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Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
350 Reviews

Fabulous Voyage of the Midnight Sun

Ryndam (Retired) Cruise Review by JD in MD

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jul 2015
  • Destination: Norwegian Fjords
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom

We are seasoned cruisers and, although Holland America is not our favorite cruise line, we like the smaller size of their ships and often take their cruises.

Having traveled from Heathrow to Harwich in a hired car (247 Airport Transfer) with some wonderful new Cruise Critic friends, our stay at the immaculate Premier Inn the night before the cruise was pleasant. Although there is not much to the town, the restaurant at the hotel had a friendly atmosphere. Several of the us Cruise Critic people staying at the Inn tried to meet in the lobby of the Inn but there wasn't much of a lobby and we were so tired from traveling, we decided to meet again at the Meet and Greet on the ship.

This being our 24th cruise, we were worried about the noro virus we heard was rampant on the Ryndam. HA even brought the previous cruise back a day early to sanitize the ship and our cruise left later than usual. Holland America compensated us $50/passenger for the delay which I thought was very nice. Embarkation was a very slow process. We followed HA's request and arrived later so they could finish sanitizing the ship. The crew worked very hard finishing the cleaning. Hence, they were not available for the embarkation so it took a long time to get on the ship. As far as we knew, no one got the noro virus although for the first 3 days of the cruise, many precautions were taken. For example, there was no salt or pepper on the tables, you were served in the buffet, you could not get your own drinks at the service bars in the buffet, and we couldn't even exchange papers during the Trivia games. Yes, it was inconvenient but getting the virus would have been more inconvenient. My husband and I are grateful to HA for their efforts. After 3 days everything returned to the usual.

Our Meet and Greet was the next day which was a sea day. I was surprised that no one from HA attended but, then again, the precautions against the noro virus kept many doing duties they were normally not responsible for.

Our ocean view cabin was well located on the Main deck and always immaculate except for the dirty outside window. There was plenty of storage, the bed was quite comfortable, and our cabin stewards were so willing to please.

The food in the main dining room was a bit of a disappointment for the few 2 days as my husband and I found the beef was stringy and a little tough but after ordering other entrees, I found that food excellent. Our waiter, Toto seemed to prefer always serving his other tables first rather than ours. We started off with 3 people at our scenic window table then grew to 5 people but none of us were 5 stars. Could that be why?

The food in the Lido (buffet) was always varied and delicious. We celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary in the Pinnacle and our steaks were cooked to perfection. A group of us decided to eat in the Canaletto specialty restaurant one night and all 11 of us were disappointed in the quality and choices. My husband and I have eaten in the Canaletto on other HA ships and enjoyed it.

The entertainment was fabulous, in my opinion. My favorite is always the singers and dancers and they were the best we have seen in our 24 cruises. The other entertainment was varied and well chosen. The cruise director did a fabulous job.

My husband and I did take several computer classes offered on sea days. Mike, the computer tech had such patience with me for which I am grateful, not being computer savvy with Windows 8.1.

As for the ports, almost all of our excursions were private through cruisingexcursions.com. We have used them before and find their excursions to be cheaper, smaller groups, and cover most of the sights in a port.

Our first port was Alesund, Norway. We had been to Alesund last year on a cruise, so this was a repeat for us. I wish we had last year's weather though. This time it was rainy and very foggy. We did the same excursion as last year (Introduction to Alesund Highlights) although this year we couldn't quite see Alesund from the viewpoint because of the fog and the rain. Be sure to look for the decorative drain covers in the street as you walk along the narrow streets of this turret and spired medieval town.

Next was Trondheim. We didn't plan any excursions here and decided to walk around town on our own. We walked to the Gothic-style Nidaros Cathedral which is the largest church in Northern Europe and to the Old Town Bridge. We had a pleasant walk through the shops and outdoor markets.

When we arrived in Tromso, our next port, my husband and I raced to take bus #26 to the cable car to avoid the long lines. We were grateful for the free shuttle into town. Yes, we arrived at the Fjellhelsens around 8:45 just to learn they did not open until 10 A.M! So we waited. It was definitely worth it. The view was spectacular. Tromso is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. After the cable car ride down, we walked to the Arctic Cathedral which has the largest stained-glass window in Europe. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were closed for a funeral so we couldn't go inside. In my research for this cruise, someone suggested taking the Arctic train. Don't bother it was a disappointment. It's a little sight-seeing train that takes you around town. Because we were only in Tromso until 3 P.M., we missed going to Polaria, the Polar Museum and the Arctic-Alpine Garden. Next time........

Honningsvag is a tiny town but everyone goes there to go to North Cape which is the northernmost point in Europe. So that is what we did. Cruisingexcursions.com cancelled our excursion a month before the cruise because they couldn't get enough people. Thanks to a recommendation by another CC person, we booked with bookfinnmark.com for the same exact excursion and it was cheaper! Unfortunately, they couldn't control the fog. The bus ride took about an hour just to see nothing but fog. Luckily the Visitors' Center is quite well done with a large cinema with an audio-visual show, a church, an art gallery, and a Thai temple along with a coffee shop, bar, and a gift shop. After our return to town, we went to a primitive Ice Bar which I highly recommend. After you put on these insulated ponchos, you enter a room to experience what it would be like in the winter time there. Your admission (about $18) includes 2 non-alcoholic drinks from shot glasses made of ice. There are ice tables, walls, benches, and an igloo filled with reindeer skins. It was awesome. When the ship left port that night, it circled around to North Cape which, by that time, was as clear as could be. From the deck of our ship, we could see the tourists up around the huge globe and outside the Visitor Center. Oh, boy! Were they lucky there was no fog for them!

After another sea day we arrived in Molde. Our excursion, "Sightseeing and Scenic Drive to Atlantic Road" did not start off well. The bus driver couldn't be found. So we were given an impromptu walking tour while we waited for another driver. Molde was having Europe's biggest jazz festival so there were tents and stalls and people all over and a very festive atmosphere. Finally the bus arrived and we were off to the Atlantic Road which was a bit of a disappointment until I watched a video about the road after we returned from the cruise. We only traveled part of the road from island to island. We didn't ride to where the mainland ends and the ocean begins. In the video the ocean was washing up onto the road and over the cars. The ocean was calm when we were there so our excursion did not turn into a thrill ride. Afterward, we walked around Molde.

We looked forward to arriving in Geiranger again although last summer we got to use the sea wall but this time, we were tendered. We repeated the "Eagle Road, Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint and Mount Dalsnibba" excursion but the fog stopped us again from looking down from the viewpoint atop Mt. Dalsnibba. The other viewpoints were under he fog so they were much better. We were surprised at how much snow still remained. Last year we have pictures of a beautiful blue/green lake as we climbed the mountain. This time it was all snow. After the excursion we did make another stop at the chocolate shop (Geiranger Sjokolade) and then walked around town choosing not to climb to Geiranger's 1842 octagonal wooden church. The highlight of Geiranger is the sail in and out of the fjord. Absolutely gorgeous and so picturesque.

Our next to last port was Flam. I had organized a ride on the Flamsbana train (visitflam.com) for 22 CC people. We booked and paid in advance and had our seats saved (Cruise Critic signs were in the windows). The train takes you roundtrip from Flam to Myrdal and back to Flam, up the valley with incredible scenery and a stop at a fantastic waterfall for photographs. We waited for the music and watched the fairies dressed in red dance around for a few minutes. After the train ride we walked around town and took the little tourist train into the tiny town of Flam.

Our final port was Bergen, Norway's largest port and our final excursion was "Bergen Panoramic Tour." It was informative. After that we were determined to ride the funicular. Not discouraged by the long line, it only took us about 45 minutes from the time we got on the line until we entered the funicular for our ride to the top of Mt. Floein. The view was breathtaking. Besides the view there is shopping and a restaurant. After the ride down, we walked through Old Bergen and Bergen's fish market. With 5 ships in port that day, Bergen was very crowded so we headed back to our ship.

Our arrival back to Harwich and the end of our cruise would have been sad but we were being picked up by our good British friends whom we met on a cruise several years ago and spending the day with them. Disembarkation was right on schedule. We requested to be off the ship between 8:15 and 8:45. We were off by 8:25. Thank you HA for a great cruise.


JD in MD's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin DA 545

Our cabin was always immaculate. There was plenty of storage.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

After a brief ride through this medieval town, we were taken to a special viewpoint where we should have been able to look down on Alesund and see the surrounding fjords and mountains. Unfortunately, the rain and fog prevented this. The town was very walkable.

View All undefined undefined Reviews
Tromso

We were grateful for the free shuttle into town. We hurried to take bus #26 to the cable car to avoid the long lines. Yes, we arrived at the Fjellhelsens around 8:45 that morning just to learn they did not open until 10 A.M! So we waited. It was definitely worth it. The view was spectacular. Tromso is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. After the cable car ride down, we walked to the Arctic Cathedral which has the largest stained-glass window in Europe. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were closed for a funeral so we couldn't go inside. In my research for this cruise, someone suggested taking the Arctic train. Don't bother it was a disappointment.

Trondheim

We walked to the Gothic-style Nidaros Cathedral which is the largest church in Northern Europe and to the Old Town Bridge. We had a pleasant walk through the shops and outdoor markets.

Mount Dalsnibba

We did the Eagle Road, Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint and Mount Dalsnibba" excursion again with cruising excursions.com. The fog stopped us from looking down from the viewpoint atop Mt. Dalsnibba. The other viewpoints were under the fog so they were much better. We were surprised at how much snow still remained. After the excursion we did make a stop at the chocolate shop (Geiranger Sjokolade) in town and then walked around Geiranger. The highlight of Geiranger is the sail in and out of the fjord. Absolutely gorgeous and so picturesque.

View All 75 Mount Dalsnibba Reviews
Flam Railway

I had organized a ride on the Flamsbana train (visitflam.com) for 22 CC people. We booked and paid in advance and had our seats saved (Cruise Critic signs were in the windows). The train takes you roundtrip from Flam to Myrdal and back to Flam, up the valley with incredible scenery and a stop at a fantastic waterfall for photographs. We waited for the music and watched the fairies dressed in red dance around for a few minutes. After the train ride we walked around town and took the little tourist train into the tiny town of Flam.

View All 212 Flam Railway Reviews
Mount Floyen

our final excursion was "Bergen Panoramic Tour." It was informative. After that we were determined to ride the funicular. Not discouraged by the long line, it only took us about 45 minutes from the time we got on the line until we entered the funicular for our ride to the top of Mt. Floein. The view was breathtaking. Besides the view there is shopping and a restaurant. After the ride down, we walked through Old Bergen and Bergen's fish market. With 5 ships in port that day, Bergen was very crowded so we headed back to our ship.

View All 56 Mount Floyen Reviews

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JD in MD
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