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350 Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Reviews

This my 89th cruise and my 8th Holland America cruise. Departure was Sunday, March 27, 2011. Parking at port of Tampa garage was 98 dollars for 7 nights. Valet parking at the pier was 115 plus tip so not like the other review here. Party ... Read More
This my 89th cruise and my 8th Holland America cruise. Departure was Sunday, March 27, 2011. Parking at port of Tampa garage was 98 dollars for 7 nights. Valet parking at the pier was 115 plus tip so not like the other review here. Party of 3 friends in 2 cabins: C318 and C320. These category C rooms are supposedly the highest of regular outside cabins on board but they are misrepresented! I don't care what Holland America says but any room on the Lower Promenade deck on the Ryndam and her 3 sisters has an obstructed view! Passengers are constantly walking around the deck, some try to look in even though the glass is tinted. They are noisy when people are walking by your room. We had to keep the curtains tightly drawn most of the time , even at night, as they don't turn off the fluorescent lights on the lower promenade deck outside. Our cabin (320) had a problem with the air conditioning (could not get cool enough for us) and they tried to fix it twice. By the last day it finally got under 76 degrees in our room. I always bring a power strip and portable fans or we would have really been over-heated in our room. That was really the only negative aspect of an otherwise perfect cruise. Incredible weather, no rain, smooth seas, unobtrusive polite service from the entire staff we encountered and better than average cuisine in both the Lido buffet and the Rembrandt Dining Room. We choose anytime dining but wound up at 730 every night (with a reservation) at table 304 on the main floor. Our waiter and assistant were delightful. One member of our party is disabled and they did everything possible to make his meals a delight (including cutting up all his food). As 2 star Mariner repeaters we took advantage of the sit-down lunch on embarkation day even though our cabins were ready for occupancy when we boarded at 12:30 PM. We also had a delightful time at the Mariners lunch in the main dining room on the last day of the cruise. We never felt the need to eat at the Pinnacle a la carte room as the regular food was very good most of the time. We also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails at the sports themed bar next door to the casino every evening and had the same server all the time.We have all been to these ports ( Key West, Belize City, Mahogany Bay (Roatan), and Playa Maya) many times so no shore excursions were purchased. We walked Duval street in Key West and got some sundries at the Walgreens as we docked at the Mallory Pier at the end of US 1. In Belize you must tender so we just did the tourist village at the pier and took advantage of the American -owned pharmacy there for low price Generic meds and no prescription needed! In Roatan we did the new tourist village at the pier and rode the chair lift out to the private beach and enjoyed a cocktail at the bar there. In Playa Maya we , again, just toured the tourist shops at the port and sat at the beachfront and watched the Dolphin encounter option for over an hour.There were mostly seniors on board which is typical for Holland America. They take care of us so well! There were also a few young couples and families with children on spring break but I must say all the children we saw or encountered were very well-behaved ( not like on Carnival or Royal Caribbean where they run all over the ship and disturb everyone).Disembarkation upon our return to Tampa was painless. After a leisurely breakfast in the dining room we went back to our cabins and waited for the ship to be cleared and then got off easily . Our luggage was all there and a porter took us out to the curb through an expedited customs line. I left my companions with the luggage, claimed the car and we were out of the port and on the road home by 9:05 am!We will definitely do Holland America again in the near future and recommend it to those more mature passengers who also enjoy a very calm relaxing trip with a staff that appreciates us. BTW, the daily program of events had more than enough selections to keep you busy if you enjoy that type of vacation as well. We met "Mama Lou" who has over 8000 days on Holland America cruises and she was a true delight! Obviously, they are doing something right! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We drove to the port in Tampa and paid $14 per day to park in the covered garage across the street from the boat. This seemed like a reasonable price. The check-in process was fast- in under a half an hour we were in our room. ... Read More
We drove to the port in Tampa and paid $14 per day to park in the covered garage across the street from the boat. This seemed like a reasonable price. The check-in process was fast- in under a half an hour we were in our room. The balcony room we stayed in was worth the extra money. We used the balcony every day as a result of the ideal weather for the entire cruise. The floor to ceiling windows and the balcony make the room seem larger. You should order your beer, wine and booze on the Holland America website because it is cheaper than purchasing it on the boat. The only negative is that they deliver your beer warm and you need to get a bucket of ice to chill your drinks. The food from the Lido buffet was excellent. We had steak every night. Most passengers did not dress in pants, but wore shorts. This fact contradicts the information from the Holland America website that you have to wear pants in public places after 5 PM- you don't. Room service was also excellent. I would recommend the chef salad, and the steak sandwich. They also offer salmon and a good selection of other food. The ports we went to included: Key West, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I would like to take this time to share with you some recommendations as to which restaurants you should visit for lunch at each of these ports. Key West- Schooner Wharf. Order the conch fritters. - Olonzo's. Go after 4 PM for happy hour. All drinks and appetizers are half price. Get the clams casino and the calamari. Ocho Rios- Margarittaville. This is a nice place to have a Red Stripe and nachos and avoid the constant hassle of the locals asking you for money and cab rides. Grand Cayman- Hammerheads. Located right on the water in George Town. Try the brie sticks with the local Cay Brew beer. Cozumel- Pancho's Backyard-. They have the best beef burritos I have ever tasted. Overall, a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Well it's all over bar the memories and what a great time we had on-board the Ryndam. When you read this you will have to bear in mind that this was our first cruise, and while we are seasoned travelers, we were cruising virgins - but ... Read More
Well it's all over bar the memories and what a great time we had on-board the Ryndam. When you read this you will have to bear in mind that this was our first cruise, and while we are seasoned travelers, we were cruising virgins - but no more! We did the Western Caribbean itinerary from Tampa calling at Key West, Ocho Rios- Jamaica, Georgetown - Grand Cayman and Cozumel - Mexico. Our main aim with this holiday was to get an introduction to cruising and also to get some heat and sun! We achieved our aim in bucket-loads, the weather couldn't have been better, 7 glorious sunny days and no port or weather issues. The Ports of call were another matter. Key West is always fabulous and I never tire of visiting here, though I did miss the glorious drive down from Miami. No problems here. In Jamaica we booked a private trip up to the Enchanted gardens. The gardens themselves were fine, but there was a lot of work going on there with building and landscaping. The driver (for an extra fee) took us up Fern Gully and to a look out at the top of the hill where we got a fabulous view down over the port. He also gave us lots of interesting information along the way. Interesting, but would I do Jamaica again? No. We had to tender in from the ship in Georgetown which was fine. This was extremely well organized and we were in the first tender off the ship. Again we had booked a private charter with Stingray Sailing to visit the Stingray sandbank. There were only 10 of us on a 43ft catamaran and we were one of the first out to the sandbank. This was an amazing experience and I would certainly recommend the charter. Shopping in Georgetown on our return was fine, none of the pushy sales seen in Jamaica (or later in Cozumel) so a pleasant experience. Yes I would go back to Grand Cayman. Finally Cozumel. The trip out to the ruins was too long a day so we passed on that. We had booked a private trip to Coba Ruins, but the timing was too risky with the ferry off the island so we cancelled and just took a taxi downtown for a wander. Mistake. Too many pushy salesmen and nothing much to see. We would have been better staying at the shopping area near the ship. So we won't be going back to Cozumel. And onto the ship. We were group 5 for boarding and once checked in we were only waiting for about 20 minutes. Once on-board, the staterooms were ready to drop hand luggage which was very useful! We were very pleased with our accommodations. There was us and our two teenagers. We had thought about a family room, but decided against this and took two outside staterooms instead. I am so glad we did - we were in bed before the kids most night! The beds were super comfortable, the bathrooms were small but more than adequate - I've been in smaller in some hotels! There was plenty of storage space for clothes and items. Everything in the stateroom was in good condition apart from one frayed towel, but that's not worth bothering about. A small fridge would be nice, but I'm sure you get them in the larger rooms. Our room configuration was wrong (beds apart instead of together) but this was rectified by the stewards that evening while we were at dinner. Talking of food, again we have no complaints. Everything you could ever want was available in the Lido for breakfast. The cooked breakfast was my downfall I think! We tended to lunch in the Lido as well and generally had salad which was always plentiful. The mixed salads changed daily and there was always something tasty on offer. We opted for early fixed seating and were allocated a table for 4. The Rotterdam dining room made for a very pleasant dining experience. The servers were all very friendly efficient and all paid extra attention to the children. In fact on the last night, the two of us went to the Pinnacle Grill, and the children thought they might have room service, but as it was the Master Chef's Dinner, we persuaded them to go to dinner on their own, and they were well looked after. We are very lucky in that we don't have fussy eaters - they will try escargots, mahi-mahi, calamari, you name it which certainly makes our life easier! They were certainly able to explore here. I had an overdone surf and turf one night, but that was redeemed later in the week, and everything else was cooked perfectly. Some might complain that the portions were on the small side, but we found them to be more than adequate, especially if you had all 4 courses. As I mentioned we went to the Pinnacle Grill on our last night. I know there is some debate as to the increasing number of 'additional pay' dining options and following our trip I have given this some thought. The big question is, was it really that much better than the Rotterdam? Hand on heart I have to say it probably wasn't. The service was very slow. Some might say relaxed, and I agree there is a fine line between 'relaxed' and 'slow' but when you are asking yourself and your dining companion where the next course has got to, we are on the slow side of the line. It was a nice dining room, the service was pleasant (if slow) and the food was good. So by all means give it a go, but if you can't get a reservation, don't be too worried! There are plenty of bars on boards. All cater to a certain clientele. The only two complaints I would have are the chairs in the Ocean Bar are very low, and some of the elder passengers (and there were a lot of those!) had difficulty getting out of them. Some of these chairs were looking past their prime, but this was the only part of the ship that looked like this. Also the Crow's Nest, which is also the smoking bar, had a lot of evening activities hosted by the Cruise Director. We were put off because of the smoking smell in there. (I do suspect that HAL may be considering a smoking ban on board as we had a survey to complete on this subject at the end of the cruise). The beverage staff were attentive and efficient. The Oasis area for Teens was an excellent area. Unfortunately, as there were only about a dozen teens on-board, a whole load of seniors thought they would just take over that area. This was very intimidating for some of the younger teens, and I had to call passenger services, who to their credit were very good at sorting the problem out. They also followed up with me and my daughter, so very pleased about that. The Kids activities were certainly varied and enjoyed by the kids who were on-board. The teen activities (13-17) did go on very late and as I said sometimes we were in bed before the kids, but we never felt they were in harm's way at all, and they were never left on their own. The fact we have twins also helps! The entertainment was of very high quality given the size of this ship. It is very much geared towards the older generation, but was enjoyed by everyone we spoke to. The biggest complaint with the Showroom at Sea is the view from seats upstairs. If you are on the front row upstairs, fine but the rest of the room has a very restricted view. We found ourselves getting there extra early to get a good seat downstairs. Nothing like a bit of people watching for half an hour. The ship has an excellent gym and spa, I even managed three spinning classes during the week which was great. Always look out for the specials in the Spa. They run all week, so there is no need to pay full tariff for any of the treatments. I'm sure I have forgotten something so I will add it if I remember, but this was a fantastic week for us and a very good introduction to cruising. I certainly wouldn't like to go on a larger ship, this was a nice size and never felt crowded, even though it was fully booked. When we docked with other cruise lines, you certainly felt as though you were a slightly better class with HAL. Suits me fine! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
ABOUT US We are a professional couple in our mid-thirties who booked the Feb. 6th Ryndam sailing as a belated honeymoon. We chose HAL because we wanted to relax in a classy atmosphere with more an "adults only" feel. Well, the ... Read More
ABOUT US We are a professional couple in our mid-thirties who booked the Feb. 6th Ryndam sailing as a belated honeymoon. We chose HAL because we wanted to relax in a classy atmosphere with more an "adults only" feel. Well, the Ryndam certainly met our expectations... WE felt like the kids on board. Often, late at night we felt like we had the whole ship to ourselves... Fine by us! THE SHIP The service was outstanding! Our room steward, and our dining and wine stewards were excellent... We cannot say enough nice things about them. All of the staff members greeted us with a smile and we felt completely welcomed into the beautiful ship. We booked a balcony cabin on the starboard side. Lovely stateroom- No complaints! However, the stench on the balcony was AWFUL! It smelled like raw sewage for our entire trip. Yuck. DW called front desk to complain, but was only told that the smell had to do with "which way the wind was blowing." So we didn't use the balcony much, and this ended up being a waste of money. The rest of the ship was very nice and roomy. Often, there was not a soul in sight. Our favorite nightspot was the martini and piano bar area in the Mix. Great drinks and fun people. Pools were nice and so was the entertainment. We especially enjoyed the comedian. Formal nights were lovely. DW expected to see many more gowns and truly fancy outfits, but they were few and far between. Most of the women seemed to be dressed in church-going attire, but there were several men in tuxes. We both used the workout facility almost everyday. It was great to stare out at the beautiful ocean while using the ellipticals and treadmills. The only complaint was the number of spectators who would filter into the gym. It was sometime hard to focus on our workouts with several people in close proximity who wanted to see the view (the ocean, not us working out!). FOOD Thank goodness that HAL has made it very easy for people to continue healthy dining with some of the nice options that are offered! For breakfast, we had great made-to-order omelettes and delicious fresh fruit in the Lido. Canaletto was great for our first night. Decent generic Italian food (think Macaroni Grill)and a bottle of wine. The rest of the nights we ate in the MDR for 8pm fixed seating. Wonderful service in the MDR and very decent food (better than Princess, which is our only comparison). The "free" coffee is consistently awful everywhere. DW switched from coffee to tea on second morning. Dessert are mediocre at best. The instant vanilla pudding used in just about everything is completely bland. We decided to split a fresh-baked cookie if we felt our sweet tooth needed satisfying. The Master Chef's Dinner on the final night was awful. The food was barely edible. Lobster Bisque was very salty, salad was limp, and mushroom pate' looked unappetizing. DW loves duck, so decided to try it on the final night and was totally disappointed. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS (all booked through HAL) Key West- We took the new Hop Off Hop Off Trolley. Not that great of a tour, but it did give us the lay of the land. We ended up getting off at the Schooner Warf bar where we dined on gulf shrimp and Yuengling. We then walked over to Kermit's Key Lime Shoppe for a slice of the best key lime pie either of us had ever had. Jamaica- We went on the Chukka Cove Horeback Riding Adventure. This was totally thrilling... Our group of four was led on a trail ride, then we rode our horses to the beach. The guides unsaddled our mounts and we rode in the ocean with only a bareback pad. It was wonderful and a little bit scary in a very good way! We then remounted and rode back to the ranch, where we dined on jerk chicken and Red Stripe! Grand Cayman- We did the Reef-N-Rays excursion. First we went to a beautiful reef to snorkel, then we got back on the boat and went to Stingray City. We all got in the water while the huge stingrays swooped around us. It was awesome! When we got back to town, we had grouper and rumrunners at Hammerheads. DW bought a coconut out of some guy's pickup and drank the milk from a straw as she walked around... When in Rome (ahem, Georgetown)! Cozumel- We did the Bottom Fishing Bonanza. We caught lots of fish and enjoyed the local brews the mates provided us with. Back on shore we walked over to Pancho's and had delicious Mexican food and the best (and strongest) margaritas we've ever had! FINAL THOUGHTS We really did have a marvelous time despite the smell on our balcony and some of the food that didn't meet our expectations. All in all, it was a wonderful cruise with some of the best service we have ever experienced! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We are in our mid 60's - Baby Boomers! This was our 4th cruise on Holland America. We also traveled with another couple which added to our enjoyment. This cruise was a back-to-back Western Caribbean 14-day cruise on the Ryndam, Jan 23 ... Read More
We are in our mid 60's - Baby Boomers! This was our 4th cruise on Holland America. We also traveled with another couple which added to our enjoyment. This cruise was a back-to-back Western Caribbean 14-day cruise on the Ryndam, Jan 23 to Feb 6, 2011. Ports of call were: Week 1 - Key West; Ocho Rios; Grand Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico. Week 2 - Key West; Belize City; Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico. We flew down the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Ybor City (Tampa). This was an excellent hotel - large rooms, quiet, very friendly and efficient. They also provided shuttle service to the pier. We wanted a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel and the desk clerk suggested The Laughing Cat - an Italian restaurant. What a great suggestion. You must try it when in Tampa. Our embarkation was so smooth, it was unbelievable. I don't think I ever want to sail from Ft. Lauderdale again as there is no comparison in the efficiency of the two ports. We were on the ship by 11:30 a.m. We immediately went to see the maitre d' in the Explorer's Lounge about "As You Wish Dining." He assigned us a 5:15 p.m. seating in the Lower Dining Room where we sat every evening and enjoyed the service of the same stewards for the entire 2-week trip. We then enjoyed the Mariner's Lunch in the dining room in lieu of the Lido. We signed up for the Internet Cafe -- $55 for 100 min. (for two weeks), and I found that was an ample amount of time for checking e-mail. This charge did appear twice on our on-line account, but after MANY, MANY phone calls and e-mails, I finally got it removed. We had an inside cabin on the Main Deck. HAL advertises the bed as a Queen, but with two twins put together, it is actually a King. Our luggage arrived and we were able to unpack and dress for dinner with plenty of time. Cabin Service - Outstanding. Our stewards, UJ and Anton, were very unobtrusive, but always managed to have our room immaculately cleaned and furnished us with plenty of ice water. And of course, we always enjoy those cute little towel animals. The bathrooms had been renovated, and HAL now puts the shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in dispensers on the wall of the shower. This appears to be a much more efficient way instead of the little bottles each day. Dining - As mentioned before, we ate each evening meal in the Main Dining Room, and every meal was excellent. We never had trouble finding something on the menu we liked. Our dining room stewards, San and KoKo, did a fantastic job. We ate breakfast in the Lido each morning after our walk on the Promenade Deck. This was faster than the dining room with fewer calories!! We ate lunch in the Lido a couple of times and have no complaints. We did not miss having trays and did notice that the Lido stewards were always there to aid passengers if needed. At sea days: Reading, wine tastings, afternoon tea, Culinary Arts Center demos, team trivia, walking, lectures, crossword puzzles, etc. There was never a problem finding something to do. Entertainment - The entertainment by the Ryndam singers, dancers, and musicians was outstanding. We also saw two comedians - Ross Bennett had us in tears - he was hilarious. I was surprised (with a back-to-back cruise) that we saw the same "cabaret" shows both weeks. Luckily, the performers were excellent, so we didn't really mind. We are also Adagio Strings' fans and listened to them every chance we had - four girls from Poland who did an outstanding job. We are not excursion people. We just enjoy the ship, but we did go into each port. Key West was nice - teeming with cruisers. The City View Trolley Tour was quite nice with very entertaining drivers. The walk into Ocho Rios was not the best. Very aggressive taxi drivers accosted us all the way. Cayman Islands and Cozumel were interesting, but doubt if I would return. We did have Key Lime Pie at Kermit's the second time in Key West and also took pictures at Hwy 1's Mile Marker 0. The tender to Belize City was quite large and it was an enjoyable sea ride. Mahogany Bay was by far our favorite port - very clean and very friendly people. The beach was gorgeous. Costa Maya was interesting as there was a huge, beautiful public swimming pool that abutted a beverage bar. We also got to watch dolphins in a small pool. Disembarking was a breeze. We were off the ship by 8:30. We did leave extra tips for our dining room stewards, wine steward, and cabin stewards. They all did an excellent job. Of course, I'm sure the wonderful weather and calm seas helped with the enjoyment of the cruise. What a wonderful two-week experience. The Ryndam's size is perfect for us and we found it quite elegant. We are looking forward to our next cruise, in June, on the Maasdam. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
ryndam cruise: january 23-january 30, 2011 on saturday we drove from granite falls NC to Tampa....took 11 hrs , reached clearwater at 8pm, fell into bed. whew. that a long time to sit. hampton inn rocky point had a nice ... Read More
ryndam cruise: january 23-january 30, 2011 on saturday we drove from granite falls NC to Tampa....took 11 hrs , reached clearwater at 8pm, fell into bed. whew. that a long time to sit. hampton inn rocky point had a nice breakfast selection and free shuttle to and from the port. ship condition: cabin (683) OV... main deck location was great...in the aft section so we had a nice "rocking" motion at night most nights.....nice sofa, ample storage space in cabin, small bathroom with only two open shelves. not a problem though, we took out only the necessities for daily use.....cabin steward and his assistant were attentive yet unobtrusive. kept the ice bucket full without our having to ask everyday. can not ask for more. comparison HAL (1-11) & Princess (12-10) (IMO) activities on sea days: more of what interested us on HAL.....ie: computer workshop, talks on culture and history of ports we were visiting, backstage tour, culinary arts demos. Princess had Space bags !! a few times at that. Princess did have a grand atrium that had various activities during the day....piano music, line dancing and a wonderful talk about the guts of the bridge and navigation.....but overall HAL was more in line with our interests. the ryndam is much smaller and less glitzy than the emerald.....we like the smaller ships. food (taste,selection) was much better on HAL .....and so is the ice cream (free) ......many flavors and toppings. but princess's Lido arrangement seemed more functional and the evening dining in the Lido on princess is quite nice....table cloths and waiters even though it is still buffet service. HAL's Lido at night is pretty vanilla, although we never ate there for dinner. .....we did not try the newest italian fare restaurant. heard there were long waits for courses and it did not seem worth trying this time around since we eventually had a nice table for two in the upper dining room. anytime dining: as on Princess, i think it is more of a joke. on Princess you could use anytime as long as it was after 8pm. On HAL we changed to fixed seating at 8pm after two nights of only being able to make a reservation for 8pm and getting not that great tables. we usually request a table for two. we liked the upper level dining room better and hence the change to fixed. they said that folks reserve blocks of seating at the 6:45pm slot ahead of time leaving only 5pm and 8pm for the anytime. didnt know they had seating times on anytime. i think that is not the spirit of anytime. so both princess and HAL were the same. boarding was easy....no wait. we could get into our room right away and luggage was not far behind. lunch at the lido....exploring the ship....some wine, a nice way to start. one crisis.....the mini computer charger did not fit the only plug in the room....after my meltdown, DH found a vacant plug behind the tv and i was in business. dinner at 7:45 and perhaps the show. tomorrow....key west. review bill....on the princess ship you could swipe your cabin key and review charges, on HAL you cant do that. we didnt spend anything this trip, just the daily charge, but it is nice to be able to see if there are discrepancies when you want. ports of call..... sailed into key west....docked at mallory dock....two carnival ships in...fantasy and freedom. took the conch train tour.....almost 2 hrs.....then went to an internet cafe (the public library is closed on monday.....too bad) and got on and checked email for $.75. only needed 15 min to check emails.....on easton st right of duvall. neat deal. in my opinion, all you need in key west is 1/2 a day. we saw everything we wanted to see. we have been to key west several times, once for a week. that was waaaaaaaaay too long for us. 1st day at sea: lots to do, interesting talks, computer workshops.....weather breezy and getting warmer.....saw some flying fish at last. saw none in december ochos rios, jamaica .....'mon.....docked at a strange industrial pier, some kind of ore i think. short walk to town where i found free wifi at margaritaville....also found a margarita !! walked a bit farther into town, went thru a nice pocket park.....not as awful as we remembered from many years ago. enjoyable morning, needed the exercise. there is a travel guide on board and he gave a nice talk on what to expect as well as the history of jamaica. tomorrow, cayman island and hopefully snorkeling. grand cayman.......in port with 3 other ships....freedom of the seas, grandeur of the seas and carnival conquest. still not crowded ashore. although, we only walked to a snorkeling site. so i dont know about the stores and other attractions. got in the water at hammerheads restaurant....steep ladder into the water...but nice sandy bottom. we snorkeled over the wreck of the Cali......not as many fish as i thought would be but seeing the wreck was quite interesting and surely different. after that, walked to the public library....many using the free wifi but i left the mini on board (didnt want to leave it on shore while we snorkeled......used the library computer to check email). tomorrow, cozumel, our last port. cozumel....docked downtown this time. there were 6 ships in port....2 in town ( us and the norwegian spirit) and 4 ( two carnival and two RCL) at the international pier. and it didnt seem crowded. amazing. took a cab to chankanaab park. this time it was a disappointment. not many fish to be seen, but at least we were able to see a sea lion show. lot of money spent to see very few fish. next time we are here we will snorkel by boat. on the way to the park we saw folks snorkeling off shore and a by few restaurants.....would have cost less and probably been the same quality. oh well, learn something every time, remembering it is hard !! got wifi at the starbucks right across from our dock with purchase of a coffee. a good thing. last sea day.....debarkation talk and crew farewell, tried my hand at playing a steel drum (not very well), culinary arts demo with captain and CD assembling a black forest cake, lunch, talk by travel guide about rum running....time out in the sun on deck. we plan on debarking around 8:30 and making our way back to the hotel and the car. entertainment....3 male singers, 2 female and 2 female dancers. the best voices and shows we've seen in years. a comedian was aboard and performed one evening. very good.....all in all the ship deserves a 10 in providing interesting entertainment. we loved the smaller ship, HAL's ambiance and the wonderful weather.....wish we did not have to get off. 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Sail Date January 2011
My family and I had booked this cruise because it departed out of Tampa which is close to our house in Sarasota. We did not feel like driving to Fort Lauderdale. Carnival also sailed out of Tampa, but we chose Holland America for its ... Read More
My family and I had booked this cruise because it departed out of Tampa which is close to our house in Sarasota. We did not feel like driving to Fort Lauderdale. Carnival also sailed out of Tampa, but we chose Holland America for its reputation for being a bit more high end in terms of service. After checking our bags at the curb at around 1pm, one member of our party parked the car in the long term parking garage across the street. The terminal was empty as it seemed that everyone had already boarded. We went through security, checked-in and boarded in a matter of minutes. Our cabin, DA561 was an ocean view window cabin. I considered a veranda as this was what I am used to, but the difference in price at the time of booking for three people was more than $1000. We thought we would do fine without the balcony. It worked out since the cabin had excellent ventilation and temperature controls. There was not a sign of prior smoking in our cabin. I was worried that the room would reek of third-hand smoke but was relieved upon entering that the interior smelled completely fresh. I think that despite the fact that HAL allows smoking in cabins, most of the passengers either don't smoke or choose to smoke outside. The cabin had ample closet space for the three of us as well as luggage storage space under the bed. A flat screen TV had a few cable news and sports channels, but sometimes the audio was out of sync with the video due to satellite reception I suppose. An extensive movie DVD list was available in the room. If you want to see a movie, just call and they will deliver the DVD to you. Since the cabin is on deck 5 right below the walk-around on deck 6, you will hear some occaisonal foot steps above you but they are not bothersome. Also, sometimes you can hear talking in the hallway, but only if people are loud, which didn't happen often. If these sounds are enough to bother you at night, they can be easily eliminated by using a pair of earplugs with a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 29. I just put mine in and slept without interruption each night. An added benefit of the cabin that we discovered while boarding: it is literally one cabin away from the Tampa gangway. So once you are ready to leave your room at the conclusion of the cruise, you are off the boat in seconds. My only criticism of the room was that the faucet's water pressure and temperature control. Water flow was very weak making it take a long time to rinse off hands. In addition, there was either extreme hot or extreme cold temperature to the water, no in between. And once you had the water hot and wanted it to go back to cold, it would take a good two minutes for the temp to change. Our previous cruises were on the Celebrity Summit and Solstice so we were used to the larger ship experience. The ms Ryndam is much smaller with a capacity of about 1200 guests. I thought this would be too small and might not offer the same amenities as a larger ship. But the ms Ryndam did not disappoint. It was a comparable experience in terms of activities, restaurant offerings, fitness/spa facilities, entertainment on-board shopping and a variety of cabin categories. The point is that you are having a similar experience, it is just on a smaller scale. The value for price paid was high and the crew was as professional and passenger oriented as I experienced in my prior cruises. I found that the experience was more intimate as I was able to get to know and remember a lot more of my fellow guests as well as their names. The Rotterdam Dining Room food was above average. There is one section of the menu that is offered on a daily basis. The other section varies from day to day. Since we were unable to obtain confirmation for early seating, we opted for Holland America's "As You Wish" open seating dining arrangement. Whenever we decided to arrive for dinner, there was never a wait and we were always seated immediately. While you don't get to dine with the same people every night and get to know one waiter, the advantage to open seating is that you get to meet more people as you are at a different table each night. On the first sea day, we opted for the Pinnacle Grill which was higher in quality and presentation. My 7oz filet was cooked perfectly and the wine combination I chose went very well with the meal. We had a seat right next to the window and viewed the sunset as our experience began. It was unforgettable. The passengers consisted of mostly those in the 60+ age range. There were a few families with children. Originally, the ship was supposed to call at Key West, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. However, Grand Cayman was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. While it was disappointing, I was impressed that the crew was able to adapt and have adequate activities for the unexpected sea day. An updated program was printed and distributed quickly. The ship was rocking a lot that day due to high winds. On 1/16, we were scheduled to disembark at 9:30am but due to an announcement at 8:45am, we were advised that all passengers were permitted to leave. We left the ship at 9:05am. At this time, there was a long line for non-US citizens and the US citizen line was empty for us. Our baggage was waiting and after a few quick questions from the customs officer, we left the building. I would say it took 5 minutes from the time we left our room to the time we were at the curb with all our luggage. A very hassle free, fast and efficient disembarkation. All in all, it was a quality experience. I hope to experience HAL's other ships one day. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We arrived at the Port of Tampa at 1:30 pm and walked right on the ship. We immediately went to the Rotterdam dining room to see if we could change our late seating to early. It was changed without a problem. Our table was on the 7th floor ... Read More
We arrived at the Port of Tampa at 1:30 pm and walked right on the ship. We immediately went to the Rotterdam dining room to see if we could change our late seating to early. It was changed without a problem. Our table was on the 7th floor (lower) along the back window looking out the back. (Table for 6) Our waiters were Gus and Sandy and they were great. We put our order in for shrimp cocktail and escargot every night and they said they would try their best and we were very happy that they wanted to please us. Dinners were very good. We did eat one night at the Pinnacle Grill. I would not go again, mainly because I do not like to spend another $40 for a meal when I already paid for my meals. I ordered Filet Mignon and it was very tender but it was really salty. I ordered a desert and asked the waiter if the ice cream had any chocolate in it and he said no, so I ordered it. It had chocolate chunks. The waiter felt bad. It was their version of Baked Alaska. The Pinnacle Grill has their own kitchen behind the dining area so nothing is prepared in the main kitchen. Our stateroom was on the Lower Promenade Deck (365) and our steward was Mono. We meant him the first day and never saw him again until the last day. Sometime between breakfast and changing for the gym he got everything looking great in our stateroom. We did not use any port or shore excursions. The entertainment was good. I worried because we went to the welcome show the first night and only two dancers were there with 4 singers(2 male, 2 female). I would recommend the night they do Broadway and the night that they have the full orchestra. We had a comedian who had us rolling on the floor. The Crows Nest had 2 for 1 drinks during "happy hour". We used the gym every day and paid the extra money for the area in the spa when it was limited to 50 people. There were 2 steam rooms, thermal pool, heated lounges and showers plus the relaxation room was also available. It was wonderful and would recommend it. Disembarkation was a snap. We asked for early off and we were off by 8:15 and my husband went to the parking lot to get our car. We were away from the terminal by 9:00. I would highly recommend Holland America. No complaints about the service, food, entertainment and staterooms. I still do not like how they do the tips. They charge your credit card everyday $11 per person. I spoke to one waiter who was working when it was still owned my Holland America and he said he made more in tips back then then he does now because the monies get split up among people who do not work as hard because they know they will get paid no matter what. At the Lido Deck for breakfast and lunch they no longer furnish trays. It makes it hard to carry a plate and a drink and find an empty seat. Older people were having a hard time with this. I read in the brochure that shorts were not supposed to be worn in public areas after 6 pm but naturally you still have some people who think they do not have to abide by the rules. I did see men in Tuxs and in one instance his partner had cotton capris on. She certainly did not compliment her partner. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Our family of four has been taking family cruises for many years. They have usually been over spring break. This cruise we went the first week of January. We flew down one day early and stayed at the downtown Embassy Suites. This is ... Read More
Our family of four has been taking family cruises for many years. They have usually been over spring break. This cruise we went the first week of January. We flew down one day early and stayed at the downtown Embassy Suites. This is a very nice hotel very close to the pier. We went over to see the Carnival ship and watch the Outback Bowl from the pier area. It is very nice. We took a short taxi ride to the Ryndam about noon. There was a line but it moved rapidly. I think we hit the peak of boarding. This cruise we were all in one cabin. Something we hadn't done since our girls were little. We had some trepidation but it turned out great. The E cabins are very spacious with plenty of storage. We had sailed on the Vista class (Zuiderdam and Westerdam) before but not on the smaller HAL ships. We really liked the size of the Ryndam. It didn't seem too small at all. It never seemed crowded although the ship was full. We had nice weather the whole cruise and enjoyed the sun. The food was very good in the MDR and the Lido. We had room service one day. It came without the oatmeal we ordered. The waiter said it wasn't ready. He came back a few minutes later with it. That was great service on a port day when there were many room service orders. We had fixed late seating and prefer it over the non-fixed dining. Our wait staff was excellent and friendly. The food is the same menu we have seen before on HAL and very good. The lobster tail was large and cold water. Our cabin was always well kept. The steward was very flexible in dealing with our girls who like to sleep late. The itinerary (Key West, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya) is excellent for January since you go further south to more warmth. We used the hot tubs and pool. Everything in this area was very well maintained. Entertainment was one comedian and the singers and dancers. So, the shows were a bit limited but of very good quality. The passenger mix was all ages and made for a very friendly group. I set up a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. We had around eighteen attend. HAL was very nice serving Mimosas, coffee, tea, and cookies. The CD and Hotel Manager attended making it a very nice group. Overall this was one of our best cruises. We liked the ship's size, crew, ports, and food. Can't beat that. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We sailed on the Ryndam in December 2010. This was my first cruise and our baby moon. My wife was 6 months pregnant at the time. We were traveling with our best friends. We left Tampa without a problem. Around 7 PM we were in the Rotterdam ... Read More
We sailed on the Ryndam in December 2010. This was my first cruise and our baby moon. My wife was 6 months pregnant at the time. We were traveling with our best friends. We left Tampa without a problem. Around 7 PM we were in the Rotterdam Dining Room about to dinner. About 10 minutes after being seated I began feeling sea sick due to the shifting and rocking of the boat. I left the dining room to go get some medicine from our room which was towards the front of the boat, this was no short distance. I was one hall length away from our room when ship began to heel to my right to the point that I could easily put my foot on the wall for balance. All around me things were crashing and people were screaming. Do you remember the scene from the Poseidon Adventure where the boat turned over? Or the scene from Inception where the building was flipping, yeah like that. I made it to our room got my meds and headed back to find my wife and friends who when I got the Rotterdam Dining room which was smashed to say the least, were no where to be found because it had been evacuated. When I left I found them and we were all shaken by our experience. Having grown up sailing I suggested we head for the high side of the boat. While sitting nervously in the library we observed crew members handing out pills telling people they were for sea sickness, if you took one you'll feel better and if you took two you'll go to sleep. The captain came on the loud speaker and informed everyone that he had hit some rough weather and at this point must turn into the storm. As the turn occurred we made our way to the showroom at sea. While there we noticed the room pitching up and then down. We decided to head to our rooms at this point and try to sleep. While we lay there terrified we noticed that all night we were lifted up off of our beds ever so slightly and then gently returned only to be lifted again. This experience was quite a bit like the positive and negative G's you experience on a roller coaster. As I lay there all night waiting for the hull to crack or for the alarm to sound for us to head to the life boats I decided that the second I could I was getting off of the boat. At this point I was figuring that in the morning when we reached Key West I would escape. Wrong, as I lay there in the morning what would turn out to be the chime of doom rang and our captain in a very thick Danish accent came on to explain that last night we experienced a sever roll when disengaging the thumper pilot (Tampa Pilot) and that the seas were to heavy to make port in Key West and that we would be experiencing high seas all day. Oh, did I mention the throwing up? I did that a lot even with a scopolamine patch on. So at this point I was angry and scared and nauseous. I figured that I would escape the Titanic/Poseidon when we got to Jamaica. Wrong, 48 hours and some easier seas we got to Jamaica. I had then resolved myself to continuing the adventure since we would be getting off and things had improved some. Wrong, as we neared Jamaica and prepared for departure the chime of doom again rang and in a very thick Danish accent our captain from de nabagshin deck ob the ryndam explained that the seas were to rough for tendering. At this point I was part of an angry mob that headed to the front desk to demand off the boat which by the way was quite shabby and old. After some poor customer service we headed to the back of the boat to get some air and to watch the carnival cruise head in to Jamaica. So still trapped on this old ship with a staff could not be bothered to learn any English I began to plot my escape via a life boat or swimming if possible. Since my wife was pregnant I decided that having us jump off or stealing a life boat that I have no idea how to operate would both be terrible ideas I decided that I would behave myself and prepare to be told that when we reached Grand Cayman we would be denied escape unless we mutinied. Good fortune finally smiles although I believe that it was good fortune that the boat survived the first nights events. We got off the boat at both Grand Cayman and Cozumel. On out last night while at dinner at the Pinnacle Grill (by the way if you are foolish enough to get on this death trap spend the extra few dollars and eat at the Pinnacle Grill. They treat you well and are very friendly and attentive and the portions of high quality food are absurd, the only bargain to be had on this vacation, fantastic food, well run and attentive servers which you will not find in the Rotterdam) so around 6 pm the chime of doom comes on and it out captain explaining that at 8 pm tonight a coast guard helicopter would be hoovering aboove the ship to air life a passenger off. At this point I was convinced that the helicopter would not hoover aboove but crash into and sink the boat. this of course did not happen and I am venting my frustrations but I can assure that when we received a coupon in the mail shortly after our so called vacation, for 15% off of our next Holland America cruise it sealed the deal for me that if I were forced back onto a cruise that there is no way that Holland America would get one red cent from us again. Good luck if you choose to get on the ryndam. I suggest that you look for video of the ship online to get a real idea of what it looks like. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
we stayed at the holiday inn express in rockey point, they have a park and cruise packaage with a shuttle to and from the port, you can also use the shuttle for surrounding areas. the hotel was great the front dest was efficient and the ... Read More
we stayed at the holiday inn express in rockey point, they have a park and cruise packaage with a shuttle to and from the port, you can also use the shuttle for surrounding areas. the hotel was great the front dest was efficient and the breakfast was good. the shutle driver took us to the international mall and we called when we were ready to return to the hotel we loved that, because driving can be confusing when your not sure where your going. a #10 for the hie. embarkking was so easy and our room was ready when we got onboard. we loved this perk.our stewards were so good, and we had asked for a wine glass, and he brought us 6 so we could just leave the glass wher we wanted. it had started to rain when we got on board, so we really stayed inside for the day. that evening we went to dinner in the diningroom ,we had anytime dining, and we felt out wait sstaff just were not up to par. they forgot to take half the tables order, and kept dissappearing.., we left and went into the casino, and although the ship was rocking, it was bearaable, but all of a sudden the ship litterally tilted. people fell out of their wheelchairs, some people fell off their chairs, i was sitting on a bolted down seat thank goodness or i may have been on the floor. we left the casino and saw that christmas trees had fallen over, the liquor room was full of broken bottles, everything off the shelves. the same for the jewelry. we spoke to people who were eating, and they said all the dishes on the tables fell on the floor and broke.the night was a rock and roller, and the next day we missed key west, and then jamica. i want to say that i realize that the weather is in god's hand, and i take no blame on anyone for the weather. what i do think is there was no communication. we didn't even realize we were not stopping in jamica. i had to call the front dest to ask, as i noticed the ship going fast. the food on this ship was terrible, and i'm not picky. thank goodnes for the pasta in the lido. the desserts are frozen pies, and maybe you have 3 or 4 things to choose from, also the girl serving the sdesserts is doing the sesserts for the canneletto restaurant, and the ice cream serving. the buffet closes at 8 and opens at 11 p.m. again. on this ship ther was no entertainment to speak of, 6 singers for 6 nights. one or two trivia a day, that's it......unbelievable. we had more to do on the monarch on rcl and that was for 4 days. we had hoped to at least get into gran caymen early or stay later, but that was not to be on the last night like the first the perfect ending to the perfect cruise, a passenger had to be airlifted off the ship. that god we have the coast gaard they aare the best and we thank them for their service. the last morning we were told just leave when your time comes.. if you could have seen the mob scene trying to get off you would have laughed... everyone could not wait for their time they were gone baby gone Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
As a frequent cruiser and very loyal Holland America customer I have to report a disappointing trip to the Western Caribbean on the Ryndam. The ship is one of the smallest HAL ships and also one of the oldest but it was refurbished ... Read More
As a frequent cruiser and very loyal Holland America customer I have to report a disappointing trip to the Western Caribbean on the Ryndam. The ship is one of the smallest HAL ships and also one of the oldest but it was refurbished earlier this year to the tune of several million dollars. The dollar doesn't go as far as it used to, at least not on this update. Some of the public areas looked like they had received attention but there was lots of room for improvement. Our balcony had rust everywhere and our furniture was in terrible shape. The leather couch had gouge marks all over it and our one chair was broken. More about that later. They have removed the clever round stools that were perfect for sitting in front of the mirror to apply makeup and also to store bathing suits and towels. The bedframe extended out into the very narrow walkway and caused several cuts and abrasions before we had our cabin steward adjust and move it. The flat screen TV appeared to have a decent picture but of course there is nothing to watch. It was Day Two or Three before we had music on the channels as advertised. We had no complaints about our cabin steward and assistant; they were as helpful and friendly as possible but with 30 cabins to service twice a day they were stretched thin. I saw one of them nearly in tears one morning as he frantically tried to fix his vacuum. He looked at me and said, "I will never be able to clean floors with broken vacuum". These are the same workers who were assigned less than half that number of cabins to clean just a few years ago. I bet their wages didn't double.Food was predictable.........consistently average. The selections are better than what I have at home but I was paying for a vacation here. The beef and lamb selections are usually good but the seafood is spotty. One traveling companion became very ill after eating Black Cod in the Pinnacle. We usually book the Pinnacle Grill the first night of the cruise to avoid the confusion in the Main Dining Room. As You Wish dining is finally getting routine on HAL as long as you don't want to eat at 7 p.m. Later is better but remember on this ship everything is geared to the Early Bird Special group and you may miss the best entertainment and after dinner activities if you dine fashionably. Our service in all dining venues was fine, even very good in the main dining room most nights. Caneletto food was good but the evening was marred by some intoxicated teenagers wearing baseball hats on backwards. The staff seated that group in a small room away from the rest of the guests but they paraded back and forth our entire mealtime.Entertainment was fine and we like the small showroom. There were plenty of seats except for the first night when there was only one show. The vaudeville style of comic, fewer dancers, more singers and a show with only male performers was a nice change. The Piano Bar performer sounded wonderful but we were never able to get a seat in that area. There was a guitarist who sang in the Mix area but he was so bad that you were embarrassed for him. Casino was smoky and small. Wish HAL would go ahead and have a NO SMOKING policy.The bar staff ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime. We were ignored, challenged and insulted in some bars and in the Crow's Nest which was largely empty every night we were greeted by name and made to feel most welcome. The front desk staff was a sore spot for us. When I reported the broken and potentially dangerous chair in our cabin, the male behind the counter grabbed his key ring and said, "Show Me". So he left his position and followed me back to the cabin. He said, "Oh, it really is broken". I have no idea what he expected but he certainly implied that I was not telling the truth. The chair was picked up but not replaced until Day Three of the trip and only then by my trusty cabin steward who appropriated another chain somewhere.Holland America continues to cut service to their clients and ask more from their employees. We will continue to travel with them but we won't book anything but a suite so we can have turning around room. Holland America has good value but I wish they would remember their loyal guests expect a certain level of service and allow their staff to deliver that service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I am finally able to provide my trip report for our Ryndam cruise which departed Tampa on November 28th. We drove to Tampa from Lakeland where we have a winter home. This is so convenient to find this cruise port and my husband ... Read More
I am finally able to provide my trip report for our Ryndam cruise which departed Tampa on November 28th. We drove to Tampa from Lakeland where we have a winter home. This is so convenient to find this cruise port and my husband parks the car in their parking building for approx. $100.00 for the week. We have never gone through embarkation as smoothly and efficiently as we did this day. We left Lakeland about 11:15 a.m. and were onboard by 12:50 p.m. !! We didn't even have to sit in the waiting area this time for our number to be called. We walked right onto the ship after leaving the registration counter!! How easy is that? Then upon boarding, we could immediately go to our cabin as it was ready for us. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We loved our cabin was a verandah suite on the 10th deck. It was SO convenient to everything. We were steps away from the Lido deck and yet our cabin was very quiet. We had a Jacuzzi tub as well and I certainly enjoyed using it a few times. Our verandah was big enough for a chair, small table and a lounger. We really enjoyed sitting out there listening to the waves below and so private. This was our first time having a balcony. Now I'm totally spoiled. We proceeded to the Lido buffet area to have lunch. We were surprised to note that the barbecue area was not open around the Neptune pool. Apparently they are doing things a little differently on boarding day to cut down on the risks of spreading germs. The staff serve you for about two days and then you can serve yourself. I went to the young man making the grilled sandwiches - he was "painfully" slow !! We had been looking forward to a burger but that's OK. If it cuts down on the incidences of illness, then it's worth it. We had not sailed on the Ryndam since its refurbishments. It is very lovely with upgraded public areas, new carpets, new bar areas, new furniture, etc. We noticed that the Explorer's Lounge has been reduced in size and the piano bar is more open with a martini bar as well. The Crow's Nest also has some new furnishings and floors. Our cabin also looked refurbished with new draperies, countertops, carpeting, etc. My husband and I had late night seating in the diningroom at a table for two this time. We loved our spot as we overlooked the dining area below. Dinners were delicious. Our servers as usual worked very hard and were very efficient. We thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the Explorer's Lounge before dinner listening to the string quartet called the Adaggio Strings. They were extremely good. I especially loved to listen to them play Bolero but the girls should look a little happier. If they smiled, I think their faces would crack. Monday morning we had arranged for a Meet and Greet with other Cruise Critic message board people in the Crow's Nest. It was quite successful. We were provided with complimentary Mimosas, coffee, cookies as the ship's management had to move us last minute from the Explorer's Lounge to the Crow's Nest. We had a nice visit with the others. Ports of Call Our first port of call was Key West. We docked at about 1:00 p.m. The weather was perfect at about 82 degrees F. with a soft breeze. Even though it was a rather brief visit, we thoroughly enjoyed Key West. We had never been here before and wasn't sure what to expect other than what we have heard and read about. I was very pleasantly surprised at how pretty and clean it is as well as very lush with trees and beautiful vegetation. Some of the residential areas are very lovely with big homes. A few large historic homes have been turned into dining establishments. Key West reminds me of a Caribbean village without the third world poverty. There are also the funky shopping areas which is very interesting with lots of open air bars. Of course we made our way to Kermit's where I bought a frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick. It was SO good. It is literally a piece of pie that has been frozen with a stick stuck in the one end. The highlight of our visit was visiting the Mel Fisher museum and viewing the treasures taken from the Atocha Spanish galleon that had been lost at sea in the 1600's. This was absolutely fascinating. We saw gold ingots, pieces of eight, raw emeralds, gold chains that were as thick as my thumb to name a few of the treasure and stories about the Spanish galleon and who had been onboard. Upstairs there was an exhibit of the slave trade at the time with stories about the slave ships that docked at Key West in 1860. Horrifying. We boarded the Ryndam at 4:00 p.m. and sadly had to say goodbye to Key West. There was lots we didn't get a chance to see. As we sailed away, we watched the party atmosphere down below on the dock area where people congregate to watch musicians, etc. And to watch the sunset. That evening it was quite cool though and cloudy so there wasn't much of a sunset. Dec. 1st - Ocho Rios, Jamaica The weather was lovely this day with temps. About 86 F. At first there was a downpour of rain as people were disembarking but luckily it lasted only briefly. We weren't sure what to do this day but decided to wing it and got off the ship to head into town by a taxi. We found many buses waiting to take passengers wherever they wanted to go and ended up on a bus that took us to Dunn's River Falls which was only a short ride from our dock. If we had known, we would have gone there but we let off one family and then the guide took us up into the hills to see a lovely view of our ship docked far below. So beautiful. It only cost us $4.00 each one way to the shopping area but we lucked out with this little tour as well into the countryside. There were huge Banyan trees, banana trees and flowering vegetation everywhere. We drove down twisty turny little roads and saw some of the homes. Some were large and beautiful and some were smaller. We were dropped off at a shopping mall and then the bus came back with the guide at whatever time we wanted. We spent an hour or so going from store to store and bought Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican rum, and a few gift items. You had to barter on price. Not too much hassle here. Grand Cayman Island - Dec. 2nd Sailed into Grand Cayman Island at about 7:40 a.m. Beautiful morning. We had a ship excursion today to swim with the Stingrays!! We were off early and fortunately too because the water became too rough and the captain stopped others from getting off the ship later as we had to tender to Georgetown. It was a short ride but quite rough. We boarded our bus and were taken to the catamaran where we began our ride out into the huge bay to a sandbar where the stingrays are located. The catamaran was very nice with a bar in the middle and a washroom. What more could you want? LOL. There were two young men and a woman who were our guides. The water was absolutely gorgeous - aqua blue, crystal clear and warm water and you stand on soft white sand. When we arrived at the area, there were a few other boats there as well with people in the water. You can see the rays swimming about under water !! It was so amazing. I would do this again in a heartbeat!! I was a little nervous at first as I'm not a swimmer, but not to worry. You are in only about 4 to 5 feet of water. Although it was windy that day and the swells were fairly large so you had to watch or some swells would go over your head and my husband and I are tall people. The rays are so gentle. Our guide held out his arms while one big stingray settled in his arms with its face towards him. People could have their picture taken with it which I did. You can purchase these pictures later onboard for $30.00. I thought the price was a bit steep but we bought the memory stick with all the pics. People are not allowed to feed the stingrays anymore because people were feeding them the wrong things and they were dying! Now only the guides feed them the correct type of food. The rays have intelligent eyes. Some of the stingrays were big - maybe 5 feet in diameter and others were small. We were out in the water for maybe an hour. We didn't feel rushed at all and I thoroughly enjoyed the water as well. So beautiful. Upon returning to town after the excursion, we headed for Margaritaville for lunch. It was quite the happening place but FAR TOO EXPENSIVE. One small plastic glass of beer was $7.00. Come on. Stop gouging people. After having lunch and a beer, we proceeded to the shops but it was SO OVER CROWDED. This is totally unacceptable to allow SIX cruise ships at once to be docked at this small place. The town cannot accommodate all the people. We were disappointed with Georgetown. It was very pretty with upscale shopping but it was far too expensive as mentioned before and didn't have a Caribbean feel at all. As we were walking to some of the stores, we suddenly noticed a huge lineup at the dock where people were getting on the tenders to go back to the ship. The Niew Amsterdam was also docked nearby us. There were three or four other ships docked on the other side of the island where people were coming from into Georgetown. When we saw the lineup we thought we better get in line also as the last tender was supposed to be at 3:30. So needless to say, people were not happy having to stand in the blazing hot sun for over an hour to get into the tenders. The town should provide a more shady area for passengers. But we did learn later that the reason for the lines was due to the fact that the tenders were taking longer than usual because of the rough seas and were only allowing half the number of people on the tenders. It was very difficult to tie up at the ship and we smashed into the ship at one point. The crew was very good at helping everyone off the tender boat and we were whisked up the stairs so fast into the ship, all I saw was a flurry of hands and feet as I was helped up into the ship. Dec. 3rd - Cozumel There were SIX ships docked at Cozumel. We were right alongside the Norwegian Spirit. Temperatures were just right - about 75 F. so it was very comfortable for walking around the town. We had a great time walking around, stopping for a beer here and there at the outside cafes and shopping. Be very careful about bartering. You should immediately offer half what the shop owners ask for an item. There are many, many stores and a great place to look for silver if that is what you like. Sea Day We slept in this morning. I will really miss the comfortable beds and wonderful linens. I went to the disembarkation briefing and farewell. It is always a treat. Filled out our surveys; checked out a preview of our bill - the joys of the last day. Sat on the back deck in the sunshine. Beautiful weather. At 12:30 we went to the Mariners' luncheon. It was very good and we sat with two other couples. We enjoyed talking to everyone. At 4:00 we went to the Crow's Nest for Happy Hour. This was always nice to do. If you check your daily program, you will see which bars have Happy Hour. I really like the new layout of the programs. It is much easier to follow. That evening we said our goodbyes to Walter in the Explorer's Lounge and to our two servers in the diningroom. Tonight was the Master Chef dinner. It is always fun. Food is delicious. Pinnacle Grill My husband and I reserved in this lovely restaurant for dinner one night. We had never done this before so we thought we would try it. The atmosphere is lovely and service is wonderful but we found the dining to be a bit too long. Three hours was pushing it as we were starting to feel the need to stand. Food was delicious but very rich and I found it to be a bit too salty. I had surf and turf. My husband had the prime rib and you could cut it with a fork. He said it was the best he had ever eaten. My escargots was to die for. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were given coloured tags to attach to our luggage which we then set outside the cabin door the last night. The staff picked up luggage as soundlessly as a mouse during the night. The next day we were last to disembark as we were just driving to Lakeland. There were no announcements whatsoever. Everyone left according to their instructions on our disembarkation letter. Our luggage was waiting for us inside the warehouse upon leaving the ship which was colour coordinated into sections. It was extremely easy. We proceeded through Customs which was easy also. My husband went to get our car and within about 20 minutes we were driving away from the cruiseport. Weather was quite chilly this morning and everyone had on sweaters or jackets. All in all, we had an extremely lovely week and would not hesitate to go back on the Ryndam. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was my second cruise on the Ryndam this year. Both were Western Caribbean cruises departing from Tampa but the onboard experience was unbelievably different. My first cruise on the Ryndam, taken in February 2010, was the week ... Read More
This was my second cruise on the Ryndam this year. Both were Western Caribbean cruises departing from Tampa but the onboard experience was unbelievably different. My first cruise on the Ryndam, taken in February 2010, was the week before the ship went into dry-dock for extensive refurbishment. The ship had a tired, worn look and I thought the food was mediocre at best and service, while OK, was nothing exceptional. We loved the port of calls of Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya and Key West and the weather, so all the negatives on that sailing were easily forgiven. On this cruise, the weather was extremely uncooperative in 3 of the 4 port of calls (rainy in Montego Bay and Grand Cayman and too windy to dock at all in Cozumel), but splendid in Key West and our 3 sea days. Despite the inclement weather on port days, the cruise was very enjoyable, mostly due to our onboard experience. As the ship was sailing from Tampa, only 30 minutes from home and the price was so incredible, we decided it was worth it to try again. Because of the price point, we felt we had some extra money to splurge on some extras on the ship. Embarkation-We drove to the port of Tampa, arriving shortly after 1PM. Parking is $100.00 for the week. Valet is $115.00 (plus tips). We didn't realize that valet parking was outdoors, not in the covered parking garage across the street; otherwise my husband probably would have dropped us off and drove across the street to the parking garage. Living in Florida, we know the hot sun is definitely not good for your car's paint finish! Check-in was a snap. We were on board in 20 minutes. Cabins-My parents had a BA balcony cabin on the Veranda Deck in a modified handicap stateroom. My father uses a walker and a wheelchair for distances. The shower with the drop down seat was great for him (and probably why the cabin is identified as a modified handicap stateroom); however, there wasn't enough distance between the bed and the wall for him to move past in his walker to the couch area & balcony. Luckily our friend had an extra cane with him for my father to use. I thought a modified handicap stateroom would have had the clearance for a walker to get by. Our cabin was category H, outside with port holes. The cabin was fine, the newly revamped bathroom was very nice, good closet space, but the cabin itself was cramped with the loveseat, oval coffee table and desk chair. It was even difficult to get around the love seat to get to my side of the bed. As we only had port holes, our room was also a bit dark. Next time, we will probably book at least an FF cabin. The in-room TV service was not great. The music channels didn't work at all and the channels choices were meager. On the bright side, I didn't come on the cruise to watch TV so it wasn't problematic. Ports-As I said earlier, the weather gods weren't with us on our port days. We did have stunning weather in Key West, which we used to visit the Truman White House. It's easy walking distance (and easy even pushing a wheelchair!) A little tourist trapping shopping, then back to the ship. I didn't bother getting off the ship in Jamaica due to the weather. We did shop a bit in Grand Cayman for the usual tourist stuff, but the drizzly weather didn't make for inspiring shopping. We couldn't port in Cozumel due to the windy conditions. So the ports were pretty much a bust on this cruise. I'm glad I didn't pre-book anything! Shipboard Experiences-The revamped bar areas which includes the updated Piano bar and "The Mix" had a hip, fun vibe. We enjoyed the built in computer games and graphics in the lounge tables. Even my 80 year old mother had fun with these! While the main showroom was updated, if you need to get a wheelchair AND want a decent seat, you had to arrive an hour ahead of show time. Impossible for Early Dining and an 8:00PM show. There are lots of seats (regardless of wheelchair accessibility) in the showroom that are just plain bad, especially on the upper level. The 10PM show just wasn't an option for my parents. We loved guest chef Fabio Viviani's presentation at Culinary at Sea demonstrations. It's great to come away from a cruise with a couple of great recipes. Speaking of recipes, I wanted to purchase a Holland America cookbook, but there are more than one of them. I wanted to flip through them to determine which one to buy, but they are in locked window cases by the Explorations Cafe. When I ask the barista if I could look at them, she hovered over me and gave me the impression that asking to see them was quite cheeky. I wouldn't purchase a cookbook at a bookstore without flipping through it to make sure it had enough recipes that I would use so I certainly wasn't go to put out $30.00 for a cookbook onboard sight unseen. In the end, I was so uncomfortable with her hovering, I decided to forget it. We paid $150.00 for unlimited entrance to the Thermal Suites for the week. While we did enjoy it immensely (the hot beds, mineral spa, steam rooms, eucalyptus rain showers) we found it annoying that a few of the guests felt the need for endless chatter when clearly the ambiance was meant to be quite, relaxing and meditative. The music was soft, new age that one hears in relaxing spas and yoga classes. I wish they would tell people that it is this type of facility when they are pitching it to you or at least put a sign on the entrance door "Quite Zone". We did mention (well, ok, complain) to the staff at the Lotus Spa and they sympathized appropriately, but really, what could they do? They aren't spa police? The only real irritation was in Lido Dining. They do not have trays so I would end up back and forth several times get everything we needed. With me, I had to make 3-5 trips to get myself and my handicapped father served. In addition, it seems I always had to track down table settings. In the end we decided it was much easier (and less frustrating) to eat in the dining room. There were, however, days that the dining room was not open for lunch. What did we love? We loved the whole relaxing ambiance of the ship. We love that there is not loud music blaring in the pool area. We love that there is enough treadmills and other equipment in the gym to support the number of guests that want to use the facility. We love the cold towels provided after your workout. We loved the comfortable deck chairs on the promenade for relaxing on sea days. We loved the excellent food in the dining room. We loved the top notch service. WE SHALL RETURN! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
INTRO: This was a really good cruise. The Ryndam was on time and on-schedule, we got into ALL our ports-of-call, had no major problems, calm seas, sunny weather, no rain or hurricanes and visited interesting sights in each port. The crew ... Read More
INTRO: This was a really good cruise. The Ryndam was on time and on-schedule, we got into ALL our ports-of-call, had no major problems, calm seas, sunny weather, no rain or hurricanes and visited interesting sights in each port. The crew was pleasant, efficient and cooperative and the boat was a solid four-star. As our Grandson, Brad, said: "The only problem was that we didn't do a "back-to-back".My wife, Judy, and I have been on probably a dozen cruises; however, this was our first to the W. Caribbean. We reserved last May while onboard HAL's Noordam, which gave us reduced deposit of $100/pp and a $25 SBC/pp. We transferred the booking to Skyscraper Tours, which we had used for the Noordam. They had been extremely generous w/SBCs, beverage cards and a complimentary bottle of Champagne on this first booking and had even gotten us a low-fee upgrade to a Balcony on that cruise. This time it was "strictly business"...They took the booking, collected our payments and that was pretty much it—too bad, I had high expectations for them the second time around.ARRIVAL: We came in three days early to TPA, using Continental because of the connections (left CO @ 0605, arr'd TPA 1340) and their "first" free bag deal when you use their Chase credit card. This was a $150 benefit, since we were taking Brad on his first cruise (celebrating his 10th birthday). Rented a car thru Hotwire and was very pleased to get a Hertz booking, for 1/3rd the Hertz price. PRE-CRUISE: Spent three days visiting friends & relatives in Port Charlotte & Gainesville. Brad was pleased to get to travel "over" the Sunshine Skyway, which he would see from the bottom-side on cruise out. He was also thrilled to get to what he called "Megalodon Beach" @ Venice, FL (shark's tooth heaven—or so we were told). Sunday morning we drove from Gainesville to TPA. About 1115 I dropped them & bags @ Terminal 3 and returned the car to the airport, where I caught the Super Shuttle ($9 w/ a Travelocity coupon). I was one of two pax and was back to the port just after Noon.EMBARKATION: Probably the smoothest I've seen. Judy & Brad went thru in less than 30 minutes and I was about the same. The bag drop off is different, you don't drop to a central bin/location—but a baggage handler takes your bags to the drop off. Terminal 3 is new and right next to the Fla. Aquarium (which I've heard is pretty good--discounts are available). It's a simple up the escalator, thru the doors, into an air-conditioned hall with 20+ check-in stations (half of which were open). Fill out the "I'm not sick card" get in line, take your picture and you're done in 20 mins, or so. The only delay was the two ladies letting people into the "check-in-hall", and that was minimal.ONBOARD: Met up with them up in the Lido, for lunch, about 1300. It was semi-crowded, but not bad (they even have a hand-carry check-in out by the pool, though we didn't use it). Before I could sit down they called "that the rooms were open" and we headed there, right after a very tasty lunch.STATEROOM: Our Main Deck outside stateroom, #572 was portside, mid-ship, a short way from the embarkation door (very handy). It was set up for three, with the sofa made into a single bed (it was quite comfortable and not in the way). The Ryndam's rooms are plain, but spacious. They do NOT have a fridge. Unfortunately our room was hot throughout the cruise. We requested a fan, but even with that it was still on the warm side. Maintenance came twice to fix things, but it stayed warm, though bearable. Our cabin steward, Mono, provided all required services. I can't say we developed a "relationship", but everything was done quickly and efficiently.SAILOUT: After the safety drill (no life jackets required) we set sail just before 1700. TPA's two-hour sail out has to be one of the most scenic in the States. Downtown, UT's silver minarets, Davis Island's waterfront houses and the Peter O. Knight airport are just several precursors to the eventual passing under the Sunshine Skyway @ St Pete Beach and Ft Desoto Park. This sailing was particularly interesting in that we were about a mile "in trail" with a Carnival vessel. We hit the Gulf, right after sunset and enjoyed our dinner and the sights.DINING: In previous cruises we've had late-fixed seating; however, when traveling with our Grandkids for their 10-yr old cruise (or previously with my sister-in-law who is 78) we have opted for modified open seating at about 1800. Judy usually selects a table shortly after boarding and makes a reservation. If we like the table-area, and the Stewards, we try to reserve the same table every night. That way we get to meet a different set of fellow travelers nightly and we still have the benefit of having the same wait staff. This time, at table #116, we had a wonderful view, excellent service and very good rapport with Ben (head), Rama (asst) and San Miguel (bar). A particularly nice touch was when we discovered that the Asst maitre d', Komang, had been our waiter two years ago going thru the Canal on the Rotterdam. Some people say HAL's food has "gone downhill" and "isn't up to standard"; however, our food was excellent. Brad's favorite was escargot and lobster, Judy's was anything "that swims"—and I liked it all. I will have to say though that the Ryndam's Lido's food is not as good as I remember, though it is still very good. The selection doesn't seem to be as good (though Ryndam's smaller size may contribute to this). My one critique would be HAL's desserts, especially their ice cream—it is often almost melted, sometimes icy (from being refrozen) and is just not up to the high standard set in other areas.SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIES: We did them all (or so it seemed). We offered up HAL's Kids Club (only a dozen kids onboard), but Brad opted to do things with "Gran & Pop-Pop". This began with the Ship's Tour, just after embarkation and included: Galley Tour, Bingo, Culinary Arts, Crew Presentations, Veggie Carving, Movies, Napkin Folding, Towel Animals, etc, etc. It wasn't a matter of "what", but of "how do we do everything we want to do". Our only disappointment was with the DJ who consistently discouraged us from entering the HAL Ship Building contest (said we didn't stand a chance—BUT there ended up being only one very simple entry, which -of course--WON).ENTERTAINMENT: Drew (cruise director) was outstanding—he made everything more entertaining. The shows were good—not great. I'd give high marks to the ventriloquist and juggling comedian, but if they ever need a stand-in, Drew could fill the bill. His Johnny Carson-like mannerisms were a "stitch". The HAL-Cats and the singers and dancers got average marks, although Beth had a wonderful voice and range—a class act. PORTS-OF-CALL: One of the reasons we chose this sailing was to experience some different ports—and they were ALL new to us. I've always been a "get off the boat" then find a private guy to tour with; however, this time I scoured the Cruise Critic Boards for suggestions and ended up pre-booking in all foreign ports. We were pleased with our selections and figure that we saved about 40% by booking on our own (vs. the ship). KEY WEST: No tour here—we just got off and meandered around (4-5 miles total in very HOT 'n humid weather). It was the start of "Fantasy Week", and trust me—none of my fantasies come close to what I saw. We walked thru the shopping and historic district and headed towards the adjacent Fort (now a State Park) and it's beaches; however, at the Park's entrance we noticed the nearby Naval Air Station's gate and found that they had a wonderful beach plus a small beach club and snack bar. Because we're retired military we enjoyed the afternoon there. We also were told that the actual "Southernmost Point in CONUS" is not at the "big red marker", but is located at the NAS's satellite/radar array. Also located in the nearby rocks are literally dozens of Iguanas (6 inches to 3 ft long). I really wish we had more than the 4-½ hrs in port, because there are a lot of things to see and do. I saw a lot of people on the various Trolley tours, but at $25+ each I thought they were expensive. Many of the Key West attractions have coupons in the free tourist magazines, which are found once you get ashore.BELIZE: We followed Hurricane Richard in here, but with Key West and our sea day we missed his visit, though the damage was evident everywhere. Cave-tubing was on the agenda. We booked with "Major Tom" because his tour only charged $25 for our Grandson, while others were twice that. His son, "Minor Tom" was our guide and once we got going we had a good tour. There were some payment problems: I used Pay-Pal to pre-pay, but Major Tom thought we would be canceled, due to Richard, so he refunded the $115 before we got there...But, since I didn't have cash when I arrived...Well, it was fairly complicated, but in the end all worked out. The tour was GREAT. We drove for an hour to the National park (which I think Major Tom helped develop), got our equipment, then had a 30 minute guided nature walk thru the rainforest. There was quite a bit of downed trees, but they had cleared the path. Now, this walk is advertised as VERY easy, but for anyone with a physical challenge: It is hot, humid and has narrow paths (in the dry caves), sometimes it is slippery and there are probably four places that you have to go up and down rocky and uneven steps (no more than 10 each time)—plus your are carrying a bulky float tube, life jacket and helmet. Minor Tom gave a running commentary both in the rainforest and once in the water. The water is cool, but not cold. We did a daisy-chain float (even though they advertised "free float") but with the hurricane debris in the river this was the best way. Tom carried a bright spotlight (as opposed to individual lights) and was very good about pointing out the various points-of-interest. Our group was small (6), which was much better than the HUGE groups from the boat. The float was 25 min in the cave (looked like something out of Indiana Jones) and another 20 min in open river. It was interesting, fun and relaxing. Back at the starting point we loaded in the van, stopped to pickup Belizean lunches for the "Oasis of the Seas" folks and headed back to Belize City (not much of touristic interest there). This is the only point that I would criticize Minor Tom. We had a 1630 "last tender" and we got there @ 1617. It would not have taken anything but a minor traffic jam and we would have missed the boat. Now, we did get a late start because of the Pay-Pal problem, but Tom was also waiting on the three Oasis folks. Then Minor Tom took his own sweet time at the lunch-stand, plus almost 30 mins getting in/out of his wetsuit @ the caves—they need to be more aware of TIME. NOTE: The Belize tenders are not from the boat, so they are usually much bigger, faster, cooler and comfortable, for the 20 min ride. ROATAN (Mahogany Bay): It was windy, so we had a little difficulty getting into M. Bay. Since we were late they extended our departure by an hour. M.Bay is "purpose-built" by Carnival—everything is new, clean and pristine. They have their own beach (pretty, but sterile) and even have a ski lift ($10 all-day). We booked a private island tour thru Island Marketing. We met up with our tour guide, Eunice, outside the port (but up the hill and past the guard gate—1/3 mile walk). The parking area was full of tourist vans—all vying for your business. We had prepaid $90 and had a solid four-hour tour. We toured the island sights and Eunice even took us to her brother's shrimp boat and let Brad & I climb around. A visit to the Iguana Rescue was included ($8 extra on other tours) and was interesting. They have over 1000 Iguanas on site. They are free-roaming and of every size, shape and form. It was quite an experience for Brad to stand in the patio and feed them "trumpet-tree leaves". They also have exhibits of various monkeys and fish—plus a small, but reasonably priced gift shop. Afterwards we drove thru Coxen Hole (much nicer than Belize City) and over to the West End Beach. There is a reef just offshore, but we took a "right" instead of a "left" so we pretty much had just beach snorkeling—found some fan coral and shells, plus had a good hour in the water before going back to M.Bay. Eunice was able to drive all the way into the port (drop off only—not pickup) and we had a quick lunch onboard before heading to the shops (Diamond Int, etc) and eventually to the M.Bay beach (walked 5 mins—saved the $10/pp). This is ala HAL's Half Moon Cay—lotta free beach chairs, but anything else is $$$. Brad snorkeled (shells and starfish this time), Judy sunned and I slept in a chaise under the trees (hot, but pleasant). Contrary to what some have said, we REALLY enjoyed M.Bay & Roatan—Eunice and Island Marketing treated us right. COSTA MAYA: With our Belize cave-tubing and Roatan beach-time & touring out of the way we elected to do Mayan Ruins here. We pre-booked thru "Native Choice Tours" and tried using Pay-Pal to reserve our spots—but for some reason it wouldn't go thru; however, Ivan reserved for us with no deposit and we just paid $145 on arrival. We were off the boat PDQ (0800) and walked thru the purpose-built shopping and drinking area @ the port, out the gate and were directed to the "meeting-place" for the shuttle to "Native Tours". We had been given transportation vouchers (which nobody took) for the shuttle to the downtown office. Once there we were divided into groups by tour-type, met our guide, loaded on 10-pax minivans and were on our way to Chacchoben (about 45 mins away). The drive is unspectacular, but our guide kept up a running commentary. We made a short "out-the-van's window" pineapple stop (complete with the mildly-hot pepper that they sprinkle on their fruit) on the way and it was delicious. Once @ Chacchoben we gathered with the other Native Choice groups (some of who were going to visit a Mayan-home and have lunch afterwards) and spent over an hour wandering thru the ruins. Our total group size was about 15—small compared to the "50+ person hordes" that arrived after us from the boat. Our guide was able to keep us ahead or off to the side of them and gave a really good tour of this very interesting site. I read someplace that you weren't allowed movie cameras unless you paid a fee, but I never saw anyone enforcing this. Afterwards we had little time to shop (mostly trinkets) then our guide left with the other group and we returned to Costa Maya. This was the only "ding" I would give our tour—I expected to have an English-speaking guide throughout; our driver was barely proficient in even rudimentary English. Some of the folks seemed concerned about the military checkpoint we went through (going & returning), but our guide explained that this was to keep out Belizean smugglers and pirates (pirates???) but had nothing to do with terrorism (who knows?). I asked our driver to make a short 5 minute detour thru Mahahual (1 mile S. of Costa Maya) to see the beach. It looks like a nice place to snorkel the nearby reef and be a "beach-bum" for an afternoon—unfortunately the ship was leaving @ 1430, so we had no time...NEXT TIME!! We were dropped off at the port gate (for some reason private tour buses are not allowed inside, but it's less than 50 yds) and spent an hour wandering around the shops outside the gate. Judy & Brad bought trinkets and I found a place that offered 3 beers/$4 bucks, so we were all satisfied. Then it was back aboard, lunch, afternoon tea, etc, etc. One really amazing thing: Right after sail out, during tea, we looked out a saw a "clear-air rainbow"(no rain above, below or nearby) reaching all the way into the ocean. I've never seen anything like it...NEAT.SEA DAYS: As noted, our sea days were filled to capacity with activities. It was truly "no rest for the weary", although I did mange to catch a few "tactical" naps (?.ARRIVAL/DISEMBARKATION: We arrived in Tampa early on Sunday—we woke up @ 0630 and were already docked (my guess is that if you wanted to see the sail-in you'd have to be up by 0400). Had our "last" breakfast on the Lido and then literally walked off the ship @ 0845—no lines, no delay...Just scan your ship's card and go. Our bags were the last ones left of the 0815-0845 debark time, so we grabbed them, walked directly thru customs, out the door, saw a kiosk for "Blue One" airport shuttle, paid $25 for three of us and were at the airport by 0915. Continental had nobody in line and we were checked in and drinking coffee in the airport's shopping area by 0930. Took off on time, had an hour at the Houston USO enroute and were back in CO in time for "trick or treating".IN SUMMARY: A few minor gripes: Hot room, Lido food not as good/extensive as previous HAL cruises, a few hiccups during the tours, and I would really liked more time in the ports (we felt a little rushed in most places). Overall, a VERY GOOD trip!! We enjoyed everything and everyplace and would have no trouble doing it again, though probably would book with someone other than Skyscraper Tours. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our first cruise to Alaska in September. Our previous Alaska cruises have been in August and May. Although May had become our favorite month to cruise to Alaska, we booked this particular cruise because the Ryndam continued on to ... Read More
This was our first cruise to Alaska in September. Our previous Alaska cruises have been in August and May. Although May had become our favorite month to cruise to Alaska, we booked this particular cruise because the Ryndam continued on to San Diego, after the 7-day Alaska segment. Because we live in Las Vegas, flying home from San Diego was significantly cheaper than flying home from Vancouver, plus it gave us a couple of days post-cruise, to visit with several friends who live in the San Diego area. Embarkation day in Vancouver was a dreary and wet day, with 5 cruise ships in port. We had arrived the day prior and stayed in huge city-view room at the Fairmont Waterfront, so it was an easy walk across the street to Canada Place, and we did not get wet. We arrived at Canada Place shortly after 1pm, fearing the worst due the 3 ships docked there. Amazingly, the line at security was almost non-existent; however the line at US Customs was longer. Once we got to the HAL check-in line, we had very little wait. All-in-all, we were onboard within 30 minutes, much better than we had expected. We had booked a Cat C cabin and we we were upgraded to a Cat CQ, spa cabin, #106,up on the Verandah Deck, forward of the verandah cabins. It was an ocean-view cabin, decked out with a water feature, 2-yoga mats and a Bose iPod sound dock. It was clean and very comfortable with adequate closet and storage space. Since we had previously sailed on the Ryndam, we noticed the very nice upgrades to the bathroom vanity and tiles and the new light bar with the electrical outlet up high. The main change to the cabin that we noticed were the flat screen tv and the lack of the old hassock/hamper combination, which was not a big deal. There were two minor problems in the cabin though: the hand-held shower head would not stay up--it would flop down; and, someone had scratched a hole in the center of the make-up mirror on the vanity, which reminded my dear wife (DW) of a visit to the eye doctor, with a beam of bright light in her eyes. That afternoon I went to the front desk and notified them of the two minor problems and asked that they be remedied. The muster drill has changed on HAL since we last cruised, in January 2010. They no longer ask that you wear life jackets, in fact, they asked that we not wear life jackets to the muster drill, due to the risk of getting tangled up in the straps. But, we still like it that you go to your muster station on (in this case) the Lower Promenade Deck. We had asked for and had received early traditional dining. We had table 47, a table for 8 and our table mates were all compatible and a lot of fun. Our lead table steward was Patrick, who introduced himself as the best table steward on the ship. Indeed, Patrick was gregarious, full of fun and a very good singer. He sang to us almost every evening, and during the Master Chef Dinner, he performed a solo number for the entire dining room. He was a treat, and service was excellent. The menus for this cruise were varied and we thought the food preparation was very good-no complaints at all about food quality at all during the entire cruise. I had arranged for a Cruise Critic meet and greet for the first sea day, and unfortunately only one other member from the roll call showed up at the Crow's Nest, which by the way, had been significantly upgraded in a manner which we thought was excellent. New furniture and an elevated section on the port side, along with a large,flat-screen tv, made watching the Monday night football game a treat. Back to the meet and greet: HAL had water, coffee, tea and cookies out for us. After few minutes we were visited by the Hotel Manager, Simon de Boer, who was very gracious and entertaining. He spent at least 30 minutes chatting with us. At one point he asked us if everything in our cabin was suitable. Since he asked, I informed him of the two minor issues and he made notes. Later that afternoon, two crew members came to our cabin and immediately remedied the shower head issue and they looked at the vanity mirror. Later that day, the mirror was replaced. Excellent response! Hats off to Mr. de Boer for following through! Although HAL had no control over the weather, it was sensational for the next 6 days. Each day was full of sunshine, with temperatures reaching the upper 60s. It was fantastic! Our only disappointment was seeing no eagles, whatsoever. We did see humpbacks, orcas and dolphins, but no eagles. Having been to Alaska several times, we did not take any excursions, and were happy just to walk around each Alaska port, purcasing gifts and some jewelry. DW made some good deals on a couple of jewelry items for her and one for me. That is one of the positives of visiting Alaska late in the season, good deals abound. By far, this was the best Alaska weather we had ever encountered in all our times up there. Our cruise director was Drew Murdock, who is probably the most enjoyable CDs we have ever met. He is extremely personable and has a very quick wit. Charming is a good word. He was assisted by Brett, a very capable and highly entertaining fellow and also very personable. I also got to know a relatively new assistant CD, Cory, who was so nice and friendly. The entertainment on the Ryndam had changed significantly, and in our opinion, for the better. Gone are the multitude of dancers. . . . there were only two young lady dancers, but there were 5 singers, two females and three men, and they were all excellent vocalists. We liked the change. The main theatre was renovated with a larger wood-floor in front of the stage, on which there were small tables with 4 chairs. The guest entertainers we saw were very good, as well. We are ballroom dancers, and danced most evenings in the Ocean Bar, to the music of the Neptunes, who gladly took requests. They did a great job. Disembarkation in San Diego flowed smoothly and we were off the ship at around 9:30. The Ryndam is in very good shape from what we saw and the crew was superb. High points during the cruise for us were: our table steward, Patrick; meeting Mr. de Boer, the Hotel Manager, the CD and assistant CDs, and a major high point was attending the Executive Chef Dinner--WOW, what an experience. Executive Chef Peter Kofler and Cellar Master Charles Rebeiro put on a wonderful dinner experience which we will remember forever. I highly recommend this onboard experience if you enjoy fine dining and wines, and seeing how your meal is prepared. We would rank this cruise right up there with the best two or three HAL cruises which we have experienced. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My husband and I are just back from our 17 day cruise from San Diego to Tampa, via the Panama Canal. We headed to San Diego from the east coast a day early to enjoy the sites and to relax. We stayed in the Holiday Inn right across the ... Read More
My husband and I are just back from our 17 day cruise from San Diego to Tampa, via the Panama Canal. We headed to San Diego from the east coast a day early to enjoy the sites and to relax. We stayed in the Holiday Inn right across the street from the port, which was very nice and had we not so much luggage, could have easily walked for embarkation. The hotel provided a free shuttle, literally across the street and maybe a half a block down. We were in no rush to check in, spent the morning touring the Midway, right next to the cruise port. Embarkation was easy, we got there around 1, with no one in line, we were on the ship in less than 10 minutes. The Ryndam was the oldest and smallest ship that we have ever sailed and I had my concerns when booking, however, the itinerary was appealing to us so we went ahead and booked. We were not disappointed, it is very well maintained with only a few areas showing wear and tear. Our cabin, was spacious, had plenty of storage space, a rather new looking bathroom with tub which I enjoyed and a comfy bed. There is a flat screen TV and a DVD player which was nice although we did not use it. The A/C in our room worked perfectly and seemed so in the rest of the ship except areas that were close to doors that were either open all the day or got a lot of traffic. We really enjoyed the Explorations area with the cafe and a terrific library and also the area known as The Mix, I really liked how it was redone, it had a hip/cool vibe to it. The showroom was small, but it is a small ship and the upper level, unless you were in the very front was hard to see the stage. We had open seating for dinner, which worked out well for the most part, we were seated at various tables sizes and enjoyed chatting with fellow passengers. We never waited more than 5 minutes to be seated and we usually arrived at the MDR between 6:30-7. I had only one gripe, on one formal night we were seated at a table that had not been completely reset, actually just a water glass and a bread plate, had to ask for a napkin, etc. Had it been another night, it would not have mattered as much, but we made the effort to dress up and then were seated at an almost bare table, had there not been some other people sitting there, I would have asked for another table, but did not want to make the others feel bad. On my way out, I brought it to the attention of the Matri D and it never happened again. It does seem like they are still trying to figure out how to do this dining option. The food was very good and always hot. We ate twice in the Pinnacle Grille, all I can say is "fabulous" and worth the extra charge. We also ate twice in the Caneletto, which was a nice change, not the best Italian food but a nice change on a long 17 day trip. The food in the Lido is probably better than I want to admit, it is just the process of going there, back and forth to your table, we usually just did some breakfasts there. We did not do all of the shows, there were quite a few comedy acts, some good some not so good. We enjoyed the Beatles tribute band, the Horizons and a singer who did impersonations. There was a really bad guitarist act, not sure what anyone was thinking when they booked him, I almost felt sorry for him, or maybe it was us, we didn't get it. The Library had a great selection of books and games and was a pleasant place to hang out. The internet is kind of a joke and I know that being at sea it is not as easy as on land. We felt compelled to buy the most expensive package as we needed to keep track of our business while we were away and I had taken my i pad to make it easier. Not only was the connection slow, which was expected, but most of the time non existent. One time I used up 30 minutes, just trying to get connected with no luck. When I would go to the internet manager to see what was up, he said we had no service, he would give me credits back. This was the norm for the cruise, finally they started posting it so people would not waste their time, but that only happened about a 1 1/2 into the trip. I never was able to use all the minutes that I paid for. The Crew and staff were terrific, the ship was the smoothest sail of any trip we have had and we had some interesting weather along the way. I enjoyed the small size of the ship, it was easy to navigate. Ports: Cabo San Lucas, our first time, it was boiling hot, we got there mid day so the heat felt worse, we just walked around the port, went to Cabo Wabol Acapulco, been there done that...... Guatemala, loved it, took the excursion to Antigua, a real treat. Costa Rica, was beautiful, a nice day, went to Sarchai, hubby went zip lining. Passage through the Panama Canal, fascinating. Curacao, hot, walked around, pretty port. Aruba, excursion canceled, walked around the port, very hot. Grand Cayman, over cast, excursion canceled due to weather but we were able to tender in and enjoyed a shopping day. All in all a great trip and would sail the Ryndam again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Just to report on cruise tour 17 on the Ryndam in August/September to Alaska. I'm an experienced traveler, though a newbie on HAL So, some of my observations may be of use to others. Departure Vancouver. Itinerary 15 days ketchikan, ... Read More
Just to report on cruise tour 17 on the Ryndam in August/September to Alaska. I'm an experienced traveler, though a newbie on HAL So, some of my observations may be of use to others. Departure Vancouver. Itinerary 15 days ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Kenai Fjord tour, Anchorage, McKinley Explorer, Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour, Fairbanks. My Expectations 4 stars. Final assessment 3 stars only. The GOOD: Best docking position in port. The Ryndam always had the most convenient dock when there were other cruise ships in port. Food - Lido buffet had variety, above average, but desserts spotty and Asian food indescribable. HAL does steak (Pinnacle grill) and Italian (Caneletto) better than exotic fare. Entertainment - generally interesting. Outstanding was comic Drew Murdock. HAL is willing to pay entertainers and string quartet for the lounges (money losers). Enough time in port. No rush rush. No illness on ship. No widespread problem with ventilation. My inside cabin on the Veranda deck was okay. The next cabin did occasionally leave their door open. The Explorer library was very nice with a good selection of travel books. In general, the passenger areas and staterooms were quietly upbeat. The BAD - Unfortunately the bad was pretty bad Cabin was smaller than promised on the website. Lack of discipline of some Asian service staff. Also, Captain Mark Rowden injected a sour note when introducing his First Officer. The weather wasn't great. During this trip, ten out of 15 days were overcast and/or wet. However, I enjoyed the water excursions. Inferior hotels. The Windsong Lodge coped badly during the dinner crush in Seward. Westmark ANC was like a budget hotel. At the Denali's Canyon Lodge, location and power outage was a problem. The Lodge was located at the bottom of a short steep road. Seniors had to use a shuttle to get to the lobby. All Westmark hotels had no room wifi. The lobby is a bad place for work. Self-boosting by some 'rugged' Alaskans. BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable cruise tour for a first visit to Alaska. However, HAL's quality branding was seriously marred by problems. Normally, I would grade this tour 4 stars. However, I cut it down to 3.5 because of the crew problems on the ship. Then, downgraded it further to 3 stars because of the quality of the land accommodations. Recommended: The Bering Sea Crab Fisherman Tour (Ketchikan), the Allen Marine's Whale and Wildlife Quest (Juneau), Kenai Fjord tour (Seward during migratory seasons), Denali's Tundra Wilderness Tour, and the steamboat Discovery river cruise (Fairbanks). Not recommended: White Pass and Yukon Railway exursion in Skagway. WOULD I REPEAT THIS ITINERARY? IMO, I received fair value for what I paid (3 out of 5 stars). But, there is no compelling reason for a repeat on HAL. Further explanation in this thread http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1274424&highlight= Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My husband and I booked this cruise, our third Alaskan cruise, with HAL Ryndam for two specific reasons. First we wanted an itinerary that cruised through the Inside Passage, and secondly; we wanted to try a smaller ship. We are in our ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise, our third Alaskan cruise, with HAL Ryndam for two specific reasons. First we wanted an itinerary that cruised through the Inside Passage, and secondly; we wanted to try a smaller ship. We are in our early 40's and did not travel with children. Our previous cruises have been on Celebrity and Princess. We arrived in Anchorage the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. A very nice hotel for the night with a free shuttle from the airport and then to the conference center where we then picked up a transfer bus to Seward. We arrived early and were on the first bus out of the center. The bus ride to Seward was a little long, but a beautiful ride. When we arrived at the cruise terminal, there was no line and check-in and it took less than 5 minutes. When we got on the ship our cabin was already ready and we just walked right to it. We booked an inside large stateroom (611) and it was lovely! The bathroom was spacious and had a large beautiful countertop. There was a small couch, chair, table and credenza with a flat screen T.V. The bed was a queen and very comfortable. The room was in a quiet location, in the middle of the ship. Based on past experience, it is important to check the ship layout to make sure your cabin is not above or below a noisy area, ie: children's play area, fitness equipment, bar or lounge with music. We walked around the ship and because of the size of the Ryndam, it did not take us long to take the tour. Although this is a small ship, we never felt "confined." I read that the Ryndam just came out of dry dock for refurbishing and you can tell that is the case is some areas, but not most. I was a little disappointed in that. The Crow's Nest, Mix, and the piano bar looked as if they had all been redone with new furnishings however, public areas like the hallways and elevators were in bad shape. There was always at least one elevator broken and the carpet in many areas looked worn and stained or wet. My husband and I only dined in the formal dining room on one night for dinner. The reason for this is because on the first two nights we were in the crow's nest looking out at the scenery and didn't want to take the time out to go and sit for over an hour for a meal. The other nights we were in port. I will say the one evening we did eat in the dining room the food was good, not great. The service was not what we have been used to in the past on other cruises, it was just like any other ol' restaurant. The wine steward took our drink order but then never brought it and we had to ask the waiter in the middle of the meal to get our drinks. We ate all of our other meals in the Lido Buffet. I have to say this was the biggest disappointment of the cruise. The food in the Lido was awful! Every day the exact same menu was served for breakfast. Now I understand there isn't alot you can do with breakfast foods, but the exact same? For lunch, it was the same pasta station, asian food station and sandwich and salad station. They also had other items but we found them to be extremely bland and really tasted like mass prepared food. On other cruises, even in the buffet, the food always tasted fresh and not "buffet". For dinner meals, it was often a resemblance of lunch, only there was an appetizer station. Again, very bland and boring! Many things tasted as if they came from a can or were freeze dried. There was not a large dessert selection, as with other cruises and it seemed as if they used the same vanilla creme in most desserts but just added variations. The pizza and burger place by the pool offered a change of pace but again, the burgers had been cooked previously and then reheated as you ordered them. (we witnessed this). They offered a taco bar every day also and it was good. The dining room and also the Lido Buffet closed at 8:00 p.m. After that time, there was nowhere to get a bite to eat except room service!! After 10:00 p.m. the room service menu became even more limited. I thought that was weird for a cruise. We purchased the soda cards for $18.00 for 20 fountain sodas instead of the $1.95 per can option. However, it was difficult to find a soda in the morning for breakfast as the bar did not open until 10:00 a.m. We did not partake in any of the evening "shows" in the showroom, thats just not our thing. There was a guitar player/singer that was in Mix every night that was good. It seemed as if most of the entertainment on board was the same everyday. Trivia at 6, bingo at 4, Wii at 7, every day. Not much variety to the activities. HAL has a reputation for an "older crowd" and this cruise was no exception. If I had to guess, I would put the average of the HAL cruiser at 60ish. We took a spa tour on the first night and ended up buying the "Thermal Suite" package for both of us for $150.00 for the entire cruise. This allowed both of us access to the spa for use of those warm cement chairs and "mineral" hot tub. During the tour the representative told us that only 25 people per cruise were sold the thermal suite package and she only had six left. We thought that would be nice because it would never be crowded. Wrong! About 4 hours later during an announcement from the cruise director, he said the exact same thing...."only six thermal suite packages left". Needless to say, they sell more than 25 and it was often crowded. The fitness area was nice with well maintained and good equipment. However, to take additional fitness classes like spinning or yoga, there was a fee of about $12 per class. One would think these types of things would be included.. The itinerary included cruising the College Fjords, Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan then through the inside passage to Vancouver. On the first day we arrived in College Fjords very early in the morning, before 6:00 a.m. We cruised through and right back out but it was very beautiful. Then on to Glacier Bay National Park. As we were entering the park the ship picked up a couple of park rangers who gave a couple of talks and one spoke on the P.A. about some things but was reading from written text and it was quite brief. This is the first cruise in Alaska we have taken where there has not been a naturalist on board. What a shame! We felt fortunate that we had cruised Alaska in the past and knew some of what we were seeing and looking for but felt sorry for other passengers that had not. With a naturalist on board he/she tells passengers how to look for wildlife in and out of the water, the history of the area, and generally is a "tour guide" in important places. The Ryndam did have a guy on board available to speak to about the ports and things but I think I knew more than he did. Haines is a small town. We did a wildlife excursion which was wonderful! I believe it is the only one offered in Haines. We were driven out to the facility where we met the proprietor, a very quirky and fun man. He introduced us to all his critters and we were allowed to pet some of them, including a porcupine, fox, baby caribou, and a pine martin. We were given bananas to feed two adult moose, that were as friendly as horses! In Juneau we took a float plane trip for 45 minutes over the glaciers. This is by far one of the coolest things I have ever done. We booked it through a vendor that was located on the dock outside of the ship and saved lots of money rather than booking it through the cruise. In Ketchikan we chatted up a taxi driver and ended up riding with her for one full hour for $80 which was pre-arranged. She drove us outside of town and showed us where the salmon were running which was an amazing sight! We then walked down into a small cove and watched some men fishing and catching salmon. She showed us an eagle's nest where the mama was feeding her young. She lived in the area and spoke to us the entire hour. It was a great little trip for the money. After Ketchikan the ship was supposed to cruise the inside passage. However, it appeared the ship deviated from the itinerary and sailed outside in open water. We attempted to ask the front desk what was going on and were told they were awaiting a formal announcement from the captain. We eventually routed back to the inside passage but not until about 9:00 p.m. Therefore we only were able to see a few hours worth of the most beautiful part of the cruise! I understand the cruise reserves the right to change the itinterary but we were never told why we deviated. At the end of the cruise we met in the showroom and at the pre-arranged time, according to when your flight or port plans are. We then boarded a bus to the airport and after we arrived we waited for about 10 minutes before our luggage arrived. It was hassle free and no problem. However, going through customs and security at Vancouver Airport is long and tedious. It is one line after another and takes much longer than expected, so get there early! All in all, we were not pleased with HAL-Ryndam and won't be taking another cruise with them again. Unfortunately we are forced to compare the experience with other cruises and it just didn't come close. However, being in Alaska and watching the beautiful scenery and wildlife made up for it! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Beautiful weather and a great ship and crew made this a cruise to remember! We had made the mistake of getting away from Holland America for a few cruises and trying some other lines so it was a welcome relief to be greeted by the ... Read More
Beautiful weather and a great ship and crew made this a cruise to remember! We had made the mistake of getting away from Holland America for a few cruises and trying some other lines so it was a welcome relief to be greeted by the smiling, friendly staff of the Ryndam! But first, we flew into Vancouver a few days early to relax and explore this beautiful city, and our flights were uneventful. The airport was clearly laid out, customs went fast and professional and our taxi was very reasonable to our hotel, the Ramada Limited on Pender Street. We were greeted warmly and made to feel right at home, I highly recommend this hotel, it was central to everything and the staff very helpful, recommending restaurants and personalizing our tourist maps with notes. We walked down Granville street to Granville island our first full day, enjoying the shopping and a nice lunch. Vancouver is a very pedestrian friendly town, we explored he Gastown area, Stanly park and china town, but beware the druggies, drunks and panhandlers on Hastings street though, they won't really bother you unless you let them. On embarkation day, we walked to the pier, not a problem if you are in shape and so is your luggage! Once at Canada Place, everyone was friendly and helpful, check in went fast and were were aboard by about 11:15am. The Ryndam is a great size for a cruise ship, not too big, easy to find your way around. the crew is remarkably courteous, we were never greeted with less than a cheery smile every time we turned around. We went to the Lido for a quick lunch and for the first two days they serve you in the buffet, in order to reduce any potential introduction of Norovirus from the new passengers, and we didn't have any problem with that policy, really we appreciated it. Our stewards were quick to introduce themselves and keep our cabins shipshape the entire time and our dining room servers were very friendly and professional. We had absolutely no complaints with any of the staff or service and as we had some very elderly fellow cruisers aboard the staff was very patient and helpful towards them, which I could tell was much appreciated. The food was extraordinarily good, both MDR, Lido and room service. We really enjoyed our Ryndam cruise, and can recommend this ship and itinerary wholeheartedly! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The adventure: Vancouver to Seward and back. Fourteen days on the Ms Ryndam with my sweetie and the Alaskan landscape, enduring great food, and even greater service. Did I survive the year's first cruise? Please allow me to take a ... Read More
The adventure: Vancouver to Seward and back. Fourteen days on the Ms Ryndam with my sweetie and the Alaskan landscape, enduring great food, and even greater service. Did I survive the year's first cruise? Please allow me to take a step back. Why Alaska? It is part of the United States, English is spoken and any of the destinations are amongst the safest in the world. Am I being somewhat narrow-minded in my choice, an accidental tourist of sorts? Hardly. Alaska is one of the prettiest locations on Earth. The voyage is one of the most beautiful in the world. Also, consider Alaskan culinary ingredients prepared the Pacific Northwest way, mated with the Ryndam's impressive wine list... The Ryndam is a smaller ship by modern standards. She is but 720 feet long and hosts 1200 passengers. Many of whom thought my sweetie and I were newly weds, but truth be told, we've been together longer than this ship has been around. I love this ship. I love the way she looks; the newer ships leave me a tad indifferent. The crew takes pride in her; she is the best run ship in the fleet. Every function is performed with military precision. Never a sour note when she moves, and the Rotterdam dining room is akin to a complex yet delightful symphony. From the kitchen to your plate and everywhere in between, the Ryndam matches and surpasses all your expectations. Entertainment on a cruise ship, as many of you know, is an acquired taste. I enjoyed the Adagio Strings after dinner, took one or two movies. The Broadway shows were not my cup of tea. The shows, movies and menus were repeated on the Southbound cruise. Two must do activities: visit the kitchen and do attend the chief engineer's lecture. Many younger people complain about the lack of entertainment. The Alaskan scenery is the entertainment. Most Alaskan towns are launch points to other activities, i.e. whale watching, fishing, glacier exploration, wildlife viewing, hiking. Consider these destinations like the appeal of cruising in general, where one can do as little or as much as one desires. In Skagway, do enjoy the trip on the White Pass and Yukon Railway. Some call it expensive. You only live once. It is an engineering marvel of American, Canadian and British cooperation. Guys, your ladies will complain somewhat about going. In the end they'll love it and wished they had suggested it. The Pinnacle Grill is worth the extra $20 per person. But you will find it hard to get a spot. Many passengers get a free night from their travel agents. So the place is always packed. I enjoyed a Lobster tail with a Puligny-Montrachet. No trip to Alaska would be complete without a healthy dose of wild salmon and Dungeness Crab legs. Three words will enrich your experience: Mondavi Fume Blanc. Do yourself a favor and skip the Canaletto's lasagna. Still, some enjoy the cotton candy and dipping the bread. Photography is my passion. And every day by 4:30 am I'd be at my post shooting away. I opted for May because I was looking for more snow capped mountains and a white covered White Pass. College Fjord is only rivaled by Glacier Bay National Park. Upon arrival, a ranger boards the ship and answers questions about all aspects of the park. Memorable. Haines was my favorite town. Disembarkation was a breeze and you will find Vancouver is a lovely city. If time permits, visit Stanley Park or Granville Island. If a culinary experience is more to your liking, try the Boat House in Horseshoe Bay. View and flavor will regal your senses. In conclusion: best 14 days you'll ever spend and best bang for your buck. Do it again? In a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My girlfriend (GF) and I are from eastern Kansas, are in our 70's and widowed. This was our second cruise together, the first was last fall in the Mediterranean. Each of us had been on a cruise before we began dating, although mine ... Read More
My girlfriend (GF) and I are from eastern Kansas, are in our 70's and widowed. This was our second cruise together, the first was last fall in the Mediterranean. Each of us had been on a cruise before we began dating, although mine was more than two decades ago. I booked the cruise in January, through Holland America, noting the ship sailed from "Anchorage(Seward)", listed exactly that way, on a one-way cruise down to Vancouver. The way the departure point was listed in the itinerary and in the Holland America website, plus my ignorance and that of the cruise line agent, resulted in a big error in our booking. Having never been to Alaska, and knowing that Anchorage is a port, I assumed at the time that Seward was a suburb of Anchorage. Google maps showed a pier there, suitable for big ships. But, the Anchorage inlet is no longer suitable for big ships, and the ship actually sails from Seward, which is way south of Anchorage. As I booked my flights separately, the agent never mentioned that Holland America has both a bus and a train that runs south from Anchorage to Seward, crossing the Kenai Peninsula. I haven't discovered the exact distance but the train ride is over 4 hours. So, I booked the cruise, obtained air tickets from Kansas City to Anchorage and from Vancouver to Kansas City, and thought I was set. About a month later, I looked at a map and noticed the actual location of Seward. After some initial panic, I called Holland America, learned of the cruise train, and booked it. My second mistake was to assume that the train ride is offered by Alaska Railroad. They have a similar, daily ride from Anchorage to Seward. Once again I assumed, supposing it was a special train of theirs. We flew to Anchorage the day before the cruise, staying at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport, economical and excellent. The cruise train was scheduled to leave at one the next day, and we called the downtown train station to discover if we could leave our bags there while we walked about Anchorage. The agent knew nothing of the train, then checked and told us the train leaves from the airport. Holland America (an ocean cruise line!) runs the train and the optional bus to Seward, and there is a train station across the road from the air terminal. Only one more problem remained: when we went to the train station, we learned that the actual meeting place for train passengers was in a corner of the air terminal baggage section. So, we made the train due to dumb luck. Holland America's documentation could have been clearer on all this, and I might have asked better questions. The cruise train was a highlight. The scenery is magnificent, along a long arm of the sea, then through snow-covered mountains that never stop. In the middle of the peninsula, the snow looked to be four feet deep at sea level. It was the first train of the season for Holland America, and you could see evidence of recent snow plowing of the railway. The cruise train pulled up next to the ship. Seward is a very small town and port. The airport runways looked too short for commercial jets. The GF and I talked to a few people who had cruised up with the ship from Vancouver, making it a 14 day cruise. They had endured bad weather coming up, while we had near perfect weather going south, except for swells one night that reduced the appetites of many passengers, and a strong crosswind another night that blew the ship into about a 10-degree list, so you could see nothing but water if you looked out one side, and sky on the other. Many of the passengers had flown to Fairbanks rather than Anchorage, and had taken the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage, then usually the bus down to Seward. They enjoyed the trip through Denali. The Ryndam is a mid-size cruise ship, 719 feet in length and 101 feet wide, carrying up to 1260 passengers, launched in 1994. She had been refurbished over the winter, and was in great shape. Our previous ship was the Norwegian Gem, almost a thousand feet long. There were fewer restaurants on the smaller ship, but it was easier to get around in and was never crowded. There were few children or teens aboard, due to the early sail date. There was a high percentage of seniors. It was much quieter than the Gem had been. The talent level of the on-board entertainment was outstanding. The crew, predominantly Indonesian, were efficient and friendly. No complaints. The first day was all at sea, the second was spent in Glacier National Park, sailing up the channel made by the glaciers, about 65 miles. They said as recently as 300 years ago, the channel was totally covered by glacier, but the glaciers have been receding, and by 1859, about 90% of the channel had been taken over by sea water. The channel splits into two arms, each terminated by glaciers. It was a very interesting day spent amid terrific natural scenery. The third day was at Haines. There were several excursions available, but the GF didn't want to fly or take a small boat so we took a bus trip to a fish processing plant, and a nature center, where we listened to fascinating talks about the problems involved in harvesting, processing, and marketing fish and heard much about Alaskan wildlife. The town is interesting, a lot of artists live there, and you can drive there from the states. There was a large RV park and I suspect the town booms somewhat later in the season. The fourth day was at Juneau, a much larger town. Our bus excursion was to the Mendenhall Glacier visitors center, and then we were delivered to the Alaska Salmon Bake, an outdoor eatery sited along a former gold panning stream. Salmon cooked over a wood fire was very good eating. Again, many other excursions were available. Finally, we shopped. I thought the Red Dog Saloon was a bit overrated, and isn't very reminiscent of Gold Rush days. It's a place to drink and giggle. The next day, we arrived at Ketchikan, where we docked next to two other cruise ships, including the NCL Pearl, a sister ship of the Gem. They had departed by about one. There are many available excursions, and ours, the trolley ride, wasn't all that good. I would have preferred a plane ride, and float planes were continually taking off and landing in the water near the ship. There are many jewelry stores there, as in Juneau, and good bargains in winter coats and other warm clothes. The sixth day was spent at sea again, and we docked early the following morning in Vancouver. While embarkation had been smooth, debarkation was a nightmare. They had everyone slated for getting off at specific times based on luggage tags they had issued with specific colors, and the word was that they would make one announcement when debarking would begin and none after that. They relied on passenger's conforming to their times. Big mistake. We were a few minutes late docking, and the Captain made the announcement to begin debarkation, but the luggage hadn't been transported off ship, and people showed up at their scheduled times even though they weren't letting anyone off until their luggage was ashore. A huge crowd developed around the two gangplanks, one on deck 5, the other on 6. Further, wheel chair passengers had been taken to deck 5, but the staff decided they had to be debarked from deck 6, so they had to take them back up through the crowd. The debarking area on deck 5 had become totally jammed when they finally decided those carrying their own luggage could get off. We were lucky in that respect. I wonder if some of the people who checked their luggage through the ship have gotten off yet. It would have been much easier to make announcements for each debarking category. Crowding and waiting would have been reduced and things would have gone much more smoothly. Alaska is truly beautiful, and despite the problems, I recommend Holland America, the Seward to Vancouver cruise, and the Ryndam. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Understand that this is written by an airline retiree who dragged his family from Colorado to Alaska for a cruise. Since pilots are the cheapest people in the world, this "project" was something of a calling. Flying standby for ... Read More
Understand that this is written by an airline retiree who dragged his family from Colorado to Alaska for a cruise. Since pilots are the cheapest people in the world, this "project" was something of a calling. Flying standby for your whole life may save lots of bucks, but it becomes problematic to the point of psychosis. I would not recommend this aberrant behavior to normal people, but like a boiled frog, I'd been in the pot for ~30 years. Generally, we only recognize levels of "badness" by our mode of "transportation". Looking at the loads, it appeared that they were going to be pretty full, so we started trying three days early so we wouldn't miss the cruise and be out of our investment. Showed up at the gate for the first flight (listed as "over capacity"). Fifteen folks misconnected and we were on a nonstop to ANC. It's not supposed to work out that way, but God protects idiots and retired airline employees. Nonstop ANC flights are DEFINITELY the way to go. Nice flight and nary a bump. Sun's was still up when we got there. Hauling paxs to AK for their cruises was always fun, but I was never able to get used to summer lighting in Alaska. Just get good "blackout" curtains on your hotel room. Quality Suites Near Convention Center (their name) shot us a good deal for the four of us. Our 10 & 12 year olds spent one whole day at the Anchorage Museum only a block away. The next few days were spent traipsing about downtown ANC, and doing a bit of shopping at the big mall just 1.5 blocks away. We took the train to Seward. One of the nice features was that HAL had a tent right at the downtown train station. We just dropped our properly tagged carryon bags (NEVER EVER travel with checked luggage) with the HAL folks, and we got on the train sans luggage. The next time we saw our bags was in our rooms on the Ryndam. No extra charge. Pretty slick. The train ride was fun, as it was our children's first. There were some mooses (meeses sp?) along the tracks on the way down with a few black bears and some mountain sheep. After arriving in Seward we walked (again without bags) the last quarter mile to the ship. Since we were early there were maybe 20 folks in line, so the process went quickly. I believe we had to present our passport at least four different times before we were deemed worthy to step aboard. The last 25 years have become paranoid for more than just the airline traveler. After we got back from our snack foray our bags were waiting for us. Best baggage arrangement we've ever had in some two decades of cruising. For normal people, the food is pretty good. The rest of my family gained about 3-5 lbs. on the cruise and I will give you their analysis in a bit. I, on the other hand, exist on a fairly draconian diet. Being the Pilot/Adonis of the family, I have to make sacrifices to maintain my looks. This clouds the review somewhat, but I can't be the only one in this "boat". HAL runs their ships and kitchens on massive quantities of oil. Those waiting in the buffet lines for omelets are treated to watching their eggs cooked in what I swear must be 1/3 cup of olive oil with each dish. I am not exaggerating when I state that it could have been floating on oil. Fortunately, you can avoid this by requesting no oil, and Eggbeaters. Viola! The problem is solved, and it tastes just as good IMHO. The dining room service is very good, but slogging through a two hour meal drove our kids nuts by the third night. We found that most of the food available in the dining room, was also available in the buffet line so that is where we took our meals in the latter days of the cruise. There is a bit more variety available in the buffet, so I was quite happy to join them. Grazing around the edges of a normal diet, I found that HAL was a bit more of a challenge than Celebrity. By the third evening all of us were pretty saturated with sodium due to the way food was prepared. Lots of decaf tea and an occasional diuretic solved the problem. Celebrity has plenty of Mediterranean food available, so I was pretty happy then. HAL doesn't provide that avenue, so pickings were far more constrained for those wishing to avoid fat, salt and cholesterol (meat). Salmon was available in abundance for the entire cruise, so I compensated happily. My ten year old son doesn't handle meat very well either, but gorges on the shrimp that was commonly available. He did like the ice cream, but took a cue from his dad and concentrated on the low/nonfat sherbets and frozen yogurts that were commonly available in the desert bar. My 12 year old daughter tended to chow down on just about anything, but she's a cheerleader/equestrian/proto-supermodel and burns off everything that she takes in. She tells me, "You have to work hard, to look this good". Kids! Don't you wanna' choke 'em? My "gentle bride" is something of a carnivore, and told me that the steaks were excellent as I munched down large quantities of carrot sticks and other fibrous material. Sigh! We don't do organized shore excursions, finding that cheap city bus service can get you to places just as easily. Ketchikan is one of those places that you can get around nicely on the bus. We went up to the fish hatchery. There's not really salmon coming up the run, so we just took what turned out to be a personalized tour by the very motivated/young female guide. Even with things as quiet as they are in early June, she made it interesting. The kids got to "pet" the starfish and anemones, but I'm afraid the sealife may have died due to their attention. I didn't want to look. The stars of the cruise are glaciers and whales. They're more interesting from the flight levels because you can see how many of them there are along the coast, and they go way inland. I find the glaciers less interesting from the boat simply because I realize that we're just seeing a little piece of them. The Park Service provided some folks to narrate our ship tour of the bay. The main narrator was quite good, and gave a very instructive (and balanced) discussion of the dynamic glacier process that we were glimpsing. Another park employee could not stop herself from pushing the PC mantra of global warming and greenhouse gas leading to the retreat of the glaciers. The only climate problem we are currently experiencing is the political variety located in DC. Alaska is still doing very well, thank you very much. Just ask those who live there. They're not terribly worried since they realize they are as far from Washington as you can get, and still be in the US. I was just a bit disappointed to find that the discredited global warming myth was being pushed by federal employee (but why should that change just because I'm in Alaska?). Otherwise, the park service folks were quite charming and, for the most part, very instructive. The kids club was used mostly by my son. The kid population was very low, but it's still early in the season. He liked it and hung out there half the time. My daughter did other things, but I do believe the teen club population was nearly nonexistent. I met the gals running the program. They were very nice, but I think they were looking forward to more business within the next cruise. There was a piano player that my wife raved about. I sat in on his Beatles show. He's a good player, and he had a strong passenger following by the end of the cruise. This is a smaller ship, so everything is more manageable than the larger boats, and this includes the passengers. Getting off the ship was a piece of cake. Since we travel standby, every minute spent at the airport means a better probability of getting to our destination on the same day. I believe we may have been tenth family going down the ramp, with our carry-on luggage. Did I say never travel with checked luggage? There was no delay in going through customs, and we barely stopped to show our passports (just once this time). We grabbed one cab for the four of us. It came to $30. Very reasonable. 35 minutes to the airport. We were only bumped once, so we made it home non-stop on that same day. Very nice. Had a dead battery in the parking lot, but I can blame that on the kids. A quick jump by the lot personnel, and we were off to deposit our daughter at church camp by 10 that evening up in the mountains. We slept in our own bed by midnight. All things considered, it was a great trip. 20 years earlier the food issue wouldn't have mattered. Just because it does matter now, doesn't mean that it wasn't an acceptable cruise. Getting "geezeresque" shouldn't adversely affect our evaluation of the cruise. Shop your cruise, plan it out, and you'll have a great time on the Ryndam. I don't think you'll find a better way to view a little corner of that great state. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Our trip began from our home near Mobile, AL as we loaded the luggage in the car and began the approximate 8 hour drive to Tampa at 8 AM on Saturday 4/10/2010. We arrived at our hotel at 4:30 PM local time and checked in. We booked this ... Read More
Our trip began from our home near Mobile, AL as we loaded the luggage in the car and began the approximate 8 hour drive to Tampa at 8 AM on Saturday 4/10/2010. We arrived at our hotel at 4:30 PM local time and checked in. We booked this hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, through Hotwire at a very good rate and pleasantly, we were upgraded to a full suite. The property is located in a secluded area in the Brandon area. There were no noise issues and we would highly recommend this hotel. Sunday morning we proceeded to the pier, about a 15 minute drive, arriving at 10:15 AM. Surprisingly, the porters were already accepting luggage from departing guests, so we dropped off our checked luggage and proceeded to the parking garage across the street. The parking fee was $14 per day up front, cash or credit card. We were in line to check in by 10:40 AM. After boarding, I observed right away that the ship's interior has changed a lot since my last sailing on the Ryndam in 1999. Carpet has replaced the polished marble floors in many areas; the addition of the Canaletto and the Mix, as well as enhancements to the Library, are just a few of those changes. The Vermeer Lounge is now the Showroom at Sea with many new features. We were in stateroom B 197 on the Veranda Deck which was quite roomy as cruise ship staterooms go; plenty of storage and a nice sized balcony (9' x 7'). We heard no noise from the deck above until the last evening of the cruise. As we were packing, around 8:30 PM, we heard loud scraping and banging from above. After going up to Navigation Deck to investigate, I observed a couple of deck hands slinging chairs across the deck, with an officer in charge observing, and quite obviously amused. I was not so amused, and had this continued for much longer I would have issued a formal complaint. It did cease soon afterward, however. We also felt very little vibration except when the ship was maneuvering into, or out of port. We had only one day when seas were pretty rough; this was right after leaving Costa Maya. Many folks were complaining, but after a few Margaritas, I went right to sleep, lol. We had no plumbing issues, nor did we hear of any complaints from others. Neither did we have any air conditioning issues. We did hear some complaints about public areas being too cold, but the temperature suited me just fine. The one area that we observed with maintenance issues was the area in or near the Seaview pool. I assume that this area is low priority because it is due for major renovation next year. On this particular cruise, the Seaview pool was filled with salt water; although, the Lido pool was fresh water. Ship's time was reset one hour back at 2 AM Tuesday, and was reset to one hour forward at 2 AM Saturday morning. We all thought that the Rotterdam Dining room food was good to excellent, but service was very slow. On one evening, our waiter apologized for the slow service, noting that it was primarily associated with "anytime dining", because it was impossible to determine how many would be dining at any given time. He explained that often, the food was not prepared until after the kitchen received an order, much like a restaurant ashore. We missed a couple of shows in the Showroom at Sea because of the extended dining times. The Master Chef's Dinner was held Saturday night and, unlike some, I found the entire event quite entertaining. The wait staff seemed to be having a great time during the whole presentation. The Pinnacle was incredible, and well worth the $20 per person. We were so stuffed that no one could eat desert. And then there was the Canaletto. The service was somewhat lacking, but granted, this has to be a learning experience for the wait staff here. After only a few short weeks, they are still working out the kinks. I have to say that the food was very good, except for the bread, which was stale. I like my garlic bread warm and toasted; this was cold, although there was evidence that it had been toasted at one time. Entertainment was excellent. The singers and dancers were top notch. I did observe that our CD was no where to be found during the majority of our cruise. At least, he was always somewhere that I wasn't. Certainly he, nor anyone else on the staff, showed up at our Meet & Greet on the first sea day. There were about 25 who attended and all seemed to have a great time. Kudos to Sue (wdw1972) who organized the whole thing. It was difficult not to notice that the ship's photographers were missing in action on this cruise. Personally, I found it refreshing that we were not constantly being asked to pose for pictures. Embarkation, and once in the Rotterdam Dining room, were the only two occasions on which we encountered the photographers. Embarkation and debarkation were very efficient and timely events. We arrived at the pier at 10:30 AM and boarded at 11:35. On debarkation, we were off the ship at 8 AM, in our car and on the road by 8:30. Being traditional cruisers, we did miss some of the HAL traditions that were noticeably missing on this cruise, e.g. the guy with the xylophone announcing dinner; and the ushers that accompanied passengers to their cabins. Most notably however we missed getting to know our wait staff in traditional dining. In the future, we will make a special effort to avoid the anytime dining option. We simply prefer the traditional dining concept. We also confess to being news junkies and, as such, we found that the only news sources were the "NY Times Digest" and CNN. In our minds, this left a lot to be desired. We would urge HAL to consider making available some alternative news sources. In summary, we had a very relaxing and enjoyable experience on the Ryndam during our 7 days aboard her, and we hope to once again sail aboard this beautiful lady in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I am a fan of red eyes to get to cruises. Here's why. I get a lower price. I live Seattle and if I fly in a day earlier I deal with jet lag and can't sleep the night before the cruise anyway and theres the hotel cost, and meals ... Read More
I am a fan of red eyes to get to cruises. Here's why. I get a lower price. I live Seattle and if I fly in a day earlier I deal with jet lag and can't sleep the night before the cruise anyway and theres the hotel cost, and meals and unpacking for the one night and repacking and..so...yeah red eyes work for me. I know the risk involved in missing your ship flying in that close to sailing time and your flying late night flights that could be delayed or canceled but I'm an old curmudgeon and like to think of myself as a risk taker so..where was I oh yes...I arrived 20 minutes early in Tampa after flying out llpm the night before and connecting in D.C. .for the flight to TPA.. I actually got some sleep on the airplane(s) after devouring a sleep inducing banana and didn't feel particularly tired...probably the pre cruise adrenaline rush and or the banana. Took a cab to the cruise terminal for 25 bucks. Did I mention I'm traveling solo. The cab driver didn't talk during the 20 minute ride. Fine with me. I didn't talk either. Other than negotiating a price or something like that is it necessary to talk to a cab driver and he to you.. I mean other than say than the quizmaster on Cash Cab and his passengers? In a way this was kind of a sentimental journey for me because I sailed out of Tampa on my very first cruise aboard the Regent Rainbow 18 years earlier before the cruise terminals were built. I met some folks later on the Ryndam who had also sailed the that salty old girl of the sea the Regent Rainbow. EMBARKATION: Well done. Very smooth processing. Kind people behind the counter. A comfortable waiting area. Half an hour wait...I had boarding group number 4 blue card clutched in my hand...then it was up the gangplank and welcome aboard the Ryndam. The Lido wasn't crowded and I had a nice lunch and just hung out by the pool with my bag visiting with some folks and before I knew it the announcement came over the PA that the cabins were ready. CABIN: What a pleasant surprise...of all things....an upgrade from an inside to an outside almost as far forward on the A deck as you can get portside. A spacious cabin with sofa and chair and a roomy bathroom with a tub. I know i'm gonna like this cruise. SPECIAL STUFF ABOUT THIS CRUISE: I mean aside from the given that is the superb service of the Indionesian/Philipine staff the things that were the most memorable about the cruise were: PORTS O' CALL: I'd been to Key West before but I missed the Harry Truman Little White House. A thouroghly enjoyable well presented tour. And then there's only one Key West and I enjoyed strolling down the streets hitting all the touristy stuff and the t-shirt places and all in this place that has a personality all its own. Peurto Cortes, Honduras: An off the beaten path port with not a great deal of tourist curb appeal at first sight with plain old container ships cranes and the like. It is the largest central American port with lots of bananas shipping out. I took the Rainforest Nature Hike to a waterfall. Alexander the guide was great and the guy knows a lot about birds so he pointed out several kinds of birds and plants and it was just 45minutes getting to the hike which I liked a lot. After the hike we drove over to an Aftrican American folk dance. Later that afternoon I watched in fascination for over an hour the unloading of what appeared to be a combination passenger ferry and vehicle ferry with 3 or 4 trucks aboard laden with containers. The several story tall crane skillfully unoaded the containers from the trucks. This ferry had a front ramp that was loaded bow first by just pulling up to the dock. At first it looked to me an impossible task to get the ramp to fit just above the dock and it was at an angle (high tide of course) where the trucks would have to go up a very steep ramp and then break an axle with a few feet drop onto the dock. But the skipper and dock workers worked it out with timbers to fill in the gap and got the ship unloaded. Santo Thomas, Guatemala: Went to a very nice beach resort ..free beers and tiny umbrella drinks..nice beach with no wave action to speak of but still nice. Read a book and kicked back. I have to say the most memorable event connected with this port was a bird that became my walking companion on the Ryndam's promenade deck for almost an hour ...a good 3 miles of walking the deck before arriving at Santo Thomas that morning. . Flew ahead of me and waited for me to catch up with him and then flew ahead etc. A great experience. Costa Maya was the most glamorous (next to Key West) port of call of the cruise. The town fathers did a nice job of constructing a village a quarter mile walk from the ship with shops, restuarants etc.. THE CRUISE IN GENERAL: The usual great HAL food and service. Long time since I;d been on smaller ship but the Ryndam did not dissapoint. A wonderful library ...checked out 3 books got in some serious reading time. Ate all my meals in the Lido....couldn't get early dining. Met some fine folks..toasted the sunsets in the Crows Nest and in all had a very nice time. The Ryndam is a lovely lad with fine lounges, entertainment, cleanliness and the usual HAL distinctives that made for an enjoyable sailing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Ryndam (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.4
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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