Volendam Cruise Review by TTLam
- Sail Date: March 2017
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Landed into Narita Airport 2 days prior to embarkation, took the Narita Express Train to Yokohama (4290 YEN/$38USD). We stayed at Hotel Monterey Yokohama, which is only 4 large blocks away from the cruise terminal.
Narita Express Train: HIGHLY recommend. Train leaves airport roughly every half an hour. Yokohama was either 5th or 6th stop but there's TV screens about every 20ft down the main aisle that shows you what stops are coming up so youowon't miss your stop. There are also announcements in english. Ticket booth to purchase tickets are right when you exit the baggage claim area. Seat number & car numbers are on your ticket. Make sure you are in the correct car number because some of the cars splits throughout the route.
From the main Yokohama Train Station, we took the Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai station [~5 stops away, 8 minutes total], this station was the closest to the hotel, about 6-8 blocks away.
Hotel: ~$140 USD per night booked through Expedia. Check in and out was easy. Employees spoke basic English. We had a non-smoking room but there were definitely still a lingering scent of smoke. We cracked open the window, turned on the fan and went out to dinner. By the time we got back, it was better. Great central location for the price! On embarkation day, hotel held our luggage for us (free) while we went out for breakfast and a little bit of exploring before we got on the ship.
Volendam Ship: The main Cruise Critic review of this ship is pretty spot on. A bit outdated but honestly, I'm on this cruise to explore a different country. My onboard spending for 14 days was 1/3 of what it was on a previous 7-day Alaska cruise. I spent as much time on land as possible.
Dining: I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the food. Both the lido deck and the dining room did not exceed my expectations. Above average but just not quite up to the Holland America standard that I was hoping for. **At least on 5 different occasions, drinking cups were not readily available at the drink station closest to the table I was at. Very minor issue since you can just walk over to the other 3 drink stations but little things like this can irk you if it keeps happening.
Service: Holland America crew consistently go above and beyond.
****CHANGE IN ITINERARY ****
Due to the "foggy" weather [pollution], Shanghai's pilot station closed down temporally. Once they opened it back up, the water level in the Yangtze River wasn't quite high enough for us to leave. We spent a good ~6 hours sitting at the mouth of the Yangtze River. Wasn't safe to speed up to make it to Naha, Japan so the ship skipped it and got into Keelung, Taipei half a day early.
I'll do separate reviews for the 9 ports that we stopped in. Keep an eye out for them if you're interested.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Hong KongThis was our disembarkation port.View All 318 Hong Kong Cruise Port Reviews
Got into Kowloon port around 5pm: took free shuttle from port to Plaza Hollywood Shopping building, the basement of this building is the Diamond Hill metro station. Took metro to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, walked around and made our way to the Star Ferry Terminal. Took the 15 minute ferry ($2.50 HKD = $0.30 USD) across the channel. BEST USE OF 30 CENTS EVER!! The scenery is just beautiful at night! Didn't have any plans for anything on HK Island but I definitely wanted to use the ferry and would highly recommend to anyone! Took ferry back, walked down Nathan Road for a bit of exploring, took Taxi back to Port.
There's plenty of reviews on using Taxis from Port to Airport so I won't write too much about that. ~$50 USD for 1 taxi: 3 adults, 5 suitcases & 1 carry-on. I was pleasantly surprised that the single taxi was able to handle it all!! We were prepared to split into 2 taxi if need be.
View Cruise Critic's Hong Kong Cruise Port Review
HualienTaroko National Park: Bulowan, Swallow's Grotto, Eternal Spring ShrineView All 4 Hualien Cruise Port Reviews
Took taxi (~$8 USD) from Port to the main public Bus Station. This public shuttle bus runs all the way to Tiansiang and you can get off and on at about 10 different stops between there and the main Taroko Visitor Center. It runs approximately every hour from about 8:00 to 17:00 [though not on the hour], NT$250 per person unlimited hop on hop off.
**ADVICE** A taxi gal bargained with us at the public bus station and offered us 6 hours of service any stops, anywhere in Taroko area for NT $2,000. She eventually lowered down to NT $1,700. If you're able to bargain a 6 hour taxi service for this price, TAKE IT! The shuttle was great but each time you hop off, you're committing to ~40-70 minutes at each stop until the next shuttle comes through.
View Cruise Critic's Hualien Cruise Port Review
KaohsiungWe joined a private 8 seat tour to see the Buddhist Monastery at Fokuansham (an hour away) and then the Lotus Lake. We had 7 people so the price break down was $60 USD per person, which was reasonable for us for a 5 hour trip.View All 12 Kaohsiung Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Kaohsiung Cruise Port Review
OsakaTook train into Kyoto (50 minute ride) to check out Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. During my trip, I visited ~7 different shrines, this one was the best and most intricate!View All 40 Osaka Cruise Port Reviews
Came back to Osaka and went to Osaka Castle.
* I would NOT recommend Osaka Castle. There are so many more beautiful and better castles in Japan. This was highly tourist-y, everyone's compacted into 6 story building so there's slight shoving. Sunpu Castle Park in Shimizu is TEN TIMES BETTER!!
View Cruise Critic's Osaka Cruise Port Review
ShanghaiThere's 2 ports in Shanghai, since the Volendam is smaller, we were able to use the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal (NOT the further away Wusongkou one).View All 113 Shanghai Cruise Port Reviews
Free shuttle available to take you from ship to North of The Bund (Huangpu Park area). I did not use this shuttle.
I walked over to the nearest railway station about 4 blocks away and made my way towards the main local bus station on Yan An East Road. Bus ride to
Zhu jia jio Water Town is about 50 minutes. Main entrance is about 10 minutes walk from the bus drop off point. Great place to spend 3-4 hours: lots of little shops in side alleys to peruse, lots of treats to snack on. I would rate this attraction 7/10
Got back to ship about 4pm, rested a bit, had dinner. Came back out to town around 7pm, took train to explore Nanxiang Road, walked back to the ship taking The Bund pathway. IT'S BEAUTIFUUULLLLL!!!
***If you need help or advice with specific train/bus stations and routes, feel free to message me. I’ll look into the details and will try to help you as much as possible. I just don’t feel like being too specific in these reviews
2nd day in Shanghai: Museum opens at 9am so we were there 1st thing before it got too crowded, spent a few hours here. Very clean and well taken care of! Went to Yuyuan Garden area next. Beautiful traditional garden area. Took taxi back to the ship.
View Cruise Critic's Shanghai Cruise Port Review
Taipei (Keelung)Evening: Miaokou Night market. WOW!! 3 huge blocks of stalls of food, drinks and trinketsView All 50 Taipei (Keelung) Cruise Port Reviews
Day 1: Walked from ship over to Zhongzheng (Jhongjheng) Park on Dashawan Mountain to check out the white statue of Goddess of Mercy (25-meter high). The park overlooks Keelung City and the harbor. Took taxi to Heping Island (~$7 USD). With years of erosion by the wind and sea, the eroded rocks and coasts have formed special shapes, really unique! Taxi from there to Ershawan Fort (~5USD). I would skip the Fort next time but my dad's really into war history so it's worth to take a stroll if you have an hour to spare, it's in a park so it's a nice walk.
Day 2: Took hour long train into Taipei to see the National Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. (WOW!! BEAUTIFUL!) and the National Palace Museum. If you've already been to the Museum in Shanghai, I would skip this one. Almost exactly alike, just larger.
View Cruise Critic's Taipei (Keelung) Cruise Port Review