596 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as part of a Newmarket holiday - Rockies/ Alaska cruise and Vancouver, on the recommendation of a friend who travelled last year. I struggle to recognise our trip from some of the negative reviews posted. From start to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of a Newmarket holiday - Rockies/ Alaska cruise and Vancouver, on the recommendation of a friend who travelled last year. I struggle to recognise our trip from some of the negative reviews posted. From start to finish we had an amazing trip. As a first time cruiser and an optimist perhaps I am not the best judge but my friend who I travelled with is a seasoned cruiser and a realist and agrees whole heartedly that it was a great trip. The ship was excellent and very smooth. there was plenty of space for it not to feel crowded . There were a variety of environments to choose from depending on your mood. The cabin ( an outside standard twin cabin) was excellent ; clean, well furnished and with plenty of space. The cabin attendants were friendly, attentive and efficient. the shower was very large and very powerful. We took 3 trips - Tracy arm ( although we went to Endicott arm as ice in the way) was a fantastic day and worth the cost. The scenery was spectacular and we saw whales and eagles aswell as a close up and leisurely stop in front of the glacier - stunning. We also did the brothels tour of Skagway - not as sleazy as it sounds - great history walk with a delightful actress being our guide - and went kayaking to eagle island, seeing the promised eagles. There was a vast number of trips but all optional and easy to select or not as you choose. The food was plentiful and excellent with a variety of dining options. we used the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch and the Rotterdam dining room for evening dinner. We chose to share a table each night which meant we met a variety of other travellers and this only enhanced the trip. there was a choice of entertainment each night and we attended several of the shows, listened to the music and also just stood on deck drinking in the scenery at sunset. all were of very good standard. Every single member of staff we encountered was friendly, greeting us whenever they passed. All staff were helpful - front desk staff answered all queries, however trivial, shore excursion staff were very helpful in choosing trips, dining room staff were efficient and friendly and smoothly did their job very unobtrusively. the staff in the bar we used ( crows nest for a pre dinner drink with the best view|)were delightful. we were also happy to join in the 5k fundraising walk which has over the past 10 years as a company raised millions of dollars for cancer charities in the 6 main countries used by the cruiseline - this suggests a great company ethos. My only complaint about the trip is it was over all too soon but I have fantastic memories and would thoroughly recommend it Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I like the smaller size ship Volendam and I found it to be spacious and never felt crowded, although it's an older ship, and it does show some wear and tear. The Inside Passage to Alaska was very scenic and we were able to enjoy ... Read More
I like the smaller size ship Volendam and I found it to be spacious and never felt crowded, although it's an older ship, and it does show some wear and tear. The Inside Passage to Alaska was very scenic and we were able to enjoy the view from our balcony for most of the voyage, due to the unusually warm weather. The ports were easily accessible by walking except for Juneau, which was a fifteen minute walk, but a free shuttle was provided. The shops were fun, but the merchandise was pretty much the same in every shop, in all three ports. The entertainment was really good. Comedians were hilarious, the dancers were great, the costumes and scenery were fabulous. The dinners in the main dining room were fair, and the service was good. Twice we had dinner in the Pinnacle and it was disappointing. A fifty dollar steak should be really good, and it wasn't good either time. The breakfasts in the Pinnacle were also a disappointment. Someone should tell the cook that pancakes should be served hot, or at least warm. Cold pancakes served with cold butter and cold syrup just aren't that great. We were in a Neptune Suite which is always very nice. There was a problem with one of the heating vents, which wasn't corrected until I made FOUR complaints about it. The bathroom smelled bad, and that problem never was corrected at all. The staff was great. Polite and efficient without being intrusive. I usually go to tropical ports, but I would go back to Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and ... Read More
Hong Kong to Yokahama, 16 days on the Volendam. Flew in to Hong Kong a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon. Great place to stay, great city to explore. Embarked the ship at Kai Tak cruise terminal and straight to our room. Nice stateroom with veranda, good staff to take care of us (Omam and Galih); they were unobtrusive but kept our place spic and span. Best cruise ever, for us. It was all about the itinerary, and having a day at sea between almost all ports, plus overnights in Shanghai and Beijing, was perfect. We'd relax a little on the days at sea and go-go-go on our days in port. The Volendam is a really nice ship, a little smaller than what we've sailed on before, but we would sail her again in a heartbeat. The ports were amazing, and we feel very lucky to have been able to see everything we did. We tend to "stay in" at night, so we can't really say anything about the entertainment, shows, etc., but when we ventured out, we were very pleased with the ship and crew. Our wait staff, Anto and Rim, were excellent and efficient. Our wine steward Carlito was super. The food was great (with one exception;r the Asian BBQ by the pool wasn't very flavorful in our opinions), and we especially loved the Pinnacle Grill. We had dinner there 2 nights PLUS one of the Le Cirque nights (outstanding, definitely have the chateaubriand) and also visited for 2 lunches (our first time having lunch in the PG and we weren't hungry for dinner that night!). The room manager was great, didn't get his name, but he was funny, personable, and chatty when it wasn't busy, and he made our visits to the restaurant special. We didn't make it to Canaletto this time around, but hope to do so on a future cruise -we DID notice the menu had changed since we were there last, and now features small plates to share as well as pasta dishes. Room service was perfect for us, and we definitely appreciated our morning coffee and pastries or more-substantial-breakfast every day. We only went "out" to breakfast once, to the Lido, and we enjoyed the crepes and the Eggs Benedict there. We had the drink package (it was a perk when we booked, too expensive to purchase otherwise, IMO) and it was great. I had wondered if the bar staff would be scarce or look down their noses to us, but we were served quickly and with great smiles. Jovan at the aft pool bar was exceptionally sweet, he was the first smiling face we saw when we got our sail-away drink upon boarding, and he was smiling any time we saw him thereafter. We only took one ship shore excursion, at the stop in Jeju, and it was good. The lineup to get off the ship at the various ports (especially for those of us who had private shore excursions set up) could have been handled better, IMO. Anyway, it was an absolutely super cruise and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I had visited Hong Kong on R&R during the Vietnam War and frequently talked to my wife about how much I enjoyed the trip. Subsequently, my wife expressed an interest in visiting Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. I arranged this cruise on ... Read More
I had visited Hong Kong on R&R during the Vietnam War and frequently talked to my wife about how much I enjoyed the trip. Subsequently, my wife expressed an interest in visiting Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. I arranged this cruise on Holland America (our 4th Holland America cruise) to satisfy her wishes. Due to my wife's bad back, I made the travel arrangements accordingly. I booked all of the airline and hotel reservations through my travel agent and I will not be reviewing them. If you want information on them, please post a comment and I will respond. I insured the trip with Allianz through my travel agent. Here was the itinerary: Mar 9 - Flew United Airlines economy from Baltimore to Los Angeles (layover in Denver) and spent the night at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. Mar 10-11 - Flew United Airlines business class to Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan, and spent the night at the Hilton Narita hotel. Mar 12 - Flew Singapore Airlines business class to Singapore. May 13-16 - Spent 5 nights at the Conrad Centennial Hotel and toured Singapore. May 17 - Embarked on Holland America ship ms Volendam for 14 day Asia Explorer cruise. May 18 - Sea day. Mar 19 - Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand. Mar 20-21 - Loem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand. Mar 22 - Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Mar 23 - Sea day. Mar 24 - Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon), Vietnam. Mar 25 - Nha Trang, Vietnam. Mar 26 - Sea day. Mar 27 - Danang, Vietnam. Mar 28 - Sea day. Mar 29 - Halong Bay, Vietnam. Mar 30 - Sea day. Mar 31 - Debarked ms Volendam in Hong Kong. Mar 31 - Apr 4 - Spent 5 nights at Habour Grand hotel (Hong Kong Island) and toured Hong Kong. Apr 5 - Flew Japan Airlines economy to Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan, and spent the night at the Hilton Narita hotel. Apr 6 - Flew United Airlines business class to San Francisco. Apr 6-11 - Visited relatives and toured San Francisco. Stayed 2 nights at Holiday Inn Express Fishermans Wharf. Apr 12 - Flew United Airlines economy to Baltimore (layover in Chicago). It was a memorable trip and I would definitely recommend the cruise. Our cruise was actually part of an extended repositioning cruise that eventually ended in Vancouver, BC. The Volendam is currently sailing out of Vancouver on Alaskan cruises. One thing I was concerned about before the cruise was obtaining visas for Cambodia and Vietnam (US citizens only need a valid passport for Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong). Our travel agent had checked with Holland America beforehand and was told the visas could be obtained onboard and charged to our ship account. She was correct. The process is as follows: 1. Arrive at embarkation and fill out paperwork indicating which countries you require visas for. 2. The appropriate visa application paperwork is delivered to your cabin (Warning - It is a lot of paperwork but easy to fill out). 3. Deliver the completed paperwork to the Purser's office. Exception: You must retain the Vietnam landing pass - it must be presented and stamped by Vietnamese officials at each Vietnam port. DO NOT deliver it to the Purser's office. One of our shipmates did this and had to make a mad dash to the Purser's office to get it back just prior to departing on a shore excursion to Ho Chi Minh City. 4. The visa charges will show up on your ship account the next day. NOTE: We were required to turn in our passports at embarkation. They were retained for the cruise entirety. We had to return to the Purser's office the day before debarkatiln to get them back. Cabin: We stayed in a Verandah Suite, cabin 6145 (midship on starboard side). We have stayed in Varandah Suites on prior cruises and always get that cabin type. We had the best set of cabin stewards ever on a Holland America cruise. The only minor problem was some noise during noontime hour two times from the shops below our cabin (they were playing music and had a loudspeaker during a promotion). It only lasted about 20 minutes but was annoying since I was trying to take a nap on one occasion. Otherwise, this cabin location was excellent. Luggage: We decided for this cruise to have Luggage Forward deliver a 29 inch suitcase to our cabin and pick it up at debarkation and deliver it back home. We packed all of our cruise clothes in it. It worked out well although I must warn you it is very expensive, especially if luggage is being delivered halfway around the world. However, if you tally up the excess airline baggage charges you would incur, it is not such a bad deal. Here is the process: 1. Sign up on the Luggage Forward web site. You will have to prepare a detailed packing list (it can be posted later but before your pickup date) and give them your ship cabin info, and pickup and return addresses (they can be different). You will also have to scan the title page of your passport so they can verify your identify (for customs purposes). You will schedule a pickup date/time. We scheduled a Mar 4 pickup for a Mar 17 delivery to the ship. 2. Prior to the scheduled pickup day Luggage Forward will mail you a packet of information. It will contain two big envelopes. One for luggage forwarding (Leg 1) and one for the return (Leg 2). Each will contain a big luggage tag containing a plastic envelope with a packing list (I.e the one you entered online), delivery and customs forms. Note: Put a copy of your title passport page with the paperwork in each luggage tag. You will attach the Leg 1 tag to your luggage. Warning: The Luggage Forward tag is very large and fits over your luggage handle. Do not put your Holland America luggage tag on the handle - tape it securely elsewhere on the luggage. Take the Leg 2 paperwork with you on the cruise. You will have to remove the Leg 1 tag and put the Leg 2 tag on prior to the luggage being returned. 2. You will receive timely emails at each step of the process (e.g. when they are scheduled pick up the luggage, when they actually picked it up, when it was delivered to the ship, when it was picked up from the ship, when it was delivered to the return address, etc.). 3. I had several questions and the customer service rep was very helpful (he was a former travel agent). 4. FedEx picked up our luggage at the designated date/time. Our luggage was waiting in our cabin when we boarded (it arrived before our other luggage), 5. I delivered the luggage to the Purser's office at 7 AM on debarkation day and it was subsequently picked up and safely delivered home. 6. Luggage Forward coordinates forwarding and return with the cruise line. Holland America knows you are using Luggage Forward. 7. Luggage Forward had told me if we were not home when the luggage was returned, they would come back the next day since they needed a signature. This was not the case. FedEx actually delivered it to my neighbor who was watching my house, picking up mail/newspapers, etc. Dining: It was an easy walk from our cabin to the aft stairs and one deck down to our assigned seats in the main dining room on deck 5 (we prefer fixed dining, table for 4, at 8 PM). We had a lovely Israeli couple as seat mates and enjoyed their company. The dining room food was good to excellent (on a par with our previous Holland America cruises). Service was excellent and our wine steward was attentive and knowledgable. We booked dinner reservations at the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto Restautant prior to the cruise. Surprise! When we boarded we found out our travel agent had comped us the same reservations. So, we had 2 dinners at Pinnacle and 2 at the Canaletto. We have been to the Pinncle Grill many times and have never had a bad meal or service. The Canaletto was a new experience. They specialize in serving Italian food family style (I.e. shared dishes). Warning: They serve huge portions. If it is just you and your mate, order a large plate and share it. A normal person will not be able to finish a large plate. I highly recommend the Zuppa Di Pesce appetizer. It consists of a tomato saffron broth with mussels, clams, shrimps, scallops, cod, and vegetables. Really delicious. We ordered it both times we ate there. The first night we shared the spaghetti and meatballs and we shared the sautéed veal picatta the second night. Both were very good. We had pistachio gelato for dessert both nights. Entertainment: No reviews. Activities: The Volendam has a live 10-person poker table for those interested. They have a live Texas Holdem tournament every afternoon at 2:30 while at sea, and a live $1 - $2 Texas Holdem cash game every night at 9 PM while at sea. The dealers were excellent and the games are managed very well. We always had a full table for the afternoon tournaments and several times a second tournament was played immediately following the first. Entry fee is $30 and the top 5 of 10 players are in the money (payout is different if less than 10 players). 1st place gets $100, 2nd gets $60, and the remaining 3 get their $30 entry fee back. I won one tournament and finished in the money every time but two. I came out $40 to the good. Of course I probably spend that much or more on drinks during the games. Great fun. Note: Sign up for the tournament at the casino cashier cage when it opens at 9 AM to insure a place at the table. Oddly, interest in the cash game at night was non-existent. I went down to the casino every sea night and only 1 or 2 people had signed up. I don't think they ever had a game. This was completely opposite to my experience on two cruises on the ms Noordam. Hardly anybody showed up for the afternoon tournaments, but the nightly cash games had a full table (even though it was an electronic poker table - no dealer and virtual chips). Shore Excursions. I prefer to use ratings of Poor, Average, Good, and Excellent instead of star ratings. Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand: Samui Sights with Lunch (5 1/2 hrs): Bus tour. First stop was a local village where they demonstrate coconut shucking and the local coconut industry. Drink from a fresh coconut. Next, visit a fishing village and later see a trained monkey picking coconuts from a tree. Next stop is a seated Buddha in a temple complex that sits at top of about a hundred steps. Warning: The dress code is enforced. We saw a monk confront a man with a tank top and he was denied entrance. Final stop is lunch at a beach. Food was average. This was the only bad tour I experienced. The bus was really bouncy and had uncomfortable skinny seats. Also, the PA system in the bus kept experiencing feedback. That, combined with the guide's barely passable English, was not a pleasant experience. Rating: Poor. Loem Chabang (Bangkok): Day 1: Ayutthaya: A UNESCO World Heritage Sight (11 hrs): Nice tour except for 3 hour bus trip going and returning. The first stop was the Bang Pa Summer Palace. This is a beautiful venue with lots of photo ops. However, there is a lot of walking involved. You visit a Chinese palace on the grounds (no shoes allowed). The next stop was one of the Ayutthaya sites. Supposedly it is a smaller version of Angkor Wat. I cannot judge that because I have not been to Angkor Wat. Interesting architecture, good photo ops. Lots of walking involved. We visited three different venues interrupted by lunch at a local resort, which was local food and very good. There was time to relax before the tour continued. Then there was the elephant ride! It was was interesting but if I had to do it again I would ride an elephant by myself. My wife and I rode together and it was very uncomfortable trying to use the camera (wife) and video (me) while holding on to the seating/canopy. I am 6'2" and 225 lbs. The ride isn't very long (15-20 minutes). The mahouts will take some pictures with your camera halfway through the ride for a couple of dollars. The elephants appeared to be treated well - lots of water and shade at the departure point. After that it was time to return to the ship. Rating: Good. Day 2: Sanctuary of Truth. Fascinating tour of all wooden pagoda that is still a work in progress (kind of like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona). The highlight of this tour for me was the fantastic view of Pattaya Bay at he next stop (great photo op). Rating: Good. Sihanoukville' Cambodia: Sihanouk like & Environs (3 1/2 hrs): Bus tour of the Sihanoukvill port and surrounding area. Visit a pagoda, beach, fishing village, and local market. Kind of boring to me. The wife was more interested. Rating: Average. Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon): Sensational Saigon (8 hrs): About a 2 hour bus trip from Phu My port to Saigon. You drive through the port town then out to countryside with lots of rice paddies until nearing Saigon. The skyline of Saigon looks like a modern Asian city, nothing like when I was stationed here 45 years ago. For instance, the tallest building in Saigon when I was there was probably 8 stories. Now, they have 50 story buildings and loads of 20-30 story buildings. New construction is everywhere. The tour visited the tallest building in Saigon and we took an elevator to the viewing deck (for $20 extra - a ripoff in my opinion). The view was spectacular but there was some haze that precluded a view of the airport (where I had neen sationed - kind of a bummer). The highlight of this tour for me was a visit to the former Presidential Palace which has been renamed Independence Palace. Very interesting to tour the basement bunker and see all the discarded U.S. Communications equipment. The tour also visited a museum (not great), and stopped at the Notre Dame cathedral downtown. We got to get off the bus and walk around the plaza and visit the Post Office across the street. Lunch was served mid-tour in a very nice hotel (Windsor Plaza). The food was local but was average to me. If you wanted to tour Saigon on your own it could be quite an ordeal getting transportation to and from the port to Saigon. You would probably have to take cyclos or taxis to get around Saigon. I am not familiar with the buses. I did not see any hop-on hop-off tour buses like I did on Singapore, and later in Hong Kong. The local merchants accepted U.S. dollars although they aren't supposed to. Rating: Good. Nha Trang, Vietnam: Nha Trang by Rickshaw & Shopping (4 hrs): This was the second best tour we went on with the exception of Halong Bay. Nha Trang harbor is absolutely stunning and beautiful. There is a cable car that travels from the town to a resort island across the harbor. The cable car stanchions are shaped like the Eiffel Tower and are colorfully lit at night. The cable cars pass very close to the ship. Do not miss viewing this at night. The tour visited a silk embroidery factory which was fascinating. You get to see the Vietnamese artisans (all were women) weaving intimate designs using different colored silk threads. They look like actual oil paintings. Absolutely amazing artwork. Several people bought one and had it shipped home. They wrapped it at the factory. Across the street from the factory was an array of rickshaws. We all got in a rickshaw (about 25-30 people were in our tour group) and we're off on a 2-3 mile ride to the next stop.The rickshaws are all one seaters (rider in front) and only have one bicycle gear, although I noticed two of them had electric assist. They just barrel through intersections and it is quite harrowing. About 3/4 through the trip, they had to climb a bridge with a moderate incline over an inlet. They all dismounted and stated pushing the rickshaws! After getting to the top, they remounted, went downhill for a quarter mile and u-turned to approach the stop. By this time I had passed my wife. When I dismounted, she was nowhere to be seen. I told the tour guide and then went out in the street and zoomed in with my video camera and I finally saw her coming on. Her rickshaw had been hit in the back on the bridge by a woman on a motorbike! My wife was OK and things were sorted out by the locals and she went on her way. We visited the Long San Pagoda complex which has a huge white Buddha sitting at the top of 208 steep steps. There was a reclining Buddha about 1/3 of the way up. I climbed all the way up (I used a walking stick) but my wife decided to sit down and rest. I took the camera and got some great photos (my video camera battery had died earlier). The final stop was a visit to a local market. My wife and I were tired so we stayed on the bus. Rating: Excellent. Danang, Vietnam: Imperial Hue (8 1/2 hrs): About a 2 1/2 hour bus ride to the Imperial Citadel in Hue. The scenery is outstanding. You travel through Danang (going over the dragon bridge although photo op is poor) before approaching the mountains and sometimes the cloud cover is at your level. It had been raining this day although it had stopped by the time we got to Hue. You travel through a tunnel built through the mountains. The Hue citadel is hiuge and provides some good photo ops. Our tour guide was excellent and spoke good Emglish. Warning: Lots of walking involved but not much climbing. Lunch was provided at a local hotel with local cuisine and was quite good. We also visited a tomb (not impressed) before returning to the ship. Rating: Good. Halong Bay, Vietnam: Halong Nay Cruise & Thien Kung Cave (3 1/2 hrs): Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is not to be missed. The pictures you have seen of Halong Bay and the rock formations cannot do it justice. Absolutely the most beautiful scenery of the entire cruise. You board a fishing junk at the rear of the ship and cruise approximately 30 minutes to the cave. You get off the junk and walk up probably 50-75 steps to reach the entrance to the cave. The day we toured there it was a zoo. There were 20-30 junks vying for docking space and a huge snaking line up the steps to the entrance, although it moved at a good pace. Inside the cave is very interesting. You are walking on uneven surfaces up and down, although there are steps provided. The inside is lit up with different colored lights. Warning: It was very warm in the cave (at least 20 degrees warmer than outside). Take your windbreaker off before entering and be sure to hydrate beforehand. Depending on the pace of the crowd, the cave tour takes about 20-30 minutes. After exiting (not where you entered), you walk down a series of steps to the dock and get back on your junk. Next, you cruise through the rock formations of Halong Bay, The junks move at a slow pace and there is plenty of time for pictures. You spend about 45 minutes cruising and this is the highlight of the tour. Then you cruise for another 30 minutes and return to the ship. Rating: Good. I would rate this Excellent except for the crowds. We took the morning tour. There was an afternoon tour at 1 PM which may be less crowded. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
WE are 4 star Mariners and absolutely loved sailing on this cruise and ship! Was it perfect? Of course not, but I absolutely loved the ports that we were in. Most of the tours we took were private tours, but we did take some HAL tours. ... Read More
WE are 4 star Mariners and absolutely loved sailing on this cruise and ship! Was it perfect? Of course not, but I absolutely loved the ports that we were in. Most of the tours we took were private tours, but we did take some HAL tours. Fortunately. the HAL tours we took ended up being broken into small groups at some points. For Borobadur, we left in large buses, but we went on an antique train and really loved seeing the people up class working in the fields. We were also able to tour the temple on our own. When we went to Mt. Bromo again we went on large buses and then broke into smaller groups and rode in jeeps with experienced drivers. When we went to Phi Phi Island, we went in boats that carried about 20 people. We had a total of 60 people visiting Komodo Island on a private tour. HAL was wonderful getting all of us off first and on 1 tender. (You cannot get off the ship without a booked tour.) The front office collected our paperwork and then delivered our colored tags directly to the people on our tour. We assembled separately from the other passengers. We thought that the food in the dining room was very good and never had a problem finding something delicious to eat. The staff did seem a bit thin in the dining room. We did prefer having breakfast and lunch in the main dining room because the Lido was always noisy and usually we had a hard time finding a place to eat. I think part of that was the extreme heat and humidity. Not many people ate outside. We enjoyed dining in the Pinnacle Grill. Jerome was the manager and the staff was very professional and friendly. WE also enjoyed the Cellar Master dinner there. We had a breakfast solar eclipse party in our room for 2 other couples since our verandah was on the right side for viewing. The items that we ordered were delivered promptly and at the right temperature. Because we are 4 star, we had no trouble boarding or disembarking. Jazzie was a wealth of information. She let us know that our bags could be taken to the airport a day before and our carry-ons could be left in the Left Baggage area (for a small fee) at the airport. Since our flight left at 11:55 PM, we had all day to do more exploring in Singapore without our luggage. The SMRT is located in the mall where the ship docks and was a very cool and clean way to travel in Singapore. We were disappointed that there were so few lectures. We also felt that the entertainment was a bit weak. The dancers were amazing, but the male singers seemed a bit off. We would have liked to have a more diverse shopping experience on board. I didn't go into any of the shops. WE enjoyed the Mix bar and the violin and piano classical music that was played in another area. I am looking forward to traveling again on HAL. I know that it won't be perfect, but then I am not perfect either. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We loved our 30-day, back to back cruise from Singapore and the Far East and Indonesia, including the solar eclipse. The ship is comfortable and all the staff were wonderful. The itinerary was well planned, with just enough down time ... Read More
We loved our 30-day, back to back cruise from Singapore and the Far East and Indonesia, including the solar eclipse. The ship is comfortable and all the staff were wonderful. The itinerary was well planned, with just enough down time for us to recover from the extraordinary excursions. We noted that the ship excursions were far less crowded and were efficiently manned and coordinated, including our special diets for those including food. While the price is somewhat high, there is peace of mind that the timing will be correct. In fact, traffic was an issue in some areas and we were late to return to the ship. Because we were on a ship's excursion, we didn't fret. We were disappointed with the person who was the educator for the eclipse and other astronomical lectures. The shows were good. We always appreciate the staff and crew and how hard they all work. HAL had the families of staff who lived in the region board the ship and visit with their loved ones. It made everyone happy, and the mood was elevated even higher than the normal good cheer. That is a very special perk for the staff and their families, and the passengers benefited as well. We have always enjoyed Holland America and have 3 more cruises planned. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We enjoyed our two-week cruise from Singapore to Myanmar and return aboard the Volendam. As first-time cruisers we found the relatively small ship very comfortable. HAL upgraded our cabin from oceanview to a Lanai cabin on the lower ... Read More
We enjoyed our two-week cruise from Singapore to Myanmar and return aboard the Volendam. As first-time cruisers we found the relatively small ship very comfortable. HAL upgraded our cabin from oceanview to a Lanai cabin on the lower promenade deck. We liked the panoramic views from the sliding glass door and the reserved deck chairs right outside the cabin were a bonus. We worried that the passersby doing their walking rounds on the deck would make us uncomfortable, but found the mirrored sliding glass door provided complete privacy. Food throughout was excellent, whether in the main dining room or on the Lido deck. Paying the extra charge for the Canaletto restaurant one evening was worth it with a different menu and wine selection and great service. Entertainment was spotty (we know HAL isn't known for its entertainment). Two nights they brought aboard local dancers from Malaysia and Myanmar and the shows were superb. Otherwise the Volendam dancers and singers were mediocre (the women were much better than the two male leads) but nevertheless not a bad way to pass the time, and their production "Droom" was a definite step up with beautiful costumes, music and dance. We found a favourite bar for pre-dinner drinks and after a couple of days the staff knew by memory what drinks we wanted and which snacks to deliver. HAL shore excursions were well organized and we felt were worth the high cost. We'd sail on the Volendam again on an Asian route. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I am not a usual contributor to review forums but I am struggling to reconcile the wonderful cruise just experienced on Volendam with these recent negative reviews on Cruise Critic. A strong influence on the enjoyment of any cruise will be ... Read More
I am not a usual contributor to review forums but I am struggling to reconcile the wonderful cruise just experienced on Volendam with these recent negative reviews on Cruise Critic. A strong influence on the enjoyment of any cruise will be the availability, cheerfulness and helpfulness of the ship’s crew and on Volendam from Vancouver to Sydney I thought it was outstanding. The embarkation at Canada Place was very smooth (I have experienced more frustration in an airport departure lounge for only 200 passengers). The ship is not one of the modern two to three thousand passenger types, we had 1100 passengers which is an ideal size, large enough for always a full program of activities, yet small enough to frequently encounter acquaintances and friends made during the voyage. Although not a large modern cruise ship the design of public places, the fixtures and the furnishings are all very tastefully done, in fact a real pleasure to perambulate. Restaurant/buffet fare was very gluttony tempting and again excellent service (fancy a second entree - you can ask). Theatre shows with a couple of exceptions were very entertaining and this passenger was surprised at the quality of the resident entertainer performances. Interesting lectures but sometimes the enrichment talks led into a persuasion to depleting ones wallet.There were six ports of call and three anchorages across the Pacific. Myself and friends went independently for shore excursions so cannot comment on organised excursions. I did hear some passengers complain that there were too many sea days but I suspect the same passengers may complain of too frequent ports of call on a different cruise. Very impressed with the efficiency of tender transport from anchor to uninhabited Mystery Island and to Iles De Pins. I would definitely recommend this relocation cruise from Northern summer to Australasian summer. One thing that HAL has to improve is the quality and price of internet access. If airlines can offer good WiFi why can a ship not pick up good satellite internet service? In contrast Microsoft software workshops were very instructive and helpful, and librarian equally helpful. More exercycles in the gymnasium would have avoided waiting for me but that is a minor quibble. I really appreciated how the cruise director, Tamryn, created an inclusive sense between crew and passengers. Bringing all the staff to the theatre stage and to the main restaurant was a nice touch to see appreciation flowing both ways. I also appreciated the humour (at times alarmingly sexist) of Barbara and her fellow judges at the Talent and Dancing with the Stars competitions. With these principal staff members and wider cheerful helpful crew I fail to see how anyone would not enjoy a cruise on Volendam. All in all a wonderful cruise on a very enjoyable ship. Cabin 6133 Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our third cruise and first time with HAL. We had a great time and would choose the Volendam and HAL again. There were no problems during embarkation or disembarkation. We liked that it is a smaller ship and thus doesn't ... Read More
This was our third cruise and first time with HAL. We had a great time and would choose the Volendam and HAL again. There were no problems during embarkation or disembarkation. We liked that it is a smaller ship and thus doesn't take too much time to learn the layout. There are however, enough public spaces. This cruise had a nice mix of ages, although we were 30 yrs. younger than our table mates for the formal nights. We only ate in the main dining room for those nights and both times the entrees were very good, but the starters were very small and nothing special. The deserts, again too small for my husband, were very good. We ordered room service for breakfast one time when we had a very early shore excursion. It was delivered promptly w/no missing items and was very convenient vs. going to the Lido buffet. The rest of the cruise we did eat in the Lido for the majority of meals. We felt that there was more than enough variety and overall the food was above average. The staff was very helpful and courteous, both in the serving line and seating area. We tried the snack bar & taco bar twice. My husband didn't like the burgers, but the tacos and fixings were a nice option to the Lido. Yes, sometimes we had to walk around and search for seats, but so what? I saw elderly people w/mobility issues helped by staff to carry plates and find seats. We didn't go to that many day time activities on the sailing days. We did however, watch two films -- history of Ketchikan and one on the Goldrush that were very interesting and informative. We also attended the local guide presentation on Glacier Bay and Klondike history that was very good. In the evening, we attended the first night's show. It was a nice touch to get free champagne and the performance was average, but I liked that some crew were introduced and the captain spoke for a bit. We did not like the magician, but enjoyed the ventriloquist. We booked all shore excursions privately, except one. Through HAL, we went on a Hike & Float trip from Skagway, which was very good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We just got back from a fabulous cruise to Alaska on the Volendam. It was a multigenerational cruise including Nana, Papa, our 8 year daughter, 5 year old daughter and my sister and family. We all had an amazing time and could not believe ... Read More
We just got back from a fabulous cruise to Alaska on the Volendam. It was a multigenerational cruise including Nana, Papa, our 8 year daughter, 5 year old daughter and my sister and family. We all had an amazing time and could not believe the service we received. The dining staff were amazing. From Nono and Rim in the Roterdam to the staff at the Lido buffet to the staff on the pool deck we were treated so well. They were so friendly and so happy to provide the very best service they could. We also had 2 people with a dietary restriction and they made it so simple for us. They exceeded our expectations. The food was very good. Great variety. The rooms were clean and comfortable. We also could not believe how much we could fit into our inside stateroom. They designed these rooms very well with lots of storage and we all slept very comfortably. My daughters were quite excited to have separate beds and take turns on the ceiling bunk bed. There was chocolate and towel creatures greeting us each night. The kids club staff of Sophie and Jessica provided great activities and adventures including pirate night which was a favourite. Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations. The staff on board the ship made this trip so memorable. Lastly, I highly recommend HAL for families . Our daughters were treated like princesses and enjoyed the luxuries of cruising. With only 16 kids onboard they had the run of the ship and even had the pool to themselves most days. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have no complaints about this cruise. We stayed in a Neptune suite and maybe you get what you pay for in accommodations. No one can predict the natural occurrences but we sure lucked out with glacier calving, orca and humpback whales, ... Read More
We have no complaints about this cruise. We stayed in a Neptune suite and maybe you get what you pay for in accommodations. No one can predict the natural occurrences but we sure lucked out with glacier calving, orca and humpback whales, herds of porpoise, and rainbows galore. Food was very good at all dining options. Activities were fine for us too. I probably would not get off the boat if I were to make a return cruise since we weren't all that fascinated with ports or some of the excursions we took but that has nothing to do with ship just our comments on what we chose to do. White Pass train was very nice though. I have spoke with several repeat cruisers and our "neighbors" on the next door veranda. They all had cruised on several lines and comment that HAL is their favorite. We had 1500 guests on ship and 600 employees and there were times that no one was around. Walked on Prommenade almost alone. Never felt crowded which I did not expect but sure appreciated. I also had a very nice experience in salon. Embarkation could be improved Choose HAL Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We (2 adults, a teen and a pre-teen) loved this ship and the cruise. There was always something to do for each one of us. Well-stocked library, plenty of reading spaces, games, activities.The food and service was great. The ports and shore ... Read More
We (2 adults, a teen and a pre-teen) loved this ship and the cruise. There was always something to do for each one of us. Well-stocked library, plenty of reading spaces, games, activities.The food and service was great. The ports and shore excursions were amazing. The train to White Summit from Skagway was the highlight of our shore activities. We had an ocean view stateroom on Dolphin deck and we loved it, a queen size bed for 2, a sofa bed and a bed that came out of the ceiling :) The was spacious and clean. So many closet and drawers and shelves to organize the stuff we had. I was actually nervous about embarkation and disembarkation based on my past experience with other cruises and larger ships but on Volendam they went very smoothly. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Never noticed any issues with language as I saw in other reviews. Overall, we will definitely choose Holland America Line for our next cruises. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I don't understand the negative reviews. This was a very nice ship in excellent shape. We sailed on Celebrity Reflection in its first year. Reflection was nice, but I'd give edge to Volendam. Public areas have nicer decor ... Read More
I don't understand the negative reviews. This was a very nice ship in excellent shape. We sailed on Celebrity Reflection in its first year. Reflection was nice, but I'd give edge to Volendam. Public areas have nicer decor and much more functional space per passenger. E.g.,library was well-stocked with lots of windows, MDR much nicer decor with lots of windows, several lounge areas with seats and windows, etc. Also, MDR food was a little better (and Celebrity was quite good). Volendam also had significantly more storage in stateroom. Service was excellent on both. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Having read previous reviews of MS Volendam I think we must have been on a different ship. Our cruise was faultless, staff helpful, cabin clean, food good, shows excellent & ship not too crowded. We found the whole experience much ... Read More
Having read previous reviews of MS Volendam I think we must have been on a different ship. Our cruise was faultless, staff helpful, cabin clean, food good, shows excellent & ship not too crowded. We found the whole experience much better than our last cruise which was with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I am a 3 star Mariner with Holland America, but this is my first cruise with them in Asia. The Volendam has come through its December refurbishment quite nicely. I was in a category A, verandah cabin, quite mid-ship, 6163. Other than ... Read More
I am a 3 star Mariner with Holland America, but this is my first cruise with them in Asia. The Volendam has come through its December refurbishment quite nicely. I was in a category A, verandah cabin, quite mid-ship, 6163. Other than it being directly above the piano bar, it couldn’t have been a nicer stateroom. On the first night I called the front desk and asked for ear plugs, they were there within minutes. They did the trick, and the music was not a problem thereafter. They called to insure I was satisfied, and sent chocolate strawberries the next night. The cabin had new drapes, bedding, shower curtains, caulking throughout. It was nice and new feeling. The outside deck could use a spruce up, but that seemed to be ongoing as we sailed. I boarded March 16th in Singapore, a beautiful home port, such a great city with so much to see and do. I took the HAL package, 2 nights pre- and one night post- including transfers and the Fairmont Hotel, which included an amazing buffet breakfast I’d never seen in another hotel anywhere. Great location in the Raffles complex, walking distance to almost all of the major sights of the city, with a Hop of Hop Off stop across the street. Boarding was delayed, so we left the hotel later than originally expected. The ship arrived in “Code Red” and was getting a thorough disinfecting. We arrived at the pier at 1:45pm and I was in my cabin at 2:05pm. We remained in Code Red status for 5 days until we were able to serve ourselves at the buffet, pour our own wines, cream and sugar for our coffee at the dinner table. I somewhat enjoyed the extra level of service provided, but others grouched about it, as they often do. We were happy to have the ban lifted and to know that the gastro virus outbreak was ended, at least for now. We called in Melaka, Lankawi, Port Klang (for Kuala Lampur), Malaysia, Phuket, Thailand, and Thilawa (for Yangon, Myanmar. I purchased some HAL shore excursions as well as some CCers private shore excursions, and some places I got a private taxi for a negotiated price on arrival. The HAL excursions were more expensive but I felt I got more out of them, had more information given, better toilet facilities, cold towels & water provided each time we returned to the bus, and really good English speaking guides. I’m not one to go into a city and pay to go up into a tall building to say I was up there. I would rather go into a traditional home and see how the people actually live, what they eat, how to prepare their foods. These are things offered on the HAL excursions not offered on private tours. Knowing I would probably not go back to Myanmar, I bit the bullet and took the overnight excursion to Bagan with the extension to the Schwedegon Pagoda (Yangon) at night. It was worth every penny paid, and it was the highlight of the trip for me. The climate there is hot and humid, 90s and 90% humidity. . You cannot just go out walking about without major discomfort. The one day I did try to do this, I suffered greatly that night, couldn’t get enough water back in me to make up for that lost during my hours out walking. There is no such thing available as Gatorade, but once I realized potato chips were available everywhere, they became my staple, potassium and sodium with my liter of water every day. Not sure whether it was the climate but at each port there was an ambulance waiting to take a guest off the ship, suitcases and all. The doctor on board had his hands full with illness and injuries. One night a woman collapsed in Mix Martini Bar and people grumbled that Trivia had to be cancelled. Come on people, this woman is really sick here!!! Reading what others have said about the menu never changing, that wasn’t true during my 2 weeks aboard. True, they have incorporated the “regularly available items” into the daily menu, but each day there were several new items to choose from including soups, appetizers, mains and changing dessert offerings. The food was good for my taste, and too large of portions for me. Two nights in two weeks we had lobster on the menu, three nights lamb, always a vegetarian option, most nights an Asian dish. The service was pleasant and quick for us. We had open seating and arrived about 7:00pm each night, asking to be seated at a large table with others so we could meet people & mingle. Love those Aussies! The Showroom entertainment was a step up from past cruises. “Droom” was a terrific Cirque-esque show with 70s music from Heart, Michael Jackson & Rolling Stones, great costumes, & amazing Diva. Finally HAL is moving toward entertainment for those of us younger than 80 years old. There was an off-color comedian, a wonderful solo violinist, and Van Ahn, a concert pianist who mesmerized the showroom with her performances alone and with the HAL Cats. The Cats played theme nights in the Crow’s Nest where people danced, 60s night, Rolling Stones night, Beatles Night. They did a good job at keeping people on the dance floor. There was a Dancing with the Stars competition on board that I did not attend, but heard the winner was a popularity contest, not based on skills. Friends who took the dance lessons really enjoyed learning the new steps. Another friend took beginning bridge and planned to continue playing through her trip to Vancouver. There is always something new to learn aboard the HAL ships. For me, it’s a chance to catch up on movies I’ve missed, either in the Wajang Theater or in my stateroom on the TV as I drift off to sleep. All in all I feel Holland America and the Volendam crew did a wonderful job. Nikki, from the Cruise Director’s staff, who handled the solo events and Culinary Arts Center program was the standout crew member for me. Her cooking classes were a riot, and the solo lunch and meet & greet were fun and informative. She’s a real asset to the cruise line, even though she’s only in her early twenties. Disembarkation was not as organized as embarkation. The ground crew seemed disjointed, and the language barrier more pronounced. I did get to the hotel in a short time but could not check in until 2:00pm, so they held my bags and I set out on foot for more sightseeing. The following morning my transfer did not show up at 4:00am, so the hotel sent me in their car at 4:15am. I made my flight, no problem. One little hiccup in an otherwise flawless trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I've just finished reading some of the recent Volendam reviews and think I must have been on a different ship. Our experience, overall, was stellar. The ship had just completed a major drydock in December, and it seemed to us the ... Read More
I've just finished reading some of the recent Volendam reviews and think I must have been on a different ship. Our experience, overall, was stellar. The ship had just completed a major drydock in December, and it seemed to us the things had been spruced up quite a bit, and the public areas were in very nice condition. We picked this cruise for the itinerary, most of which was new to us. By way of background, this was our third cruise with Holland, and we have over thirty with Princess. We have done our last couple of cruises with Holland, largely because of disappointment with our last few with Princess. Embarkation in Singapore was efficient - I don't think Singapore allows for anything else - but we had received an email not to come early as there had been a Noro outbreak and they were sanitizing. It was the case that we had three rather than two days of the 'no touch' treatment, but following that, I wasn't aware of any continuing problems or issues. As we normally do, we flew in early, and stayed at the excellent Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. Transportation via the MRT is easy, and, although we used a cab to go to the cruise terminal since we weren't quite sure which one the ship was using, we returned to the Crowne Plaza post cruise via the MRT. Our cabin was an upgrade on the Navigation deck, eligible for the Neptune Lounge which is a wonderful amenity, particular for the services of the concierge staff. Claudia and Chris were both helpful and ready to assist with anything we needed from currency exchanges to dinner reservations. The cabin itself was quite large, well appointed, with tons of storage, but, oddly, very few electrical outlets. We didn't take advantage of all the amenities available, but enjoyed the free laundry service very much. Both of our cabin stewards were good - of the unobtrusive and efficient style that we prefer. We ate about equally in the main dining room and the Lido, depending on the port schedule and how tired we were by the end of the day, as this was a very port intensive itinerary. We also very much enjoyed the chicken sandwiches at the poolside grill. On evenings when we were in port late, the Lido frequently was not open as such, and a poolside 'event' menu was offered, however, there was no signage in the Lido directing you to the poolside and if you missed reading it in the daily schedule, it could be confusing. The main dining and specialty restaurants remained available throughout. We did indulge in the Le Cirque dinner night at the Pinnacle Grill, and, while we enjoyed it, we didn't think it was quite as good as it had been on the Rotterdam. The other special night we had done on the Rotterdam - the de Librje dinner - was not offered on this ship, unfortunately. Overall, the quality of the food in the main dining room and the preparations were good, certainly much better than we've had recently on Princess, and some meals were truly outstanding. The pool deck special offerings were more hit and miss, with some items being quite good and others only so-so, but that's true of most buffet services. The Lido, in general, was average to good. We didn't get around to the Caneletto this time, but have enjoyed it in the past. The gym was well equipped, with ample treadmills and other aerobic apparatus, a good sampling of weight machines and free weights, and space for yoga and other floor exercise and it was virtually deserted in the afternoons. I didn't go in the mornings. One of the two recumbent bikes was out of order for the whole of our trip, but everything else seemed in good order. The lounge entertainment was good to excellent. We particularly enjoyed the trio in the Ocean Bar. The Hal Cats band was okay, not great, the guitarist was very good and the violin and piano duo outside the main dining room were very good as well. The main showroom entertainment highlights were the two local shows, one in Myanmar and one in Malyasia - of the two the Malay show was the better. The Droom show was okay although the concept (Dreams) was a bit stretched to make the choice of songs fit the theme. The costumes were lovely, though, and the staging was interesting. The only other main showroom event we caught was a female vocalist that we didn't care for and walked out of early on. The highlight of this trip, though, was the itinerary. We did a mix of ship's and private tours and were happier by far with our private tours than those we did through the ship. The two night stay in Yangon afforded us the opportunity for two and half days in and around Yangon, on a private excursion for a group of 16 arranged through Tour Mandalay. I can't say enough good things about them. They were stellar to work with start to finish, our guide was charming, well informed, spoke terrific English, went out of her way to accommodate the group's interests at every turn and kept us moving ahead or around the 'big bus' groups. Myanmar is poised between isolation and a burgeoning tourism boom and foreigners, particularly western tourists are still a real novelty. There were as many local folks taking our pictures as we were taking picture of. Our group was approached numerous times by local people wanting to have their pictures taken with us which was quite a novelty. The best parts of our tour were the 'non-tourist' spots that our guide May took us - a local pottery factory still using methods from hundreds of years ago, a very local market near the port where we were the only western tourists there and a temple on an island - again, near the port - where we were among the very few tourists, all the rest of whom were also on private tours. We also got to the 'regular' stops - Bago for the palace and the war memorial, Yangon's Scott Market and Shwedagon Temple and so on, but the unique local spots were the high points. We used Tours By Locals for Malacca (Melissa) and Phuket (Jo) and they were both excellent. We also did a private tour with some shipmates in Kuala Lumpur. Our ship tours were in Penang, Porto Malay (Langkawi) and Singapore. The first, the Hills and Temples in Penang - was very disappointing, as we had initially signed up for a culinary tour that the provider cancelled, then we substituted the ship's walking tour the Spice Trail, and it was cancelled, so we ended up on the third bus of the Hills and Temples tour. I will admit to not being really receptive to start with, but when the guide started with off color jokes and ended with a seemingly endless harangue about how the form of Buddhism he practiced was superior to that practiced in the temple we were visiting (while people who didn't care to do the steps had been told to meet us at a time specific, which was long gone as he ranted on and on...) I was really over it. The second, the bat caves and mangroves and eagles in Langkawi was better, although I would not recommend the bat caves to anyone with claustrophobia, as there is a (blessedly short) passage where you have to practically crawl, plus, bats are smelly. However, the eagles and the boat ride pretty much made up for it and our guide was very good. The Night Safari in Singapore was also a disappointment, although I mostly blame myself for that. We were given an option of taking the tram ride around the exhibits or walking. We opted for the tram, not realizing that we'd be in the queue for almost 45 minutes of our relatively brief stay. If we had opted to do the walks, we might have both seen more and been able to catch both of the shows. As it was, we saw only one of the two available and it was the best bit of the excursion. Lighting is very low so photography without specialized equipment is pretty much a bust. It is best to be on the right hand side of the tram, as the larger and/or more spectacular animals seem to be on that side - my husband was on the outside left and I was in one of the two center seats, neither very desirable. If I were to do it again, I would skip the tram and start immediately on the nearest trail, as there is also a spot mid-way through where you can pick up the tram if you want to, without the enormous lines. Earlier in the day, we had visited the Gardens by the Bay on our own, using the MRT. As there were intermittent cloud bursts, we opted to visit the two enclosed gardens, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest - both well worth the visit and doable no matter what the weather, as they are also air-conditioned - a real blessing in the tropical heat of Singapore. On prior visits we have also visited the Zoo, the bird park and the Botanical Garden with the National Orchid Garden, all well worth the time. With respect to enrichment programs, the port talks were okay, the culinary arts center presentations were excellent, and one of our shore excursion participants who did the beginning bridge lessons said those were very good. There were no special lecturers, which was unfortunate, as the itinerary allowed for considerable scope for enrichment activities. Interestingly, not even the DVD library offered related movies like The Year of Living Dangerously, and that would have been a good on board movie or in room movie offering for this itinerary. One of the odder events of the cruise was the timing of our return to Singapore, and I gather this happens rather more often than not. The itinerary shows a full sea day between Kuala Lumpur/Port Klang and Singapore. In reality, we arrived at around 4:00 in the afternoon. Naturally, as usually happens in port, the casino and shops are closed, losing revenue for the line, I would think. As we were already scheduled for an overnight (the following night) in Singapore and had done our Night Safari excursion reservation for that night, I enquired about excursions for this 'extra' night - none on offer. It was, we thought, very strange. Disembarkation was quite smooth, and we returned to the Crowne Plaza at Changi via the MRT which is located in the shopping center adjacent to the Cruise Terminal. On balance, we thought the cruise was a good value and a great experience and that the Volendam was a comfortable and well managed ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
On board Holland America Line’s Volendam Jan 19-Feb 16 2015 directly after spending a week on Norwegian's Pride of America in Hawaii. The ship had stops in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore. Great trip! ... Read More
On board Holland America Line’s Volendam Jan 19-Feb 16 2015 directly after spending a week on Norwegian's Pride of America in Hawaii. The ship had stops in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore. Great trip! Food was very good. Unlike the Pride of America, there was no loud obnoxious music during return boardings and sailaways -- very welcome change. The lounge entertainment was top notch and the shows were always delightful – although sometimes a little surprising in nature. Had a large, oceanview stateroom that was very comfortable with lots of storage and room for two to maneuver [request a cooler (read fridge) however as many rooms don't come with them]. The room location -- aft on the Main deck --was excellent in terms of accessing the dining room, buffet, and Lido deck pool/lounge area. The only concern here was that the room was a bit noisy as the ship was docking as it is directly above the area deployed for tying the ship up. Drinks were better priced than on Norwegian and they often had 'happy hours' during sailaways where there was a “buy one get the second for a dollar” deal. (ln terms of alcohol, we didn’t feel we were being gouged quite as much on HAL as NCL. At times, the price of drinks seemed more than reasonable! ) A number of the ports required visas. However, they took are of this on the ship for reasonable cost – in some cases less than it would have been to do it ourselves. I would highly recommend just leaving this detail to them. As is generally the case, the excursions were quite expensive. However, at every port there were taxi drivers and tour operators standing by at the terminal gate, where transportation and tours could be obtained for at least ½ of what the ship was charging. It was often cheaper to secure a car and driver for the day rather than negotiate a one way fare, and negotiating was relatively easy, although language could be a challenge. On the other side, the people we met who did book on board excursions all reported good experiences. A number of people co-ordinated tours amongst themselves using this website and in the future I think we will try that ourselves. However, we booked a number of tours on-line prior to departure and they all worked out well. One of the most interesting we took was with the Don Bosco Hotel School in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and I highly recommend this experience. (Just Google “Don Bosco Hotel Sihanoukville). As the ship stayed over one night at the port servicing Bangkok and two nights at the port for Yangon, we booked hotels on land on both these occasions. Getting to and from the hotels was easily accomplished using local taxis and car services and getting off the ship for a day or two made and for an interesting and welcome diversion. As other writers have noted, the Volendam is not the shiniest ship on the seas, nor is it the most lively. However, it is very pleasant and comfortable, and the crew are particularly friendly and attentive. This SE Asian itinerary is well chosen and executed and provides a fascinating peek at life in what prove to be quite different countries. All the people we met off ship were very pleasant and friendly, although once in a while they did try to short change us – but with good humor. All in all, it was a particularly enjoyable trip and, having cruised in the past with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, and Costa, HAL seemed to offer one of the best overall experiences.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We have just returned from a 34 night Circumnavigation Cruise of Australia. We had a wonderful time after being a little unsure how we would survive a 34 night cruise. Embarkation in Sydney went without a hitch and we were aboard within ... Read More
We have just returned from a 34 night Circumnavigation Cruise of Australia. We had a wonderful time after being a little unsure how we would survive a 34 night cruise. Embarkation in Sydney went without a hitch and we were aboard within 25 minutes. This was at White Bay which is out of town and lack and form of public transport. The public areas were well maintained and there was always a quite space available if you wished to sit and read or watch the world go by. A few scratches and dents but as she is on her way to dry dock I am sure these will be fixed. We are breakfast and lunch in the Lido and dinner in the Rotterdam. At peak times the Lido was a little crowded but that passed quickly. Service was good. We chose any time dining for dinner. Only once were we given a buzzer and asked to wait and that was for less than 5 minutes. The food was great and the service even better. The entertainment varied. We enjoyed the groups in the Ocean Bar and the Explorers Lounge. They were both very easy to listen to. The guys Eli on guitar and Andy on piano were both great. The Hal Cats were very busy and always good to listen to. The entertainment in the Frans Hals Lounge varied greatly. We enjoyed most of the guest entertainers but saw very little of the dancers and singers who we thought at best were average. Bruce the cruise director is a treasure. I cannot make an informed comment on the shore excursions as we only when on two. Being Komodo and Bali. Having visited most of the ports previously we went ashore and made our own arrangements. The two we did we enjoyed. Disembarkation was quick and well organized although once outside there was a shortage of Taxis. This was our 3rd cruise on the Volendam and it has maintained its usual high standard. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We were a bit nervous about 32 days on a ship but we could not have been wrong. The Volendam crew made us feel welcome from first boarding in Sydney. We liked the idea of a smaller ship and the bonus we found out on the way was we got to ... Read More
We were a bit nervous about 32 days on a ship but we could not have been wrong. The Volendam crew made us feel welcome from first boarding in Sydney. We liked the idea of a smaller ship and the bonus we found out on the way was we got to sail through the Barrier Reef out of Cairns and also the smaller ports could take Volendam where alot of the larger ships cant get into these lovely smaller towns that do rely on tourism. All the ports we visited were fantastic and alot of them we did out own thing. The excursions were well thought out and good informative guides on the way. My husband and I said on the last day as we sailed through the Sydney Heads back into port could we think of any negitives - not one. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Our third cruise on the Volendam during past six years.Chose the transpacific repositioning cruise to visit LA, Hawaii and Pago Pago for the first time. We had no problem with the age of the ship and the condition of it. Very clean and ... Read More
Our third cruise on the Volendam during past six years.Chose the transpacific repositioning cruise to visit LA, Hawaii and Pago Pago for the first time. We had no problem with the age of the ship and the condition of it. Very clean and well presented.....and the flower arrangements!!!! Amazing that given the problem on the Alaskan cruise prior to this cruise that for 24 nights the problem didnot resurface, thanks to the wonderful crew and also the passengers for doing their bit to prevent it happening. The crew are wonderful at doing their work in such confined spaces and the hours they work. Always cheerful!! The food: Lido Restaurant catered for all tastes. Rotterdam menu has changed somewhat leading to a slight disappointment from our previous cruise. The activities keep one very busy every day. Thoroughly enjoyed the Hawaiian lead up from Long Beach to arrival in Hilo and Honolulu. The evening entertainment in the Showroom was great, catering for all tastes. Thank you to the crew of the Volendam, we look forward to sailing with you again and seeing the refurbishment results. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Before I went on this cruise I read a bunch of reviews of this ship and itinerary and was very concerned. After returning I am incredulous on those reviews. Embarkation: FABULOUS, organized and seamless Dining- I don't do buffet so ... Read More
Before I went on this cruise I read a bunch of reviews of this ship and itinerary and was very concerned. After returning I am incredulous on those reviews. Embarkation: FABULOUS, organized and seamless Dining- I don't do buffet so I ate in the Rotterdam dining room. I have eaten in many 4 and 5 star restaurants before and the service was comparable. The fish and vegetarian dishes were superb. The wine list fabulous and I repeat again the service was wonderful. Ship activities: it is a smaller ship and they worked and worked and worked to service the customers. We hit the trifecta in the weather department so all three ports were perfect weather. Skagway is fun and my new personal hero is Jefferson "soapy" Smith. That been said, you get on the ship knowing the itinerary, how do you complain. It is a great cruise on a wonderful ship with a wonderful crew. One point to be made, Holland America DOES ITS BEST to service its older customers and they do it SO well that they attract many many older customers, and that can turn off baby boomers or younger cruisers. That is an unfair result of its great service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
The weather was terrible. Rain and cool each day. Misty all along the coast. Could not see many mountains. Thought July would have been better. The Volendam is well maintained but showing some age. Would not worry about the age. ... Read More
The weather was terrible. Rain and cool each day. Misty all along the coast. Could not see many mountains. Thought July would have been better. The Volendam is well maintained but showing some age. Would not worry about the age. Understand it will be refurbished in Dec 2014. The food was better than expected. We ate regularly in the Rotterdam. Food was excellent and the service good. Ate at Pinnacle once and Italian. The service is great but the food is so good in the Rotterdam decided not worth the extra cost. Entertainment was also very good. The Broadway type shows Classique and Droom should not be missed. Juenue we took the shuttle to Mingdelhall Glacier $10 each way. Bought on dock. Interesting commentary and enjoyed the walk to the Nugget falls. Well worth the time and money. Skagway we rented a car from Avis. Train 3 hours for 4 $500, car was $99 for all day. We saw more and had freedom. Went as far as Emerald Lake. Lunch in Carcross, best sourdough ever. total 5 hours. Skagway is quite interesting. One of our party went Whale watching in the evening. Said it was very good. Ketchichan, Very heavy rain so only walked around. Creek street worth walking around. Bought all of our souveneers. Reasonable prices. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
After talking about it for 20 years we decided to finally do the Alaska Cruise. We are a couple in our mid 60's and have previously taken 4 transatlantic crossings on the QM2 and a Canada/New England cruise on the Caribbean Princess. ... Read More
After talking about it for 20 years we decided to finally do the Alaska Cruise. We are a couple in our mid 60's and have previously taken 4 transatlantic crossings on the QM2 and a Canada/New England cruise on the Caribbean Princess. We decided to experience HAL this time and chose the Vancouver to Vancouver 7 day trip on the Volendam. It seemed to be the perfect size ship for this cruise. We booked early as I wanted a balcony and at the time of booking there was a promotion for a free night pre cruise at the Pan Pacific Hotel and a transfer to the hotel from the airport so that made for a great deal. We embarked quickly and efficiently and were pleased to find our stateroom to be just as it is pictured on the website. The ship is an easy size to get around. The food (although a very subjective matter) was fine in the dining room and the lido buffet. Room service was fast. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water are available all day in the lido buffet but was disappointed that juices were only available during breakfast hours. The casino was small and never very busy. Perhaps this was because the slot machines are quite tight with small payouts. Most of the dealers at the tables were just standing with no players. Blackjack tables seemed to get busier at night. Movies are shown in the Wajang Theater on deck 4. It is a small theatre with really poor quality acoustics and picture quality. But there is free popcorn and it is entertainment for a couple of hours. Same movies were shown on your stateroom TV as well. The production shows, magician and comedian acts were in the lovely Frans Hal Lounge on decks 4&5. These shows were all top notch. Shops carried the usual things - jewellery, perfumes, souvenirs, etc. Most items were marked made in China or Indonesia so if you want genuine made in Alaska items you will have to buy them in ports. The dress code was a surprise. Maybe I am spoiled by the QM2 where formal is a tux or dark suit and lasts for the entire evening. Here most of the women seem to have gotten the memo but formal to the men seemed to mean -please try to look a little neater than you did earlier today. Saw very few tuxes, very few dark suits, some suits of different colours, shirts, no ties, golf shirts, t-shirts etc. It really did not seem to matter and after dinner the ones that had dressed seemed to change back to regular clothes. All in all it was a Wonderful trip on a Wonderful ship! ALL HAL crew and employees we encountered were absolutely a credit to the company. WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Review of Volendam’s 7-night R/T Vancouver Alaskan cruise during the week of June 25 – July 2, 2014: Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Inside Passage. Captain James Russell Dunford and Cruise Director Mark ... Read More
Review of Volendam’s 7-night R/T Vancouver Alaskan cruise during the week of June 25 – July 2, 2014: Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Inside Passage. Captain James Russell Dunford and Cruise Director Mark Brignone. During this cruise we saw bald eagles, a bald eagle’s nest, whales, bears, sea lions, and deer. WEATHER: Sunny skies, pleasantly warm weather, and no rain. We brought way too many different weather clothes not knowing what to expect. So we kept sending the same items to the laundry. The retractable dome was over the Lido Deck all week except during the transit of Glacier Bay. To us the greenhouse effect felt excessively hot and uncomfortable as we walked through several times, but others were happily sunning in shorts and bathing suits. There’s a quiet peacefulness about Alaska, with the sounds of nature gently settling upon the heart and soul to overtake the senses. Sometimes we’d just sit on our balcony and let ourselves be carried away. We took this cruise to see, experience, and feel what Alaska had to offer. This remarkable cruise encourages a return because there’s so very much there in terms of beauty and history. We arrived early for a pre-night stay at the Pan Pacific Hotel which sits above the cruise terminal. The hotel gave us a complimentary upgrade to a large corner room on the 11th floor with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. The morning of our cruise we saw the Volendam arrive and dock just below. From the lobby, a dedicated elevator takes passengers to the check-in process and onto the ship. The entire process was effortless and proceeded quickly. The Volendam is a mid-size intimate vessel (approximately 1450 passengers) built in 1999. A dry dock is scheduled for two weeks during December 2014; however, the ship was in good shape with just a few nicks and bruises around the edges. The theme of flowers was abundant and expressed in both décor and real bouquets throughout. The predominately Filipino/ Indonesian crew was friendly, helpful, unobtrusive, and went out of their way to remember people and make them feel welcomed. They make great ambassadors to the Holland American brand. Our portside Neptune Suite (previously Deluxe Veranda Suite) 7020 was directly across from the Neptune Lounge. We expected a noise issue with the Lido Deck directly above, but heard only an occasional chair scrapping while on the balcony. This suite is somewhere between the pool and pool bar above. Plenty of room to spread out and relax with generous storage areas to keep everything out of sight, but easy to find. The bathroom had one full-sized sink, a small whirlpool tub/shower combination, wall units, counter top and under-counter space. Adjoining the bathroom is a 6 inch step-down to the dressing area with vanity, mirror, more storage space and a small sink. A king bed, large angled sofa, coffee table, two chairs, small fridge, safe, bar, umbrella and binoculars completed the interior space. The gigantic balcony had a dining table, four chairs, two loungers, and a small drink table. 11 ft. wide and double the length of a balcony stateroom. We took of advantage of the complimentary laundry several times and received same day service before dinner. Our suite was directly across from the addictive Neptune Lounge (“one-stop shopping for all your cruising needs”). Operational hours were 7:00 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. We didn’t expect to use it that much, but once in we became daily regulars. They also provided continental breakfast, midday snacks, canapés, ice water, hot tea/chocolate and coffee. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT: Activities (didn’t attend) but we did see most of the main evening shows: Listen to the Music (medley of music to be found on the ship), Classique (classical music and dance from Mozart to Manilow), Droom (musical fantasy with an international song list, of the struggle between good and evil in a magical garden), and Buzz Sutherland (clean comedy) were excellent. International Illusionist Neil Croswell would be entertaining for children, which there weren’t many of on this cruise. We missed the Filipino Crew Show and Dancing with the Stars (HAL dancers and passenger finalists) to win the title of Stars at Sea Cruise Champion. DINING & FOOD: We are a meat & potatoes couple looking for simple food simply prepared with some degree of heathy selections. The gourmet dishes presented, covered in sauces, with an assortment of many things mixed in) is not what we eat. Lunch and dinner in the Rotterdam (main dining room) had excellent soups, salads, and desserts. Entrees were at best good, but more often poor. Breakfast everywhere was the same—98% Fat Bacon, lifeless food, hot food cold, too greasy. We never heard of a ship without 24-hour pizza but the Volendam doesn’t have one. Didn’t matter because what they were serving at the Lido Buffet was a slice of really thick dough with a thin coat of yellow and a dot of red. SCENIC CRUISING GLACIER BAY: It started to get cold all at once from what was a warming cool day when we first entered Glacier Bay. It became even colder in Icy Straits as we looked in wonder at the floating chunks of ice become larger and larger. Then the ship stopped. We first heard the sound and then felt the jolt of Margerie Glacier carving with a rush of water, ice, and rock crashing into the bay. Then a strangely beautiful silence, a place lacking reality. The ship stayed still for several more carvings before starting her 360 degree rotation. There was another glacier during the turn. We were envisioning the landscape to be covered in snow and ice from peak to shore. Like the ones you see in postcards and travel brochures—one continuous circle of snow and ice and more glaciers carving. Is this something you see only on PhotoShop or is there/was there a time when. As we cruised from Glacier Bay the Captain announced a whale sighting portside. About 15 minutes later there was a commotion on another balcony and we rushed out to see a playful and active whale. After the initial antics we were rewarded with the whale breaching not once but three times. You could see it very clearly without wasting time retrieving binoculars. The whale then did a playful dance, gave a final wave of the tail and disappeared leaving us speechless. JUNEAU: MENDENHALL GLACIER & WHALE QUEST: This tour operated in reverse. It started with a scenic drive of Juneau with an informative and interesting driver. Arriving at Auke Bay we boarded a whale quest boat which would take us through Stephens Passage. The craft was heated inside, with large windows, restrooms, and a naturalist. Complimentary binoculars and route map were provided. As warm and comfortable as the interior was, we headed to the open observation deck and waited expectantly, watching in silence at the water, waiting. And then….we saw them….whales! And plenty of them with extra time on this excursion. Mendenhall Glacier: This moving river of ice is a place of great beauty, and we felt like witnesses to some primal spot of unearthly beauty and awe. Sufficient time to tour the Visitor Center after the easy 3-minute walk to the glacier. Longer trails are available but can’t really be done within the limited time we were there. Except it was possible for a fast walker to make the 45-minute r/t trail that takes you closer to the waterfall. But check with your driver. SKAGWAY: YUKON EXPEDITION & WHITE RAILWAY: Words cannot describe the landscape and waterscape stretching as far as the eyes could see into a semi virgin forest touched by only a few. Our motor coach traveled 2 ½ hours toward the Yukon, up the Klondike Highway and over the summit to the settlement of Carcross. The driver was very informed and highly entertaining and made us want to learn more about the Gold Rush era. Several scenic sight stops were made so people could stretch and take pictures. At Carcross we had an excellent chicken lunch with plenty of time to visit the wildlife museum and dog musher’s village. From there we had one additional 20-minute stop and then headed to Frasier B.C. In Frasier our return was via the White Pass Railway. The narrated history along the White Pass Railway is something we are going to educate ourselves more about. Quite a few landmarks documenting some of the varied and sorted history of the time. If you are returning to Skagway from Frasier sit on the right side of the train (facing toward the direction the train is traveling). Otherwise you’ll be looking at a mountain. Buses were waiting at the train exit for the return ride to Skagway. KETCHIKAN: MISTY FJORDS BOAT & FLOATPLANE ADVENTURE: This tour operated in reverse. After a very short drive through part of this very small town we boarded our floatplane (20-minute ride). We could only imagine the endless flow of nature and life as we looked down and sometimes through the mist at the beautiful landscape and waterscapes. The plane landed on a pontoon in the middle of the water. We knew at once we were at an edge of some magical gateway. As we waited we saw our small sightseeing craft approach. The picture was eerie but beautiful, so calm, so quiet. On a similar but smaller craft as the one used on whale quest, we slipped into Misty Fjords. It was as if we had entered a pristine wilderness en-route to a mysterious island, adrift in a tranquil sea of ever-changing surprises. Tall silvery waterfalls, movement that signaled something was stirring in the water, a glimpse of something on land, a volcanic peak breaking through the water. We spent almost the entire trip on the open observation deck. Bring a jacket, gloves, and hat. This one gets cold topside once in the waterways from where we sped toward our ship. We felt as if we too were part of the mysterious landscape in some small way. Yes, we would enjoy returning to Alaska. VANCOUVER HIGHLIGHTS: This tour was cancelled by HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Day 1: Vancouver We’d flown into Vancouver the day before and booked the Marriott Pinnacle hotel downtown so that it would be convenient for boarding in the morning. I slept in, but DH was up early watching the ship dock at Canada ... Read More
Day 1: Vancouver We’d flown into Vancouver the day before and booked the Marriott Pinnacle hotel downtown so that it would be convenient for boarding in the morning. I slept in, but DH was up early watching the ship dock at Canada Place, and started counting the seconds until we were allowed on board. Sometime around noon, we grabbed a taxi for the $6CAD drive to the port, and once arrived and began the trek through the somewhat confusing boarding process. I hadn’t realized that they would be boarding three ships all at once in one jumbled security line before we’d ever get to check in, and it was confusing to say the least. Additionally, we were confused with the Princess people and stopped by the Wine Dragon (for Princess), who was trying to take our 2 bottles of Tempranillo away until he noticed we were HAL passengers and waved us on. Once through that line, it was on to Customs and Immigration, and THEN finally to the Volendam checkin line. This should have been a breeze. We were in a Neptune Suite, and were whisked to the front of the queue. My husband, however, was getting over a cold said so on the health form, producing his antibiotics and doctor’s note clearing him for travel. This raised a red flag, however, as we both now needed to be checked out by the ship’s medical team prior to boarding. We were ushered over to a cordoned off area and left to sit there for 45 minutes, with our boarding cards kept from us. We saw 2 other groups brought into this area, but no medical team in sight. Finally, around 1:15, someone appeared, asked the same questions that we’d answered on the form, handed us our cards and let us go. There was no examination, no special evaluation – DH decided that if he wasn’t an honest person, he’d probably have lied on the form and saved the trouble. I pointed out that’s how ships end up Code Red. Either way, we were finally through, and we made it to our cabin. Day 2: Inside Passage Did I say lovely weather? Strike that. You know that feeling you get when you’re in the back seat of a car that’s driving around a sharp turn in one direction, and then it suddenly shifts into another direction? Well, the boat was doing that ALL DAY. When we were at lunch, you could barely see past the windows due to the fog and rain. The ship was also a ghost town, presumably because of the people attempting to gain their sea legs. At one point the ship slowed down enough for us to disembark the Canadian Pilot, but it was a very harrowing thing in the choppy waters. This was the first of the two Formal nights. There were people in all levels of dress walking around, from casual to black tie. I even saw a gentleman in a kilt. Everyone appeared to be having a good time, no matter how they were dressed, and that’s really the point, isn’t it? Day 3: (Morning) Tracy Arm After breakfast, it was time for the people who were heading out to Tracy Arm to head off on their excursion. The captain made an announcement, and we looked over our balcony just in time to see them dart away. Day 3: (Afternoon) Juneau This was the stop I was looking forward to all trip. I was going to mush sled dogs! I prebooked this online, as I’d heard it sells out. I found out that there are actually two different tours offered that do this due to the popularity. One goes to the closer Mendenhall Glacier, which is where most of the tours end up going, but as I’d booked early I was on the more exclusive “Norris Glacier” tour. It was farther away (around 25 minutes by helicopter), and the only people going there were specifically to see these sled dogs. It was very secluded, and very beautiful. (I wish I could say the dogs themselves were beautiful, but they’re not bred for their looks. ) Once there, we were shown the dog camp, then taught how to use the sled. The dogs then ran us for 20 minutes at around 6-8mph (it was too warm for them to run much faster than that, but you definitely felt their power). After we got back to the camp, we got to pet some of the dogs as they cooled down. It was neat watching them eating the snow and generally playing around with each other. Back into the helicopter we trudged to head back to the ship, seeing the different glaciers of Juneau from above. The thing that struck me about this tour was how the landscape goes instantly from white to green, once you crest a mountain. It is stunning. This tour was worth every penny of the $574 charge. Day 4: Skagway We arrived in around 7AM, so after having breakfast, we decided to wander around downtown Skagway. We’d been planning on walking, but as soon as we got off the boat, we were hit with a bracing wind and decided that the $2 one way shuttle charge ($5 for all day, including visits to Jewell Gardens/Cemetary) didn’t sound like such a bad idea. It turned out that there actually wasn’t much to do in Skagway besides shop, and we’re not shoppers, so we looked around for a few minutes then went back to the ship to wait for the train. The White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad tour is a 3 hour tour that takes you roundtrip on old train cars pulled by a steam engine through the old White Pass. The tour commentary is very interesting, and the scenery is breathtaking. I highly recommend it. Day 5: Glacier Bay The next morning, the Park Rangers were let aboard sometime before we awakened. We'd decided to order room service and hang out in the cabin all day, and were greeted with beautiful views of Glacier Bay park all day, with narration from the Park Rangers coming through the TV. At one point before the ship was scheduled to turn around DH said he wanted to go to the bow and get some different view of the ship turning. He was in the process of standing up when a klaxon sounded. I didn't think anything of it at first, because one had gone off at the same time every day of the cruise for a fire drill. This was different, however, as it appeared there was an electrical fire on Deck 8, forward, in the spa. They needed people to evacuate the spa, the front of the Lido, and the Crows Nest immediately. Now, under "normal" circumstances, the Crows Nest on a sea day is the place to be. During Glacier Bay day, it was PACKED. I would imagine there was quite an operation to get people out of there. I didn't hear anyone complain about this afterwards, however, and it was roughly an hour before the fire (for there actually was one) was put out and the smoke was all cleared. Once that happened, we completed the turn and sailed on our way. This was all handled quickly, professionally and efficiently by the crew. This was the second formal night, and people seemed to be "more" formally dressed this time. Day 6: Ketchikan, AK My husband booked a shore excursion to go Halibut fishing, which he says is the highlight of his trip. He caught many, many fish. He said that Alaska is now his favorite place to fish. He caught: 2 Halibut (he threw one back, under Alaskan law) 1 Rockfish 7 Cod One person that went out even got a Salmon. All of it was filleted, flash frozen, and will be arriving to our home via overnight shipping next Tuesday. The caveats are that you have to have a US address if you want to keep the fish. If you are a foreigner (Canadian or otherwise), you can go fishing but you cannot send it home without having alternate arrangements. My day was entirely less interesting. Having no particular plans, I merely walked around the town, saw the shops and the old town, and then went back on the ship. There are some beautiful furs and pelts to be had here if you are into that, and the totems are nice if you have the decorating scheme for it. My house is modern and there's nothing rustic about it, so no totems for me unfortunately. This was also Le Cirque night at the Pinnacle Grill. We opted to dine there. The staff was all questions for us as we've been to the real Le Cirque and they wanted to know how their version compares. I learned from my grandmother that when someone asks you a question like that - the only way to answer it is politely. Lets take it for granted that a restaurant that charges $250 a person (without wine) and buys fresh ingredients *daily* from the best sources in New York and Las Vegas cannot possibly be replicated on a ship that gets its stock replenished once a week. Now, say that the menu is "inspired by Le Cirque", and that the staff will do their best to give you the experience of the treatment of that restaurant, for the bargain basement price of $49pp, and you'll have a better idea of what that is. That said, I found HAL's Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill to be worth the money spent. When asked what my husband's favorite dish at the real Le Cirque was (we weren't complaining, we were happy with the menu presented, it was only a query from an inquisitive restaurant manager), darned if the restaurant manager didn't go to see if they couldn't find the ingredients to make it for him. We assured him that they didn't have them on the ship before he even went to try, but that didn't deter him. This is Holland America at its finest. When I overheard someone complaining the next morning about how the Le Cirque wasn't actually Le Cirque, and the steak wasn't worth the $250 name, it was all DH could do to hold me down to keep me from throttling the guy. If you pay $50 and expect $250, yes, you'll be disappointed. I found the service to be worth every penny. Days 7/8: Return to Vancouver The Mariner's brunch was on the last day of the cruise. We spent the day packing to go home and watching the world go by. On the last morning, the sun was up early again and we woke up around 5:30AM to watch the boat arrive into the Vancouver area. It was a beautiful morning, not too much fog, and we were able to see the mountains and the bridge on the way in. There appeared to be some issues when we docked, however, and everything was delayed by around 45 minutes-1 hour. At 9:45, we were off the ship and boarded a bus and were headed on our way through a quite enjoyable quick tour of Vancouver, that led us around Stanley Park, Gastown and Chinatown, then on to the airport. Once at the airport, we learned from the bus driver that you cannot check bags more than 3 hours before your flight. It was just about noon, and our flight didn't leave until 6:30pm. We decided to check in for the flight anyway and deal with the bags later. At checkin, we were told it was actually *5* hours prior, not 3. If we came back at 1:30 they would be able to take our bags. That worked for us fine. We head over to get lunch, then when we were done, we dropped off our bags and headed through Customs/Immigration to wait for our flight. And that takes me to the end of my journey.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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