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350 Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Reviews

This was our second ever cruise and our first on Holland America. We could not have been more pleased with the experience. The total experience exceeded our high expectations. We did not know what to expect from Holland but soon discovered ... Read More
This was our second ever cruise and our first on Holland America. We could not have been more pleased with the experience. The total experience exceeded our high expectations. We did not know what to expect from Holland but soon discovered they were outstanding. The ports of call were excellent and the transfer from sea to land were quick and easy. We were fortunate to have the very best server on the ship for our dinner meals. He was superb in every facet and made the dining experience special every night. We were amazed at the quality of the food...it is truly 5 star quality. The cabin crew was also number one and went above and beyond to ensure our every need or desire was met. The Ryndam is fine but we spent most of our time doing land excursions which was the purpose of the trip for us. If you like to visit other countries and cultures this is a must cruise. You will see and do more in three weeks than you could ever imagine. As my "Bride" said, she really enjoyed the few days at sea to rest for the next land excursion. The pace is heavy but the reward is worth the effort. We were fortunate on our first cruise to find the Cruise Critic Roll Call site for our Alaskan cruise. We made friends before boarding were able to learn from them the art of cruising. We also were able to share best sites for land tours. This carried on to our second cruise and paid huge dividends. If you want to get the most out of this cruise, you will need to invest a lot of time planning the land excursions. Early is better than later in preparing as tours fill up quickly. You are going into some small towns and the supply is limited. One of the best things we did was to go online and find a company providing a five city tour of the Baltic Capitals, TJ Travel. We started corresponding with them 8 months out and they were outstanding. They quickly responded to emails or calls. We could not have arranged better tours or tour guides to provide us such an unforgettable experience. They met us at each of the Ports with a very nice van , on time, excellent drivers and ready to go. The guides were highly educated, spoke fluent English and knew everything about the cities and cultures we were visiting. We talked to others on ship that had other tours and we realized very quickly we had the best. Not only do we think they are the best, you cannot beat the price for a four or five City Tour Package. You can find them at http://st-petersburg-tours.ru; info@st-petersburg-tours.ru;  This is an outstanding cruise and worth all of the effort you put in to make it special and worth pushing yourself to do the most you can on your land excursions. There will be time to rest later. Be sure to find the Roll Call site for your cruise and participate to discover ways to improve your cruise experience. Enjoy!!!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Perhaps the American connection lets things down but everything was about money and HAL's determination to relieve passengers of as much as the filthy lucre as they could. Pure greed! London West end prices for drinks on board even ... Read More
Perhaps the American connection lets things down but everything was about money and HAL's determination to relieve passengers of as much as the filthy lucre as they could. Pure greed! London West end prices for drinks on board even when in international waters, despite the fact that all supplies are probably purchased ex-bond and duty free. Although comparatively old, the ship was clean and well maintained, and the chief officer should be complemented on the state of the ship. My partner and I were not too interested in the evening entertainment, with the exception of the classical violin and piano combo in the Crow's-nest bar who played really well. We found the standard of food to be very good and always pleasing. The itinerary was good - Dover , Oslo, Christiansand, Stavanger, Ulvic, Dover - and enjoyable The mainly far eastern restaurant and hospitality crew were very good and friendly but you could be forgiven the feeling that any crew member making a single mistake would be flogged or, at the very least, never re-hired. I'm not saying that they were ill-treated but there was an atmosphere that I found unacceptable. Consequently, it may be a long time before I sail with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We have cruised Holland America Line (HAL) on both the Ryndam (May 2013) and Statendam (June 2012) which are very nice ships with only 1260 passengers. A nice main dining room with very good four-coarse meals, well served, not rushed with ... Read More
We have cruised Holland America Line (HAL) on both the Ryndam (May 2013) and Statendam (June 2012) which are very nice ships with only 1260 passengers. A nice main dining room with very good four-coarse meals, well served, not rushed with two formal nights per week that are not at all 'stuffy' (the jacket doesn't need to be black and a tie is not obligatory, however some males did go 'the full Monty' with DJ's, with some ladies dressed for a Prom). The Italian 'Canaletto' restaurant had a fee attached which was not applicable on the Statendam in 2012 (cruise to Alaska) ...a minor disappointment. We had an inside Main Deck cabin (698) at the very rear of the Ryndam that suffered from noise and vibration when docking ...again disappointing; last year (2012) we were on the same deck level (inside) but about ten cabins further forward and did not experience any noise or vibration ...maybe it's just a problem with the Ryndam? All on-board facilities are very good, the entertainment in the main theatre on the Ryndam was slightly better than the Statendam but otherwise both were good but not as good as the slightly larger (2200 passenger) NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) ships we have cruised with; also, NCL does not have formal dining nights. We only paid for cruise excursions in St. Petersburg - the expense of a Visa and the uncertainty of language and travelling around in Russia prompted this decision - the evening Hermitage trip is the best way to see it - the only problem was that HAL gave us conflicting advise of how to pay for taking photographs; yes there is a separate charge, either US$ and Rubles. HAL could have resolved this by adding the photographic fee as a supplemental option to the excursion price or just have it added to our on-board account because, apparently, the fee we paid to the guides and signed for, is paid back to HAL. Therefore, the Rubles I bought in Tallinn was unnecessary and surprisingly confused the guide when collecting the money, as did the Euro that most people only had; the guide, apparently, was expecting to be paid in dollars ...Euro was accepted in Russian gift shops but it's probably best to use Credit card. HAL should get this sorted out as most people on board were NOT American and therefore do not have the odd $5 loose-change to pay for taking pictures. However, for this cruise you will need Euro in Germany, Estonia and Finland, and Swedish Krona, Danish Krone and, of course, GB Pound (£) in the UK. All in all the Holland America Baltic Cruise is a great cruise and a little exhausting if you take full advantage of the time in port. Also, see our Port and Cabin surveys   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My husband and I are experienced cruisers, having sailed 11 times to such ports as Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Caribbean and Mexico. This was our first cruise in Europe and we were a little concerned about finding our way from London to ... Read More
My husband and I are experienced cruisers, having sailed 11 times to such ports as Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Caribbean and Mexico. This was our first cruise in Europe and we were a little concerned about finding our way from London to Dover, for embarkation. We need not have worried - all went quite well. We flew into London, took a bus from Healthrow to Victoria Station, and had pre-arranged for a B&B close to Vic Station. We walked it within 10 minutes. I recommendRick Steve's book on London to get details on survival there. It should be noted that if you want a quick tour of London, plan two days. One day was not enough as we were so tired when we arrived...We took a "hop on-hop off" bus tour but my husband slept through the entire thing, which is not a surprise considering we had been traveling for 24 hours. I would recommend the Red Tour Bus, not the Golden Tour. Red busses are plentiful and pick you up often. Golden left us stranded for long periods of time, and one bus passed right by our stop. To Dover: We arranged for a National Express bus from London to Dover on Friday afternoon. Another important note: Make those plans via internet - We were told it's difficult to get a bus out of London on a Friday PM - tickets sell out fast. So we were set. Bus was great. Again, got a B&B in Dover. I highly recommend Mason Deaux Bed and Breakfast, which was a five minute walk from the bus station. GORGEOUS place and we found it to be very reasonably priced. The owners, Di and Barry, were so helpful. On to the ship: We called for a taxi at 10 am May 4 and headed to the cruise ship terminal, which is in an old railway station and very nice. We got there way too early, waited about an hour, and were #'s 2 and 3 to board the ship. We were on the Collector's Voyage - 14 Day Norse Legends and Viking Sagas Cruise. We had a Veranda Suite and it was amazing! The veranda was so large and private...and it was so awesome to lay in bed and watch the scenery roll by. Our excursions: Bergen - A short walk to town and Bryggen, the shopping area in the wharf region. McDonald's has free Wifi. Don't miss the brand new fish and flower market right on the wharf. We took the Fantopf Stave Church and Greig Music Trip - both were wonderful. The concert at the Greig estate was especially beautiful and such a lovely setting for the concert hall. Flam - We tendered in. Yes, there are exhaust fumes but that's life. If you want the tender to move, you must put up with the fumes. This was a cute little town to walk. We took the 3-1/2 hour Flam Railway tour and it was lovely. Stopped at a waterfall, which was a goofy stop - not a nice place to gather around, we stood on the platform of the station and caught a glimpse of the waterfall. There will be more waterfalls to come - I would not recommend getting off the train for this. However, the stop at the hotel for waffles, jam and coffee is not to be missed. A lovely stop. This was a beautiful trip and you get to see breathtaking scenery up in the mountain and go through 20 some tunnels. Alesund - We took the Alesund Aquarium Tour - interesting but not fantastic. The best part of this tour was the area outside the building with the beautiful views on the water. I was told if you sat right outside the back door, close to the check out registers, you could access their Wifi! Didn't bring my laptop so didn't get to take advantage of this. After this visit we drove up into Mt Askala and what a view! Also got a nice drive through the area. Alesund is a gorgeous fishing harbor and the art nouveau architecture is unusual.....you'll enjoy any trip that gets you up into the elevations for photography. Eidefjord - we took the tour called Waterfalls and Waffles - were treated to a wonderful drive into the mountain, following a river, into a mountain plateau. . . the views were breathtaking. Once more we were treated to a stop at a lodge where we were served waffles with strawberry sauce and cream. YUM! We hopped back on our bus and made several other beautiful stops, including one at the Sysen Dam - a gorgeous point for photos. Take your Christmas card photo here! There was snow on the ground and it was chilly. Stopped at one more waterfall viewing spot and were able to check out a coffee shop/lodge there for a bathroom break and mocha latte. **After the first week the cruise returned to Dover, England. About 40% of the passengers left the cruise, and the rest of us stayed on for the second week. We had the day to explore Dover, and did - stopped at a McD's for Wifi. Oslo - Norway's capitol city - this is a big city folks! We walked about 10 minutes to the train station which was like a small shopping center - McD's for Wifi,, flower market, etc....We took the Hadeland Glassverks tour - which is located in their own private little village setting. We went into the factory and watched the demonstrations, then had our choice of shops to browse: bakery, china shop, glass shop, factory outlet shop, etc. Things were costly. Our second stop was the Viking Ship Museum - very, very nice. Kristiansand - We walked to city center and browsed through a shopping center. Walked the area and enjoyed the views. Browsed through a fish market. Lots of restaurants in this area and it's easy to find your way around. Found a large grocery store and bought my brown Norwegian goat cheese, and my lingonberry jam here. Norwegian people are helpful, kind and polite. The people we spoke to for directions or information were just lovely. We stopped at Kristiansand Cathedral and took photos. There is a little community of small, brightly painted houses that are several hundred years old and they are fun to see. No excursion this day. Stavanger - This is one cool port! It's easy to get around and everything was within 15 minutes walk of the port. Just get off the ship and walk to the end of the pier. . . there it is. If you like to shop, this is your place!! There were tents and kiosks set up in an open area in front of the Breiavartnet 12th Century Cathedral, which you can tour, for a price. Next to this open area is a fruit and veg/flower market - nice to browse. Beyond that is a large open air shopping center that goes on for blocks. There is everything high end, intermediate, and even a Goodwill in that area!. There was a McD's for Wifi. Past all the shopping and up in the upper tier over the port, is Old Stavanger - this is a preserved neighborhood of more than 180 early 19th century white wooden homes that have been preserved and overlook the marina. The streets are cobblestone and it is adorable and such fun to walk. Do it! Take your camera. The Norwegian Canning Museum is in this area. Ulvik - last stop! This tiny little hamlet of 1,000 people was so beautiful. It was surrounded by mountains, glaciers and a lovely and peaceful little stop. I tendered over and walked the little town with no fear of becoming lost. . . toured The Church of Ulvik, which was beautiful and quaint. Later in the day we took the Osa Mountain Trip tour. We drove around the Osa area and then explored up into the mountain and in the Espland Valley. We saw waterfalls, sheep, a reindeer, and Fjord horses! We drove hairpin turns and ended up overlooking Ulvik, the fjord and our ship. The reason I've gone into great detail regarding our excursions is because when I was planning this cruise, there was nothing for me to refer to -- perhaps this will help someone if they need to plan a similar cruise. Regarding the ship, it was lovely, clean, orderly, beautiful antiques and display items, nice artwork, tremendous service. I counted two babies on this cruise..... We were definitely an older group. I was told 60 % of us were from England and the rest from other places, such as Australia and USA. Our dining steward did a fantastic job, and the food was amazing in the first seating upper dining room, with a 6:00 dining time. We had a table for eight and we all got along famously....it was a very pleasant 14 evenings of dining together. Our room steward was such a sweet and kind man, considering these guys have recently been given additional rooms and responsibility. They work hard, and we gave them an additional tip because we felt they deserved it for their hard work and efforts. Regarding the Lido, disorganization reigned. We would save a table and split, looking for our breakfast. We never got to eat at the same time as one of us always was searching for something, or waiting for our food to be cooked. It seemed also that the dining areas were so jammed it was hard to find a place to sit. Lunch was much better but that's probably because most of the time people were off the ship and on excursions. We played the Newlywed game one night and won a bottle of champagne. . . . then arranged to dine at the Pinnacle one night and dropped off the champagne early so they could chill it and serve it to us with dinner. It was very nice. One distinct different between a Caribbean or Mexican cruise, and a European cruise, is they don't put that big push on shopping off the ship at International Diamonds etc. It was such a welcome relief to not have that constant yammering about shopping. We highly recommend this Norwegian cruise. Don't know how often it will be offered, but it was a lovely way to see the country and I would love to do it again, in the Northern area of Norway. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Embarkation Embarkation at Dover was very smooth and hassle free. State Room State room was clean and comfortable. Rather a nuisance that the magnifying side of the illuminated mirror had a blemish rendering it unusable. Stateroom ... Read More
Embarkation Embarkation at Dover was very smooth and hassle free. State Room State room was clean and comfortable. Rather a nuisance that the magnifying side of the illuminated mirror had a blemish rendering it unusable. Stateroom steward was excellent. Dining We had chosen open dining, no indication given that this was in the Lower dining room so on first night we waited at the upstairs of Rotterdam Restaurant until 8.00 pm only to be told we were in wrong place and sent downstairs where the queue was enormous, no one seemed to know the procedure, a terrible lack of communication. We were eventually found a table at 9.30 pm! Meanwhile I went to the Main Desk and asked that we be put on 2nd sitting from now on, this was done and for the rest of the cruise we enjoyed excellent dinners and good company at the same table each night. Lido Dining We chose to take breakfast and lunch at the Lido, breakfast was total chaos, not just the first day but all days. The stewards did not appear to speak English, service was slow, slap-dash and erratic, if like me you were getting breakfast for two people the first was invariably cold by the time the second was obtained. The lay out of the food in the Lido was bizarre, there was no logical sequence, bread was at the other end from the butter (sometimes only margarine was available)the full range of juices were frequently not all available at any one time, just chaos! Food at lunch was very good but there was still the same lay out problem as at breakfast. Why on Earth are trays not provided in this self-service restaurant? My husband sometimes uses sticks and I get his meals for him, this entailed going backwards and forwards repeatedly several times. The "Musak" in the Lido was exceedingly irritating. Entertainment Best entertainment was Adagio (violin and piano) in the Explorer's Bar while sipping a cocktail. Entertainment in the show lounge was reasonable but nothing special. Guitarist/singer in the Crow's Nest was good. Gratuities We chose to adjust the gratuities component on our final bill and give cash to those who had given good service. Tender to shore This was generally efficient but the diesel fumes were overpowering and highly unpleasant. The tender back from shore made a terrible meal of coming alongside the ship, one could see the crew member and officer on board at the gangway getting exasperated at the antics of the hapless tender crew. I will not really be in a hurry to sail with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We sailed on the Ryndam on May 7th from Dover for 2 7 night back to back cruises to different parts of the Norway fjords. Not sure why previous guests weren't totally impressed with the May Norweigan fjords cruise...I can recant most ... Read More
We sailed on the Ryndam on May 7th from Dover for 2 7 night back to back cruises to different parts of the Norway fjords. Not sure why previous guests weren't totally impressed with the May Norweigan fjords cruise...I can recant most of what they criticised. All meals were well organised and food changed daily..an extremely high standard. we chose freestyle dining, and the early sitting. Going around 6.30-7.00 there was never a queue, enjoyed meeting new people everytime, sharing tables of 4 and 6. Made many lovely friends on the cruise that we will keep in touch with. The Ryndam was spotless and healthy. They have a wonderful system of not allowing guests to help themselves to food in the first 48 hrs, preferring to serve you completely, thus reducing risks of any infection spreading that someone might have come on board with. Chatting the ship's dr. he said few ships do this, and he noticed a great reduction on onboard illnesses as a result...so well done Ryndam! We noticed that all the crew were exceptionally friendly, at ease and helpful...this has not always been the case with other cruises. It made for a very enjoyable cruise with the crew who often laughed and chatted with us. Ports of call were great on the first leg..Bergen, Flam railway a must.etc..but the second leg that visited Oslo, were more cities.The only lovely countryside was at Ulvik where once again we saw the snow capped mountains and small village life. The first cruise had more snowcapped mtns and villages. The major dissatisfaction for us and everyone we spoke with was the cost of the tours and ship excursions. These were marked way up and we mostly organised our own tours onshore for half the cost. This is regrettable and ship ended up cancelling some tours because of lack of numbers. Entertainment at night was welcome, but probably not the super standard we have seen on other ships. Pleasant but not exciting. Piano man Lee in the Mix bar was extremely popular and we visited him every night, enjoying his name the tunes nights and sing-alongs. Cabins were very spacious, well laid out. Ensuite has a bath as well as shower, unusual for ships. Bed so comfy and of course cabin stewards always attentive. we would travel on Holland America again after this cruise..being a smaller ship with only 1200 people, it wasn't crowded and we met friends easily around the ship. Perfect way to relax on a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have recently been sailing with Oceania and Seabourn but had wanted to go to Spain and Portugal and this HAL cruise on the Ryndam had a deal that was too good to pass up. In addition, the third person was free so we were able to bring ... Read More
We have recently been sailing with Oceania and Seabourn but had wanted to go to Spain and Portugal and this HAL cruise on the Ryndam had a deal that was too good to pass up. In addition, the third person was free so we were able to bring our 10 year old grandson along at no charge with the exception of his airfare. We have sailed on three previous HAL cruises and were satisfied with all of them so we had good expectations for this cruise. We were very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the cruise and we were most impressed with the wonderful crew. The ship is an older vessel, however, it was kept clean and although I noticed a few nicks here and there, it was fine. The food was very good although there could have been more choices. We are not big foodies so as long as the food is good, we are happy. The dining staff was outstanding and went out of their ways to be of service. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill one night compliments of AMEX Platinum and while it was very good, I wouldn't have paid the extra money for it when the food was just fine in the dining room. The afternoon tea was also very nice. While Oceania and Seabourn offer more extensive and special items in the dining room and the afternoon tea, the HAL items were just fine and I just figured that we got what we paid for and more. This cruise was about 1/4 the cost of a similar Oceania or Seabourn Cruise. The entertainment was also very good and we enjoyed it very much. The afternoon Trivia was fun and entertaining as well. There was a nice variety of activities available on the ship for those that wanted it. We used the gym when we could and it was well equipped and we didn't have any trouble getting on the equipment. My DH took the spinning class and was the only one in the class. We were a little concerned about have a 10 year old on a cruise that was taking place during the school year but we didn't have a thing to worry about. I don't have enough positive words to express what a good job Club HAL does with the kids. He couldn't wait to go there every evening and the staff was absolutely outstanding. They had interesting and fun activities for the kids and made every child feel welcome. We also found that our fellow passengers were very nice to him and we never felt like he was bothering anyone. We had originally booked an oceanview cabin (got a double upgrade by paying with Platinum AMEX). About a week before the cruise we were offered an upsell to a Verandah Spa Suite for $600. Again, I thought it was a good deal. The only thing I would like to say about the Spa Suite is don't pay any extra for the spa features because it is really the same as the other cabins except for two yoga mats, a small water fountain on the desk and a wooden floor mat in the bathroom. We were happy with the cabin but I wouldn't have paid any more for the spa items. The only time I had an issue on this ship was with the excursion and destination managers. The destination manager was not very knowledgable about the ports and certainly wasn't very forthcoming with information. The maps supplied by the ship were pretty useless so I was glad I had my iPhone maps with me. We heard comments from other passengers that they felt the same way. The excursion manager was just plain rude. At one port she was the only HAL rep at the terminal so I asked her if the beach and town were within walking distance. She told me to ask the Terminal Information Person which was problematic since she didn't speak much English. When I asked the destination manager again, she said I should just take the shuttle or a taxi and pretty much blew me off. We decided to try to walk and it was an easy walk and we were able to find our way. It just left a bad taste in our mouths when everyone else on the cruise was so helpful. I met one woman who had booked a ship's excursion in Gibraltar which was a cable car trip to the top of the rock. Unfortunately, the day we went, it was too windy for the cable car so the ship's excursion was cancelled. When I told her that we had just taken a taxi to the top, she said that no one on the ship had told her that was an option so she didn't go. It seems to me that when the excursion was cancelled, they could have given people some other options. Our grandson didn't want to leave the ship at the end of the cruise because he was having such a good time and I attribute a lot of that to the staff at Club HAL. I think the Ryndam is a great ship and that we got a great value. I wouldn't hesitate to sail with HAL in the future Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have just completed our first cruise with Holland America aboard Ryndam journeying from Barcelona back to Dover. We had never attempted to return to a different port/airport from our original starting point, but we let the train take ... Read More
We have just completed our first cruise with Holland America aboard Ryndam journeying from Barcelona back to Dover. We had never attempted to return to a different port/airport from our original starting point, but we let the train take the strain from Lowestoft to Stansted on the way out and from Dover Priory to Lowestoft on the return. Thanks to British rail for a trouble free journey. Our cruise was great, despite the unseasonally poor weather at most ports of call. We selected this cruise as it visited some ports that were new to us plus a few that we did not mind seeing again. The State room on Deck 4 was very comfortable and kept immaculate by Dan our Cabin Boy. We enjoyed the first dining sitting from 5.45pm sharing a table of four, very well catered for by Herman and his assistant young Dan. There was always a good choice from the daily ever changing menu and we only resorted to the "always available" only once. We really enjoyed the entertainment under the Cruise Directorship of Kieron Buffery. Thanks to the excellent resident singers and dancers, particularly Carrie who gave a brilliant one woman "show" on a sea day. Disembarkation came too quickly but like everything else by Holland America staff was super efficient. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
How wrong we were about Holland America Lines and how much we enjoyed every aspect of our cruise that was actually two legs - Spain, Portugal, then the Norwegian fjords.We love Barcelona so we and our "best friends" started at ... Read More
How wrong we were about Holland America Lines and how much we enjoyed every aspect of our cruise that was actually two legs - Spain, Portugal, then the Norwegian fjords.We love Barcelona so we and our "best friends" started at our favorite hotel, the Hotel 1898 right on the Ramblas, and spent 4 days wallowing in all that Barcelona has to offer. We boarded the Ryndam with the least hassle imaginable - especially since we imagained that we would receive lots of hassle as first-time HAL travellers with no "club" status. Great folks grabbed our bags right out of the cab, we walked right onboard, were escorted immediately to our cabins, and could not believe that our bags were already at our door! What service!! A far cry from our Princess, Celebrity, Discovery, or even Oceania experience.The ship was only 3/4 full on this first leg of our trip, which is quite nice, never crowds anywhere. The food was most impressive, in its variety and quality, including the specialty restaurants which we sampled as well - Canneletto and Pinnacle Grill. We all agreed, however, that our fun table for 8 at the early seating was the best and we didn't really need the extra restaurants. One dinner on the Lido deck, which included one of the best beef Wellingtons we'd ever had, was also impressive!We had a Veranda balcony cabin and our steward was exceptional - any requests were met immediately and he kept our room and bath spotless. As we were ending the 18 days following the cruise with another 4 in London we were away from home almost a month so were counting on the ship's laundry service - we were not disappointed with that service and it was quite reasonable - they had a special price for unlimited amounts of laundry making this "luxury" a good buy considering how much we gave them to do.The shows were great, sea days were delightful whether you wanted to just sit and read or avail oneself of a myriad of activities - we even learned how to fold those wonderful towel animals that we enjoyed every night on our bed - the spa services were lovely, although too expensive - and, in general, the most impressive thing we noted was the very high level of friendly service from almost every one of the staff. How so many in the dining room knew our name was amazing, but even when cutting through a different passageway, maintenance as well as other crew were both friendly and helpful. My only complaint would be the high cost of internet service - unbelieveable to us that in this day and age the cruiselines should be able to gouge customers for what is an essential service. We have learned to read reviews and check out all options re: what we do ashore, so the shore excursions we chose seemed to be of good value and with only one exception, delivered what the write-up promised. The staff refunded part of the cost when we and others complained about the "one exception" which also impressed us. Most of the ports we visited are not listed here for review, however. Overall I would give very high ratings to Holland America and my husband and I, as well as our friends, are looking forward to the Auckland -Sydney cruise next spring! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We're experienced cruisers who had never been to Europe and thought this was a good way to experience it. This was our 4th cruise with Holland and I selected them for the itinerary. We used Holland America's pre and post cruise ... Read More
We're experienced cruisers who had never been to Europe and thought this was a good way to experience it. This was our 4th cruise with Holland and I selected them for the itinerary. We used Holland America's pre and post cruise hotel packages and transportation which while pricey were excellent. The hotels & transportation were first class. Didn't have to worry about a thing. They had on-site personnel there to assist. This was the second time for us on the Ryndam and we heard she had just left dry dock. Replaced carpet in public areas and AC upgrades. I think they missed the boat on this one. The cabin treatments and public chairs, lounges all need some TLC. It's the crew that sets it apart and we weren't disappointed. The service is outstanding throughout the ship. I loved the bartenders and wait staff in the bars and lounges and they always remembered your name. We had the main seating for dinner in the MDR, ate at the Lido for breakfast and lunch and dined in the Pinnacle Grill once. Had room service one morning and the food arrived on time and piping hot. We enjoyed the Mariner's Brunch and the trivet is a nice souvenir. We purchased wine in Barcelona and brought 6 bottle on board with us. The $18 corkage is a bit high, but it beats paying what they want for the wine offered. The entertainment by the Ryndam Group was good, we didn't make the other shows, except for the Dancing with the Stars one which was excellent. Our fellow passengers were quite good. The "movie theater" could be better if they improved the screen and raised it higher. The popcorn was a nice touch. Used the spa and salon and both were nice. I don't like the sales pitch at the end of my massage, but the salon services were pleasant. Pricey. The Explorations area with the internet and library were popular and offered a nice retreat. Didn't gamble or play bingo, nor did we participate in the art auction. The on-board gift shop was nice. This is a smaller ship, so don't expect all of the hoopla of the larger ones. But there is enough to keep you busy or just relax. The weather was chilly, but the seas for the most part were smooth. We only had one day and night of rocking and rolling. The ship was only 80% full so no long lines or waits for embarkation or disembarkation. Our cabin was waiting for us when we boarded around 11:00. The shore excursions were wonderful and offered top notch tour guides and transportation. We were not disappointed in any of them and we took once in every port. All in all a great cruise and we shall continue to return to Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Ryndam carried us on our first trans Atlantic cruise. We had smooth sailing, wonderful service and food. We enjoyed all of the ports, especially Barcelona. But, the one thing I'd really rave about is their five new shows. They are ... Read More
The Ryndam carried us on our first trans Atlantic cruise. We had smooth sailing, wonderful service and food. We enjoyed all of the ports, especially Barcelona. But, the one thing I'd really rave about is their five new shows. They are Broadway-quality shows with exquisite costumes, professionally choreographed dancing, fabulous music, varied and gorgeous sets. One of the shows even showcased an aerial performance. Three of the shows won national awards in their category. So, if you're sailing on the Ryndam and also the Nordam, be sure to attend these phenomenal new shows--they aren't the usual fair of quaint singing and dancing! As of right now, these shows are being scaled to be reproduced on several of HAL's smaller ships too. So, be watching for fantastic new shows on HAL! (How do I know? Our son is the set designer. We went on this long cruise so we'd be sure to see all 5 of the shows!) Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Ryndam is a nice mid size vessel that is well-appointed, albeit showing its age a little. It's western Caribbean itinerary suited our need to experience sun, swimming, and adventures with different cultures. Traveling with my ... Read More
The Ryndam is a nice mid size vessel that is well-appointed, albeit showing its age a little. It's western Caribbean itinerary suited our need to experience sun, swimming, and adventures with different cultures. Traveling with my spouse and adult brother, we had our online boarding passes and got to the terminal with no problems. Embarkation took about 15 minutes at 1pm, so all was well. When we got to our staterooms, first problem- rooms were made up with twins not queens. Then called for dinner reservations for our "as you wish" dining and learned we had been assigned 8pm fixed seating. So now I'm wondering why I bothered to use the online system to register preferences?! Went to lido for food - wow what a zoo! I understand the need to contain disease, but they needed twice the number of servers or needed to get them to move a little faster. This was followed by an exceedingly disorganized lifeboat briefing. Not a good start. After that first days things picked . Our 8pm dinner time arrived and we were seated at "our" table, which was a 4top with just the 3 of us. Perfect. The waiters were great and food delicious, we decided maybe 8pm fixed seating would work for us after all. Returned to stateroom and found bed reconfigured to queen. All is now well. Good stuff : room service. Always prompt, no errors. Dining room staff - attentive, accommodating, remembered my drink order every night, 5star. Cabin stewards - excellent as always. Food - very good for the most part. Not so good: smoking is allowed on private verandahs - upwind of us the occupants smoked constantly. As a result we hardly ever used our verandah. Don't pay extra for a verandah if you're sensitive to smoke. Some cabin appointments were tired - refrigerator barely closed and leaked, wood furniture scuffed, lanai upholstery sun faded. Ports of call were the reason we chose this cruise and did not disappoint. Key west a cool, funky place, Roatan is an island we will return to for more water sports. Guatamala really interesting culturally and beautiful scenery on the rio dulce tour. Costa maya allowed great access to Mayan ruins. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Western Caribbean Cruise - March 10-17 from Tampa. The smaller ship ended up being one of the biggest bonuses of being on the Ryndam. Nothing seemed a long walk, and they had enough of everything on the ship that you didn't seem to ... Read More
Western Caribbean Cruise - March 10-17 from Tampa. The smaller ship ended up being one of the biggest bonuses of being on the Ryndam. Nothing seemed a long walk, and they had enough of everything on the ship that you didn't seem to be missing out on anything that the bigger ships had - other than the crowds. We found that it was definitely a quieter ship - which was nice - less running around - fewer lines at the breakfast and lunch buffets and lots of room around the pool on sea days. There never seemed to be the huge lines and crowds you usually encounter when on bigger ships. Our EMBARKATION was very smooth. We arrived via cab to the port in Tampa at about 11:40. They opened the doors for registration at noon and we were dropping off our carry-ons in our cabin at 12:30 and were off to the main dining room for lunch. Our CABIN was midship on the Main Deck - Quiet and easy to access the elevators and stairs. We tried to use the stairs as much as possible, but when using the elevators we never had to deal with full elevators. It was an interior room - nothing special as far as decor or size - but clean and updated. The stewards did a great job and seemed to invisibly know when the room was empty. The one problem we did have was with our air conditioning. They immediately brought a large fan to our room which worked out fine - did the trick while we were sleeping and spent little time in the room anyways. When it was fixed after a couple of days we found a letter in our door apologizing for the inconvenience and a generous credit to our account for the troubles. Nice touch to make the offer without even asking for it. The PUBLIC ROOMS were nice and well kept. The Explorers Cafe/Library had a surprising array of current magazines, novels and reference books - many to sign out from the 'librarian'. The little bars around the ship never seemed to crowded. Before and after dinner a classical pianist and violinist played to full crowds every evening. The piano bar always had a good late night crowd to partake in the interactive activities that the piano player had going. By the end of the week he had a hard core following. I was actually surprised at the quality of the shows in the main theatre. I thought that with a small ship they would cut back on their performances. They had 3 shows per night and most were very good. DINING - We ate all of our dinners in the main dining room at the late sitting. Our service was excellent. I know that ships are cutting back on staffing, however I give credit to the staff for their non-stop energy. The food was very good - I leaned towards the sea food entrees and they never disappointed. The lunch buffet also had a surprising variety and quality of food available. Again, for a smaller ship, I was expecting less. PORTS - We picked the itinerary because it was different, plus we were more interested in a relaxing cruise - not one running around at ports. Most of the stops (other than Key West, which was our favourite stop) didn't really have anything there to get off the ship and explore around. Two of the ports - Costa Maya, Mexico and Mahogany Bay, Roatan were really just 'fake' ports built by Carnival, with a variety of bars and shops. Mahogany Bay had a nice man-made sandy beach. The port in Santo Tomas in Guatemala is a container port with a large local arts and crafts warehouse by the ship. There is nothing else within walking distance. A group of us did take a taxi van for a tour of the neighbouring city - definitely an eye opener. Our group was called to DISEMBARK at 8:15. After going through customs and getting our bags, we were getting into a cab by 8:40. A very smooth end to the cruise. The best indicator of what my wife and I thought of the ship is that we have already booked an 11 day cruise on the Ryndam for this summer from Dover to Barcelona. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My wife and I have traveled extensively, both domestic and international, plus we have enjoyed a number of cruises, so we have a good bit of experience with cruise ships and associated land tours. Most recently we sailed on Holland ... Read More
My wife and I have traveled extensively, both domestic and international, plus we have enjoyed a number of cruises, so we have a good bit of experience with cruise ships and associated land tours. Most recently we sailed on Holland America's ms Ryndam for a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise in early March, 2013, with family members including our wonderful 11-year-old granddaughter. This was our 9th cruise with HAL, which is our favorite line. Everything about the ship and the cruise was to our complete satisfaction, the usual first-class operation that Holland America typically provides. The Ryndam is small by today's standards, with space for some 1,250 passengers, which we prefer. It is tastefully appointed and decorated, lots of brass and glass, enough elevators, comfortable lounges, ample lounge chairs at the pool and on the outside decks, the usual casino and bars and shops, and the entertainment was acceptable for the most part. I simply don't understand the criticisms stated in previous members' reviews -- dining room food disappointing, slow service, Lido food/service terrible, a/c problems, "funereal cruise" (?), etc. We experienced NONE of this. The food was consistently very good in both the Lido buffet and in the Rembrandt dining room (and the choices were extensive), our young expert in such matters rated the pizza highly, dinner in the Pinnacle was outstanding as usual, and our room service breakfast was good and on time. Plus the service in all of these areas was quite good -- friendly, attentive, professional and prompt. Our cabin stewards deserve particular kudos for the fine job they did in keeping our stateroom clean and comfortable, the bar servers were all friendly, fun and professional (the Ocean Bar group was especially good), and the Front Desk staff was capable and helpful. Yes, as one reviewer has pointed out, the Ryndam is getting a bit old, but with one exception we saw no evidence of this (a section of paneling in the Ocean Bar was a bit worn). The ship was clean and 'shipshape' throughout, and everything worked just fine. The bed and bathroom linens were in good condition, as were the linens in the dining rooms; all of the carpeting was in good shape, except the 'day' carpets in the elevators could use a cleaning; everything was polished and well-maintained -- although the windows in the Ocean Bar did need washing and the deck chair pads were faded. Our family all agreed that this particular Western Caribbean itinerary (there are others) was superior to the Eastern routes, as all those Caribbean islands start to look the same after a while. Key West is what it is ("90 miles from Havana, and an immeasurable distance from sanity"), although the family really enjoyed the butterfly conservatory. Mahogany Bay, Roatan, was a good stop. The faux village dock complex that Carnival Corp. constructed was what you would expect, full of shops, etc. But consider the RoatanCruiseExcursions.com 'Roatan, Garifuna, Mangrove Tunnel and Iguana Farm Island Tour,' which is a lot of fun, the boat ride through the mangroves is quite an experience, and Norma, our driver/guide, did a good job. (As a side note, we have found that independent land tours are considerably less expensive than those from HAL, with far fewer people, more flexibility and, if you do some research and ask good questions and choose carefully, usually better value for money.) Puerto Santo Tomos de Castilla, Guatemala, is simply a big container cargo shipping dock with a native crafts pavilion, although the latter was fun to shop and g-daughter had a ball. I suspect that HAL and other lines have their ships stop here just to sell profitable land excursions (and perhaps help improve the poor economy in the area). There were some interesting tours available, e.g., Rio Dulce, Quirigu Ruins, but we didn't venture out. Costa Maya was the last, best port despite a very long pier and, again, a large man-made dock area with three pavilions full of the usual suspects, e.g., Diamonds International and etc., plus pool, bars and restaurants. We again did an independent tour, 'Chaccoben Mayan Ruins,' with TheNativeChoice.com. The tour was outstanding, particularly since it is a smaller ruins site, representative without being overwhelming. Even the 50-minute or so drive to the site through the local countryside (in a new, comfortable mini-van) was interesting, particularly thanks to Enrique, our fine guide. And I was strongly assured before we booked the tour (in advance, of course) that TNC absolutely guaranteed we would be back to the ship before its early departure at 3 p.m. I was just sorry that we didn't have time to visit Mahahual for a couple of hours. All-in-all, we feel the ms Ryndam is a fine ship, our stateroom was quite comfortable, the cuisine was very good and the personnel excellent, it was an interesting itinerary, and we enjoyed some first-rate tours. We may just do this one again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We just returned from a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Ryndam, March 17-24, and had a great time! This was our 8th cruise (5 HAL, 3 Celebrity) and we have never had better service than on the Ryndam. We flew in a day early and ... Read More
We just returned from a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Ryndam, March 17-24, and had a great time! This was our 8th cruise (5 HAL, 3 Celebrity) and we have never had better service than on the Ryndam. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Tampa Marriott Waterfront. The hotel was gorgeous. They had everything you could possibly want, including a fitness center and an excellent breakfast buffet. The location just half a mile from the cruise port was great, although driving in the area was a bit of hassle at night because so many downtown streets were blocked off for events. I was disappointed that the hotel failed to provide the medical refrigerator I had requested for a member of our party. Also, my in-laws had to deal with several staff members who didn't seem interested in helping them unless they were tipped. I would recommend this beautiful hotel due to its location, amenities, and ambience, but the service could be better. We boarded the Ryndam about noon, and rooms were available immediately. Our room was a verandah cabin, well maintained but showing some age. The verandah was the smallest we've ever had. The safe was barely large enough for my iPad; it would not have held a laptop. There were holes in the bathroom wall where a shelf should have been. The shower wouldn't turn on simply by pushing the button, it had to be punched with some force. And our toilet stopped flushing 7 times during the cruise. Each time we reported it, they got it working again, only to have it malfunction again within a day. One evening we had no hot water in the bathroom for a couple of hours. My brother-in-law, next door, did not have any such problems, but his shower also required considerable strength to turn on. I think we will avoid sailing on such a small, old ship in future. Despite some small disappointments with the cabin, we enjoyed the cruise immensely. This was largely due to the fabulous service. I really don't see how it could have been better! Our cabin stewards, Aan and Gede, were so helpful and efficient. Aan was quick to offer an extension cord when he saw that my husband had a CPAP machine. (I recommend bringing a plug adaptor to convert the European 2-pin outlet to American style. This worked well since we could plug in the CPAP and still have the second, American, outlet available for charging electronics.) Silvia and Claudia at guest services were always gracious. The mealtime staff were great, and I can't speak highly enough of Leah and Ronaldo's drink service, and Jobelle's barista skills. The excellent service really made this cruise for us. This was our first experience with not having a set dining time, and it worked very well for us. A couple of times we had to wait maybe three minutes for the size of table we wanted. Most of the time we walked right in. The main dining room food and service were very good. We ate at the Lido a couple of nights, and felt the MDR dinner food was much better. The Lido was fine for breakfast and lunch. My BIL ordered room service several times and said it was good. We had one dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, and it was excellent. We also did the evening at Le Cirque. Although we all enjoyed it, I wouldn't necessarily do it again due to the limited menu and the upcharge. My husband thought Le Cirque was worth the price, though. The only area where we really noticed cutbacks from previous cruises was in the Lido. One morning, a server briefly circulated with coffee refills. Other than that single occasion, we always had to fetch our own coffee, juice, water, etc., and we were never asked if we wanted soda, wine or cocktails. Glasses and cups were filled by a server at the beverage stations even after the initial 48-hour Code Red expired, and we usually had to wait for several minutes to get beverages. During the initial Code Red, all water was served in tiny juice glasses, so it was hard to get properly hydrated. We were relieved when larger drinking glasses appeared after the Code Red ended, although I still don't understand why they weren't used from the beginning. We also missed the variety of Indonesian and Asian dishes which we previously enjoyed in the HAL Lido. Onboard entertainment was very good. We attended several activities and lectures, all well conducted. Party planner Sydney did a great job. Singer Phillippa and Piano Man Lee were highly entertaining. The gym was well equipped and never crowded. We also enjoyed the ports very much. Oddly, ship time changed a couple of times, but was still never in sync with local time, which made it a little difficult to coordinate port activities. On our previous cruises, the ship always kept local time. I don't see the point in adjusting ship time if it's still going to be different than local time. At Cozumel, we did a ship-sponsored clear kayak and snorkel excursion to Chankanaab Park. This activity was very well organized. Our guide at Chankanaab, Gizmo, couldn't have been better. He was so sweet and helpful to the newbies in our group, showed us all the best spots, and was a great advocate for ocean conservation. We noticed less variety of fish and coral than on our previous visit to Chankanaab 10 years earlier, but the snorkeling was still good. The clear kayak was fun, although we couldn't see much except when we were in shade under a pier. We enjoyed an excellent lunch before returning to the ship. At Roat'n, we were scheduled to tender at Coxen Hole, but switched to docking at Mahogany Bay. The taxi coordinator initially asked $90 roundtrip for three people to West Bay, but agreed on $75. We enjoyed the ride very much, finding this to be one of the most beautiful islands we've ever visited with its palmy beaches, turquoise water, brightly painted houses, and green mountains. West Bay was great. We tried for day passes at Infinity Bay, but none were available. We ended up at Bananarama, which was nice. We enjoyed some of the best walk-in snorkeling we've ever done! The water was warm and perfectly calm, and there were big coral heads in water so shallow, we actually had to seek out deeper water so we wouldn't run aground on the coral. We brought bananas to feed the fish, and one big parrotfish followed us around begging like a dog. We also rented a kayak, hung out on the beach, and had lunch. I got four mosquito bites despite wearing DEET, but none of our party had any trouble with sand fleas. After returning to the port, we enjoyed the shopping, nature trail, and pretty beach at Mahogany Bay. Great day, one of our all-time favorite ports. At Santo Tom's de Castillo, we did a prearranged tour with Happy Fish. I would recommend it, but I do think they could improve their scheduling and organization. We docked at 7:00, and the tour was supposed to begin at 9:30. We, and several others on the tour, wondered if this was local time. I was not aware in advance that ship time was going to be different, or I would have clarified this ahead of time. So a bunch of us showed up early just in case. Happy Fish told us the tour was set for 10:30 ship time, but they would leave as soon as they had a group assembled. We killed time shopping at the port (best & most unique shopping of the cruise!) and just hanging around, hoping to get started. Well, the tour left exactly as scheduled, and we could see from the organization that there had never been any possibility of leaving earlier. That's fine, but I wish they had been upfront about it, so we could have put our time to better use. Once the tour finally started, it was excellent. Guatemala was very hot and steamy that March day, so we were happy to have a tour that ran mostly by boat. The bay crossing was scenic, and the Rio Dulce canyon was one of the most beautiful places any of us had ever seen. We were amazed to see U.S. Army gunboats patrolling the river. The whole tour felt very exotic, and very different from any other excursion we have done. The Mayan school village was practically deserted, since the children had been sent home early for Holy Week. This was a surprise to our guide, but she did the best she could. We enjoyed the fish lunch in picturesque Livingston, although it was very late (2:30 our time). At 3:30, we were supposed to walk around Livingston, but our tour group had to protest because we had only one hour till all-aboard, and the bay crossing takes 30 minutes. We all agreed that we would have enjoyed seeing more of Livingston and less of the hot, deserted Mayan school. The tour was great, but would have been even better if it started earlier, provided lunch earlier, and spent more time in Livingston and less in the humid jungle. At Costa Maya, we were hoping for a setup like Mahogany Bay, since both are cruiseline-owned ports, but there wasn't much to do in the port area except shop and use the pool. There was a bus running to Mahahual for $3 per person. We walked just outside the port gates to the taxi stand and caught a ride for $2 per person with no waiting. Mahahual beach was beautiful. The vendors were pretty aggressive. We enjoyed a nice lunch on the beach before returning to the ship for one last sea day. Disembarkation was efficient, as usual on HAL. I have only praise for the staff and administration of this cruise. The Ryndam was a little dated despite HAL's best efforts to keep it in repair. Ports and organization were excellent, and service was the best ever. We all enjoyed this cruise very much. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was my second cruise, the first having been on Celebrity. Unfortunately, despite traveling at what is typically considered to be the dry season, we had storms and clouds for four or five of the seven days. The high winds contributed ... Read More
This was my second cruise, the first having been on Celebrity. Unfortunately, despite traveling at what is typically considered to be the dry season, we had storms and clouds for four or five of the seven days. The high winds contributed to big waves that led to a substantial amount of motion on this smaller ship. However, none of this is the fault of the cruise company as I knew this was a risk of going on a relatively small ship. I'm going to review the cruise on a day-by-day basis below: Day 1: Departing Tampa. Boarding was a bit slow as they did not let people onto the ship until late, this left people waiting outside the terminal area. However, to those of us coming from snow, this hardly presented a problem. Once the line got moving, we were checked in quickly, put our carry luggage away and began to explore the ship. Overall the ship is in very good condition for its age, other than a few elevators that malfunctioned periodically through the ship. When we got tired of exploring, we returned to our room to find out luggage sitting by our door ready to be unpacked. We were seated for dinner, and our waiter Gedi was very efficient and pleasant. To round out the night, we went to a show and then explored a little bit more of the ship before returning to our room. Day 2: Key West, Florida. We arrived to Key West on time, however we did not dock at Mallory Square as scheduled. Instead we docked at the Navy Pier and had to take a tram to get off the base. Unfortunately, this shortened an already too-short stop on the cruise to less than five hours. We explored Key West using the silver CityView Trollies that we booked in advance. Unfortunately, we both needed to use the bathroom rather urgently, so we went into the closest restaurant for lunch, Eat it Raw. In hindsight, we should have gone to one of many other places that would have provided a more unique lunch experience, but Eat it Raw was a more than adequate tourist trap restaurant. We boarded the ship and everything went smoothly with dinner and the show. Day 3: Sea Day. Being on a very small ship, there was not a whole lot of excitement to be had on the sea days. I had anticipated this booking on a small ship, however, I had not anticipated the weather during the Caribbean's "dry" season. Because it was overcast, windy, and at times rainy, the crew actually blocked people from being able to use most of the open spaces. I had planned to bum around outside on much of the sea days. Tea time was nice, even though I am not much of a tea person. Formal night was nice as most everyone actually dressed up appropriately who entered the dining room. The ship was rocking so hard at one point during dinner that our waiter actually fell into the wall in the corner of the ship. The nightly show was also nice. Day 4: Roatan, Honduras. Once again, the weather was not great, but it may have actually helped to hold the temperature down. We booked a trip with Victor Bodden Tours. As there were supposed to be three ships on the island that day, we actually had an "overflow" driver named Homer(?) who drove taxi 303. As it turned out, the large Carnival ship could not dock due to the winds. Homer was tremendous! He showed us many different parts of the island from the east to the west. He took pictures of us together, bought us local fruits, gave us some of his story as well as the island's story, and explained and answered any questions we could throw at him. We got back to the boat in more than enough time but had felt we had seen the entire island! We had a couple hours so we boarded the ship, then got back off and went to the Carnival owned beach to hang out for a little bit. The food at dinner was great as usual. We were supposed to have the Vegas-themed show that night, but one of the dancers had injured herself so we were subjected to seeing the next night's show, Dan Bennit. I say subjected because we both thought he was terrible! His stunts took him several attempts to complete and his humor was dated, corny, and predictable at best (this comes from someone who laughs and makes jokes at ANYTHING, including things most would find very inappropriate). I actually felt like getting up to leave, but decided to wait it out in the false hopes that it would improve. It did not. It was as if there was a manic chicken running around with its head cut off, panting and making bad jokes. It appeared that many in the audience did enjoy his brand of humor though. Day 5: Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala. We pulled up to Guatemala on time and got off the ship at a cargo port. The descriptions you read online are absolutely accurate; it is in fact a fully functional cargo port. We decided to take the much lauded "Go With Gus" Livingston Humanitarian Tour. I won't go on and on about how AWFUL of an experience it was here, instead I will post that separately in the Guatemala thread. But a quick summary of what happened: we left late, substantially ran behind schedule, sat at stops for far too long while he conducted other business, didn't eat lunch until almost three, the lunch was served room temperature, had our walking tour cut short, then had to literally race back to the ship once he realized we were running behind. He told us "I have never missed a ship in seven and a half years. Don't worry, the ship doesn't leave until 4:30 my time." Point in fact, the ship left at 4:30 our time. Once he realized this, we sped back to the ship across choppy waters (due to the bad weather) and arrived to the ship five minutes late; it was actually quite a painful ride. Luckily, the Captain's wife and two daughters were on our tour, so the ship waited for us. Perhaps, Gus should say in the future "I have not missed a cruise ship in seven and a half years, thanks to having the Captain's Wife and family." This led to a VERY stressful and unpleasant day in Guatemala. (To add to the fire, we ran into a couple in Costa Maya who had booked a "Go With Gus" Mayan tour on a previous cruise, and had a very negative experience as well. After catching our breath, we prepared for dinner, which was nice as usual, and then got to see the Vegas show that was postponed from the earlier night. Thank God, I wasn't sure I would survived if I had to see Dan Bennit after my day with Gus! Day 6: Costa Maya, Mexico. We docked at Costa Maya on time and took the short, two dollar cab ride to Mahahual where we went to Tropicante. We enjoyed our beach time in the sun (the first truly nice day of weather on the cruise) and his faux Mexican food. We got back on the boat and prepared for the final formal night. It was odd that a port day was selected to be the formal night, but the only alternative would have been to have it the next sea day, but people are more worried about packing up than having a formal night on the last night of the cruise. It was this night that I encountered the most disrespectful passenger of the cruise. At dinner, we would frequently look at a six-person table a few over from us and quietly make fun of an incredibly difficult and pretentious couple. He knew more than anyone in any topic (or so he thought) and would tell the people at the table so. He would brag about his accomplishments and vacations all while sipping his wine and behaving in a way as to make the rest of his table feel like he was God's gift to man. His wife made it a point to show off that they had been on so many cruises that she has memorized the words to the Indonesian birthday song that is sung when someone is celebrating their birthday. She would clap and sing as if it was her own tradition. One of the other women at her table just rolled her eyes when she did this for the second time on our cruise. When the steak and lobster was served, the lobster was cracked with the meat out the top. He just looked at our waiter, Gedi, and just said "So are you going to get this out, or am I going to have to?" No thank you, no excuse me, nothing but a rude attitude; Gedi took this in stride. Unbelievable. The show was Droom. It was definitely a good show, but not as amazing as everyone else said it would be. Day 7: Sea Day. This sea day was far nicer than the first. The weather was great so we could get out anywhere we like and relax in the sun and wind while smelling the ocean. Our Cruise Director had his going away speech, which was actually quite enjoyable as he put a real comedic spin on it with his anecdotes and imitation dancing. We attended another tea time that was enjoyed more so by my counterpart than myself. We also attended the towel folding presentation, which was more of a comedy act than the Dan Bennit show from earlier on the trip. The two stateroom attendants who took time out of their day to put on the show were funny and good at what they do. The other activities this day were adequate, but not superb. It was world cuisine night at dinner, I got burned on a few choices (maybe I stepped a bit too far out of my comfort zone), but thoroughly enjoyed a few of the others. The Dancing with the Stars show was a lot of fun. Day 8: Leaving the ship in Tampa. Our luggage was all of the ship and in good condition. We left the ship exactly on time and made it through customs without a problem, despite the daunting looking line. HAL had this process down to a science. Overall I really enjoyed this cruise. Our room attendant, Agus, was tremendous! We always had a towel animal and clean room anytime we would return to it. He was very personable and excited about traveling to Europe for the next leg of his contract. The food in the dining room was very good, the lido was acceptable, and I always enjoyed the snack bar by the pool. The night time snack was not so great, but I really didn't need that anyway. The entertainment, save Dan Bennit, was very good. The ship is a bit old and showing its age, but is still beautiful, clean, and in great shape. I had a good experience on Holland America and would not hesitate cruising them in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We booked this cruise because we had fallen in love with the ship and the crew on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise on this ship. We wanted to come back to the Ryndam and whoever said 'you can't go back' was very wrong. This ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we had fallen in love with the ship and the crew on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise on this ship. We wanted to come back to the Ryndam and whoever said 'you can't go back' was very wrong. This cruise was even better than the first time. FLIGHT To start our holiday we flew with WestJet from Moncton to Tampa - a good flight. Comfortable seats and excellent in flight staff. HOTEL We were booked into the Riverwalk Sheraton and found the hotel comfortable and its restaurant to have good food as we ate there for the two days we stayed. We had a room with a balcony overlooking the river and spent time watching the activity on the river. The downside of the hotel occurred after we had left on our cruise. We had been warned here on cruise critic about crooks who used equipment to scan charge cards and passports that have embedded technology. Before we left home we purchased covers to protect our charge cards and passports. When we arrived at the hotel to check-in (our room was already paid) we were asked for a charge card to cover incidentals - which is normal procedure. When my husband's card was scanned he was told 'it was not working'. He then pulled out a back up card which is never used but after he pulled it out he was told his original cards was now fine and working. This was the only time and place this backup card was brought out. Internet is never good in the middle of the Atlantic and we did not bother to try checking our bank information until about two weeks after sailing - because we were not using our cards. It was a shock to see that almost $1000 had been run up on my husband's back up charge card - after we had left the hotel and embarked on the ship! These charges were in Tampa and other locations in Florida. My husband immediately contacted his charge company and that card was cancelled and the charges reversed. I hope the businesses that lost money track down the thief or thieves and charge them. EMBARKATION We took a taxi to the ship around 11:00 a.m. and our luggage was promptly taken and we were only waiting a short time before having our photo taken and our cabin keycard issued. We went to our cabin - dropped off our carry on cases, put our money and passports in our safe and headed off to the Rotterdam dining room for the 'welcome back luncheon'. We went back to our cabin after lunch and the first of our suitcases was already there and by the time we had it unpacked, the other cases had arrived. Absolutely excellent service. THE CREW We were delighted to find we had the same Captain, Werner Timmers, and the same Hotel Director, Simon de Boer on this cruise. The captain has a great sense of humour and is very personable and visible to the passengers. Simon has become a friend of myself and my husband - who appreciate both his kindness and his teasing. He is the heart and soul of the ship. We were delighted to find a lot of the crew we had met in the fall were still on board and very pleased that they remembered us too. ENVIRONMENT The Ryndam is a small ship (approximately 1200 passengers and 500 crew members). It is also an older ship that has recently had a refit and new carpets were visible in many locations. It is extremely well maintained. We found the ship very clean - and the first three days after each embarkation (we were on for 3 back to back cruises) the cleaning was constant and repeated over and over again to ensure that embarking passengers were not bringing illness aboard. There were middle of the night checks (while passengers were sleeping) by crew to test for any bacteria. These were the healthiest cruises we have ever been on as a result of the hard work of the crew. I saw an earlier review that stated otherwise. As far as I am concerned (and others in our ship roll-call who saw the review agree)it was a pack of lies by someone hiding behind a handle who was not willing to sign their name to their review. I am more that willing to state my name and give an honest review of our cruises. When one is in a port of call - the ship is open to the elements - flies or birds can come on board temporarily on Lido deck - but these do not remain there. I never saw the Lido deck other than clean. FOOD The food on the Ryndam is excellent whether one is in the Rotterdam dining room or the Lido cafeteria. There is terrific variety in the menus and in 34 days we were never bored with the food and could eat something different every dinner - never repeating ourselves unless we wanted to do so. The quality and freshness were excellent, we were especially delighted with the wide variety of sugar-free desserts available to my diabetic husband. We have never found this variety on any other ship or cruise line. We were amazed by the number of specialty regional meals, deck barbeques, chocolate evenings and other offerings in addition to all the regular dining choices. Even more impressive was the sizing of the meals and variety of healthy options so that one could enjoy all the wonderful meals without gaining a lot of weight. The first two days after embarkations - the Lido was not self-serve - to prevent any health issues. It means more work for the crew but certainly paid off in having a healthy ship with healthy passengers and crew. I owe a special thank you to Avinash - one of the excellent chefs on board - for sharing recipes of some of our favourite dishes. WINE STEWARDS and BAR SERVICES In the past we have opted for open dining. This time we switched to traditional dining simply because our favourite wine steward was working in the traditional part of the dining room. Roy Nunga is an absolute gem. We arrived for dinner and the first thing he said was 'I have some of that Moscata wine you liked, Stephanie'. This was 6 months after we had last seen him but he remembered us and what we enjoy drinking. My husband loves red wines and Roy suggested different ones that Dave might like and he never disappointed. In all honesty - I probably drank more wine in that 34 days than I drank in the last year - simply because Roy was so adept at finding wines I would enjoy. Roy and our waiters Rudy and Yohannes definitely added to our dining pleasure - anticipating our wishes and just being nice friendly people. In the bars - we found the staff to be always friendly and helpful - even if just looking for a glass of ice water rather than a cocktail. STATEROOM We picked cabin 359 again as we had that cabin on our fall trans-Atlantic cruise. This cabin is on deck 6 and is an inside cabin. We joke that we have the largest balcony on board as we just leave our cabin - walk a few steps and are out on the deck to stroll around the ship or sit in one of the many lounge chairs to read. We also picked that cabin because it is just a short walk to the atrium. The Sjoelen (Dutch shuffleboard) games are there and we both became quite addicted to them on the previous cruise. Our cabin was comfortable (beds and pillows are excellent, there is more storage area than we could actually fill. We had three suitcases with us as well as carry-on luggage and there was still free space when everything was unpacked. Our cabin stewards Johar and Ronald for the first 16 days and Ronald and Wayan for the second 16 days did a marvellous job of keeping the cabin neat and tidy and still found time to refill fruit bowls and make towel animals every evening. We are big people and found we had sufficient room in our cabin to be comfortable - even with the addition of a fridge (for Dave's insulin) and a fan (I have temperature problems) for me. The laundromat is just down the hall and the location of our cabin is quiet - who could ask for more? ENTERTAINMENT We were definitely spoiled for choice on ship. The Cruise Directors (Eric for the T/A and Kieron for the European cruises)were both excellent and their staff was very hard working. There were port lectures and other lectures of interest. There were cooking demonstrations and entertaining tips and hints. There were our much enjoyed trivia contests and there were loads of games and activities. I don't think we have ever been as active on any cruise in the past as we were on this cruise. We played Baggo, and Golf putting and entered Sjoelen tournaments. There were dozens of active choices available. I don't know when some of the entertainment staff (of Location staff as they are now calling it) ever get to sleep as there were things to do from early in the morning until evening. The library on board is excellent and we read more than a dozen books while on this cruise. There are a variety of games available at the library - really something for everyone. As well one could borrow Ipods and do a self guided tour of the ship and its artwork - something we have done in the past. There were computer courses available as well as computers and internet time for the folks who like to keep in touch with home and friends while cruising. There was a variety of music around the ship ranging from a fabulous violinist and piano duo who entertained in the Explorer lounge, a guitarist/singer who entertained in the Mix, a dance group who played in the Ocean bar for those of us who love traditional and ballroom dancing, a group in the Crow's Nest who played for the younger crowd, a pianist/singer who entertained in the evenings and of course DJ music in the Crow's nest too. There were some wonderful guest entertainers in the showroom, ranging from magicians, jugglers, impressionists, musicians and singers. Some of our favourites were Stringfever - 4 English guitarists; Al Brown -singer/entertainer; Zambara (a local cultural show that came on at Palma de Mallorca);Shirley Domingues - a harpist; and Penny Mathisen a singer with a gorgeous voice. The production entertainers - the singers and dancers of the Ryndam - were fantastic. There are all new production shows on board and they are not to be missed. They are some of the most unique and outstanding shows I have ever seen - as good as anything on Broadway or the West End. The four singers all have lovely voices on their own but also harmonize beautifully. The shows are all new - adding video to the productions and absolutely fantastic costumes. I have never seen as many costume changes as in these shows and all of them have played to enthusiastic audiences. In the past I used to get bored with some production shows but these are new and innovative and exciting - do not miss them ! A big thumbs up to the Ryndam orchestra too. They did a great job - working with so many different guest performers - with a wide variety of music and had a great sound. SERVICE I have read a negative review of the service on board and I am here to say - it is not true. We had fabulous service everywhere on ship. Our cabin stewards were wonderful and very accommodating and our cabin was always in excellent condition. Our dining room waiter Rudy and his assistant Yohannes were terrific. They made sure there was always brown bread or rolls on our table (white is not good for diabetics) and they were efficient, accurate and more importantly - were fun. Holland America staff is well trained - but they are also people and we enjoy talking, teasing and having fun with them. We talk to everyone and we were treated like guests - not just customers - and there is a big difference in that. We felt welcomed, wanted and we were definitely pampered. I've mentioned Roy, our wine steward, before. He added to our pleasure at dinner time with the wines and the conversation. My white wine was always chilled and waiting for me and Dave's red wines were ready for him and Roy had suggestions for the next bottles as these ones emptied. He never disappointed because he provided wines that we enjoyed, in a price range we could afford. The 'Maitre d's' welcomed us and other waiters and staff that were looking after other tables always spoke to us as well. The gentleman with the ginger and mints as we left the dining room knew what we liked and it was ready for us when he saw us coming. There might be 1200 guests on the ship - but we were always made to feel special. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido most of the time and the staff there was wonderful too. It is self serve but it was hard to do that there as someone would say - I'll get your tea or let me carry your plate for you. People were so helpful. We would have staff come to the table and say - can I get your coffee for you - and have to say No thanks - some one else is already doing that. We were well and truly spoiled. The ladies and gentlemen in the serving lines got to know us and what we liked and I must admit I ate more turkey bacon than I would have at home as Trishna really spoiled me at breakfast. Staff met us at entrances with sanitizing liquid - even though self serve machines were there - and we stayed healthy - as did the other guests on board. We saw other staff from housekeeping working hard keeping the ship clean and the public bathrooms spotless. I have never seen as much constant cleaning and polishing on a ship as on this ship - and it was beautiful. The front desk was awesome. It was a delight to see staff I had met before on other cruises and I especially appreciated their patience with me as I must have de-magnetized my keycard about 8 times on this cruise. Between my magnetic bracelet and having the camera get close to my key card -- I must have been there at least once a week to get a replacement card. I owe a special thanks to Angelo who was there for the T/A part of our cruise. We started our cruise as two star mariners but would have enough to become 3 stars after the first week. Our agent had told us the star change would probably not happen until after the second cruise and the information on it said about 10 days after it ended -- but Angelo contacted the Mariner section of HAL and we were awarded our 3 stars after the first part of our cruises. Now we are working to get up to 4 stars. I really appreciated his efforts for us. As well, when we discovered the charges that had been run up on my husband's card - the staff at reception immediately called through to the charge company for him so he could get this situation corrected. The photography department on ship was much appreciated. Because my husband and I have been on a lot of cruises in the last 7 and a half years -- we have dozens of photos. Both of us really do not want more until we slim down. No thank you was accepted politely without people pushing us to have photos. We have been on ships where staff was really pushy -- not here. They were very pleasant. I only visited the Spa once. I had an excellent massage and later stopped by for a minute to purchase a spa product. Usually I visit more often but this trip we seemed to be always doing something and I was so totally relaxed on this cruise that I did not feel a need to de-stress in the spa. Housekeeping was really efficient in more ways than one. One day I was doing laundry and one of the machines was not working. In less than a half hour -- people were checking on it and it was immediately repaired. I wish we had repair people like that at home -- where one can wait for a week for a service man to come and fix something. They really kept on top of things on the cruise -- any problem was quickly looked after. PORTS OF CALL I have said earlier that the ship was the destination and holiday for us -- the ports of call were just icing on the cake. We had 19 ports of call between Tampa and Dover. We visited some of them but not all of them as we had been to many of them quite a few times in the past. I will comment under that section about the ports we visited. DISEMBARKATION British immigration boarded the ship in A Coruna and processed all the passengers before we reached Dover. This was quick and efficient and better still -- saved long line ups and delays when we left the ship. Disembarkation was well organized. We opted to leave at the earliest possible time and said our good-byes and walked off to get our luggage and then board a bus. We had booked a tour with 'International Friends' which was a day long tour. We went first to Canterbury and spent several hours there and then continued on to lovely Leeds Castle for a three hour visit there. After that it was on to London where we were taken to our assorted hotels and to the airport for those flying home that evening. We were at our hotel by 6 in the evening and would highly recommend this tour as an excellent way to get from Dover to London. SUMMARY This cruise was a holiday and a celebration for us. We had my birthday, Dave's birthday and our anniversary in a 9 day period in April. They were very special occasions -- because of Simon de Boer -- and gave us memories we will always treasure. We were certainly spoiled beyond anything we have experienced in the past and in all honesty, hated to leave the ship when we reached the end of our voyages. It was without doubt the best cruise we have ever experienced and I say that after nearly 400 nights on ships in the last 8 years. We have never had a bad cruise -- some better than others- but at the end of them we were ready to come back home. This time we would happily have stayed on for another 34 nights if it had been possible. I fully believe that the cruise was wonderful because of the Hotel Director Simon de Boer and his wonderful staff. Attitude comes down from the top. Simon's standards are passed down and the staff we met and the experiences we had on ship were all outstanding. We look forward to an opportunity to cruise with him again. The highest rating it is possible to award here is 5+ stars. If there was a higher rating -- I would be giving it. Stephanie Chazalon ( Steph'n'Dave) Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Ryndam. The weather was cooler than I'd hoped it to be, so my pool time(sunbathing) was limited. Had a little trouble getting a server by the tables to use the coke card. Towels by the ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Ryndam. The weather was cooler than I'd hoped it to be, so my pool time(sunbathing) was limited. Had a little trouble getting a server by the tables to use the coke card. Towels by the pool were plentiful but some days a chair was hard to come by. Enjoyed the ports of call. You might say there was something for everyone. A good mix of ports. Our cabin stewards had a lot of rooms to tend to. Maybe this is why they never changed the sheets on the entire cruise. The mattress pad kept slipping and I'd wake up to a bunched up sheet under me. Uncomfortable! We tried to see several of the shows but ended up walking out. I did get to see Droom in its entirety. And I saw the Farewell show. The first night, the rocky motion caused me to be sick. My DH went to the shops where they charged $8.00 for a pkg of Bonine. I found out later, they were free at the medical center on 4. It would have been a courtesy to tell us. It makes me think all they care about is making a few extra dollars! We needed help with a security issue but the front desk was polite but NOT HELPFUL. LASTLY, service in the D.R. was extremely slow. A cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea would only be refilled if you caught the waiter's attention and asked for a refill. Same with the bread and butter. They did not offer steak sauce, etc., unless you asked. That should have been offered automatically. After 3 nights, we gave up and ate in the Lido. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We flew into Florida the night before to make sure we would make our cruise. We had less than a one hour drive to the cruise terminal. Even though we left 4 hours before the boat was scheduled to leave, we ran into terrible traffic from a ... Read More
We flew into Florida the night before to make sure we would make our cruise. We had less than a one hour drive to the cruise terminal. Even though we left 4 hours before the boat was scheduled to leave, we ran into terrible traffic from a closed highway and were stuck in the backup over 3 hours. We were certain we were going to miss the boat. We tried everything possible and were in a shuttle to the port when HAL called us. They asked if we were planning to cruise with them that day. We said - yes! We were less than 10 minutes away at that point and they said come as soon as possible. When we got to the port, they were waiting for us and quickly checked us in and got us on the boat. Whew! What an experience. We were SO happy HAL took the time to call to make sure we were coming and helped us make the boat. After we got on the boat everything got better. We had never been on a boat that size and we thought we would find it too small. However, it was just fine. There was still plenty to do and enough space to walk around. We got the dining reservations we wanted each evening. We were very surprised about this since we had open seating and were worried about the dining arrangements. This made a big difference in our cruising experience. Getting the dining reservations we wanted was very important to us. The entertainment was terrific! We loved every show. Food was great - as usual. I especially liked the fish dishes. The ports were good too. We went to the arboretum in Honduras and got a private tour. In Cozumel we swam with the stingrays - which was okay. It was a little crowded for my taste. We had a great tour of the ruins in Costa Maya. I would highly this cruise. Had a great time!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
I have been on the Veendam a number of times. This was my first cruise on the Ryndam. it is the same size but has less people and more public space. We had over 1100 people (full is around 1260) on this crossing and the ship often felt ... Read More
I have been on the Veendam a number of times. This was my first cruise on the Ryndam. it is the same size but has less people and more public space. We had over 1100 people (full is around 1260) on this crossing and the ship often felt empty. There certainly were never lines or waiting for tables either in the Lido or the open seating for dinner. Many of the crew learned my name. The food was great. I have never been disappointed with the food on HAL but what made the dining experience exceptional on the Ryndam was the service. I used the ellipticals regularly and appreciated the lockers and showers in their gym space. I also paid for the greenhouse spa for the 16 day crossing. The $150 was well worth it for the crossing. I used it everyday with the heated ceramic beds and mineral hot tub. It was a great treat after my workout. I wouldn't get my moneys worth on a more port intensive cruise. The entertainment was exceptional. The HAL crew did 5 shows in the 16 day crossing which were all excellent and left you wanting more. I usually don't stay for shows on ships. I sit in back so when I get bored I can slip out. Not on these. The choreography, sets, costumes and general flow were all exceptional and the talent was amazing. These were the first of a new series of shows that are going to be introduced on all HAL ships and I am glad to have been able to see them. On the second part of my cruise i made sure to go see the two that were repeating that week. I wasn't disappointed. The talent brought in for the crossing was also amazing. There were two lecturers who could pack the house 3 or 4 times a day. One was on astronomy and one on Spanish History. I only went a few times in the 8 days across but many people went religiously. They really were very good but I had other things to do. The two comedians who crossed with us were also great. One was a low keyed storytelling type and was very entertaining. He reminded all of us old fogeys where we had come from, always with a laugh. The other juggled and mumbled as he did so, always in a self deprecating manner. He was highly intellectual and you had to be paying attention but he was roll on the floor hilarious. Again you need to realize that I don't find most comedians funny. The cruise director Eric was personable and funny. We found out how funny when he played a redneck character in a game show. He also entertained us twice a day at trivia in the crows nest. I traveled solo for the first time on a cruise ship. My cabin was more than comfortable. There was tons of storage and everything worked well. I was in cabin 691 which is all the aft on the main deck. I loved that I was able to climb the little stairs straight up to the promenade. I could get outside quickly in this manner and I often used it to get to and from my cabin without walking the long corridors inside. The only problem with this room happened twice in the middle of the night. A metal door was banging just on the other side of the wall aft of my cabin and it took them a while to 1. believe me, and 2. fix it. This meant a sleepless night as it would start banging again about two hours after they said they had fixed it for sure. The second night this happened they fixed it much more quickly. Next time I will seek a room that is at least one room away form a working deck. They gave me a book on appetizers as an apology. I would have rather a ships credit or night at the Pinnacle. The librarian, Jenna, was overworked on this crossing. The explorations cafe was always crowded with internet users, game players, puzzle makers or book readers. People read a lot in a 16 day crossing. She was always helpful and cheerful. She called when she found a book she knew I was looking for. The only tour I did from the ship was the Gaudi tour in Barcelona. It was excellent. We saw an apartment building, the Park Gruell and went inside the Sagrada Familia. I am not usually a tour person but I would never have seen all that without the tour. I met people with multiple days in Barcelona who didn't go inside because they didn't want to deal with the crowd. We went right in and had a great tour and free time to take photos. The tour guide had flexibility built in for people with physical limitations on the tour. Not having been on a crossing before I was pleasantly surprised by the passengers. Most were seasoned cruisers. They were friendly, low keyed and interesting. At 58, I felt young. The average age must have been in the high 70's. There were many walkers and canes. Crossings don't make the physical demands that multiple ports do so people just were enjoying the experience. I made friends and acquaintances easily. There were many solos on this crossing. I fell as if I had a classic cruising experience. The ship is comfortable-not flashy. It is understated elegance with the service to pull it off. It is a small enough ship that they will let you out on the bow when it is not too windy or wavy. I got to watch the dolphins frolicking in the bow waves as we came in to Punta Delgado. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
I was really disappointed that some people recently slammed the Ryndam cruise ship. My experience from March 3-10 was relaxing, entertaining and satisfying. Boarding the ship was quick and easy. I was especially pleased that my room E675 ... Read More
I was really disappointed that some people recently slammed the Ryndam cruise ship. My experience from March 3-10 was relaxing, entertaining and satisfying. Boarding the ship was quick and easy. I was especially pleased that my room E675 was ready as I set foot on the Main deck. We left Tampa on time for the 1st stop of Key West which is one of the reasons I chose this cruise line. If you do nothing else in KW, stroll Duval Street. The first night, cruise director Eric Dowis introduced all the entertainment available on the Ryndam including guitarist/singer Phillipa (who was usually in the Crow's Nest); Adagio ( one woman that played piano and another woman violinist)and they were usually in the Explorer's Lounge; Neptune singers and musicians in the Ocean Bar; and piano bar man Lee who went every night from late to later in the Mix area. But the best was yet to come! The entertainment every night starting on Monday was EXCELLENT. Rock piano man Elio Pace got the week started with his different styles including a Jerry Lee Lewis rendition of Great Balls of Fire. Tuesday the HAL singers and dancers put on a musical Classique. Lead singers Kari Ringer and Matt Roscoe were very professional and blended together a great sound. Other singers Denise and Jess were also excellent and the dancers especially Lewis, James, Jessie and Ali never missed a beat. They performed again on Friday night a new show tabbed Droom where the costumes, singing, and dancing left you breathless. Wednesday night was the #1 comic out of Canada Scott Harris. Funny man. Kari Ringer also did a one-woman performance to a SRO crowd in the Ocean Bar at 5 pm. What a pro singer. Check her out on her web page. And then on Thursday, a virtuoso violinist Kateryna Sychova, 25 years old from the Ukraine got 2 standing ovations after her performance. I am so sad that apparently passengers on the Dec. cruise didn't get this top quality entertainment on the Ryndam. Food was very good especially lamb night and lobster night. You MUST have a sport coat or tux on formal nights. I didn't pack one because most cruise lines are moving away from this but the staff provided me with a coat to carry in to dinner. I had open dining and met different, wonderful people every night. Went to the casino several nights and had no trouble with the smoke. Also went to the late movie twice (Argo and Trouble with the Curve). Good crowds in the theater both nights. HAL also offers free computer classes on Windows 8 that my wife enjoyed tremendously. She also went to 2 other classes consistently, Tai Chi and Learn to Play the Steel Drums. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were off the ship by 8:30 am. The Ryndam had very few young passengers on board but the ones that were sailing with us seemed to enjoy the pools, ping pong and the shows. Will go again next year, I hope. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
DH and I chose this cruise because we love the four ports it visited and we like HAL and the Ryndam is the perfect size ship for us. Check in was a bit slow, possibly because it was day light saving time. We arrived just after 11 a.m. ... Read More
DH and I chose this cruise because we love the four ports it visited and we like HAL and the Ryndam is the perfect size ship for us. Check in was a bit slow, possibly because it was day light saving time. We arrived just after 11 a.m. Our luggage was taken and we stood in line outside the port building. Nothing happened until noon. Then the line moved quickly and we were happily on board and in our room in 30 minutes. We decided to go to the Mariner's lunch served in the Main Dining Room; it was quiet and had a nice variety of dishes to choose from. By the time we finished our bags were in our room. We unpacked and went to the safety drill. The sail out of Tampa is always enjoyable. We wanted to get a good view of the ships ahead of us and both sides of the bay so we went to deck 11 forward (in front of the gym). During dinner we had a table for two near the stern windows and watched as we passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge at dusk. Key West is fun. All we wanted was Kermit's chocolate covered key line pie. It is about 8 blocks from the dock and well worth the visit. This time we got a photo of me with Kermit just outside his store! Mahogany Bay is a great beach with a pleasant "kite ride" over to the beach. However, it was a rainy day so we did some shopping at the wonderful shops near the dock. We always like the native craft section to the left as you walk up the hill. This time we bought a couple masks made in northwest Honduras. Santo Thomas, Guatemala is our favorite spot. Each time we visit a different Mayan ruin and are always impressed with the warmth of the people. This time there was a new building near the dock which housed tourist information, a lively band, and beyond that an amazing array of colorful souvenirs. Of course, DH and I bought a couple shawls, belts, and placemats and napkin sets.Costa Maya is the last port on this cruise. We have been to Chocabean Mayan ruins twice so this time we decided to visit the Jade Museum and just look around the port. The Jade Museum is just outside the port entrance and appears to be relatively new. However it has some amazing jade masks; it also has jade jewelry for sale. As we walked back to the ship, we discovered the dolphin training pools next to the beach/restaurants. We seated ourselves in a couple front-row beach loungers and watched as 3 or 4 dolphins and their trainers entertained us. Now, I should give some information about the Ryndam. Our veranda cabin was on the 9th floor, starboard, mid-ship. I suggest starboard side on this cruise only because of the Santo Thomas port. As the ship prepares to leave, there will be singing and dancing for at least 30 minutes. As the ship departs, buses, taxis, and vans pull up with lights on. Workers from the nearby shipping port come over. Everyone waves! It is something we have never seen at other ports and well worth watching. Of course we wave vigorously back to them! The service on the Ryndam was excellent and the food was very good. We were please to get a table for two for dinner in the main dinning room around 6:30 (just after pub trivia). We also enjoyed dinner in the Pinnacle two evenings. Both DH and I thought the Pinnacle was the best ever......but crab cakes and steaks are always good at every Pinnacle restaurant! When we returned to room from Mahogany Bay, we noticed the carpet was soaked. It seems that a water line broke in the room next to us drenching about half of our rooms. Staff quickly brought in loud fans and dehumidifiers. They worked until around 9 when we asked to have them removed so we could sleep. Amazingly, the carpet was just about dry. Those things happen and we were pleased that it was quickly corrected. For the inconvenience, HAL gave us some wonderful cookbooks. If we were flying, we probably wouldn't have been able to keep them. But since we drove to Tampa, we were able to take them home with us. No, I have not been making any fabulous meals. However, they look nice on the shelf :-) We saw the singers and dancers do 3 shows - they were all very different. We missed the comedian who was reportedly excellent. The magician did not hold our interest. Adagio group was just a duo, but they were very good. There was also a guitarist (just ok IMO) and a pianist who we didn't hear but heard he was very good. We felt the CD (Eric) was ho-hum, but we liked the Captain Rowden (may not have that spelled right). The dining room managers and hotel staff were especially helpful. We asked for late departure so we could savor every possible moment of our 8 day vacation. Sadly, we were among the last to get off around 8:30. DH and I can't wait to do this itinerary again next year! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
The facilities at Tampa port are not up-to-date. It took quite a while until a porter showed up to collect the luggage. The waiting area plus luggage facilities before entering the cruise terminal in Tampa are way too small. The ship ... Read More
The facilities at Tampa port are not up-to-date. It took quite a while until a porter showed up to collect the luggage. The waiting area plus luggage facilities before entering the cruise terminal in Tampa are way too small. The ship itself is of a nice interior, partly quite stylish (e.g. Mix Bar). But the overall cleanliness of ship is quite a desaster. The Lido is really filthy. We were quite shocked to see that the waiters would just drop leftover food on the floor instead of wiping it onto a tray or something. So for sure following guests stepped on the food on the floor and everything was quite bad. The curtains in the Lido were full of stains - it nearly looked like a design but it was dirt and it wasn't dirt from only a couple of days. Dropped food in front of the Lido food stalls remained there for hours before they were removed. You really weren't sure if all this was due to lack of crew (is HAL cutting down on personnel?) or is it pure carelessness of the responsible crew working in the Lido? The supervisors in the Lido were present but they did not seem to care. One day we even saw on of the supervisors in the Lido inspecting his chest through his shirt and the pressing out a pimple - really disgusting when next to it you sit and eat!!! The supervisor only once was really attentive. That was when a three-striped officer came to visit the Lido and there the supervisor told the cooks (and we stood next to him and heard it): "Big boss is coming - put out more food". We looked at each other and thought 'ah, this is how it works'. Because the food in the Lido is pretty meager. Very little desserts and little to choose from. The newest thing is to put desserts on small plates so you only choose little. HAL does not offer large plates or trays in the Lido to pick for yourself. So our impression was that only offering small plates leaves passengers with little portions. But this for the passenger is really annyoing as you have to get different plates which means more ways until you finally have your breakfast together. And the you have to walk back to get your coffee. Speaking of meal times. Don't even try to sleep in. HAL decides for you when to eat. Breakfast is only until 1000 am, a "continental breakfast" until 1030 am. But the continental breakfast has little options to choose from. Funnily enough on port days breakfast is until 1030 am and continental breakfast until 1100 am. Where is the logic in that? Breakfast is offered longer when everyone is off board? So if you decide to sleep until 1000 am and get ready there is no food for you until lunch starts at 1130 am. Really nice that you get up and don't get breakfast and then the only choice to eat is pasta or mongolian beef. Here HAL can learn from Princess cruises how proper meal times work. Meal quality is ok in the Lido but better in the dining room. But at dinner the appetizer are so incredibly small that you think they must have made a joke. Really tiny. Let me get back to hygiene on board. All of a sudden right after leaving Tampa there was a dove/pidgeon on deck. As all of us know doves/pidgeons are heavy bacteria transmitters. So my thought was that the crew must get rid of the dove/pidgeon right away as the Ryndam has a bad history of Noro virus outbreak on board. No - they didn't do a thing. Deck 11 (Lido) as well as deck 10 were full of dove/pidgeon faeces (poo). Very disgusting. Some times the dove would even walk in the Lido were the crew grabbed it und carried it out back on deck. Then back in the Lido working with food. I finally complained because you really had to look on deck where you could walk not to step in the poo. You know what they said? "it won't leave the ship". The captain adressed it in his daily announcement and even gave him a name. He laughed about it. And the deck got dirtier and dirtier. I finally told them that I would inform the CDC in Atlanta about it as is really was so disgusting. The port of Ponta Delgada/Acores is nice. Pretty small town Portugal. Easy and cosy. Cadiz/Spain is always nice and a train ride to Seville is done with complications on your own. Motril/Spain is another story. The ship docks way out of town. You have to take a shuttle bus for USD 10 p.p. This was supposed to leave at 9 am. It just wouldn't. We asked when the bus would leave and they said "when the bus is full" which is ridiculous for a shuttle service. The shuttle was accompanied by a very rude Romanian girl who did not care at all about the passengers. We speak Spanish so we heard her talk about bad about the passengers to the bus driver (e.g. "stupid old people" and things like that). The shuttle then stops somewhere in the utterly uninteresting city of Motril. If you choose to go to Granada on your own you then were forced to walk up a hill for some 20 minutes to get to the bus station. So if you are in Motril and want to go to Granada on your own you better take a taxi from the ship which is cheaper than USD 10 p.p. anyway. Palma de Mallorca is ok but quite full with tourists anyhow so the place gets packed when a cruise ship is in. Plus: lots of pick-pockets! Watch out. Departure in Barcelona was easy - there you see the advantage of a smaller ship. All in all: an average experience - next time definetly again Princess cruises! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was the longest cruise I have taken. It was called a "Collectors Cruise" by Holland America, because it really consisted of two cruises packaged together - a 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise and a 14 day Southern Caribbean. ... Read More
This was the longest cruise I have taken. It was called a "Collectors Cruise" by Holland America, because it really consisted of two cruises packaged together - a 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise and a 14 day Southern Caribbean. There are some disadvantages to doing a cruise this way, which I will highlight below. I was somewhat concerned before sailing on this cruise about the age of the vessel - it was launched in 1994. It has had a couple of significant make-overs during its life to date. I need not have been concerned. The Ryndam is in excellent condition overall. In fact, it is in far better shape, at least on the passenger decks, than much newer vessels I have sailed on. The hull was gleaming and everywhere on the ship it looked very fresh. The carpet in the hallway outside our cabin may have been a little past its prime, but they replaced the entire length on port days, during the cruise. The ship does not have central elevators and stairs, just fore and aft, but because the ship is fairly small, it is not a serious problem. The ship was under the command of veteran Capt. Mark Rowden. This soft spoken gentleman was seldom seen but was very pleasant. Cruise Director Eric Dowis is also a 17 year veteran of HAL. He seemed at times bored with the job to me, but could be very funny when he wanted to be. His disembarkation talk is not to be missed. We ate most of our meals in the Rotterdam Dining Room. We had table 55 for dinner, early sitting. It is in an excellent location. These older HAL ships seem to have more tables for two than the newer, larger ships. Our Dining Room Steward and Assistant Steward, who changed after the first week, much to our disappointment, worked tremendously hard and had little time for chatting with passengers. This is partially make up by the Dining Room section Supervisor, who visited our table each night and was genuinely concerned that everything was to our satisfaction. On weeks 2 and 3, his name was Chozen, and he was fabulous, even taking the time to perform some magic tricks at each table. Overall, we were very happy with the food and service. The menu for the first few nights of week 2 did duplicate the menus of the previous week, but there was always something new to try. Taste and temperature of the food were both excellent.We were generally in and out in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. We ate some breakfasts in the Dining Room as well, and the Full English Breakfast was especially enjoyable. Service was faster at breakfast than we have experienced on other ships. Lunches were divided between the Dining Room and the Lido. Lido food was generally better than is usually the case on most ships, but it was very congested at popular meal times. The one exception to our satisfaction with the food and service was our Anniversary Dinner, for which we went to the Pinnacle Grill. They were having "An Evening at Le Cirque" that evening (happens once a cruise) and the price goes from $25 to $39 per person for this one night. It was a major disappointment. Service was indifferent and the menu very limited. My wife's entree was very poor. By contrast, on another night we went to the "Caneletto", an Italian themed specialty restaurant, carved out of a portion of the Lido in the evenings, and the service and food there were great. Only $10 too!The entertainment on Holland America has improved dramatically in recent years. Especially the Production shows with the singers and dancers. We had a very talented group of these folks onboard and they did a "world premiere" of a new show called "DROOM".It was one of the finest pieces of singing and choreography I have seen anywhere, on land or at sea. One of the two female singers, Kelly (married to the Cruise Director), is incredibly talented, and one night did her own solo show. Fantastic. Most of the guest entertainers were very good, especially Mike Robinson, a ventriloquist, who turned out to be from my hometown. The first week, the three piece group called the Neptunes were great to listen to, and so was the piano man James. But they left and their replacements on weeks 2 and 3 were a disappointment. We had a couple of major disappointments with Shore Excursions, which were refunded without hassle by the Shorex staff. Others were excellent, especially the World Heritage Site tour from Castries to Soufrierre, St. Lucia. One problem with this ship is getting off of it for a shore excursion. It is extremely congested and slow in disembarking. Particularly when using a tender, it is a very tedious procedure. I mentioned some disadvantages of the packaged cruise concept. One I have already mentioned - the changing of some crew at the end of week one. Others are that the ship has not fully integrated this concept in all of their operations. Most of the production shows were repeated on weeks 2 and 3, so some nights we had nothing to go see. The Cruise Log, given at the end of the cruise, does not even acknowledge you were on board for the first week.But overall, this was one of the best cruises we have ever been on. The weather was fantastic, except for a very cold Tampa, which really didn't count. We really liked the size of the ship, the food and the very friendly crew. I would have no hesitation sailing on another of the "S" class HAL ships. Same goes for the slightly larger and newer "R" class. Disembarkation went well until we were off the ship and then it turned to chaos outside the terminal. It always amazes me how cruise lines treat dismembarking passengers. Yes, their formal responsibility ends once you exit the ship, but what you encounter on the dock is part of the overall cruise experience and they should take more care to see that it goes well. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We arrived in Tampa a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. I can't begin to extol their virtues. They picked us up at the airport..after we settled in, we found their shuttle would take us anywhere we'd like within a ... Read More
We arrived in Tampa a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. I can't begin to extol their virtues. They picked us up at the airport..after we settled in, we found their shuttle would take us anywhere we'd like within a certain radius and pick us back up! After the cruise, they picked us up at cruise terminal and let us hang out at the pool til time to go to plane and then they took us to the plane. Tampa was very cold the first 2 times but upon debarkation it was warm. They took us to the boat the next day as well...around 10:30 a.m. Embarkation was smooth and easy.....I'd say no more than 15 minutes from the time we got in line til we entered our room, 625, which was ready. As usual with Holland, we had to be served at the buffet, rather than help ourselves..this goes on for the first few days of the cruise. The safety briefing was a bit tedious as room 233 never did show up. We had late dining and the food was excellent...first couple of days it was a bit slow but once our waiters knew us, it was smooth. I found the wine steward a bit snobbish but I noted this on our departure critique. Breakfast was best in the dining room. Room service was on time and the coffee hot and juice cold. Rest of the room service food warm at best. They had 3 shows an evening which reduced the shows to 40-45 minutes. Droom was one of the best shows I've seen. They held a meet and greet the cast one sea day and I found that quite enjoyable...we then toured back stage. Wish we could have had more of them and less of the other entertainment. Our stops were Half Moon Cay.....beach and not much more. San Juan, free trolley took us all over town where we could visit any of the sites we wanted. St. Thomas.top of the world and banana daiquiri's.we took our own tour....not one from boat. St. Johns...again we took our own tour and saw all around the island....both these guides were native to their country and we spent a whole lot less. St. Lucia was on Sunday and we basically walked around for quite some time since most of the shops were closed...did have their Piton beer....don't drink beer and this was pretty good. Curacao was next and I can't say enough about this city. We wandered around on our own and saw so many pretty sites...don't think I bought a thing but took so many pictures. Aruba was next and we took the Submarine ride and then walked around the town. This is another great island where I couldn't stop taking pictures. Georgetown in the Cayman Islands was super we went to Rum Distillery, Tortuga Factory and a brewery'sA Taste of Cayman. It was an enjoyable tour but not quite what I thought it would be. Back to cold Tampa where we met friends who took us to Ybor City (they make Cuban Cigars there) and Apollo Beach. At Apollo Beach we saw the Manatees......really neat.....they only come out when it's Cold. Back to the last 7 days of the cruise. We went to Key West...this is a super fun city. We took our own tour off the boat....a Conch Train where we could get off any time we wanted and catch the next one. Frozen Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate on a stick.....you have to try it to believe it. Mahogany Bay Honduras....we just stayed around the area....wondered around.....beautiful flowers and neat shops. Santo Tomas Guatemala.....we took a boat to some Aztec ruins, hot springs and Livingston...The ruins were not what I expected the hot springs neat and Livingston was a perfect picture of poverty. The boat ride back was horrible......thought I was going to die. Rough waves and the driver could have cared less. A 3 hour tour that lasted 5 1/2 hours. We did see lots of children in boats that hitched a ride on our boat to sell us items. Then it was Costa Maya, Mexico. I love Mexico so I enjoyed the shopping. Time at sea was not much to speak of. They don't have many activities. There was hot tubbing, swimming, computer classes, of course Art Sales, occasionally bingo, cooking classes, some movies...definitely not Carnival when it comes to things to do on the ship. they did have High Tea and tea almost every day. Would I recommend this? Yes, one or the other.....14 or 7 but 21 days is a long time to cruise, especially on Holland.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Ryndam (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.1

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