Although this is my first review on Cruise Critic, we have cruised with other lines in the past and made use of the site in order to assist us in our planning. On this occasion, I have decided to try and leave information for other travellers and would add it is our first cruise with Holland America Line. It is a great pity that the Ryndam is being transferred to the P&O Southern Fleet very soon now and is likely to be renamed. All the above being said, I will now commence my review.
We live within one hour's travel of the port of Liverpool and had hoped to book a cruise from this location. However, an excellent deal became available to cruise on the Ryndam from Harwich to the Norwegian Fjords and we could not say no to it. We arranged car parking with the port over the telephone and they were very helpful. After a 7 hour drive, we arrived at the port on the day of our departure and I must say that I was very impressed by the smooth operation of bag drop, parking and bus transfer to check-in- compliments to Harwich International Port.
Hal check-in proved to be just as good and, in our experience, is the best we have had, being very smooth and well organised. We were soon able to drop the small amount of hand luggage in our cabin and make our way to the Lido for some lunch. On our return from lunch, our main cases had been placed in our cabin, so we spent some time unpacking before we attended the welcome meeting.
The Cruise Director gave an outline of the activities, meetings and events that would be on offer during the week and drew our attention to the information sheets that would be left in the cabin on a daily bases, plus the other material available also in the cabin. All this information was supplemented by a daily update by both the Captain and the Cruise Director over the ship's PA system.
I think at this point rather than sound too pompous, plus go on too much ,I will sum up with some final points and, if anyone would like further information, please contact me and I will try to help.
The ship is in excellent condition for its age and is well maintained, all the crew appeared to take pride in their work and the condition of the ship.
After the disappointing first night on open dinning (due to waiting for staff to show you to your table), we changed to a fixed time and experienced no problems for the rest of the cruise. Our table was for just the two of us and we did not experience the slow service described by others in the same position. Note that Hal provide a free cabin service-- we did not use this, but noted that a number of fellow cruisers did. We decided to use the main dining room for all our dinners- however, please note that the food on offer in the more relaxed area of the ship is just the same and, whilst I note some people seem disappointed with the menu, we found the standard, type, variation and service all to be excellent. I also note that some people had problems with Wine Waiter service and Dinner service and, again, all I can add is that we did not encounter any of these problems.
As a final note, I need to add that we did not experience any "norovirus" problems- however, a fellow cruiser's comment "I do not need to use the gel as I washed my hands before I left my cabin" I think they may have forgotten about the door handle, lift button or stair rail/banister they may have used on the way to the restaurant!
We found wine charged by the glass to be reasonable and had already purchased a 'Soda Card' prior to boarding, which proved to be great value. In addition, the Sip and Savour events held throughout the cruise were very informative and reasonably priced.
There was no forced spending in any areas and I again wonder if we were on the same cruise as some others, but activities were available if you wanted to use them, including a Captain's talk about the ship, explaining that he had used the "Stabilisers" when he know we were going into a slight swell.
Entertainment-wise, we felt that this was of a high standard and varied throughout the week. We were particularly impressed by the musicians located in the various bars throughout the ship. Our only criticism on this topic would be that the Showroom-at-Sea is not big enough to take all guests from both dinner settings, which happens twice during the week on board. Therefore, guests on the later sitting are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding an empty seat in there!
As far as the scenery is concerned, it is simply breathtaking and not to be missed. All ports of call are well worth a visit and the Norwegian people that we encountered were warm and friendly. They are very proud of their country and rightly so! However, we found the prices for shore excursions organised by HAL to be grossly inflated and would strongly recommend investigating alternative tour providers, as we did.
My penultimate point- the ship's Photographers were excellent. I take a poor picture and even managed to mess up some of our wedding photographs, but they managed to position us in such a way that we now have some very nice photographs (not sure his camera is still ok,though!)
Final point- I hope that HAL will sail again form a UK port in the future and, even if they do not, I hope that we are able to sail with them again soon.
We had a stern cabin with a bath and full size window over the Promenade deck- this proved to be an excellent location and was larger than the cabins we have experienced on other ships. Our two cabin stewards were attentive, friendly and efficient throughout the cruise, without being intrusive.
Did not look around Harwich therefore unable to comment.
Part of the tour was by coach and part was on foot. We had a friendly and knowledgeable local guide and the tour was informative. It left us with time to explore the town and to go up Mount Floyen before making our way back to the ship.View All 136 City Tour Reviews
An excellent tour with a friendly and knowledgeable guide. The view points are spectacular and well worth the visit.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Excellent and friendly local guide. The tour took us by coach to the Islands and around some of the town. It was well worth the time and good valueView All undefined undefined Reviews