Sail Date: February 2015
We have signed up for this tour and there are 5 more available. They had good reviews. There are two groups from Volendam already booked with them and we are the third group. Please read the following and email phamtours@yahoo.com directly ... Read More
We have signed up for this tour and there are 5 more available. They had good reviews. There are two groups from Volendam already booked with them and we are the third group. Please read the following and email phamtours@yahoo.com directly if you are interested. Port of Call: Nha Trang Nha Trang Special Countryside + City Tour by bus + River Cruise $60 USD/person for a group of 10 tourists Pick-up outside the port, then tour around by bus. This is specially tailor-made excursions. Exploring the country trails, village's life, town and farms, pagoda, the best way to experience the "true" Vietnamese countryside. Through countryside trails, villages towns and farms.. This countryside tour offers you a fascinating insight into the "real lives" of everyday people who are the backbone of Vietnam . Just a few kilometers from Nha Trang’s beach front is the picturesque countryside dotted with palm trees, fruit orchards and irrigated rice paddies. The first stop of the tour is an embroidery factory . Driving through miles of flat rice fields to a rural village, enjoy the opportunity to interact with the local people as they go about their daily lives, with farming and cottage industries as their primary source of income. The village path leads us to the home of one family who weave mats from rushes which grow abundantly in the surrounding area. Two people working together will weave just four mats in a day, which will be taken to the local market and traded for food and other essentials. Pagoda Orphanage: where it shelters and cares for over 120 abandoned, orphaned or street children. They range from several months to 9 years of age. The children of the orphanage are taken care of by a group of Buddhist nuns and volunteers. Their goal is to provide the children with a safe and caring environment which lessens their misfortune and gives their lives greater purpose and meaning. Being a private organization, the orphanage is trying to provide its children food, shelter, health and education. The nuns and volunteers at the orphanage have devoted their lives for the wonderful mission - helping the orphans. Tourists can take photos of Amitabha Buddha statue at a height of 48 meters. Rice paper making: One of the most typical food from rice steamed and processed into round piece dried in the sun on the bamboo brackets that are on sale in the inns or shops. Conical hat making village: Conical hat making village: Manual skill work by women, it's also your gift for your friends when toward home. Ancient house: these are traditionally laid out in the same manner throughout the village. Ancestor worship is an important part of daily life in Vietnam and a large area of these small houses is usually reserved for the family altar. Next, pass through a fruit orchard boasting a plentiful supply of tropical fruits. Lunch at a riverside restaurant Ponagar Temples . An outstanding example of Cham architecture, situated on Mount Cu Lao this hillside offers panoramic views of the surrounding. Visit Dam Market for shopping. 15:00 Drop-off at the port. End of service Including: private bus, river boats, local guide, admission fees, Vietnamese lunch, fruit in season in the countryside. Excluding: alcoholic drink, personal expenses   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
I agree with the other Asia post about this voyage. Compared to other cruise liners Holland America really falls short on service standards from management. The waiting staff were fine, it is management I am upset with. The fine dining ... Read More
I agree with the other Asia post about this voyage. Compared to other cruise liners Holland America really falls short on service standards from management. The waiting staff were fine, it is management I am upset with. The fine dining restaurant Rotterdam served really tough food. Their salmon and steak was tough and undercooked. The Alaskan bake dessert came out all melted like it has been dropped a few times on the floor. The Lido buffet did serve a lot of luke warm food and towards the end of the trip the "fresh" fruit there had gone bad and smelt off. The entertainment was a hit and miss. There were a few nights where instead of a show all they gave you was a movie, Wolverine and can't remember the other one. The company makes a huge premium from additional items they sell you. Everyone is charged $45 usd and $55 usd for cambodia and Vietnam visas whether you get off at the port or not. All their port tours cost 2 to 3 times more than what you would pay if you joined another tour company. They even have a land tour that cost $3000 USD to visit Ankor Wat, Cambodia which is exorbitant as it is almost twice as much as I paid for the whole trip. In fact this is probably the reason they stop at Sihauanoukville port as there is nothing to see at that place other than 3rd world misery. As soon as we arrived in Sihuanouckville we were swarmed and followed by beggars. We hopped back on the ship within 1 hour because we were so scared and distressed with what we saw. However this is the stop where they have their $3000 USD tour so I guess this is why they stop here, and also so they can charge your the compulsory $45 visa for Cambodia. They charge you heaps for every drink you have on the ship. There are heaps of salesmen trying to sell you something (most of their show entertainers ask you to buy their cd afterwards, photographers snapping you throughout the trip then asking you to buy, the onboard shops having constant sales off their highly inflated prices. Not to mention there is a compulsory $11.50 per day tip charged to your ship account and you don't have control who that tip goes to. I don't mind if it goes to the waiting staff and my cabin stewards but definitely not the management at Volendam who are racist and offer poor service. PS. As an almost 4 star mariner with HAL this review sums up the many complaints we heard on the ship. It's not the wonderful Indonesian and Philippine crew it's the management and officers that need rehabilitating. The disembarkation was the worst ever. They couldn't organize a p-up in a brewery Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
My cruise started on May 1, 2013 and would go on until May 8, 2013. We would board the ship in Vancouver and sail up to Alaska. I sailed with my parents, my older brother and my younger sister. This will have been my seventh cruise. A week ... Read More
My cruise started on May 1, 2013 and would go on until May 8, 2013. We would board the ship in Vancouver and sail up to Alaska. I sailed with my parents, my older brother and my younger sister. This will have been my seventh cruise. A week beforehand, we got an email saying that the ship was coming Asia and there had been a gastrointestinal outbreak on the last trip. 0_0 Yikes. They delayed boarding and going into your rooms for 2 hours. Normally in HAL, I heard that your rooms are always reading as soon as you board. Due to the gastrointestinal disease, they also had a 48hr period which banned people from serving themselves. This made lining up take FOREVER. Ship: Elegantly decorated ship, it was nice and spacious. Had very nice live music at night which were cleverly located so the music in your ears never overlap. Food: Hit and miss. Some food was really good, and others weren't. Mint chip ice cream there tasted like toothpaste (and I like mint chip). I disliked the prime rib, it didn't taste like anything. I didn't even want to finish it ïOE Cherry Burghandy ice cream was awesome though, served in a waffle cone. Best thing about the trip was the hard ice cream available all day. They were SO good. Afternoon tea was lovely, attended nearly all of them. There are special ones too ex. Royal Dutch, Indonesian and Cupcake. I liked them all (since I have a sweet tooth), as they all had delicious snacks. Activities: Nearly nothing that interests me on board. Only things would be meals & afternoon tea & chess. Not many activities at all. Port: My third time to Alaska, Ketchikan still my favourite, others are boring and small. Glacier Bay was beautiful though, very cold. They served Dutch Pea Soup at the Bow & Outside decks. Room: Beds were SO comfy. Every time I lied down, I fell asleep, even during the daytime. Room was spacious and a lot of storage space. Irritating handle-less drawers. Not enough hangers. Amazing smelling body soap in shower. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Outstandingly fast. Fastest disembarkation I have ever had. They just scanned your card and you left. Boarding was really fast too. To read my extensive review (Live from Trip Report) with MANY HD pictures (1080p+) depicting every single thing I did on board, please visit my thread on Cruise Critic Message Boards at: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1841439 Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
I usually read the worst reviews and don't bother with the good ones, that way I know the worst and can be pleasantly surprised. So to keep this short I will not say all the good things of which there are many but will simply set out ... Read More
I usually read the worst reviews and don't bother with the good ones, that way I know the worst and can be pleasantly surprised. So to keep this short I will not say all the good things of which there are many but will simply set out what HAL can do to improve. 1. Smoking - although cabin smoking will now be banned, there will still be smoking on verandahs (if you are downwind from a chimney of a neighbour you will get secondary smoke and will have to retreat into your cabin).There is still smoking inside the ship in the casino & nearby bar which putrifies the shops and drifts into the nearby Piano Bar. I don't know what law applies on cruise ships but hopefully someone will sue a cruise line and all smoking will then be be kept outside on one side of the ship. How a cruise line can submit its staff to secondary smoke is a mystery and a blot on not only their morality but the occupational health and safety standards they say they observe. 2. Don't buy a cabin on deck 7 on this ship and similar ships in the HAL fleet (where the most expensive cabins are by the way) as most are underneath the Lido deck (deck 8)and the noise from staff and passengers moving deck chairs and tables both early in the morning and late at night is loud. HAL, why don't you treat the floor with deadening material, or put something on the legs of the chairs and tables and tell your staff to lift not drag!!!! And don't hold a late night chocolate extravaganza in that area - change it to the afternoon or your guests on Deck 7 will not get much sleep. 3. You can alter the temperature of the air-con but you can't switch it off, therefore your eyes will dry out and as the vent can be located above the bed you will have the air on your face at night and may have to hide under the covers. 4. More musical entertainment before 5pm please. If you have come this far in this review and you are not put off by the above then go on the Volendam as the ship is great, the staff first class, the food good, the new captain great and if you want to go casual the whole cruise, not dress up and eat in the Lido semi-buffet instead of the dining room you wont be thrown into the brig. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
My wife and I have done around 25 cruises. This cruise departed Sydney, circumnavigated New Zealand, returned to Sydney and then circumnavigated Australia. It lasted 48 days and was on the Holland America Volendam. We found the best ... Read More
My wife and I have done around 25 cruises. This cruise departed Sydney, circumnavigated New Zealand, returned to Sydney and then circumnavigated Australia. It lasted 48 days and was on the Holland America Volendam. We found the best airfare to Sydney was V Australia out of LAX. We didn't use any hotels in Sydney. We found internet access off the ship to be easy and a lot cheaper than on the ship. In NZ it is free at all public libraries. Otherwise there are a lot of cafes and at most it is 5$ for an hour. The ship and the room were generally good. The only complaint was that a number of the elevators did not work. Dining was good and despite the length of the cruise the menu was good. The entertainment aboard was a little disappointing but the enrichment speakers and the travel guide were excellent. Embarkation was late due to a tsunami warning and disembarkation was very easy. We did visit a large number of ports and did most on our own with private tours. We did a couple of ship tours. While onboard we were told that everyone onboard would have to get an Indonesian visa for Komodo Island. The ship tendered and you had to have one even if you did not get off the ship. It cost around 25$ pp. A couple of people had arranged with the Komodo park service directly, everyone else had to use the ships tour or you could not get off of the ship. The ship tour was fine and it was worth it to see the dragons. The other ship tour was snorkeling the barrier reef. At Cairns and Hamilton island they offer snorkeling. We tried to book private trips but none of the private operators could get us back in time. The ship tour from Cairns was more expensive but you had more time on the reef. Both trips were very similar and if you are interested in snorkeling it is a must do trip. In Tauranga we recommend Mount Classics at mctours.co.nz and driver Ian Holroyd. In Wellington we took a coast tour with Crown Chauffeur with Colin Miller. It is a lot of tour for the money. The best tour we had was Milestone tours in Auckland. It was a little expensive but we went places and saw things that no one else got to see. Finally since our departing flight from Sydney left at 8:30pm we had a whole day in Sydney. We had our luggage but wanted to see something. PJ tours was the only company that I could find who would pick us up near the ship and drop us off at the airport at the end. We went to Blue Mountain and spent a wonderful day there. Peter is a great guide and happy to work with us. We visited many ports, from big cities to cites of 800 people. Eden was a very small city but very interesting while Exmouth is also small but there is not a lot there. Overall it was a great trip. Read Less
CARIBBEAN "WAYFARER" CRUISE Bright sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted us in Fort Lauderdale as our US Airways flight arrived right on time for our 10 day cruise aboard Holland America's MS Volendam. Barbara, my ... Read More
CARIBBEAN "WAYFARER" CRUISE Bright sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted us in Fort Lauderdale as our US Airways flight arrived right on time for our 10 day cruise aboard Holland America's MS Volendam. Barbara, my special traveling partner, and I selected this cruise because we wanted to take a longer cruise on a new ship that sailed round-trip from S. Florida and visited some islands in the Caribbean we had not been to. We also wanted to sail on a different line than our most recent cruises on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity. This "Wayfarer" cruise fit the bill in all respects. The Volendam's sister ship Zaandam was also an option, but we preferred the ports on the Volendam itinerary. THE OVERALL CRUISE EXPERIENCE This was a most enjoyable cruise. It had a nice combination of days at sea and in port, and the ports of call were for the most part, interesting. We have sailed on Holland American before (Maasdam and Ryndam) and were interested in seeing if HAL had joined the trend to add-on pricing and nickel-and-diming that has befallen most of the other "mainstream" cruise lines. I'm happy to report that they have not. The ice cream bar served its delights daily and a coffee bar dispensed expresso drinks and gourmet coffee, all at no extra charges. Not only were assorted nuts available in all lounges before dinner, but the friendly lounge staff served hot hor's d'oeuvres as well (as if we needed them!). A nice canvas tote bag awaited us as we arrived in our room, and an attractive commemorative tile coaster made a great farewell gift. The alternative dining room had no surcharge, and the casino assessed no "service fee" for chips charged to your onboard account. Kudos to HAL for bucking current trends. To be perfectly honest, Holland America cruises tend to be a little more expensive than their midline competitors (there is no free lunch, even on cruise lines), but I much prefer their approach of folding the extras into the fare rather than nickel-and-diming throughout the cruise. THE PASSENGERS Holland America has a reputation for attracting an older clientele, and this cruise did nothing to alter that reputation. As one of the comedians put it, "this ship looks more like the prune barge than the love boat!" I would guess the average age on this cruise was 65, which, for us younger (a relative term) cruisers, was a good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news was that the Lido Buffet line was pretty slow, but the good news was there was no waiting at the treadmills! Seriously, though, there are distinct advantages to cruising with an older group: no wild parties in the cabin next door, no problem getting second sitting for dinner, and for the most part, these seniors are an interesting group with many varied life experiences. THE SHIP MS Volendam is one of HAL's newest ships, having entered service in early 2000. It is an elegant ship with subdued colors, beautiful fresh flower arrangements throughout and expensive art abounding. It is less striking, perhaps, than the Vision Class ships of Royal Caribbean, with their dazzling chrome and glass, light, and soaring open air atria, but Volendam projects a quiet beauty and refined elegance that fits well with its older clientele. Rather than give a room-by-room description of the ship, I will concentrate on the features that I liked and disliked, particularly compared to the ships of our recent cruises. First, the positives. I really liked the lower promenade deck that completely circled the ship and provided a great location to walk or recline in a real wooden deckchair, softened by thick cushions that were laboriously removed every evening and reinstalled the following morning. For those of us who are solar-challenged, this is a perfect deck to read, rest and watch the waves, protected from the elements, . The staterooms were another plus. Our outside room was very commodious with more than ample storage and closet space. The bathroom was good sized, with a bathtub (standard on outside cabins, but with only a shower on the inside), and was well stocked with toiletries in real bottles rather than paper containers. The ship is well designed with an easy flow from deck to deck and fore to aft, with three sets of stairs and elevators. The public rooms were attractive and comfortable. The Crows Nest, located high and forward, was a particular favorite as it offered a wonderful panorama of the sea ahead. Add to this several recliner-type chairs with foot ests and you have a most pleasant and relaxing environment for reading, watching or dozing. As with every ship, however, there were things I didn't care for. For starters, it is hard to find a good location for an outside room without a balcony. These rooms are offered only on the three lowest passenger decks and each of these has its limitations. The A or Dolphin Deck, where we were, is close to the ship's engines, thrusters and machinery, causing unpleasant noise particularly at the fore and aft extremes. Even though our cabin was amidships, we experienced some noise from the stabilizers. The deck above, B Deck, is underneath the wraparound deck, meaning walkers and the occasional rogue jogger (such as myself) are constantly making noise on your ceiling. And finally, rooms on the lower promenade deck are not really desirable because they either overlook the walking deck or are obstructed by ship structures. Those passengers in these rooms expecting to open their curtains and sea the beautiful blue sea are more likely to see not so beautiful blue hair and fanny packs as walkers huff and puff their way around the deck. The obvious solution is to book a cabin with a verandah (very nice), but if fiscal constraints won't allow it, I'd recommend B Deck amidships as the best compromise. Another complaint I had related to the crowds at the pre-dinner lounges (where the free nuts and hors-d'oeuvres were served!) There were only 3 locations on the ship where you could order drinks and listen to live music, and these tended to fill up early. The ship was full, and I don't imagine this was problem for first sitting, but still it was bothersome. Most of the negatives on the stateroom came from the female perspective. Barbara expressed chagrin at the lack of light at the makeup table and the absence of an outlet for her curling iron in the bathroom. Also, the safe required a credit card to open and close, which was cumbersome and inconvenient. My only complaint with the ship's decor was the main dining room. Maybe we have become jaded over recent years, having dined is truly spectacular dining rooms aboard the newer ships of RCI and Princess, but this dining room seemed just a little on the plain side. Also, there were two large chandeliers which appeared to be made of wrought iron, and, to my non-artistic eye, were really ugly. FOOD & SERVICE The dining room food was outstanding, a noticeable jump from RCI, Princess and Celebrity, and better than I remembered from previous HAL cruises. The fish, in particular, was well prepared, tasty and far fresher than most offerings on cruise lines. Service, as always, was outstanding. At the end of the cruise, everyone at the table received a complimentary set of dinner menus, another nice HAL touch. The casual dining, self-service Lido restaurant was also good, with options for served meals on certain evenings. Breakfast, our most common meal in the Lido, was notable for its custom egg offerings and choice of freshly toasted bagels, muffins or toast. We ate once at the Marco Polo, a reservations-only Italian theme alternative restaurant (you're allowed one reservation per cruise, at least in "steerage"). There was no surcharge for this restaurant (we did leave a tip), but interestingly, both Barbara and I found the food in this restaurant not as good as in the main dining area. Maybe it was our selection. Anyway, it was a nice change of pace and enjoyable nevertheless. ENTERTAINMENT This was probably the poorest entertainment, overall, of any of the 12 cruises I have been on. The first night there was no entertainment, other than an introduction of the cruise staff, and the ensuing days assortment of comedians, ventriloquists, singers and ship's company dancers was only average. Entertainment was definitely the weakest aspect of this cruise. PORTS AND SHORE ACTIVITIES Here's a quick summary of the ports we visited, our activities and our opinions: Half Moon Cay: This is a beautiful private island with a large and gorgeous beach. Two ships were using the island, however, which produced crowds at the luncheon barbecue. Nevertheless, this is one of the better private islands, and it was an enjoyable day. St. Thomas: We organized our own tour here. We took a cab from the ship to Red Hook landing where we caught the ferry to St. John's Cruz Bay. Once there, we hiked the Lind Point Trail to Honeymoon Beach and Caneel Bay. Returning, we stumbled across Solamon Beach, which is in a beautiful and isolated location accessible only by foot or boat - and also a totally nude beach. My reaction? Put on a swimsuit, please! We returned to Cruz Bay and took the ferry to downtown St. Thomas where we had planned on doing some shopping. This was a Sunday, however, and all the shops had closed at noon. Either bad luck or good planning, depending on your perspective. We have been to St. Thomas many times, but between St. Thomas and St. John there is much to do in this port, and we've always enjoyed it. Martinique: This was an island we had never been to before, so we decided to rent a car and explore the island. Unfortunately, the office for the Avis rental I had booked in the US was nowhere near the piers, so we were forced to rent from a nearby Budget outlet. Budget proved to be a rather serious misnomer as we could get only get a walk-up rate quoted in Martinique Francs, and we didn't know the exchange rate, which seemed to have a huge variance. It is on the credit card, though, so I'm waiting to assess the exact damage, but it isn't going to be pretty. Once in our high-priced, manual transmission, non-air-conditioned Peugot 106, we attacked the twisty roads of north Martinique and visited a pretty botanical garden, drove through a rain forest, hiked to a deserted waterfall and returned along the coastline. Traffic was bad along the coastal highway and the views not particularly pretty, but some parts of the day's drive were scenic. In retrospect, I wouldn't recommend renting a car here, particularly after filling up the gas tank at about $6.00 a gallon. Even so, I don't think we spent more than we would have on a ship's tour. Overall reaction: a reasonably pretty island with a French flavor, but we wouldn't return there for a dedicated visit. Trinidad: We took our only ship's tour here. From Port O' Spain, we took an air-conditioned bus to the Asa Wright Nature preserve, which was a scenic and interesting botanical and bird watching sanctuary in the mountains of Trinidad. Overall, it was a good look at Trinidad, even though the drive was rather long. One of my pet peeves on tours is the guides who apparently believe that their tips are dependent on how much they talk. After three hours of non-stop jabber, I would have given our guide a tip right then and there just to SHUT UP. Our reaction to this island? See Martinique above. La Guaira, Venezuela: Been there, done that. We did the city tour/glass factory excursion on our Princess cruise, so with no other desirable tour options, we stayed aboard the ship. Did laundry in the morning (the self service laundries are GREAT on these longer cruises) and just relaxed. I wanted to talk to someone who had taken the Angel Falls tour (at $450 per person) to see what it was like, but couldn't find anyone who did. Overall opinion of LaGuaira: a great place to stay aboard and do your laundry. Curacao: This was the best port of the cruise. There were 3 other ships in port, and according to some priority system that no one seemed to understand, we got the dock farthest away from the city. It wasn't a problem for those of us who like to walk, but for some of the less mobile folks it was a real inconvenience. We rented a car again (at a reasonable rate) and drove to the northern part of the island on good roads in light traffic. We toured the Christofel National Park and watched the waves crashing along the beautiful and rugged northern coast. We returned via the southern coastline, where the lovely beach and dive areas are, and returned to the ship for a late room-service lunch. We then set out for Fort Nassau, which overlooks the harbor, and has been converted into an interesting looking restaurant with a great view. That evening, the ship sailed out of the harbor shortly behind HAL's Amsterdam to the accompaniment of fireworks courtesy of the city of Willamsted. Most enjoyable. RANDOM THOUGHTS In this age of age of "free style" cruising, fewer formal nights, more casual dress and increasing on-board charges, it was refreshing to be on a cruise "the way it used to be." I have always enjoyed many of the cruise traditions that are now being challenged. I like to put on a tux occasionally and attend formal dinners with the women all turned out. I enjoy sitting at the same table with new friends and regular waiters every evening. Over the years, we have met many enjoyable, interesting people at our assigned tables, including this cruise, and these friendships have enhanced the cruise experience considerably. I have nothing against meeting new people, but if you sat with different people every night, would you really get beyond the "where are you from - what do you do - how many cruises have you been on" stage? Also, I'm just a little skeptical that service would be as good if you had a different waiter every night and tips were somehow pooled or included in the fare. Witness the service you typically get at an open-seating lunch compared to your evening dinner at your regular table. Speaking of tipping, this is not getting any easier. Holland American has a "no tipping required" policy which, as best as I can tell, really means "tipping expected, but we're just a little more subtle about it." Some people believe the "no tipping policy" and others don't. I usually tip on HAL the same as I do on other cruise lines, but things are getting more confusing. Do you leave separate tips at the alternative restaurants which are a one time occasion (I did)? If so, do you deduct this much from the daily total you give your regular waiters (I didn't). How about room service waiters and wine stewards? It is clear that as new ships are built and more dining alternatives are available, the way tips have been handled in the past needs to be revisited. The ideal situation would be to have all tips unambiguously included in the fare, such as a few of the premium cruise lines do, but I fear if this practice became standard industry wide, service would suffer. CONCLUSION This was a most enjoyable cruise on a quality, traditional cruise line. Holland America has a slogan "oceans apart" (from other mainstream cruise lines, I assume) which may be a stretch, but I say "large lakes" apart is fairly accurate. Richard Shipman can be contacted at ship@vnet.net. May 2001 Read Less
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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