Husband and I had never been to Japan or Taiwan or Korea. 42 days should give us an opportunity to check these countries off our list. We did not plan any days before or after cruise. This makes our third trip on the Volendam and it has been updated somewhat since our last visit. We liked the fact the sea days were interspersed with port days.
Stellar talent on this trip: Master Kam for his numerous talks on Japan-Hong Kong, China and the different dynasties, Buddha followers. Excellent. Sea days he led Qi Chi meditation and Tai Chi. Jeremy for this port talks one of the most knowledgeable we have heard and his co-hort Oliver for his talks on culture, etc. Singers: Austin, Jenny, Nick and Corrina and all the dancers were among the best of any troupe we have seen on any cruise. May they remain together for many cruises. The other entertainment was somewhat below average, but with the talent of the HAL cast didn't mind.
Food was better on this trip than I remember from the last Volendam trip. I always tried to eat in the Rotterdam dining room because I don't like the combat aspect of the Lido. Also, all of the chairs are "butt sprung" in Lido and are very uncomfortable.
Hubby walks with a rollator (wheels on a walker), so sometimes it is a challenge getting on and off the ship. 90 per cent of the time crew members were there to help make sure he was safely able to navigate. We took one excursion with the ship in Osaka. The guide was always way ahead and we could barely hear. Not a good experience for the money. Although HAL description gives a general idea of how much walking is involved, if there is bumpy ground or a lot of stairs - hard to tell. We tried to take private excursions with our CC groups.
Wang Theatre is not a comfortable venue for movies, it is a challenge to find a seat where the screen can be seen. Sometimes there was popcorn and sometimes not. Consistency would have been nice.
Medical service was excellent. My husband had a naggy cough so we went to medical to see what they suggest. After checking him over they noticed some irregularities. To make a long story shorter, they were very thorough and considerate of our medical needs while on the cruise. A couple of times we were afraid we would not be able to continue, but we were given every consideration.
Ports: Shuttle service was nice and complimentary at ports where ship was not close to city.
Shanghai was one of our favorite because the ship was docked close to the Bund which is one of the major attractions. It was close to HO HO bus and tunnel under the river to the modern side of the city. We were there four days total.
Disembarkation was not as we had hoped. We had booked with HAL for transport to the airport - our flight wasn't until 9:30pm. We had made arrangements to have friends pick us up for a tour of the city before dropping us off at airport. We were not allowed to receive a refund for a change in plans. We could have cancelled, but $200 is a lot of green to us. So.... HAL dropped us off at airport at 10am at a spot far away from where we needed to be. By the time we located our airline, checked our bags my husband was too exhausted to take the train or find anything else to do. We sat at the airport for ten hours waiting for our flight. Not a good end. So, word to the wise don't book with HAL until you are sure that is what you want to do.
We were in Cabin 1810 port hole across from medical in front of the ship. Advantages - quiet and not too much traffic in the halls. Front of the ship - short walk to front elevator and disembarkation is usually in the front. Disadvantage - it is right after the bump in the walkway. Also, when wavy - it is where they hit, but I would pick this cabin again.
Full bus. Brief talk of history of Osaka. Pointed out a few of the sites and sights. Long walk to castle. We were left to explore on our own at the castle because it would have been impossible. Elevator available for hubby.View All 6 Osaka Castle Reviews
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Raining. Very crowded so it was impossible to stay together. Husband with rollator found it very difficult - stairs and cobbled streets at SuzhouView All 13 Zhujiajiao Watertown Reviews
Took train into Tapei to meet relatives. Easy transit, except hubby with rollator had a challenge with elevated walkways over roads in Keelung. Trains were easy to navigate (once we got on). People were very helpful. Dumplings were the best.
We took the Hop on - Hop off tour. Star cruise, etc. We didn't get off the buses as we had been there before to see Stanley Market and ride the cog railroad. Hubby had rollator so sometimes it is easier to just enjoy the scenery.
Took the shuttle into the market. Excellent internet. Market was interesting.
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Was at hospital for tests - close to town. Internet