Volendam Cruise Review by WarrenPaulHarris
- Sail Date: March 2017
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Rather than having a specific room booked, my wife chose to book a Category in the hopes we would be upgraded at the last minute. We were. We were put in a handicapped room. She hated it. If was larger, but had an institutional feel, had not been remodeled, had nasty looking wall tile in the shower that had been repaired and was uneven - and the entire bathroom floor was tiled with a drain in the middle. It felt like a junior high locker room shower. The counter / makeup table had numerous gouged around the edges that had been badly patched and not even sanded, let alone sealed. The room overall looked pretty beat.
We spoke with the front desk and they found us another room that was a conventional style on the 2nd floor, which was fine. They both had windows and that's all we cared about. The new room had a recently remodeled bath, but the rest of the room looked a little ragged.
In terms of service, I'm not exaggerating much when I say you could sit in the buffet on Lido until cobwebs grew from your arms to the table before anyone would bring water or coffee. Going over to get your own would trigger a rapid response to try and get the carafe away from you and fill up a glass. But having anyone notice you had sat at a table and might need water... Good luck.
The buffet was marginal. I've been on a lot of cruises. There were no elaborate fruit / vegetable displays, no carvings (fruit / ice / anything) to dress up the area. The freshness of many stations was inconsistent. Also, coming back from HA excursions around 2 pm would find everything closed except the pasta station. You would think the ship would know when tours were coming back. Especially short tours where there was no food involved or opportunities to forage - and keep the buffet open until 30 minutes or so after the tours return.
But you'd be wrong if you thought that.
The taco bar on Lido was also a disappointment. It was frequently picked-over and looked pathetic. The burger window lists portobello burgers (I'm a vegetarian) on the menu, but the one day we went to get one, they are out of portobellos. Seriously?
The main dining room was pretty decent. Not spectacular, but OK. The staff was attentive and they always had options for vegetarians. I ordered the day before most of the time and was fairly happy with the outcome.
We had booked some independent tours in Tokyo and Shimizu through Triple Lights. Both were excellent. We loved our guides and the itinerary. We had booked numerous HA tours for other cities, but after our experience in Shanghai we cancelled all of them. We gathered a few like-minded travelers and booked taxis for the rest of the trip. This worked out very well.
In Shanghai, the first day it rained ALL DAY. The 2nd day it rained only sporadically. The first day we went to the museum and then to a shrine. We had some people on the tour that never should have gone. The amount of walking was far more than they should have attempted. On the way back to the ship, one woman could not take another step. The rest of us are standing on a street corner in a downpour waiting for the tour guide to manage this debacle. We all decided to go back to the transit station where we could at least wait indoors. They had to get a motorized rickshaw to retrieve the woman, as any other vehicle could not get through to her. Eventually we all got back, but over an hour late - and wet.
Our thoughts on this are:
People with mobility issues should have their own bus.
When the weather is bad, there should be a Plan B. Either stay in the museum (in this case) or head to another indoor destination.
Keep the buffet open until the tour returns or arrange a food stop.
The overall condition of the ship is very uneven. Some areas have been remodeled while others look very worn. The center column in the atrium looks like something out of a disco movie. The undersea-themed glass lamps in the buffet look cheap. They belong in a Caribbean party cruise.
We needed to do some laundry about a week into the cruise. When we got to the tiny ship laundry, only 2 of the 4 washing machines were working. Apparently this had been the situation for well over a week according to people who had been on the ship for some time. After bringing this to the attention of the front desk, they did arrange to do our laundry at no charge. I did take 2 days to get our clothes back though. I would have preferred to just do it myself and have been finished in the span of a few hours.
We were disappointed that we missed Okinawa. My wife and I both have connections to the island. Weather was the reason for having to remove it from the itinerary, so we can hardly blame HA for this.
Most of the entertainment was of marginal to zero interest for us. Early on in the cruise, we discovered Barry from Boston in the Mix Lounge. Barry is by far one of the best entertainers I've ever seen. He plays a piano with virtuoso intensity and what he lacks in vocal quality, he really makes up for in skill. If you ever get the opportunity to see Barry from Boston, do it. He is on several HA cruises. He's talented, funny, really knows how to handle a room and was by far our favorite part of the cruise.
We met some great people, made new permanent friends and overall had a great time.
We loved Taiwan and would definitely go back. Taroko Gorge was amazing. We were very fortunate that Mount Fuji was NOT obscured by clouds on the day we were there. This is an opportunity you don't always get, so we felt very fortunate.
Hopefully HA will work the kinks out of this particular cruise, as the itinerary was excellent - with the exception of Hososhima. They could have left Hososhima off the itinerary and added a day in Osaka. That would have been better in our estimation.
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