I am not a usual contributor to review forums but I am struggling to reconcile the wonderful cruise just experienced on Volendam with these recent negative reviews on Cruise Critic. A strong influence on the enjoyment of any cruise will be the availability, cheerfulness and helpfulness of the ship’s crew and on Volendam from Vancouver to Sydney I thought it was outstanding.
The embarkation at Canada Place was very smooth (I have experienced more frustration in an airport departure lounge for only 200 passengers). The ship is not one of the modern two to three thousand passenger types, we had 1100 passengers which is an ideal size, large enough for always a full program of activities, yet small enough to frequently encounter acquaintances and friends made during the voyage. Although not a large modern cruise ship the design of public places, the fixtures and the furnishings are all very tastefully done, in fact a real pleasure to perambulate. Restaurant/buffet fare was very gluttony tempting and again excellent service (fancy a second entree - you can ask).
Theatre shows with a couple of exceptions were very entertaining and this passenger was surprised at the quality of the resident entertainer performances. Interesting lectures but sometimes the enrichment talks led into a persuasion to depleting ones wallet.There were six ports of call and three anchorages across the Pacific. Myself and friends went independently for shore excursions so cannot comment on organised excursions. I did hear some passengers complain that there were too many sea days but I suspect the same passengers may complain of too frequent ports of call on a different cruise. Very impressed with the efficiency of tender transport from anchor to uninhabited Mystery Island and to Iles De Pins. I would definitely recommend this relocation cruise from Northern summer to Australasian summer.
One thing that HAL has to improve is the quality and price of internet access. If airlines can offer good WiFi why can a ship not pick up good satellite internet service? In contrast Microsoft software workshops were very instructive and helpful, and librarian equally helpful. More exercycles in the gymnasium would have avoided waiting for me but that is a minor quibble.
I really appreciated how the cruise director, Tamryn, created an inclusive sense between crew and passengers. Bringing all the staff to the theatre stage and to the main restaurant was a nice touch to see appreciation flowing both ways. I also appreciated the humour (at times alarmingly sexist) of Barbara and her fellow judges at the Talent and Dancing with the Stars competitions.
With these principal staff members and wider cheerful helpful crew I fail to see how anyone would not enjoy a cruise on Volendam. All in all a wonderful cruise on a very enjoyable ship.