singapore This is our own views on cruising with Holland America. Being experienced cruisers we take every cruise as our first and try not to compare, as so many try to compare ... Read More
Holland America -- Volendam -- 14days Hong Kong to Singapore This is our own views on cruising with Holland America. Being experienced cruisers we take every cruise as our first and try not to compare, as so many try to compare companies and end up spoiling their trip. We like to cruise on itinerary. Just recently undergone a refurbishment although did look like it had been done quickly and maybe needed a little better finishing touches. Embarkation -- A little chaotic, boarding in Hong Kong is done in the end of a shopping centre, you drop your bags on pier then a longish walk to check-in. It took around 2 hrs. from dropping bags to being on board, at least chairs were supplied so the waiting in lines was limited. The compulsive safety drill was professionally done, being repeated a number of times for passengers went ashore to enjoy Hong Kong due to a late departure. Food overall was very good, the buffet variety was good although at times was not very hot, if brought to the chefs attention they were happy to make sure you were given it hot. We opted for 'any time dining' we never booked or waited to be seated. We were willing to share tables. Menus were always varied and food was well cooked and presented, waiters made sure any changes were done. Although waiting staff seemed to be thin on the ground which at times caused some delays but being on holiday there was no need rush. Entertainment was quite poor, 3 visiting comedians was a bit over the top. The ships own show team seemed not to do a lot, the quality of the singing & dancing was quite amateurish. Cabin was very well kept and maintained to a very good standard, cabin steward worked very hard and seemed to have a lot more cabins too service which may show the reduction in staff. Towels were of a good quality. Bath robes supplied for use. Dis-embarkation was simple from the ship. Long queues for immigration, there are no porters to assist with luggage, one problem was the very long queues for taxis which required a walk through a small shopping area. Taxis were plentiful though one you get to the rank. If you are going to a hotel it is worth have the name & address of the hotel for the taxi driver as many hotel chains may have more than one hotel. If you are an independent and require transfer to the airport take a taxi. On the dis-embarkation information stated $39 each, but on the reverse stated taxis cost around $25 for the cab. If this is you first visit to the area it is worth investing in a guide book to cover the ports of call Currency -- Most ports of call will accept US$, try getting small notes, it worth getting a small amount of local currency in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand & Singapore. Visa's these are issued on board, Holland America adds a large handling fee. These are still cheaper than organising your own. These are charged even if you do not go ashore. Holland America do charge an exorbitant handling charge, for Cambodia we were charged $45 and actual visa cost $20 (making around additional $37,000) Gratuities $11.50 per day per person, you can remove or adjust this amount. Ports Of Call Hong Kong -- If you need to arrange your individual transfer's just head follow the signs for taxis, all are metered & most take credit cards (cost about £20gbp) Hong Kong is very easy city to get round yourselves using the underground/metro. Get yourself a metro map, this way it will show what exit you want from each station saving a great deal of walking. Try to avoid Hong Kong taxis for short journeys as you may be stuck in traffic for long periods. Halong Bay -- Tender Port - Junk trips are easily available on the pier exactly the same as ships tours at a fraction of the cost (around 15-20 US$) plus admission to caves. We actually visited some place the ships tour did not. At the fish farm you could purchase live sea food and the lady of the junk would cook it for you at no cost. A trip to Hanoi is not recommended as it involves a 3-4hr trip each way. Da Nang -- A trip to Hoi An is a must, easy to negotiate an on portside taxi / minibus who will take you to Hoi An with a visit en-route to the Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain is marble statues are produced and shipped all over the world some weighing many tons. You can take the lift up to the top, not actually a mountain, but if you visit on a cruise tour you are expected to walk up or stay on the coach. Hoi An is a trip back in time, one of our favourite places of all. You need to purchase a tourist ticket at one of the booths, this allow you to visit 5 places on the map ranging from temple to restored houses. By doing your own tour will give you a lot longer to visit at your own pace. Nha Trang - the shuttle bus will drop you in the town, not a lot to see in town. Taxis available outside the port gates, bargain hard. Usual tourist sites to see in the town but there are some nice places to visit within a short drive. Phu My - for Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City the port is around 2hrs into the city. There are plenty of Mini buses available portside a seat will cost about 30-35US$, don't be tempted to go outside the port gates these will rip you off and waste your valuable time. Holland America transfer $59 each. The government buildings / museums close for lunch 12.30-14.00. Getting around Saigon is easy, taxis are metered and cheap. Sihanoukville, Cambodia -- shuttle into town supplied free of charge which drops you off near to the central market, a trip back in time sells everything from usual tourist items to live fish. You will be soon surrounded by tut tut drivers, all seem to speak very good English. Slightly different to the usual tut tut, actually motorcycles with a trailer, so make sure you are happy with its condition. Not a lot to see as this is quite a new port of call for cruise ships. Laem Chabang , If you want to organise your own transfer its easy to do, do a Google search for Bangkok airport transfers. A good quality car for 2 cost us 1800baht each way (Bangkok Airport Transfers) Taxi / Minibus available in terminal for Pattaya (30mins) Bangkok (again 2hrs) prices are a bit higher than booking online prior, but allows you get together with others to keep the prices low. Getting around in Bangkok is easy using skytrain or tut tut. Koh Samui -- Tender Port -- Pier is awash with taxis, Koh Samui is a large tourist area and this was evident in the prices, be tough on haggling. The island is not that large and a road runs right round the edge. Singapore - cruise port is easy walking to metro so getting around is very easy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We have taken several cruises, all in different parts of the world, as we like to cruise to enjoy different cultures. We arrived in Hong Kong a few days before the cruise and stayed in the very convenient Marco Polo Hotel right at the ... Read More
We have taken several cruises, all in different parts of the world, as we like to cruise to enjoy different cultures. We arrived in Hong Kong a few days before the cruise and stayed in the very convenient Marco Polo Hotel right at the cruise terminal. On the morning of embarkation, we arrived at the terminal at 10.30am to find they were already opening up. We were among the first passengers to embark and were on the ship before 11am, in our cabin by 11.30 and shortly afterwards in the dining room enjoying the Marine's Welcome back lunch. The ship sailed 30 minutes late at 11.30pm the following evening due to some Russsian guests not understanding the immigration announcements, but it was a spectacular sail out of the Harbour and the mist that had been around for the last few days cleared so that we could see the lights. The demographics of the passengers on this cruise was different to previous HAL cruises. On the whole, the age group was a lot younger than normal....We in our 60's felt we were some of the older passengers. There were also a lot less US passengers. I believe the makeup of the passengers was approx 500 from UK, 250 Australians, 200 Canadians, and 150 from US, a Russian group and the rest was made up of various nationalities. We chose a verandah stateroom this cruise on the Starboard side...so that land would be on our side most of the time. Our cabin was under the overhang of the Lido, which turned out well as the weather was very hot, so it provided some shade. However, we are not people to sit for long...there is always something interesting to see or do! We have previously cruised on several other HAL ships, and really enjoyed the Zaandam. It was immaculately clean...the crew work 24hours day to keep it that way. We loved the decor of the ship, felt it was very tasteful...the music theme continuing throughout the ship with many valuable relics. We felt that the food on this ship was up with the best we have had on a Holland America Line ship...it was always fresh and served hot in the Main Dining room where we had fixed late dining at a table for two, which we requested when booking. We always feel that if you are hungry on a cruise it is your own fault as there is always somewhere to eat, and plenty of variety!! The crew as always were amazing! Always smiling and helpful. Special mention this cruise to the Front Office staff who were incredibly busy, as there were always long lines of people waiting to change money for the many countries this cruise visited. There always seemed to be a few people there to complain too! I am really not sure what about because we certainly did not find anything to complain about. Our only slightly negative observation was that we didn't feel that the Travel guide on this cruise was as knowledgeable about the ports as she could have been. We did not attend many shows as we have late dinner and after a big day in port 10pm was just too late for us! However the group that was brought on in Saigon for the Vietnamese show were fantastic. We did attend Trivia most days, and did very well with our International team! We did enjoy the ports. However as we have travelled in Asia on land quite extensively before, we did not do any excursions other than the ship's transfers into Bangkok and Saigon. We enjoyed our time wandering, particularly in the local markets. One port that we especially enjoyed was Sanya in China. The shuttle dropped us at an exclusive shopping centre that we had no interest in. However on the way we had seen what looked like a fair or market with several large marquees and many red balloons. It was about 2 km back so we decided to walk back to it as we love seeing local events. It turned out to be some sort of Chinese expo and was great fun see all the demonstrations of products! We even bought a few!! Sihanoukville in Cambodia was another new place for us and after walking around the market, we negotiated with one of the very persistent Tuk tuk drivers who gave us a wonderful tour for over an hour into the countryside and to many of the main sites of the town. The other ports we visited were Halong Bay and Saigon in Vietnam, Bangkok and Koh Sanui in Thailand before arriving in Singapore. Disembarkation went as efficiently as the rest of the cruise, and we stayed in Singapore for a few days afterwards. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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