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We are experienced independent travelers who have recently started using cruises as a means of easily and cheaply getting from one place to another. We combined a 14-day segment from Istanbul to Barcelona (Istanbul, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Antalya, Port Said, Alexandria, Katakolon, Corfu, Messina, Naples, Barcelona) with another 14-day segment from Barcelona to Tampa (Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Funchal, Tampa). We arrived in Turkey a week early and flew to Cappadocia (somewhat overrated but worth a day or two) then on to Istanbul (a fantastic city). We stayed at the Azze Hotel. The Azze Hotel is very inexpensive and sits in a wonderful location a few steps from the "Tunel" Funicular which takes you right down to the Galata Bridge. The manager, Tugba (pronounced "Tuba") was a wonderful young lady with a pleasant attitude and many good suggestions. The main pedestrian shopping street and dining/bar scene is less than 6 minutes walk away. Embarkation was a breeze in Istanbul. No fuss, no muss. Just checked our luggage through and walked right on board. The Ryndam was just right for us. Not too big and not too small. She carried about 1,100 passengers on our cruise. She has simple, clean common areas with traditional works of art that give her interior an old-world feel. Her wrap-around teak promenade deck and wooden deck chairs harken back to a time when passenger ships still had class and style. Fresh, live plants and flowers are everywhere. Staff is constantly polishing wood and brass, cleaning windows and keeping decks and common areas clean. Our cabin (#651) was quite nice with only minor issues found (see separate cabin review). The activities on board were sub-par and the entertainment was of a typically mediocre cabaret quality. Exceptions included the Piano/Violin duo who provided a very pleasant respite of classical music. A personal peeve of ours was how loudly the "Halcats" would play poolside and how poor the lead singer was. The musicians were all very good but the lead singer had a talent for ruining most every song she hurled at the audience (songs we love in their original form). It seems volume was her stand-in for talent. Service in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was very good. We opted for the late seating on the upper level and were quite satisfied. The food was of a predictable, yet satisfactory quality with only a few off nights. We tried the extra-charge Grill once and were very disappointed. The steaks were tough and the vegetable sides came out limp and greasy as if they had been kept under a heat lamp for hours. Dessert was great. Overall, It was not worth it. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and helpful. Service in the bar areas was relaxed with no pressure to buy additional drinks. Many of the people working the Guest Services desk were poorly trained with many things lost in translation. Explaining a situation or fixing a problem could be frustrating. Although senior ship officers were generally friendly and competent, the youth and experience levels of many lesser managers left much room for improvement. Excellent self-esteem is not a substitute for professionalism. The library was large and well stocked with a good selection of books and periodicals. The librarian was pleasant and helpful. During the first segment of the cruise library patrons were generally well- mannered and quiet. Unfortunately, during the second segment (after Barcelona), the new batch of passengers were decidedly less polite -- often eating and talking loudly with no regard for others. The self-serve laundries were conveniently located on most cabin decks. Laundry detergent was included with use of the machine, (a nice surprise and rare on many ships). As usual, trips to the laundry could result in pleasant companionship or combative, territorial show-downs depending on the time of day and the direction of the wind. We traveled independently or used private and semi-private guide services for almost all of our shore excursions. They are as good and often far better than the ship's excursion services at one half to one third the price! The one ship's excursion we took in Funchal (Madiera) was a complete waste of time and money with an obnoxious tour guide and bland, tasteless tourist food for lunch. Of our various shore excursions, our favorites included the fabulous city of Ephesus (Kusadasi) and the astounding statues of the Antalya Museum in Turkey; the historic city of Corfu in Greece; the ancient cities of Taurmina (Messina) and Pompeii (Naples) in Italy; and the exceptional cities of Barcelona, Granada (Malaga) and Seville (Cadiz) in Spain. But the one excursion that towers above them all was our overnight trip to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours as our guide (see our separate shore excursion review for Cairo/Port Said and Alexandria). If you’re considering a shore excursion to Cairo, do yourself a favor and contact Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours. Just look him up on Tripadvisor or do a Google search. You'll be glad you did. The last night of the cruise was all smiles and happiness. The next morning it was clear that you were nothing but an impediment to getting the next group of passengers on board. "Good morning! (Hurry up and get off so I can get my job done.)" You get the picture. Disembarkation in Tampa was a disaster. Things were delayed for nearly two hours because one German couple did not hear the announcement or understand that they were required to appear in the showroom lounge for an immigration interview before all the other passengers could get off. No one of the staff thought to knock on their cabin door or make the announcement in German until the very end! Needless to say, many people missed their flights that day. In summary, we liked the cruise and loved the ports of call. We would recommend this cruise and the Ryndam for people who like a relatively quiet, mid-size ship with traditional touches and exciting destinations.  

28 Days from Istanbul to Tampa -- HAL Ryndam

Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Review by LilRoo

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2014
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Large Outside Stateroom (partial sea views)
We are experienced independent travelers who have recently started using cruises as a means of easily and cheaply getting from one place to another.
We combined a 14-day segment from Istanbul to Barcelona (Istanbul, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Antalya, Port Said, Alexandria, Katakolon, Corfu, Messina, Naples, Barcelona) with another 14-day segment from Barcelona to Tampa (Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Funchal, Tampa).
We arrived in Turkey a week early and flew to Cappadocia (somewhat overrated but worth a day or two) then on to Istanbul (a fantastic city). We stayed at the Azze Hotel. The Azze Hotel is very inexpensive and sits in a wonderful location a few steps from the "Tunel" Funicular which takes you right down to the Galata Bridge. The manager, Tugba (pronounced "Tuba") was a wonderful young lady with a pleasant attitude and many good suggestions. The main pedestrian shopping street and dining/bar scene is less than 6 minutes walk away.
Embarkation was a breeze in Istanbul. No fuss, no muss. Just checked our luggage through and walked right on board.
The Ryndam was just right for us. Not too big and not too small. She carried about 1,100 passengers on our cruise. She has simple, clean common areas with traditional works of art that give her interior an old-world feel. Her wrap-around teak promenade deck and wooden deck chairs harken back to a time when passenger ships still had class and style. Fresh, live plants and flowers are everywhere. Staff is constantly polishing wood and brass, cleaning windows and keeping decks and common areas clean.
Our cabin (#651) was quite nice with only minor issues found (see separate cabin review).
The activities on board were sub-par and the entertainment was of a typically mediocre cabaret quality. Exceptions included the Piano/Violin duo who provided a very pleasant respite of classical music.
A personal peeve of ours was how loudly the "Halcats" would play poolside and how poor the lead singer was. The musicians were all very good but the lead singer had a talent for ruining most every song she hurled at the audience (songs we love in their original form). It seems volume was her stand-in for talent.
Service in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was very good. We opted for the late seating on the upper level and were quite satisfied. The food was of a predictable, yet satisfactory quality with only a few off nights. We tried the extra-charge Grill once and were very disappointed. The steaks were tough and the vegetable sides came out limp and greasy as if they had been kept under a heat lamp for hours. Dessert was great. Overall, It was not worth it.
Our cabin stewards were very friendly and helpful. Service in the bar areas was relaxed with no pressure to buy additional drinks.
Many of the people working the Guest Services desk were poorly trained with many things lost in translation. Explaining a situation or fixing a problem could be frustrating. Although senior ship officers were generally friendly and competent, the youth and experience levels of many lesser managers left much room for improvement. Excellent self-esteem is not a substitute for professionalism.
The library was large and well stocked with a good selection of books and periodicals. The librarian was pleasant and helpful. During the first segment of the cruise library patrons were generally well- mannered
and quiet. Unfortunately, during the second segment (after Barcelona), the new batch of passengers were decidedly less polite -- often eating and talking loudly with no regard for others.
The self-serve laundries were conveniently located on most cabin decks. Laundry detergent was included with use of the machine, (a nice surprise and rare on many ships). As usual, trips to the laundry could result in pleasant companionship or combative, territorial show-downs depending on the time of day and the direction of the wind.
We traveled independently or used private and semi-private guide services for almost all of our shore excursions. They are as good and often far better than the ship's excursion services at one half to one third the price! The one ship's excursion we took in Funchal (Madiera) was a complete waste of time and money with an obnoxious tour guide and bland, tasteless tourist food for lunch.
Of our various shore excursions, our favorites included the fabulous city of Ephesus (Kusadasi) and the astounding statues of the Antalya Museum in Turkey; the historic city of Corfu in Greece; the ancient cities of Taurmina (Messina) and Pompeii (Naples) in Italy; and the exceptional cities of Barcelona, Granada (Malaga) and Seville (Cadiz) in Spain. But the one excursion that towers above them all was our overnight trip to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours as our guide (see our separate shore excursion review for Cairo/Port Said and Alexandria).
If you’re considering a shore excursion to Cairo, do yourself a favor and contact Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours. Just look him up on Tripadvisor or do a Google search. You'll be glad you did.
The last night of the cruise was all smiles and happiness. The next morning it was clear that you were nothing but an impediment to getting the next group of passengers on board. "Good morning! (Hurry up and get off so I can get my job done.)" You get the picture.
Disembarkation in Tampa was a disaster. Things were delayed for nearly two hours because one German couple did not hear the announcement or understand that they were required to appear in the showroom lounge for an immigration interview before all the other passengers could get off. No one of the staff thought to knock on their cabin door or make the announcement in German until the very end! Needless to say, many people missed their flights that day.
In summary, we liked the cruise and loved the ports of call. We would recommend this cruise and the Ryndam for people who like a relatively quiet, mid-size ship with traditional touches and exciting destinations.
 
LilRoo’s Full Rating Summary
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Dining
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Cabin Review

Large Outside Stateroom (partial sea views)
Cabin DD 651
PROS: Clean, roomy for two (larger than most standard ocean-view cabins on other lines), nice sitting area and work/makeup counter, good size bathroom with shower and tub large enough to be quite functional, good size window, comfortable bed, plenty of closet space and under-bed space for clothes and suitcases. Cabin is far enough from the stern that engine vibration and mechanical noises are kept to a minimum while underway. CONS: The steward's utility closet is nearby across the hall. As soon as room servicing begins around 7:30am each morning, the noise from scooping ice into buckets acts as a second alarm clock. Window shelf and curtains show significant wear and are in need of replacement. Cabin is just below the Promenade deck so muffled walking and moving of deck chairs can be heard from time to time (in addition to the early morning hose-down of the deck). Mechanical noises can be heard when docking but are much more subdued than the noise in cabins further aft.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Egypt Over Night
    Our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours included the Pyramids at Giza and the Great Sphinx. These iconic structures are truly impressive and are a must-see. If you plan to go inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops (a steep extra charge) be aware that it is usually very crowded, hot, and stuffy. If you are the least bit claustrophobic, don't do it. When we went you could only access the Great Gallery and the King's Chamber. It was actually a bit of a letdown. If you have the time, you may want to go inside the Red Pyramid at Dashur instead. The Red Pyramid was built by the father of Cheops and is almost as big and is very similar to the Great Pyramid. It also has a Great Gallery that goes downward instead of upward and is absolutely free of charge with no crowds or hustlers anywhere in sight. We stayed overnight at the Mena House Hotel, a wonderful old hotel/hunting lodge right next to the Pyramids. We also experienced a falluca ride on the Nile and places such as the City of the Dead, The Citadel/Mosque of Mohammed Ali, The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the Bazaar, Old/Islamic Cairo, and many parts of the city that few westerners see. Experiencing the back streets of the city and the fabulous works of art in the Museum of Antiquities was fascinating. Walking the Bazaar, and the streets of Old/Islamic Cairo after dark was a wonderful experience. Stopping in various mosques and taking the time to talk with locals was a highlight. Egyptians are a warm and friendly people. Get to know them, their culture, and their language a little better and you will be rewarded tenfold.
    View All 4 Egypt Over Night Reviews
  • Egyptian Museum
    During our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours we experienced a falluca ride on the Nile and places such as the City of the Dead, The Citadel/Mosque of Mohammed Ali, The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the Bazaar, Old/Islamic Cairo, and many parts of the city that few westerners see. Experiencing the back streets of the city and the fabulous works of art in the Museum of Antiquities was fascinating. Walking the Bazaar, and the streets of Old/Islamic Cairo after dark was a wonderful experience. Stopping in various mosques and taking the time to talk with locals was a highlight. Egyptians are a warm and friendly people. Get to know them, their culture, and their language a little better and you will be rewarded tenfold.It's truly a shame that the Museum of Antiquities is in such poor condition. The artifacts are amazing, the museum's condition is a travesty.
    View All 1 Egyptian Museum Reviews
  • Pyramids & Nile Cruise
    Our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours included the Pyramids at Giza and the Great Sphinx. These iconic structures are truly impressive and are a must-see. If you plan to go inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops (a steep extra charge) be aware that it is usually very crowded, hot, and stuffy. If you are the least bit claustrophobic, don't do it. When we went you could only access the Great Gallery and the King's Chamber. It was actually a bit of a letdown. If you have the time, you may want to go inside the Red Pyramid at Dashur instead. The Red Pyramid was built by the father of Cheops and is almost as big and is very similar to the Great Pyramid. It also has a Great Gallery that goes downward instead of upward and is absolutely free of charge with no crowds or hustlers anywhere in sight. We also experienced a falluca ride on the Nile and places such as the City of the Dead, The Citadel/Mosque of Mohammed Ali, The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the Bazaar, Old/Islamic Cairo, and many parts of the city that few westerners see. Experiencing the back streets of the city and the fabulous works of art in the Museum of Antiquities was fascinating. Walking the Bazaar, and the streets of Old/Islamic Cairo after dark was a wonderful experience. Stopping in various mosques and taking the time to talk with locals was a highlight. Egyptians are a warm and friendly people. Get to know them, their culture, and their language a little better and you will be rewarded tenfold.
    View All 2 Pyramids & Nile Cruise Reviews
  • City Tour
    During our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours we experienced a falluca ride on the Nile and places such as the City of the Dead, The Citadel/Mosque of Mohammed Ali, The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the Bazaar, Old/Islamic Cairo, and many parts of the city that few westerners see. Experiencing the back streets of the city and the fabulous works of art in the Museum of Antiquities was fascinating. Walking the Bazaar, and the streets of Old/Islamic Cairo after dark was a wonderful experience. Stopping in various mosques and taking the time to talk with locals was a highlight. Egyptians are a warm and friendly people. Get to know them, their culture, and their language a little better and you will be rewarded tenfold.
    View All 7 City Tour Reviews
  • Memphis Walking Tour
    We blasted through Memphis because there is nothing there but a felled statue of Ramses and the completely barren location of the once great capital city of Egypt. It's worth maybe 30 minutes.
    View All 4 Memphis Walking Tour Reviews
  • Pyramids
    Our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours included the Pyramids at Giza and the Great Sphinx. These iconic structures are truly impressive and are a must-see. If you plan to go inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops (a steep extra charge) be aware that it is usually very crowded, hot, and stuffy. If you are the least bit claustrophobic, don't do it. When we went you could only access the Great Gallery and the King's Chamber. It was actually a bit of a letdown. If you have the time, you may want to go inside the Red Pyramid at Dashur instead. The Red Pyramid was built by the father of Cheops and is almost as big and is very similar to the Great Pyramid. It also has a Great Gallery that goes downward instead of upward and is absolutely free of charge with no crowds or hustlers anywhere in sight.
    View All 16 Pyramids Reviews
  • Pyramids
    Our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours included a wonderful side trip to Dashur to see the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. You must see these remarkable structures. They are nearly as big as the more famous Pyramids at Giza but they are far more interesting and no one is there! No crowds, no hustlers, and no cost. Go!
    View All 16 Pyramids Reviews
  • Sakkara Walking Tour
    Our overnight shore excursion to Cairo with Samir Abbass of Real Egypt Tours included a wonderful side trip to Saqqara (Sakkara) to see the Step Pyramid as well as the many fantastic temples, cemeteries, and mastabas. You must see these remarkable structures. They are beuatifully carved and painted. Some carvings/paintings are so preserved as to appear nearly new!
    View All 5 Sakkara Walking Tour Reviews