588 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

Stateroom - spacious, clean, with half sized bath, Elemis shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, plenty of wardrobe space. Attendants pleasant and helpful. Meals - good range of food, staff cheery and helpful but not always fully attentive ... Read More
Stateroom - spacious, clean, with half sized bath, Elemis shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, plenty of wardrobe space. Attendants pleasant and helpful. Meals - good range of food, staff cheery and helpful but not always fully attentive (topping up drinks, clearing away). On formal nights there was mixed dress standards, but the restaurant provided a jacket (even if not a tailored fit!) to gents who were without one. Deck areas - always plenty of places to nab a seat/sun lounger even on sea days. Never bothered by waiters plying drinks (couldn't get one when needed!). Main pool had opening roof which proved useful and popular on windy days. Free use of towels (no signing in/out) Bars - never overcrowded. Staff pleasant and talkative. Happy hours appreciated (2nd drink only $1). Pub quiz question - do Bud Light display a 'Sell by' or 'Birth' date? If it's 'Sell by' ours was out of date by 4 months... Shows/events - plenty of variety, though not many appealed to us Cruise Critic meet and mingle - other cruise lines have offered better than tea/coffee and cakes Brits meeting - 1st time we've been invited to such a do. An extra happy hour but with nibbles. Nice touch, but more intervention to improve mingling would have helped. Practice drill - must do, but seemed as if roll call was unorganised (or was that just our perception?) Tender days - had to wait for organised trips to clear. Could be an issue if you have your own shore trip at set time. Excursions - safe bet and well attended, but everyone commented that they were overpriced generally. Free water would be appreciated. Tips - fixed rates for cabins (though can be stopped I believe by speaking to front desk). 15%(!) addition to all drinks, spa treatments etc.... Visas - well organised (forms mainly completed for us), and rates competitive Medical centre - Great staff. Very attentive. Unfortunately we were offloaded due to illness, but the arrangements were well made, and we were very well looked after. Overall - good standard but with some room for improvement.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our third cruise with HAL, the others being Alaska and Mediterranean, which they offered to us at an attractive rate for being returning cruisers. ( Mariner's Society members ). We cruised a sector of the Australian ... Read More
This was our third cruise with HAL, the others being Alaska and Mediterranean, which they offered to us at an attractive rate for being returning cruisers. ( Mariner's Society members ). We cruised a sector of the Australian Circumnavigation cruise and found it a very pleasant way to get to Melbourne. The ship was sick with GI problems ( probably norovirus but this was not mentioned by name. ) and the crew handled this very well, making sure of hand sanitising, cleaning stair handrails, lifts, crew serving food in the buffet etc. The ship was beautifully clean all over. The food was fine. The ship was well furbished. Our stateroom was very nice - quite roomy as far as cruise accommodation goes - and kept well cleaned by our steward. We were in the lower portion of the ship and right in the middle so felt no rocking and rolling even in the Bight. Our major complaint was the cost of the shore excursions and the lack of or inaccuracy of information about the ports. The shore excursion guide was a lady with quite a strong accent and she was hard to understand at times. She seemed a bit unsure of herself, or the information she was giving. She seemed to say, " ... and things like that." a lot. What really made us furious ( and we were not the only ones ) was in Adelaide where we were docked, as is usual, at Outer Harbour which is quite a distance from the CBD. There was no shuttle. ( that's OK ) but HAL offered us a bus @ $AUS45 each for a return trip to the city. As we were there for 2 days, this added up to a cost of $AUS180 for the two of us. We decided to get a taxi and hope to share it with other passengers. Then we all noticed the train station 150m away from the dock. Hmmmm. We had asked about public transport and were told it was the bus or the taxi.Over the 2 days of our South Australian visit we shared that train with a large number of disgruntled HAL guests who shared our feelings. It cost us a total of $AUS15 for the weekend. My husband travelled at no charge on all forms of public transport as he is an Australian Senior. I bought an all-day travel pass for $AUS10 and also paid for a one way $AUS5 ticket on the first day. At Kangaroo Island it was worse. The cheapest shore excursion was a whopping $AUS200 pp and the most expensive was $AUS595 pp and this got you a seat in a Landcruiser ( and a meal ) for the day! We decided to go ashore , by tender, and have a little look and then go back to the ship for lunch. On shore, the locals had put on some markets which included a $AUS50 pp boat and bus excursion for 75 mins. It was the best thing we could have done and we had a ball. They were the best photos I took on the whole cruise. We saw seals, dolphins playing close to the boat, cormorants and learnt all about Kangaroo Island from a local. The tour operator was thrilled because they had a full day's work taking happy people out in their boat twelve ppl at a time. It was very personal. At Port Lincoln, a local tour operator cancelled a day's worth of work to accommodate HAL to be told the day before we were due that the excursions with him were cancelled as no-one had booked. No wonder HAL had hiked up the price so much. He was on the dock with a sign, trying to drum up business so he made at least some money that day. The cruise lines do tend to put the frighteners on guests about the local operators and saying things like "We guarantee the ship won't leave without you if you use our ship's approved tour" and "We have checked out these tour for safety, comfort and value for money." Fair enough. But give the guests a choice, not just an expensive option. We are not risk-takers and would not go quad biking and bungy jumping ! We have never had a problem with any independently booked tour or shared taxi, although we have been careful, and were disappointed in regard to the HAL Shore Excursions   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We originally booked direct with HAL for Lower Promenade Ocean View #3334 about 9 months before the cruise - at the holidays last year, the prices dropped and we were credited. Then, after final payment, the B category balcony prices ... Read More
We originally booked direct with HAL for Lower Promenade Ocean View #3334 about 9 months before the cruise - at the holidays last year, the prices dropped and we were credited. Then, after final payment, the B category balcony prices dropped so we upgraded for free. That turned out to be a splendid choice - the balcony in Alaska was worth it. We didn't feel any additional movement really from being aft, and a Bonine a day took care of any seasickness. The cabin was roomy and in good condition and the bed and pillows were very comfy. We had no toilet or AC troubles and our location right next to the stairs was so convenient. We heard no noise from anywhere or anyone and we were blessed with no smokers on the balconies next to us. All of the ship was in good condition as far as I could tell and our room stewards and MDR waiter were great. The ship has a lot of open public space so you never really felt too crowded, except at the Lido buffet and Crow's Nest comfy chairs. The Volendam had the BEST public women's restroom of all time in my opinion. To me, if you are going on the Volendam expecting superb, "white glove" service and exquisite dining, then you will be disappointed. You need to choose Oceania, Crystal or Celebrity. However, Volendam is a great value for the money paid and the fabulous itinerary and ports. It's not a bad cruise for the food and service, just not a great cruise. If you have small kids, I'm not sure Volendam is for you. I didn't see very many and I preferred that. If you have kids, I think Carnival or Disney or Princess and the larger ships are better choices. I think that the rooms on the lower decks at the cheapest prices all have issues unique to the location and I don't think the plumbing on any ship in the lower, cheapest cabins is going to be completely reliable. There is a reason they are the cheapest rooms. We really enjoyed our cruise immensely, mainly due to the beautiful Alaska scenery, fabulous weather (sunny with NO rain), our private balcony, and the great ports with plenty of time in each port. We did NOT book this cruise for the ship entertainment, nightlife, food or activities. We chose the Volendam based solely on ports of call, time in port, departure port of Vancouver, and smaller size compared to Zuiderdam or Westerdam. We chose HAL over Princess because we are 50-ish and 60-ish and we wanted a more adult clientele which HAL caters to. We were so tired after each port that we never went to a single show and never took part in any activities. Honestly, I can't fathom why anyone would care so much about cooking classes or computer classes or afternoon teas when sailing in Alaska. Why miss any of the fantastic scenery? There is ALWAYS wonderful scenery anywhere and the Volendam has lots of great walking choices on outside decks. The food was hot, good, and there was always plenty of it. Good enough for us. We weren't interested in dressing up for formal night more than once so we skipped the other formal night. My biggest complaints: you can't hear the captain's wildlife announcements in your room; half the Lido was usually closed for staff only and that half was almost always deserted while the passenger side was jam-packed; the MDR lunch hour was way too short - only open for 1.25 hours; on port days when we got back very late after our excursions, the Lido and MDR were closed and the only choice was room service which takes way too long - ridiculous; seemed like all the good indoor spots in Crow's Nest and Explorer's lounge were ALWAY taken when we wanted them. We couldn't hear any of the captain's announcements clearly in our room and besides being a nuisance that we missed wildlife announcements, that seems like an imperative safety issue to me. Also, I am all for the staff having their own dining area to get away from passengers for a while, but it should NOT be at the expense of the passengers who are paying for the staff's salaries. I don't see why the staff can't have their very own dedicated cafeteria. The MDR and Lido hours were ridiculously short. I definitely prefer Carnival in that respect - there is always pizza and burgers 24 hours. I really liked our room stewards and the service in general from nearly all the staff. The food seemed very good overall to me with only a few misses. The only HAL excursions we booked were in Skagway and they were both unique and GREAT. We loved the Summer Sled Dog Mush Camp and we absolutely, positively LOVED LOVED the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari to Davidson Glacier. The train ride in Skagway is very popular, but a train ride is just too boring for us. The Glacier Wilderness Safari is such a unique experience that really kicks butt compared to a train ride, IMHO. I also can't understand why anyone would want to spend a lot of time shopping in the towns - you can shop anywhere. Alaska has priceless scenery everywhere you look for free. There is even plenty to see very inexpensive, but Alaska is once place where you should totally splurge on excursions. Overall, we absolutely thought the Volendam was a super value for the money, and we would definitely book again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We had a wonderful cruise on the Volendam. June 19, - 26, 2013. This was a 7 day return Vancouver cruise. I had read many reviews and received a lot information and help from the HAL forum on CC. Thank you to all. My husband and I are ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Volendam. June 19, - 26, 2013. This was a 7 day return Vancouver cruise. I had read many reviews and received a lot information and help from the HAL forum on CC. Thank you to all. My husband and I are Seniors (we like to think young in heart and mind!). We have cruised many, many times, 3rd with HAL. Also, NCL, Celebrity, Costa and other small cruise lines. Flew Air Canada from our home city of Toronto to Vancouver morning of the cruise. Arrived 9:30 a.m. in Vancouver and took the Skytrain from the airport to Canada Place. Very easy and seniors get a fare break. Stopped in to a B.C. liquor store just kitty-corner from the exit of the Skytrain for a couple of bottles of wine for the cabin. Pulled our suitcases to Canada Place (about 3 blocks). No problem. Dropped off luggage at appropriate area (clearly marked). Walked right up to the check in. Took only a few minutes. Then we did have to wait because it was early (before 11:00 a.m.). There are rows of chairs set up and it is all very orderly. Water is available and, I think I saw lemonade, but no coffee or tea. Waited at the most ½ hour. They only let on a row or so at a time so when you go to board, there is no backup. Walked on and allowed to go right to our cabin. We had a AA category cabin , number 7081, 3 cabins from the rear. Lovely cabin, well kept, bed very comfortable with 3 pillows, soft, medium and firm for each person. Bathroom good size with small bathtub and good shower. Balcony was much bigger than the other 2 we have had. One chair, one lounge and a small table. Enough room for a couple more chairs so if you have friends with you, a great place to sit. We thoroughly enjoyed the balcony and because the weather was really good, we used it a lot. Never smelled smoke at any time on the balcony. Pleasant and considerate neighbours both sides. A note to say that we were Starboard side and I would recommend Starboard for this cruise because we were dockside 2 out of the 3 ports. Wanted to go to the main dining room for lunch but it was only open for a travel agent group so had to go to the Lido. Not too crowded since we were probably in the first 100 or so to board. Can’t remember food – nothing special. Mandatory lifeboat drill was done fairly smoothly and as soon as it was over, I made a run for the Crow’s Nest to get a couple of the comfy lounge chairs for Sail Away. Sailed on time and it was a lovely view. Weather was good. So, on our way and following are some of our thoughts and hints on the trip. We ate almost all meals in the main D.R. I found the food good and my husband thought most were very good. Have had better and certainly have had worse on a cruise. We were on Any Time dining and usually went during the busiest time but nevertheless always got a table for 2 with no hassle. Each meal we were asked if we would share and when we said that we would prefer to eat alone, there was never a problem. We were seated promptly except for one evening, asked to wait over to the side for about 5-10 minutes and a second time, we were given a pager and told it would be about ½ hour. We went to the Ocean Bar and upon showing the bar attendant the pager, we each received a free glass of sparkling wine. Quite nice and since my DH does not drink sparkling wine, I got both! Dinners took about 1 hour or perhaps slightly more so did not drag out. We did not usually get the best tables. We were mainly seated by a serving station. Did not really bother us and became a bit of a running joke with us (which serving station will we be seated at tonight?). We did not eat in Pinnacle or Canneletto. Waiters were pleasant and mainly efficient. Not the happy, talkative type that we have had on some of our other cruises, but certainly pleasant. Always received what we ordered. Ordered room service one morning. It was delivered at the appropriate time with exactly what I ordered. However, although the coffee was excellent (SO much better than the Lido where the coffee is dreadfully weak), the scrambled eggs were cold and unappetizing, toast was barely toasted and cold, sliced bananas turning brown, strawberries fine. I did not repeat the room service breakfast experience. If I order it again, will stick with cold cereal. Service in the bars (mainly Crow’s Nest – love it!) was excellent. We enjoyed Happy Hour every late afternoon/evening. It was not offered on the first night. Never a problem having to wait. Staff came around asking shortly after we sat down and drinks were delivered promptly. However, if you declined, no problem. The Lemon Drop Martinis were as good as I remembered from other HAL cruises. The house chardonnay was quite acceptable and I sometimes carried my second drink to the MDR if I hadn’t finished it. Hot appetizers were served each evening (not sure of first night). Quite nice. This is a very good perk on HAL. We did not attend the Mariner’s Brunch. We did plan to go but it was at 11:00 a.m. and the timing was not good. Too late for breakfast and too early for lunch. Read the menu here on CC and the regular dining room menu was much better. I joined up for the 3 Mixology classes and they were great. The bartender. Jerry, who runs it is excellent and makes the experience a lot of fun. There are funny toasts and songs for each drink. Each person gets to mix, shake and serve at least one drink at some point during the 3 classes. You can attend 1, 2 or all 3 of the classes. I got a good deal by going to the Complimentary Champagne Reception at 3:00 p.m. first day. It is really a sales event but the sparkling wine (not champagne) was free and I got the 3 classes for $30.00. Not a lot of alcohol but worthwhile experience. Received a PhD Diploma in Mixology at the end because I attended all 3 classes. Otherwise, you receive a BA or a Masters Diploma. See what I mean – silly but fun! Second Day sailing the Inside Passage was beautiful. Sat for hours in the comfy lounges in the Crow’s Nest (no need to buy a drink). Third Day sailing into Juneau was spectacular! Again, sat for the whole morning in the Crow’s Nest. After docking, we bought tickets for the shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. Wanted to buy one way ticket because there are 2 companies and you are slotted in to the one company if you buy return. This was told to me by fellow CC members. However, when purchasing the tickets, we were told that you cannot buy the return ticket on the bus so bought the return ticket at the booth also. Think we were lied to but it worked out fine. As others have said, the walk to and from Nugget Falls is about 45 minutes. Easy walk and quite nice. We spent about 2 hours all together at the site because, of course, you want to look around. It was very warm and sunny. I believe the Glacier has receded badly and so I found it not as spectacular as it probably was in years past. Still, well worth the $16.00 per person for the shuttle. As recommended by many people, we went to Tracy’s Crab Shack which was just by where our ship docked (We could look down on it from our balcony). Thoroughly enjoyed their Crab Chowder. Large Crab Chowder (we shared), one House Chardonnay and one Alaskan Amber was $25.00. Be careful, at first they charged me for a regular Chardonnay when I had asked for House Chardonnay. A little expensive as a predinner snack, but the whole day had been a good inexpensive experience for an Alaskan port. In Skagway, we had arranged a bus tour with Chillkoot Tours. Highly recommended. We much preferred the van to the big busses we saw which were from the cruise lines. Our driver, Mike, was informative and a lot of fun. Day started out cloudy and cool but quickly turned out to be sunny and warm. Drove to the Yukon and saw spectacular scenery. At the end of the tour, Mike let us off in town and we walked back to the ship (easy 20 minute walk). Really enjoyed our day. Glacier Bay day again started out cloudy with very low clouds. However, again it cleared and was lovely. The starboard propeller broke down in the morning and although the Captain stopped the ship a few times to have the engineer try to fix the problem, we did have to sail Glacier Bay with only one propeller so it was slow. We were assured that there was no safety issue and no problem steering so we continued on. Beautiful scenery but we did have less time at Margerie Glacier because we had to get out of Glacier Bay to let the Amsterdam get in. Captain stopped ship again as soon as we were clear of the ice and this time it was fixed so we were on schedule the rest of the cruise. Did not see pea soup being served. Perhaps we were inside when it was being served. The line for the salmon bake was ridiculous so we skipped that. Crows Nest was busy on Glacier Bay day but we got 1 lounge and 1 chair by the forward window. Weather in Ketchikan was hot and sunny. We used the internet at the Crew Services office - $2.00 for one half hour. Took the venicular railroad up to Cape Fox Lodge, looked at the totem poles on their property and then walked down to Creek Street, looking for salmon in the creek (none – too early in the season) looked in a few of the shops and back to ship for lunch and afternoon. Good day. Last full day in Inside Passage was again lovely scenery with good weather. During the cruise we saw many whale spouts with some fins (is that called breaching), dolphins, seals, sea otters (so cute!). Did not see any land animals in Alaska although we saw deer, moose, 1 juvenile grizzly and coyotes in Interior British Columbia while visiting family. Arrival in Vancouver - on time. We chose the last disembarkation time (9:00-9:30 a.m.) and all went smoothly. We were in the last group and again took the Skytrain to the car rental agency on South Marine Drive and continued our vacation with a week in Interior BC with my sister and family. Entertainment was really not up to other cruise lines. Comedienne, Julie Barr, was very good. One evening she did shows at the regular time and another evening did a 11:00 p.m. R-rated show. Really, really funny. Magician, Greg Gleason, put on a very good show and one afternoon did a Memory Seminar which was interesting. One of the two production shows, Rocking Roadhouse, was good but the other one (something with Mounties, etc.) was very amateurish. The last evening was the finals for Dancing With the Stars. Also, each show was only 45-50 minutes tops. Evening entertainment is not a strong point for HAL. We were fine but if that is important to you, it will be a disappointment. The ports were all better than we expected. The weather was wonderful. Ship was (mainly) great. Would return to Alaska!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I booked the VOLENDAM mainly due to her Wednesday departure dates, which insured fewer other cruise ships in port. Only in Ketchikan did we encounter other passenger ships. The voyage itself was just what we wanted, 7 days, inside passage, ... Read More
I booked the VOLENDAM mainly due to her Wednesday departure dates, which insured fewer other cruise ships in port. Only in Ketchikan did we encounter other passenger ships. The voyage itself was just what we wanted, 7 days, inside passage, and visiting Glacier Bay. We lucked out by having very good weather. Only completely rainy on one day, sunny most other days. The VOLENDAM was a pleasant surprise. Food and dining room service better than I expected. This certainly was not best food I have had on a cruise ship but it was top notch. Dining room service in main dining room was very good and quick which is important with kids, who do not want to waiting between courses. We had not trouble with our open seating policy, if you reserved the size table you wanted a day ahead of time you could get what you wanted without any hassle. Since we booked a Suite (really a large room and not technically a suite) we had access to the Neptune Lounge and all of its perks. The staff in the lounge provided us with a lot of special requests, no ? asked. We also greatly enjoyed the daily breakfast service in Pinnacle Grill. So upsides to VOLENDAM were good food, fine service, nicely decorated ship, walk around promenade, no crowding , and large rooms.The worst part of the ship experience was the night time entertainment. It was so BAD it was funny. No live music with production shows and the singers and dancers could not sing or dance. One magician they had one night was OKAY. Highlight of the entertainment program was a showing of Jack London's WHITE FANG movie about Alaska. Of course we did not embark on an Alaska cruise for the shows, so this did not bother me. But you can tell costs have been cut in this area. We enjoyed all the Alaska ports, especially sailing in Glacier Bay where we had sunny weather. If you like wildlife and mountain scenery you will love Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We did quite a bit of research before choosing the HAL Volendam cruise which departed Vancouver on June 5th, and we picked this cruise because it included Glacier Bay which I felt was a 'must see' part of the cruise. Our ... Read More
We did quite a bit of research before choosing the HAL Volendam cruise which departed Vancouver on June 5th, and we picked this cruise because it included Glacier Bay which I felt was a 'must see' part of the cruise. Our itinerary was: Wed Jun 5 5pm depart Vancouver Thu Jun 6 cruising Inside Passage Fri Jun 7 10am-10.30am Tracy Arm service call 1pm -10.30pm Juneau Sat Jun 8 7am -9pm Skagway Sun Jun 9 7am -4pm cruising Glacier Bay Mon Jun 10 10am-6pm Ketchikan Tue Jun 11 cruising Inside Passage Wed Jun 12 7am arrive Vancouver We booked through 'Vacations To Go' and thoroughly recommend them. We selected BB6222 which was a balcony cabin near the rear of the ship on the port (left) side on the Verandah Deck, deck 6. At the end of the deck hallway towards the rear of the ship was a door which led out onto a stern viewing area with lounges, not many people seemed to discover this spot and it was a pleasant retreat with stairs up to the Lido and Bar on deck 8. The cabin was reasonably spacious (similar dimensions to our balcony cabin on the Equinox) and not generally affected by noise problems. However the main dining room was immediately below and if you happened to be in the cabin when they were making P.A. announcements they could be disturbing and quite clearly heard. THE GOOD - HAL/VOLENDAM - Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth and effortless, very well handled by all concerned and our bags arrived at the cabin in very good time. - The crew were probably the best part of the HAL experience - cabin attendants were always friendly and helpful, staff in the Lido buffet always had a smile. THE GOOD - ITINERARY/EXCURSIONS We were so lucky with the weather during the cruise, we had some cloud and drizzle on the first and last days cruising the Inside Passage but the rest was absolutely fantastic which made the awesome scenery even better. Glacier Bay is breathtakingly awesome! The scenery was simply spectacular, from the reflections in the calm waters to the majestic snow-covered mountains and the grandeur of sitting close to massive glaciers, listening to them 'speak' to you in the stillness of the pristine wilderness. THE BAD - HAL/VOLENDAM - In our opinion the cabin was quite 'old and tired' with chips and marks on the desks, very basic television and not much else. One of the full-length windows leading out onto our balcony had several huge cracks which ran from about waist height down to the floor. When I pointed it out to the cabin steward he said that they were aware of it but hadn't been able to get a replacement window yet. - We had opted for 'Open Seating' (anytime dining) but when we were given our I.D. cards they showed early fixed seating. When we tried to change this back to our booked dining option we were first challenged with a fairly aggressive "So you want to change your dining preference?" When I pointed out that our confirmation stated Open Seating and that I was not changing it but correcting their mistake I was then told rather brusquely that Open Seating had been over-subscribed and if we didn't take the fixed seating then we may experience extensive delays. We still went with our preferred Open Seating and never had a problem with getting a table for the entire cruise. - Throughout the cruise we found the food to be average at best. On the first night of the cruise we went to the Pinnacle Grill which was a waste of $25 per person, the food was not particularly good and the service was off-hand. - We only tried room service once for breakfast and it arrived so late that we almost missed our excursion. THE BAD - ITINERARY/EXCURSIONS GLACIER BAY The park ranger informative talks were held in the theatre at the same time as the ship was cruising by spectacular glaciers. You had to choose whether to listen but not see, or see but not listen. It would make much more sense to broadcast the ranger talks on outside speakers so that you could combine viewing and listening. SUMMARY Cruising Alaska was an awesome experience, one of my lifetime highlights. Would I do another Alsaka cruise? - probably not. Would I recommend HAL? Only if the itinerary/timing is one that you can't do with anyone else. My photos and review in the HAL forum can be viewed here http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1887232 Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Boarding seemed to take a long time - over an hour standing in line. We must have missed some information for third-time cruisers on HA.Basically, it was an enjoyable cruise, but there were a few glitches. We had dinners in the dining ... Read More
Boarding seemed to take a long time - over an hour standing in line. We must have missed some information for third-time cruisers on HA.Basically, it was an enjoyable cruise, but there were a few glitches. We had dinners in the dining room, and they were generally good quality, and the servings were modest, which met our needs. We enjoyed the afternoon tea, but observed some training lapses. Once, when we were at a table for two, I was served tea before my wife was served. Several times, sweets arrived before the sandwiches. Most disconcerting was when the server tried shaking the jam on to the scones, instead of using a second spoon to dislodge the jam on to the scone. I had this image of the jam ending up in my lap. I fault management, not the servers, for these lapses. Those of us who were prepared for the two formal nights were disappointed that the dining room staff admitted those who were not appropriately dressed, unless jeans and sweaters are now acceptable formal wear.The safe was a pain. To start with, it was locked, so a call for help was necessary. The use of a card with a magnetic stripe struck us as being downright stupid. My wife and I do not always follow the same agenda, so as a consequence, only one of us would have access to the safe. The use of a code that we could both use would seem to be sensible.We are not big fans of the shows, but we did enjoy the dancing in one of the lounges. The Neptunes were very accommodating in playing the tunes we, and others, requested. We also appreciate the classical groups that HA still has on their ships.It was disappointing to this news junkie that only Fox and CNN appeared to be available - the two most unsavoury news sources in North America. Since the passenger list is so international, perhaps HA should consider using something like BBC.For people who hate those high charges for slow internet, two of the communities had quite accessible internet cafes at $5/hr, and the public library in Juneau, on the dock, has FREE internet service for 15 or 30 minutes. Can't beat that price. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well ... Read More
Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well as on other lines. First, the positive. The ship was in excellent condition. Never did I see any worn carpet, or worn upholstery on furniture. Contrary to other reports, all the the ship's water supply was properly filtered and treated. We had no problem with foul looking or tasting water as reported on other reviews and information about the Volendam. Our shower could have had more water pressure and hotter water, but it was adequate. While our initial boarding was delayed, the ship's captain made the correct decision by ordering a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas of the ship. The previous voyage had experienced much illness of the GI type. A free shuttle bus was provided from and back to the boarding terminal. The bus went to and returned from a very nice and large Kobe department store. I was able to purchase four bottles of good wine for later consumption on the ship. The captain correctly continued having the ship areas disinfected and insisting that all passengers and crew wash hands and use the hand cleaning dispensers available throughout the ship. As a result, the extraordinary procedures for sanitation were relaxed about half-way through the cruise, although reinstated for a short time a few days later. The entertainment was generally good, although sometimes not well attended. The Piano Lounge pianist, Steve, was very skilled, clever, and entertaining. My wife, more of a knowledgeable musician than I, said he was an excellent pianist and accompanist. Steve also organized, was Master of Ceremonies, and accompanied singers for the guest talent show. I believe all the participants performed well, and that the two to three hundred in the audience enjoyed the show. I think, and hope, my 'Ol Man River was appreciated. As is proper, there was no determination of a winner, etc., for the talent show. These shows used to occur on most cruises, but now seem to have been replaced with Karaoke contests, with winners determined by ship staff personnel. While I enjoy Karaoke as much as anyone, I believe making it a contest is inappropriate. The adagio performers in the Explorer Lounge were a violin and pianist from the Ukraine. They were good musicians and played well, but attendance was too often sparse. They did give a fine performance at their own show one afternoon. Our favorite waitress was Marivic, who served us in the Explorer Lounge. She is from the Philippines, always pleasant, and with a great sense of humor. Our Neptune Lounge concierge ladies were also exceptionally pleasant and helpful. Now for he disappointing factors. For the first time ever, we splurged for a Superior Suite, named a Deluxe Verandah Suite, or Neptune Suite, on this ship. The pricing, changes in pricing, and our final attaining of the best price by contacting high level management are too detailed to get into here. The suite in general was what we expected, although perhaps a bit smaller than those on larger ships. Our main problem with the suite itself was the bathtub-shower. We only showered, never using a filled tub or the water jet function. We found the width of the tub base to be extremely narrow and uncomfortable for showering. Two feet would barely fit, and we are not large people. The verandah was very wide, as much as 11 or 12 feet. While this would be nice for warm weather cruising, the great width would hardly compensate for the very narrow bathroom and its narrow tub. Why the ship was designed this way in the first place escapes me. However, except for the very small bathroom and tub and waisted verandah area, the suite was nice. The complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service for suite guests was a plus. Cabin cleaning and service was fine, given that we seldom saw the cabin steward or assistant. In room breakfast service was good and on time. A minor problem occurred with the one live plant in the suite. One day my wife noticed it was drooping and lacked water. She watered the plant and it recovered. The cabin steward should have done this. Our major problem occurred during our first night on board, and continued for several nights. It happened that our cabin was immediately under the dishwashing room on the Lido deck above. Early every morning at about 6:30 am the dishwashing machines would be started. As they were drained the night before, the start-up was accompanied by a loud water hammer, or other such noise. Then, for a few more minutes, other noises occurred. We occupied 7028. I soon learned the suite guests on both sides, 7030 and 7026, were also awakened each morning by this noise. One of these guests inquired and was told nothing could be done about this noise. I then visited with our nice concierge lady in the Neptune Lounge and discussed the problem. She went to the Lido deck, asked about what correction could be made, and was told nothing could be done. I then asked to see the Hotel Manager. An intermediary then had the problem fixed by the dishwashing people using a different procedure. However, I still later met with the Hotel Manager who maintained that no one had previously complained about the early morning noise. What! Are you kidding me? I also spoke with this gentleman about the fact that shuttle buses in the Japanese ports we visited were never announced in the Explorer, the daily "poop” sheet. He responded that each city provided these buses, and it was not known if the buses would really be there. Well, then write a probable/possible entry for the Explorer to inform people that he buses could be available. While the Cruise Director spoke to our Cruise Critic "Meet and Greet” group the first cruise day and said Karaoke would be several times, it was provided only once. Our dining room experience was sometimes fine, but often lacking. Escargot was offered only once. As an example of our disappointment, I offer this. Once the menu included pheasant. The serving consisted of only the leg. The same occurred with duck. Neither menu stated leg. It is expected that if nothing is otherwise specified about the pheasant or duck part, the serving will be the breast. But I repeat, neither menu stated leg. I will not further elaborate about dining, but the experience was mixed. We did not participate in Pinnacle dining except for the complimentary lunch for Neptune Suite people, That was very good. So I could write much more, but the above may provide a flavor of our cruise experience on the Volendam across the Pacific. Bob (bobblsc) Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We enjoyed the trip tremendously and we would be perfectly happy to do it again. My review will sound more negative than I mean it to be. The cruise was mostly terrific with relatively minor issues that did not affect our experience ... Read More
We enjoyed the trip tremendously and we would be perfectly happy to do it again. My review will sound more negative than I mean it to be. The cruise was mostly terrific with relatively minor issues that did not affect our experience very much. Holland America moved the embarkation pier from a cruise terminal close to downtown to a container port 8 miles north. They set up a marquee in the middle of the commercial pier with giant cranes and mountains of containers all around. It was a bit disconcerting. The process seemed a little show compared to my last embarkation with Royal Caribbean but, to be fair, the passport and visa check was more complex. We found that our luggage had made it to our cabin before us so we were able to unpack before departure which is always nice. Our cabin was a grand sounding Vista Suite which is H/A's term for a balcony cabin. It should not to be confused with a real suite which they call a Neptune Suite. The cabin was a good size with a queen sized bed, a couch, an adjustable height table, a chair and a built-in dresser/wall-unit. The balcony that was a little longer than I've had before as there was room for a lounge chair as well as a regular chair and a small table. Not bad at all. While the cabin was well laid out with plenty of storage, the decor is starting to look a bit tired. The couch had a tear on the seat which had been poorly repaired, the veneer on the dresser was broken, the adjustable height table did not adjust any more and the commode and bathtub had water stains. This brings up the silliest feature of the cabin. They put a whirlpool tub in the bathroom but it's so small that it's completely useless as a whirlpool or a tub. It is very short and narrow and can't really take enough water to cover the jets. Fortunately it wasn't a complete waste of space as it made a great laundry tub. They seem to maintain the public rooms better than the cabins. There were no major signs of wear and tear and we could see the cleaning staff scrubbing away keeping it all shiny, even at ungodly hours. The food in the Rotterdam main dining room went from mediocre to pretty good. It started poorly with the first dish of the first night when I had a seafood cocktail that was tasteless and rubbery. I thought, oops here we go. But while there were things I didn't like over the next two weeks, most dishes were perfectly acceptable and some were pretty good. On the bad side, they often offered cold soups as a gourmet vegetarian entree. Their description on the menu was much more interesting than what they actually served. I gave up after the third night. On the good side, their lamb, beef, surf and turf and fish dishes were simple but good. Their desserts were also pretty good. We only ate dinner in the Lido cafeteria once. Boring. Lunches were available in the dining room, inside at the Lido and poolside. Poolside had a grill and a hot table with things like pizza and salads. They also set up an Asian buffet with different countries being represented every day. The quality was uneven. There were several tasty selections like the Indian curries but some of the others were less than great. I would suggest avoiding the Chinese dumplings. The dessert extravaganza buffet near the end of the trip was lots of fun and very popular. I had no idea how many desserts could fit on one single plate. We did not try the Pinnacle Grill, their extra-charge dining room. The one time I tried to get a reservation, they had a computer malfunction and asked me to call back. I never got around to it. I kind of feel that they should have been the ones to call me back and not the other way around. The entertainment was the weakest part of the cruise. Since there are only 1,400 passengers, it's not surprising that we didn't get Broadway at sea or an ice review show but what we did get was pretty poor. Comedians that weren't funny. Mediocre musical acts and a chorus line of 2 girls that no one had actually bothered to choreograph. There were some good points. The ship's band was sharp and they did a great job backing everything from the ship singers doing show tunes to a soloist doing opera. They were very good. The Ocean's Lounge jazz trio were also very good. They were tight and worked well together. I particularly liked the bassist. One of the ship's show singers, Ebony, was also very good with great stage presence and a good pop singer voice. But on the whole, the evening shows were mostly disappointing. The ports we visited were amazing. It was an incredible itinerary. We were in downtown Shanghai with Pudong right across from us and the Bund in walking distance. From Taijing, we made it to Beijing and the Great Wall. Dalian gave us a taste of Manchuria. Busan was absolutely fascinating. Nagasaki was walking distance to Glover Gardens and a short tram ride to the Bomb museum. With the exception of Beijing where we were around 100 miles from the city, it was easy to get around on our own and we did not try any of the ship excursions. The disembarkation process was the easiest we ever experienced. We took expedited departure and were off the ship by 7:45 and through to Kyoto by train before 9:30 am. Altogether a great success but there were a few things that really bugged us: Our number one peeve was the quality of the coffee. The standard coffee served in the dining room and the cafeteria was sour and weak and it had a chemical taste to it. The only drinkable coffee on the ship was in the Explorations Cafe and they charged extra for it. Curse you H/A. The first time we ordered a glass of Merlot at the bar we were charged around $10.00. The next day the charge was $6.00. When we asked, we were told that the $6.00 wine was the house Merlot. We could not find it in the drinks menu anywhere but from then on, we were house Merlot drinkers. There's something a little dishonest about hiding a less expensive selection to force the client to blow the extra dollars. In the Rotterdam dining room, a cavalcade of staff - waiters, team leaders, asst. head-waiters and head waiters would come by to ask how we were enjoying our meal but keeping my water glass filled seemed to be beyond them all. In Busan, the international cruise terminal is quite far from the downtown area. There was no shuttle bus, the city buses were jammed by 1,400 H/A passengers trying to travel to the same place at the same time and there was no taxi stand. There were stories that some taxis finally appeared but they were asking for $40 US for a $6.00 metered fare. Holland America really could have organized something a little better. None of these points were serious enough to spoil our trip. This was a great trip and I would be happy to cruise with H/A again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Ports visited, Kobe and Nagasaki Japan, Busan S Korea, Dalian China, Beijing China, Shanghai China, Hong Kong China. Our fifth "Dam" ship, first time Volendam. Cabin was an outside on Main deck. Embarkation was slower than ... Read More
Ports visited, Kobe and Nagasaki Japan, Busan S Korea, Dalian China, Beijing China, Shanghai China, Hong Kong China. Our fifth "Dam" ship, first time Volendam. Cabin was an outside on Main deck. Embarkation was slower than we would have liked, but once onboard our cabin was ready and luggage was delivered shortly afterwards. Thought Volendam was looking a little tired in places, especially outside on Lido deck where some maintenance and revarnishing would help. From day one our dirty cabin window remained dirty throughout the 14 days, and the bathroom tiling was showing its age, otherwise the cabin was kept immaculate by our steward and all was in good order. Plenty storage, the bed was supremely comfortable as usual and nice to see that the Elemis toiletries are still there. We really do enjoy the cabins on HAL. Overall the standard of cleaning was very high in all public areas and for the first 2 days everything was served to us in an effort to reduce the possibility of illness. This is good although the use of hand sanitisers could be more enforced as many passengers ignore them. We found the food quality, choice and presentation to our liking, and the additional Asian menu choices were fun to try so no complaints there apart from the usual dire tasting regular coffee. We were on Anytime Dining, ate in the diningroom almost every evening, and although did not usually have to wait long if we avoided the busiest periods, we did have lots of problems trying to get a decent table for two on the evenings we preferred to eat alone. We almost always found ourselves next to a serving station. Too many people are reserving the nicer tables for two for every evening at the same time, blocking others from using them. Defeats the purpose of "Anytime Dining", but the diningroom staff could surely occasionally put a couple on a table for four without other diners as there were often unoccupied nicer tables available throughout the time we were dining. Alcoholic drinks prices have increased to the extent that we now cut back, especially on wine with dinner. Heard quite a number of complaints about pricing, although the happy hours are welcome and at least the bars are busy instead of empty and have a nicer atmosphere. Entertainment was, as usual, a bit hit or miss but we thought the singers were an improvement on previous shows. They could not only sing well but a couple of them were outstanding. We usually avoid the solo acts, such as magicians, comedians etc. so cannot comment on them as we prefer to spend our time in Oceans with the trio. Enjoyed the screenings of first run films in both the large theatre and the smaller cinema. We did not notice any listings in the daily programmes for lecturers. There were port talks (to sell shorex) and info for independent sightseeing with the port info person, but no actual lectures relating to the history, culture, religion or anything else relating to the countries we were visiting. We have seen lecturers on other HAL ships but not this time. We thought the formal evenings were a bit of a let down. Wondered why so many passengers made the effort to dress formally. Captain made a brief (very brief) appearance at the Welcome Drinks otherwise we never really saw him. The Mariners Brunch was disappointing too. The CD introduced the Captain who spoke for approximately 2 minutes then left. As nothing else happened, it was a bit of a non-event. Weather was mostly good when we were in port, but the smog/pollution in some of the ports is bad. Bureaucracy on this trip is daunting. Even before we left, there was much confusion as to whether Chinese visas should be Single, Double or Multiple Entry. On this sailing it appeared to make no difference although the fees passengers had paid varied considerably depending on which of the options they chose. Passports in and out the office, passport receipts to keep and exchange at various times, photocopies to be carried and checked and rechecked every time we left or boarded, temperatures taken, officials from one country or another almost always onboard, it never stopped. This is not the fault of HAL and must have created an enormous amount of work for the staff. Be prepared to have this. Spent 2 nights in Osaka before boarding in Kobe, spent 3 nights in Hong Kong after disembarkation to finish sightseeing from previous trips. At every port we were giving the name of the ship, the dock number and the port address in the local language to show to local taxi drivers. We also sometimes had the names of the top sights in local language. We especially enjoyed the Japanese ports, and the local Tourist Info offices were on hand with info for independent sightseeing. In Nagasaki and Kobe this is very easy. Surprisingly, at Busan (S Korea)despite seeing signs for it at the dock there was no free shuttle into town although we had expected this from reading other thread. Tourist info had volunteers arranging taxis, cost approx US$4 each way. Dalian we had free shuttles to a city centre location. Shaghai had free shuttles for the very short trip to the Bund although it was barely 10 minutes walk. These finished very early (I think around 6-30pm) despite us overnighting. At Tianjin (for Beijing) there were free shuttles to a local shopping centre, again stopping very early despite an overnight. We greatly enjoyed our two days in Shanghai a lot, in part due to our excellent docking location close to one end of the Bund and with front row seats of the Pudong area directly opposite. Lovely during the day, but outstanding at night when the buildings and little river cruise boats are illuminated. We could have done with more time although we packed a lot into our two days. Beijing was the best and the worst. We knew when we booked the shorex that they would be a bit of an expensive endurance test with little sightseeing, but these were our only shorex as it was a little out of our comfort zone for independent or private touring, although many passengers did do their own thing here despite the logistical and bureaucratic difficulties. Again, two full days, but the port of Tianjin is 2 1/2 to 3 hours drive away depending on traffic. We were mostly 3 hours each way. Very early starts and late returns. The coaches we had were built for little Chinese people and were very uncomfortable for taller people. On one of the days there was so little leg room we had to take separate seats and sit sideways both directions as our legs would not otherwise fit. Next day, were amongst the first on our coach and managed to find seats with slightly more legroom although others were not so lucky. Both day tours were around 11 or 12 hours duration and cost around $250pp each day. Include time for lunch and driving between sights, and there was too little time left for actual sightseeing. I think on our first day we had just short of 3 hours and around 4 the second day. We thought these tours were vastly overpriced considering the majority of the time was spent on uncomfortable coaches. Perhaps HAL could look at either dropping Beijing altogether in favour of somewhere else, or tweak itineraries so that cruises either begin or end in Beijing where passengers could spend time in hotels actually in the city as sights such as the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace need more than 90 minutes or so. Overall it was a good trip but not a great trip, in part because of Beijing being so frustrating, although we did get to see the places we wanted to see. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was our first cruise with Holland America Line on board the MS Volendam which sailed from Kobe, Japan on 4th March 2013. The cruise was to take us to Nagasaki, Busan, Dalian, Xingang, Shanghai and to Hong Kong on the 18th March. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Holland America Line on board the MS Volendam which sailed from Kobe, Japan on 4th March 2013. The cruise was to take us to Nagasaki, Busan, Dalian, Xingang, Shanghai and to Hong Kong on the 18th March. We have cruised with most of the major cruise companies in the past and so this review is based on a wide experience of ships and companies. We had never previously booked with HAL because their prices were always quite a lot more expensive than some of the other major cruise lines and I suppose for this reason we had formed the opinion that they were something outstanding and this view appeared to be shared by a number of fellow passengers that we met. Recently, HAL have advertised some very attractive fares and this was the main reason that we had booked this cruise together that we had friends in Hong Kong that we wanted to meet up with. Pre Cruise Experience The booking procedure was fairly straightforward but our first problem that emerged was obtaining a Visa for China. Obviously, we were notified that we needed a visa but everyone that we spoke to appeared to have a different view as to which visa we needed one company informed us that we needed a double entry visa, another indicated that a multiple entry visa was needed and another indicated that a single entry visa was needed so we submitted an open entry and sent a copy of the itinerary with the application and a credit card number and we had a multiple entry visa granted at a cost of £90 plus recorded delivery postage. On the first night at dinner on board we sat at a table of 6 people, none that we had met before, and the question of visas was raised and it appeared that we all had different visas and that everyone had also been given conflicting advice from different sources. One lady had been informed that a single entry visa would suffice at a cost of £30 whilst the others had either got double entry at £60 or multiple as we had. It appears that HAL had also given conflicting advice to different passengers. Obviously, the difference in cost was quite significant so during the cruise I sent a note to the Front Desk asking which was the correct visa but did not receive a reply. Shortly after this I was in a queue at the Front Desk when I heard a lady in front of me also asking the same question and so I related my experiences and we were informed that they could not answer our query but would get back to us. As I had not received a reply I raised the question again and received an apology together with some chocolates and was asked to go and discuss the matter with the person that understood these matters which I did and it appears that only a single entry visa is required and so we had wasted £120. The second problem arose in the form of a notification that the ship would not now dock at the Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong but at a Container Port some 30 minutes away from the center of Hong Kong. As my friends had advised me that this would be difficult to get transport from this container terminal I emailed HAL asking if they were going to provide transport and this was their reply "The new address for the dock at which the Volendam will be at is attached in the following documents. A map is also attached for your use. Local taxi services are located close by and they will be able to take you to and from the new terminal. If you are unable to alter your arrangements from the original Cruise Terminal to the Modern Terminal a taxi will be able to take you." As my friends had informed me that getting a taxi would be difficult here and with over a 1,000 people disembarking I could foresee many problems and so I had asked my friends to make alternative arrangements which they did. During the course of the cruise we were notified that HAL were now providing a shuttle to the Hong Kong Cruise Terminal as obtaining taxis would be almost impossible and I raised this issue with the Front Desk and was informed that this docking arrangement had been in place for 12 months. If this is correct why was the cruise sold on the basis that it docked at HK Cruise Terminal two months before it sailed? I did ask the question but have not received a reply. The third problem arose due to the fact that the Internet was not available on the ship whilst the ship was in Japanese ports or within 50 miles of the coast of Japan -- this really inconvenienced many people that needed to be in touch 24/7 and should have been notified to passengers at the time of booking. The last problem relates to the seating for dinner and as I wanted an early sitting I was informed that this was not available and that we would have to have a late sitting and try to change this on the ship. When we boarded I was informed that we had been given open seating, which suited us better but there was no mention that this was available when we booked. The Cruise The ship accommodates 1432 guests and is now some 14 years old but is still in nice condition and is quite well laid out and it was never very difficult to find a seat in the restaurant or Lido. The choice of food was reasonable but not outstanding and the officers and crew were always polite and helpful. The ship was kept very clean and our cabin steward was excellent. Entertainment was ok but not outstanding as were the enrichment sessions. The fresh flowers around the ship added to the atmosphere. The shops are very limited and do not carry a good range of products and tend to major on jewelry, watches and small gifts. The library and internet rooms are quite good and spacious and it was only on sea days that it was difficult to find a seal. Excursions We did not take any excursions because we found them very expensive -- for example the overnight Beijing Trip offered by HAL would have cost us about £280 each but by arranging a private tour we did it for £180 each and visited more sights. The Nagasaki Trip that we arranged via the local Tourist Office only cost us about £50 whereas doing it via HAL would have cost us about £120 and in this instance we had a personal guide as well. In addition to this we found the private tours more personal and were able to make some good friends. This was the first time that I had arranged private tours but it definitely wont be the last. Overall Impressions We enjoyed this cruise because it went to destinations that we wanted to visit, was good value, the weather was quite good, the ship and facilities were good and we made some nice friends. On the minus sign HAL need to improve their communications pre cruise and their customer service on board. Whist I made these comments on board some of the questions have not yet been answered. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This cruise was part of a lot her cruise. We got on in Hong Kong, sailing to Kobe. The ship was docked at a freight port. We had a expensive taxi ride and the taxi was not sure where to drop us off. Very nerve wreaking. We later ... Read More
This cruise was part of a lot her cruise. We got on in Hong Kong, sailing to Kobe. The ship was docked at a freight port. We had a expensive taxi ride and the taxi was not sure where to drop us off. Very nerve wreaking. We later heard there was a shuttle bus. The room was ready and the luggage appeared Rey quickly. The closet space was outstanding. We had a nice sail out of Hong Kong. Apparently the front deck was opened but no announcement. We did anytime dining. Never much of a wait. I found the food to be fine but not outstanding. Every night they have a different "crisp", those were great. We did the three bottle of wine deal, seemed like a good approach for the two of us. I would suggest adding a tossed salad and a pasta to the "everyday" menu. The first formal night,the sea was very rough. They even had sickness bags outside the elevators. I must admitt, it got to me. I am not a delicate traveler, it was bad. Perhaps formal night could have been delayed. The on-board activities were fine but a bit repetitive. We happen to like trivia and name. That tune, so we were fine. I found the entertainment to be lacking. We did a number of excursions. All were done professionally. There were free buses into town often, but they stopped running quite early compared to the all abroad time. I am usually a Princess cruise person, I found the entertainment to be quite limited on HAL and the food not as good. The public rooms are about equal. My last cruise, princess had a port advisor that talked about things to do if you did not take the excursion. I found that very interesting. He gave more cultural information about the ports, like bargain, don't bargain, bow or shake hands, Etc. My nephew had not been to Asia and he had an amazing time. I enjoyed the cruise overall. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was a great introduction to Asia if you've never been that part of the world before. After spending 3 days in Hong Kong staying at the Salisbury Hotel (excellent, inexpensive and within walking distance to the port)embarkation ... Read More
This was a great introduction to Asia if you've never been that part of the world before. After spending 3 days in Hong Kong staying at the Salisbury Hotel (excellent, inexpensive and within walking distance to the port)embarkation for us was easy since we arrived early. Fortunately for us, we didn't encounter the chaos that others had. When embarking, make sure you choose group visa if you are not overnighting in any of the ports. There was a woman going around asking if you needed any help deciphering the visa paperwork...You will save money choosing the group visa option! SHIP: Nice vessel -- smaller than some others I have sailed on and food was good -- not great. It was better on some days than others but I got the feeling that was b/c there were some new employees on the ship getting accustomed to their work flow. Our inside cabin was the largest inside cabin we've ever stayed in and we were happy with it and our friendly stewards who were always available when we needed them. Entertainment was a little weak -- and has been better on other ships -- but with all of the touring we did - we were tired by the time shows were on! Gym was good with a decent amount of equipment -- if you are up to getting in a workout! I found the front desk to always be helpful when I needed them and they offered my husband free motion sickness pills as well when he didn't feel well! Their tour mgr Ian was also readily available to answer any questions you may have had on what to do in port on a particular day. Employees in general were very kind and helpful. Plenty to do on the ship during sea days -- depends on your interests. I do think their daily newsletter -- THE EXPLORER -- could be better written or laid out better since some people complained that they had nothing to do on the sea days but I think they just didn't see their options in the newsletter! Plus some people just like to complain! Port Maps -- they were ok and could have been more explicit with better info -- but it didn't really affect me since I booked several independent excursions and I didn't have to rely on the map as I have in the past. Ship was sold out for this sailing and not very many children on board (10 or 11 total). I'd say average age on the ship was 55-65 years old. PORTS: Halong Bay -- nice port -- easy to book a junk on your own. I did a Hanoi tour with SMILE Tours and enjoyed it. Its 3 hrs to Hanoi but they do break the trip down by stopping at different attractions before getting to and returning from Hanoi. After we returned from Hanoi -- we had some time to browse around the market at the port before getting back on the ship. If you choose to do the Hanoi tour -- be prepared for a long but enjoyable day! Da Nang -- we did this port on our own and its very easy to do. You can either book a tour at the port or take the $12 shuttle to town and book a tour there. Make sure to negotiate a good fare! I personally recommend visiting Hoian -- you can spend a day there and if you have time check out the Marble Mtns -- I didn't care much for Da Nang itself. Nha Trang -- went on Dung Pham's tour - great tour -- you see everything the countryside has to offer from conical hat making to the beach! Ho Chi Minh (SAIGON) -- booked SMILE Tours and it was a delight -- we saw everything the ship's tour saw at half the price! We got back to the ship with time to spare! Other passengers on the ship did their (SMILE'S) combination Cuchi and Saigon tour and really enjoyed it as well! It took 2 hrs to get there. Sihanoukville -- we did the Don Bosco tour and we were treated like VIPS! It was great to see how these students are being trained for the hospitality business. We enjoyed this port while others who toured on their own did not enjoy the port as much since Sihanoukville is still working on their tourism and it may not be up to the standards of some... Laem Chabang -- I booked a rt transfer thru Oriental Escape and was able to tour Bangkok on my own at my own pace. I recommend that highly! Since we overnighted at this port I was able to spend the entire day in Bangkok - it took us 2 hrs to get there and 1.5 to return! So we arrived at 11am and returned around midnight to the ship. There is a lot to see in Bangkok and you cannot see everything in one day so pick and choose what you really want to see. We spent the 2nd day in Pattaya (oriental transfer van for the day)and visited Nong Nooch which was a treat, The Sanctuary of Truth (spectacular if you are into architecture/engineering)and Pattaya town -- kind of seedy and not everyone's cup of tea! Koh Samui -- beautiful port that we toured. You can't go wrong with whatever you choose to do here! Singapore -- disembarkation -- a little long but not bad and easy to get around from the cruise terminal. An easy place to tour on your own! If you are willing and able -- this cruise is worthwhile but you may need a vacation from your vacation when you return from all of the travel required to get from the port to your place of interest. You can save some money if you pair up with other cruisers thru the cruise critic message board like we did!! All in all -- highly recommended!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Embarkation was slow and unorganised. Once we got to the lines it was hot and noisy. Some people just walked up and got on straight away and others were ushered to the lines. When we asked some people how they got on so quickly, they ... Read More
Embarkation was slow and unorganised. Once we got to the lines it was hot and noisy. Some people just walked up and got on straight away and others were ushered to the lines. When we asked some people how they got on so quickly, they didn't know. Ship was immaculately clean. Cabin the same. Please see cabin description for 7076 if you want to sleep Activities were well planned. didn't miss out but booked before the cruise. Dining was excellent. Could not fault the food experience except for room service. One day I just wanted a packet of chips/crisps. the only way was to order room service with a package. Crisps came in a bowl but it took an hour just to get them. Other times Room service took forever to answer the phone so gave up and went upstairs ourselves. Service was excellent in Dining rooms, shows were well presented. Disembarkation was excellent quick efficient but could not find the taxi's at Hong Kong. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I have been on over sixty cruises to include many Holland America Cruises. I will attempt to review this cruise and provide what I hope will be some information to assist other cruisers and perhaps even get Holland to rethink some of ... Read More
I have been on over sixty cruises to include many Holland America Cruises. I will attempt to review this cruise and provide what I hope will be some information to assist other cruisers and perhaps even get Holland to rethink some of their planning for future cruises. The ship: Volendam is a very nice ship that carries 1400 passengers. Our cruise was not full and I would estimate maybe 1200 or so. The ship was recently refurbished with all new softgoods..carpets/upholstery/drapes, beds etc. It is in very good condition and is plenty big without being some 4000 passenger monster. The self service laundry is nice for long trips....wash $2....dry $1 ...us quarters avail at front desk and free soap in machines...good machines. Avoid lines by doing laundry late night or on port days. Typical Holland library with a good selection of books. Internet is available at usual cruise super inflated prices of 75 cents a minute though they do have "plans" that come out cheaper if you buy a block of time. The wifi signal seems to cover the entire ship so if you absolutely MUST surf the web and don't mind the prices you can do it from your stateroom. As usual the Holland Indonesian/Filipino staff is always smiling and provides some of the best most gracious service of any cruise line. And the Dutch officers are their usual efficient selves. The Passengers; One of the YOUNGEST Holland cruises I have experienced. About 80 teens on board with many families with children but were all amazingly well behaved . Much more international than most Holland cruises with perhaps only half of the passengers Americans. Many aussies, kiwis, brits. Euros and even a group of about 40 Russians along with a good size group of Asians from Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. The Food: Typical Holland cruise with good food at the Lido , the two level dining room, the pinnacle (25$) the Italian restaurant which is part of lido (10$). Room service simple quick and good as well. This cruise had only one or two outdoor pool side buffets which seemed strange as the weather was perfect and most Holland cruises have more. You can choose fixed dining times in the top level of the dining room or dine as you wish in the bottom. I never had to wait more than a minute or two for a table as long as you are willing to share. The menu selections were fine but frankly seemed not as varied as other Holland cruises Service was very good all except one night when it was slow.. Nice burgers/tacos/etc available out by the pool. The entertainment: Some of the worst I have seen on a Holland cruise. Most consisted of a single guitar player or sax player or singer which was more suited/expected as a lounge act and certainly not a HEADLINER. Not sure if Holland is trying to skimp but it really was pitiful. The entertainers were reasonably talented but again they seemed more suited to the lounges. Only at Laem Chabang Thailand did they bring on local entertainers who were all adults and seemed to be a hit with the passengers. UNFORTUNATELY in my estimation Holland SHOULD bring on local school kids in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand who would be thrilled to come aboard and sing/dance etc...the kids are dirt poor and it would have been VERY easy for Holland to arrange that via their local port operator and NO DOUBT the passengers would have LOVED it and likely would have been happy to throw a few dollars into a collection to help out some very poor kids. PLEASE Holland consider doing this in the future. The kids might not be as "professional" but that is what makes them so special to see their eyes light up and their pride in performing their local cultures songs/dances...give them a ship tour and let them eat in the buffet line and it would make a big impression on them and the guests. No lectures/professors at all which again seems to be a new skimping by Holland. With all the history of the ports we visited it would have been nice to have a few lectures by a knowledgeable expert .....cost is minimal to Holland and again would have been welcome by the passengers. Best "lecture" was done by the hotel manager who did a one hour presentation with pictures showing how the volendam was refurbished in 14 days which is truly a herculean task...excellent presentation. Other: Seems to me the Holland newsletter has gone downhill...a new format is in place but gives very very little info on the entertainers/staff etc. Typical is the person's name and he is a "guitarist" etc. Surely this can be done better. Port info: As is usual the port info handouts are simply AWFUL. Not so much as the approximate exchange rate is given much less any info as to where to find wifi etc which MANY guests want to know. Very little or NO information as to local transport options. Again it seems to be all about pushing people to buy the Holland tours and be led around like children on some overpriced long bus tour. If you prefer to explore on your own you are truly on your own and should do your own research in advance. Sorry if this review highlights too many negatives as it truly is a wonderful cruise and as an experienced cruiser I am able to navigate around the problems with little or no hassles...but many of the passengers are novice cruisers and the items I mention cause problems and complaints. It certainly does SEEM to me that Holland since being taken over by carnival is more about squeezing every penny more than ever before although in fairness Holland is WAY WAY better at not nickel and diming you to death than royal Caribbean/princess/carnival etc. The Itinerary/Ports: Hong Kong: Flew into Hong Kong two days early. Very easy bus transfer for $5 usd or so that took me right to the Park hotel in Kowloon. Excellent hotel with very very good location. Paid about $165 a night. Only disappointment was they wanted another 20 usd for wifi usage. In fact all over Hong Kong wifi is amazingly NOT EASY to find for free as it is the vast majority of modern cities. Even though McDonalds etc claims free wifi you must have some local Hong Kong system to use it. Did finally find a simple little coffee shop near the hotel that had it. (take back exit turn right and about 50 meters up on left is a coffee shop). Hong Kong has a great subway system and easy to get around. For a treat go to the soho area on Hong Kong island which is built on the side of a cliff and is all bars and restaurants and the main area for expats. Star ferry of course also close by and easy to get to hong kong island. Taxi to the ship was easy and inexpensive. LONG lines to board the ship at 1 pm. For some unknown reason Holland had decided to hand out a one page info sheet regarding the visas you would need for china/Vietnam/Cambodia and Thailand. In all my cruises I have never seen such a poorly written single piece of paper that managed to totally confuse most every single passenger. You had to check if you wanted an "individual or group" visa with no explanation. The group visas were about $20 each cheaper than the individual. In addition they first said you needed a visa for sanya though that was clearly incorrect for most nationalities. Bottom line was I checked group visas and saved about $60 or more usd while those who checked the more OBVIOUS individual visa paid extra and in the end it MADE NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL as I was certainly not a "group" but had no problem. NEVER any explanation or refund to those who checked and paid more for group. Why Holland could not provide the visa info in the online tour docs is a mystery but they sure managed to confuse the hell out of most all passengers and slow down the embarkation as people naturally were confused. All total I ended up paying about $125 for the necessary visas while others paid close to $200. Sailing away from Hong Kong is very beautiful with lots and lots of nice lights. Sanya China: Holland provided a free shuttle into town but did not provide any info as to where the shuttle would go or what might be within walking distance so unfortunately most passengers did not have a clue which way to walk etc. A beautiful beach was only about 7 min walk from the drop point but it seems only a few people actually figured it out which was sad as it was a nice area ...most only found a boring shopping center. The Sanya port has a brand new set of high rise buildings and at night they all light up with a very nice light show. Halong Bay: A major disappointment in scheduling as the ENTIRE reason to go there is to cruise through the limestone formations and enjoy the scenery. For some very strange reason we set anchor at 5 am in pitch dark and then left at 7 pm again in pitch dark so the only part of halong bay visible was near the port. Holland was anxious to sell everyone a shore excursion with a boat ride through the bay which was fine but it would have been NICE if we could have actually also sailed in/out of the bay in DAYLIGHT. Da Nang: The port is about 15 mins from the main part of town. Holland provided a shuttle bus for $12 usd roundtrip that drops near the big markets. Again no real info as to what might be near the drop point but most were able to figure it out. Da nang is a pleasant enough city and the markets are interesting. Tons of motorbikes everywhere and traffic appears to be totally chaos . Lots of little tea/coffee shops to sit and watch the chaos . Free wifi available in lobby of most hotels. Nah Trang: Again Holland offered a shuttle for $12 roundtrip and even though they said it was a 30 minute ride I timed it at 11 minutes. Again no info on what was near shuttle drop but most were able to figure out the beach front promenade and the neighborhoods a block or two back from the beach. A very fast growing beach resort Nah Trang is a pleasant port. Saigon(Ho Chi Min City) The port for Saigon is absolutely nothing but industrial with zero within sight or walking distance. Holland was in full gear pushing overpriced tours to Saigon which is almost 3 HOURS one way. The port is run by a Vietnamese taxi mafia who quoted obscene prices for Saigon and even for the one semi nearby town of Vung Tao (11 kms $100 usd one way). All in all a HORRIBLE port and if you did not buy a Holland tour good luck. I heard more complaints on this port than any other. Shianokville Cambodia: A very interesting port call. Free shuttle by Holland to a chaotic market about 20 mins drive away. From there it was easy to hire a four person tuk tuk for about $5 usd to take you to the beautiful beach areas. Serendipity beach is a long white sand beach lined with chairs/umbrellas and nice clean looking water. It was New Years Eve and the locals were out in force with picnics etc getting ready for a major night time party. Lots and lots of open air bars/restaurants along the beach with bargain prices on drinks and food etc. For some very strange reason we sailed at 7 pm JUST as fireworks were starting up so naturally we missed the entire new year's celebration...Our next port of laem chabang was only 100 miles away (less than five hours sailing time) but rather than stay in port or even cruise off the coast to allow us to watch fireworks at shianokville the ship went out into the darkness where we sailed around in CIRCLES for the next 36 HOURS killing time . Why? Who knows as no explanation. SURELY it would have been cheaper, better to sit at anchor or at dock than to just ride around in circles?? Laem Chabang: The port for Bangkok and pattaya sits 1 ½ hours from Bangkok and about 30 minutes from the beach resort of pattaya. Once again it is an industrial port only and it is over a two mile walk out to the gates / highway...so yet again you are held captive by Holland pushing ridiculously overpriced shore excursions and an even worse taxi mafia than Saigon. Even though all Bangkok and pattaya taxis have meters and USE them naturally at this port they refuse to use the meters and had posted fares of $50 usd one way to pattaya (normally about $12 usd with taxi meter) and over $130 usd one way to Bangkok which is normally about $30. Holland's shuttle to bkk is $60 per person roundtrip....by way of comparison a very nice bus leaves Bangkok/Pattaya every 30 minutes and goes right by laem chabang all the way to pattaya/bkk for $4 usd. How sad that many people simply stayed on the ship in laem chabang rather than hassle with the transport problems. Both Bangkok and pattaya are great places to visit but between the laem chabang taxi mafia and the Holland gouge prices it is just one big hassle. Frankly Holland should either provide reasonably priced shuttle buses or skip both saigon and laem chabang for other ports that are not hours from cities and/or out in middle of nowhere and ruled by local taxi mafias. Ko Samui: Tender to the port of Na Thong (pronounced NATHAN by the Holland travel "expert" who seemed to think we had landed at Nathan road in Hong Kong or perhaps England and who knew less than nothing about Thailand. Easy tender in and tons of metered taxis and even cheaper songtaeows (pick up trucks with seats in the back that serve as local buses) ready to take you anywhere no problems. The port town itself is full of shops and restaurants etc with free wifi etc and is a very pleasant place to roam. Singapore: As expected very neat and tidy city with draconian laws against most anything like litter, chewing gum, jaywalking etc. Fantastic subway system makes getting around very easy. Bit of a hassle as every time you walk on or off ship you MUST go through passport control for some reason. Singapore is an EXPENSIVE city. Paid $12.50 usd for ONE BEER in a nothing special bar/restaurant. Six pack of Beer in a 7/11 is $30 usd. There is a duty free shop as you exit the ship where you can buy beer/wine/booze at much much lower prices. Singapore is not a good place to go pub crawling. We disembarked in Singapore at the same time as a royal Caribbean ship so there were long lines to clear immigration and then a MASSIVE long line to get a taxi to the airport with a wait of an hour or more. Best advice is either get off very early or just WAIT until about 11 am to get off when the line has gone down or just sit in one of the coffee shops and relax rather than stand in line. Taxi fare to airport is only about $15 usd and takes 30 minutes. Holland sells a one way bus ride to the airport at $39 usd. Singapore airport one of the best in the world. Free wifi throughout and plenty of shops/restaurants/comfortable sitting areas etc everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My wife and I plus two good friends and two family members took the Alaska Inside Passage cruise on the MS Volendam, which sailed from Vancouver July 25th 2012 -- August 1st 2012. Instead of writing a day by day account of the cruise ... Read More
My wife and I plus two good friends and two family members took the Alaska Inside Passage cruise on the MS Volendam, which sailed from Vancouver July 25th 2012 -- August 1st 2012. Instead of writing a day by day account of the cruise I'd rather list what I liked and what I didn't like about the cruise. This was our fifth cruise and we've previously cruised with, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Radisson and Canard. Please keep in mind there were 1500 passengers on board and this is my opinion and account only. Things I liked about the ship: - The Volendam seemed very steady when at sea and without much sensation of motion or movement. - The three onboard shows we saw were all good. We especially enjoyed the female comedian Chris Pendleton who was really funny. - At the end of the cruise you are allowed to stay in your cabin until you are called to disembark the ship. Please note that you will leave the ship on deck two (2) which is never announced or written. - The split-pea soup which is served around the ship and on deck while at Glacier Bay (State Park) was very good and most welcomed. We were there in late July and it was as cold as a January day in Washington DC. - I really liked that are room steward's swept our cabin floors daily and also cleaned the shower (tub) daily. They both did a super job keeping the cabin clean. - I really liked having the hand sanitizer stations, which was placed around the ship at the elevators and dining rooms. - The bathrobe in the room is a nice touch. - There is plenty of storage. There is only one electrical outlet so bring an extender if you need to plug in multiple items simultaneously. There is another one in the bathroom but it is two-prong only. - The captain will communicate when wildlife is spotted. - Embarkation and de-embarkation is the best of any cruise we have taken. Easy, organized, swift. - This is the first time without a balcony but the port hole view was fine. We did not miss a balcony. It actually got us out of our room more. Questionable things about the ship: - The ship's bell (forward) denotes the ship was commissioned in 1999 so please keep in mind this is an OLD ship. My sister in law (cabin 1900) had numerous flushing and backup issues with her toilet. The crew left a total of three written notes that the water would be turned off (for four hours each time) and repairs made (it still didn't work correctly). This was my sister in laws first cruise. So after the second issue we both when up to the front deck to complain and see what can be done. The response was "it's being looked into". The Front Desk never attempted to compensate her or make things right or contact her to see if the problem was solved. So please beware if you have a problem. - Access to the bow is hard to find and a bit strange to access. It is on the 3rd level. Look for the sign that says "bow". It looks like it is closed off and staff only but it's not. - Don't bother taking a magnet for your door to ID your door. The door is not metal so the magnet will not stick. We used gaffer tape. - The gym / spa point of contact (Lestor) was condescending and a jerk to us and other members of our traveling party (he did not know we were traveling together and the incidents were totally seperate and different). - We also had a problem (cabin 1891) with smelling sewer gas in our bath room. I know enough about plumbing and made sure all the P-traps all were filled with water and I kept the sink and tub plungers closed (problem solved). But here again this is an old ship, with plumbing issues. - No flexibility on either formal night. My 17 year old nephew came to the first formal night in dress slacks, polished dress shoes, dress shirt and tie...he looked great but was stopped at the door. Their head matre de (Mario) will not let you into the dining room without a jacket. All of the men have to wear either a suit jacket, tux or sports coat. However, you are not required to wear a tie. - The ship didn't communicate well with passengers. When in port, no announcements are made as to where you exit the ship and it's in a different location in every port. Please give yourself plenty of time in order to make an early excursion to find the location. Even the Front Desk said they did not have that information and to wait for an announcement (that never came). - Our bed linens were old (but clean) with several small rips. Holland America...it's time you buy some new bed linens. - The Ledo deck cafeteria stations are confusing and are laid out in a disorganized fashion. The most popular stations are next to each other so the middle is always crowded. - You cannot view your bill through their T.V.; you have to go to the front desk and ask for a printout. Here again...it's an old ship. - In my opinion the food isn't bad but it's not that good either. I think if Holland America were buying higher quality meats that would go a long way in improving the onboard dinners. Also their anytime dinning menu selection is not available on the last night. The last night menu theme is international foods from various countries which is the worst food night of the cruise. - On the last morning of the cruise we used room service. Half way through breakfast I noticed something at the bottom of my wife's orange juice. Under closer examination she discovered it was a huge (one inch) piece of broken glass. She took the glass up to the Ledo deck and asked to speak to someone in charge. When she explained the orange juice was from room service the manager said "it's not my station". You just have to love that kind of response from someone in charge. Oh and my wife was okay but the thought she may have swallowed glass due to carelessness really upsets me. Things I liked about Alaska: - We took the Tracy Arm Fjord (high speed catamaran) excursion which is a must do (but a long day). This excursion allows you to get up close and personal to both the north and south "Sawyer" Glacier. Note: it's a several hour boat ride back to Juneau. You'll be dropped off at the ship. We had planned to also explore the Mendenhall Glacier but just ran out of time. Shari of the excursion was excellent, informative and entertaining. - We also really enjoyed the White's Pass Train Ride & Gold Panning excursion in Skagway. We all enjoyed the Liarsville camp and the gold panning. There is no gold in this part of Alaska but each pan has dirt/gravel with a trace amount of gold. This gives you the feel of panning and finding gold (the gold is yours to keep). Hey, and remember to howl like a wolf when they board your bus. They (Liarsville camp personal) have a lot of fun and want you to have fun too. When we got back from this excursion we walked into town and hiked up the mountain to Lower Dewey Lake. Have good hiking shoes, drinking water and some athletic ability (the hike is rated as moderate) and you'll enjoy the beauty, view and the workout. - There are so many interesting things to see like: water falls, snow covered mountains, the turquoise mineral filled water at the glaciers, marine mammals, plants, rocks and trees, green lush meadows, wild life and the people are friendly and will ask you "so where are you from"? This was a bucket list trip for me and my wife. Things I didn't like about Alaska: - Nothing. It was wonderful. - Dress for cool weather. Dress in layers and you will be glad to have gloves and a stocking cap in Glacier Bay. - Don't be discouraged if it is overcast, foggy or rainy in the morning. There is a good chance it will clear up for the afternoon. We stayed at the Metropolitan pre-cruise in Vancouver which we liked a lot. After the cruise we stayed at The Sutton Place which cost more. Sutton Place had a beautiful view but no wifi or other amenities (unless you want to pay). I preferred the Metropolitan for location, amenities, price, friendliness. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My sister and I booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. We flew into Seattle, took the AmTrak coach to Vancouver to spend the night before boarding the ship the next day. We stayed at the Ramada close to Gastown and ... Read More
My sister and I booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. We flew into Seattle, took the AmTrak coach to Vancouver to spend the night before boarding the ship the next day. We stayed at the Ramada close to Gastown and enjoyed shopping there in the morning before boarding. The Ramada was close enough to Canada Place that we could have walked, so we didn't include the transfer cost, but taxis are reasonable there and we didn't want to struggle with luggage. Boarding was painless. The lines were long, but moved rapidly. There were two ships in dock and a lot of people milling around but the process was well controlled. There were ample HAL employees directing traffic and it went seamlessly. We had our photos taken, issued cabin keys, then seated in the "holding area" until the line opened for us to pass through customs. Once on board, the Lido (buffet) was open for lunch and it was recommended that we eat before going to our cabins in order that the stewards had plenty time to ready the cabins from the cruise that had disembarked that morning. As soon as we arrived in our cabins, our luggage was already there. We unpacked, gathered at our Lifeboat stations for the Emergency procedures, then went on a tour of the ship with the "Lifestylist," Claire. (Very helpful, cheerful personality.) The ship was a good size and appropriate for what we were looking for in a cruise. There were no discos, rambunctious youth, or blaring music (for the most part, although one time it did get awfully loud on the Promenade Deck). The crew maintained a very clean ship, and the captain and crew were overly cautious about curtailing the spread of viruses and sickness. (Hand sanitizer "stations" at all elevators, stairways, dining entries, etc.) The only complaint in the maintenance department is that they were continually painting. Every day areas were roped off and marked "wet paint". Also, every day, the promenade deck was washed down, which meant if you were an early walker you walked on very wet decks. Our cabin was on the Promenade Deck, which was convenient. We had a large window, while not looking directly out, looked across the open promenade deck to the outside. Being on that deck and close to an exit door from the hall to the deck made it easy for us to get out on the deck for photos, walking, etc. Even though many people walked the promenade, the windows were tinted so that our cabin was still private even when the curtains were open. We had previously read that if you have trouble with sea sickness, dizziness, etc., a cabin toward the aft (back) of the ship on a lower deck would be best, and that's just what we had. We would have walked less steps overall if our cabin had been more centrally located (especially when we left something in our cabin that we needed), but with the large meals, the walking was good for us! The cabin was a cozy size, larger than we anticipated, with ample storage space (certainly for the two of us). The beds were comfortable and the bathroom spacious enough with a full tub. A shelf under the sink as well as a cabinet built into the corner over the sink offered plenty of room to store our toiletries. The water pressure was good, but we took several cool/warm/cold showers. (We never even thought to bring this to the attention of our steward. There may have been something he could have done to correct this!) We had some minor problems with the toilet flushing, but access to public restrooms on the ship caused that not to be much of a hardship. One thing we had not prepared for was the absence of a clock. We would not leave our phones turned on (to make sure we did not receive any $16/minute international calls), and as neither of us wear watches, we were constantly wondering about the time. This was important in order to make it to planned events taking place on the ship. Every night we were given a schedule of the next day's events. (Finally we bought an inexpensive watch at one of the ship stores but it did not keep good time and really wasn't worth what we paid for it.) I believe the television might have displayed the time, but we would not turn it on for that. The classes from Microsoft on digital photography were very good for beginners. The young guy, Craig, who taught them was patient and willing to help with any problem cruisers were having with their digital cameras, computers, etc. Some really got their "money's worth" out of his help! Not being interested in the bars, casino or many of the shows, we retired to our cabins fairly early each evening. It was quiet and peaceful (maybe more so for us because we were toward the back of the ship?). Since the sunset was late (around 9:30 or 10:00) we saw a couple of beautiful sunsets. (When it wasn't raining or cloudy!) Our steward was very efficient and thorough. He attended our rooms twice a day, smiling every time we saw him and always helpful. We had first dining at 5:45 and the dining staff was efficient and for the most part friendly. Our assigned table was toward the center of the restaurant, with little access to views of the outside, so we decided we really enjoyed the buffet better -- our choice of seating, seeing and choosing the dishes that looked good to us at the time, and not being on a schedule. We wound up, for the most part eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Lido. We also decided that, although prepared, we did not feel like dressing for the formal dinners, so the Lido was a better fit for us. The bars and lounge areas, library and card room with window access were comfortable places to sit during the day to scan the water and banks for wildlife, to catch a snooze, to eat that extra dessert, to read or to chat with new acquaintances as the ship made its way through the Inside Passage. For the most part, it was too windy and cold to sit outside on the deck areas. One of my recommendations to the ship line in this area would be to make access to outer areas easier. From the seated areas, if you noted something you really wanted to photograph, you had the options of 1) taking it through the spotted, dirty window (most of the time covered with raindrops!) or 2) running to an outside area hoping to catch the shot before it disappeared. (I missed most of these!) There were some covered seating areas on the back pool Lido deck with easy acess, but it got awfully cold and windy there as well as on the Promenade Deck. I tried it a few times, but usually gave up and headed inside. We were glad for the captain's schedule when we made our first stop -- Juneau at about 1:00 pm. I was afraid that late arrival wouldn't give us enough time to check out the capital city, but it was ample time. There was only one other ship in dock which made it much easier to get around town, to our excursions, etc. without being jostled by crowds. Skagway was the next port of call.This was my favorite stop (or would have been, if not for the rain!). Thankfully, up in the mountain the rain stopped. Glacier Bay was astounding. Again, misting rain and cloud cover, but we were able to see several glaciers. It was another rainy, cold day and the Crow's Nest was a good place from which to view since the windows stretch all the way across the front of the ship. (However, you must arrive EARLY to get a seat in there.) Having the National Park ranger and personnel come on board and give comments and explanations gave it an added dimension. We didn't witness any large "calving" which we would have liked to seen, but there was a calming quietness that was almost "otherworldly." It's hard to imagine the natives of yesteryear existing day in and day out in that cold, sublime area. The last port of call was Ketchikan. Enjoyed it but didn't take any tours. Just wanted to walk around, get souvenirs and get a feel for the city. Walked through the Creek Street area and along the Married Man's Trail. The last day was another day of cruising the Inside Passage, making our way back to Vancouver. It was still very pleasant viewing and the captain did a fairly good job of keeping us updated on where we were and what was coming up that we might be able to see. Although I enjoyed the viewing, I was beginning to want to be off the ship and on dry ground. Six nights of being rocked to sleep was beginning to get to me! I think others must begin to feel the same way because they scheduled more "active" events that last day than usual -- table tennis tournament, basketball game, WII bowling, etc. The disembarkment was carefully planned, but no matter how well organized, 1,400 people disembarking and some not following directions caused some chaos. However, overall it went well. Once off the ship, we were somewhat confused where we supposed to go, but once through customs, there were HAL employees directing us and answering questions. Found them to be very helpful. Overall I recommend Holland American Lines and the Volendam. There wasn't pressure to buy anything on the ship, although we felt a little pressure from the professional photographers to allow us to be photographed. (They made a DVD of the week which was available for sale at the end of the cruise as well as individual photos taken during the week. That would make a nice souvenir for those interested in pictures of who was on board as well as what could have been seen during the sailing.) The other thing noted about the cruise was lack of North Americans working on board. As far as I could tell (by accents), there may have only been a couple. Although the workers spoke English to some degree, a few were hard to understand and had trouble understanding us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Overall I enjoyed my cruise to Alaska with Holland America & would recommend it, as long as you can handle a couple of "glitches". My highlights: - Food: I thought the food, and selection, was very good. - Staff: the ... Read More
Overall I enjoyed my cruise to Alaska with Holland America & would recommend it, as long as you can handle a couple of "glitches". My highlights: - Food: I thought the food, and selection, was very good. - Staff: the cruise director was charming & the support staff were gracious. - Sights: the scenic cruising in BC is really lovely, and Glacier Bay was amazing. - Activities: there was always something to do, although sometimes we chose to read or relax in the lounges. I loved the library. - Entertainment: the nightly entertainment was decent quality. They have some good singers on board for sure! - Ports: I enjoyed all the ports, especially Skagway. It was nice that the ship was always docked very close to the city & you didn't need to buy an excursion package to enjoy them. Lowlights & glitches: - Vodka I ordered via phone before the cruise never arrived & the front desk staff couldn't find record of it. However, I was charged for it! I'm still trying to get this sorted:( - Our room card had to be continuously replaced & we were NOT demagnetizing it; we missed a bus in Juneau when we were once again getting a replacement card. - Front desk staff: some - especially one of the gentleman - was very unhelpful & not good at finding solutions to problems. - We never went to Tracy Arm, & no mention/explanation was given. This was clearly listed on the itinerary, including the cruise confirmation I downloaded from the Hal website. Suggestion: - If you order an item pre-cruise over the phone, get a confirmation #. If you deal with the front office, note down the name of who you talk to. Ask them to put a note on your account where appropriate. - Get on the ship as early as possible, we didn't leave Vancouver until 5pm but as 12 noon you could go on board and have lunch, followed by ship orientations etc...it's a great time to get familiar with the ship. - If you like to party past 11pm, invite other people to meet you at the Crow's Nest ("disco" on the top desk)...it was a ghost town most nights! - Bring waterproof shoes, jacket, & maybe gloves. I wish I'd had a jacket with an attached hood that protected my ears/neck when we were in Glacier Bay! Ports: We were on a budget so we only did one excursion. There was plenty to do if you are a "do it yourselfer" like us. JUNEAU: We paid $14 (return) for a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. You can buy these tickets from the booths in front of the ship. We walked around a bit & went to the glacier visitors centre. Then we returned to town & walked around. There is free hotspot Internet access at the library. SKAGWAY: Skagway was my favourite port. We booked an excursion, the White Pass Railroad($130 each) and enjoyed it. We walked around town & bit out of town to the cemetery...I heard a rumour that a bit up from the cemetery is a lookout point. We visited the museum which was interesting. A fun place to wander. KETCHICKAN: It was so wet here, a store clerk told us they had one day of sunshine last year! We caught a free bus in front of the ship that took us to one of the totem pole places. We caught the same bus back to town & wandered around. There is 1 free hour of hotspot internet access at the library & the museum is in the same building. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We booked adjacent unobstructed, outside cabins -- one for my husband and myself and the other for my son, daughter-in-law and 9 month old grandbaby. The boarding process was very easy and efficient with no waiting. We arrived near the ... Read More
We booked adjacent unobstructed, outside cabins -- one for my husband and myself and the other for my son, daughter-in-law and 9 month old grandbaby. The boarding process was very easy and efficient with no waiting. We arrived near the beginning of the boarding time and had immediate access to our cabins. We had filled out the forms on our special needs prior to departure. The gallon of distilled water for our CPAP machines was in our stateroom, but the "pak and play" baby bed was not in our son, daughter-in-law and grandbaby's room. The error was quickly fixed. Our cabin was very comfortable with a large amount of storage space. The bathroom was very nice, with a tub. There was plenty of room to shower and no problems with water escaping from the shower. We always had lots of hot water. The staff in both the formal dining room and in the Lido were very friendly and worked hard to accommodate the baby and keep her entertained. Our grand daughter loved some of the soups and one night we ordered a second bowl just for her. The main courses at dinner were excellent. The desserts were not as good as the main courses. The only problems we had on board were: 1) That our room was too cold even when the heat was left on the hottest setting. A person was quickly sent to our room when we complained. 2) The toilet clogged up one evening. A plumber was sent to correct the dire situation within 40 minutes. 3) The same evening was the blocked toilet, we received a phone call at 10:30 PM after we had gone to sleep asking us if we would switch cabins the next day (during the sailing in Glacier Bay to allow the wall paper to be changed). My husband thought that the request was a joke, but they were serious. When I explained out out-of-line and inappropriate the request was both in terms of time of night and that we did not wanted to stay next door to our grandbaby, they made amends by giving us a free dinner and nice bottle of wine at the extra charge restaurant. The gym was very nice and I used it every morning except the last one. The evening show was mediocre with dull material. The choreography was poor and one of the two female dancers was rather hefty. When a couple got up to walk out on the juggler, he ridculed them even when they tried to sneak out further to the back. I had been yawning and thought he might criticize me for that! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Disability Matters: We booked the cruise well in advance. Mum requires a walking frame to get around and a wheel chair for steep inclines and long distances. Because mum couldn't climb into a bath to shower, we opted for a disabled ... Read More
Disability Matters: We booked the cruise well in advance. Mum requires a walking frame to get around and a wheel chair for steep inclines and long distances. Because mum couldn't climb into a bath to shower, we opted for a disabled room. That was a good move on our part. Embarkation: We caught a cab from our hotel to the dock. The staff were wonderful and directed us to where we needed to go. We had booked a wheel chair assist to embark, knowing that a steep incline up a gang plank would be too much for mum. The gentleman handling that area was very helpful and directed us to a desk where we wouldn't have to cue to check in. So far so good. They noted that mum is a diabetic and asked if we need a sharps container in our cabin. We said yes. That did now arrive, not until 3 days into the cruise when we received a questionnaire asking if there was anything more they could do for us. We asked for the sharps container. It arrived. Apparently we had only to ask our cabin steward and he would have given us one. The day following our departure we received a letter noting that we had a passenger with mobility problems in our cabin and to please contact the front desk. So I did. They informed me that the ships wheelchairs would not be available for use during the cruise. This was a new policy and not in place when we booked. We had specifically made a point of asking if wheel chairs would be available to disembarking and embarking at ports of call when we booked and were told yes they would. When we completed the paper work requesting wheelchair assistance for embarkation etc we were not notified of the changes. I was told that they would assist my mother to disembark and embark but were evasive as to whether or not they would make a wheelchair available. The tour desk also contacted us to question the suitability of one of the tours we had booked. When we booked the tour through the ship I took careful note regarding suitability of the tours for those with limited mobility. There was nothing that indicated that the tour we had booked for the Bay of Islands would not be suitable for her. I held off cancelling the tour until after we had visited our 1st tender port so I could personally check out the tender transfer process. At our second tender transfer port, my mother managed just fine so we decided not to cancel our Bay of Island tour. As fate would have it, our visit to The Bay of Islands was cancelled due to bad weather! When we arrived in Dunedin the gangway was extremely steep. There was no way my mother could attempt to walk down it safely with her walking frame. The crew suggested that she sit on her frame and they would take her down on her frame! We said no, that she required a wheelchair as it was not safe to push her down on her frame. They got a wheel chair. The staff have no idea how to handle a wheel chair on a gangplank either up or down. It was a white knuckle experience for her at every port of call. How the crew haven't sustained back injuries I don't know. There was only once when one of the officers was present and corrected the way that they were going to embark did my mother ... or I for that matter feel safe. At every port the gangway was very steep. The cabin was spacious and the bathroom well set up. The only thing I noted was that for a disabled bathroom the toilet was a standard one, not the taller variety disabled bathrooms usually have. I wrote to the cruise line after our return to raise a couple of concerns, this being one of them and in the response I received was told that there was a raised toilet seat available for use, had we requested it. We didn't know that there was one available. Having said this, there were ample railings around the bathroom and there was a shower stool. The shower was easy to use, it was well set out. TOURS: In Tauranga (Rotorua) we booked a private tour through Xquizit Limousine and Tours. That proved to be a good move. They were there waiting for us when we docked. Our driver was wonderful and very attentive and very informative. He pre booked a wheel chair for when we got to the thermal areas and then proceeded to push mum around and to give us a personalised narrated tour of the area. The staff knew he well, so when we went to view where the men were learning to do the Moari carvings, they pulled the barriers back so mum could get up close and personal and they talked to mum and I one on one. The same in the women's weaving area. They also gave mum a gift because it was her birthday! We were taken to a lovely cafe for lunch. While eating lunch the staff came over with a small cup cake with a candle on it and sang happy birthday! Our driver had told them it was mums birthday. We had a fantastic day. The cost of the tour was half of what the ships tour cost and it was well worth every cent and was an incredibly memorable day for mum. We too one of the shops tours in Napier. That was good and informative. Would I do it again? Probably not, But mum wanted to do the tour. We enjoyed each of our ports of call, mum just wanted to wander around the local areas for awhile to soak up the ambiance of the areas. The Ship: The ship was lovely. Lots of areas to sit and relax, lots of activities to participate in. the Internet was incredibly expensive, but do you really need to spend hours on the net when you are on holidays? The evening shows were great, the guest entertainers were excellent. We went to the early shows, and then made our way to the piano bar and enjoyed a very entertaining evening listening to the pianist there (Glen). His interaction with the passengers, his showmanship and the variety of music he played made every night a night to enjoy. The piano bar was packed every night. Each night there was a theme. Well worth going to. The food on board was great. The Lido deck was great, the selection was amazing and the quality good. The only negative would be, there was nowhere for mum to park her walking frame. The crew didn't think to remove a chair from a table to make room for her frame, so finding a suitable spot for us to eat was difficult. We had early fixed dinner seating on a table of 6. The meals were great. The portion sizes for mum were often too big, and even when we requested a small serve, the serve came out the same size as everyone else's, and so that often put mum off eating, huge serves are overwhelming for her. That would have to be the only negative. We didn't take advantage of breakfast in the main dining room until the end of the cruise. I wish we had done so earlier, it was much easier for mum eating there than on the Lido deck. Disembarkation: This was the biggest negative for us. We booked to go to the airport via a ship transfer, to ensure we got off in plenty of time to catch our flight. Because mum was a wheel chair assist to get off the ship, we had to meet in the Oceana bar. Our disembarkation time was 7.45am, so we arrived there at 7.35am to find the place in darkness with no wheelchairs in sight. We waited and waited and eventually at 7.50 I went and found a crew member to ask what was happening. A crew member eventually arrived at 7.55 with no wheel chairs. He didn't think disembarkation had commenced ... I don't know where he had been as it had been announced that it had commenced at 7.30 on two occasions. He then set about finding wheelchairs and then a tiny slip of a girl arrived to take mum off the ship. She took us to the wrong deck to disembark, even though we tried to correct her. She eventually found a crew member who could tell her which deck to disembark on. When we got to the gangway, once again it was super steep. She nearly tipped mum out of the wheel chair getting her up the lip of the gangway. A shore person came up to rescue mum and take over with the chair. The ship were using the Pinnacle Grill staff to handle the disembarkation of those needing assistance. We finally got to the bus, 30 minutes late. There was one other person who required wheelchair assistance who arrived another 5 minutes later. For those who did not require assistance or who left the ship later disembarkation would have been far less stressful. For us it was very frustrating dealing with the very casual attitude of those assisting with this process. It felt like the staff from the Pinnacle Grill were very reluctant to take on board this role. Overall: Mum had a great cruise. Family members took advantage of pre booking gifts for mum (flowers, manicure, etc) for mum which she received at different times throughout the cruise. She was surprised and thrilled. The dining room sang to her on her birthday, and gave her a small birthday cake. The crew were friendly, on the whole and attentive. Would I cruise again with HAL? Yes, it was a relaxing experience, the ship was not too big and the ratio of staff to passengers was good. If travelling with someone with disabilities, endeavour to get a full update of facilities available on board, don't just assume that all will be ok!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Travelled from Sydney to Auckland with many ports whilst en route. Volendam is showing her age - looking worn around the edges and needing a face-lift - but this did not detract from our enjoyment of this fab cruise. Particular ... Read More
Travelled from Sydney to Auckland with many ports whilst en route. Volendam is showing her age - looking worn around the edges and needing a face-lift - but this did not detract from our enjoyment of this fab cruise. Particular highlights include: mayor of Burnie greeting us when disembarking; wonderful botanic gardens at Dunedin (easily walkable on a day ashore); beautiful weather on the day we 'tendered' into akaroa; genuine warmth of reception by the people of Napier; wonderful scenery in Mount Manganui. Life onboard was generally fun with a variety of entertainment. Our favorites were great quizzes organised by cruise director David and DJ Phil. Questions did tend to be rather geared to US residents, but hey, we can cope. Didn't win though! The evening meals were much better than I remember having on Ms. Veendam earlier this year but breakfast and lunch were still a bit of a scrum in the Lido self-service restaurant. Much better to go to the Rotterdam for a sit-down affair if time available. Our cabin was clean, had a wide range of storage, and was generally quiet but had odd ominous banging sounds from below on occasions (engine room? tenders?). We made full use of the self service laundrette, having been away for a week by the time we got on board ship. It really does seem odd that you still need an enormous number of US quarters to operate the washers and dryers, it's probably time that they sold tokens which would be much more user friendly. Opted for open dining which means we could go any time we wanted rather than be tied to a specific sitting. Generally shared with other people in tables of 6-8 and this worked very well most of the time and forced us to socialise with others, which was enjoyable and entertaining. Evening shows were not to our taste for the most part, but we recognised that all had talent. Usually quite difficult to find space to sit if one went after dinner. All in all, we had a fab time and would thoroughly recommend this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Rather than a detailed account of our trip I will highlight some of my impressions and offer some tips and hints. I have also included some information that I had a difficult time researching before our trip. This was our third Holland ... Read More
Rather than a detailed account of our trip I will highlight some of my impressions and offer some tips and hints. I have also included some information that I had a difficult time researching before our trip. This was our third Holland America cruise and second aboard the Volendam. (Note, we boarded the ship in Skagway but this form does not have that port in the drop down list). In general, the land tour and cruise exceeded my expectations. The land tour was super organized and the handling of baggage and other details was extraordinary. Room keys were always provided as soon as we departed the bus and our Tour Directory, Gwen, did an outstanding job of taking care of all of our travel needs. We also had a great bus driver, Rick, from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. The bus (coach) itself was full but was configured for just 44 passengers. This meant we had extra leg room. The coach had a reasonably sized bathroom and we were not discouraged to use it (other bus drivers on tours usually tell us to only use the bathroom in emergencies). There were also frequent rest stops, usually every two hours or less. The coach had video screens, music via provided headphones, just like a plane. HAL had two buses on the same route but they tried to stagger our times so that the restrooms and other facilities would not be overloaded. We also had several buses from other tour companies that seemed to be duplicating our itinerary. The trains to Denali and Fairbanks were also comfortable and there are good views on either side of the train. I highly recommend this Cruise Tour itinerary. It provided a diverse schedule of included activities. All of the hotels were centrally located and they were clean and well maintained. I read some negative reviews of the Westmark in Beaver Creek but our room was fine. We didn't get the meal plan but were satisfied with the number of meals that were included. We used the $25 per person coupon at the Westmark Whitehorse for breakfast and dinner. We are light eaters and the restaurant gladly split our dinner, even putting it on two plates for us. Unfortunately the Salmon was dry and other diners reported similar disappointment in their entrees. The days start very early and we usually did not attempt to eat breakfast on most days. We brought snacks and instant oatmeal which were sufficient to eat in the room. There were usually stops in mid morning and mid afternoon for additional refreshments. We did not book any of the land tour excursions but opted to try to do some things on our own. We asked the bus driver on the included Denali tour if he could leave us at the Visitors Center before returning to the hotel and he happily agreed. We took the time to see the movie, view the exhibits, etc and then went on the free shuttle bus to the dog kennels. They had a good presentation and ran the sled dogs on a dirt path. On the second day in Denali we took the free shuttle from the hotel to the Visitors Center. The shuttle runs every half hour and is convenient. We then joined the 10:00 am free Ranger led hike. There were 20 of us on this hike and the Ranger said he would call another Ranger if more people showed up. This hike lasted about 2 hours and was fun and informative. Similar hikes are offered by HAL but cost almost $100 per person. At the end of the hike we saw a Beaver dam and were told that between 4pm and 6 pm is the best time to actually see the beavers at work. The Beavers are up to 100 lbs and they pull their downed trees right along the hiking path down to the dam. We were sorry to have missed that. We walked back to the Science Center and then had lunch at the Visitors center. We did not have to go back to the hotel and just walked down the path to the train which departed at 4 that afternoon. The Fairbanks visit included excursions (sternwheeler, and gold mine) were both done well. On the sternwheeler, there are free doughnuts, and later in the day free salmon dip with crackers. I thought they would charge for the coffee but this was free also. The best seats on the boat are on the left side. The gold panning was fun but they sort of lock you in the gift shop after since you have to take the train back to the busses even though it is a five minute trip. However they have free cookies and coffee in the shop so can't complain too much. The Yukon portion of our trip was far more scenic than I envisioned. There are two long bus rides but they are broken up with frequent stops and some fun activities on board. Again, our bus driver, Rick, and our tour director, Gwen, did a admirable job in entertaining us. The dog sled presentation and demonstration just outside Whitehorse was disappointing. The talk was good but we couldn't believe they used a motorized ATV instead of letting the dogs pull a real sled as we saw in Denali and in Fairbanks. In Whitehorse we took the free day to hike the river trail. It is essentially one loop and takes you to the fish ladders and back. A pleasant way to spend the day. There is also a trolley that costs $2 one way and $4 for the whole day. The White Pass railway was a great way to end our land tour. The best seats are on the right side of the train. Embarkation in Skagway went smoothly and we were on board before 1 pm, in plenty of time for lunch on the Lido Deck. The main dining room was closed that day so it was not possible for Mariners who embarked in Skagway to have lunch there. The Volendam recently completed a refurbishment and the ship was in excellent condition. However one big exception was the mold on our shower curtain. I am sure our room steward would have changed it if I asked. We had a "guaranteed" port hole room and were upgraded to a room with a large window and it was midships on the lower promenade deck, a great location. I was a bit odd having people walking past the window but we checked and it is almost impossible to see into the room during daylight hours. We usually like to eat at the Lido but found that the buffet was a "free for all". Some of the food was on the line too long and the "display" dishes looked better than what was served. Desserts were not replenished often enough and the line for the ice cream was always long. The toppings were inexplicably placed before the ice cream which led to even longer waits on line. The dinner buffet does not offer any more service than lunch. You still have to pick up your own drinks, entrees, etc. In general, the food tasted much better in the dining room. We ate dinner in the Lido the first night while still in port and one side was open for staff only. The staff side had a nice view of the bay and the guest side had a view of the pier and the graffiti covered rocks. The Lido has almost the same menu as the main dining room but on formal night they did not have the lobster. The main dining room had Surf and Turf that night and we opted for Surf and Surf and the waiter did not hesitate in bringing us two lobster tails each. They were large and perfectly cooked. Probably the best lobster we have received on any ship. I packed light and just wore a dark shirt and tie. I saw several others dressed similarly and no one seemed to mind. We ate all of the other dinners in the main dining room as well. We had open sitting and whenever I called for a reservation for a table for two I was only given the options of 5:30 pm and 7:45. this worked for us. Without a reservation, a table for two meant a 20 to 25 minute wait (they give you a beeper). It seemed like many of my previous suggestions had been incorporated. I guess they really do read those comment cards. There were few announcements, particularly in the stateroom so there were no repetitive reminders about bingo, etc. There were more activities than I remember on previous voyages. The entertainment was excellent and the shows were better than any I remember. The singers/dancers were good as was the comedian (Lee Bayless). Debarkation went smoothly and a nice improvement is that you can wait in your stateroom until your departure time. We had breakfast in the dining room on the last day and the waiters did not rush us at all. We walked the short distance to the train station. The train leaves frequently and it takes about 30 minutes to the airport. Just make sure you are on the Canadian Line. You can pay via credit card. We used our credit card frequently in the Yukon and did not need to change to Canadian currency. Leave extra time for the airport because you must go through U.S. customs and there was a long line. This turned out to be longer than I expected. I would be glad to provide any other information so feel free to ask. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Having seen someone else's pictures taken from the deck of an Alaskan cruise ship I decided I had to go there for myself and so the booking for the Volendam Inside Passage route was made. Departing from Vancouver was ... Read More
Having seen someone else's pictures taken from the deck of an Alaskan cruise ship I decided I had to go there for myself and so the booking for the Volendam Inside Passage route was made. Departing from Vancouver was straightforward, I made my own way to the departure point at Canada Place and entered the check in queue. A nice Holland America staff member pointed out where the cases could be dropped off. I had preprinted the check-in docs and tags as per the instructions received via email. The queue for US immigration was long, especially for the majority of passengers who did not hold US passports. Once this was over we then went through the Holland America check-in, had our pictures taken and that was it we were ready to board the ship. We had a lovely sunny afternoon sipping cocktails on the deck while our fellow passengers boarded. When we checked our room it was setup as a double not a twin, this was easily rectified by our room attendant once he had finished delivering the luggage to each room. The Lido deck was very busy with entertainment and food laid on and the atmosphere was very pleasant as we set sail. Each evening we ate in the Rotterdam Dining room, based on open seating, and shared a table with other guests who were happy to use dinner as an opportunity to meet people. The food was good with sensible portion sizes allowing you to enjoy a 4 course meal if that was what you wanted. Wine by the glass was reasonable in comparison with restaurant prices in the UK, although bottles did tend to look expensive. We never felt under pressure to buy wine and water was provided free of charge from an iced jug without prompting. We generally had breakfast and lunch from the Lido buffet which was pretty reasonable for lunch and okay for breakfast. The breakfast omelettes were good, other cooked items were not quite so good. Lots of fruit juice was available for breakfast and glasses of water and iced tea were available at other meals alongside the tea and coffee. The Crow's Nest bar does nice coffees (liqueur) and has a great view since it is on deck 9 and above the bow. We didn't find the bar staff here as jovial as those in the Lido, Seaview and Casino bars where they were always ready to have a bit of banter with guests. The salon and sports facilities are nice and the staff were helpful and friendly. There is clear schedule of events for each day provided each evening and these range from talks on shopping (why go to such a beautiful part of the world and shop?), the places the cruise visits and tours (a sales pitch for their tours), cooking, towel art, digital photography skills, wine and beer tasting (charges apply), exercise, films, etc. Our tour included stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. I liked Skagway and Ketchikan but really disliked Juneau which was our first stop. The highlight of our Inside Passage cruise was the day spent in Glacier Bay there we saw the magnificent glaciers, orcas, humpback whales, sealions, sea otters, dolphins, porpoises and the most sensational scenery. We were fortunate and had good visibility for most of the day so the camera was busy. Layers were needed if you were on deck but it was worth it to see the views without the impedence of glass. The ship completed 360 degree turns to ensure everyone had a chance to see the glaciers which really are amazing close up. Our Outside Stateroom was comfortable with excellent service from the attendants who provided a different towel sculpture for our amusement each night. The bathroom was clean and towels were never in short supply. DVDs could be ordered to watch in your stateroom and there is no charge as long as you return them. There are around 1,000 titles so something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Coming at the end of a 4 week holiday covering the Canadian Rockies and west coast cities travelling by car, plane and train we were looking forward to some total relaxation time. And that's just what we got on the Volendam. The cabin ... Read More
Coming at the end of a 4 week holiday covering the Canadian Rockies and west coast cities travelling by car, plane and train we were looking forward to some total relaxation time. And that's just what we got on the Volendam. The cabin staff were extremely helpful and polite. Our cabins were cleaned almost immediately we left for breakfast every morning. All crew we encountered acknowledged us and took interest in where we had travelled from. The Entertainment was first class but the timing of the first shows conflicting with dining times which made the second shows very busy.Food was excellent in the formal dining room - our last night aboard was our actual anniversary and we dined in the pinnacle grill - a further charge for this but what a meal - superb - one of the very best meals we have had - with very attentive service. We chose not to use the Lido restaurant much as it was a 'free for all' with some guests choosing to sit at tables well after their meal was finished causing others to eat standing up! - Not good. Additionally after a couple of days it was a self serve area with folks stretching over food, touching breads/pastries etc then putting them back - yuck! Lastly some people using this used it as a 'trough' - the amount of food piled onto plates only to be discarded was disgraceful - greed ruled the majority of these folks.The shop staff were nice with exception of one female assistant who really could not be bothered serving me. The photography staff were very good - we had some lovely pictures of us both taken. However the JC Black photographer was excellent and worth a visit to - her photographs were truly beautiful and a great way to commemorate our anniversary.Finally - port calls were very good - Alaska is gorgeous - visit to glacier bay was fantastic - witnessed calving, brown bears, whales, sea otters , eagles. The time cruising glacier bay was amazing - a truly unspoilt and glorious place. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Embarkation at Sydney was easy (better than a lot of ports). Missed the courtesy of being shown to our cabin (as said in another review, easy for us old timers but not so easy for first timers) There were plenty of activities for those ... Read More
Embarkation at Sydney was easy (better than a lot of ports). Missed the courtesy of being shown to our cabin (as said in another review, easy for us old timers but not so easy for first timers) There were plenty of activities for those wishing to take part. The service was first class.The organisation of port excursion's was abysmal - never any ship's staff on hand to direct people to tour buses or courtesy buses and wrong information being given. Komodo Island was a complete fiasco, we were told that we could do all or part of the trek by just asking the guides, but there was nowhere that we could have stopped so had to go on in the oppressive heat on a very roundabout route.One couple we met never got to go on the island at all as their tour kept being put off until it was too late to go. Definitely one to miss unless you are desperate to see the dragons.The dining was O.K. in the main except that many people objected to guests coming into the Lido with robes or swimming costumes on, feel there should be a ruling on this. Also the meat in the Rotterdam dining room was always underdone, even if you requested it to be VERY well done.The times of the entertainment were bad, people on the 2nd sitting were getting ready for dinner at 7p.m. so we only made two shows which were not the best we have seen by any means.A lot of people objected to the $11 per person per day that was to tip all the crew, then we were informed by one of the office staff that this was ONLY A SUGGESTION by Holland America obviously people didn't think much of the suggestion, guests like to tip the people that they feel have served them well.We found out that the 15% service charge on all drinks is to pay the Beverage staff, this is disgusting, surely the shipping company should be paying thebeverage staffs wages, not the passengers who have already paid for their cruise?We thought it was a lovely idea of Holland America to invite relatives of the crew on board at the Indonesian ports and to lay on marquees with food and drink and entertainment on the dock, the crew were delighted and loved introducing their families to the passengers.RatingsEmbarkation - GoodActivities - GoodService - GoodPort and Shore Excursions - Very poor and too expensiveStateroom - AdequateDining - Not brilliantEntertainment - Could be a lot betterDisembarkation - FairSorry Holland America but we will not be sailing with you again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
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

Find a Volendam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click