585 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

Our voyage on the MS Volendam was short, but sweet! This ship is still in very good shape. It is scheduled for another retrofit next month. We flew to Vancouver to join the ship on it's transition from Alaska to the Caribbean. ... Read More
Our voyage on the MS Volendam was short, but sweet! This ship is still in very good shape. It is scheduled for another retrofit next month. We flew to Vancouver to join the ship on it's transition from Alaska to the Caribbean. Many people on this voyage were settling in for the extended Panama Canal cruise. We had limited time as we had another trip planed, so we decided to take the 6 night cruise from Vancouver to San Diego. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel in Vancouver. It's only 4 miles (12 minutes to the cruise terminal) and is about half the price of the downtown properties. We found it clean, friendly and in a very nice neighborhood filled with restaurants. Embarkation was very fast and our rooms were ready when we boarded around 11:00 a.m. Our cabin was a Guaranteed Ocean view Cabin. We were very satisfied with our location on Dolphin deck near the Aft part of the ship. The cabins are a bit dated, especially the TVs and the safe; other than that, a great clean cabin with plenty of storage space. We enjoyed the limited entertainment onboard, especially the comedian and the magician. Both were excellent. The BB King All Star band was also great. We have heard many of these bands play on other HAL ships and HAL does a great job recruiting these bands. We also enjoyed early evening entertainment in the Ocean Bar. The food onboard was fine. We enjoyed all of the food and service in the Main Dining Room. Our servers, Rudy and Eko, were outstanding. The Lido Buffet is fine for what it is, along with the Dive In area. We did not partake of the Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto this voyage as we are going on another HAL ship in thirty days and will book then. Victoria is always a great walking port. We did not get off the ship in Astoria, Oregon. San Francisco is always a wonderful city to visit and we were fortunate to spend from 7 am until 11 pm in the city. Debarkation in San Diego was effortless and we were at the airport in minutes. As always, the crew on HAL REALLY make the difference. These people bust their buns each and every day to make sure all guests are having the best experience while onboard. A shout out to Henry and Jerry in the Ocean Bar, as well as Sol and Teddy, our cabin stewards. We look forward to our upcoming trip on MS Koningsdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose HAL again after examining the Alaska ports visited, length of cruise, & the passenger capacity of the Volendam. It can accommodate (per the HAL website) 1432 guests and only has about 9 floors. We booked directly with HAL ... Read More
We chose HAL again after examining the Alaska ports visited, length of cruise, & the passenger capacity of the Volendam. It can accommodate (per the HAL website) 1432 guests and only has about 9 floors. We booked directly with HAL & received no perks, just their lowest price for a Large Ocean View stateroom for 2 adults, roundtrip airfare, transfer from/to airports, & travel insurance. We also "guaranteed" the type of stateroom desired, selected open dining & paid all at once on our credit card which gave us air miles for the purchase. Exactly 90 days before our cruise date we received the exact category of room assignment & confirmation of our airline tickets. We were directed to website called FlightEase to see the exact info about the tickets. Our airline confirmation number was listed there-- the "Airline Locator" number -- so we could also lookup the info on the airline's website. If you go to any cruise-related website &/or the HAL website you can search for the cabin category & find the location of the cabin category you are assigned. Our cabin was initially in the farthest back, lowest deck on the ship. Twenty days before sailing & up until the day before, the email offers started coming in -- "Club Orange" offer for $25/person/day (which apparently is included in the price of any HAL suite); 4 times we were offered an ever decreasing price to upgrade to a CA category, which if you look on the chart is a Lanai cabin with a sliding door to the ship's exterior deck and 2 reserved deck chairs. In the middle of all these offers we were automatically upgraded one floor up, & moved toward to middle of the ship to the DA category with out any action from us. Ten days prior to sailing we booked 2 shore excursions (Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad) thru the HAL website. Looking back, we should have booked thru a travel agent to see what free perks we could have received with our booking at the same price;we should have waited to book our excursions onboard the first day to receive the onboard spending credit which counts toward your "Mariner Society" loyalty program (every $300 converts to one bonus cruise day to help you move up the program levels); we also should have paid out the balance over time. If the price decreased, we could have called & asked for the lower price. Once you pay for it all, they wont make any adjustments. After the major walk thru "Canada Place" boarding dock to check in, the stateroom was underwhelming to say the least. Despite being very clean, one could not overlook the tired look of the furnishings. The drapery hung limply on the rods, obviously needing pressing; the upholstery was worn, showing obvious signs of wear. The TV was an 18' type from the the 1990s. The window needed exterior cleaning. We were amazed at the large amount of closet space for hanging. We didnt even use 2 of the 4 closets available. There are even drawer units under the bed. Each bedside table had 2 ample drawers. The bed was 2 twin mattresses pushed together -- very comfortable. With "Open Seating" dining, one can still call for a reservation. However they are available at only 530pm or 745pm. Nothing in between. If you tell them you will sit at a 4-8 person table you will have to wait till all are seated before you can order. We were 30 minutes late to our 515 reservation & had to wait in the long line with those lacking reservations. We tried our luck other nights, opting for walking up whenever we were ready to eat dinner & being led to a table having 2 available seats. Only once we opted to dine in the Lido Market on the 8th floor due to a 20min wait time for 2. In the main dining room, you order all your courses at once & you can order more than one item if you desire it. Alcohol orders are taken & served by servers different from food servers. The food is delicious, beautifully presented, with modest-sized portions. Dont expect very attentive service. The servers are quite concerned with taking orders quickly, clearing other tables away, bringing dishes to be washed & bringing out the food. They are literally rushing as fast as they can to perform those duties first. We found attentive service to the diners is LAST. It appeared wait staff was under-staffed: many websites state the Volendam crew number at about 675. The "Voyage Log" we received in our cabin on the last night stated they had only 567! It sure is felt in the dining room. The attentive service is felt in the bar areas. The ship has an abundance of areas to serve drinks. Wherever people gather, the ship takes the opportunity to sell drinks--even when lining up to disembark! Happy hour specials occur almost ever 2 hours: second drink for $2; 5 wine sampler $25; food wine pairing $7. You'll also feel in-room dining is well done. We had coffee delivered EVERY morning including the last morning. When thy didnt get something quite right, they called the next time to see if all was good with the order. The last morning on the ship we ordered full breakfast for 6am. Our attendant advised we take that delivery time & not gamble with the 7am delivery option (You fill out a card & hang it on your outer door knob before 2am). Feel free to write-in whatever else you would like if its not listed--they aim to please. At night we enjoyed the casino, the double piano bar & looking thru the shops occasionally. We seemed to be the only ones that didnt know the "Mainstage" theater has been renamed "BB King Blue Club", another live music venue. All the ship maps still have the old name, but the "Where & When" daily planner doesnt mention the name change. A large band with 2 singers would play there some nights. It was fun seeing the musicians stroll around the ship & speak to them. Same for the speakers who would lead nature talks during the day. By far the most enjoyable day on ship was the morning spent in Glacier Bay, narrated by a US Forest Ranger. Words cannot describe the other beautiful ports we saw: Juneau (& excursion to Tracy Arm), Skagway (& excursion on White Pass Railway); Ketchikan (we rented a car for the day, $100). We were pretty tuckered out after all this fun & sightseeing, the dinner, drinks & music afterward were just right. Sailing days were spent sleeping in, going to the spa (wait to book on board when the daily specials start arriving in your stateroom), in the "Crows Nest" looking at the scenery, going to nature talks, having a fancy coffee at the coffee bar, religious observation, taking afternoon tea, in addition to breakfast, lunch & dinner! The swimming pools were unremarkable & I didnt see many folks in them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Although the cruise was nice, going through customs at the Vancouver Airport PLUS the registration at Holland America requires a ton of walking and standing. My feet throbbed for two days after getting on the ship. We are both in our ... Read More
Although the cruise was nice, going through customs at the Vancouver Airport PLUS the registration at Holland America requires a ton of walking and standing. My feet throbbed for two days after getting on the ship. We are both in our 70's and are fortunate to not need a wheelchair. However, there was a lot of unnecessary walking at the warehouse prior to boarding. On one leg of the walk we had to go up the escalator, walk down the hall into a room, check-in, down to the end of the room, turn left, turn left again, only to see we were leaving the same room. We had circled rows and rows of empty folding chairs when we could have simply turned around and gone out the same door we came in. After going through customs at the Airport,which was a ton of waiting and walking, we were tired. All of the unnecessry walking involved in Holland America registration just made it worse. I heard many guests complaining about the amount of walking to get there. One said, "it was torture". Another said, "they make you do all that walking so when you get here, you think everything is wonderful". I also wanted to comment on the Totem Pole tour. they should describe is as a "walking tour". If we had known it was all walking, we never would have signed up. Yes, you take the bus to the Totem Pole Park, but you have to walk the entire tour. If you are bothered by cigarette smoke, don't plan on going into their Casino as they allow smoking in the Casino. As soon as you get off the elevator on the 5th level, you can smell the smoke. It was very annoying and prevented us from going into the Casino as much as we would have liked. All in all, the cruise was very nice. The Holland America team offered excellent customer service at every turn. We would use your Cruise line again, but never, never, will we ever cruise out of Vancouver again. Thank you for your time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Chose this cruise as it seemed to be one of the few to visit Glacier Bay. With climate change we found the glaciers disappointing especially after seeing the ones in Argentina. The Volendam is a small ship and we were again ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it seemed to be one of the few to visit Glacier Bay. With climate change we found the glaciers disappointing especially after seeing the ones in Argentina. The Volendam is a small ship and we were again disappointed by the entertainment, it wasn't a patch on larger ships ( as you might expect), but was outshone by Fred Olsen which is a similar size. We found the drinks expensive and didn't like the 15% on top for service when we had already paid a general daily service charge. We had freedom dining and for the most part it worked, except when we made a booking for a certain time on a formal night and we still had to wait for a table. However the food was quite good. In spite of what they say in the dress guidance, they do not enforce the formal dress code and when we took the trouble to dress formally it was a shame that many passengers didn't and arrived as if it was a casual night. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
In reading many of the reviews and write-ups on this ship I started to think I was on the wrong ship. I did not experience any of the great service and food everyone else was raving about. By day 2 I had already written an email to Holland ... Read More
In reading many of the reviews and write-ups on this ship I started to think I was on the wrong ship. I did not experience any of the great service and food everyone else was raving about. By day 2 I had already written an email to Holland America expressing my concerns about the poor service and food quality on the ship. It felt like I was on a training voyage for most of the staff. Let's start with the Dining Room. On my first night I asked my server what my complimentary drink options were with dinner and he could not answer the question. Same result when the Wine Steward was asked. I was a little taken back when I was told a can of Coke would be $2.50 with dinner. Really? Seems like nickel and diming when I can get a nice steak for dinner but have to pay for a soda. (Carnival got this right!). I had numerous experiences where the staff had to clarify simple orders several times (I do not have an accent), and several occasions where the wrong meal was served. I had steaks that were way overcooked, I had fish & chips where the fish was still a gelatinous mass and totally inedible. Diner was served without cutlery, steaks served without steak knives, a nearly empty bottle of ketchup provided for the whole table and everyone had fish and chips and wanted to have some. The waiter disappeared when asked for a full bottle and never came back. Another server had to be asked. In general, the Dining Room staff seemed untrained and confused most of the time. The fish & chips lunch special was a farce. We were one of the first tables seated, and yet 45 minutes later, while most other tables were already on to desert, we hadn't been served yet. And when we finally were, the fish was extremely under cooked. My daughter was ill after eating her first bite. We ended up leaving and finding some food on the Lido deck. On to the Lido deck buffet. In general the food on the Lido was OK. It was not exceptional by any means. Many of the preparation staff were obviously untrained with under and over-cooked food, and improperly prepared food. I've had better food at cheap buffet restaurants. My previous Carnival cruises far outperformed Holland America's Lido Deck offerings. Many of the table staff were non-responsive when thanks were given for their service. The hot water dispenser was constantly running out of water, and the milk dispenser for tea and coffee was also often empty. I had staff disappear and never return when I asked for the for more the milk to be refilled. I had one server tell me to go to the other side of Lido deck when the ketchup dispenser was empty instead of sourcing some for me. My food was getting cold as I wandered around trying to find ketchup, and in the end the dispensers on both sides were empty. The server seemed miffed when I approached her and asked again. In general there didn't seem to be any pride or ownership in the food preparation, and the staff didn't really seem to remember why they were there. Guest Services also dropped the ball on more than one occasion. I decided to have a movie night with my daughter and ordered a couple DVDs to our stateroom. 30 minutes later the wrong DVD was delivered. I asked for the correct ones and was promised he'd be right back. 30 minutes later, with no calls from Guest Services and no delivery, I called again and was told they would call me right back with a status. 45 minutes later I went to Guest Services and the DVDs were still sitting there, and one was not the selection I had requested. So 1 3/4 hours after my initial call I finally had the DVDs. When Guest Services was made of aware of my email to Holland America head office, they addressed 1 of the issues and had no comment on any of the other issues. I had been relating my issues to one of the staff, and they passed the info to one of the ship's officers who later tracked me down. We had a long conversation about the issues I'd experienced and he agreed that most of the issues I'd experienced were totally unacceptable and they had dropped the ball on multiple occasions. He promised to speak with the various department heads and ensure the rest of the trip would be issue free. Unfortunately this was not the case as there was no change in the service for the rest of the trip. On the 2nd to last night in the Dining Room we were presented with a couple of complimentary glasses of Prosecco, which neither of us drink. The better option would have been to come up and tell us that they would like to offer us a complimentary drink and ask us what we would like. We never bothered going back to the Dining Room after that. The last drydock did make some nice upgrades to the stateroom bathrooms, but they should have replaced the old tube TVs while they were at it. Our TV looked like Alaska in winter. Almost not worth trying to watch anything on it. Certainly not the quality we'd have expected based on the cost of the room. We did have some great service from our room stewards, and 1 Lido deck server whom I recognized personally at the end of the cruise. I also had Guest Services remove all the gratuities from my final bill as they were definitely not earned. The cruise itself was great, and despite all the service and food issues we had a good time, however the added stress of dealing with my feelings of being shortchanged by the cruise line did put a damper on a lot of the cruise. I don't get a lot of opportunities to take vacations like this and to pay this much and then be so let down after being sold that Holland America was a premium cruise line. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We had never been to Alaska and as we're getting up in years we felt that if we were going to do it, we would do it all in one go. So when we saw a Holland America three-day cruise, followed by a nine-day land tour, followed by ... Read More
We had never been to Alaska and as we're getting up in years we felt that if we were going to do it, we would do it all in one go. So when we saw a Holland America three-day cruise, followed by a nine-day land tour, followed by another seven-day cruise advertised, we jumped on it. Having never cruised with Holland America before we weren't sure what to expect. Our entire cruise history was with Carnival (many many years ago) and more recently with several cruises on Celebrity and Azamara. So with that level of expectation set, we boarded the Volendam in Vancouver. The boarding process was fine, and we got on the ship very quickly, and even found our cabins ready (though the bags had not yet arrived). It took a while to find our room steward to ask for some special requests, but finally found him. We had not purchased a drink package for the cruise so the first thing we asked for was to have someone empty our refrigerator. We didn't want to be accidentally charged for any beverages. We were instructed to take out all the bottles and cans and place them on the top of the refrigerator, and that someone would be there shortly to remove them. Well, by the end of the next day they were still there, and we had to call again to get them removed. Our next not-so-great experience was in the Marketplace, their buffet. Every Celebrity ship we have been on had numerous stations throughout the buffet area so that people could get different types of food in an orderly fashion. Holland America has everyone queued in one line for all the main dishes and sides, so that you have to wait for everyone else to clear, even if you only want one item from that area. I assume one of the reasons they have done this is to ensure that not a lot of guests touch the serving utensils and food, but it seemed really inefficient to us and to everyone we spoke with in the line. The last thing I'll mention is the general lack of consideration of the guests by the staff. This was noticed in the main dining room, where, as one example, it took 15 minutes to get a dessert menu; to lounges where not a single ship employee could be found most times. You get the feeling that the staff knows they will get their gratuities regardless, so why bother? We were quite happy to get off the ship after our three days. We followed that cruise with an Alaska land tour, and I have to say it was very well orchestrated and coordinated, with all the motor coaches, a boat trip, a plane ride, and train rides. Good job with that one Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We made the decision to do an Alaskan cruise on the Volendam with HAL earlier in the spring when some friends suggested we join them as they knew we were cruise fanatics (10 previous cruises in the past 5 years). We had never cruised with ... Read More
We made the decision to do an Alaskan cruise on the Volendam with HAL earlier in the spring when some friends suggested we join them as they knew we were cruise fanatics (10 previous cruises in the past 5 years). We had never cruised with HAL before and 8 of our previous cruises were with NCL. I had the impression that HAL cruises were for an older, quieter demographic and they seemed to offer less flash and dash as NCL so we had previously avoided booking. When we finally made the decision to join our friends and found out it was an older smaller ship we lowered our expectations accordingly and felt it would be an affordable way to see Alaska as the fare was quite low in comparison to what we usually pay. We booked a deck 3 promenade ocean view stateroom (3418) and over the course of three months added a few extras such as a couples thermal suite pass, specialty dining for the Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants and two excursions (Tracy Arm explorer and Skagway White Pass rail, Yukon tour). We arrived the night before and stayed at the Fairmont at Vancouver airport. The skytrain goes from the airport to Waterfront station and then a 1.5 block walk to the Canada Place cruise terminal. There were three ships embarking that day and we were impressed with how smooth everything went. I felt our 10:30 arrival time was too early though and a noon arrival would have likely allowed us less in terminal waiting time. The ship is twenty years old and the decor shows its age but it appeared to be very clean throughout and our cabin was clean and roomy compared to some Ocean view cabins we've had in the past. A nice surprise was the renovated washroom which I felt was just as nice as the NCL Bliss' washrooms. Our cabin steward Bach was very friendly and efficient with any requests we had. He was around and interacted with us just the right amount of time and we enjoyed our chats with him. He made it clear he was always available if anthing was not to our liking with the stateroom and provided excellent service throughout the entire cruise. The main dining room food was above average and breakfast was fine every morning as well. The Pinnicule was incredible. My surf and turf was delicious and my wife really enjoyed her salmon. It was a fine dining experience with incredible service from our waitress Sharin. Overall the food was as good as any NCL ship including the specialty restaurants. The cruise had an authentic traditional cruise feel to it and we were able to focus on the awesome scenery and wildlife that we seen throughout our cruise. All of the activities and information sessions we went to were informative and interesting. The Alaska beer tasting was fun and we met people from all over the world and shared a few laughs. I would have to give the entire cruise a solid 8 out of 10 and our low expectations were greatly exceeded in all areas. We now will put HAL on our "do again" list. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Seven day Alaska cruise, is easy for us, no flying It was for our 55th anniversary. HAL screwed up the delivery of flowers for my wife, they never showed up, had to go to service desk, to straighten it out. Finally got them. After ... Read More
Seven day Alaska cruise, is easy for us, no flying It was for our 55th anniversary. HAL screwed up the delivery of flowers for my wife, they never showed up, had to go to service desk, to straighten it out. Finally got them. After dinner that night, other table guest were gone, wife mentioned it was our anniversary. The waiter did not know, told us to wait, ran off and got a cake for us, poor communication. Waiter, probably doing his job, trying to up sale dinners. Card on table, advertises a seafood dinner for $27 and a steak for $76 and waiter tells about it every night, nobody was impressed. Leave this to the specialty restaurants. If this is the way things are going, average people "the bread and butter" cruisers, will stop cruising. The "whole" dinning experience was disappointing, things are going downhill fast. Entertainment, not much better. Really not much to do on board. The Mariners Club lunch was poorly organized two of us stuck at a table for six, other people the same way. The Captain and staff did not even stay. No Captains cocktail party. The best thing was the assistance my wife received, getting on and off the ship thank you. Sailed three times with HAL and this was definitely the last. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We took a 7 nights cruise with Holland America, Volendam Ship Tour for Alaska Inside Passage. We booked two cabins for our family of 4 adults and were perfectly comfortable for the duration of our stay. 
The level of service was good as ... Read More
We took a 7 nights cruise with Holland America, Volendam Ship Tour for Alaska Inside Passage. We booked two cabins for our family of 4 adults and were perfectly comfortable for the duration of our stay. 
The level of service was good as were the quality and condition of all facilities on board. The activities organised daily were well organised and allowed more than enough time to fully experience them. We enjoyed the overall experience. However, the dinning services inclusive of can be deemed terrible. There were no multiple vegetarian food options and we were stuck with no choice all throughout the various meals everyday and had to succumb to whatever was served. Additionally, there were absolutely no dessert options without egg content. To top this, the food tasted awful and often was inedible, not meeting the lowest expectations of food cooked by an Indian chef. It was very well informed that our dietary requirements were vegetarian not including both egg or fish. Despite this, the staff was not considerate and was often seen using the same tongs/gloves to serve sausages/meat and baked potatoes, contaminating the only obvious vegetarian food choice. When this was brought to their notice, the staff was impolite and discourteously disregarded our concern. Moreover, the staff, especially at the buffet counter was also not informed enough and served us lobsters as a part of the salad saying it was vegetarian, neither did they have the knowledge of the cheese served containing rennet, which made us avoid it altogether. Satisfactory food is essential and our experience with the Holland Cruise made our journey which could’ve been great, below average. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We have been cruising to Alaska many times because as resident in Vancouver, it is an easy trip for us. One hour leaving from our house, we will be sitting at the ship's top deck eating lunch. Volendam, compare to other ships I ... Read More
We have been cruising to Alaska many times because as resident in Vancouver, it is an easy trip for us. One hour leaving from our house, we will be sitting at the ship's top deck eating lunch. Volendam, compare to other ships I have been on, is a much simple in decor(but has interesting art works in their corridors), aged, and small, but a good ship. The advantages is less walking from one end to the other, the buffet area is not crowded even in the busy time, plenty of closet spaces in our room, good service and foods. We stayed in the picture window , a good size, suite on level one, our first at such low floor, but we discovered it is less rocky during an odd rolling sea day. The disadvantage was the dining room on the four level is complicated to find if one don't take the very end elevator, I took the mid elevator and got lost twice and ended in the front of the theatre twice. Good thing the ship was not too long to walk ,even twice. Second disadvantage was our room safe required a credit card with a magnetic strip (any magnetic strip). lucky we have a Starbuck card, otherwise we had to carry our credit card around (bring along an expired credit card, the third disadvantage was, in the buffet, most food are served by a server and the foods was not label clearly. So you have people asking what each dishes were(one asked what is liver and rather the beef was from a grass feed cow) and then take a minute of so to decide what to have. So in busy hour, the line up was long and the server was frustrated from repeating answering the same question. Entertainment: we like the Concert in Alaska, a beautiful video accompany with live music play by the ship's band. I also attained and enjoy the lesson on computer on how to use Windows 10 to edit and create videos from photos. Food: HAL always have a high standard for its food and that is the reason we choose this ship. Take in mind that the ship is cooking for thousand of passengers, so it could not compare to those of the top restaurant, but I did enjoyed their foods, the dessert has the right amount of sweetness. (As an Asian, I love their breakfast congee which I have it with smoke salmon or left over roast beef). Also,as a repeated HAL cruiser,we were invited to a Thank you lunch in the dining room on the last sea day heading home. The foods were delicious. Don't miss this invitation. Port: Juneau, the price of dedicated bus to Mandenhall glacier increased to $45 which is only 6 miles away. If you arrive the port early, say 9am, you could take the local bus, $3, which take one hour then and walk a mile or so to the park. Then walk another half mile to the big waterfall. The glacier itself is ok since you will see a lot more specular glaciers in Glacier Bay. I walk toward the bridge to see the new whale sculpture, wait for the water spray, it made it all the difference. I also recommend doing the counter or clockwise around the edge of the town. Lots of interesting things to see up the hill. Glacial Bay, it was perfect weather (overcast at first to bring out the blue in the ice, then turn sunny to bring out the white, saw many otters and some seals along the way. On the way out, over the speaker, the ranger told us an island which we passed was full of sea lions and seagulls, thousand of them, but you need binocular to see them. Play attention on your exit to the park. Skagway, walk thru the town to the waterfall, a short walk pass the old cemetery. Ketchikan, walk along the creek to the hatchery, the park is quite nice now. Along the cruise, we saw otters, whale, dolphin/porpoise, and bear, some even saw mountain goal, but all from far distant. Bring a good binocular. Also, if you want an unobstructed front view of the ship, walk to the front of deck 6 and go out on the door marked exit. Actually both side of exits are good, but one marked for emergency exit only. For a good enjoyment, it is about talking to other guests and be respectful. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, even if they are the workers. Life is like throw a ball to a wall, wherever you put out, it will come back at you. Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this because my Aunt always cruises with Holland. We are really enjoying it. Have a Vista Suite and it’s very comfortable. It was hard to tell from pictures how large it was but it’s plenty large. Tub is small but my 6 foot ... Read More
We chose this because my Aunt always cruises with Holland. We are really enjoying it. Have a Vista Suite and it’s very comfortable. It was hard to tell from pictures how large it was but it’s plenty large. Tub is small but my 6 foot husband is able to use it. Food is a bit so-so in my opinion but I didn’t really come on the cruise to eat! The portions are small, and I felt that service in the main dining room was just okay. Also, they have an Alaska special which they said they were out of on the first night, which was frankly, weird. The Pinnacle Grill was okay, but just okay. I expected food like a fine restaurant and the crab cakes were awful and my salmon was undercooked. All that being said I still think it’s terrific. The time in Glacier bay was spectacular. The service is very good. We are in Ketchikan now surrounded by behemoth cruise ships. I like that Volendam is small. I did think it would be more formal, but I guess they are trying to make cruising more accessible to people. We plan to take more cruises. Overall, it’s great. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
One of the things I love about HAL, is the Neptune lounge, so I usually opt for the suite.. It's expensive-- about a thousand Cnd a day-- but worth it.. So this cruise, you couldn't have asked for nicer weather, and smooth ... Read More
One of the things I love about HAL, is the Neptune lounge, so I usually opt for the suite.. It's expensive-- about a thousand Cnd a day-- but worth it.. So this cruise, you couldn't have asked for nicer weather, and smooth seas.. It has been 9 years since I took my last cruise (a 7 day HAL Mexican on the Veendam), and I've noticed a few changes.. The boarding and departing has improved-- especially the departing.. Alas.. Still major line ups, and the security is worse now, than after 9-11.. But I guess it's over-kill everywhere today.. The first thing different, was now you go to the lifeboat drill, without putting on the life jacket.. Not the best idea, as even before, half the people had put the jacket on wrong, that their demise would have been expedited, should they needed to take a dip.. I still think the jackets should be slapped on, for the drill.. The cruise was pretty good, although I was surprised there was no departure on deck BBQ.. Actually, there were very few planned events.. I had my evening meals delivered to my room, as I was travelling single.. That worked out great, but most of the meals were cold.. However, they were good, nevertheless.. Especially, the Pinacle ones that I had to pay extra for.. I normally prefer a warmer climate, but I love the smaller ships-- Veendam, Ryndam, Stattendam etc. Thus.. when I saw this cruise was on the smaller Volendam, I jumped at it.. The staff were great-- as usual.. The entertainment sucked.. I miss the singers and dancers, along with the ship band. A Chilean quartet in the Ocean Bar, were very good. I'm really disappointed to see the end of the classy nights.. Most nights were smart casual, but the one formal night, I swear I was the only male passenger on board wearing a tuxedo.. I would say half the passengers were wearing T shirts and jeans, on this particular night.. The only time I saw the people dress up, was the smart casual Mother's day dinner.. OK.. It might be Alaska, and we all packed our plaid shirts and jeans, but it's still nice to dress up in the evening.. I was a little disappointed in the lido food, but times have changed.. I'd say almost a third to half the passengers were Asian, so I guess noodles were the norm for them.. I'm a lover of roast beef, but only had it once for dinner.. The itinerary was great.. I love Juneau.. I've eaten a lot of King crab, but never had it freshly cooked before.. Delicious !! The crab shack and the tram in Juneau, was the highlight of the cruise for me.. I enjoyed Skagway, but got tired of seeing the same old "made in China" authentic Alaskan souvenirs, in every store.. Overall;.. I would do the cruise again-- in a minute.. I'd like to see a little more fancy appetizers in the Neptune, such as the shrimp cocktail.. A Dungeness crab salad would have been great.. But nothing but smoked salmon-- everyday.. I couldn't believe the weather, as living my first 30 years on the Queen Charlottes (Haida Gwaii), I am well aware of the weather that one can normally expect in this area.. But even up in Glacier Bay, when the shipped turned, and my balcony was bathed in Sun, it was almost too hot to sit outdoors.. It was pretty sad to hear of the mid air plane crash in Ketchican, killing a number of people from a Princess ship.. This happened, about 3 hours after we arrived in Ketchican.. ..It was also great to be able to take this cruise on the smaller ship, as opposed to the Oosterdam, which I don't like.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather ... Read More
My wife and I are seasoned travelers but we have never experienced a cruise. She choose a crossing of the Panama Canal for our 4oth wedding anniversary. A bit daring as it was 21 days and I am known to get sea sick and/or bored rather easily..... -Booking was easy with Vacations to Go and Max Richardson (the agent) was friendly, professional and helpful. Our stateroom on board was # 1922 allowing a view to the outside but without balcony. The price difference was unjustifiable for the time that we actually planned to be in the room. However I recommend to ask for a fan, as the A/C was not sufficient to cool the room to our liking. With the fan it was perfect (and it helped to dry some of our minor laundry items!). Bed was comfortable (we also had extra pillows), bathroom and shower were fine and also was the water pressure. The room was adequate in size for our purpose. The stateroom was serviced by TRI and ANTON who did an extraordinarily efficient and friendly job. Food on board was plentiful, well presented, tasty and varied (although you should not expect "extravagances", Atlantic lobsters and/or Caspian caviar!) Service was outstanding (Our THANKS to JOJIT, EDGAR, RAT-TEE, GIOVANI, MICAH, NITTAYA, ANN, DAN, JASON,GUSTI, ANDRI (w/glasses!), FRANCISCO, WEMICK, etc, etc..... everybody on board went the"extra mile" to make us feel happy, and well looked after!) Our very special THANKS to HENRY and JANELLE and the harder worker on board, HIQMAL...(found mostly around the Lido pool) Entertainment was 50/50, some acts were good and some not so much .None were a Vegas act but they filled the time and were adequate.. Be aware that alcohol was extremely expensive! We drink very little so we did not "suffer" at all but we were a bit outraged at the prices on board.and some "drinkers" were quite upset and angry as Holland America does not allow anybody to bring any alcohol to the ship (So they make sure to sale their own!!) The trip went smoothly with minor waves and movement that I did not enjoy but were tolerable. Pool was small but fortunately not overcrowded, and there were no children! Lots of really elder people, but, I guess, that there are the ones with money....Regardless they were very pleasant and quiet indeed...! Time on ports of call were too short and did not allow for too much to do except buy souvenirs (which we do not do!). Some excursions were fine and, overall we had a good time. Maybe because communication was not a problem as between both of us we speak five languages! On the Volendam I was learning Indonesian, Tagalog and Thailand from the crew, and improving just about every day! Captain and officers were approachable and friendly and it was a pleasure meeting them........Our best regards to everyone and hopefully we will meet again..... Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I took our 2 daughters, 2 grandsons and nephew (all young adults) on a family cruise as all of us were celebrating a "milestone" birthday this year. We had originally booked on Princess because we thought the 5 ... Read More
My wife and I took our 2 daughters, 2 grandsons and nephew (all young adults) on a family cruise as all of us were celebrating a "milestone" birthday this year. We had originally booked on Princess because we thought the 5 younger members of our party might enjoy the less formal atmosphere on Princess versus Holland America. We are well aware of the differences as we have sailed both many times. However, HAL offered a year end sale that was difficult/impossible to turn down. We flew into Vancouver the morning of the cruise and took the SkyTrain from the airport to Canada Place. Highly recommend this means of getting to the dock (very straight forward, about 30 minutes travel time at just C$9.50pp). Would also highly recommend a few days in Vancouver ahead of the cruise as it is a beautiful city with so many things to see and do. We passed on this as we have family in Vancouver and have been there dozens of times before. Embarkation was the longest we can remember experiencing but cannot blame this on the cruise line. The problem is going through US Customs and the interminable lineups. There were 3 cruise ships sailing that day which didn't help matters. The cruise lines should really put some pressure on the port authority to improve and shorten this process. Overall, we enjoyed our week long cruise. We had done an Alaskan cruise a number of years ago so the ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan were not new to us. We did our own excursions. Our inside cabin was adequate, the service received from our cabin and dining room staff was exemplary and the food was good. However, there were a couple things that disappointed. The entertainment offered in the small venues was good (quartet in the Ocean Bar, Adagio Strings) but the entertainment in the main theatre was quite poor. While the service from crew who dealt with us every day (cabin, MDR) was excellent, we ran into a number of one-off situations where it wasn't. This included bar staff, the cooks behind the Lido counter, Lido serving staff, staff in the retail shops and staff in the spa. We have never encountered this level of malaise from crew on our previous 9 HAL cruises. The overall morale was not high and we are hoping that the new Hotel Director (Simon Tanner) can improve matters. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I chose this short cruise to introduce a 'newb' to cruising. It was intended to give her a taste of cruising.......more than a one day overnight repositioning. By the time you add airfare to SF, and cost to get home as well ... Read More
I chose this short cruise to introduce a 'newb' to cruising. It was intended to give her a taste of cruising.......more than a one day overnight repositioning. By the time you add airfare to SF, and cost to get home as well as port fee's and taxes that matched the cabin charge.....it all add's up to a 'not cheap' cruise.......it's something to consider---cost to value. Arrived in SF to find an 'annual coast guard' inspection underway. The ship had been sailing out of Ft Laurderdale all winter so this wasn't a back to the USA deal......but it delayed getting on board, and then delays getting documents signed caused the departure at 5 pm to be closer to 6:30....... For those that have visited SF going under the Golden Gate bridge is a highlight........unfortunately the ebb tide and delays due to the inspection made a mess of the first night transit. The food in the MDR was less edible than anything I had experienced before. Very few choices for anyone with dietary needs. (GF) We were told more than once that there weren't choices because things cost too much in SF so they had not restocked the ship for the jaunt back to Vancouver. They were simply 'out' of things that they should have had. I believe this was accurate........and further degraded the experience. On the last day we had some good food! While that's nice to see they can produce good entree's.......it's all the more upsetting that they DID NOT, until the last meal. The Captain stated that they have 5 motors/engines on the ship but only need 4. A good thing since he also said the 5th one was not working during our trip. So you spend all day with the coast guard and go out to sea with less than a fully functional ship? I don't care that you only need 4........I'd bet you NEED that 5th one if anything happens to #'s 1-4. We faced Beaufort 10 conditions at sea.............hmmmm, plugging along as best we could with the knowledge that she was not fully rigged. Parts of the ship were extremely cold (Crows Nest, Lido, etc)..........like they had failed to turn off the air conditioning from a more tropical zone (Panama Canal). Thruster and docking procedures took forever---which everyone knows is not a pleasant experience for anyone. I have never listened to so much noise and vibrations as well as the inching of the ship into port or docking or leaving port. So, yet more time was 'lost' with these processes. After docking an hour (or more) late in Victoria--after arriving on time, they 'forgot' to tell folks the ship was cleared for people to get off. During the Captain's talk he made a comment about other captains when a question was asked about an Alaska route. Basically stating that he would not endanger a ship as if other captains had done so when traveling last summer. Very unprofessional given the route in question (Grenville Channel) is a route available to smaller cruise ships and it is a known route to Alaska. This was just plain unprofessional.........if he'll never sail that route, fine, but it's on my list of things to do and sorry I missed the opportunity last year...... I suspect it is not a preplanned route and dependent on tides/condition on the water........for the Captains that have chosen it. Thank you to them........the guests had a rare experience these days! Staff were good overall. Room stewards were great, MDR first night was very slow and not sure if that was new crew or ??? Next two nights we ended up at a different table and service was great. Too bad the food cannot match the service on board! While I have sailed HAL over 5 times, I think this may be the end of our relationship. It's not worth it to have problems with food and the ship. This is not a one off as the last HAL experience 3 years ago had similar issues on the Zaandam. So two strikes are now seen.......dare we try for three or cut our losses and move on. There are other cruise experiences that have been better than HAL' s with Carnival..........it's easier to remember the good ol' days and move on then throw good money after bad........... Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Panama Canal was on the bucket list, so we pulled the trigger. The price on the Volendam from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco was to good to pass up. This was a 17 day cruise in April so there were kids on board at all, and the average ... Read More
Panama Canal was on the bucket list, so we pulled the trigger. The price on the Volendam from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco was to good to pass up. This was a 17 day cruise in April so there were kids on board at all, and the average age of the cruisers was probably about 75. My wife and I are in our early 50’s so we were some of the youngest on board. We are very active so this review, especially the port stops is geared to the more active types. Volendam is now 20 years old and she shows her age a little bit but it is well taken care of and still very luxurious. It was below capacity (about 1200 passengers) so there were rarely lines anywhere and it is a very spacious considering it’s a small ship compared to most of the big beasts out on the Caribbean. There were plenty of activities on board to keep us busy on the sea days. America’s Test Kitchen was very cool and the EXC port talks and historical talks were fantastic. Pools and hot tubs were never crowded. Our room was an Outside View right on the promenade deck. We were right next to a door leading out to the wrap around promenade, so it was almost like having a balcony…. We loved the accessibility of the room to the walking deck. The had plenty of storage space even with all the clothes we brought for the 17 days. We used the $20 laundry bag service 1 time in the middle of the cruise. The bathroom had been remodeled and the new glass door shower was the largest we’ve ever had on a cruise ship and the temp and water pressure were always consistent. Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale took only about 20 minutes once we got to the terminal which was only a couple miles from the airport. Debarkation took about 30 minutes in SF. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning was also quite spectacular. All in all, with ship, the canal, calm seas, and 9 port stops, it couldn’t have been better. Every part of the cruise exceeded our expectations. The food and service in main dining room was fantastic and even the buffet was quite good. Room service was also excellent, with a different towel animal every night! That’s 17 different animals…. Cartagena: We took a taxi to the old walled city and walked around for several hours. Beautiful architecture and very Caribbean looking. The port had a shop and a nice aviary for no charge with many parrots and other exotic birds and animals. Leave a half hour to explore this area. Panama Canal: Awesome piece of engineering and history. Very cool to see the lock systems and the many other big ships transiting the canal. Costa Rica: Did a HAL zipline excursion. The place was near the coastal town of Jaco and we rode an aerial tram to the top then zip lined our way down the mountain. There were reptile and butterfly displays at the base that were very interesting. Sadly, we didn’t see any wildlife other than iguanas. Very fun tour though. Nicaragua: Took a peddle taxi tour of the little port town. The place was very poor, but our driver was very cool and spoke good English, so we learned a lot about the country and the politics. Not much to see, but made us appreciate what we have here at home. Guatemala: Took a HAL bus for a “on your own” tour of Antigua. It was about an hour bus ride through the countryside with guides giving some history of the area. Antigua itself was very pretty with many fabulous churches. We walked all over town and it was very nice. Puerto Chiapas: Took a HAL excursion to some Mayan ruins and then to a demonstration of how cocoa beans are grown and processed into chocolate. Nice tour but we thought a little over priced at $100 per person. Huatulco: Our favorite stop. Excellent swim beach right by the pier. We took a $5 taxi to Playa La Entrega a couple mile away and it was great. Excellent snorkeling and many restaurants right on the beach. We were there on a Sunday so many locals were there with us which actually made it more fun. The vendors pester the locals too….. Manzanillo: Ship docks right downtown. Lots of shops right there. We took a grueling hike up to the cross on the mountain to the right of town. We were hot and sweaty but the view was amazing. Puerto Vallarta: Did another zipline tour through HAL. This was a great excursion but only for the very physically fit. Right of the ship we boarded a little speed boat that whisked us about 30 minutes south to a bay where we switch to Unimogs to drive to the Zipline. Basically like an Army truck. Perfect for the crazy dirt road. Then after getting geared up, we rode mules up to the top of the mountain. And then it was more than just ziplines. We also repelled down a waterfall, did 2 giant waterslides, and then a new roller coaster zipline to end the tour. Very awesome!! This was our favorite zipline ever. Cabo San Lucas: Went parasailing then walked all over town. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Embarkation was organized by group number you're assigned as you check in. We spent a few minutes chatting with fellow passengers and soon enough we were called aboard. There probably is not a wait if you arrive after 11 or so. We ... Read More
Embarkation was organized by group number you're assigned as you check in. We spent a few minutes chatting with fellow passengers and soon enough we were called aboard. There probably is not a wait if you arrive after 11 or so. We were early for this cruise, unlike others where we sailed through embarkation. We chose the expedited group for disembarkation, meaning we carried our own luggage off at 7:30 AM. I highly recommend it because we were through customs and in a cab to the airport by 7:45. It sure beats hanging around the theater or a bar for a few hours waiting for your group to be called. We were very happy with the remodeled bathroom in the cabin. The glass walk-in shower is super-convenient, drained well and was tiled with a no slip surface. The clothes line in the shower served to dry wet clothes overnight, no problem. The cabin was clean and comfortable. Gatot and Sigit took great care of us including the towel animals and chocolates every night. The TV is small and could be upgraded, but it's just fine to catch MSNBC in the morning and maybe get a DVD for a movie one evening. There were plenty of hangers in the closets and there were plenty of drawers and shelves for all your things. We took advantage of the flat-rate laundry bag and got our clothes back and pressed the same day, both times! I'd say the food was very good. We ate at the Lido Buffet and in the Dining Room. I was very impressed by the caring service we got at anytime dining. The beverage service was prompt too. We shared meals with new table mates each time. There were always plenty of laughs. The final night was a standout, from the excellent service in the dining room to the excellent seared Ahi and the rest of the menu. The burgers at the Dive-In are delicious as are the crunchy fries. Be sure to visit the various musical venues as they're all very entertaining. The Adagio pianist and violinist were great! We met members of the house band and their music was as nice as they are in person. Don't miss the Blue Earth show! America's Test Kitchen is definitely worth the time. The presenter is super and you get new ideas. It's too bad that the food wasn't passed around for tasting at the presentations we attended. The gym is clean and has good, new equipment. It's cool to watch the ocean go by as you're on the elliptical. Bar service is great, as always. We spent most of our time at the Aft Bar in the smoking section. You always meet fun people there, and this trip was no exception. Bernard the bar man took great care of us and even arranged for servers to come by after he closed for the night. We found the Signature Beverage Package to be a good deal on this cruise. There are six sea days when you can really enjoy the package to your heart's content. The Panama Canal is the highlight of this cruise and it sure didn't disappoint. Just wrapping your head around locks without pumps takes some understanding. The on board narration helped make you feel like you're part of the experience, regardless of where you happen to be. The ship itself is beautiful. Be sure to notice the beautiful and creative flower arrangements all over the place. There's even orchids on the tables in the Lido Buffet. I noticed workers sprucing up the white paint in preparation for opening the forward decks to passengers during the canal passage. The naturalist is a gifted font of knowledge. Glenn-Michael, the lead EXC is super. He was all over the ship and uniformly seen chatting with one guest or another. He shared some great hints during his port talks too. The officers impressed me by being so accessible and always being around for sail-aways and sea day parties. Even the captain had time to chat for a few minutes. One of us needed some medical attention and found the crew there to be excellent. The check on you and make special arrangements as needed. The small charge for a bit of medicine plus the personal care turned around what could have been a major downer. Holland America does a great job; the Volendam is a fine ship with a highly skilled and friendly staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We do an annual late winter cruise every year. We've traveled mainly on HAL, and have been pleased with the smaller ships and good service. This year we did the full transit of the Panama Canal, leaving from San Diego. We ... Read More
We do an annual late winter cruise every year. We've traveled mainly on HAL, and have been pleased with the smaller ships and good service. This year we did the full transit of the Panama Canal, leaving from San Diego. We splurged this year on a Neptune suite. We have had one in the past, and really enjoy the bigger room, but especially the larger balcony. They are twice the size of the Vista suite. The extra perks of the Neptune Lounge and the Concierge service is excellent. We met quite a few other Neptune suite passengers, and had many interesting conversations. The room steward was top notch. Always had ice, coffee and fresh fruit. Laundry service was top notch and was always ready by the next day. Embarkation was very smooth. Neptune passengers go through the same embarkation as the 4 star Mariners. There is virtually no line. For tender ports, there is no need to go for disembarkation passes. You simply hold up your room key, and you're put on the next tender. Unfortunately, there is no priority disembarkation after the cruise. We travel with our daughter, who has a learning disability. She gets her own room. But, she gets to know everyone on board. Her favorite breakfast was an omelet. The Lido omelet chef knew her by name, and what she ate. The same goes for the salad bar crew. We chose to eat in the dining room, along with another couple. Our daughter ate salmon nearly every night, and she had a chocolate mint mocktail every night. For desert, it had to have chocolate. Our dining staff went our of their way to accommodate. On the last night of the cruise, there was no chocolate deserts. But, they went back and got one for her. In addition, my daughter had told them previously that she liked carrot cake. They brought out 2 pieces of carrot cake. She ate one, and carried the second one back to her room. You can't find service like that just anywhere! Every evening, the wine steward would make an origami animal. We did have a complimentary dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. It was very good. It was more than I would normally eat. Steak done to perfection. The only thing I regret is that I didn't try breakfast at the Pinnacle. It was included with the Neptune suite. But, I did have breakfast at the dining room. It is a step above the Lido and I would recommend it. Lunch is also very nice. Lido is a typical buffet. I didn't eat breakfast in the Lido, but opted for a light breakfast from the Neptune Lounge. Lunch offered an International option. They rotated national foods, and it was interesting to try foods from other nations. They were all Asian offerings. The ports were very nice. Some of the places aren't as developed as much as on the Caribbean ports. Cabo San Lucas is a tourist trap, and we didn't have a bunch of time there. We booked a glass bottom boat tour on Viator. A long walk to get there, but well worth it. We didn't book anything in Guatemala, and their port area was very relaxing. On Honduras, we booked with a local guide and it was very informative. In Costa Rico, we booked the eco tour, which took us to a rive to see crocodiles. We visited the aviary in Cartengena, which was very enjoyable. Entertainment was very good. John Wing was the comedian on board. He was runner up in America's Got Talent. I'm not big on production numbers, so I didn't attend. We did spend several evenings at the Crows Nest. Some nights we were the only ones there, some nights there were quite a few. Happy hour at the Crows Nest is always a lot of fun, especially the 2 for 1 drinks. The crew was very accessible, even the Captain. The team at the Neptune Lounge couldn't do enough. I would definitely travel this itinerary again, and would definitely would travel on the Volendam. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on ... Read More
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on Volendam, and there were fewer port stops and more sea days, but we were looking for a relaxing experience which we found. Holland America is not our most favorite cruise line; but deserves a 4 star rating for its efforts and wide ranging itinerary selections. Getting there. We flew American Airlines to LAX, and then boarded a LATAM Airlines plane. This company was formed by a merger of a Chilean airline and a Brazilian airline, and they bought some Boeing 987 Dreamliners, one of which we flew. It was a very nice plane with excellent service, although I can never sleep on planes, even when stretched out in Business class as on this flight. Lima. We arrived on Saturday, and stayed at a hotel in Lima that night since we could not board the ship until Sunday. We also contacted our tour guide from our prior trip – Monica of Monica Tours Peru, for tours on Saturday and Monday. We booked transportation from the airport to our hotel on line before we left and would highly recommend the company – taxidatum@gmail.com. The cost was $18.00 with a senior discount, although I paid the driver $20.00. We stayed at the BTH Hotel which we found on both Trip Advisor and Trivago. It was very reasonable, and a fairly nice place with an extremely helpful desk staff that spoke excellent English. The restaurant was quite nice, with a decent dinner and excellent breakfast. The breakfast was included in the $108.00 hotel price! Getting on board can be a problem in Lima/Callao. One must have a pass to get on the dock. The cruise lines pick up passengers who have purchased air through them at the airport and drive them to the ship. All others must go to a hotel site to catch a cruise bus. We were able to get hold of taxidatum and they picked us up at the BTH hotel on Sunday and drove us to the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores for $15.00where we caught the shuttle bus to the ship. Boarding was actually on board the ship since there were few of us, so we made it to our stateroom and unpacked quickly. We stayed on board the rest of the day, and met Monica for another tour of Lima on Monday before we did our own little muster drill and sailed away that afternoon The Volendam Our ship was constructed in 1999 and had been refurbished a few years ago. Its normal passenger complement is 1400 in a 60,000 gross tonnage craft which makes for a decent space ratio of 42.85 cubic feet per passenger. The public spaces have lots of seating and tend to have dark wood with old fashioned prints and decorative pieces. There are three elevator/stair banks which allow very decent passenger flow. It is easy to get around and the only crowds are in the theater for shows. There are two pools, one midships and the other aft – both on the Lido deck. The library is part of the computer room, but was never crowded. There is a separate Digital Workshop room. Our Stateroom We had a standard verandah cabin on Deck 6. Volendam shows its age in its offering of cabins. Only the upper two stateroom decks, 6 and 7 have verandahs. Decks 3, 4 and 5 staterooms have only windows. Our layout had a fair amount of room with a full length leather couch opposite a nice desk with 6 full drawers. The closets were opposite the bath which had a tub/ shower. The lighting was good, and we managed to get the temperature to a decent level. The verandah had a lounge chair as well as a side chair. We were only a few steps from the mid ships elevators, two decks below the Lido deck, and two above the main dining room and theater. Entertainment The production shows, with four singers and six dancers were not bad, although quite loud as is common. There was one other musician playing a variety of instruments, with a comic patter. There were three comedians, which we skipped. There was a trio of lady singers who were not bad. The classical music was provided by a violinist with a piano accompanist. They played 4 sets on most nights, but did not play at all on a few nights. We gave the whole entertainment panoply a 5 out of 10 rating. On Board Information Presentations. These were fairly extensive and well done. There was a Digital Workshop host – Frank – who did from one to four presentations every day and was quite knowledgeable. There were regular talks about the places we would visit. The ship has a large demonstration kitchen with a presentation cook doing at least one cooking show each morning and afternoon. In addition there were the usual bridge and mah jong games, along with arts and crafts, and the Wajang Theater showed movies three three times a day. All told, there was plenty to do on board. Food Holland America does a pretty good job with food, although it does not come close to Crystal or Oceania. The main dining room is on Decks 4 and 5, with 4 being for open seating and 5 for set seating. Service for dinner starts at 5:15 and is busy immediately sine the evening shows start at 8:00 and people start arriving at the theater at 7:00. In addition to the dining room, there is the Pinnacle Room with a charge of $50.00 per person. We ate there one night as the guest of our travel agent, and it was quite good. We also were guests at Canaletto, which is an Italian Restaurant set up each night at a section of the Lido buffet. For $15.00 extra per person it was quite good. The Lido buffet itself has good selections and keeps the food hot, but the service is somewhat short handed, both on the serving line and in the restaurant portion. Getting coffee in the morning was often a struggle. There was only one soup for lunch, but sushi was always available. The pastries were quite fine. My wife is a vegetarian and was almost always able to obtain a decent selection. I would rate the food experience at 8.5 out of 10, below the 9.4 and 9.5 of Oceania and Crystal; and in the same range as Princess and Celebrity. Fellow Passengers Holland America does not cater much to children, and there were only 3 on board. The overwhelming number of us were in the Medicare set, and mostly American and Canadian, with a few Germans. The clothing style was very casual, with only a slight improvement on the “formal” nights. This seems to be the way cruising is headed these days. Many had extensive cruising experience, and we had lots of pleasant conversations. The Crew As always, the crew was friendly and generally helpful. Most of the dining room and buffet staff, and all of the cabin workers were Indonesian, a practice this line has followed dating back to when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies. They are uniformly friendly and smiling. The Captain, a German, was often seen about the ship. Holland America has a long sea faring history, and knows how to sail a ship quite well, thank you. Ports of Call. The first stop was 130 miles south of Callao at a place called General San Martin. It is only a pier and the town of Paracas is about 10 miles away. The area is the most barren desert we have ever seen. It probably could be called the Peruvian extension of Chile’s Atacama Desert, just about the driest place on earth. But, here was an excellent tour available to the off shore Ballestas Islands. I had found this tour on line and we paid $15.75 apiece. The ship’s tour cost $164.95 per person! That was a nice savings of $300.00 indeed. The tour was in an open boat holding about 40 people. There were several such boats and ours did not have any cruise passengers because we boarded through the company (Paracas Explorer – bookings@findlocaltrips.com) that sold us the tickets. The Ballestas Islands contain a variety of birds such as boobies, cormorants, pelicans and penguins as well as seals and dolphins. The birds provide a huge amount of guano, which is carefully guarded until it is removed and sold at a high price. The birds are evidently undisturbed by the removal process. On the way out we saw a huge carving on the side of a hill in the style of the ancient Nazca tribe. The boat trip took about two + hours and was well worth it, especially at $30.00 for both of us. All the rest of our tour were HAL tours. A very nice guide book showing all the tours was provided, and there was a wide selection in most ports. After three sea, days we arrived at Punta Arenas, Costa Rica where we took a ships bus tour and enjoyed a local dance show and later a stop at a souvenir shop. Costa Rica is a very nice country with a stable democratic government, no army and one of the highest literacy rates in the world. We did not get off the ship in Nicaragua, the next stop. The following day we toured the city of Antigua in Guatemala. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site which means a real effort has been made at preservation. The first stop was the Jade Museum, where the presenter was a lady from Yorkshire. The individuals who discovered the jade were from Texas and the wife was present in the museum and store. The collection was quite beautiful. We also drove around town with a guide who was quite frank about the poor state of affairs in her country due to corruption and a concentration of wealth in 20 families. The literacy rate here is one of the worst in the world. But the cost of living is quite low. After two sea days we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico, which is a pleasant town, where we did a typical tour which was hardly memorable. The next day was spent in Puerto Vallarta, where we have spent some time in the past. The tour was fairly short and again, not exciting, but pleasant. After two sea days we arrived in San Diego. Disembarkation went smoothly. Overall Rating We took this cruise for two reasons. The first was to finish the Inca Empire cruise which we had started five years ago. The second attraction was the number of sea days, and the way they were spaced. We find these days most relaxing. I was able to enjoy exercising in the pools, do a lot of reading, staring at the ocean, and of course, eat. So, while this was not our most exciting trip, it provided just what we wanted, 15 days at ease. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because ... Read More
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because most of the passengers were well past 80 years of age. The noise level was low & service by staff attentive & friendly. Holland does a good job overall. Internet service should be offered & fresher fruit served on the buffet table. The 'nickel & diming' of the passengers is annoying & why many choose other cruise lines for future trips. The on shore excursions were better than those on the Westerdam Mediterranean cruise 2018. I feel for the staff who have to accommodate so many seriously handicapped individuals who often put others in jeopardy due to there physical limitations. May the staff receive extra pay for these duties. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was ... Read More
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was one naturalist that was great but only gave 3 lectures. The Mexican Ambassadors gave a great performance on deck. On the down side, the usual lectures on culture, history or the region were lacking. The speakers seemed to talk down to the audience and read from brochures. They were not experts in the field. The EXC person talked to the audience as if they were kinder-gardeners. The food was outstanding as was the in stateroom staff. The service was great and the ship was well organized and on time. The culinary classes did not emphasize health promotion. There was heavy emphasis on taste drawn from fats and salts, hardly appropriate for the middle aged audience or above. The last time we did this same cruise there were more on board activities, lectures and enrichment programming. Considering the number of fabulous ports offering rich history, art, culture and welcoming people, it is too bad there was such a lack of enrichment opportunities. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was ... Read More
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was annoying when in quarantine. Staff were friendly and helpful. Entertainment seems to have improved, enjoyed most of the comedians, but music still too loud. Good selection of presenters. Wish the port talks were available on TV in rooms, not just the excursion sales. We didn’t realize that some of the ports were industrial and how long the free shuttles would be. Also the poverty, so I recommend taking a lot of $1 bills. We are so fortunate. The biggest disappointment was the food. On the first night, Feb. 2, there was about an hour+ wait for the dining room (we chose anytime dining) so we went to the Lido. I chose a baked potato, chicken and green beans. The butter just sat in my potato, the chicken was not hot and the lovely green beans were not crisp or hot. Second night was Super Bowl so the boys went to watch the game and the girls went to the dining room. Third night, couldn’t get into the dining room again without a long wait so spoke with the Hotel Manager, I mentioned the disappointing cold dinner on the first night and our friends (4 star mariners) complained they never had to wait long for dinner. We were comped to the Pinacle Dining room, meals good. My husband got sick and went to the medical centre on Feb. 11, staff caring and prescribed Tamilflu for him and recommended I take some too. He returned on Feb. 17, had X-ray and new prescription. This is March 9 at time of writing and my husband is still congested and coughing. I sent a message about the cold dinners and a very nice staff member came to the table that evening to see if my meal was hot - it wasn’t. He returned other nights but seldom heard it was. Had a good Indian lunch one day, nice spices and hot temperature. I don’t know what the temperature of the food is in the kitchen, or when it is picked up by the servers, or brought to the serving stations, served and finally eaten, but it is too long. Manners dictate we wait for everyone at the table to be served before diving into our meals, but with staff cutbacks, there are not enough bodies to clear tables and serve the food while it is still hot. HAL May think it is elegant to have your server present everyone with their dinner, but perhaps they could take a tip from places where more than one server delivers meals while they are hot. Their DiveIn snack bar with make your own fajitas and tacos was also a huge disappointment with cold foil wrapped soft taco shells, barely warm meat fillings, cold cheese. I can’t help but think poorly kept food adds to sickness, and there was a lot of heavy congested coughing and people quarantined to their cabins on this trip. First and last 30-day voyage for us. Air conditioning on ship, especially in the Atrium worked overtime. Captain tried to explain why it was so cold. Took about six excursions. Enjoyed Lima’s water fountains at night. Disembarkation was best ever! I doubt we will travel with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Our group chose this cruise unanimously in spite to the fact that at least 6 of the 26 of us had been through the Panama Canal on a cruise before. We had excellent cabin and dining staff. Brilliant Entertainment! The dining menus ... Read More
Our group chose this cruise unanimously in spite to the fact that at least 6 of the 26 of us had been through the Panama Canal on a cruise before. We had excellent cabin and dining staff. Brilliant Entertainment! The dining menus were up to par as we had experienced on the previous 4 cruises our group had taken on Holland America. The food quality in the Main dining room and in the Lido restaurant was very very good. Our group evening at the Pinnacle Grille was exceptional. The staff on the ship were exceptionally courteous and helpful. One of the very high points was the classical pianist, Hyperion Knight, who entertained us. His on stage work was enthralling but the real cherry was the "practice sessions" he had in The Explorers's Lounge. My wife and I happened on him one morning early in the cruise in the lounge playing the piano. There were only 3 other couples in there at the time and we sat through what turned out to be a "private" concert. He played (without sheet music) for and hour and a half almost continuously and his music had us entranced. He was very personable as he chatted with us and talked about his music. This happenstance became more widely known as the cruise progressed and what started out as a concert for 6 persons became a "practice" session to a full lounge to another day with standing room only to having to be there half an hour ahead of his impromptu unscheduled sessions. He was also a fun participant in the twice a day Trivia sessions. His trivia knowledge is formidable and it was great fun playing with and against his teams. At the end of the cruise everyone of our group were expressing how much they enjoyed this trip and were asking when we would be planning the next one. For a bunch of 75 year old high school pals it was a great time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was our second sailing on the Volendam (Sixth on Holland America, twenty sixth overall) It was a simple 15 day Panama Canal crossing from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale. What was remarkable to me about this cruise was that there was so ... Read More
This was our second sailing on the Volendam (Sixth on Holland America, twenty sixth overall) It was a simple 15 day Panama Canal crossing from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale. What was remarkable to me about this cruise was that there was so LITTLE to remark on. Everything worked, everything ran smoothly, the food was great, the ports were as advertised. On the subject of ports, we called on eight, and with one exception, we were the only ship at each port. That made for VERY pleasant days. As has always been our experience on HAL, the ship was full of "Baby Boomers", with few younger people on board, and virtually NO children. (Perhaps because the school holidays had just ended?) This led to all of the (many) enrichment lectures on board being VERY well attended, and late night entertainment being almost non existent. The ship itself was in very good condition, with virtually no issues. The only thing we noticed was one flooded bathroom, and that was (According to one of the engineering officers) due to "something" (I will refrain from being graphic) being flushed down the toilet that should not have been. Reaction by the crew as fast and efficient, and the effected passengers were well taken care of. Food on board this ship was "cruise normal", with meals in the main dining room being slightly above average, the food in the LIDO above what I have come to expect, (on mainline cruise lines) and the food in the Pinnicle Grill well above expectations. All in all a great cruise, well worth the cost, and highly recommended (IF you have no children with you, and IF you can entertain yourself and are not looking for the ship to entertain you all day every day. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because my husband wanted to sail through the Panama Canal and we had experienced an amazing transPacific cruise on the Holland America Noordam in 2018. This was a type of journeyman cruise compared to that on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my husband wanted to sail through the Panama Canal and we had experienced an amazing transPacific cruise on the Holland America Noordam in 2018. This was a type of journeyman cruise compared to that on a smaller, older ship with fewer passengers, amenities and activities. The shop’s air conditioning was faulty with many of the public areas kept at painfully cold temperatures. I talked to the cruise director about reading of this issue on earlier Volendam cruises and he admitted the frigid air conditioning was an ongoing problem which they had not resolved. There was also, perhaps not coincidentally a ship wide respiratory infection. The crouping, coughing etc. must have affected half the passengers. Everyone had the Volendam virus. My husband and i both came down with it and are still affected more than two weeks after disembarking. The good: the meals in the dining room and Lido were very good. The EXC tour director, Jude, was excellent and entertaining. The Adagio violinist and pianist were excellent as was the pianist at the Ocean Bar. The rest of the entertainment was mediocre. The crew were friendly and helpful. But the boat is so in need of updating and repair. The ports were fine but most everyone was interestedin the canal experience which was remarkable. Gatun Lake was beautiful. Cartegena was impressive. We liked Huatalco and the city of Antigua in Guatemala. The port of Corinto Nicaragua was not good. Costa Rica was interesting and we enjoyed the combination aerial tram and river rafting tour. The commentator thriugh the canal was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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