92 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

The review by "dockman" is spot on. It's remarkable how sometimes one might think that one is the only person feeling in a certain way when in fact many would be feeling likewise. Like "dockman" I consider it a ... Read More
The review by "dockman" is spot on. It's remarkable how sometimes one might think that one is the only person feeling in a certain way when in fact many would be feeling likewise. Like "dockman" I consider it a pity that much of this review is negative; but I make no apology for this as Holland America has been in this business for over 150 years and should know better than to try to hoodwink its passengers especially those like me who have sailed with them and others scores times. As to the taxi mafia in the ports on this itinerary, Holland America has been to these ports over and over just in the last few months alone so they would be aware of what's going on. They know what's going to happen to us hapless independent cruisers and should use their muscle to protect its customers; rather it fed us to the wolves. It was especially galling when I discovered that in Laem Chebang, Thailand, as the independent cruisers were being ripped off $US50 for a one way trip to Pattaya, (5 or 6 times the taxi meter price) the crew had a special deal and 5 of them could travel by taxi for US20. This is profiteering from secret deals derived from the rip off of the independent cruisers. This is criminal and hurtful. I propose to report this to Better Business Bureau in the USA. I realize that these shady business practices are taking place in foreign ports, but US companies have a responsibility to behave responsibly wherever they operate if they are to uphold their reputations as good corporate citizens. The itinerary This itinerary left a lot to be desired. Spending 8 hours in a bus to achieve 2 hours in Saigon was a joke I refused to be part of. Likewise Bangkok which was described as a 90 minute trip from Laem Chabang "if there is NO traffic". When is there "NO" traffic going into Bangkok. And why did we need TWO visas to get into Vietnam? This was because the ship went from Halong Bay to (Sanya)China and back to Vietnam so two separate entrries. Why couldn't the ship go Hong Kong, Sanya and then Vietnam? The ship The ship itself was fine and the food acceptable. I did point to the head chef wwhile he was running a cookery class that the beautiful aromas he was concocting were decidedly absent from the meals in the dining room, which were on the bland side. Evidently they cook for the digestive systems of eldrly Americans. This needs to change so that people who like spicy foods can get them. Some decks do not have fridges in the staterooms; but you can hire one. I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life. Which hotel even in darkest Africa does NOT provide a fridge? Which cruise line? Yet they provide soda cans for purchase in these cabins; do they expect us to drink them warm? I objected and got a fridge. I think that Holland America should state this on their ticket (which it does NOT) as I consider it outside the expectation of any passenger taking a cruise on a recently refurbished Volendam to find that there is no fridge in their stateroom. This is unacceptable and dishonest advertising. The quality and price of the wines are an ongoing sore point with all cruise lines. The $40+ wines are rubbish and you wouldn't drink them if you paid the $5 per bottle they are worth. After trying a few ordinary wine bottles at rip-off prices we gave up and bought good French wine ashore and drank that. From time to time we took a glass with us to the dining room and no one seemed to mind. Holland America Generally I tried to report this by phoning Holland America in Seattle. The Guest Relations person who answered shouldn't be anywhere neqar anything called "Guest Relations". He excuse was that this is an exotic itinerary and HA goes there a "couple of times a year". I couldn't get through to her that the Volendam has probably done this itinerary backwards and forwards half a dozen times this season alone. Holland America has a lot going for it. The crew and staff are usually exceptionally good with people. However I have yet to get off a cruise without thinking, why do they go through so much trouble and then shoot themselves in the foot every time"... Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My husband and I and 5 friends cruised Alaska's Inside Passage on Holland America's Volendam from 9/19 to 9/26. This was our first cruise and I will tell you that we loved the experience. We will cruise again. Maybe with HA and ... Read More
My husband and I and 5 friends cruised Alaska's Inside Passage on Holland America's Volendam from 9/19 to 9/26. This was our first cruise and I will tell you that we loved the experience. We will cruise again. Maybe with HA and maybe not. The things we liked outweighed what we didn't but here is our assessment. 1) We loved the ship. We had a veranda room on Level 6 and the verandahs next to us were occupied by some of our friends. A a first time cruiser I wasn't sure what to expect as far as room size but it was biggger than I expected, particularly the bathroom. All in all I thought the room and the overall ship were great. Very clean. 2) The Crow's Nest. What a great spot to watch the beautiful Alaskan scenery! 3) Glacier Bay. I can not tell you what a fantastic experience Glacier Bay was. It still takes my breath away to think about it. My husband got up early the morning that we were to arrive in Glacier Bay and he saw the Alaska Park Rangers pull up in a boat next to the Volendam and board. Those park rangers, four of them, were with us all day. One was broadcasting as we entered Glacier Bay and bascially narrated everything we saw. It was as if we had paid someone for an excursion to Glacier Bay. Two of the other rangers were giving talks about the glaciers in certain spots and talking about the native people. Because the Volendam is not quite as big as some of the other cruise ships we were able to get all the way to the Johns Hopkins glacier which proceeded to calve while we were there. A huge calving event. You just have to see if for yourself. 4) The food. We thought the food was good. I'm not going to tell you that every meal was gourmet but some were. I had rack of lamb in the Rotterdam Dining Room and it was fabulous. We ate in Pinnacle Grill one night and it was quite good. Is it worth the $25 surcharge? Some of us thought it was. Some of us thought it wasn't. The breakfast buffet in the Lido has just about anything you could want and it is good and the buffet line servers go out of their way to get you what you want. 5) Canaletto Italian Restaurant. It's actually just a blocked off area next to the Lido grill BUT we all thought it was fantastic! A $10 up charge and totally, totally worth it! A beautiful balsamic vinegar reduction on your table, an awesome antipasta platter brought around for you to select from, and probably the best meatballs I have ever eaten, excellent service. Everyone loved their dishes. Our group ate there 2 out of the 7 nights. Personally, I think they should take the Pinnacle space and make it Canaletto. 6) The Staff...99.9% are great! 7) The Gym....not large but adequate and one of the best views on the ship. Great spin class! There are so many good things to say about our trip that I hate to bring up the negative but here goes... First, my husband and I purchased the Suite Amenities Package for 2 and what a NIGHTMARE that was! It was like pulling teeth to get what was included in the package. Basically, the spirits that were to be in the room upon embarkation were not there. They finally delivered some of it at 11:00 p.m. that night and some of it the next day. Our friends just called room service once on board and they got what they ordered much sooner than what we paid for a month in advance. Next, the package includes laundry but they didn't give us any laundry tickets in the beginning. The package included a breakfast someplace other than the buffet or Rotterdam on disembarkation day that we never got. I still don't know how that happened. It's too long of a story to type. The package also included either high tea or canapes delivered to the room everydday. We got it one day and never again. The package included dinner for 2 at the Pinnalce Grill ($50) and we went on LeCirgue night with 3 of our friends. We were told they would just bill us the difference of $14 (b/c LeCirqu) is $39). Not only did they bill us for the entire $39 they billed the other 3 people to our room also. Anyway, I would NOT buy the suite amenities package...big, big ripoff. Next, room service. What a nightmare! I still to this day don't know who I should call for what. If you call one number they say, "Oh, call the other room service number." They keep telling you that your steward will do this and that for you. We never saw our stewards. We had 2 of them. They cleaned our rooms and finally figured out to bring us ice 2x per day but that's it. If you wanted something in your room....good luck! Our friends next door had dirty dishes sit in their room all day. They called 2x and no one ever came to get them. We asked if we could have the stuff in our mini bar changed out for things we would use instead of what we didn't want. I asked if they could change out the cokes for water and more pelligrino. Never happened. I asked them if they could bring club soda and they were totally clueless. Never happened. The rooms were cleaned well and we always had a cute towel animal on our bed at night. In my opinion they need to divert manpower from making towel animals and instead make sure that their guests have what they need or want. Bottled water...just go to the Explorers Cafe and buy yourself a few big bottles. Don't ask room service. I was in the gym on the second day of the cruise and a woman who was doing spin class with me had a big bottle of water. I asked her where she got it and she said it was in her stateroom. No water in my stateroom. One of the guys working in the gym overheard our conversation and he said the biggest complaint that the ship gets is that it is hard to get water. Anyway, I could go on but suffice it to say their room service needs serious improvement. I think a guest should be able to pick up the phone, give their request and have it fulfilled. I shouldn't have to call 3 different phone numbers and wait 2 hours for a can of bloody mary mix. Last but not least....wine/alcohol service in the Rotterdam. If you want a cocktail, bring your own wine and pay the corkage fee or go to another bar and get your drink. It's like the room service problem. Your food waiter is not your alcohol waiter. One night in the Rotterdam we were seated at the table for a half an hour and not one of us yet had a cocktail/wine in front of us. Which is STUPIDITY on the part of HA because you are paying for it! It was very odd and we finally just gave up and brought our own. All in all, we very much enjoyed our cruise but I would probably explore another cruise line for regions other than Alaska because we just were not satisfied with the service in our room or the Rotterdam. As far as the suite amenities pkg goes, we felt that we were just plain robbed but whatever. Live and learn. I loved Alaska and would go back tomorrow if I could. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Arrived in Sydney a couple of days before stayed at the Medina Grand Sydney, good hotel, near Darling Harbour, with kitchenette which help cut the costs, very expensive in Sydney, we found the best way to get around was the hop on hop off ... Read More
Arrived in Sydney a couple of days before stayed at the Medina Grand Sydney, good hotel, near Darling Harbour, with kitchenette which help cut the costs, very expensive in Sydney, we found the best way to get around was the hop on hop off bus. Very smooth boarding ship almost no waiting, nice large cabin. Our first day was at sea was cloudy,cold winds, in fact all our sea days were overcast with some rain, we just had one sunny day where it was nice to sit out on deck, so take some warm clothes. We dined in the Rotterdam open sitting, the waiters seemed friendly, but no sign of managers or maitre'de, so when our food arrived cold, there was not anyone nearby to sort it out, all the waiters had gone to the kitchen. We complained the next day things improved slightly, but much below the standard I was expecting, we eventually found a table with good service and stuck to that one. Throughout the ship there was a distinct lack of managerial staff, even when the captain introduced his crew there was only about 6 of them, amazingly they all appeared on the last couple of days when tips were due. Front desk were very offhand about any enquiries,we had problem with noise behind our cabin during the night. No Captains Cocktail party, very limited on board daytime entertainment, which was very badly timed, several things clashed with meals. Our first stop was Melbourne, nice city, free shuttle, easy to walk around. Then onto Burnie, Tasmania, lovely people, go to the I centre to pick up all the tours, free shuttle to it. I have listed some port info, but Picton not on list, little town, pretty, Aquarium a bit dated. Napier charming Art Deco very walkable. Tauranga, for Rotarura, a must if you have not been. We had, so picked up a local tour which was really good. Final day at sea, told if we wanted to see sun over White Island, be up at 6.30a.m.( no sun) but we then proceeded to go round and round this tiny island a least 6 times almost till lunch time, till you felt dizzy. I really missed seeing the Alps and the Glaciers, but that trip was £1200 for two. In hindsight I would have left out the cruise and taken a coach trip from Christchurch. Still better luck next time with our cruise, I don't think it will be HA. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Far East Discovery - HK to Singapore Firstly let me say that this was not our first cruise, having cruised regularly with many cruise companies since the early 1990s.This was our first with HAL and was used due to the area visited. I ... Read More
Far East Discovery - HK to Singapore Firstly let me say that this was not our first cruise, having cruised regularly with many cruise companies since the early 1990s.This was our first with HAL and was used due to the area visited. I have read reviews of the ship/cruise and would agree completely that it is not a 5 star ship following our experience.However - Embarkation Having stayed in HK prior to the cruise we arrived early at the cruise terminal(noon approx). It was organised and our luggage was collected ,receipt given. Later delivered to the cabin in reasonable time. We had "checked in" on line and the process was organised and was not too long. Prior to leaving the UK we had checked that Visa's could be obtained and this was dealt with at check in. We arrived at the cabin and was quite satisfied - an Ocean View. Plenty of space including a spacial Bathroom(A good sized Bath). Bath Robes provided. Restaurants Any Time Dining - Accommodated us as when we arrived.Food pleasant but not the best. One occasion when the main coarse was refused alternative offered. Always had to "push" for coffee and once never delivered. Staff pleasant but overall service very slow.Be careful where you sit, if under the AIR CON it really blows cold. LIDO(Cafeteria)Nothing outstanding and not spoilt for choice. Not the best dining experiences. Specialised Restaurants not used. Room Service included. Excursions Due to Ports of Call Ships Excursions used. Fairly well organised and better organised than some other ships we have been on. Expensive but that seems to be the norm nowadays. Daily Entertainment A choice to keep you busy if you wish but nothing to really grab your interest DVD players in cabins with an extensive FREE DVD library. Book Library is small, so get there early but should be adequate for the ship size. Cinema on board. Port Lecturer Very informative with humour, kept our interest Evening Entertainment Theatre Not bad but not the best seen. Not many ships company shows with guests artistes taking most evenings. Take a "woolly". The Theatre is cold, again the Air Con blowing down. Best views upstairs and as the cruise progressed it would seem many agreed as seats became hard to find. Early Diners making the most. Disembarkation Organised to get us off the ship early in Singapore, however that left us to queue(one only)which was slow. Overall Impression Not a 5 star ship which could improve its dining. It has not put us off going on it again - depends on the itineraries/price. It served us well for an area not previously visited. Niggles but no serious complaints Singapore a place to visit not transit Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was my fourth cruise all with Holland America. Very disappointed in facilities. Cabin was on port side on deck seven at the stern. First night (after ten) I heard furniture being dragged around above me. This went on until 2:30 am. ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise all with Holland America. Very disappointed in facilities. Cabin was on port side on deck seven at the stern. First night (after ten) I heard furniture being dragged around above me. This went on until 2:30 am. Got up at 3am and went to check. Saw nothing. This "noise" only happened on nights when the sea was calm. Being at stern of ship my cabin had an "emergency" door which led to second door opening to a small deck area. On good days and nights people were constantly passing through these doors with lots of door slamming. No rest there. One day in the afternoon I went to lie down and someone was making "repairs" somewhere with a sledge hammer. Went on for a fair time. Anyway, this curtailed my "catnap". I don't smoke so could smell a lingering cigarette smoke smell as soon as I went in. This odor was reinforced when others smoked on their open verandahs. So I kept my door closed to keep smoke out. The dining service was rather lax with very bland desserts the norm. Wine steward would take open wine bottle for safekeeping. Next evening at dinner this bottle couldn't be found. Finally I marked one of my own bottles in ink on the label and it did show up the next evening. When leaving the ship at end of cruise the disembarkation process fell apart as there was a delay in getting the ship "cleared" by authorities. So my "time" for leaving the ship was at 9:00 am and so was everyone else. Big jamb of people made Canada Customs slow. The weather wasn't great and we had two very rough nights. Glacier Bay was great but cold. Glad I took my winter coat hat and gloves. The three ports we stopped in were wet and rainy. The shopping was fun though! Most of the stores selling precious gems, gold etc. are giving "kickbacks" to cruise lines. Best deals are in independent stores. Holland American seems to want to get every last penny out of their customers. Bottled water in room was $3.95. Their is a "service charge" on all drinks except tea and coffee which are free in the Lido. The Explorations Cafe had special coffees and cookies etc. for a charge (nothing was free). Internet service is slow but mostly usable unless satellite dish was blocked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was a cruise tour - 8 days land, 4 days on the Volendam. We flew to Anchorage and stayed at the Hilton. We met our tour guide, Daniel Berg, who was an amazing tour guide - probably the best tour guide I've encountered. The hotel ... Read More
This was a cruise tour - 8 days land, 4 days on the Volendam. We flew to Anchorage and stayed at the Hilton. We met our tour guide, Daniel Berg, who was an amazing tour guide - probably the best tour guide I've encountered. The hotel in Anchorage was adequate. The next day we spent on the McKinley Explorer which was a lovely dome train with very comfortable seating. We had a great narrator who explained what we were seeing as well as giving us lots of information about Alaska. We arrived at the Chalets Resort in Denali and were horrified. We were assigned rooms down a very steep hill and away from the main area. The rooms were ugly, rustic, and not very comfortable. The dining on the property was very expensive and the food was mediocre. The next day was spent on a bus taking us through Denali. We had a great guide, Kate Swift, who's driving skills on hairpin turns were amazing. We saw quite a bit of wildlife and were pleased with the excursion although sitting on a bus all day was boring. Another day on the McKinley Explorer to Fairbanks where we had two excursions - gold panning at El Dorado Gold Mine and the Discovery Riverboat. We had lunch consisting of stew at the Dredge #8 which was quite good. The Discovery Riverboat took us up and down the river and stopped at an imitation native village with grandchildren of natives explaining how they lived. Next was a long day on a comfortable bus with a great driver, Alex Fisher. We had lunch in Tok which was quite good. The Westmark Inn at Beaver Creek was probably the worst hotel we have ever stayed at in our lives. There were no phones or tvs in the rooms. The place was dark and dismal. We could not understand why HAL would put people up at such an awful place. Dinner and a "Yukon" show were included. The food was not very good by any standards and the drinks were outlandishly expensive - $6.50 for a glass of draft beer. They had an open fire where we could make 'smores. The smoke burned our eyes and they finally doused the fire after dinner - long after we stopped making 'smores. The show was hokey but we had fun since it was better than going to our room. We went to White Horse and stayed at the White Horse Westmark which was adequate. The weather was warm and wonderful. However, there didn't seem to be a/c in any of the hotels and the average room temps were in the 90s. We were told to open the windows to let cool air in. The meals provided were three lunches and one dinner in our 8 day tour. Many of us were surprised that more meals, especially breakfast, weren't included. Our days started very early in the morning and it would have been nice to have breakfast before our very long bus rides. Holland America is very remiss in the quality of accommodations they provide on their cruise tours. We finally boarded the Volendam in Skagway. The absolute best part of this trip was sailing in Alaska. The sights are awesome. We went through Hubbard Glacier with an excellent narrator. The ship's speed was perfect and we thoroughly enjoyed the majesty of Alaska. We got to see a few hump back whales. Unfortunately the Volendam is not what she claims to be. She is not a premier line, she is not elegant. Instead, she is a tired, old ship with no ambiance, no glamor and nothing to make us want to sail on her again. The crew had pasted-on smiles and really didn't seem happy about taking care of us. On many occasions the main dining room staff were abrupt and it was difficult to get beverage refills. Too bad. Our ocean view cabin was the typical cruise cabin and was adequate. Our cabin steward, Imam, was very friendly and helpful. There was a wonderful salmon bake on the Lido deck and the food was excellent. The smells from the salmon being grilled were so appetizing. That was a great touch to a cruise in Alaska. On another night there was a chocolate extravaganza with the usual variety of chocolate statues, such as eagles. The food was the usual cruise fare, some good, some mediocre. Because Alaska is such a magnificent place to visit we were OK with the fact that the shows weren't good and there were no activities to speak of. All in all, it was a good experience but we would not repeat it, nor would we recommend it to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We began our Holland America cruisetour (#3)in Vancouver. Plan to go back to spend more time there - 2 days weren't enough. Nice, large cabin compared to others we have had with other lines. Sail off was really nice, going under the ... Read More
We began our Holland America cruisetour (#3)in Vancouver. Plan to go back to spend more time there - 2 days weren't enough. Nice, large cabin compared to others we have had with other lines. Sail off was really nice, going under the Lions Gate Bridge and between the BC islands around Vancouver. Disappointment soon followed. We could not seem to get ice in our cabin, nor the fresh fruit daily as promised and asked for. Finally got ice once, and never did get the fruit. We had a reserved table for two but when we found our table during our free time after boarding, it was attached to the waiters' station so the waiters would have been coming and going around our table and over our heads all evening. We opted for open dining and were not disappointed with our tablemates. The waiters were a little slow especially about refilling glasses of tea, water, etc. It rained and turned very cold for the remainder of the 3 days on the ship. The "inside passage" cruise we were looking forward to became an open water cruise having gone around (outside of) all of the islands except the few between Tracy Arm and Juneau. The seas were rough - over 30' most of the day. There was no sitting on deck enjoying the warm blanket and hot cup of cocoa. You could hardly stand on deck at all. When we entered the Inside Passage it was nighttime and nothing could be seen. Breakfast was late the morning we got to Tracy Arm despite being encouraged by the cruise director to get an early start this morning. We did go into Tracy Arm, but we turned around before seeing any glaciers. What we did see of Tracy Arm was spectacular. You could get closer to the glaciers if you wanted to book a $200/pp excursion announced the night before. We had been told we would see the glaciers but how close we could go would depend on the icebergs. We never even saw the glaciers at all. Arrived at Juneau in a pouring rain and it rained all the time we were there. See excursion information below. Arrived back at the ship about 8:30pm to be told that the dining room was closed (last open seating was 9:15?)and they were holding the buffet for us. They didn't hold much as there wasn't much of a selection and the crew seemed to be put out they had to stay after. Set sail for Skagway. Checked off the ship in Skagway to begin our land tour. Wasn't exactly sure why we could not eat our meals on the ship that day since we were in Skagway all day just like the rest of the passengers who were having shore excursions but not to be, we were on our own. Loved Skagway - see excursion notes below. Met our tour director, Lori Dollar here. Next morning off on the Yukon and White Pass Railroad to Carcross. Spectacular scenery. It was cold but the rain appeared to have stopped for now. Had a hearty miners lunch at Lake Bennett and then finished the trip. Would highly recommend this. Met the tour coach and driver JJ at Carcross for the trip to Whitehorse. Overnight in Whitehorse and attend the Frantic Follies - cute vaudeville show. Would liked to have spent more time in Whitehorse instead of Dawson. Next morning off on the coach to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Long day of bus riding. Several interesting stops and photo ops but still a long day. Dawson City was nice but not really the kind of place you would want or need to spend 3 partial days and 2 nights at. Walked the town and visited the First Nations cultural center and the Dawson City museum. Hoped to see the mounties stationed here but they don't make appearances in dress any more except on special occasions. Did book the Toast of the Dome excursion - don't recommend. You can go to the top of the Dome yourself. The "toast" was a carrot cake square and about 3 ounces of sparkling grape juice. Considering all of the Gold Rush information we had been given over the last 3 or 4 days - this tour guide just didn't have his facts straight. Off in the morning on the Yukon Queen down the Yukon River. Super time and unbelievable scenery. Box lunch on the boat was good. Arrived at Eagle - small bush country village. Saw a mock trial and shopped at the Eagle "mall". Visited with townspeople about their life in such a remote place. Had fun here. Didn't know what was to come. A bus ride for 68 miles down a gravel Taylor Highway with a pilot car because the road was so narrow and many hairpin turns. Scenery not to be believed though. A couple of stops to break things up such as the one at Chicken. Arrived in Tok in late afternoon. Tok - a broken down bus and a 5 hour delay. HAL made it good with a $50 voucher that some had a hard time cashing. You could cash it or use it for dinner, etc. but if you used it for dinner or other things and you didn't use the whole $50, you didn't get change. HAL was aware of the bus problems the day before coming from Chicken but refused to send another but that night so we had to sit around the next morning while one came from Fairbanks 4 hours away. Not alot to do in TOK and they made us check out of our rooms at 8:00am so couldn't even wait there. Arrived in Fairbanks 5 hours late - missed our prebooked excursion and am still trying to get our money back on that one even though we were promised it would be refunded. Went to gold Dredge #8 and panned for gold - lots of fun. Saw the Alaska pipeline. Didn't see much else of Fairbanks. Boarded the Alaska Railroad to Denali. It was fun and to be recommended. Arrived Denali midafternoon. Took the Husky Homestead Tour to see Jeff King's dogs. It was a wonderful experience and super tour. Would highly recommend. Rented a jeep and toured ourselves around Denali the next morning and then took the Tundra Wilderness tour with our group in the afternoon. It is long but well worth the wildlife you see. Don't let HAL tell you that this cannot be changed if you need to change to better fit an excursion you want to take. It can!! Denali is all it is said to be and shouldn't be missed, Boarded the Alaska RR to Anchorage. Even better scenery than before. Only problem here was that we had to share a car with a group from Taiwan. They were loud, obnoxious, and rude. They talked louder than the hostess and tour guide, leaned on our seats, and had complete disregard for anyone. This went on for 6 hours. Their tour director and their interpreter tried to talk to them but it went unheeded. Kind of ruined our last day together with our group. In Anchorage, said goodbye to our tour director, Lori. She was great. Hope you get her on your tour. Visited the Portage Glacier, Turnagin Arm, and Beluga Point. Then off to our flight home. We are still arguing with HAL over our final bill. Seems after we signed our final ship bill on our last night, they saw fit to add more gratuity before charging our credit card. They refuse to give a refund even though we did not want to add this additional gratuity. The on the ground HAL personnel - tour director, bus guides, drivers, etc were superb. The "office" staff were and still are a huge pain in the neck and are rude. Hope this helps you plan your cruisetour. We would not take this same cruise tour again because it is a once in a lifetime tour - following the Gold Rush. We do plan to see and tour Alaska again - maybe with another company or on our own.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first ... Read More
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first impression of the Volendam was gloomy and dark and felt only half the lights were on. The same in our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on navigation deck and had everything we needed. The beds were very comfortable and I slept like a baby. The Indonesian stewards were very good but had limited English, and we did enjoy our towel animals every night. A bit too much of the Indonesian thing with 2 or 3 shows and even when I went for afternoon tea one day it was only Indonesian teas and food. The food was excellent and we enjoyed Christmas night at the Pinnacle Grill. They brought round a trolley and described every cut of meat and where it was from. My DH had a T-bone steak which took up the whole plate. The chocolate volcano cake was delicious. Great service and food. We had anytime dining and had different tablemates and never had to queue. We felt as there were a big percentage of Americans on the ship who had come all this way for the NZ experience that they should have had NZ entertainers as well as the Australian singers who sang a lot of Australian songs, etc. Also none of our beautiful NZ wines. The weather wasn't very warm and the temperatures in the ship were cold as well. Definitely long sleeves day and night. We went to the late shows and there were only a handful of people there. The ports were good and the free buses, I think put on by each local council to the centre of town, were great. The seas were very rough around Stewart Island and the Tasman with 6 metre swells. Milford Sound was one of the highlights. The tendering process left a lot to be desired in the rough seas and I saw 2 potential accidents. Not enough crew supervising the tenders. All in all I felt this cruise was rather staid and sedate. 17 days was a bit long and 4 formal nights - well the novelty wore off. If you like to read in a corner then this was the cruise for you. For me, I'm back to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
HAL has long had a reputation for excellence, based on a high standard of service. Although experienced cruisers, this was our first trip aboard a HAL ship. Unfortunately, Volendam failed to live up to the HAL standard. Admittedly used ... Read More
HAL has long had a reputation for excellence, based on a high standard of service. Although experienced cruisers, this was our first trip aboard a HAL ship. Unfortunately, Volendam failed to live up to the HAL standard. Admittedly used to larger classes of ships, we thought that the smaller size of the Volendam would translate to more personal service, and perhaps a higher standard of cuisine. This was not the case. During the first two days of the cruise, we were astounded by the lack of cheerful attention that we had enjoyed on other cruise lines. On Day One, the special coffee bar was out of our favourite beverages. The dining room staff forgot and lost orders, failed to clear the table, and were almost rude in their treatment of our party. The dining room supervisors refused to sit our party together at breakfast. It got so bad that on Day Three we made three formal complaints to the service staff. It was only after this extraordinary measure that the service changed to something closer to expectations. In addition, we found the condition of the ship to be poor. There were large stains on our cabin walls. The corridors stank of cigarette smoke (I have heard that HAL is considering changing its policy of allowing smoking in cabins). The stores were located in the same area as the casino, so that it was impossible to shop without breathing in second-hand smoke. There were broken picture frames on the walls of the corridors, and some of the washrooms were unusable due to unclean conditions. In short, HAL clearly needs to pay more attention to the condition of its ships. To be fair, there were some good points. The entertainment was quite good, with professional acts and good variety. The cabin stewards were attentive, and the cooking and computer classes were a nice addition to normal shipboard activities. Finally, the itinerary was very enjoyable, with excellent excursions. Would I travel HAL again? Probably not, unless there were no other choices. In this day of high stakes competition amongst cruise lines, reputations need to be both earned and maintained. HAL may have earned a reputation for excellence, but in this case it failed dismally to maintain it. Too bad. As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My partner and I travelled on the Volendam on a 7 night Alaska cruise leaving Vancouver in May of 2009. We were disappointed to find many shortcomings and can not work out how the ship could possibly be classified as 5 star. On boarding ... Read More
My partner and I travelled on the Volendam on a 7 night Alaska cruise leaving Vancouver in May of 2009. We were disappointed to find many shortcomings and can not work out how the ship could possibly be classified as 5 star. On boarding in Vancouver very few cabins were ready to occupy and ours was not ready until 230pm. On boarding the ship at 1pm we were told to go to the only retaurant open (the Lido buffet) and have lunch. All the passengers that had boarded previously were also there taking up all the table space. There was a long line to get food and the staff could not keep up with the demand. They ran out of plates and cutlery and were doing their best to replenish but they just couldn't keep up with the demand. Our luggage was not delivered to our cabin until after the ship sailed at 5pm. We were hoping it would get better ....it didn't. The Lido restaurant which is the buffet is cafetaria style where everybody has to line up with a tray and wait for the people in front of them to obtain what they want. At Breakfast time if someone wants eggs or toast cooked the whole line stops. Every morning the queue was out past the lifts. Dinner time the buffet closes at 8pm and main dining room doors close at 815pm. If passengers go to the early show in the theatre by the time the show is over there is nowhere to eat except back in the cabin where it takes over a hour to get room service. As there are no fridges in the cabins to get ice is an ordeal....we had to wait sometimes 45 minutes before it was deliverd. A wine package is offered which we purchased. As the cruise was 7 nights we ordered 7 bottles , one for each night at Dinner. We were supposed to know what wine we wanted for the next night (24 hours in advance)so that it could be ready in the restauirant for us. We found this to be ridiculous as we had no idea which restaurant we would be eating in the next night and certainly wouldn't know which wine we were going to be drinking without even siting a menu. There is only one central wine storage area on the ship and waiters have to obtain it from there. To overcome the problem we ordered all the wines to be sent to our cabin and we took the wine with us to the restaurant with us. Chilling the white wine was done by ordering Ice to the cabin. If Holland America thinks this is 5 star service and a "signature of excellence they are deluding themselves. I feel they are trading on an old reputation but have not moved with the times. We have travelled on Princess lines and a restaurant is open 24/7. They leave Holland America for dead and deserve their 5 star rating. Holland America offers anytime dining but don't have the restaurants open to cope with it. We tried booking a restaurant but the phone reservation number was never answered. We ended up having to go physically to the restaurant of choice and making a booking. Even with a booking there are long queues to get in. We found the food on bood very good and it is certainly worth paying the extra money to dine in the Pinnacle grill. The staff on board were all very friendly and did their best to handle what we saw as inefficient systems. I have been in the travel industry for 37 years and have traveled on numerous cruises wuth many different companies. I will never travel with Holland America again and would not recommend them to any friends or family.They simply put are not good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I offer a mixed review of our recent Volendam trip to Alaska: some positive, some negative. Please keep in mind that these opinions are subjective and influenced by experiences with past cruises and cruise lines. We have been to ... Read More
I offer a mixed review of our recent Volendam trip to Alaska: some positive, some negative. Please keep in mind that these opinions are subjective and influenced by experiences with past cruises and cruise lines. We have been to Alaska twice before and live on the West Coast, so for us, this was a trip focused on the cruise experience more than on the destination and was taken largely because of the great rate we received. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled efficiently by HAL and we have no complaints in that department - we were on a back to back and simply kept our key card for the second leg of the journey (they also gave you an "intransit" card to present when you re boarded the ship, although it was not asked for). We did not have to go through check in again in Seward. We kept the same cabin. THE SHIP: The Volendam was built in 1996 and has been kept in excellent repair - the chairs in the lounge areas should be replaced, but other than that the ship is lovely and well kept. Cleanliness is paramount on this ship, I never saw a dirty area and even the washrooms at the end of each week were well maintained. Other cruise lines could try to improve to the Volendam's standard. I don't like the cafeteria style Lido, separate stations work better and avoid long lines and allow you to skip items you are not interested in. There is adequate seating if you include the indoor pool area. The cabins (we had an outside) are a good size, having a tub is a nice feature and beds are comfortable but bedding is not as good quality as on the newer Carnival ships. A big negative is not having a fridge. The casino is small, consequently smoky and uses older machines where you still have to collect coins rather than tickets - makes a move to another slot machine difficult. I heard several complaints from poker players about the frequent change in dealers during the game. Shops were also small with limited selection and unpleasant staff. The library is wonderful - a great selection of books, staff is available most of the day (not usual on other lines) and the chairs are SO comfortable - several even have headphones with a selection of music. The headphones were only available for the first two days - then they were all "in repair" which I somehow doubt - I think it more likely someone complained about usage. It was very difficult to find room in the library after the first few days. We are used to much larger ships and prefer them because they generally offer more to do, so in that sense the Volendam was a disappointment and I doubt we will sail on a smaller ship again. THE CREW: The largely Indonesian crew was excellent: friendly, eager to please and always working diligently. Our room steward kept the cabin spotlessly clean and always responded promptly to any requests we had. We had a different captain on each leg, on the second leg Captain Blos was excellent, kept us informed of upcoming weather, wildlife sitings and if we needed to take our seasickness medication in a hurry (we had one very rough day. I was not impressed with the staff in the shops, most were indifferent, one was rude and generally, they need to find another vocation. THE ENTERTAINMENT: This was the biggest negative of the trip. I suppose that being used to the larger ships, we have been spoiled with excellent production shows (i.e. the Carnival Freedom)that are very professional. This was not the case on the Volendam - I understand that they have space limitations and that a cast of 8 cannot do the same as a cast of 20 or 30, but it would be better to choose some other type of entertainment rather than attempt to emulate what other larger ships do better. On the non-production show nights, the entertainment was even worse. A "musician" who plays the saw, conch shell and a turkey baster? I was embarrassed for HAL that they would even present this as entertainment. The comedian was the only saving grace in 14 nights. Lounge entertainment was average to good. FOOD: Food was a disappointment. We avoided the Lido after several attempts, the food was uninspired and did not vary much from day to day. We had anytime dining, which worked out well - we never had to wait for a table and were able to make reservations if we needed to without difficulty. However, my dislike of anytime dining is that food is often served cold and waiters seem rushed and disconnected with diners. This was confirmed on the Volendam - many meals were cold and the service was most definitely not as good as we have experienced with traditional dining. The food itself was average, I would give it a 5 out of 10. I don't eat seafood, but our companions both commented that it tasted watery and was not of very good quality. Room service was excellent - good quality food, served promptly with good presentation. We had one dinner in the Pinnacle ($20 per person) to celebrate a birthday. I would have to say that we were disappointed, service from our waiter was poor - steaks were excellent but side dishes were served at different times than the entree!! and were cold. One of our party has an allergy to peppers, mentioned this to the waiter, and was still served items that included peppers in the ingredients! THE PORTS: Ports included Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines, Skagway and Seward. These are small towns and a trip to Alaska should be about the scenery and wildlife. I saw a lot of husbands sadly trailing their wives into jewelry shops and souvenir shops which abound in towns except Haines and Seward. Take some excursions - they are expensive but give you a better idea of Alaska. Seward offers a good sealife center. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Expensive, but you need to budget for this to get some idea of Alaska. We took: Skagway - White Pass rail trip. This was a good excursion, overpriced, but gives you a idea of the Chilkoot trail, and the difficulty of building a rail line in this terrain. Ketchikan: Bering Sea Crab Fisherman tour. Excellent tour, gives you an idea of crab fishing and its perils. Entertaining commentary except for the last 10 minutes of the tour when we were subjected to an odd, vaguely religious or 12-step monologue about how "fishing had saved X from a wayward life". I thought that perhaps this was a one-time speech, given because one of the crew were leaving, but those on the tour the following week got the same speech. --- Inappropriate and squirm inducing. Haines: If you see any tour, take the TWILIGHT Wildlife tour - don't take the one in the day, take the one at 5:30 p.m. We saw 8 grizzlies, including a mom and 2 cubs, eagles, moose and were led on an interesting nature walk through the forest. The highlight of the trip. So, in general I would say the trip on the Volendam was average, Some areas better than others, but I would only give it a 4 out of 10. We probably would not sail HAL again in the near future, and would definitely stay away from the smaller ships. Again, remember that our view is colored by our previous experience on other cruises and our preferences, yours may be different. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We have sailed with Holland America many times, but we were very disappointed by our latest cruise with them. We signed on for a 14 day Alaskan round trip out of Vancouver. The ship was geared for only 7 day trips. All meals, shows, ... Read More
We have sailed with Holland America many times, but we were very disappointed by our latest cruise with them. We signed on for a 14 day Alaskan round trip out of Vancouver. The ship was geared for only 7 day trips. All meals, shows, movies and music tapes were repeated the second round of the trip. Round trip guests ate and saw repeats of the first leg.  The shows and entertainment were terrible. Floral displays throughout the ship were half dead and left dead during the cruise. Fresh flowers were never replaced. Very depressing. Art auctions were shabby. The pictures terrible and overpriced. Ditto, the shops. The cabin steward had to be asked to change the bed linens on the 8th day and to remove the ring around the toilet several times. The food was bland and tasteless. The beautifully decorated cakes had no flavoring. Lines formed in the Lido restaurant when only one side was opened for use. This created an extensive backup at times. We would have liked some sweet rolls and cookies available at all times for our usual cup of tea at 10:30 PM. We were asked for our cabin number each time we entered the dining room. We suspected that window table assignments went to guests holding expensive cabins. We were seated between two busing stations until I refused to be seated there again. Many elevator buttons didn't work. Luggage streaks on one elevator could have been removed with some cleaning agent. Light bulbs were out around the ship. Lighting cams in the Lido were hanging due to bouncing from the basketball court above. Several toilets in the pool and spa area were out of order. The ship was constantly cold. The thermostat in our cabin didn't work. Everyone walked around in a heavy sweater or jacket. My cousin, with whom we traveled, had an inside cabin next to the ships airconditioning system that was very noisy. The second day out, the cabin developed an unbelievable odor. It was so bad, she refused to sleep there any longer. A temporary cabin was found for one night. No one could figure out what the smell was. She was finally transferred to another cabin the second week out. She will never sail with Holland America again. The quality of this trip compared to past Holland America trips was discouraging and disappointing. Certainly not the glamorous, luxurious feeling and treatment Holland America bills itself as providing. The ship looked shabby and ill kept and the professional planning for entertainment and food was poor. As if they just didn't care. We sincerely question whether we will ever sail with Holland America again. We would advise you to do the same. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My wife and I arrived at the port and quickly checked in for the cruise. We had requested early fixed seating for the dining room but had been assigned open seating. So, as soon as we boarded the ship, we went immediately to get that ... Read More
My wife and I arrived at the port and quickly checked in for the cruise. We had requested early fixed seating for the dining room but had been assigned open seating. So, as soon as we boarded the ship, we went immediately to get that situation rectified. The dining room staff was courteous and immediately assigned us seats at a nice table by a window in the dining room. Then we went to check out our room and found the air-conditioning not working. After we sailed, we finally got some a/c, but the a/c effectiveness varied by day. Apparently we were not the only passengers affected because, early in the cruise, the Captain announced that passengers were complaining about the air-conditioning, and, because of the design of the ship, there wasn't much that could be done. Soon after setting sail, the captain announced that, due to high winds, the stop at half Moon Cay would be bypassed, and instead the ship would spend an additional three hours in Aruba. What followed were two sea days and three nights of very choppy seas. The onboard activities available during those days were limited. The cruise line did refund to everyone the Bahamas port tax that had been collected. The weather improved and the stops in Aruba and Curacao were nice. Before the cruise, we had been concerned that stores would be closed in Curacao because the ship was stopping there on Sunday. Fortunately, the stores were open until early afternoon, and this satisfied our need to shop. We also visited and toured the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the western hemisphere and its museum. We found that very interesting. As an added bonus, everything in Curacao was within walking distance from the ship. The Panama Canal visit was fascinating, and we enjoyed watching the workings of the canal. We had booked the excursion that was to go all the way through the canal on a tour boat, but the excursion was canceled after we waited two hours for clearance from the Panamanian authorities. Later after dinner, the captain announced that the tour boat would not have had enough time to operate, and refunds were given. The Volendam was in line to go through the Panama Canal at 5:30am and docked in Gatun Lake about 9:00 am - right on time. So, I'm still not sure what really went wrong, but it sure was a disappointment. The ship tried to accommodate everyone on alternative tours, but we opted to stay on board to avoid the rebooking chaos occurring at the Front Office desk. The next stop was in Costa Rica where we went on the excursion on the aerial tram through the rain forest. The tour was quite enjoyable and included a tasty lunch of local specialties. We would recommend this tour to future visitors if looking to learn about foliage. Visitors looking to see animals, however, would be better advised to take other excursions. The final two days of the cruise were wonderfully relaxing amidst calm seas and beautiful weather. About the time of arrival in Aruba, it was announced that some cases of Norovirus had occurred on the cruise. Measures to contain the highly contagious virus were then put into effect. In the Lido restaurant, for example, self-serve was eliminated. This required extra personnel to serve everyone cafeteria style, and the entire crew pitched in. Even the Cruise Director was working behind the serving line. Kudos to the crew for their efforts to successfully contain the virus. Another measure was to put Purell sanitizing solution stations all over the ship for passengers to use on their hands. These were everywhere, and at one point we were sanitized about eight times in a five minute period. The joke became that we should buy stock in the company that makes Purell. The Captain was rightfully concerned about limiting the potential spread of the virus, although some of his announcements sounded a bit panicky. Some other observations: Cabin service was pleasant but unpredictable. One evening our cabin was not cleaned at all, and several times we returned from breakfast mid-morning to find the beds unmade. Dining room staff was also pleasant but seemed to have too many tables to service, as they were frequently absent. In short, it's not that the service was poor, but based on service received on other cruises, the level of service on this cruise was not comparable. Regarding entertainment, we saw one very mediocre comedian and decided to skip the rest of the shows. The Front Office desk staff was outstanding and helpful. One attendant even closed the desk (during a slow period) and came with us to our room to address a problem with the in-room safe. Cabin size was spacious and storage was plentiful. Finally, the ship could use some refurbishing and/or repair. Chair arms are worn both in the Lido and dining room, and some elevators fail to function. There was a big crack in a window adjacent to the dining room on level five, and a glass entry door to the dining room shattered during the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We enjoyed a fantastic week prior to our cruise flying into Calgary and touring Lake Louise, Yoho National Park and Banff in a coach party with 63 others! We rapidly gained a reputation for eating several breakfasts and missing the bus ... Read More
We enjoyed a fantastic week prior to our cruise flying into Calgary and touring Lake Louise, Yoho National Park and Banff in a coach party with 63 others! We rapidly gained a reputation for eating several breakfasts and missing the bus (twice!). Enjoyable as it was, Jet lag and going straight to high altitude may not be a good idea as lots of us suffered from insomnia, headaches and nosebleeds. Scenery was worth it though! We took the Red Leaf service Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver (and the Volendam) via Kamloops. Absolutely stunning - Rocky Mountaineer adventure would make a story in itself. In Vancouver we overnighted in the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel with a harbor view - luxury itself. Onto the Volendam next morning. Embarkation was an American documentation nightmare - involving several forms and somewhat embarrassing medical questions such as verifying none of our fellow travellers had experience loose stools in the last few days (some asked what relevance defective bar furniture had...) Once on board we were herded into the Lido deck area whilst the rooms were readied - that took a while. Our "Stateroom" was considerably smaller than appeared in the trailer videos - which made creative use of fisheye lenses I think! Still, there was room for everything - like staying in a large canal boat make sure to put everything away or you'll be in a tip in no time. Next experience was the pushing of wine tasting classes etc at $10 a pop - to get you into the swing of paying for things on the trip. Bit of a gyp really this and one of our main gripes about the trip was that all drinks except Tea, Coffee and iced water were chargeable to your on board account. There is a strict rule on board - NO DRINKS OF YOUR OWN! If you do bring a bottle on board it WILL be taken off you (feels like contraband at school!). You can however buy bottles in the duty free shop on board for stateroom use - the cheapest you could keep (as opposed to having it "kept" for you until the end of the cruise) was $80!!! - go figure what HAL are up to - maximizing profit of course! We ate in the Rotterdam restaurant most nights -the food was nice but very rich and a little monotonous. You could vary it by eating in the Lido but apart from the lovely Indonesian food (all Filipino staff!) it was a bit bland. Our night in the Pinnacle grill was really good though. Attentive Staff, HUGE steaks (22 Ounce!) - very civilized. By the end of the week I'd have killed for a Pie & Chips or a good Curry (English abroad eh?) There were many presentations in the theatre including one on "how to shop" - HAL like you to shop in port shops which are "linked" to them only. Many shops in the ports had signs in their windows saying that they weren't on the ship preferred shopping list as they refused to pay a "kickback" to the shipping lines - make of that what you will. There were excellent presentations about glaciers, wildlife , excursions etc and I fell asleep in every one of them - as did a lot of people - it's a combination of the rocking motion of the ship and the engine vibrations in the lecture hall and the monotone Canadian way of talking - it just sends you to sleep regardless of how interesting the subject. The day cruising Glacier bay was breathtaking and the captain's skill in maneuvering the ship and holding station were evident. I hated the shows - I just don't do musicals!! - others on the tour enjoyed them though. There was plenty else to do though like watching the losers in the casino, listening to the "Orchestra" (string quartet) who were very good, and there are plenty of bars to meet and chat in and get ripped off for drinks, or get ripped off for coffee even in the explorer lounge We discovered in one bar that some drinks we thought had been charged to our room were in fact charged to a similar room number - we had the bill sorted but watch out for this and be sure to check that no one has "loaded" your bill - some of our party had additional spa treatments added to their bills and had to complain to get them taken off - we'd not much record of our drinks tab so we couldn't dispute it - it seemed acceptable though. We booked an excursion in each port. They were expensive but we were delighted with them all. In Juneau we went Whale watching - and we saw lots of whales!. In Skagway we went on the "Paddle & Saddle" Trip - 2 hours by coach into the Yukon, an hour pony trekking in Bear country and an hour Canoeing on Spirit Lake. Delicious home made lunch included. A day to remember! In Ketchikan we took the "Rainforest Canopy Zipline Tour" - As much fun as you can have in the rain - and we saw a bear on the forest floor 100 feet below us! Fantastic! Disembarkation was handled in a very organized manner and there was no queuing or rushing - stress free. In summary we really had a great time which was spoilt by just a couple of things. HAL seem to be determined to make penny pinching money out of the drinks forcing you to buy only from them and they add $10 per day per person for tips and they also add 15% to each transaction and call it a service charge… The staff were lovely but the poor souls work a basic 66 hour week and can be called on to do 77 hours per week, yet passengers are made to feel that they are reliant on your generosity to make ends meet - hence the $10 / day "gratuity" Come on Holland America this is the 21st Century - slavery has been abolished - pay these people a decent wage so they don't have to live on handouts, and so that your passengers don't feel complicit in slavery. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We had booked the Volendam for a back-to-back trip from Vancouver to Alaska. We got an incredible deal last minute (one month ahead). We had a toss-up between the RCCL Serenade of the Seas or HAL Volendam. Having never tried HAL before (we ... Read More
We had booked the Volendam for a back-to-back trip from Vancouver to Alaska. We got an incredible deal last minute (one month ahead). We had a toss-up between the RCCL Serenade of the Seas or HAL Volendam. Having never tried HAL before (we are RCCL cruisers), we thought we'd give it a try. The verdict is we wished we went on the Serenade. The hype for HAL ships is bad for the first time cruiser. We expected an awesome trip and a wonderful ship. We had previously gone on the RCCL Vision of the Seas, which I think it about the size of the Volendam. There is no comparison. The disembarkation at the Canada Place pier was bizarre. There were absolutely NO HAL reps anywhere to tell us where to go. With RCCL, there are reps everywhere that guide you to the right line, and where to put luggage, etc. With HAL, you were on your own. Which I found odd, because the average age is much much higher on HAL, so I thought there would be lots of assistance. Now, this isn't only in Vancouver. When we left the ship in Seward and got back on, again the same thing -- no-one there at all. Very strange. And the most bizarre, was the no assistance onto the tender ships. On RCCL, there is a guy that stands on the boat (straddling the boat and the dock), that guides you onto the tender boat. Just having his arm help you, really helps out. On HAL, I saw no-one doing this at all. I will throughout this review, compare HAL and RCCL. STATEROOM We had an NN guarantee, basically guaranteeing a room. Nothing more. On RCCL, we have always gotten this room type, and have been extremely pleased with our rooms that we have been given (inside). This one on HAL, was the worst room we have ever had in our life (4 cruises). It was a wheelchair-accesible room, which for the life of me, I can't figure out how someone in a wheelchair can get into bed. I could not walk down the side of the bed to get in -- I had to do a side shuffle, or climb over from the end of the bed. The room also had the worst mildew smell. I found out shortly why that is. The shower -- although large, drained into these large roomsize grills -- they overflowed. I opened the shower curtain, and the entire floor was about 1/2" of water. It took me a while to scoot all the water to the other drain (in front of the door). Our cabin Steward (Yani -- awesome -- more about him later) called the plumber and he cleaned up the bathroom. He also put down deodorant powder down on the carpets. So instead of this overwhelming mildew smell when we walked in, we got a perfume scent -- which was fine. The other bizarre thing, was around 12:oo - 1:00 a.m. we heard this huge noise below us. Sounded like metal on metal (now I am a sound sleeper, and even I woke up with that). On the 3rd night, I finally had to go to the front desk to ask about that. He told me "Maam, that is the waves hitting the boat". whaaaaaaat? It was calm that night. I told him that it sounded like metal hitting metal. He went to the back office, and came back and said "I'm sorry, that is our trash compactor, I will see what I can do." To their credit, HAL did stop compacting the trash at midnight (we then heard it go at 6pm). I am amazed that HAL would let this room go. We are very tolerant people and have never complained before, but this just needed mentioning, since we were spending 14 nights there. The other noisy part was the side thrusters and the anchor. About 1 hour or so before we docked (always super early), we would heard the side thrusters (or something else)-- always woke us up. On RCCL we have always been on deck 2, 3, or 8. On HAL we were on deck 1. Next time, I would definitely stay away from deck 1. At least at the front and on the side. Although we did have a porthole, I believe it was noisier than an inside would have been. We are actually on the minority who LOVE insides, because we sleep soooo well in them. Stateroom vault -- we prefer RCCL vaults to this one. With HAL, you need a magnetized card to open & close it -- another card to carry (and it can't be your room card). With RCCL, there is a keypad, and you enter your own 4 digit number, so it's very easy to use. On HAL, there were many times when I wanted in the safe, but my husband had the card, so I had to wait until he came down, for me to get in there. Stateroom Steward -- Yani -- AWESOME! The best! He was so cheerful. This is where either we lucked out, or HAL is superior over RCCL. Although on our last RCCL cruise we had an excellent steward as well. Yani, was always cheerful, smiling and wonderful. We did keep our room neat, and the 2nd week we had a thermal suite pass, so we hardly used the shower down in the room after that. I told Yani that he was the best steward we have ever had, and I made sure to write that down on the survey card. Food -- I have to go against the HAL board here, and actually say that RCCL rules over the food portion. The first week onboard, we were at a table of 12, every one of people sitting there, also said they were not impressed with the food quality and choice, and preferred other lines. Dining Room -- alot of misses here. There were some dynamic choices, like the bami goreng, the seafood sampler (both at lunch in the dining room on day 7). But the dinner time food was not that great. We much prefer RCCL. On RCCL, it was always "what should I have, it all looks so good". On HAL, it was more like "what kind of looks good?". Over the 14 days we tried most of the meals. Nothing to write home about. Lido Buffet -- LONGGGGGG lineups. They only had a few breaks, so if you wanted something later on in the hot entree area, you had to wait a verrrry long time. Your food was always cold. On RCCL (Radiance class), they had lots of little stations, so it was easy to pick and choose. The HAL Lido had the best waffles though. And I did like that they cooked eggs to order. And I liked the fresh squeezed oj. But that was about it. The salads were dreadful -- I liked the RCCL ones. Room Service -- only tried it once. Breakfast. cold. Not too appetizing. Didn't try it again. Burger Bar -- dreadful service. Try to get the guys eye to order, expect to wait a very long time. We had the burger once. Ship layout -- not as easy to navigate as RCCL. Found it very chopped up. Especially on deck 4, where you couldn't walk through, you had to go up to 5 or down to deck 3 to walk to the front. Although I liked the 3 banks of elevators (forward, center, aft). Made for very little waiting time. On RCCL, we used the stairs all the time, as the elevators took too long, and the exercise was good for us. On HAL, the elevators were pretty easy to take, so we used them a little bit more, although we did use the stairs alot. HAL FRANS LOUNGE -- awful! Wow, what a terrible set up. Very very small -- try RCCL, you'll be in for a treat! On HAL the seats were terrible, it was like a cheap lounge. Upstairs there was nowhere to put a drink, on RCCL, they have drink holders built into the nice seats. Downstairs on HAL, the stage was too close, and it was just like a cheap lounge setup. Awful, awful, awful. STAGE Shows -- Wow, another shocker. AWFUL! Very hokey, and not our style at all. They lip synch so much of the show, and the music is tracked. There are musicians that play, but they are backed up by tracks. Very boring for the musicians. My brother was in the orchestra on another HAL ship, and gave us the lowdown. Not very inspiring. The only shows we really enjoyed were the "Filipino Crew Show" and the "Indonesian Crew Show" Even though some of it was a little long, you can see they really enjoyed themselves, and they did everything. It was great, and I loved giving that support back to the wonderful workers (I'm talking about the cabin stewards, bar staff, waiters, etc. NOT cruise director staff). Cruise Director -- He was the most available and down-to-earth Cruise Director we have seen (Russ Bralley). He was very nice. His staff, on the other hand, were not that great or professional. They were all very young, and seemed more into chatting than doing their job. The librarian was the absolute worst! The library was a wonderful room to read in, and listen to music (if those recliner chairs were available). The librarian was ALWAYS chatting loudly to other cd staff. gabbing, and laughing and so on and so on. Didn't anyone tell her that a library is supposed to be "shhhhh quiet". I had to laugh though. On our first day, we took the "ship tour", having never taken it on other cruises. The cd staffer took us around the ship, and then before we entered the library, she said "I will explain about the library now, as it is a quiet zone once we enter, we can't talk...." She and the librarian were the worst ones for chatting!!! LOL! The library would have been a much better experience had it been more quiet from the staff. BACK - TO - BACK CRuises This is where HAL fails terribly. For a back-to-back cruise, you would think they would do things differently. They didn't. For example: They show movies in the movie theatre every day. We went to them every day the first week. On the return trip, same movies. Same with the cooking demonstrations (there are 2 per week). We had actually asked the CD if the cooking show on one day (the day we were in Sitka) would be the same on the return trip. He said no, they will be different. So we stayed onboard longer, so we could go to the cooking demo. Turns out exact same 2 demos on the return trip. :( Smells: HAL actually had sewage smells. We smelled it strongly at the casino bar, where we hung out, had great fun with the bartenders there -- so friendly. We went to the environment officer's movie and talk on the last day. He actually said that HAL has a problem with sewage smells. They are trying to fix it, but it was a problem with ship design, and it's hard to move venting stacks. We were actually amazed that he divulged this. Normally it's "ignore and the problem goes away". We have not smelled sewage on the RCCL ships (Vision and Radiance). Pool: HAL has the WORST design for pools. ON RCCL, the solarium is a nice area for adults and it's in a coverage area. The pool is quite secluded, and it's very nice for relaxing in. On HAL, it's awful! Very open, I never once stepped foot in the pool. It feels like you're totally on display. They have the burger bar area in there, and lots and lots of tables around. On the 2 weeks we were on there, we hardly ever saw anyone use it. Actually on the 2nd week, there were kids in there, especially one bratty fat boy who kept cannon-balling people. He would actually watch where people were sitting, and move that way to cannonball them. He cannonballed two elderly ladies in the pool, who promptly got out and went in the hot tub. I was appalled that his parents didn't ever stop him. I saw him do this daily in that pool, while they just sat and laughed. Thermal Suite Because we never used the pool and hottub, which we used daily on RCCL, we decided to fork over $150 to use the thermal suite for the week. Best $$ we have spent. We were in there 1-2 times a day. Most of the time we were alone. The busiest we were in there, there were 6 other people in there. Awesome! The showers were great, the hottub was nice, overlooking the front of the ship, and then we would relax on the heated tile lounge chairs. My husband actually fell asleep a few times. That was so nice, and I would do this again in a heartbeat. I have to say, though, the staff were a little snooty. The ship is staffed mostly by Indonesian and Filipinos. They are the friendliest crew I have ever seen. I didn't care for the other staff though (cd staff, spa staff). The pluses to HAL over RCCL are: the filipino and indonesian crew -- wonderful the waffles in the lido, and eggs to order. the beds -- very soft. We have never complained about the hard bed on RCCL -- actually slept very well on them, but the beds on HAL are excellent. movie theatre -- loved this feature, even if the sound was scratchy. These items alone, though are not enough to convert us to HAL. We will stay with RCCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was our first HA cruise. Have tried Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past. We expected the "white glove" service advertised by HAL. Embarkation went smoothly for us, but we didn't arrive at the port until about 2pm. ... Read More
This was our first HA cruise. Have tried Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past. We expected the "white glove" service advertised by HAL. Embarkation went smoothly for us, but we didn't arrive at the port until about 2pm. Check in was much slower than usual, we were told, due to a new computer system. Passengers arriving earlier stood in very long lines; perhaps it's better to come on board after 1 and have a smooth check in rather than try to rush the process to get onto the ship and find long lines! Anyhow, we were greeted by a wonderfully polite gentleman with white gloves who escorted us to our cabin. We then went to the Lido for a quick bite and then, naturally, the muster was held. We left the port with light rain but a smooth embarkation. That evening, however, the seas were quite rough and unpacking was a challenge. We were bounced around in our cabin quite dramatically. Skipped dinner due to upset tummies and went to the Lido around 7:15 for a bite - found out the Lido closes PROMPTLY at 7:30 - no ifs, ands or buts. The line closes and the curtains are pulled. Dinner was fine. The next morning we docked at Nassau and had a few hours (too few to do much) in the sun. Then we left for the rest of the trip. Our stop in Tortola ended up being a wonderful experience for us - but the ship tours were canceled due to rain. We were lucky to have booked the tour independently and had a lovely catamaran/snorkel afternoon. Got back on the ship in a rain storm that had everyone in a sour mood. During our ten days we had horrible weather - it was sunny only a day or so. We had a LONG day in St. Thomas (perhaps to shop, shop, and shop?) but the day in Dominica was about 6 hours (and threatening skies). All excursions were canceled in Barbados due to weather and we were unable to go to HMC due to gale force winds and high seas. During this weather we wondered if there were stabilizers on the ship. We have never been bounced around as much as on the Volendam. There were "barf bags" placed at all elevators. You couldn't go out onto the veranda or you'd get a salt shower. The upper decks were so windy that you felt you would be blown off. The aft pool was splashing all around on the deck. The sun would come out for a bit, and then the rain clouds threatened again. You can't change the weather, but this made life on the ship more evident. There was very little to do. There was no music played on outer decks. Nothing near the pools. During the breaks of sun, the decks were cramped with people trying to capture a ray or two - no music. Just people laying around. Movies were played in the Wajang Theatre, but there were two a day. Not bad choices, but who really wants to spend four hours a day inside in a theater? At least there was popcorn - a VERY SMALL BAG - but fresh. The casinos were full - and full of smoke. With allergies, we had to avoid the area completely. However, one of our members won over $4000 during her cruise! We heard of a number of winners playing the slots, so if that's your bag, go for it! There was a daily happy hour with 2 for 1 drinks at the Dolphin Pool and our CC group, which started out at 14 and GREW, met there daily. It was between 4 and 5 daily. Thought they should extend happy hour to accommodate people, but that never happened. Your choices of entertainment were very slim and not too appealing. Team trivia for 45 minutes a day, but not daily Bingo. Spa offerings - where they tried to sell you products. The kitchen tour was extremely popular and crowded. Shopping was not as plentiful as RC; small shops and extremely understaffed. I stood in line at the counter for nearly 15 minutes to buy a tube of lipstick. Our cabin steward was a disappointment. Being in a mini-suite, we expected good service. In fact, we gave our steward a $50 additional tip on the second day for service expected and only asked that he keep our ice bucket full. Not only didn't he do that on a regular basis, but he NEVER changed the sheets in 10 days! There was a blood stain on the side of the bed for the entire time. The wallpaper in our cabin looked as though something was thrown against it - lord only knows what. The bathroom had mold in the shower. There was a black film in the toilet bowl, which he said was the "water" but looked like filth. We washed down a lot of the cabin ourselves. The counter and small table were NEVER wiped down. The crew washed down the balconies while we were in Tortola and there was an awful cleaning solution left on the rug at the door. It actually burned my bare foot. We moved the rug under the chaise lounge and every day the steward moved it back - but didn't take care of the cabin. We felt as though he took the money and ran. We left the auto tips in place. The people in the Lido were extremely stingy with some of their food. I never had a problem, but I don't eat ice cream. They serve the ice cream with what looks like a cookie scoop - and don't ask for more than two or you'll get a dirty look. One very small older lady wanted a scoop of tuna and a scoop of chicken salad for lunch one day and I saw the fellow use a TEASPOON. When she asked for more, like Oliver in the movie, he was obviously unhappy. If fish was offered in the line, you were given a very small "taste" rather than a full portion. If you wanted bacon in the morning, you were given two small strips. For some people, that wasn't enough. Ice tea was available, but when it ran out, it was gone. Too bad. I never once saw the lemonade being served on deck as they advertise. We're in our 40's and our group ranged from 40 to 65 - and the majority of us were BORED. There wasn't enough offered. The evening entertainment was short and the majority of the nights it was the "Volendam cast". These kids sang and danced their hearts out, but it was definitely an amateur hour. The comedian was the spouse of the cruise director, Dottie. An excellent Australian singer performed one night-the highlight - and then we had a juggler and a pianist. Televisions in the room played four movies daily, intermittently. TNT was offered but the satellite was out too much to watch anything. CNN was the international version - we never had any US news except Powell's resignation the second to last day - and we were heading back home. "Motown" was offered in the Crows nest one night - and consisted of 30 minutes of music! The highlight was the Rosario Strings trio who played nightly in the Explorer's lounge to a packed house. Thought they should have played in the theater to the entire ship - but then HA wouldn't have any drink revenue coming in. All of the lounges had decent entertainment early in the evening - but NOTHING during the day! And with three days in port canceled, people were ON THE SHIP. When HMC was canceled, Dottie added a movie - some old flick from the 60's or 70's I think - and a talk with her for 30 minutes; perhaps another trivia game. WOW! We all stayed in our cabins, being thrown around due to the list of the ship - and packed. The restaurant service was the best we've ever had on land or sea. We were seated at table 74, a table for two near the railing on the upper level. We had a waiter, Andi, assistant waiter Max and our head waiter Jusuf. These three gentlemen made us feel as though we were the only people on the ship. The food presentation was fantastic and the offerings were delicious. We couldn't have been happier with the restaurant. Ate at the Pinnacle one evening and it's everything that people say - fantastic food and service. Well worth the $20/pp fee and CASH tip. Remember that - you need to tip in cash. No one tells you that and some people were caught off guard and had to go back to their cabins for money as it's a cashless environment - but we had heard this before on the boards and were prepared. It was a wonderful evening. All in all, the trip could have been a true disappointment with the weather and lack of activities, dirty room, etc., were it not for the fantastic Cruise Critic group we had on board. We stared out with 14 people and it grew from there. We even had a group picture taken the last formal night and it will serve as a wonderful momento of friendships made. My dear husband and I feel grateful for the friendships developed on this ship. We met at 2pm on the second day at the Dolphin Bar and we all clicked - what a wonderful experience! We still enjoy cruising, but after this trip we're not too eager to book with HA again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
This was my third cruise with HAL. My first cruise was on the Rotterdam, my second cruise was on the Westerdam. Both these cruises were their last or second to last cruise prior to them being sold. Both of my first 2 cruises left fantastic ... Read More
This was my third cruise with HAL. My first cruise was on the Rotterdam, my second cruise was on the Westerdam. Both these cruises were their last or second to last cruise prior to them being sold. Both of my first 2 cruises left fantastic memories of things beyond my expectations. The service, the food, the generousity on these ships was unparalleled. I have never eaten more or been pampered more in all my life. Everything was spotless (for 2 very old ships) and more than abundantly stocked, both in food and supplies. The staff aboard these ships could not do enough for you and the cabin boys seemed invisible but all the cleaning was done (as if by magic). Then came the Volendam! This ship is only 4 years old, yet the carpet in many parts of the ship showed signs of major staining and wear. On embarcation, the lower elevator was all smashed up, in the main dining room (the Rotterdam dining room)the windows were so filmed over obscuring your view. The white drapes in our DELUXE VERANDA SUITE had a yellow (as if pee'd) on stain along with black marks. The jacuzzi tub in out room didn't work for 2 days and had to be fixed. The toilet leaked throughout our cruise. The Lido restaurant regulary ran out of certain food items that were not replaced in the middle of meal times. The desert Extravagansa was a farce, the food sculptures were not freshly made (as was on my other cruises), in fact they were displayed broken or visably damaged. The amount of deserts available was what you'd expect from a small bakery (not a cruise ship) and no where near compairing to my previous experiences. On more than one occasion the cabin boy walked into our room unannounced in the mornings. When we did order room service (for breakfast), we were asked to place our dirty dishes in the hallway for pickup, this on more than one occasion took 4-6 hours for them to be collected. The "BIG" bottle of shampoo (2oz) and lotion (2oz) supplied by HAL were to last the two of us seven days, and would NOT be replaced if you used them up early. The automatically included 10% tipping was added to your onboard account and if you chose to adjust this amount down for any reason (like BAD service) made the staff quite annoyed and short with you. I also found that 15% mandatory tip on all beverages consumed unnessesary (whether served to your or self serve) except coffee, tea or iced tea. On our cruise, we had a person get ill on our way to view Tracy Arm so the captain decided to omit this part of our cruise and headed prematurely to Juneau 7 hours early leaving us in the town of Juneau from 7am til 11pm with all stores and the casino/games shut down onboard (nothing was given or done for the passengers to make up for this). I found the front desk less than approachable. If your an espresso(latte, mocha) person, tough. With only 1 attended machine onboard (not 24 hour)you always had lineups, not to mention weak espressos'. The questionnaires submitted to Holland America with contact phone numbers did no good and drew no responses. Is it my immagination or has the Volendam been taken over secretly by some ECONO-Cruiseline using the HAL name??!! Maybe this ship should be renamed the McVolendam... Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
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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