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70 Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Reviews

After reading some previous reviews and Ryndam's recent problem with the Noro-virus we were a little worried about what would greet us when we boarded the ship, before boarding we were given a warning notice that there had been again ... Read More
After reading some previous reviews and Ryndam's recent problem with the Noro-virus we were a little worried about what would greet us when we boarded the ship, before boarding we were given a warning notice that there had been again a small outbreak of the Noro-virus again and to make sure we washed our hands whenever possible and use the hand sanitisers whenever we were going to eat. We boarded the Ryndam with a little trepadation but from the moment we stepped on board everything turned out to be lovely, we had an outside stateroom which had an enormous bathroom and plenty of wardrobe space, we took advantage of the drinks package as I and my wife like a tipple before and after lunch and dinner so the value made sense to us. All the public rooms and bar areas are kept spotless, all the staff were friendly and always had a smile on their faces, nothing was too much trouble for them. All the places we visited were interesting, Oslo was beautiful,we were lucky to be in Krristiansand when the tall ships were in, Stavanger was another clean and picturesque Norwegian city but the highlight of the trip was the sail up to Ulvik, simply breathtaking, we have only cruised before with Celebrity and as people have said to us before the difference between the different companies is very small, all we can say is HAL didn't let us down. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
It is sad to read the negative reviews the Ryndam has been getting and all I can say is they do not reflect my experience. Having sailed on this ship 3 times we have always had excellent service and yes, the ship is old, but she has ... Read More
It is sad to read the negative reviews the Ryndam has been getting and all I can say is they do not reflect my experience. Having sailed on this ship 3 times we have always had excellent service and yes, the ship is old, but she has retained the class and charm of old. Our cabin was excellent. A great position reflecting the fact that if you plan where you want to be on any ship you will be satisfied. My husband and I both slept perfectly, no noise disturbance like some complain about and the ship was clean. Yes there were a few cases of norovirus but this is not rare on any cruise and if you follow the hygiene instructions you will be fine. The food was excellent in the main dining room and unlike an earlier review we were asked every night how our meal was so I am surprised by what the previous reviewer experienced because I saw how attentive staff were. We enjoyed a wonderful evening in le cirque and it was a treat we wouldn't have missed, in fact the birthday cake given to my husband was excellent and as requested delivered to our room as we were so full after our wonderful meal. Our only complaint was the entertainment was a repeat of the previous year so for us it wasn't new but it was still of a good standard. HAL have remained faithful to traditional cruising so if you want the overly modern, overly large experience they are probably not for you and I say that having travelled with a number of cruise lines including Cunard at the top end, Royal Caribbean and Cruise and Maritime for value. We will miss the old girl when she transfers to Australasia but we have always had a great time, wonderful food and excellent service whenever we have been on HAL so I hope people don't just look at the negatives people have spoken of. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Overall a good cruise with good ports. Room service excellent, food OK for cruise ship. Pinnacle specialty restaurant very good but Le Cirque upgrade menu no better than normal menu but $20 pp more. Problem of noisy room was fixed by the ... Read More
Overall a good cruise with good ports. Room service excellent, food OK for cruise ship. Pinnacle specialty restaurant very good but Le Cirque upgrade menu no better than normal menu but $20 pp more. Problem of noisy room was fixed by the front desk and Mary Anne did everything possible to help. Happy Hour a great idea. One problem is that unlike other cruise lines it is not clear when you have finished your package and you go automatically onto the more expensive per minute rate. A pity this nice smaller ship is going to P&O. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We love the Ryndam. It's a smaller ship, very friendly staff. We found that on our cruise in April, the entertainment has gotten so much better. We just like everything about the Ryndam. Sorry to see it leave. Hope they replace it ... Read More
We love the Ryndam. It's a smaller ship, very friendly staff. We found that on our cruise in April, the entertainment has gotten so much better. We just like everything about the Ryndam. Sorry to see it leave. Hope they replace it with an equally great ship and crew. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We sailed from Tampa on 2nd March. The embarkation was smooth and soon on board. We lazed around Lido deck for couple of hours and when we went to cabin everything there. The ship itself was fine and didn't see any particular wear. ... Read More
We sailed from Tampa on 2nd March. The embarkation was smooth and soon on board. We lazed around Lido deck for couple of hours and when we went to cabin everything there. The ship itself was fine and didn't see any particular wear. From the outset the staff were open about the ship being moved on to P&O fleet soon, and maybe this was why we felt it was a bit "under par" in places, especially the dining rooms. They have the English breakfast station by the omelette station and when I asked for fried eggs the cook was rude and aggressive and told me he would serve the breakfast minus eggs and I would have to take plate and queue in next station where I could get eggs. Eventually he shouted at cook behind for eggs. I took this up with officers and chef on duty and the rest of cruise the cook was not customer facing and eggs weren't an issue. I ordered salmon one night which was not only raw but cold inside, the replacement was the same and the replacement for that cooked to death. The portion sizes especially starters were sometimes ridiculously small almost back to the bad old days of Nouvelle Cuisine. Those issues aside the rest of cruise was very good. We arranged all our own excursions and they were all excellent, small groups, us only in Roatan at arboretum, 9 on Rio Dulce Canyon in Santo Tomas and 15 in Costa Maya Chaccobean ruins. Entertainment was above par and wait staff and cabin boys very good. Maybe this was just a one off, but other HAL cruisers said they had similar feeling that the whole experience was a little underwhelming. The mixology class was an anti-climax and the other cruisers again said something was lacking. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Hi, We just took a 7 day HAL cruise.  Overall we had a great time with the other New York Times guests, approximately 85 of us.  Our conversations and speakers combined to make this trip more than worth the extra price.  The 4 speakers ... Read More
Hi, We just took a 7 day HAL cruise.  Overall we had a great time with the other New York Times guests, approximately 85 of us.  Our conversations and speakers combined to make this trip more than worth the extra price.  The 4 speakers were extremely knowledgeable and accessible, either at meal time, around the ship or on shore excursions.  Shore trips, room stewards, Lido and of course the Explorer's Lounge were at the level that my wife and I have come to expect as long term Mariners. Our first HAL cruise was in 1980. That was the good part. ROTTERDAM SEATING & SERVICE Rotterdam seating arrangements caused serious problems. Our group of approximately 90 had a reserved section on departure night and that worked smoothly. On the following nights our tables were spread throughout the Rotterdam and this arrangement did not work. On 1 evening our table of 8 sat before 8 PM and left after 10 PM, causing us to miss the wonderful Explorer's Lounge music selection. They took over 30 minutes to tell my wife they were out of San Pellegrino. We were literally the last table to leave and we did not order off-menu. Similar service lapses occurred on 2 other evenings. On another evening, formal night, we were quite dressed - I had a tuxedo and my wife was equally dressed. We were seated by our NYT hostess at one of the reserved NYT tables and then proceeded to have our table for 6 remain a table of 2 for the entire meal. On several occasions the wine steward and the waiter were not coordinated and we had a long wait for mediocre wine. UNLIMITED BEVERAGE Card is a MISNOMER At dinner we were told there was a choice of 4 wines that were covered under the card. This so-called "unlimited" beverage card had a $7 limit. My wife and I offered to choose a $9 glass of wine and charge the difference to our room. That was not possible, our waiter told us. At the Lido deck poolside bar I decided to have an orange juice and tonic water. The bartender was quite pleasant but told me I would have to wait several minutes between purchase. This is a very strange and quite annoying policy. Unless you drink a lot of soda (which is unhealthy) you should consider the down side of the so-called "unlimited beverage" package. Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our New York Times Travels vacation. We enjoyed the speakers and their materials. We learned some good things and would do another Insight cruise but make sure about the Rotterdam seating and go back to choosing our beverages off the full list as we require them. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My husband, brother cousin and I were so looking forward tospending 14 days of sunshine on the Ryandam and its various destinations, moat of which we had seen on previous sailings. We embarked in Tampa, very efficient and looked forward to ... Read More
My husband, brother cousin and I were so looking forward tospending 14 days of sunshine on the Ryandam and its various destinations, moat of which we had seen on previous sailings. We embarked in Tampa, very efficient and looked forward to a nice lunch. The food was very good for the whole trip. This incluced a Pinacle meal and a Le Cercle dinner. These were outstanding, from the service to the presentation and the food itself. Excellent quality and a nice selection. Our cabin crew were nice and efficient as were the other crew members. The entertainment was good and the guests seemed to enjoy the variety on offer. However, there wa a cough circulating the ship from what seems to have been day one to when we disembarked. My husband came down at the beginning of the second week and was so ill he went to see the ship's doctor and was provided with antibiotics and pain killers. I then came down with the illness. Both of us ended up with pneumonia which we are still trying to recover. Essentially our vacation was ruined because of this illness. I feel theere is not enough time delegated to the cleaning of the ship from one cruise to the next, a three hour time period. This does not allow for proper cleaning of bugs, viruses etc which are then free to recitculate. We heard of several people who had come down with what I call the HAC, the Holland America Cough. I am so disappointed that our long awaited holiday was cut off so completely and we are so unhappy with the lack of response from Holland America that we will probably not cruise any more. What a sad ending to something we have enjoyed with the company for over ten years. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I'll start by saying that the reason we took this particular cruise was the unique list of ports. We're a family of four - my parents (late 50's), myself (30) and my sister (28). We love to travel and explore new places. The ... Read More
I'll start by saying that the reason we took this particular cruise was the unique list of ports. We're a family of four - my parents (late 50's), myself (30) and my sister (28). We love to travel and explore new places. The fact that this cruise went to Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Maya was the main draw or us. We weren't interested in the typical cruise ship ports. For reference, the four of us have each done 3-5 cruses each, ranging from cruises on NCL, Celebrity, Princess and Crystal. We arrived in Tampa the night before and stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which we arranged through HCL. We were originally disappointed because we were told the hotel was right downtown, but the hotel ended up being lovely. It had a nice area to walk around and a couple of pools. The cool thing was that the Auburn football team was staying there before The Outback Bowl. The shuttle picked us up and brought us to the port. There was a Bucks game that Sunday, and they said there was traffic, but clearly they've never been to Boston or other places with true traffic, because there was barely any. We arrived in about 25 minutes. It took us about 45 minutes to get through security, check in and get on the ship. It was a little busy and I found it somewhat disorganized, but it was nice to get onboard and go directly to our rooms. The Ship The ship itself is definitely showing its age, although it has been updated at times. For example, there were lots of nicks and paint flakes all over the place. While it was nice to have a tub in the room, I refused to fill it because the jets were nasty and I wasn't going to sit in water that touched those jets. The ship is relatively small and is very easy to manage. It takes no time at all to get from one point to another. There are two pools, one is much better than the other. The main pool has a retractable roof, which is often open ever so slightly. This pool would have been much more appealing if it actually had more fresh air. This seemed to be the pool that most families hung out at. This one is where the action is. There's a lot of LOUD music, a grill, and you're right next to the Lido buffet. The second pool is the Sea View pool and is much more relaxed it quite. On both of our sea days, it was very difficult to grab a chair at both pools. They should really move the cart with beer displayed and replace it with a dozen chairs. You could easily fit three tables with four chairs each in the area where they displayed a ton of beer that sat out every day. There were a few areas to hang out inside that we tended to spend time at. The first was the bar near the shops on deck 8. This is where a (less-than-average) guitar player played each night, BUT, we could catch any game that was on ESPN here. Since it was football playoff season, we hung out here a bit. The second place we hung out was the Crows Nest. We could also watch games here, but we also were able to watch other events taking place here. One of our favorite activities though was to walk around deck 6 in the morning. The nice thing about this ship is the fact that it has a wrap around deck that's pretty wide. Three times during the cruise we went for 3 mile walks to make sure we didn't gain too much weight. While I wish I could have run around the deck, I understand why jogging isn't allowed. Being stuck in the cold north, I miss running outside in nice weather, but it will be back soon enough. Activities I have to say, we really didn't participate in any activities onboard. Why? There really weren't many options offered, and the ones that were weren't very interesting. Looking at the activities, you can tell what HAL's demographics are - people a lot older than us. We're not exactly keen on taking a bookmark making class. I've heard multiple times that they're looking to attract a younger demographic, but I haven't seen anything that makes me think that they're taking it seriously. Entertainment We went to a number of the shows in the theater, and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed overall. Some shows were better than others. The shows with singers and dancers were better than the other ones. I will say though, that even those shows could be elevated a bit. Clearly HAL doesn't put as much into these shows as some of the other cruise lines. The musical entertainers could also improve. The guitarist was average, but he really couldn't mix it up. All if his songs had a similar sound. He had zero personality. We tried talking to him a little and he wanted nothing to do with it. In addition, the HALCats played a lot, and they stuck to their 50's/60's playlist most of the time. One time in the Crows Nest, they played Smooth by Santana and a ton of people got up to dance. After that, they went back to their old 50's playlist and EVERYONE sat down. Another time, there were a ton of teens and 20-somethings in the Crows Nest and they really wanted to dance. Many good bands would adjust accordingly, but they just kept on with their old setlist. For obvious reasons, those kids left and tried to find something else to do. Dining Having cruised NCL and Celebrity in the past, I'd have to put the food above NCL, but below Celebrity. The food in the Lido for breakfast and lunch left A LOT to be desired. Lines were VERY long and I was rather disappointed with the options. I thought that there were fewer options to pick from on this cruise that any other I've been on. The salad options at lunch were often picked over and lacked variety. The breakfast options seemed to be exactly the same every day. I love corned beef hash for breakfast, but not once did I see it as a meat option, just ham, sausage and bacon. Not to say that there wasn't a decent variety, but they didn't mix it up. The potatoes were always the home fried potatoes, never hash browns or tater tots for example. I know it's difficult to carry a ton of food like that for a cruise, but if they can mix up dinner each night, why can't they mix breakfast up every now and then. Twice we ate at the Dive In burger and hot dog bar for lunch. This was definitely the better option for lunch. While it took a little while to get food, the food here was better than in the Lido. Note that you can get a side of those decent onion straws if you want. They aren't just for burgers and dogs. And if you want to create a customized burger or do, you're welcome to do so. I saw the person taking orders even suggest some customized options. The main dining room was decent for dinner, although not spectacular. I was underwhelmed with the choices each night, but always seemed to find something I'd enjoy. Overall, I found the food was fairly bland and could have used a lot more seasoning. I really wish they'd offer a few different salads as well. In addition, I would have loved the option to add grilled shrimp on top of a salad for dinner sometimes. The portions were a good size - meaning you could order an appetizer, a soup or salad, an entree and a dessert and not leave feeling overly full. If you want extra of something, just ask. We did all three specialty restaurants on board and found two out of three to be good. The first one, which was nice, was Pinnacle Grill. The food here was really nice and was definitely a step above what is offered in the main dining room. You can't go wrong with the steaks here. The only gripe we had here was that they didn't tell us the soufflé would take extra time to prepare before we received the dessert menu. We weren't in a rush, so it wasn't a big deal, but they should have told us. The second specialty meal we had was a disaster. It was also the most expensive, at over $250 for all four of us ($50pp and a few glasses of wine). First of all, the dinner took two and a half hours. Most of this time was taken up by waiting 45 minutes between our soup and entree. The salads were pretty good, but the soup received mixed reviews. Those with the cold soup were very disappointed. The warm soup good decent reviews, but no one was raving about it. Our entrees were also decent, but because we waited so long, we weren't that thrilled. I have to say, we all pretty much agreed that the entrees were good, but weren't overwhelmingly better than anything in the MDR. Dessert was also mixed. Two of us ordered the much talked about creme brûlée, but were utterly disappointed when it came out very warm and with a puddle of liquid on the top. The traditional crispy sugared top was soggy and just not good. When we pointed everything out to the head waiter, he insisted that they were made fresh and that there was an issue with the kitchen that delayed our meals. This meal was our worst meal of the entire cruise and also the most expensive. We'd skip this and would recommend others skip it if you do a HAL cruise. The third specialty restaurant we did was Canaletto. This was pretty good and one of our top meals of the trip. Food was served family style, so we got to try a lot of different things. The meatballs, salads, antipasto and entrees were all very good. We really enjoyed the lemoncello dessert as well. We'd return here and would recommend this along with Pinnacle Grill. Service The service on the ship was done very well, except for two areas. The first I already mentioned, and that was with Le Cirque. The head waiter basically made us feel like we didn't know good food when we complained about our soupy creme brûlée. The other area we had a negative experience with was the photography area. I had purchased a candid photo package for my mom for Christmas. We arrived on the first day to make sure it was noted, as directed to do so in the note delivered to our room. The woman we spoke to said come back when you have a photo you like. I asked if we could start a folder with all of our photos to decide later and she said, sure. It would have been nice if she recommended this. What she also failed to mention is that most of the candid photos, we would have to seek out. We weren't in the MDR for formal night, we were in Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto, so we missed those opportunities. We were later told that we could have requested photos. Also, in two out of the four port photos, we had some random people from the ship. One was the original photo gal, dressed in a weird tux photo. The other was a Pirate. We tried asking for photos without them, but had no luck. In the end, we had very few photos to pick from. I'd advice against pre purchasing a photo package as a result. The rest of the service we received, in our staterooms, the main dining room, and elsewhere on the ship was wonderful. For example, after two nights, they knew to bring my dad his decaf coffee after dinner. No need to ask again. We were always greeted by name by our cabin stewards as well. Ports The ports we visited were wonderful. The first one, Key West, was our least favorite, but probably because it was so touristy and busy compared to all of the others. While Key West was nice, I wouldn't make a point to book a cruise because of it as a destination unless it was in the off season. Guatemala was our second port and one that I was really looking forward to. The pier was a shipping pier and not really for a cruise ship, but they did have a welcome center with merchants set up to purchase local goods. The people selling goods were a little aggressive and a lot sold some of the same things, so just know to be patient and know that they're going to try to sell you a few things. We negotiated on a few things, but didn't push too hard. After all, a $1 to us isn't that much, where a $1 for them goes a lot further. We did a tour of Las Escobas, which was beautiful. It's too bad it rained a little, but the waterfalls and the hike was very nice. It's not a very long hike and is easy for most people. I would have actually preferred a longer hike with more to see, but I doubt too many people on HAL would be willing to do that. The guides we had were very nice and well versed on the area. The drive was a little sketchy, but not the worst I've experienced. In Honduras, which ended up being our favorite port, we did the Starfish Snorkel and Beach excursion. The people here were SO friendly and welcoming. We took a boat to the snorkel area, but not your traditional snorkel catamaran. This was just your basic boat that fit about 25 people, all sitting and facing forward. The snorkel area had half a dozen or so starfish and a shipwreck to snorkel around. Honestly, it was hard to tell if the starfish were just placed here though. They were huge in any case. After about 45 minutes here, we went to a small beach for about 35 minutes before a bus drive back to the port. This is a tender port, so be prepared for that. We found the people of Honduras very friendly and welcoming. They weren't as pushy trying to sell us stuff. I'd highly recommend this port. Our final port was Costa Maya, Mexico. Here, we did the Chacchoben ruins, along with practically everyone else. It was a very busy tour, especially with two ships docked this day. Because the ruins are spread out, it doesn't feel like a ton of people are there for most of the tour, except for the welcome area and the very beginning. The ruins were beautiful and we had a decent amount of time here. The ride to and from was about an hour each way, and wasn't very scenic. I'd recommend this trip. Disembarkment was somewhat chaotic. They would call colors and numbers and people would congregate all over the halls. People were pushing and shoving to get out and it wasn't very pleasant. Eventually, we got off the ship and breezed through customs. A coach bus was waiting for us to take us to the airport, which was about a 25 minute drive. Overall, I thought the cruise was nice, but I'm not itching to run back to HAL. HAL visits some great ports, which is probably the only reason I'd return. Right now, I'd probably return to Celebrity if I had to choose, although I'll probably stick to a few land-only vacations first before hopping back on a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
7 day cruise, sail date 11/30/14 I've sailed on two previous HAL ships, the Prisendam to the Western Med and the Rotterdam to Baltic. This was my first domestic cruise and first on the Ryndam. Several points: first, HAL is up ... Read More
7 day cruise, sail date 11/30/14 I've sailed on two previous HAL ships, the Prisendam to the Western Med and the Rotterdam to Baltic. This was my first domestic cruise and first on the Ryndam. Several points: first, HAL is up front, when you sign up for shore excursions, that if they don't get enough people they will cancel the excursion; this is purely business decision on their part and I can't fault them for it; nonetheless, just be aware that if you buy a cruise because of a particular shore excursion, they may not have that shore excursion; in my case I had signed up for the Tikal tour and they were unable to get the requisite 12 people needed and cancelled it; understand, I am not blaming HAL but just be aware that this could happen. Overall, the trip was pleasant, and the staff was polite, and by and large if you brought something to their attention it would be addressed. Nonetheless, to be blunt, the level of service was not up to that of previous ships, particularly the Prinsendam; the staff seemed overworked and somewhat clueless. There were several minor annoyances and one moderate one. Most of the problem was in the food service. I understand the Lido is not 24/7 food service, but they are, or should be, at least 24/7 coffee service. They repeatedly, over a number of days, ran out of teaspoons for coffee or tea; in the late morning and during the afternoon and even during dinner hours, you pour your tea and want to stir in some sugar, there are no teaspoons; on either side of the Lido, and when you asked a steward, they couldn't get you any. I can understand running out of spoons once in a while but not for hours and not repeatedly. Also, on all the HAL ships I've been on the first 48 hours after sailing, you are not allowed to 'self serve' from the buffet; this is to prevent the spread of Norovirus; it's kind of a pain in the neck, but it's a very good rule; you want salad; you want bread, you tell a server and they will hand it to you; you want a breakfast pastry or juice or cereal or fruit, they'll hand it to you. Not in this case; it was self service in these areas for the first 48 hours. It is much more convenient, but frankly I wondered about the spread of bugs. The main dining room, we went to a mariners lunch the last day, and the menu was fine, the food was fine, but the menu listed "petit fours" (i.e, little cookies) following the dessert; I saw stewards passing them out at some tables but they never made it to ours. I'm not going to go ballistic over not getting a lousy cookie but it was just a matter of inattention to detail; they didn't get around to offering it to our table and by the looks of it. some others as well. The cabin stewards were very polite but seemed overworked; in past cruises, the stewards were constantly cleaning the rooms; you go to breakfast and get back and the bed is made, the towels are up from the bathroom and then in the afternoon they come in and clean again and later in the day they clean again. Here, the beds are unmade and the towels are in the bathroom until after lunch, even if I put a "service please" tag in the door slot. If I specifically asked the steward to clean he would; but the fact is, I did not see him as frequently as I did on other cruises. I do not think that he was slack, I do think he had many more cabins to look after; I asked him and he was responsible for all the cabins on that side of the ship on that floor; amounting to 60 cabins; it seems to me that stewards had responsibility for fewer cabins on other ships. Also, for the smokers; on other ships there are two places to smoke, either a portion of the aft deck, or in the case of the Prinsendam, a corner of the Lido deck, and on the sports deck. Here, they had closed off the sports deck to smoking; they had an ashtray but it was roped off and you could not smoke there. That's fine, but the problem is that they shut down the aft deck, one time at 6 pm, one time at 7 pm, for cleaning, leaving smokers no place to smoke. The Prinsendam and Rotterdam cleaned these areas in the early morning hours; closing it down at dinner time is when a lot of people want a cig, a pipe or cigar, right after they've eaten. It just seemed not the best time to do their cleaning, particularly in light of the nonavailability of alternative smoking areas. If you don't smoke then you don't care but for those of us who do, it's a bit of annoyance. None of which 'ruined the cruise' but it did seem to me that the level of service was lower and more confused than in the other ships. The one "moderate" annoyance was this; once again, every other ship I've been on, both sides of the Lido were open for dinner. In the Ryndam, however, they'd shut down the port side of the Lido at 4:30 for dinner for "Crew and Staff" and keep it closed all throughout dinner. This really, really, made the traffic heavy and cut down on the table availability on the starboard side. I understand that the crew needs to eat, but once again, every other HAL ship the crew ate with the passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We had been on the Eastern Caribbean cruise in 2012 on the Nieuw Amsterdam and found that trip to be most excellent in all respects so we were quite excited to go on another HAL cruise. Embarking from Tampa, this cruise was clearly geared ... Read More
We had been on the Eastern Caribbean cruise in 2012 on the Nieuw Amsterdam and found that trip to be most excellent in all respects so we were quite excited to go on another HAL cruise. Embarking from Tampa, this cruise was clearly geared for the over 70 crowd which seem to be the average age of most of the passengers. That didn't bother us as we tend to go for the more adventurous excursions. Most of the passengers were, in fact, local Floridians. We embarked on Nov. 30th from Tampa pretty smoothly. We purposely waited until 1pm to arrive at the cruise port to avoid the initial rush and as a result, there was no line-up. My husband did get stuck behind a lady with a walker on the narrow gangplank but she was quite animated and fun to talk to. We saw quite a few walkers and wheel chairs on this cruise, most of them waiting for elevators which made the stairs very open and free for use. We had a fairly decent cabin steward this trip, we were near the stern of the ship on deck 14. Our cabin was always clean almost right after we left each morning. We were always greeted with a friendly hello and wave from the 2 stewards on our floor. The real issue with this cruise was the dining room and the pool area. HAL was clearly short staffing this particular cruise as I waited at least 30 minutes for anyone to walk by while sitting by the pool waiting for a drink order. Not that big of a deal since I probably saved myself some cash, however, given the last cruise we practically had to shoo the servers away, it was like going from one extreme to the other. Surely there must be some sort of happy medium? The 2nd problem was the dining room. We had the early seating sitting at a table for 6 with 2 lovely single senior ladies, both from Florida. The 2 other seats at our table remained empty throughout the cruise despite hearing from other people that they were hoping to get added to the first seating. Not sure why they didn't fill those seats. We also had to wait an extraordinarily long time between our first course and 2nd courses, in one case, 40 minutes. And then to add insult to injury, they gonged us to get out of the room so that they could get ready for the next sitting, wow! All of the wait staff were working very hard so we couldn't fault them, however, it was clear that more servers were needed in the room. The food was good but the selection was not nearly as varied as we experienced on our previous HAL cruise. The ports of call were ok, but we both preferred the Eastern Caribbean cruise ports. Disembarkation turned out to be very stressful for us as we had booked an 11:05am flight. The other choice for a direct flight was 5:30pm. Knowing the cruise line recommended that we book flights after 1pm I hemmed a bit before picking the 11:05 flight. All of our previous cruises (this was our 6th one) had arrived at the final port before 7am and since the airport ride was only 15 minutes by cab, I figured we were safe. Well, unfortunately for all of us, we were held up by the fog which was not the cruise lines fault so we did not actually land until just after 9:30am. The one thing that I didn't realize and don't remember reading anywhere, was the fact that the cruise line was the fact that everyone on board was being held hostage until ALL non-US passengers were to be cleared by customs prior to leaving the ship, wow, we did not have that experience on any of our previous cruises. They really should paid for a customs office board our ship while we were anchored early in the morning and cleared everyone while we were traversing the channel. It would have been so much more efficient. Had we been able to get off the ship immediately upon docking, I have no doubt we would have made our flight on time as our cab driver got us to the airport in 10 minutes. The other issue was after we were given the clear to disembark, the HAL staff did not properly guide people off in our respective groups, it was a free-for-all in the hallway and most of the passengers (including our 2 dinner companions) could have waited to disembark as they were all just local Floridians. We weren't the only ones that missed their flights either so it was disappointing. I will accept the fact that we should have booked our flights later, however, we were not impressed at all with HAL's handling of the disembarkation process which, quite frankly, left a bad taste in our mouths. We will likely give HAL one more chance in the future to hopefully, to return their service levels back up to previous levels, and of course, next time we will book flight AFTER 1pm. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We are experienced independent travelers who have recently started using cruises as a means of easily and cheaply getting from one place to another. We combined a 14-day segment from Istanbul to Barcelona (Istanbul, Kusadasi, Marmaris, ... Read More
We are experienced independent travelers who have recently started using cruises as a means of easily and cheaply getting from one place to another. We combined a 14-day segment from Istanbul to Barcelona (Istanbul, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Antalya, Port Said, Alexandria, Katakolon, Corfu, Messina, Naples, Barcelona) with another 14-day segment from Barcelona to Tampa (Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Funchal, Tampa). We arrived in Turkey a week early and flew to Cappadocia (somewhat overrated but worth a day or two) then on to Istanbul (a fantastic city). We stayed at the Azze Hotel. The Azze Hotel is very inexpensive and sits in a wonderful location a few steps from the "Tunel" Funicular which takes you right down to the Galata Bridge. The manager, Tugba (pronounced "Tuba") was a wonderful young lady with a pleasant attitude and many good suggestions. The main pedestrian shopping street and dining/bar scene is less than 6 minutes walk away. Embarkation was a breeze in Istanbul. No fuss, no muss. Just checked our luggage through and walked right on board. The Ryndam was just right for us. Not too big and not too small. She carried about 1,100 passengers on our cruise. She has simple, clean common areas with traditional works of art that give her interior an old-world feel. Her wrap-around teak promenade deck and wooden deck chairs harken back to a time when passenger ships still had class and style. Fresh, live plants and flowers are everywhere. Staff is constantly polishing wood and brass, cleaning windows and keeping decks and common areas clean. Our cabin (#651) was quite nice with only minor issues found (see separate cabin review). The activities on board were sub-par and the entertainment was of a typically mediocre cabaret quality. Exceptions included the Piano/Violin duo who provided a very pleasant respite of classical music. A personal peeve of ours was how loudly the "Halcats" would play poolside and how poor the lead singer was. The musicians were all very good but the lead singer had a talent for ruining most every song she hurled at the audience (songs we love in their original form). It seems volume was her stand-in for talent. Service in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was very good. We opted for the late seating on the upper level and were quite satisfied. The food was of a predictable, yet satisfactory quality with only a few off nights. We tried the extra-charge Grill once and were very disappointed. The steaks were tough and the vegetable sides came out limp and greasy as if they had been kept under a heat lamp for hours. Dessert was great. Overall, It was not worth it. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and helpful. Service in the bar areas was relaxed with no pressure to buy additional drinks. Many of the people working the Guest Services desk were poorly trained with many things lost in translation. Explaining a situation or fixing a problem could be frustrating. Although senior ship officers were generally friendly and competent, the youth and experience levels of many lesser managers left much room for improvement. Excellent self-esteem is not a substitute for professionalism. The library was large and well stocked with a good selection of books and periodicals. The librarian was pleasant and helpful. During the first segment of the cruise library patrons were generally well- mannered and quiet. Unfortunately, during the second segment (after Barcelona), the new batch of passengers were decidedly less polite -- often eating and talking loudly with no regard for others. The self-serve laundries were conveniently located on most cabin decks. Laundry detergent was included with use of the machine, (a nice surprise and rare on many ships). As usual, trips to the laundry could result in pleasant companionship or combative, territorial show-downs depending on the time of day and the direction of the wind. We traveled independently or used private and semi-private guide services for almost all of our shore excursions. They are as good and often far better than the ship's excursion services at one half to one third the price! The one ship's excursion we took in Funchal (Madiera) was a complete waste of time and money with an obnoxious tour guide and bland, tasteless tourist food for lunch. Of our various shore excursions, our favorites included the fabulous city of Ephesus (Kusadasi) and the astounding statues of the Antalya Museum in Turkey; the historic city of Corfu in Greece; the ancient cities of Taurmina (Messina) and Pompeii (Naples) in Italy; and the exceptional cities of Barcelona, Granada (Malaga) and Seville (Cadiz) in Spain. But the one excursion that towers above them all was our overnight trip to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours as our guide (see our separate shore excursion review for Cairo/Port Said and Alexandria). If you’re considering a shore excursion to Cairo, do yourself a favor and contact Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours. Just look him up on Tripadvisor or do a Google search. You'll be glad you did. The last night of the cruise was all smiles and happiness. The next morning it was clear that you were nothing but an impediment to getting the next group of passengers on board. "Good morning! (Hurry up and get off so I can get my job done.)" You get the picture. Disembarkation in Tampa was a disaster. Things were delayed for nearly two hours because one German couple did not hear the announcement or understand that they were required to appear in the showroom lounge for an immigration interview before all the other passengers could get off. No one of the staff thought to knock on their cabin door or make the announcement in German until the very end! Needless to say, many people missed their flights that day. In summary, we liked the cruise and loved the ports of call. We would recommend this cruise and the Ryndam for people who like a relatively quiet, mid-size ship with traditional touches and exciting destinations.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My wife and I spent three weeks on the Ryndam looking round various Baltic cities and enjoyed every minute (admittedly, the wonderful weather throughout helped a lot). Our cabin was fine (especially after a crew member fixed three loose ... Read More
My wife and I spent three weeks on the Ryndam looking round various Baltic cities and enjoyed every minute (admittedly, the wonderful weather throughout helped a lot). Our cabin was fine (especially after a crew member fixed three loose desk drawers), the ship was clean and the crew polite and helpful and the general atmosphere relaxed. Dining too was good, even if the Lido deck was a little canteen-like (sometimes with long queues and slow service, not least at the omelette station). The Rotterdam restaurant - a more posh setting, sometimes with formal dress stipulated - was excellent, with very good food and first-rate service. For a smallish ship the well-stocked and well-furnished library was a pleasant place, though the small bar next door meant that one sometimes had to try to read against an often noisy background. The same was sometimes true of the Lido, where the thumping of basketball played on the deck directly above didn't make for a relaxing dinner - though, to be fair, this didn't happen often. More pleasant sounds came from Gavin's jazz combo and, just round the corner, the popular classics played by a violinist with piano accompaniment. Apart from one show in the main theatre - which was ok - we didn't bother with rest of the entertainment. The only real annoyance was the lengthy, droning and often semi-audible delivery through the ship's PA system whenever we left port of a description of where we'd been and of our next destination. This was an affliction from which it was impossible to escape, and Holland America should do something about it. Please.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Husband and I were thrilled to be coming back to HAL after a seven-year absence. This was my 16th cruise, hub's 13th, and 4th/3rd on HAL, respectively. We chose this itinerary because it had four of our favorite ports, all of which we ... Read More
Husband and I were thrilled to be coming back to HAL after a seven-year absence. This was my 16th cruise, hub's 13th, and 4th/3rd on HAL, respectively. We chose this itinerary because it had four of our favorite ports, all of which we can do on our own without having to utilize shore excursions – and because Holland America was offering a great deal on the sailing. The Ryndam had been fully refurbished since we sailed it last (2001) and, apparently, is well overdue for another drydock. While overall the ship is beautiful and a perfect size, it was hard not to notice the wear and tear that has accumulated (worn brass fittings and torn up leather coverings in the elevators; stains on the rugs and pool backsplash tiles; etc.). Maybe it’s because they are CONSTANTLY wiping surfaces down to keep communicable illnesses at bay. We were also surprised by how significantly older our fellow passengers seemed. We usually sail during ‘shoulder’ or ‘off’ seasons because of our work schedules. This being ‘high season’ and on the very edge of the beginning of school breaks, we did not think that we might be one of the youngest on the ship (including the six kids under the age of 18 we saw). We learned later that we were the second (short) leg of a 21 day 'collectors cruise,' which might have explained things. Ironically, it didn’t necessarily make for a significantly politer corpus of passengers: it was not unusual to have people block hallways with group conversations or just plunk down at your table at the lido deck without so much as a by your leave. We were in cabin 821 – aft interior, deck A. Well-appointed room, but some serious issues, including a visibly (and olfactory) mildewed shower curtain; stained fabrics; and shower temperature controls that were anything BUT consistent at any time. Noise from the deck below was noticeable at points. Cabin stewards were, for the most part, efficient and attentive, though not overly friendly; we appreciated having a small fruit basket in the cabin, as my husband rarely makes breakfast. We asked for towel animals and were treated to: a crab made out of two hand towels; a stingray made out of a hand towel and a washcloth; and finally, on the third night, a dog and, the fourth, a monkey. After three straight sailings on Carnival, we were somewhat underwhelmed. Cusine, as usual, was excellent, but the dining room menu seemed noticeably ‘pared down’ from previous HAL sailings. To wit: a good half of one side of the menu was devoted to whatever “Culinary Council” chef was being featured that evening, along with two dishes that were then repeated on the other side of the menu. My husband, having unusual food allergies, sometimes struggled to find something he wanted to eat that they could tweak for him. Having said that, the dining room staff went out of their way to ensure that he DID have something he liked every evening, and we greatly appreciated their attention. One thing that really took us by surprise was the lack of wifi across the ship – for the most part, you could only gain a steady signal in public rooms, and even THAT was not a given with Android phones. It became a real nuisance at points, as my husband was having to contact work because of inclement weather hampering things back home, and had to traipse upstairs time and time again to get a good signal . . . when there WAS a signal, that is. Of course, there were no power sources available in public areas, which further complicated things. We, as a rule, don’t do shows or alternative dining venues, so we can’t comment on them, nor the “Dancing with the Stars” offerings – if you aren’t part of a couple, it’s difficult to get the opportunity to learn any of the dances. While I like the new layout that has most of the shops on board mixed in with the bars and public areas, we were quite underwhelmed with the selection we saw within them. Many of the daytime activities focused on sedentary pursuits -- cooking demonstrations, trivia, etc. We were very disappointed to learn that the weekly crew talent show is now only offered on longer cruises. There was one movie shown thrice daily in the theater – which, we discovered, was also shown in the cabin tv network that day or the day after. The other TV offerings were anemic – three faux news channels, BBC, two ESPN channels, three movie channels, and a half-dozen ship-based ones. It was a struggle to get any kind of real news outside of the NY Times digest available in the library (unless one went on the slow and pricey internet, of course). By far, though, the thing that really disappointed us was a noted lack of detail when it came to important things like muster drill and sail away times. Our muster drill was a mess – the crew didn’t take things in hand to make sure people were lining up neatly and properly, and room numbers couldn’t be understood during roll call. Even the voiceover instructions from the cruise director was noticeably lacking in purpose and efficacy. Maybe they feel as if they don’t have to be as forceful and straightforward with passengers as they do with a more ‘main-line’ choice like Carnival, but it would have been helpful to impress upon those who felt as if they didn’t have to pay attention to instructions because they’d sailed HAL for as many days as they were years old. Similarly, at the beginning of the trip, it was not unusual to see THREE different times in terms of when you were to be back on board after visiting a port of call. At first, the daily cabin notice deemed “all on board” as the time the boat was SAILING – which, of course, meant that you actually had to be on board a half-hour earlier. THEN, you’d get to the gangplank and see an ‘all on board’ time that was a THIRD different time altogether. I’m surprised we didn’t leave anyone on shore (that I know of). It seemed that as we went through the week they managed to clear that up a little better, but it didn’t make much sense as to why they couldn’t get it together sooner – our cruise director had been on this ship for weeks, if his shore excursion talk was any indication. We were also told that the ship would not be resetting clocks when we were in the Central time zone, because of Daylight Savings Time later in the week (which the ship did at 2 am on SATURDAY, perhaps to avoid more confusion during disembarkation day). Given that half the clocks on the ship weren’t set with the proper time at all, I suppose it wouldn’t have made any difference. We did notice that towards the end of the week they had managed to sync most of them up. Still, it made for lots of confusion. Disembarkation was similarly lacking in important details. For example: is there a time we need to be out of the cabins? We had late embarkation and thought we'd be able to leave the cabin closer to luggage arrival announcement time . . . so imagine our surprise when cabin staff stopped by twice to get minibar counts and soiled bedding/towels. Usually cruise lines make it pretty clear when they want you out of the cabins. HAL, not so much. Overall, we feel that any day on a boat is better than one on terra firma. However, given how HAL positions itself as a much more ‘upscale’ experience – which, we feel, came up wanting this past week -- we probably won’t go out of our way to sail on them again unless the right itinerary and price comes along.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Our family (a three year old, two parents and four grandparents) all generally enjoyed this cruise. The ship is a very manageable size, which makes it very convenient for travelers. As others have noted, there are some maintenance issues ... Read More
Our family (a three year old, two parents and four grandparents) all generally enjoyed this cruise. The ship is a very manageable size, which makes it very convenient for travelers. As others have noted, there are some maintenance issues with the Ryndam and hopefully these issues will be resolved during its dry dock in March. Travelers should bring layers in case the room is very cold, and be prepared for the possibility that the ac may not work in all cabins. My mother's cabin was very cold, and the problem was initially helped with duct tape, and fixed the next day. HAL kindly sent her a bottle of wine for the inconvenience. Please utilize caution when turning on the water in the faucet or the shower, as the water can be quite hot if set to the maximum temperature. As long as the faucet is set to the middle temperature, you will be perfectly fine. If you are bringing many cameras or electronic devices, you may also want to bring an adapter or splitter, since there is only one outlet in the cabin near the desk, and there currently are no outlets in the bathroom (although it is possible that this may change after the dry dock, so please ignore this if more recent reviews indicate a change). The Ryndam is a favorite ship of people who prefer inside cabins or ocean view cabins since there are many interior rooms to choose from in excellent locations. People who prefer balconies should note that the balconies are only available on decks 9 and 10 (the suites are located on deck 10). Deck 10 is located directly below the Lido deck, and in the gym on the lido deck there is a note requesting that passengers please be careful with the weights since the gym is located directly above other passengers' cabins. I was concerned prior to sailing that my deck 9 cabin might be too loud since most of the deck 9 balconies face interior spaces and it is hard to tell in advance if they will be loud or quiet crew workspaces. We had some limited noise from the Lido deck announcements, but it wasn't too loud or distracting and there was no noise from the interior work spaces across the hall from our cabin. In general, dining was good. The quality of the meat wasn't always as strong as I would hope for, but most of the food was very well seasoned and cooked so dining was generally enjoyable. We did experience some difficulty with the maitre d' at the open dining. Dinner service during our first night was very leisurely, and by the time we received our desserts the maitre d' came over to tell us that he needed the table for the next patrons and requested that we take our dessert to go. It would be much better if the maitre d' pushed the chefs and waiters to bring out food faster if they need to turn over the tables, as we didn't eat slowly - we were there for a long time since the food was served slowly. When my son ate all of my dinner or I didn't like my food on previous cruises I would just ask the waiter to please bring me a different entree. But since the maitre d' was trying to push us out of the restaurant, I didn't feel comfortable requesting more food, so I called room service to request for more food. A very nice feature on HAL is that room service will bring you any item on the main dining room menu during the hours the main dining room is open for dinner. Room service is very helpful and polite, but please note that you need to make very specific requests for your room service - if you order a dinner entree and want bread, you need to specifically ask for the bread. If you want a spoon, or sugar or anything else with your meal, you need to specifically request it (otherwise they will bring you things like yogurt and cereal without spoons unless you ask for them). Please also note that HAL does not leave breakfast outside of your door. Room service will knock on the door to bring your breakfast inside, so if you choose to order room service for breakfast you need to request it at a time you are certain you will be awake. We enjoyed an outstanding meal at the Pinnacle Grill, with excellent food and service as part of our Explore4 package. Please note that HAL reserves the right to assign you a dining time for the Pinnacle Grill if you are utilizing the Explore4 package. We chose this cruise primarily for the ports, and we were quite happy with all of our excursions. Guatemala was really lovely, and we greatly enjoyed our tour with Go With Gus. We were able to visit a local school, have a very nice boat ride down the Rio Dulce, and visited the hot springs. If you visit the school, please contact Gus to find out what the children currently need if you would like to donate items to the school. We were told to bring composition notebooks for the children. In Roatan we had another enjoyable day with Bodden Adventures, and greatly enjoyed visiting the monkeys at the Bodden home. We also greatly enjoyed our eco walk at South Shore through the suspension bridges. The bridges are a bit challenging for a three year old (which we fully anticipated prior to booking) but overall quite manageable for a child. In Costa Maya, we greatly enjoyed our Native Choice Mayan Experience tour. We had an outstanding tour guide, and my son loved climbing on the Mayan ruins and making tortillas. It may be a bit challenging for families to reach the Native Choice office, as the port itself is a bit large (there is a free trolley down the boardwalk, but my son didn't want to wait) and it is a four block walk to the Native Choice offices after you clear the port (they suggest taking a cab if you have difficulties walking, but there were no cabs available when we reached the exit of the port). Overall, we generally enjoyed this cruise and would choose to sail again with HAL if we found the right itinerary. We were more impressed with the quality of dining on Princess, and strongly prefer the mini suite rooms on Princess but we would be willing to sail again with HAL if we found the right cruise. Special Notes for families: I am concerned about the staffing levels in Club HAL. There were only 15 children aboard our ship, and therefore only 2 children's counselors were assigned to CLUB Hal. They were very nice girls, but I believe that it is too much to expect two counselors to handle all of the hours CLUB Hal is open. On port days, Club HAL is open from 8 am -4 pm, and again from 7 pm -10 pm, and possibly from 10 pm -midnight if teenagers are on board (which there weren't on our voyage). Our previous voyage on the Coral Princess had only 11 children, and Princess assigned 4 counselors to the ship, since 4 is their minimum staffing levels for their KidZone. Given how hard it is to take care of children, I'd feel better if the counselors didn't need to work all of the shifts, and I don't understand what happens if one of the two CLUB Hal counselors falls ill and cannot work. My 3 year old son greatly enjoyed attending Club Hal, especially the cooking class. He stated that his pancakes didn't come out as well as the chef's pancakes. The toddlers generally did arts and crafts of the gluing things to paper plates variety. HAL does not provide parents of young children with phones or beepers or means of communication while the children are in Club Hal, but you can call Club Hal to check up on your child. Parents should also note that there are very limited numbers of balcony cabins that can hold more than two people on the Ryndam, especially if you don't want a room directly under the Lido deck. Please also note that when I tried to confirm that my request for a crib had been received, I was informed by email that only children under two are given cribs and that I would not receive a crib for the sailing. As it turned out, there was in fact a crib in my room, but if your child is older than two please be prepared for the possibility that you may not be granted a crib, as per HAL's regulations (the age limit for cribs is listed on their website). Many parents have turned the couch in the room backwards facing the wall, and put sheets on the couch to make a small bed for toddlers. Parents should also consider bringing their own sheets if their children are still napping. The pack n play sheets were not delivered until the evening, which was several hours after our son's nap (fortunately we had brought our own sheets so this wasn't a problem). If you run into your steward in the hallway before you enter the room, you might want to ask if your pack n play has arrived, and if it has been built. We neglected to ask since we assumed it was set up already, and our son's nap was delayed because the pack n play was not assembled and we had trouble building the pack n play ourselves. We were unable to reach anyone for help, as both the front desk and steward did not pick up their phones. So if you see the steward in the hallway or a nearby room and have a child who needs to nap, you might want to ask them directly for assistance, as embarkation day is very hectic for the ship's staff. If possible, parents should try to book private tours, so they can modify the tours if children start to get fussy, and can return to the ship if necessary. We found it very helpful to bring a variety of healthy cereals with us on tours. Whenever our son got bored or frustrated, we would let him pick a new cereal and he was happy again.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
I really enjoy cruises as one of three main types of holiday that my partner and I take. To us, a cruise is a great way to 'sample' countries and destinations and to be made to feel special. We have taken a number of cruises ... Read More
I really enjoy cruises as one of three main types of holiday that my partner and I take. To us, a cruise is a great way to 'sample' countries and destinations and to be made to feel special. We have taken a number of cruises and with various cruise lines. We'd not cruised with Holland America Lines (HAL) before - but had sailed with other brands that are part of the Carnival holding group. We live in London and took the National Express coach down to Dover. We arrived about an hour before final embarkation and that worked well, no queues, straight on to the ship and to our cabin. We had a Large Oceanview stateroom on Deck 4  quite spacious with plenty of storage space and  first time ever for us  a small bathtub with a shower over it (previously only had showers in our cabin). It was supplied with Elemis products: shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in dispensers mounted by the shower / bath and rather nice lemony soap. Surprisingly, no fridge / minibar. Ryandam is a smaller ship, taking around 1300 passengers. We enjoy the smaller ships and the fact that HAL give you a choice of fixed or open dining (without demanding prepaid gratuities if you want open dining) was another plus. The Ryandam has a retractable roof over the Lido / pool area  Ive not come across this before. It was excellent, allowing sun when the weather was good but still meaning the deck space could be fully utilised if the weather was cold, rainy or too windy for comfort when the roof was then closed. For a ship that is 19 years old it was well maintained with very regular deep cleans and carpet shampooing. The ship was well laid out with bars split up so that music from one would not impinge on activities in another location. On Deck 8 Ryandam has HALs Explorations Cafe, a lovely reading room and well stocked library with travel guides relevant to the voyage kept behind the librarians desk so everybody had access to them  this seemed a good idea. There was plenty of variety of food and presentation was good, both in the Lido caf and the Rotterdam main dining room. However, we encountered a number of issues that might indicate poor management in the food and beverage (F & B) department: Asked three times (of three different staff) for a further juice at breakfast that never arrived. It seemed that once the server with that particular item had gone past your table it was difficult to get them back The server for one breakfast was having a really bad day  mixed up and missed lots of orders, then bought three lots of one omelette and managed to give two raw eggs to a guest who asked for soft boiled eggs! (fortunately she cut the eggs open over a bowl) Salad dressings at the salad bar in the Lido caf were often unlabelled so you had to guess what it was  I highlighted this to one of the F & B managers and it was still unresolved days later. Insufficient staff at the Lido caf: Salad bar was not monitored well and often ran out of items Needed more staff on cooked to order sections like omelettes and waffles Tables not cleared and wiped promptly and crumbs swept onto the floor instead of into a cloth One day we were eating dinner in the Lido caf and maintenance ripped up the floor covering on both entrances to the tables instead of directing passengers to tables on the other side of the venue and then starting work when their side was clear of guests. The cruise director (Kieron Buffery) and his team provided a wide selection of entertainment. I enjoyed some of the culinary arts presentations, we saw some recent films in the onboard cinema. We also attended some of the Techspert sessions in the Digital Workshop  these were informative. Ive already mentioned about service in the F & B area. Generally service was good  our stewards kept our stateroom clean and as we always put out the Make up my cabin sign this was generally done by the time we returned from breakfast. However my personal experience with guest services / front office was that they were unhelpful and rather than wanting to resolve issues it seemed all about being curt and blocking reasonable enquiries. The Ryandam production shows were great and we enjoyed most of the other shows  naturally not every show will appeal to all passengers. Our ports were Stavanger, Flam, Geiranger, Tromso, Honnigsvag, Hammerfest, Trondheim, Molde and Bergen. The captain was very considerate. Fog meant we had to take the long route round to Tromso and arrived three hours late. He arranged to leave two hours later than scheduled to still have a decent amount of time in port. Sailing into Honningsvag, he took us close to the North Cape and even swung the ship through 360 degrees to ensure all outside cabins got a great view. In Trondheim, he also arranged a two hour extension as the next port was not that far to travel. We did not take any ships excursions and thought they were rather expensive. The port specialist Sabine was very helpful and generally managed to have local maps to hand out at the gangway  a great help if you wanted to do your own thing in port. Disembarkation went smoothly and although we were all off the ship by 9.15am you could still enjoy a full, leisurely breakfast in the main dining room. In summary, we really enjoyed our first HAL cruise with just a few irritations (and were already booked on Prinsendam for later in the year). It will be interesting to see how that compares, as it is an even smaller ship. As Norway is such an expensive country, this type of cruise has got to be the best way to experience Norway.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
In June 2013 we went to Norway with Holland America on the Ryndam. We had been to Norway before, so this cruise was booked intentionally with Holland America, because we wanted to try them out. We paid to upgrade from an outside cabin to a ... Read More
In June 2013 we went to Norway with Holland America on the Ryndam. We had been to Norway before, so this cruise was booked intentionally with Holland America, because we wanted to try them out. We paid to upgrade from an outside cabin to a Vista Suite, which gave us a balcony but was not (in our opinion) really a suite. First of all, we should say that we very much enjoyed the cruise. Some of the best factors for us were the formality (two formal nights in a week, to which passengers responded splendidly), the quality of the food (plenty of choices on the menu, not all perfect, but you could always find excellence if you looked carefully), and the feeling of friendliness (from the Captain and the Cruise Director downwards we always found good humour and a genuine welcome). We thought that particularly good features were the embarkation process (best of all that we have experienced so far) and the sliding glass roof on the Lido deck, which could be closed in inclement weather, meaning not only that the Lido deck could continue to be used but also that the inside bars and lounges remained reasonably quiet and empty. Also we appreciated how many comfortable bars and lounges there were, when you wanted to sit quietly during the day. If you are looking for Wow Factor, then the lifts, stairs and atrium may disappoint. Everything is comfortably decorated, with interesting touches, but there are limits to what you can do with make-overs to a ship that was built in 1996. So don't expect Ryndam's atrium to provide staircases to heaven and glass-fronted lifts. In particular we felt that the Lido Restaurant (buffet restaurant) was less well decorated and less well organised than other ships. We heard that on our cruise there were a lot of new staff being trained, so maybe that explains some of the service issues we met. Other disappointments were the price of Shore Excursions (for most of the ports on our cruise you could do much better by just going ashore and making your own arrangements, but in Ulvik we closed our eyes and bit the bullet) and the price of premium dining (we thought that the Italian Restaurant, just a partitioned area of the Lido Restaurant, was a non-event - and we felt that a premium of $25 per head was too much for the Pinnacle Grill - the right price would have been $15 - I know that's not a lot of difference in the overall scheme of things, but it seemed a lot different at the time). We have captured many of these thoughts in a video review, available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYb0Yk94VPo I don't think this website enables you to just click on a link, so you may have to copy and paste the link into the address bar of your browser. If you like our video and find it useful, then please give us a thumbs-up, or even better, send us a comment so that we can have some discussion. Finally, we have made some negative comments, but overall we enjoyed cruising with Holland America and we think that you will do too.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The Ryndam is a nice mid size vessel that is well-appointed, albeit showing its age a little. It's western Caribbean itinerary suited our need to experience sun, swimming, and adventures with different cultures. Traveling with my ... Read More
The Ryndam is a nice mid size vessel that is well-appointed, albeit showing its age a little. It's western Caribbean itinerary suited our need to experience sun, swimming, and adventures with different cultures. Traveling with my spouse and adult brother, we had our online boarding passes and got to the terminal with no problems. Embarkation took about 15 minutes at 1pm, so all was well. When we got to our staterooms, first problem- rooms were made up with twins not queens. Then called for dinner reservations for our "as you wish" dining and learned we had been assigned 8pm fixed seating. So now I'm wondering why I bothered to use the online system to register preferences?! Went to lido for food - wow what a zoo! I understand the need to contain disease, but they needed twice the number of servers or needed to get them to move a little faster. This was followed by an exceedingly disorganized lifeboat briefing. Not a good start. After that first days things picked . Our 8pm dinner time arrived and we were seated at "our" table, which was a 4top with just the 3 of us. Perfect. The waiters were great and food delicious, we decided maybe 8pm fixed seating would work for us after all. Returned to stateroom and found bed reconfigured to queen. All is now well. Good stuff : room service. Always prompt, no errors. Dining room staff - attentive, accommodating, remembered my drink order every night, 5star. Cabin stewards - excellent as always. Food - very good for the most part. Not so good: smoking is allowed on private verandahs - upwind of us the occupants smoked constantly. As a result we hardly ever used our verandah. Don't pay extra for a verandah if you're sensitive to smoke. Some cabin appointments were tired - refrigerator barely closed and leaked, wood furniture scuffed, lanai upholstery sun faded. Ports of call were the reason we chose this cruise and did not disappoint. Key west a cool, funky place, Roatan is an island we will return to for more water sports. Guatamala really interesting culturally and beautiful scenery on the rio dulce tour. Costa maya allowed great access to Mayan ruins. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was my 45th cruise, 26th with HAL, and my eighth Transatlantic. Obviously I enjoy days at sea and usually enjoy HAL's cruises and the Ryndam. I have never taken a cruise that I did not enjoy, but this one came close. I will ... Read More
This was my 45th cruise, 26th with HAL, and my eighth Transatlantic. Obviously I enjoy days at sea and usually enjoy HAL's cruises and the Ryndam. I have never taken a cruise that I did not enjoy, but this one came close. I will get my "beef" out of the way and go on to more pleasant observations. WORD of CAUTION! Perhaps it is better not to take a cruise when your ship is scheduled to go into dry-dock upon disembarkation. The Ryndam was scheduled for a minor (one week) dry-dock in Freeport after dropping us off. Some preparatory work commenced on our cruise. The work that I object to was cosmetic and in one way affected the safety of the ship. Two or three days into the cruise the crew began to remove tiles from the Lido enclosed pool area. The work proceeded in the afternoon into the early evening both on port and sea days. We were in cabin 006 directly below a quiet area of the spa complex and for several hours each afternoon until we went out for pee-dinner drinks the banging reminded me of Verdi's Anvil Chorus. I complained to the Concierge and to the front desk several times. The banging would stop only to restart after an interval. Lest you think I am too picky, others on the Navigation deck also were quite upset. I believe that the executives in Seattle should allow HAL's fleet more time in dry-dock so that noisy preparatory work does not have to interfere with the enjoyment of HAL's guests. This was the major beef. We got to Barcelona several days ahead of the departure date. We stayed at the Avenida Palace, a well priced Four Star hotel in the Eixample near to everything, subways, fun restaurants and cafes, and La Rambla. The cabin, a good size suite with a huge balcony was beautiful. The Neptune Lounge available to these 28 cabins and the penthouse was great. The food in the Neptune Lounge is definitely better than the other venues on the ship. We often had breakfast there (more wonderful berries!). The food in the dining room was usual HAL, sort of like a wedding banquet at a mid range hotel. The fish dishes were good and one vegetarian dish was great. Unfortunately the vegetarian stuffed cabbage needed to be braised for several hours, not minutes. Canaletto was disappointing not because of the food which was very nice, but because it was so poorly attended on the night we ate. By 8:15 we were to only party in the room. Evidently the $10pp charge (it was free) has put a damper on the room -- too bad. The ship was in okay condition considering it was going into a minor dry dock and several non-annoying refurbishing was being completed as we crossed. I did note that the railing at the bar at the Ocean bar was always sticky. A fellow passenger explained to me that this is due to the hand sanitizers. Luckily none of the other bars have handrails. We moved to the non-sticky Piano bar at Mix, end of problem. The shows were excellent especially "encore" which had not only the showroom cast but included all the musicians from the other venues as well. The staff was wonderful as usual from the bottom to the Captain. We were lucky to be included at the captain's table on one of the four formal nights. Captain Timmers, like Captain Costen, really likes to visit with his guests. We had the opportunity to visit with him several times when he stopped at the Mix bar prior to dinner. Disembarkation was quick and efficient. P.S. Evidently my complaints were recognized by guest relations. Without any request on our part, we received a $175 reimbursable credit by way of apology. I would rather have had less bucks and more quiet in the cabin! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Good things first. I really enjoy the small size of this ship since we are able to dock at most ports including Monte Carlo and the closest terminal in Barcelona. The staterooms are to our liking with tub/shower and decent hair dryer. Ice ... Read More
Good things first. I really enjoy the small size of this ship since we are able to dock at most ports including Monte Carlo and the closest terminal in Barcelona. The staterooms are to our liking with tub/shower and decent hair dryer. Ice bucket re-filled every morning and self service laundry facilities onboard was helpful. Most of all we are allowed to bring wine, soft drinks on board as long as we consumed them in our staterooms. Italian alternative dining Canaletto is very good (did not charge extra) The Bad: Food in the dining room was very inconsistant in quality. On half the days it was good and the other half we had some terrible blunders ex. squishy cheesecake, food was either bland or too salty...I have to say food was alot better on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Steak was not offered every night, neither was the prawn cocktail. Lido did not have the same food as the dining room, ex. prawn cocktail served in dining room became small bay shrimps in Lido. It was quite hard to get reservation for Canaletto. Entertainment: Really I'd rather go to bed early...yawn Disappointment on the first part of the cruise because some port time cut by 1 hour. Monte Carlo we were late to arrive by 1hr, Rome we had to leave 1 hr earlier than scheduled, Cadiz we also had less time than scheduled. La Goulette Tunisia was cut all together due to unrest and instead we docked at Cagliari. We were given close to no info about the new port of call and the city is not so exciting. In Ibiza we were originally to tender to the town center but the ship was docked at the remote dock and we had to pay for a transfer to town?! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We sailed on the Spanish Serenade voyage which was one half of a 14-day Mediterranean itinerary (we joined in Barcelona at midpoint sailing westward). Overall the ship was clean and in good shape despite it being one of the older vessels. ... Read More
We sailed on the Spanish Serenade voyage which was one half of a 14-day Mediterranean itinerary (we joined in Barcelona at midpoint sailing westward). Overall the ship was clean and in good shape despite it being one of the older vessels. We got bumped up from an obstructed view stateroom to an unobstructed view which we were quite happy about until we found the air conditioner didn't work well and there was a good bit of noise coming from above us (more on that below). The itinerary included Majorca, Ibiza, Casablanca and Cadiz (positioned as Seville) as well as a sailing day through Gibraltar. The Gibraltar passage was a non-event however as we first sailed thru late in the evening and then later returned very early in the morning where the fog/haze prevented any viewing. In my opinion if one of the sail thrus had been midday we'd have stood a much better chance of viewing the Straits and the Rock. Another comment on the itinerary is that we wish we'd had more time in Ibiza and less in Casablanca. Casablanca was the longest port stop from early am to 7:30PM whereas on Ibiza it was a short 11:00am to 5:30pm (we docked 1/2 hour late so it was really only 6 hours). We found the food quite good in the main dining room (Rotterdam) and had 3 meals in the Pinnacle Grill (PG) Dining room which was excellent as well. We like the fact that HAL allows you to bring wine onboard and brought a bottle of wine for 2 of the nights at the PG (note that there is an $18 uncorkage fee per bottle). The staff at the PG was excellent as well, and the staff at the Rotterdam was very friendly too (the majority of whom are from Indonesia). The casual dining room - the Lido - was slightly disappointing in that it was the least clean and also had water problems each day (dripping from the ceiling) that caused them to close one half of the restaurant on several days. This was the traditional buffet fare but probably a cut above the grade of other cruise line buffets. In terms of entertainment the piano bar was a great way to kill an hour or two and we had some hits and misses with the club up in the crows nest. The other bars had good service, some with talented musicians and almost all had great views of ocean. I also enjoyed the library and found a great book to read on the trip. Our room steward was excellent and brought us ice each am and evening and we tipped him extra accordingly. Overall a great experience for our anniversary and I recommend both HAL and the Ryndam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
ONBOARD RYNDAM and not happy! We boarded Ryndam in Barcelona on 29 August 2012 for 18 nights. Ryndam is not what is was last year when we sailed on it for 16 nights. We have sailed with HAL on Rotterdam, Prinsendam and Zaandam over ... Read More
ONBOARD RYNDAM and not happy! We boarded Ryndam in Barcelona on 29 August 2012 for 18 nights. Ryndam is not what is was last year when we sailed on it for 16 nights. We have sailed with HAL on Rotterdam, Prinsendam and Zaandam over the last 2 years as well as numerous Princess, Cunard, RCL and 2 Silversea cruises. We can see a marked and drastic drop in service on HAL compared with 2011. 1. Boat drill took 45 minutes in the hot sun and no explanation from anyone why the delay. I found out later it was because they were waiting for some passengers who did not come on deck. Why not tell the other passengers what was going on? Or was Captain Mark Rowden blissfully unaware of all his passengers sweating it out on deck while he sat in the air conditioned splendour of the Bridge telling us to keep quiet on 2 occasions. They were calling out cabin numbers but you could not hear very well. It did not inspire confidence if there was a real emergency. 2. Anytime dining. An absolute unmitigated disaster. People lining up for 50 mins at 8pm to have to wait a further 20 mins for a table. There are a lot of Spaniards on who eat late. The Dining room is not big enough to take everyone. HAL knows about 3 months prior to the departure date how many people are booked and should make allowances for Europeans who wish to eat later. I have spoken to a manager who has looked after us but the other night they put us on a table of 4 Spaniards, nice people but they only spoke Spanish! We now get a fixed seating time and arrive early to get in without waiting. We meet interesting people on anytime dining but it is not worth the hassle. 3. Loud noise in the bathroom air vent. It took 6 days, 2 notes and 5 phone calls before I got it fixed. I had to ask for the Hotel Manager before I got some action and it was repaired in one hour. Naturally the Hotel Manager was not going to take my call so it fell upon the Guest Relations manager,Yvonne, who had the audacity to tell me not to yell at her during our phone conversation. Who is the customer who waited 6 days and still had not got any action? Who would not yell at the sheer frustration of the situation? 4. TV remote did not work and it took 2 days to fix it. 5. 2 requests to get mini bar removed. I wrote 2 individual letters one to the Capt about boat drill disaster and one to the Maitre D about Anytime dining. They lost my letter to the captain and the maitre d called me after I spoke to Guest Relations Manager, 6 days after I wrote. Poor communications seems to be endemic in the ship today, not like a year ago. HAL stands for Hopeless and Lackadaisical We are cruising with first time cruisers from Sydney, who booked the same cruise unbeknowns to us and they are only 5 cabins away and they are not happy with cruising and cannot understand how we love it. Given the experiences to date we can understand how they feel. Given that we are 3 star Mariners [75 plus cruise days], doing a back-to-back cruise I am astounded that we are being treated so shabbily. Our first time cruising friends have had better service than us. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation: We drove to Dover & parked at the terminal,the whole process was efficient and the boarding of the ship was a smooth operation. Ports: We particularly liked the overnight stay in Stockholm,this gave us a chance to see a ... Read More
Embarkation: We drove to Dover & parked at the terminal,the whole process was efficient and the boarding of the ship was a smooth operation. Ports: We particularly liked the overnight stay in Stockholm,this gave us a chance to see a lot more of this beautiful city.Saint Petersburg and Tallinn were also exceptional,however we do not understand why there was no shuttle buses available at Tallinn,shuttle buses were on hand for the Celebrity Constellation which was berthed next to our ship. Dining: We were on the late sitting,table 47 and we had wonderful service from our stewards and our wine waiter Randy was excellent.The menus were superior to our last cruise with Celebrity and we enjoyed most of our meals in the MDR.We ate in the Pinnacle twice,the first meal was the Master Chef meal with wine to match each course,the second was the "Le Cirque" evening.The additional costs incurred with these reservations was definitely worth the expense.The food,wine and service was excellent and it made a birthday celebration a special occasion. Cabin: This was our only fault with our cruise,the cabin was situated with a stairwell intruding into our cabin ceiling,this was cleaned at between 05:00 & 06:00,the noise was unbelievable and our cabin window actually had a hose pipe banging against it-sleep was impossible.Our complaints to the Front Desk were met with incredulity stating that the noise was emanating from a stateroom above us,however there are no staterooms above or below cabin 100!After being woken on four mornings we decided to go to the Front Desk on the fifth morning,this was at 05:07.We had to accompany an officer to show him where the noise was coming from and until we brought him into our cabin he believed that our cabin was the radio room.We were eventually compensated for the problem with our cabin,we would have been happy if our initial complaint had been addressed but the complacent response from the Front Desk inflamed the issue. Overview: Although the ship is in need of refurbishment we liked the size and character of the ship.Despite our problems we have booked a future cruise with HAL and our overall impression of the Ryndam was positive.We would be happy to experience the Ryndam again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Background Information: Traveling with a family, DH and two DD's 17 and 19 on the Ryndam, July 7-21 Scandinavia and Russia Travel To Port of Embarkation: Our trip began with an absolutely disastrous flight on Delta. We always ... Read More
Background Information: Traveling with a family, DH and two DD's 17 and 19 on the Ryndam, July 7-21 Scandinavia and Russia Travel To Port of Embarkation: Our trip began with an absolutely disastrous flight on Delta. We always plan to arrive well before the ship sails, so we left on Tuesday afternoon (to arrive Wednesday morning) for our Saturday cruise. It actually took over 24 hours to fly from Michigan to London. We picked up a rental car from Hertz at Heathrow, and drove to Ashford. We pre-purchased online Eurostar tickets and Hop-on, Hop-off L'Open tour tickets in Paris for Thursday, thinking we would have plenty of time. We made it with only four hours to sleep before our tour. Yawn. Half asleep but enjoyed the HOHO tour very much. Actually finished Paris a tiny bit early and enjoyed shopping before heading back to catch the train back to Ashford. The drive from Ashford to Dover on Saturday was very easy and quick. We dropped off our luggage and adult children at the terminal, and then drove to Hertz to drop off the car. If you are renting a car, I encourage you to use Google Earth to visually locate the office. You cannot cut through the commercial port, you must walk over the bridge, which has a nice sidewalk, to the terminal. There is quite a bit of traffic, and the exhaust fumes are a little annoying. Hotel Info: The Holiday Inn North in Ashford is tucked away in the country with an easy 15 minute drive to the Ashford Eurostar Terminal. We found the Holiday Inn staff as well as the on-site Restaurant to be excellent -- a perfect fit for our family. We stayed three days and wished we had more time with them. It was located perfectly for a side trip to Canterbury on Friday as well. Ship Info: First impressions of the Ryndam: She is in need of some repairs -- even the crew is exasperated with the delays in fixing the most basic items. We went to the Crows Nest for sail-away. Those nice leather recliners in the photos on the website? At least four were broken -- they are stuck in the "recline" position -- so it is impossible to look out the windows!! We went to dinner (As you Wish) at table 122 around 8:00 pm. As the sun began to set, we asked the steward to please lower the blinds -- the sun was bothering us. The Dining Steward said that the blind had been broken for a MONTH. At the bottom of the Dining Room windows, the sill was warped and water damaged. We tried table 123 on the other side, same thing -- one blind was not functional. We were also discouraged from ordering Cappuccino, since of the machines in the kitchen were BROKEN. Really? Washers and Dryers had issues throughout the cruise, and sometimes handles on the washers had to be jiggled to work properly.Our Stateroom: 725 F Category Forward "A" Deck. Some unpleasant smells, including some faint smoky smells, do emanate from "B" Deck which is where some of the crew are housed, and where the gangplank is frequently used. The open stairwell entrance is located on the way to the elevators, so you cannot avoid walking by the opening. These faint smells cannot be detected in the cabin itself. Some deck plans showed a laundry room near our room -- that is NOT true. We liked the location -- no one uses that hallway except forward residents -- so we seldom heard talking in the hallway. Our cabin air conditioning was malfunctioning the first day, and was fixed on the third day. We also had a plumbing issue -- the water would not shut off in the tub. Again, maintenance fixed it within two days; however, they scratched the tub and left some crumb-type debris in the tub. We usually select a FF cabin in the aft -- which is close to the Dining Room. Our forward cabin was nice after shows or after a long walking day in port, we were back in our cabin in record time. I prefer forward cabins now. Staff/Service: Cruise Director Anthony is fine -- sometimes a little stiff -- and didn't seem to spend a whole lot of time getting to know the guests. Past cruise directors that we've had have been a bit warmer, less in a hurry. Announcements were succinct and easy to understand. Trivia was always fun. Spencer the Travel Guy was limited with information, especially for independent travelers. He is easy to talk with -- but sometimes I felt that "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" were staples in his answers, particularly regarding local transportation. His knowledge of HAL excursions was outstanding. Techspert Mollie was excellent. Captain brought his family on board -- they were all very "real" and pleasant. Cabin Stewards were terrific. Event Manager/Food and Beverage/Meet and Greet -- great turnout, the captain turned up for an appearance, and overall we were handled very well. Someone in the events department (not the manager) asked me if I had a list of cabin numbers because "she wanted to know who was there," and seemed rather incensed that I did not have it -- they wanted to know who the Ccers were. We had a wonderful turnout (over 60 people). With so many people on the roll call, I was never interested in collecting detailed information -- and things worked out just fine.Dining Room, Dining Stewards: As you Wish Dining again -- our favorite. We started with Nass (great fun) but requested Tono and Randy later. We had befriended Randy on a previous cruise, and were delighted to see him again. The Dining Room did a very nice job -- (other than the slow cappuccino, mentioned above.) The Lido was fine for quick snack meals for us, and we would preview the sample entrees that were being served in both the Rotterdam and the Lido for dinner. The Canaletto was fine -- almost boring, and lacked a no-sugar added dessert option. DD's do like the cotton candy! I had heard another cruiser complain about the lack of lobster in the Rotterdam DR -- it was only served once in 14 days. She swore never to take HAL again over it. Hamburgers in the Terrace Grill were fabulous. Hot dogs not so much...pizza and taco bar were just OK. Ports: Dover: other than returning the rental car, and picking another one up at the end of the cruise, we did not spend time here. Two at-sea days at the end were nice -- the first day we did laundry, and the second we packed. A little trivia, and I attended the TechSpert lecture on The Cloud. Very informative. Nice and relaxing. Children's programs: Our 17 year old did not participate in Loft Activities as often as on previous cruises, although she did meet quite a few people around her age. Our 19 year old did not participate in the Gen Next activities - she preferred to stay out of structured programs. Both DD's enjoyed playing ping pong and "hanging out" with their new friends. Activities and Entertainment: The Broadway Show theme shows were OK - typically cheesy standard fare. British Comedian was good, Flutist Clare Langen was excellent, Ballroom Rush was excellent, We missed the female comic but heard mixed reviews. LOVED the Neptunes - professional all the way. Disembarkation: Easy again, no issues whatsoever. Walked to Hertz, picked up another SUV and drove to Rye and then Hastings for an overnight at the Best Western. We went to Battle Abbey as well as Scotney Castle, then to Heathrow for our flight home. Summary: HAL truly needs to focus on fixing the problems on this ship - after sailing on the Amsterdam and the Nieuw Amsterdam, our impressions of the Ryndam itself were not great. We did; however, like this itinerary for family travel and felt that the pricing was quite reasonable. Service and Food were excellent and overall we enjoyed the cruise immensely. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
The cruise was a 'back to back' of 7 nights in the Norwegian fjords and 14 nights in the Baltic. One of the attractions was that both legs sailed from Dover, some 3 hours drive from our home. Also, HAL organised parking at Dover ... Read More
The cruise was a 'back to back' of 7 nights in the Norwegian fjords and 14 nights in the Baltic. One of the attractions was that both legs sailed from Dover, some 3 hours drive from our home. Also, HAL organised parking at Dover for the duration for $1 US. - Note that if you are booking this concession you MUST e-mail HAL and apply for it; it isn't automatically added to your booking. Dover Port is an efficient and slick organisation. From arrival to parking, porterage of luggage to processing of documentation - they have it well rehearsed and it is an altogether pleasant experience. Our stateroom was a 'Verandah Suite' -- not a full sized suite, but located on the navigation deck, midships, which was very convenient for most of the ship facilities. The stateroom was clean and adequate in size but some of the furnishings and fixtures were a little careworn. The ship itself is generally good. We did not endure the plumbing problems that caused issues with some fellow guests. We understand that the Ryndam enters dry dock in November this year and hopefully HAL will take the opportunity to bring the ship up to the standards of other ships in the fleet - like the Noordam. The main issues we experienced on both legs of the cruise were management and process issues. Booking the Greenhouse Spa for a 7 day thermal suite package became so labyrinthine that we gave up! The staff could neither book 'across' the back to back cruise nor in blocks of less than 7 days as their booking system "Could not cope". Booking the on board 'speciality' restaurants was equally bizarre. We called Canaletto's for a booking and were told they had only one space the following evening at 9 pm. We called to confirm the next day and the manager said they did not take bookings at 9 pm but we could 'walk-in' at 8pm. When we did there were 34 empty seats and they remained unoccupied throughout our visit. The Pinnacle Grill was similar. We were given the 'only available' booking one evening at 6.30 pm and during our meal from 6.30 to 9 pm the restaurant was less than a third full. It appeared that the superb Indonesian and Pilipino staff were making the systems work for the hotel management team who seemed to operate the 'don't let the right hand know what the left is doing' philosophy of customer care. Our cabin steward Agus was superb and never missed a beat. We showed our appreciation in the time honoured way for his excellent service and attention. We were also looked after very well by Mark, Pauline and Ruby in the dining room and bars and by Indra, Randy and Elliott in the main dining room. The 'open' dining in the main dining room was the best service on the ship by far, unfortunately the entrees were sometimes served quite cold -- again a problem of process, not of table service. The box above states eight ports were visited, however this was actually 12 over both legs. Eidfjord, Alesund; Gerainger and Bergen on the Norway leg and Dover (returned to); Copenhagen, Warnemeunde (excursion to Berlin); Helsinki; St. Petersburg; Tallinn; Stockholm and Visby on the Baltic section. The only HAL excursion we did was to an 'ice hotel' in Helsinki. Any readers familiar with the Peter Kay "Phoenix Nights" fun theme park episode will understand how crushingly bad this was! Indeed legal proceedings were brought against the proprietors of a similar venture in the UK... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-11842396 We joined ALLA tours in St Petersburg as part of a small group organised by a fellow Cruise Critic member. A great two days visiting all the major visitor 'must sees'. We did not attend any of the shows on board and much of the 'entertainment' was quite average. That said the Peter Nickalls Trio (The Neptunes) in the ocean bar were the best musicians we have heard on any HAL cruise and Darlene the guitarist / singer had a great repertoire. Disembarkation at Dover was as efficient as the embarkation. In summary, a great back to back cruise with really amazing ports of call -- Berlin (from Warnemeunde) being the highlight - more than worth the 3 hour journey in either direction from the port. Contact customer services, dining, beverage and stateroom, front office were first class -- hotel management services and processing were chaotic bordering on humorous -- you have to see the funny side in these situations. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
A session on disembarkation turned out to be a begging bowl. We had already received more than enough. So why the meeting? It turned out to be how our tips/gratuities would be shared and a great deal of information/advice on how to ... Read More
A session on disembarkation turned out to be a begging bowl. We had already received more than enough. So why the meeting? It turned out to be how our tips/gratuities would be shared and a great deal of information/advice on how to complete a satisfaction survey which had been distributed the previous evening. We were told that HAL's HQ in Seattle would be reviewing the surveys, that the "Signature of Excellence" is what the Ryndam strives to achieve, that anything less than a score of 9 meant that the Ryndam had failed, that careers were dependent on our score ratings, etc, etc. This culminated in the crew filling the stage to sing about how much they loved us, after which they clapped their hands in appreciation of us all and when we left the theatre other crew members lined the corridor to clap their hands and voice their appreciation. It was very moving but as far as we were concerned, the staff deserved a 9 and in some instances, a 10. However, in other areas the Ryndam fell short of the much vaunted"Signature of Excellence". Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal after 1pm expecting to board without too much delay. The car parking operation and porters dealt with our car and luggage quickly and efficiently. However, we had to wait untill after 3 pm to board the Ryndam. When we did, we were directed to our stateroom where our luggage was waiting. Stateroom: Our oceanview stateroom was on the main deck. It was roomy, with ample wardrobe space, and had a bath with an overhead shower in the bathroom. But, the decor was tired, the bath taps were rusty in places and there was no fridge/minibar, despite the fact that the stateroom fell into the mid-range price oceanview bracket. We were, however, able to rent a fridge for $2 a day to keep our water, etc, cold. Given that this is such a small price to pay, we thought it was very petty not to put a fridge/minibar in all the staterooms. There were no facilities for making tea or coffee in the stateroom. We would not have used them anyway but some might have rather than waiting for room service. Our stateroom did have a flat screen TV on which we had hoped to watch the Euros 2012 football tournament but due to difficulties with the ship's broadcasters' satellite, we hardly saw a football match or the BBC world news. You could, however, always get Fox news which, I assume, was good news for the many Americans on board and a Dutch TV channel for our Dutch captain. We heard from some passengers that the bath taps were hard to turn and that there was hardly any hot water. We had no hot water problems but I was forever asking my husband to turn the bathroom taps on and off as they were very stiff. Cleanliness and bedding: After arriving in our stateroom I had to ask for a hand towel to be replaced because it was dirty. This proved not to be an isolated incident and not confined to hand towels. And I once found strands of long hair in a hand towel. One day we received a note to say that all the stateroom carpets were to be cleaned whilst we were ashore. Not sure if they were because we still had some fluff on the carpet underneath the dressing room table that was there when we arrived. The ship had plenty of hand hygiene dispensers, particularly outside the restaurants and eating areas but there appeared to be no staff stationed there to ask passengers to use them so most passengers did not. One of our pillowcases had sports on it and was threadbare in places but my husband said we could put up with it which we did. By that time I did not want to inspect the rest of the bedding and just hoped it was okay. I had adopted the same attitude to the cultery until I noticed one lunch time that my knife and fork had congealed egg on them, most probably from the morning breakfast service. Restaurants and food: We ate mostly in the Rotterdam dining room. Overall very good but some food items which should have been hot were cold such as the beef wellington I had on one of the ship's formal nights. I had been looking forward to it because it is a dish I make at home on special occasions. I should have sent it back but my husband was busy tucking into his quail which he was enjoying and anyway I thought if I did, they might just put it into the microwave and, in doing so, over cook the beef fillet. At least I did not suffer the fate of a fellow passenger who had ordered a scandinavian breakfast one morning which arrived ice cold. I noticed that others have in the past complained about cold food on the Ryndam in their cruise reviews. One of the worse meals we had was in the Italian restaurant Canaletto. We found it hard to book a table and thought we were lucky to be squeezed in the following evening, when we arrived the place was less than a third full and stayed that way. Service was poor - staff appeared to be bored with hardly anyone there to serve - and the food - suffice to say that we and others agreed that the best part of it was the mound of pink candy floss [cotton candy] which was served to each table after the dessert. Why serve it? Don't know but it was the only hit. Biggest let down and rip-off was the Cellar Master's Dinner at the Pinnacle for which we paid an additional $69 each. The food for the most part was unremarkable. The wine and food parings unconvincing - more bistro than haute cruisine. I have since googled the wine choices and, as we suspected, the wines were from the cheaper end of the market and certainly tasted as much. As for the food, the only dish we liked was the forest mushroom soup with truffle and porcini foam. We would have also enjoyed the fillet of beef rossini, medallian of lamb and venison loin but in a seven course meal the last thing we needed was three large portions of meat, much larger than Europeans would expect. In sum, excess takes priority over finesse. Staff: Very helpful and friendly except for the so called cellarmaster who was an overbearing, pompous, preening p**t. The reds served at the Cellar Master's Dinner were particularly diappointing because he had not left them to breathe sufficiently relying instead on a combination of decantering and placing a flame under each decanter to warm them up. He later explained (well, screeched at some length) to my husband and me that he did so to reduce the calories!! Bizarre explanation......Entertainment: We were too late for the shows but did go up to the Crows' Nest a few times. Apart from the Motown night, there was hardly anyone on the dance floor and the so called Beatles night turned out to be Beatle songs sung by other bands. As others have said in past reviews, it was dead most nights. What we found irritating was the background music, particularly in the Lido pool area which comprised solely of records by 1950s American crooners, presumably on the assumption that most of the passengers onboard would be Americans of a certain advanced age. Ship's Tender Service: The only tender service that the ship provided was to and from Visby. It was shambolic!! We all waited, as directed, in a very crowded Ocean Bar - standing for the most part, for more than an hour to get on and an hour in the hot sun for the return leg. We were all supposed to return to the ship by 2:30 pm but many people were still queuing up past 3 pm to get on a tender. The captain was present in the Ocean Bar but did not say anything. At no stage was an apology given much to the annoyance of passengers who had travelled on sister ships and/or other cruise companies. In sum, we met many interesting people, visited spectacular ports but would not recommend the Ryndam and are doubtful about cruising again on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Ryndam (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.1

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