Volendam Cruise Review by Kala89
- Sail Date: April 2015
- Destination: Asia
Our cabin had lots of storage space. The newly installed lanai cabins had great new showers and we enjoyed the amenities like lotions and soaps. It was nice to have the shelves on the bathroom wall and the shelf under the sink. We did find that the thermostat made no difference to the temperature in the room. Since dry dock in December and the installation of the lanai cabins, the ship had obviously not sailed in cold temperatures. As soon as we left Japan and the weather cooled off, our cabin was freezing. A lot of cold air was coming in under the lanai door. Our stewards put wet towels on the door sill and that helped. We informed the front desk and they sent someone fairly promptly who checked our air conditioning. After several days of cold temps, weather stripping was installed around the lanai doors and this helped a lot. Meanwhile the front office phoned everyday to ask us about the temperature and they checked the room twice/day to monitor it. We were satisfied with how this was handled. There were also common areas on the ship that were very cold - particularly the Lido cafeteria. Servers there were wearing coats. The lanai door was very heavy and difficult to open and close. There was not sufficient space for your hand on the handle. Both of us jammed our hands between the handle and the door frame which caused our wedding rings to be crushed to ovals. We had to take them to a jeweler when we got home to have them straightened.
We found the staff very friendly. There seemed to be good morale on board. Our cabin stewards, Dedi (big Daddy) and Joko were the best. They learned our names on the first day and called us by name whenever they saw us. They kept the room clean, responded promptly to requests and did a great job of chatting to the guests to smooth over problems.
We very much enjoyed the evening shows. The performances by the HAL cast had beautiful costumes. We also enjoyed the violinist, Kateryna Sychova; pianist, Maiko Mori; and the Unexpected Boys. The Dancing with the Stars Competition seemed to reward those with the most popularity rather than their dancing ability. We often found that several things were scheduled at the same time and it was difficult to choose which one to attend. I was very disappointed that the Royal Dutch tea was scheduled on a port day when we were off the ship for an excursion. We very much enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar every night. They played music that was both easy to dance and listen to. The Dansant tea in the showroom with music, dancing and tea on the last afternoon was a new, welcome activity. The results of the model ship-building competition were lots of fun to watch.
Everyday we looked forward to attending the lectures. We really enjoyed Dr. George Sranko's talks. He was down to earth, humorous, and informative. Another great addition was the "On Location" guide, David Happe. He gave very informative, well-balanced presentations about the various ports and their history. He also provided good information about transportation, etc. for independent travelers. Mr. Ishibaru gave great insight into Japanese culture and we particularly enjoyed the demonstration of how to dress in a kimono.
We enjoyed the food although the soups were very salty. It was really nice to have lobster on the menu on formal nights. For the most part service in the dining room was satisfactory. We appreciated being able to walk in at whatever time and secure a table. Occasionally we requested a table for 2 and were dismayed to be seated at a table that was only inches from another table for 2. It was awkward to know whether to converse with the other guests or if they wanted privacy.
We liked the daily updates from the captain about our location, weather and sea conditions. Cruise Director Carlos made announcements only twice/day so it was nice to not be bombarded by announcements. I felt that this cruise had less emphasis on buying merchandise and photos than previous cruises.
We took 4 HAL excursions. They were expensive but they were of very good quality with good guides and worthwhile sights. There were issues with the tenders when we were in Kodiak. Some people waited for many hours before getting off the ship. We were lucky to have a HAL excursion that day and were only delayed by 1/2 hour.
We really appreciated having a self-serve laundry available on such a long voyage. It was always busy but the machines were all in working condition.
Because of its smaller size, the Volendam was able to dock in excellent locations near the centre of cities, particularly in Shanghai and Tokyo.
Disembarkation was efficient and timely. We took the expedited option and had no problem getting our luggage into the terminal.
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