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Sail Date: July 2010
We arrived in Anchorage on July 24, 2010 for our 11-night Holland America Cruisetour 2A The land portion was spectacular if not frenetic. The pace was blistering but most enjoyable. Of the many highlights that stand out, I will recount ... Read More
We arrived in Anchorage on July 24, 2010 for our 11-night Holland America Cruisetour 2A The land portion was spectacular if not frenetic. The pace was blistering but most enjoyable. Of the many highlights that stand out, I will recount but just a few. First, the Westmark Hotels were great, and the Westmark Inn in Dawson was spectacular. The service and food at most locations was of the highest quality and most appreciated. The train ride to Denali was a scenic wonder and the food quality and service on the train was five star. The Prime Rib dinner was exceptional. Our tour director, Kyle Kendall, and driver "Doris" will live in our hearts and memories forever. They both were excellent in their duties and their abilities to always go above and beyond what one would expect. Wow!!!!!! The included tours were all very good and very enjoyable, but the most enjoyable and what our fellow travelers agreed was the finest tour they ever encountered was the optional "Jeff King's Husky Homestead Tour" just outside of Denali Park. Absolutely fantastic! An oportunity to try panning for gold at the Eldorado Gold Mine was fun and profitable (I made $20 in gold). The ride from Whitehorse to Skagway on the White Pass Railroad was as scenic as anyone ever deserves. It is truly beautiful. In Skagway we boarded the Volendam for our cruise to Vancouver We didn't board in Sitka as it may state above. This form just doesn't list Skagway as a port of embarkation and you can't submit a review unless you put in a port of embarkation; so I opted for Sitka instead of Singapore. The only thing we expected on the Volendam was the same outstanding service and quality that we had become accustomed to on the Zuiderdam and the Rotterdam; and you know what? We got it! The Lido Deck Restaurant Manager "Neil" wast at the top of his game, and impressed us all. Our cabin attendants , Deden and Agus, kept our stateroom spotless and stocked with fresh ice and necessities. And "Lucky" at the 'Dinner Reservation' desk always got us the dinner times we wanted for the "As you like it" or "Open Dining" in the Dining Room. What we didn't expect and got was a whiff of something that smelled akin to walking past a campground 'outhouse' every time we traversed the distance from our elevator to our cabins 2713 and 2711. So, for four days, we had to endure this unpleasantness because no one could figure out why it smelled. Or they just pretended ignorance. My suggestion to the 'Guest Relations" staff was to move the Captain's quarters down to 2713. I am sure that he would have had the problem corrected post-haste. I first made our cabin steward aware of the problem, but all he could do was spray the hall with a flowery odorizer that all-too-soon disappeared. I then contacted Guest Relations and talked to a young, anguished-looking female trying to formulate an adequate response in an English language that was certainly not her first language. As expected, that was doomed for failure before I left the desk. So, I wrote the following poem, and requested that it be delivered to the head of on board 'guest relations'. The Volendam She's called the SS Sewer-dam. I don't know what's the fuss, Her halls smell like a cesspool to the Deck 2 folks - that's us! We told our faithful steward, he sprayed the halls to smell, Like a floral garden, whose petals too soon fell. We then went to the front desk, and reported the odor of waste They promised us quick action, but moved at a glacial pace. So you can call us stinky. It's what Holland America would want! Thank God we're only on her for a stinking four-day jaunt. This got us an almost immediate response from a very pleasant Ms. Claudia Duschl, who visited our cabin and to whom we also pointed out the carpeted-over holes in our stateroom floor. The holes were of varying sizes from small 4 or 5 inch wide holes to one nearly 10 inches long in which my wife tripped and fell, thankfully without sustaining any significant injury. This stateroom SHOULD NOT have been available for occupancy given its' state of hazard...... BUT....... In addition to the problems we encountered in our stateroom 2713, I would be totally remiss in not advising you of the total breakdown of safety protocols aboard the Volendam for those passengers who boarded in Skagway, Alaska on July 31, 2010. During the first day, passengers were invited to a 'mandatory' boat drill to learn proper evacuation etiquette should the need arise to employ such actions. We were advised that if we attended the first day, then we would not have to attend the next day. Quite bluntly, life boat drills, though a pain in the rear, are absolutely necessary to maintain life safety. I opted to go on the first day along with some fellow passengers. To say it was handled properly would be akin to saying the Keystone Kops are a professional police organization. Total disarray seemed to be the order of the day during the drill. Crew members could not locate passenger names or cabins and did not even check to see that both members of the cabin were present, and then had trouble reading the ID cards even with their reading glasses. There was but a handful of passengers present, AND MY WIFE wasn't one of them. She was napping in our cabin, opting to attend the drill the following day. OOPS!!! There was no life boat drill the next day......the Captain and Crew of the good ship Volendam forgot to have the life boat drill. As far as I am concerned, every other disorder or problem one could encounter at sea pales in comparison to the potential disaster that could occur because the Captain and crew failed to properly carry out their "mandated duties". I am shocked that this was not done, and received nothing but blank stares and dumb looks when I broached the subject with crew members. The Volendam is an accident waiting to happen.....you would be well-advised to avoid her. Having sailed on the Zuiderdam in May, I know Holland America is much more than the disappointment of the Volendam. And I wholeheartedly hope that everyone gets to experience the Alaskan/Klondike tour of a lifetime as we have. Read Less
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