Signature of Excellence?: Ryndam Cruise Review by olivanova

Ryndam 4
Member Since 2012
43 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Signature of Excellence?

Sail Date: June 2012
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Other
A session on disembarkation turned out to be a begging bowl. We had already received more than enough. So why the meeting? It turned out to be how our tips/gratuities would be shared and a great deal of information/advice on how to complete a satisfaction survey which had been distributed the previous evening. We were told that HAL's HQ in Seattle would be reviewing the surveys, that the "Signature of Excellence" is what the Ryndam strives to achieve, that anything less than a score of 9 meant that the Ryndam had failed, that careers were dependent on our score ratings, etc, etc. This culminated in the crew filling the stage to sing about how much they loved us, after which they clapped their hands in appreciation of us all and when we left the theatre other crew members lined the corridor to clap their hands and voice their appreciation. It was very moving but as far as we were concerned, the staff deserved a 9 and in some instances, a 10. However, in other areas the Ryndam fell More short of the much vaunted"Signature of Excellence".

We arrived at the cruise terminal after 1pm expecting to board without too much delay. The car parking operation and porters dealt with our car and luggage quickly and efficiently. However, we had to wait untill after 3 pm to board the Ryndam. When we did, we were directed to our stateroom where our luggage was waiting.

Our oceanview stateroom was on the main deck. It was roomy, with ample wardrobe space, and had a bath with an overhead shower in the bathroom. But, the decor was tired, the bath taps were rusty in places and there was no fridge/minibar, despite the fact that the stateroom fell into the mid-range price oceanview bracket. We were, however, able to rent a fridge for $2 a day to keep our water, etc, cold. Given that this is such a small price to pay, we thought it was very petty not to put a fridge/minibar in all the staterooms. There were no facilities for making tea or coffee in the stateroom. We would not have used them anyway but some might have rather than waiting for room service. Our stateroom did have a flat screen TV on which we had hoped to watch the Euros 2012 football tournament but due to difficulties with the ship's broadcasters' satellite, we hardly saw a football match or the BBC world news. You could, however, always get Fox news which, I assume, was good news for the many Americans on board and a Dutch TV channel for our Dutch captain. We heard from some passengers that the bath taps were hard to turn and that there was hardly any hot water. We had no hot water problems but I was forever asking my husband to turn the bathroom taps on and off as they were very stiff.
Cleanliness and bedding:
After arriving in our stateroom I had to ask for a hand towel to be replaced because it was dirty. This proved not to be an isolated incident and not confined to hand towels. And I once found strands of long hair in a hand towel. One day we received a note to say that all the stateroom carpets were to be cleaned whilst we were ashore. Not sure if they were because we still had some fluff on the carpet underneath the dressing room table that was there when we arrived.
The ship had plenty of hand hygiene dispensers, particularly outside the restaurants and eating areas but there appeared to be no staff stationed there to ask passengers to use them so most passengers did not.
One of our pillowcases had sports on it and was threadbare in places but my husband said we could put up with it which we did. By that time I did not want to inspect the rest of the bedding and just hoped it was okay. I had adopted the same attitude to the cultery until I noticed one lunch time that my knife and fork had congealed egg on them, most probably from the morning breakfast service.

Restaurants and food:
We ate mostly in the Rotterdam dining room. Overall very good but some food items which should have been hot were cold such as the beef wellington I had on one of the ship's formal nights. I had been looking forward to it because it is a dish I make at home on special occasions. I should have sent it back but my husband was busy tucking into his quail which he was enjoying and anyway I thought if I did, they might just put it into the microwave and, in doing so, over cook the beef fillet. At least I did not suffer the fate of a fellow passenger who had ordered a scandinavian breakfast one morning which arrived ice cold. I noticed that others have in the past complained about cold food on the Ryndam in their cruise reviews.
One of the worse meals we had was in the Italian restaurant Canaletto. We found it hard to book a table and thought we were lucky to be squeezed in the following evening, when we arrived the place was less than a third full and stayed that way. Service was poor - staff appeared to be bored with hardly anyone there to serve - and the food - suffice to say that we and others agreed that the best part of it was the mound of pink candy floss [cotton candy] which was served to each table after the dessert. Why serve it? Don't know but it was the only hit.

Biggest let down and rip-off was the Cellar Master's Dinner at the Pinnacle for which we paid an additional $69 each. The food for the most part was unremarkable. The wine and food parings unconvincing - more bistro than haute cruisine. I have since googled the wine choices and, as we suspected, the wines were from the cheaper end of the market and certainly tasted as much. As for the food, the only dish we liked was the forest mushroom soup with truffle and porcini foam. We would have also enjoyed the fillet of beef rossini, medallian of lamb and venison loin but in a seven course meal the last thing we needed was three large portions of meat, much larger than Europeans would expect. In sum, excess takes priority over finesse.

Very helpful and friendly except for the so called cellarmaster who was an overbearing, pompous, preening p**t. The reds served at the Cellar Master's Dinner were particularly diappointing because he had not left them to breathe sufficiently relying instead on a combination of decantering and placing a flame under each decanter to warm them up. He later explained (well, screeched at some length) to my husband and me that he did so to reduce the calories!! Bizarre explanation......Entertainment:
We were too late for the shows but did go up to the Crows' Nest a few times. Apart from the Motown night, there was hardly anyone on the dance floor and the so called Beatles night turned out to be Beatle songs sung by other bands. As others have said in past reviews, it was dead most nights.

What we found irritating was the background music, particularly in the Lido pool area which comprised solely of records by 1950s American crooners, presumably on the assumption that most of the passengers onboard would be Americans of a certain advanced age.

Ship's Tender Service:
The only tender service that the ship provided was to and from Visby. It was shambolic!! We all waited, as directed, in a very crowded Ocean Bar - standing for the most part, for more than an hour to get on and an hour in the hot sun for the return leg. We were all supposed to return to the ship by 2:30 pm but many people were still queuing up past 3 pm to get on a tender. The captain was present in the Ocean Bar but did not say anything. At no stage was an apology given much to the annoyance of passengers who had travelled on sister ships and/or other cruise companies.

In sum, we met many interesting people, visited spectacular ports but would not recommend the Ryndam and are doubtful about cruising again on HAL. Less

Published 08/09/12

Cabin review: DA648 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

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Port and Shore Excursions

Although there were hop on and off buses parked beside the ship and a hop on and off boat sightseeing terminal a few yards from the ship we, and many others, walked to the city centre aided by free maps distributed by the local tourist office representatives who met the ship. We were able to get to the royal palace within a comfortable 15 minutes walk, saw the changing of the guards and then continued to walk round the city for a few hours seeing all the sights. We also walked back to the ship. We did not have any Danish kroners and, if we had, we still would have walked because we like walking and Copenhagen is a relatively small place. The only problem we had was finding somewhere to buy postcards with our euros. The only shops that accepted euros where the shops at the ship's terminal, so I was able to buy postcards and stamps. There was also a postbox nearby to post my postcards. Tip - if you need the toilet [bathroom] go into a department store where you will not be charged. You will be charged in Stockholm.

We did not leave the ship because I had been there three times on business and my husband once. Those that did go ashore - it was raining very heavily - said there was not much to see. I would agree but, if you have never been there, take the shuttle service from the port and back. You will find the Finns very welcoming.
Read 610 Helsinki Reviews

We went on the Alla tour to Berlin, for just 115 euros each, so did not see much of Warnemunde apart from the docks. Others who had not gone to Berlin, wished they had. Because it takes so long to get there and back, the tour is essentially a bus tour with photo stops, providing just an "overview" of Berlin; but well worth it in our view. The only downsides were that we had only 20 minutes to have lunch and do some shopping and the "comfort" break was some four hours away!! At the start of our trip, the guide mentioned that we had a toilet on the coach but failed to mention that it was not in operation. When we returned to Warnemunde, the locals were holding a music festival by the ship. We loved it and we sampled the local Rostock beer which was on sale there along with wine. The beer was very good and strong. After we had dinner on board, the captain announced that the locals would be letting off fireworks to bid us farewell. Before they did so, they had lined up along the dock to sing and wave us goodbye. It was very emotional. A completely unexpected highlight of the cruise.

We went on a two-day Alla tour which was excellent, apart from the food. Alla split us up into three coach loads of around 14 people per coach. As we were a relatively small party, we got into everywhere with the minimum of delay. Our guide was excellent. In addition to the coach, we had a boat trip, went on the hydrofoil and travelled the underground [subway]. Before we left the UK, we bought £20 worth of roubles. We should not have bothered. The gift shop which Alla took us to accepted euros and dollars. There are shops in the cruise terminal and by the ship there is a duty-free shop where many people were buying bottles of vodka using dollars, euros and credit cards. Nobody had problems getting vodka on board.

The tourist office has a large outlet at the cruise terminal where you can collect free maps and buy souvenirs and bus tickets. If you are not going on one of the hop on and off buses or catching one of the taxis parked by the cruise terminal I would strongly recommend buying bus tickets in the terminal. We did not because there was a very long queue [line]. We were advised by a representative at the tourist office who was handing out the free maps to walk to the bus stop, less than 10 minutes, and use our credit card to buy our tickets. The bus stop, we noticed, is probably the only bus stop you will see with a machine whereby you can buy bus tickets. Unfortunately the machine was out of order so we walked and walked and walked. It took us 40 minutes to get to the Vasa museum - a must see - and a further 20 minutes to the Royal Palace and old town. We were walking quite quickly. When we arrived in the old town - which is relatively small - we met a couple who were on the cruise and they directed us to a tourist office where you can buy a strip of sixteen bus tickets for 200 kroners or 120 kroners if you are over 65 with your credit card. You can also buy strips at the cruise terminal along with a Copenhagen card which allows you "free" access to numerous sights. You can also buy individual tickets but bear in mind that from the ship to the centre you will be crossing two zones and, if you have a strip, two tickets will be stamped as opposed to one. The same thing will happen on your return. We went back into the centre the following day and saw the changing of the guards at the royal palace. It was quite an event. The guards were accompanied by a naval band. Needless to say, we bought our postcards and stamps at the cruise terminal where there is a postbox.

Ship was docked a five minute walk from the entrance to the old town. We downloaded a walking tour which we think was meant to take up two hours or more. In the event, it took less than that and we were glad we did it. Tallinn was certainly one of the highlights of the cruise. The local currency is euros - so no problem for us there. On the way back to the ship we passed the ferry terminal and watched the ferry passengers (not sure if they were from Finland, Denmark or Sweden but for the Scandinavians, Tallinn is the place to go for cheap shopping) go into a shopping mall in the ferry terminal. We went there to see what the fuss was about. Most of the outlets sold clothes and large bags of sweets [candies]. One shop sold cartons of cigarettes and beer. My husband gave into temptation and bought a 24 can pack of Saku export estonian beer at 5.2% strength for just over one euro per litre. He put it through the ship's scanner and there was no problem. We took the pack home with us and are sampling it now. Very good but not a patch on Rostock's.
Read 690 Tallinn Reviews

The tourist office is a few minutes walk from the docks and were very helpfully provided free maps and advice on what to see and how to get there. You can easily walk round some of the city walls and visit the main sights in an hour or less.
Read 32 Visby Reviews
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