590 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we ... Read More
My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we crossed the ocean the topic changed to first Nations people. We also had lectures on the "One Ocean" and physics, which left us all with something to think about. There were navigation lectures and many other things to do on this ship. The Volendam is a smaller older ship so people looking for lots to do and big flashy ships would not want to choose this one. But, if personal attention and well done dining appeal then this is the ship for you. There were 1360 passengers and 1000 of them were returning guests. We were served by 598 crew. This was an older crowd but very well traveled and very interesting. Different ships and cruise lines for different people and so this would not appeal to everyone. There were very few children on board so there was a great sense of peace and quiet. Food was excellent. The shows at night were wonderful and we often left the show lounge chuckling to ourselves. A really great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We took the Volendam from Japan and the immediate reaction to the ship was that it was kept in great shape. It was just a beautiful ship maintained very nicely. Our room which was with a window was in good shape with all things working ... Read More
We took the Volendam from Japan and the immediate reaction to the ship was that it was kept in great shape. It was just a beautiful ship maintained very nicely. Our room which was with a window was in good shape with all things working properly. Our room attendants were excellent. Food in the main dining room was very good. The buffet during lunch was at times disappointing. The pizza was inedible and I even brought a slice to an officer to taste and the next day we had several officers checking out the food during lunch time. Service in the dining room was very good. What shocked me was when we were in the Pinnacle, and asked for another portion, the waiter said that we don't do that anymore. That got me very annoyed since that never happened to us and we have traveled the HAL at least 6 times. In all it was a good cruise around Japan. Service was good but not great. Food was good and in the private restaurants very good. Shows were adequate and enjoyable. We did enjoy ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups ... Read More
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups were Japanese immigration but that is to be expected. Favourite ports - Osaka and Incheon Service on the ship was very good but the cutbacks in staffing are putting a huge burden on the remaining staff. This was very apparent in the dining room where service was very slow. The ship is an older ship - it is kept very clean and tidy - but it badly needs to go in to drydock. The only chairs that the bottoms weren't falling out of was in the Canneletto dining room. Seriously, there was a 2" depression in the Rotterdam chairs! Uncomfortable for a leisurely meal! Food - we were not impressed! The meals in the Rotterdam were just okay - biggest complaint was that there were very few vegetables accompanying the entree and we routinely ordered a bowl of steamed vegetables for the table. The food served in the Lido was very much below what I expect on a cruise ship. I have no food issues - I love food - but the choices were over salted and way too many things were fried. I had difficulty finding items for lunch other than a salad. The Asian food bar was usually good but still oversalted. The fresh fruit was awful! Apples and oranges were soft and tasteless, bananas were slimy and black. The fruit salad was a mixture of over ripe and under ripe choices cut so small that it was mushy very quickly. There were very few activities planned for the 6 sea days as we crossed the Pacific - not a lot to do. We may avoid doing another HAL cruise Positive - we saw some of the best entertainment we have seen on a ship. The dancers and singers were exceptional! Very much enjoyed our evenings! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We choose this Holland America cruise on the Volendam for the great ports of call. Had a great time for our first time in Asia. The ship was clean, nice and small. We do not like large ship the smaller the better. The food and service was ... Read More
We choose this Holland America cruise on the Volendam for the great ports of call. Had a great time for our first time in Asia. The ship was clean, nice and small. We do not like large ship the smaller the better. The food and service was great. Our dining room steward was excellent. Good selection of wine. Most of the time the ship excursions were great. However in Japan it was very difficult to find a good english seeking guide. All of the crew were excellent. We loved the Team trivia. Bruce our cruise director was excellent. Very good in fact a great enrichment program this time. Terry Greenberg from the University of BC gave excellent lectures on the Japanese, Korean and Chinese culture. It was very informative. He should invited back on future cruise. We had a great time on our first Asian cruise. Very good time. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this cruise ,28 days, intending to visit major cities in the far east and Japan in particular and with detail. Cruised on the Volendam sept 2016 to Alaska. Summarize this cruise as a disappointment. To begin I got sick after 5 ... Read More
I chose this cruise ,28 days, intending to visit major cities in the far east and Japan in particular and with detail. Cruised on the Volendam sept 2016 to Alaska. Summarize this cruise as a disappointment. To begin I got sick after 5 days on board. On the previous cruise sept 2016 had the same symptoms after 4 days.I can't see how it can happen unless the air conditioning system is infected. This is not a statistic fact but 5 out of 8 people seated on the same table for dinner for diner got ill. The Frans Hals lounge is very dusty and many of guest sitting in lounge were coughing all their stay. I could feel the "dust screen" from a distance. The menu in main dining room some how repeated it self to much. On sea days not enough activities on board. Chairs in Lido restaurant, seats worn out and very uncomfortable. Air conditioning in main dining room poor. Service for breakfast in main dining room very slow. Would like to praise the Indonesian hotel staff who are very smiley and offer great service. Compared to previous cruise sept 2016 ship condition deteriorated. I think the ship needs refurbishing and maintenance very urgently. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This cruise had a wonderful itinerary leaving from Hong Kong,and visiting large ports like Shanghai, Tianjin (Beijing), Incheon (Seoul) and Yokohama (Tokyo) as well as smaller ports like Nagasaki, Kagoshima ,Osaka, Naha, Jeju Island , ... Read More
This cruise had a wonderful itinerary leaving from Hong Kong,and visiting large ports like Shanghai, Tianjin (Beijing), Incheon (Seoul) and Yokohama (Tokyo) as well as smaller ports like Nagasaki, Kagoshima ,Osaka, Naha, Jeju Island , Ishigaki Island and Hososhima. The Volendam, although older, is a comfortable well-sized ship. We had a verandah stateroom which we feel is worth the extra price. The food, in general, was very good. There were interesting lectures (kudos to Master Kam) and many activities to keep people busy. The passengers were mostly in the senior age-group but most were very well-travelled and active. The service by our room stewards was wonderful, as usual on HAL. The Lido seemed understaffed with less service than on previous cruises. The staff were always friendly. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly for us. However, at some ports, particularly in Japan, there were long waits and line-ups to get off the ship. We really enjoyed the cruise and our first visit to Asia. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We choose this cruise because it was to be our first time to visit Asia. The stops were super interesting with lots of variety. We hit the cherry blossoms almost perfectly. The ship was in fine condition with the exception of the ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was to be our first time to visit Asia. The stops were super interesting with lots of variety. We hit the cherry blossoms almost perfectly. The ship was in fine condition with the exception of the seating. It seems that the springs in the chairs in the high traffic areas (LIDO, MDR, and Franz Hals lounge) have lost their springs. They're pretty uncomfortable. We ate virtually all of our meals in the LIDO so that we could control the portion sizes and eat fairly quickly. This paid off in spades as both of us did not gain any weight during the cruise. There seems to be fewer staff in the LIDO and MDR The biggest challenge I found was with the way that HAL did immigration process for the ports in which we had shore excursions. For all of the times that HAL does immigration procedures, one would think that they would have it down. I realize they don't control the local authorities and my observations are not about them. It's about HAL. Sometimes they issue priority cards (and that process is varied and flawed), one time they did it by what stateroom deck you were on (the worst), On the positive side, the embarkation in HK was the best we've ever had, and the disembarkation in Vancouver went exactly as presented. The highlight of the entertainment were two performances: Elliot Finkle and Savannah Jack. Mr. Finkle is an amazing pianist and entertainer. He's the kind of fellow you'd like to have in your home and just chat with. Savannah Jack was a 5 person band from Nashville that performed for the first time on HAL and ALL 4 shows (2 each on 2 separate days) were different. On the final night, they played to packed audiences for both 8 and 10pm shows. Normally HAL puts a low key venue in those last time slots, but they were so high energy. The service continued at HAL's typical high standards (with the immigration process exception). We traveled with a 15 year old granddaughter and it would have been nicer for her to have others of the same age. We liked the cruise so much we booked it to start in Singapore in February, 2018 and sail to Yokohama. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We just returned from the Volendam China, Japan cruise. We chose it because of the ports of call and we had been on this ship previously. We enjoyed the trip very much but have to say the time wasted getting off the ship at the different ... Read More
We just returned from the Volendam China, Japan cruise. We chose it because of the ports of call and we had been on this ship previously. We enjoyed the trip very much but have to say the time wasted getting off the ship at the different ports if you are touring independently, is a big disappointment and time wasted at the port. We did not use the dining room more than 3 times in our 2 weeks onboard because the service is so slow and the food isn't very hot when it does arrive. We ate a Lido buffet mostly. The breakfast and lunch is great there. The dinner food has the same "not hot enough" problem. One evening I was asked by a manager how our food was. I did ask him for some hot fried rice and got some. We observed that they put the food out on the buffet line at 5 pm and it doesn't open till 5;30, so that could be the problem. They do have many choices. The MIX martini bar and Ryan the bartender are super great. We were regulars there1 Most of the ports of call were fabulous with the exception of Nagasaki, which we thought wasn't very good and not enough time to really enjoy it. Shanghai and Tokyo were our favorites. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and ... Read More
We spent a few days in Hong Kong before we boarded the ship and had planned our ports with both HAL and private excursions. We chose the cruise because we liked the variety of ports. We wanted learn as much as we could about the ports and the history of the area. the weather was cool to cold at times but we were prepared. Few people spent time at the pool since it was often gray and cool. Sea days were a challenge since since the weather did not encourage outdoor activities. Thankfully two wonderful bridge instructors from Canada set up duplicate bridge and I played every sea day afternoon. They were not sponsored ACBL games or from HAL but they ran a great game for 36-54 people per day. The transpacific part of this cruise really needed bridge and other indoor activities since it was cold. There was no librarian or tech person but the staff at the customer desk helped. The wifi is great now and I could download my mail in two minutes. Sending pictures took more time. We bought 1000 minutes for $250 for the 44 days and ended up with leftover minutes. We had excellent cabin attendants and even though we had select dining we established our table and and 7:15 daily. The dining room staff were very thoughtful and made sure that one of our dining companions could have s sundae no matter what was being served. They did little things to make the cruise so special. I look at the pictures and can not believe what we did and where we traveled. I never expected to be stunned by the beauty traveling through the Aleutians and the snow capped mountains And yes we saw cherry tree wonderlands in Osaka and Aomori. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we loved the itinerary. We really liked the Volendam. Smallish and an older ship, but kept up well. Food was excellent. Cabin (6157) was adequate but did not have much storage space, but that is due to the age of the ship we think. Balcony was quite large, although we did not get to use it much. Very smoggy for most of the cruise. Crew was really outstanding from cabin stewards to officers. Always willing to assist with smiles. Did not take in much entertainment, but did enjoy a flutist from Scotland and the trio in the Ocean Bar was really good. Port presentations were excellent. Pool was heated, which was nice. The buffet was very good and never terribly crowded. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. The crew was especially outstanding in their handling of the required immigration inspections at several of the ports. Those are always a pain, due to the local authorities, but the crew made them bearable. The ports were each fascinating in their own ways. We booked our own private tours in Shanghai and Beijing through a company called China Highlights. Had a guide, private car, and driver. So glad we did that as guides were really excellent. Only tour we did via Holland America was in Seoul and it was fine. We just got off the ship and wandered on our own in Nagasaki and Kagoshima. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
So let me start out by saying that my wife and I are optimists, and easy to please. We had only been on one cruise prior to this, and it was a Disney cruise line (which was amazing, minus the squadron of children running around screaming ... Read More
So let me start out by saying that my wife and I are optimists, and easy to please. We had only been on one cruise prior to this, and it was a Disney cruise line (which was amazing, minus the squadron of children running around screaming all day). We took this ship on our honeymoon for 14 days through Asia. The average age of the guests on this cruise was approximately late 50s to early 60s. The rooms looks a bit dated and the beds were pretty hard, but it was very clean as well as inviting, and that made up for it. The only recommendation I have is DO NOT buy any drink packages... We bought a 17.95 a day all soft drinks, water, tea, coffee, etc. and drank tons and tons of fluids and 2 to three specialty tea lattes daily, and doing the math... there's no way we could have even come close to coming out ahead. The alcohol packages are the same... the drinks are so reasonably priced (8 dollars for a rocks pour of top shelf liquor and 4-5 dollar pints) that you don't need any type of package... unless you plan on downing 3-4 bottles of wine every day consistently. On to the good things! The staff across the board was so friendly, so polite, and went out of their way in every aspect to make sure you were having the best possible time. Our housekeeping staff was 2 gentlemen named Made and Joni, and they made it their mission to find us every day to say hello and wish us all the best. The dining staff at the Rotterdam was equally as entertaining and despite being exhausted from walking for 6-8 hours on the daily, we made an effort to get to the sit down dining because the food was fantastic, but the staff made it something to look forward to. The food on the ship as a whole was good. Even the buffet style breakfast, lunch, and dinner weren't boring and had many options. The ports of call for this specific cruise were also mostly great stops. My wife and I didn't book any excursions, but we looked through their daily itinerary for specifics, and made our way around town with help from those as well as tripadvisor which made it more of an adventure for us. The entertainment was also a lot of fun... Taylor was a young jack of all trades for entertainment that went out of his way to get to know us as well as other guests who attended some of the daily entertainment such as Bingo, trivia, music, etc. and once again having the staff be so friendly that it made everything that much better. The exercise equipment is limited from the viewpoint of a fitness enthusiast, but there's more than enough to get a good workout in daily. I do however recommend to the Holland American line that they ease up on pushing their spa services... I know that's their business, but when you're done getting a massage and the therapists push so much in sales that it's kind of awkward, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth about coming back. All in all, the Holland America line was a great experience and we had such a good time that we plan on sticking to sea cruising for the majority of our vacations. We also plan on using Holland America again for our future cruises. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
14 days Japan, China, Taiwan -- Landed into Narita Airport 2 days prior to embarkation, took the Narita Express Train to Yokohama (4290 YEN/$38USD). We stayed at Hotel Monterey Yokohama, which is only 4 large blocks away from the ... Read More
14 days Japan, China, Taiwan -- Landed into Narita Airport 2 days prior to embarkation, took the Narita Express Train to Yokohama (4290 YEN/$38USD). We stayed at Hotel Monterey Yokohama, which is only 4 large blocks away from the cruise terminal. Narita Express Train: HIGHLY recommend. Train leaves airport roughly every half an hour. Yokohama was either 5th or 6th stop but there's TV screens about every 20ft down the main aisle that shows you what stops are coming up so youowon't miss your stop. There are also announcements in english. Ticket booth to purchase tickets are right when you exit the baggage claim area. Seat number & car numbers are on your ticket. Make sure you are in the correct car number because some of the cars splits throughout the route. From the main Yokohama Train Station, we took the Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai station [~5 stops away, 8 minutes total], this station was the closest to the hotel, about 6-8 blocks away. Hotel: ~$140 USD per night booked through Expedia. Check in and out was easy. Employees spoke basic English. We had a non-smoking room but there were definitely still a lingering scent of smoke. We cracked open the window, turned on the fan and went out to dinner. By the time we got back, it was better. Great central location for the price! On embarkation day, hotel held our luggage for us (free) while we went out for breakfast and a little bit of exploring before we got on the ship. Volendam Ship: The main Cruise Critic review of this ship is pretty spot on. A bit outdated but honestly, I'm on this cruise to explore a different country. My onboard spending for 14 days was 1/3 of what it was on a previous 7-day Alaska cruise. I spent as much time on land as possible. Dining: I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the food. Both the lido deck and the dining room did not exceed my expectations. Above average but just not quite up to the Holland America standard that I was hoping for. **At least on 5 different occasions, drinking cups were not readily available at the drink station closest to the table I was at. Very minor issue since you can just walk over to the other 3 drink stations but little things like this can irk you if it keeps happening. Service: Holland America crew consistently go above and beyond. ****CHANGE IN ITINERARY **** Due to the "foggy" weather [pollution], Shanghai's pilot station closed down temporally. Once they opened it back up, the water level in the Yangtze River wasn't quite high enough for us to leave. We spent a good ~6 hours sitting at the mouth of the Yangtze River. Wasn't safe to speed up to make it to Naha, Japan so the ship skipped it and got into Keelung, Taipei half a day early. I'll do separate reviews for the 9 ports that we stopped in. Keep an eye out for them if you're interested. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Husband and I had never been to Japan or Taiwan or Korea. 42 days should give us an opportunity to check these countries off our list. We did not plan any days before or after cruise. This makes our third trip on the Volendam and it has ... Read More
Husband and I had never been to Japan or Taiwan or Korea. 42 days should give us an opportunity to check these countries off our list. We did not plan any days before or after cruise. This makes our third trip on the Volendam and it has been updated somewhat since our last visit. We liked the fact the sea days were interspersed with port days. Stellar talent on this trip: Master Kam for his numerous talks on Japan-Hong Kong, China and the different dynasties, Buddha followers. Excellent. Sea days he led Qi Chi meditation and Tai Chi. Jeremy for this port talks one of the most knowledgeable we have heard and his co-hort Oliver for his talks on culture, etc. Singers: Austin, Jenny, Nick and Corrina and all the dancers were among the best of any troupe we have seen on any cruise. May they remain together for many cruises. The other entertainment was somewhat below average, but with the talent of the HAL cast didn't mind. Food was better on this trip than I remember from the last Volendam trip. I always tried to eat in the Rotterdam dining room because I don't like the combat aspect of the Lido. Also, all of the chairs are "butt sprung" in Lido and are very uncomfortable. Hubby walks with a rollator (wheels on a walker), so sometimes it is a challenge getting on and off the ship. 90 per cent of the time crew members were there to help make sure he was safely able to navigate. We took one excursion with the ship in Osaka. The guide was always way ahead and we could barely hear. Not a good experience for the money. Although HAL description gives a general idea of how much walking is involved, if there is bumpy ground or a lot of stairs - hard to tell. We tried to take private excursions with our CC groups. Wang Theatre is not a comfortable venue for movies, it is a challenge to find a seat where the screen can be seen. Sometimes there was popcorn and sometimes not. Consistency would have been nice. Medical service was excellent. My husband had a naggy cough so we went to medical to see what they suggest. After checking him over they noticed some irregularities. To make a long story shorter, they were very thorough and considerate of our medical needs while on the cruise. A couple of times we were afraid we would not be able to continue, but we were given every consideration. Ports: Shuttle service was nice and complimentary at ports where ship was not close to city. Shanghai was one of our favorite because the ship was docked close to the Bund which is one of the major attractions. It was close to HO HO bus and tunnel under the river to the modern side of the city. We were there four days total. Disembarkation was not as we had hoped. We had booked with HAL for transport to the airport - our flight wasn't until 9:30pm. We had made arrangements to have friends pick us up for a tour of the city before dropping us off at airport. We were not allowed to receive a refund for a change in plans. We could have cancelled, but $200 is a lot of green to us. So.... HAL dropped us off at airport at 10am at a spot far away from where we needed to be. By the time we located our airline, checked our bags my husband was too exhausted to take the train or find anything else to do. We sat at the airport for ten hours waiting for our flight. Not a good end. So, word to the wise don't book with HAL until you are sure that is what you want to do. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The itinery was good. Nice places but HAL is not confidence with the custom procedures of the harbours esp. not Shanghai! I lost 10 hrs of my 14 day cruise; waiting or custom procedures which were organised well by local authorities but ... Read More
The itinery was good. Nice places but HAL is not confidence with the custom procedures of the harbours esp. not Shanghai! I lost 10 hrs of my 14 day cruise; waiting or custom procedures which were organised well by local authorities but HAL staff couldnt handle his clients at a decent way. The was the worst cruise I ever had. A Boat with non communication. nor intern nor with clients. And this was due to a non communucatie captain vd Hoeven! We never heard him. For getting custom numbers" passangers had to fight with each other because of non organisation/capability of staff The cabin boys where fantastic as allways like all restaurant employees. The management didn't communicate with each other nor to their clients. 14 days brown sink water. Every morning wake up by sink workers (the reason of the brown water) and a spray on my cabin window. Planning? Below level and poor entertainment / shows; old fitnes'; Pinnacle restaurant again same menu and not that quality ecpected Shore excursions not used because of price/too big groups/ bad old fashioned iinnery Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We loved the ports in Jspan, Tsiwan, Shanghai and HongKong, missed Okinawa due to a weather delay. The captain was a very good communicator with frequent updates. The food was very good, lots of fresh fish and delicious osso buca and ... Read More
We loved the ports in Jspan, Tsiwan, Shanghai and HongKong, missed Okinawa due to a weather delay. The captain was a very good communicator with frequent updates. The food was very good, lots of fresh fish and delicious osso buca and lamb shanks. Nice selection of baked goods at breakfast in Lido, long lines for omelets but worth the wait. The Pinacle dinner was a little disappointing in food and service. Ant time dining is difficult between 5:45 and 8:00, hard to get a table. Overall the service was fine, in dining room, Lido buffet and bars. We loved the Explorations Cafe and the library, but sorry they no longer have a librarian on board. Last time had a two week book club on board going to Hawaii. Excellent Chinese lecturer and Tai Chi teacher on sea days. Wonderfully entertaining piano man, Barry from Boston, always a treat. Beautiful classical music from the Rumanian couple on violin and piano, Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This was our first cruise and we chose it because of the excellent price. We Book an inside cabin and because it ended up being a handicap cabin we had extra space. It would probably be nice to have a window, and perhaps next time we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we chose it because of the excellent price. We Book an inside cabin and because it ended up being a handicap cabin we had extra space. It would probably be nice to have a window, and perhaps next time we cruise we will do that. The biggest complaint about the cabin is the single outlet poorly placed over a desk. I was warned ahead of time so I did bring a power strip although we found it necessary to get an additional extension cord from the steward. An extension cord will definitely be a part of our packing on our next cruise. I was happy to find that the Vollendam was a relatively small ship as it was easy to traverse and we enjoyed meeting up with people we got to know at dinners. I do not think I would enjoy having the kinds of additional activities found on a larger ship. One important thing that Holland America line should do is to update their website. Some information was out of date or incorrect. A huge mistake was information given out about the requirements for a visa to enter Shanghai. Late last year China revised there Visa requirements to allow cruisers to enter the country without paying a large Visa fee I did you get information from Cruise critic and followed up with information from the Chinese Embassy stating that no visa would be required. I called Holland America to find out how they will handle it, and after first being told I would need a visa, the person I spoke with came back and said that it would not be required. When I arrived to embark, I had to sign some kind of waiver stating that I was aware I might not be allowed ashore. It seems that Communication is not particularly up to date on Holland America. I know that China was very difficult to deal with, but if I was able to get information them I am sure that the cruise line also could get the same information and not create so much havoc. We met people who had paid the Visa fee for the two days admission to Shanghai and were not happy to learn that they did not have to pay that amount. I was not willing to pay Close two $200 just to go ashore for a couple of outings. I think that Holland America might look carefully at how they distribute numbers to go on shore leave excursions. Some days the distribution seemed adequate but not excellent. Other excursion days were very chaotic. The distribution of numbers for dis- embarkation was particularly poorly handled, and the ship personnel were initially mobbed in order to obtain the numbers for order to leave the ship. I think this needs to be re-evaluated and revised. As for shore excursions through Holland America, I found them to be fairly good but highly overpriced. In view of the bargain price of the Cruise itself, I do understand the necessity to monetize wherever possible. In the future, we will either plan our own excursions or use a different excursion Company such as Viator. That said, there were some excellent excursions offered. Perhaps throwing in one or two free excursions would be of benefit. When I have traveled in the past, I have always found my way around cities, But having a guide was quite valuable. The guides on the Shore excursions were very knowledgeable and that made them worthwhile. People who Book and share a private guide are probably much better off. My friend and I usually dined in the restaurant or occasionally the Lido. Food was excellent, but at breakfast it seemed that there were not enough people serving. Both at the food stations, and at the tables. Many times there were no waiters available to get coffee refills. Speaking of coffee, some days it was excellent and other days it was too strong. Of course this is purely for my own tastes in coffee. The best experience was because we opted for open seating. It was fun to sit with different people every night and we made some wonderful contacts. I found that to be a highlight. In the restaurant, food service was quite good as were the meal choices and desserts. My only complaint is that it was made far too easy to gain weight. I am sure that is a complaint from most people who participate in cruises. The choices of entertainment were fairly good and I believe something could be found to meet anyone's desires. The live entertainment was fairly good although I did not attend all of them. I did enjoy one of the movies I went to but did not like two others. Again, it would be very difficult to please everyone. The one aspect I did not appreciate was the sales pitches. If one attended a "Seminar" you could definitely expect to be inundated with a sales pitch. These are easy enough to ignore or walk out of but can be annoying. The shops were mostly hi and, but there were some good sales available. The one thing that was most missed was a sundries shop to fill in on items that might have been lost, forgotten, or misplaced. That could be a great addition to shops on board. I have to say that the stewards, not only our own but all up and down the ship, were extremely friendly and helpful. They took pains to learn and remember our names so even meeting in the hallways they always seemed happy to see us. I would definitely book this ship again and plan things a bit differently knowing now what I liked and disliked. It was a great experience for a first cruise and people on Cruise critic were very helpful in providing information. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The itinerary and timing were perfect. We have been wanting to visit Asia (specifically Japan) for a long time. Having this cruise end in Hong Kong was also a factor, as HK is one of our all-time favorite cities. The timing was ... Read More
The itinerary and timing were perfect. We have been wanting to visit Asia (specifically Japan) for a long time. Having this cruise end in Hong Kong was also a factor, as HK is one of our all-time favorite cities. The timing was important as we were celebrating our 15 year anniversary. Rather than having a specific room booked, my wife chose to book a Category in the hopes we would be upgraded at the last minute. We were. We were put in a handicapped room. She hated it. If was larger, but had an institutional feel, had not been remodeled, had nasty looking wall tile in the shower that had been repaired and was uneven - and the entire bathroom floor was tiled with a drain in the middle. It felt like a junior high locker room shower. The counter / makeup table had numerous gouged around the edges that had been badly patched and not even sanded, let alone sealed. The room overall looked pretty beat. We spoke with the front desk and they found us another room that was a conventional style on the 2nd floor, which was fine. They both had windows and that's all we cared about. The new room had a recently remodeled bath, but the rest of the room looked a little ragged. In terms of service, I'm not exaggerating much when I say you could sit in the buffet on Lido until cobwebs grew from your arms to the table before anyone would bring water or coffee. Going over to get your own would trigger a rapid response to try and get the carafe away from you and fill up a glass. But having anyone notice you had sat at a table and might need water... Good luck. The buffet was marginal. I've been on a lot of cruises. There were no elaborate fruit / vegetable displays, no carvings (fruit / ice / anything) to dress up the area. The freshness of many stations was inconsistent. Also, coming back from HA excursions around 2 pm would find everything closed except the pasta station. You would think the ship would know when tours were coming back. Especially short tours where there was no food involved or opportunities to forage - and keep the buffet open until 30 minutes or so after the tours return. But you'd be wrong if you thought that. The taco bar on Lido was also a disappointment. It was frequently picked-over and looked pathetic. The burger window lists portobello burgers (I'm a vegetarian) on the menu, but the one day we went to get one, they are out of portobellos. Seriously? The main dining room was pretty decent. Not spectacular, but OK. The staff was attentive and they always had options for vegetarians. I ordered the day before most of the time and was fairly happy with the outcome. Tours: We had booked some independent tours in Tokyo and Shimizu through Triple Lights. Both were excellent. We loved our guides and the itinerary. We had booked numerous HA tours for other cities, but after our experience in Shanghai we cancelled all of them. We gathered a few like-minded travelers and booked taxis for the rest of the trip. This worked out very well. In Shanghai, the first day it rained ALL DAY. The 2nd day it rained only sporadically. The first day we went to the museum and then to a shrine. We had some people on the tour that never should have gone. The amount of walking was far more than they should have attempted. On the way back to the ship, one woman could not take another step. The rest of us are standing on a street corner in a downpour waiting for the tour guide to manage this debacle. We all decided to go back to the transit station where we could at least wait indoors. They had to get a motorized rickshaw to retrieve the woman, as any other vehicle could not get through to her. Eventually we all got back, but over an hour late - and wet. Our thoughts on this are: People with mobility issues should have their own bus. When the weather is bad, there should be a Plan B. Either stay in the museum (in this case) or head to another indoor destination. Keep the buffet open until the tour returns or arrange a food stop. The overall condition of the ship is very uneven. Some areas have been remodeled while others look very worn. The center column in the atrium looks like something out of a disco movie. The undersea-themed glass lamps in the buffet look cheap. They belong in a Caribbean party cruise. We needed to do some laundry about a week into the cruise. When we got to the tiny ship laundry, only 2 of the 4 washing machines were working. Apparently this had been the situation for well over a week according to people who had been on the ship for some time. After bringing this to the attention of the front desk, they did arrange to do our laundry at no charge. I did take 2 days to get our clothes back though. I would have preferred to just do it myself and have been finished in the span of a few hours. We were disappointed that we missed Okinawa. My wife and I both have connections to the island. Weather was the reason for having to remove it from the itinerary, so we can hardly blame HA for this. Entertainment. Most of the entertainment was of marginal to zero interest for us. Early on in the cruise, we discovered Barry from Boston in the Mix Lounge. Barry is by far one of the best entertainers I've ever seen. He plays a piano with virtuoso intensity and what he lacks in vocal quality, he really makes up for in skill. If you ever get the opportunity to see Barry from Boston, do it. He is on several HA cruises. He's talented, funny, really knows how to handle a room and was by far our favorite part of the cruise. We met some great people, made new permanent friends and overall had a great time. We loved Taiwan and would definitely go back. Taroko Gorge was amazing. We were very fortunate that Mount Fuji was NOT obscured by clouds on the day we were there. This is an opportunity you don't always get, so we felt very fortunate. Hopefully HA will work the kinks out of this particular cruise, as the itinerary was excellent - with the exception of Hososhima. They could have left Hososhima off the itinerary and added a day in Osaka. That would have been better in our estimation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This itinerary of HAL's Volendam attracted us without us knowing HAL had little experience in most of these ports and March was not a warm /good month to cruise in Asia. We liked the idea to get a sample of nine ports including ... Read More
This itinerary of HAL's Volendam attracted us without us knowing HAL had little experience in most of these ports and March was not a warm /good month to cruise in Asia. We liked the idea to get a sample of nine ports including Yokohama, Osaka, Shanghai, Taiwan and Hong Kong but did not know that some of the ports had little to explore ( Shimizu, Hoshishima, Naha, Keelong, Kaoshing) But we did wisely not book the cost of a verandah or Lanai as the weather proved very cool with some nights below 40degrees F. Our embarkation heralded two problems with this cruise.In the large reception area at Yokohama there were no HAL staff to help anyone with a mobility problem Each passenger was on their own to get aboard. Throughout this cruise the lack of HAL staff to assist those with mobility problems was evident .Many of the ports had very long walks to get to the ship and there were no wheelchairs and freindly Indonesian staff to help. The other problem was HAL did not understand the Chinese governments ruling in October 2016 that cruise passengers did not need a Chinese visa to disembark in Shanghai if they had a Chinese government licensed tour prebooked for 2 or more peoplel HAL demanded waivers to be signed at embarkatiom that state we would perhaps pay fines, be put off the ship and other nasty threats and certainly not be allowed to board in Japan/Yokohama if we did not have a Chinese visa and sign their HAL lawyers' release of liability . Many statements put in front of us to sign were false such as we needed visas for Japan,Taiwan and Hong Kong. WE checked in at 3PM on March 14 and had various letters and notificaitons from the Volendam front office about our lack of Chinese visa until 9PM on March 18 when notice came that HAL Seattle had recognized the October 2016 China 15 day free visa program for passengers on this sailing of the Volendam arriving the next norning in Shanghai. Even at 7AM im the morning of arrival HAL staff were working out how to get their passengers through immigration under the new rules. This immigration stress continued fo rthe full cruise as we were troted around to present ourselves on and off the ship for the 2 weeks cruise for Japanese, Taiwan and Hong Kong immigration. Nothing was made easy for the passengers. WE also had the strange occasion of the mandatory life/safety drill in the middle of dinner service so everyone had to get out on deck for the 40 minutes in the middle of dinner service when all client services and dinner was shut down aorund 7PM . Poor planning for an 11 PM departure. The Volendam is a moderate sized ( 1432 passengers) older HAL ship launched in 1999. We sailed on it in 2006 and it has had some updates including lanai added to some promenade cabins The Explorer lounge has been enlarged and joined with the nighttime MIX venue But overall it has not changed There are fewer fresh flowers and plants which was the Volendam theme and far fewer staff in the dining rooms and as cabin stewards The HAL updates of BB King and Lincoln Center are not there. Rooms do not have refrigerators but you can rent one! So we had a full ship with a busy itininerary and it was too cool for casually eating outdoors. So the Lido was crowded upon embaraktion and it sometimes became so crowded that finding s seat for breakfast or lunch became nasty with many internationsl guests not communicating well Our first hours also saw a special ceremony as the Mayor of Yokohama honored the captain for bringing HAL to Yokohama instead of to Tokyo Harbor. This was this captain's first trip to Japan Volendam was now coming to Yokohama in a political/econimic decision. In return Yokohama and other new ports would provide cultural guests onboard fo rthe passengers. First were Japanese drummers from Yokohama. later came Geisha dancers, Japanese women instrumentalists, and Chinese acrobats in Shanghai. Shimizu welcomed our arrival with a faireboat Another town brought out its Japanese drummers for our embarkation. The message was HAL was new to most of these ports and some would get one HAL ship visit in 2017. . , . So when we sought counsel from the shore excurison staff they had no idea what some of the tours were about They were without any clue how rigorous some of the tours might be They proved wrong on two as not easy but quite strenuous excursions Of course the passengers learned how strenuous when the tours were run for the first time. So the Volendam started off on its itininerary and got the passengers off in Shanghai with many delays and unexplained quirks . Then the ship tried to leave Shanghai and found a pilot problem that not only delayed departure after 11PM but had the ship sitting anchored in Shanghai's harbor for about 13 hours. The captain finally notified the passengers he had winds and fog problems although no fog horns blared. There was no ship motion problems but we wer stalled and the captain canceled the Okinawa port Naha as he ahd not left Shamnghai on time. But he got to Taiwan a day early. Surprise we did not get back our port and taxes from Okinawa. "You got an extra day in Keelong". But there was no need to get an extra day in this industrial city. Did the captain just prefer not to go back to Japan na dOkinawa? So the weather remained cool ( highs in the 50's ) until Hong Kong and limited everyone's energies as drizzle and rain came Immoigraiton in Hong Kong was difficult for all as the demand was made that all passengers get a number and leave the ship on call between 4PM and 6:15Pm walkign through the barren hallways of the former Tai Kak airport now the HK cruise terminal. It took most peoole 90 minutes to do the deed. There were limited staff to help those with limited mobility as all staff needed to go through immigraiton esepcially those leaving the ship the next day. . Few wheel chairs were avallable to walk about 3/4 of a mile of corridors. Mandatory for all to walk off the ship but with no assistance. Cabns were very standard on this vessel at just under 200sq ft Lots of closet space Renovation had nice showers. HAL had the cheapest quality toilet paper ever and saved on giving us only one bar of soap in 2 weeks and one 1 ounce of hand cream in 2 weeks No replacements. The common containers in the shower held the shampoo and conditioner. The bath wash there made a good air scent fo rthe bathroom Our cabin on the lower promenade did not get access to its deck most of the trip as workers tore apart the pipping, moved tenders painted and hammered away for 2 weeks Water got dumped daily over our windows on the the inner aspect of the promenade The workers made thi s hellish room in the night time and dining carts groaned overhead late at night Activities were very limited on this cruise The Digital workshop have not been updated since 2015. The cooking classes were ludicrous unless oyu paid Trivia was the busiest activity with an internaitonal following. The casino has raised its minimums on everything so don't look for penny machines Bingo appeared late in the cruise.-not our thing,. The evening music was best in the Ocean Bar with a dynamic trio for dancing and light jazz. The Adagio classic duo was better than our last cruise- young musuicians with some life in them. The piano man was a bit "old college try" and not our thing with very old material . The main shows were quite variable. The dancers were excellent. Best show was the dancers by themselves. The male singers were good and the women singers atrociaous with shrill voices that hurt the ears Either HAL needs to recruit better thier female cast singers, , put better filters on the women's microphones or get women who don't break glass with their shreaks. This cruise was busy with ports WE did not use the pool as it was too cold. WE had to fend off crowds to get a seat at shows and meals. Dinner service was a quiet respite each night away from crowds as many did not use the dining room and went to the lido to avoid getting into nice clothes after 6PM We saw little of the . officers and leadership in 2 weeks we had inadequate informaiton from the bridge The staffing everywhere has diminished on HAL and we rarely saw anyone to assist a handicapped person,. WE would arrive to a embarkation ramop to find no HAL person present at the bottom but security at the top so there was no effort to assist anyone up the ramnps. Dining started off with quality fresh ingredients Soon we noticed the fresh fruits wer disappearing We went from luscious large navel oranges to small bitter oranges as inedible Large grapes the first week never reappeared. Pineapple disappeared into canned varieties, The management of ice cream declined over the two weeks from many flavors to Neapolitan either all three or as one of the three flavors melting as not frozen in a form Icecream in the Lido and dining room was soft and runny My frozen yogurt had large ice chunks from poor storage Too many of HAL's dishes have chillis and hot spicy ingredients not appropriate for an older clientele Allergic to chilis I ofund themn in soups, salads, appetisers, everything. The quality of the vegetables on this HAL ship was better than most HAL experiences. Both variety and appropriately cooked. WE saw lots of beef entrees but rare pork except in the Asian bar No BarB Q. The pasta bar was very slow to get a eprsonal order and had only 2 varieties. In the Lido the prepared breakfast egg, potato and meat items were not warm This made us revert to personally made egg dishes and waiting long for fresh cooked food The food on the hot table was not warm. Dinner entrees were not very inspired limited to one pasta, one salad, one beef, one fish, one chicken and an additional try Risotto was a common entree. Appetizers/starters included chilled fruit soups, occasional shrimp cocktail, foie gras, tartars, ec Soups wer served in a pretentions manner of serving the garnish or ingredients in a dry bowl and pouring the broth over it as done on Top Chef But really it did not add much. WE started asking for the broth witout the garnish! Salads at dinner were insipid with little fresh bounce. Winter /root ingredients made them reserved Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing-Seoul-Nagasaki-Kagoshima-Kagoshima. Firstly, this was a "shoulder" cruise making it a bit chilly and down right cold in some ports. The balcony was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing-Seoul-Nagasaki-Kagoshima-Kagoshima. Firstly, this was a "shoulder" cruise making it a bit chilly and down right cold in some ports. The balcony was almost useless. Wish I had selected a cheaper cabin and used the extra money on excursions, wifi, beverages and the many other ways they find to increase your bill once on board. Entertainment was poor with the exception of the Shanghai Acrobats. Other shows were not worth going to and many people walked out. Not sure who they thought would be interested in harmonica players as an evening show. Even most movies shown on board had English subtitles and we left because we could not read, watch and enjoy. The public rooms were not usually crowded and were comfortable. Many people on the ship were doing back to back sailings and would be on board for 28 or more days. I was very ready to head home after 14 days. Food became repetitive and in spite of the effort HAL put into trying to prevent the spread of illness, my husband was sick for the last five days. In the main dining room, there was always a huge wait between appetizers and main course. We were at open seating so I am not sure if it was the same if you were in the assigned tables. For the most part, the food was good. In the Lido, the buffet option, I found it annoying to have to search for a table and often to have to bus it and find our own silverware and napkins. The staff working was very busy and trying hard but clearly it was understaffed. When you have numerous small plates to carry, you either need a tray(not available) or staff to help you get it to the table(also not available for the most part). After two weeks, I found the buffet to be repetitive but we tended to eat most of our meals there(breakfasts, lunches and half the dinners) But the food there was prepared to order and hot. The lines were confusing (People coming from both sides) but the wait was not too long. We did use room service and found it to be good. The menu was limited but you could also request anything on the current dining room menu which they did not advertise. . We found the excursions expensive. But if you did not book with them, you were delayed significantly in disembarking so it really cut into the time you had to do any tours. Several of our stops were a long distance from the city of interest (Beijing, Seoul,Tokyo) so it almost forced you to do their tours so you knew you would be back in time. We used the fitness center most mornings. There was a water fountain but a water dispenser with cups would have been much better. Plus, I did not appreciate that many of the classes, (spin, yoga) were not free. I attended a fitness lecture and walked out as it was one of the worst on board experiences I have ever had. When I left the lecture, there were only two people left. Everyone else had already left and apparently had similar opinions of it. Bottom line, we had a good time. I am glad I got the cruise at a discount price as it would not have be worth it for full brochure price. Would I sail HAL again? Yes if the price was right and I would know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we weren’t disappointed at all stopping off in China, South Korea and Japan. As first time cruisers and just turned 50 we were some of the youngest couples on board with the average age ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we weren’t disappointed at all stopping off in China, South Korea and Japan. As first time cruisers and just turned 50 we were some of the youngest couples on board with the average age of the guests around the 70+ age group mark. In fairness the cruise was targeted towards this group and a mainly American audience followed by the Aussies and Canadians. Only 124 Brits on board !!!!! The ship and cabins were very good in our opinion but we cannot compare to any rival. Rooms cleaned very efficiently and to a high standard by out 2 stewards.The food was spot on mostly with a great choice however the Lido self service restaurant is very much hit and miss with over dry and cold food served very often in the evening. The main Dining room “The Rotterdam” was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Entertainment was generally of a poor standard from the on board production and I have seen better at my kids school play!! The guest entertainers were however very good and of high quality which included a magician, comedian, juggler and rock violinist. Most nights there were two showings and always a seat available. The Excursions were badly organised and a royal rip off for what they were. We found that the meals served were of a quality that was too be desired and best left to a night out having drunk 10 pints of beer !!!! It seems that that they inflate the prices and squeeze everything to make as much money as possible. Shame as the itinerary for the excursions were not at all bad. We had 2 days in Beijing ( note the ship docks in Tianjin which is 2.5 hours from Beijing) and completed 2 excursions with very early starts. We could have done the same excursions and fitted more with an overnight stay in a 4* star hotel for less than half of the price Holland and America are charging. My advice is go independent as we have learnt a very harsh lesson on this. Activities on board were generally poor and very scarce on sea days which meant we were bored and Holland and America need to get their act together if they want to entice a new and younger client but then we got the impression that they look after their high value return guests and do not bother or incentivise new guests. There seems to be a speech and education programme targeted to the older demographic on board. The whole cruise is very much a hard sell culture and you pay and I mean pay for everything at inflated rates plus a service charge even if I go and get things myself. The crew in general very warm and welcoming with the exception of a few in the spa area who were miserable and non engaging and the Captain of the ship who walked around the ship acting as if he were GOD and ignoring all guests other than the big spending regular Americans. All in all it was a pleasant first cruise with good food let down by a lack of sea day activities and overinflated prices. Finally although I have not been on any other cruise ship I would not consider Holland and America to be a premium brand imho from the experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Was a great cruise, missed one port because of bad weather. We stayed in Keelung, Taiwan an additional night to make up for it. Cruise Director Bruce was very good, Jeremy, the ports of call guide, was excellent, service was fantastic, ... Read More
Was a great cruise, missed one port because of bad weather. We stayed in Keelung, Taiwan an additional night to make up for it. Cruise Director Bruce was very good, Jeremy, the ports of call guide, was excellent, service was fantastic, menu selection in Lido Buffet could have been better, food was excellent though, entertainment was pretty good. They even had some local entertainment come on board at some ports, which added some local color and flavor. Embarkation and disembarkation was simple and quick. The only hassle of the cruise was all the passport meetings and documentation that was needed what with going into and leaving five different countries in a matter of four weeks. As far as the itinerary, we could have stayed in Yokohama, the port city for Tokyo, overnight. One day was just not enough time to explore a large city like that. The shuttle buses provided by HAL in most of the ports was a very nice feature. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some ... Read More
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some really interesting bustling Asian cities . The excursions were hit and miss . We rented a car with driver and guide from holland america for both days in Shanghai and Beijing. It was ridiculously expensive but worth it. A couple of tips about seeing Shanghai and Beijing this way. We got Chinese currency before we left home but still ran out of cash because we forgot touring this way doesn't take into account admission fees or tips . Also,when we booked the car and guide for 2 days in Beijing it was well worth our while to also book a hotel in Beijing because it's a 2 1/2 hour drive from the cruise terminal in Tianjin to Beijing . Sheraton hotel in Beijing was beautiful and cheap $163 US per night and included a wonderful breakfast . Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our second Asian voyage in two years aboard Volendam, and we enjoyed this very interesting 28-day itinerary to many of Asia's most important destinations. Our ocean view cabin on Main Deck was comfortable and spacious but ... Read More
This was our second Asian voyage in two years aboard Volendam, and we enjoyed this very interesting 28-day itinerary to many of Asia's most important destinations. Our ocean view cabin on Main Deck was comfortable and spacious but showing its age. It was definitely in need of a refit. The bathroom was fine but there was mould on the shower curtain and in the grout around the tub enclosure. We spoke with others who were in similar cabins that had been refitted so expect all will be updated eventually. HAL's dining as usual was good standard in all restaurants. We did not think the Pinnacle Grill was good enough to support the $35 pp extra charge. We enjoyed our dinner in Canaletto more. Entertainment was passable, but disappointing that all the major musical productions were repeats from Volendam presentations a year ago. Our cabin stewards were excellent, as was our waiter Axis who served us every evening in the Ocean Bar. He was the best staff member aboard in our opinion. Friendly, efficient -- one of those crew members that give HAL its reputation for superior staff. The same could not be said for the people on the Front Desk and the Tours Desk, who were continually confused and verging on inept. It doesn't matter how cheerful people are if the information they provide is wrong or they can't sort out billing issues. We had two significant issues on this cruise: 1. On embarkation in Singapore we handed over 4 bags in the terminal. 3 arrived at the cabin, and when we sailed we had only 3. We were upset at the missing bag and it cast a shadow on sail away, which should be a happy time. We were informed all bags had been delivered so we completed a loss report. Fortunately on return to the cabin after dinner at 10 pm the bag was in the cabin with its original correct tag still intact. We have no idea where it went for 11 hours. No follow up from the Front Desk, nor an explanation. No apology. And very little interest or concern at the Front Desk in the first place that the bag had been missing. After a few days we provided written comment to the Front Desk and did receive an apology and a complimentary dinner in Canaletto. 2. On arrival in Nagasaki the disembarkation process was completely mis-managed by the ship's staff. Since we had not purchased a HAL tour we were given a 1:40pm disembarkation time. We were not able to get off the ship until almost 4:00 pm, with all-aboard time less than 3 hours later. The crew blamed Japan Immigration for delays, but the fault was entirely the ship's disembarkation process that did not control who got off the ship when. Very shabby, and this short port of call was almost ruined by the inept management of the disembarkation process. Not one of HAL's finer days. Otherwise we found the cruise of pretty good standard. Volendam is getting old and tired, and its heating system seemed challenged by the cold weather in Korea and China (Lido pool area and several of the public spaces were unusually cold and uncomfortable for about 48 hours) but it is a good size for Asia cruising and the itinerary from Singapore to Yokohama was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Selected primarily because of the itinerary. Our cabin was quite satisfactory. The ship's own floor show entertainment group was excellent, but most of their shows were repeated during the 28 days cruise. All the other lounge ... Read More
Selected primarily because of the itinerary. Our cabin was quite satisfactory. The ship's own floor show entertainment group was excellent, but most of their shows were repeated during the 28 days cruise. All the other lounge entertainment was one-person acts and were generally mediocre or not appealing to a wide audience. The piano player, "Barry from Boston", was terrible but tolerated by a surprising number of folks. Ship excursions were terribly expensive. We did two, plus many good independent tours arranged via Cruise Critic contacts with fellow passengers. Our worst excursion was HAL's "Best of Jakarta", a true waste of money. Our independent tour to Borrobodur (sp?) included a high speed police escort for our two vans and was far superior to the ship's escorted tour. On Komodo Island we had our a guide and park ranger for just the two of us while the ship's tours were large groups. Bali was far more densely populated than we had realized and less enjoyable than expected. Singapore and Hong Kong were standout, wonderful places to visit. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam were all great places to visit. The scenery from a lengthy boat ride at Halong Bay was spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We were invited to join some friends on this itinerary. My husband wanted to revisit Vietnam, and I had previous enjoyable trips to Hong Kong and Japan. For us, the shipboard experience is as important and enjoyable as the ... Read More
We were invited to join some friends on this itinerary. My husband wanted to revisit Vietnam, and I had previous enjoyable trips to Hong Kong and Japan. For us, the shipboard experience is as important and enjoyable as the destinations/excursions. Our previous experiences include a recent Mediterranean cruise on the new Viking Ocean Sea, as well as shorter cruises with Royal Caribbean, NCL, the point being we are not Holland long-time cruisers. In fact, this was our first Holland cruise and we were very interested in joining the apparently loyal Holland community onboard. Overall, the experience with Holland was good. The front desk staff was always pleasant and helpful. The cabin stewards provided prompt and excellent cabin service. In-room dining service was prompt and the servers reviewed each meal delivered before leaving the cabin. Shipboard entertainment was somewhat varied, but it did repeat over the 28-days. We enjoyed afternoon team trivia the most, and the various evening music venues (Adagio and Barry from Boston - depending on our moods). However, Adagio was located in an open lounge, adjacent to a main thoroughfare and near the rowdier piano bar, resulting in comments from the Adagio crowd. (??) Admittedly, we enjoyed Barry from Boston, as he controlled his show and audience skillfully and was talented. My friend attended most of the Test Kitchen sessions and was very impressed by them. We took in a few of the movies, but the more interesting of them had subtitles which were difficult to read (flashed across the screen too rapidly). The main entertainment venue was okay, with the multi-talented singers/dancers. The fitness center was bright and open, but I will comment about the fitness instructor and fitness lectures. The young instructor was very dictatorial and insulting as he lead us through the exercise programs. I went twice and did not return. The fitness lectures - don't go. I spent nearly an hour, hoping to absorb important information from the fitness instructor about body fat, cleansing the system, etc., until I realized it was a sales effort to buy products. The same day, I googled the same lecture, and found multiple comments of the same. I guess I didn't expect this from Holland, as a more refined cruise experience. Just in general, there seemed to be a smorgasbord of shipboard sales pitches. We had enjoyed the buffet service with Viking Sea, able to serve ourselves at the hot food line, and it was first rate, not rushed, with the seating areas well maintained and well organized. The experience on Holland in the Lido (buffet) was less than acceptable. (1) Not enough serving staff at the food counter, (2) not enough waitstaff at the tables to clean and reset. The serving staff were unhelpful and overworked, unfriendly. The waitstaff were more friendly but also understaffed and overworked. And there was a definite decline in the Lido food service between the first 14 days of the cruise and the second 14 days of the cruise. So much more chaos in the Lido that we started taking in-room dining and attending main room dining instead. The service in the main dining room was acceptable and professional. Shore excursions - expensive at best. Cambodia should be dropped as an excursion. We felt embarrassed showing up at the local fishing village, sort of the "circus has come to town" while the local residents just stared. It was such a poverty stricken, garbage-strewn environment, that we didn't understand how to take it all in to appreciate it one way or another. In retrospect, I would have preferred to have given the residents our excursion money spent. We did select our own tour online from Viator for Beijing and found values online to be much more reasonable than the costs of those tours provided by Holland. The ship's excursions were organized well enough, just much more expensive. Now, for the comparison between Holland and Viking... given, the Holland Volendam is a much older ship and the Viking Sea was only 6 months at the tiime of our sailing. Dollar for dollar and shipboard experience, Viking comes out on top in value. No 'nickel and diming' to enjoy other ship's restaurants, at least one free excursion offered at each port, wine/beer offered free of charge each meal, restaurant service better managed on the V. Sea. Cabin/bathroom space was similar, although V. Sea had bedside outlets and USB ports since it was newer. Other comparisons with H. Volendam and V. Sea would be unfair, due to the age difference of the ships. We noticed differences in service levels and dollar value (extras charged for standard services provided on Holland that were included gratis on Viking). Bottled water was free as we left on every excursion and in the room. We enjoyed our overall experience with Holland and hoped to provided a realistic critique for future cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
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 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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