1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Volendam
This was our first cruise on Holland America after 15 cruises on Celebrity, Disney, RCCL, NCL, Carnival, Windstar, and SilverSea. We picked the cruise probably for all the wrong reasons: we had a specific 7 day window that we could cruise on and the only itinerary available was HAL's Volendam to Alaska. The Ship The Volendam is almost 20 years old now but is extremely well maintained. All the public areas look very clean - the only place we saw any significant sign of wear was the ceilings. Looking up you could see dents, misaligned panels, missing screws, etc. probably from the wear and tear of maintaining the various systems hidden away. The Volendam is going in for a dry dock in September so I expect this will be corrected then. The ship seemed to be a perfect size for the number of travellers. Our cruise had just over 1400 passengers along with 600 crew and it never seemed crowded with one exception - the buffet (more on that below). The Cabin HAL had a promotion on and we ended up with a Neptune suite on the Navigation deck. This cabin was large and roomy, and the suite afforded us access to a lounge along with 'preferred' check in. The preferred check in came in handy as the Vancouver cruise terminal was swamped with 3 ships debarking. We were able to go directly to a check in counter and straight through to the Immigration agent (our Nexus cards helped here) resulting in getting on the ship in 15 minutes flat! I felt badly for those who were not from Canada or the US - it looked like a solid 2 hour wait to get onto the ship! I thought the storage could have been better thought out in the suite - there seemed to be a lot of space devoted to drawers and cupboards that you could never use on a 1 week cruise, let alone two or three weeks! We'd recently been on the Windstar in a 183 square foot cabin (about 1/3 the size of the Neptune suite) and felt like we had as much storage in that cabin. If HAL could redesign the storage they could probably reconfigure the suite to provide more usable space. The balcony was huge, with two loungers and a four seat table. Great views! The only thing to watch for is the morning wash - water tended to drip into our balcony, rendering it unusable for a few hours each morning. The king bed was very nice with a great assortment of pillows and firm mattress. There was a dressing area with a small sink outside of the bathroom. The bathroom had a whirlpool bathtub/shower combo (we didn't use the whirlpool). I had a few nits about the bathroom. First off, the bathtub seemed like a compromise -- it was quite small and certainly didn't look like one could have a comfortable soak. But the tub seemed to compromise the shower as well -- I much prefer a shower stall over the combination approach. Secondly, HAL does not provide shampoo/conditioner/body wash in bottles. They have these chintzy dispensers fixed to the wall. Seems very cheap given what one pays for a suite -- and something I only ever recall seeing in a Carnival ship. Our steward kept the suite clean and tidy - one of the highlights. I suspect the Neptune suites will look even better after the dry dock in September - I look forward to seeing pictures of the new and improved suites! Dining HAL really stumbles on the dining. We've recently been taking celebrity cruises with access to Blu and our experiences are compared to our experiences with Blu (what we paid on HAL would have gotten us a Spa Suite on X). I found the food to be okay (banquet food probably best describes it) but my wife, a vegetarian, characterized HAL as the worst she can recall. HAL has a vegetarian menu - unfortunately you need to select what you want for the following night; there is no ordering off the vegetarian menu for that day. This struck as as extremely odd and out of place with the other cruise line offerings. We could have lived with this but unfortunately what was ordered off of the vegetarian menu wasn't what was delivered. For some mysterious reason the HAL chefs couldn't actually prepare what was ordered even with 24 hours notice. And what was delivered was pretty much inedible. Vegetables, both for the vegetarian dishes and as accompaniments on main dishes, were horribly overcooked and inedible. Sauces, in a nod to the rather older clientele that HAL services, were quite bland and tasteless. The buffet was much smaller than what we were used to and tended not to change very much day over day. Vegetarian options here, beyond a salad and pasta, were pretty much non-existant. We also found the buffet quite crowded regardless of what time we arrived for lunch. We did two dinners at the Pinnacle Grill. The Grill is a $35pp surcharge ($49 for Le Cirque night) and features outstanding steaks. Everything here was cooked properly and the service was fantastic. Be sure to try their version of Baked Alaska! Somewhat interesting was that the Pinnacle, a steakhouse, had the best vegetarian options on the ship! Entertainment and Activities The Volendam is a small to mid size ship and, as such, has limited entertainment. The nightly entertainment consisted of the Volendam singers and dancers butchering pop and rock songs, and a guest comedian and guest magician on a couple of nights. We didn't expect much here and HAL didn't disappoint. The trip up Glacier Bay National Park was terrific - we had not been able to go to Glacier Bay on a previous cruise (not sure who the park is restricted to). This was a highlight. Service We found the cabin crew to be fantastic. The Neptune lounge was terrific - everyone knew our names by the end of the first day. The food service was mixed. In particular, the MDR staff were a mixed bag; often bringing the incorrect order or bringing something that wasn't even requested! Ports/Shore Excursions The ship stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. All three are quite small towns that you can walk through in no more than 90 minutes. We booked one excursion through HAL - the Yukon Rail trip to White's Pass. This was pretty much as billed; it was nice to be able to hop off the ship and walk 100 yards to the train. We booked a whale watching tour through a third party in Juneau. This was a highlight and I recommend doing a whale watching tour in Juneau if you go to Alaska. HAL excursion prices seemed to be only slightly more than the independent tours available online or dockside. We certainly would consider the HAL ones if time was an issue. Would we go Again? This is a bit of a tossup. We really liked the amenities of the ship and the itinerary. The smaller size meant that the ship never felt crowded (buffet aside) and we really enjoyed that. However, the food really fell short for the vegetarian and that was a significant issue for us.

Volendam a Mixed Bag

Volendam Cruise Review by argyllsock

49 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2017
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Suite with Verandah
This was our first cruise on Holland America after 15 cruises on Celebrity, Disney, RCCL, NCL, Carnival, Windstar, and SilverSea.

We picked the cruise probably for all the wrong reasons: we had a specific 7 day window that we could cruise on and the only itinerary available was HAL's Volendam to Alaska.

The Ship

The Volendam is almost 20 years old now but is extremely well maintained. All the public areas look very clean - the only place we saw any significant sign of wear was the ceilings. Looking up you could see dents, misaligned panels, missing screws, etc. probably from the wear and tear of maintaining the various systems hidden away. The Volendam is going in for a dry dock in September so I expect this will be corrected then.

The ship seemed to be a perfect size for the number of travellers. Our cruise had just over 1400 passengers along with 600 crew and it never seemed crowded with one exception - the buffet (more on that below).


The Cabin

HAL had a promotion on and we ended up with a Neptune suite on the Navigation deck. This cabin was large and roomy, and the suite afforded us access to a lounge along with 'preferred' check in. The preferred check in came in handy as the Vancouver cruise terminal was swamped with 3 ships debarking. We were able to go directly to a check in counter and straight through to the Immigration agent (our Nexus cards helped here) resulting in getting on the ship in 15 minutes flat! I felt badly for those who were not from Canada or the US - it looked like a solid 2 hour wait to get onto the ship!

I thought the storage could have been better thought out in the suite - there seemed to be a lot of space devoted to drawers and cupboards that you could never use on a 1 week cruise, let alone two or three weeks! We'd recently been on the Windstar in a 183 square foot cabin (about 1/3 the size of the Neptune suite) and felt like we had as much storage in that cabin. If HAL could redesign the storage they could probably reconfigure the suite to provide more usable space.

The balcony was huge, with two loungers and a four seat table. Great views! The only thing to watch for is the morning wash - water tended to drip into our balcony, rendering it unusable for a few hours each morning.

The king bed was very nice with a great assortment of pillows and firm mattress. There was a dressing area with a small sink outside of the bathroom. The bathroom had a whirlpool bathtub/shower combo (we didn't use the whirlpool).

I had a few nits about the bathroom. First off, the bathtub seemed like a compromise -- it was quite small and certainly didn't look like one could have a comfortable soak. But the tub seemed to compromise the shower as well -- I much prefer a shower stall over the combination approach. Secondly, HAL does not provide shampoo/conditioner/body wash in bottles. They have these chintzy dispensers fixed to the wall. Seems very cheap given what one pays for a suite -- and something I only ever recall seeing in a Carnival ship.

Our steward kept the suite clean and tidy - one of the highlights.

I suspect the Neptune suites will look even better after the dry dock in September - I look forward to seeing pictures of the new and improved suites!

Dining

HAL really stumbles on the dining. We've recently been taking celebrity cruises with access to Blu and our experiences are compared to our experiences with Blu (what we paid on HAL would have gotten us a Spa Suite on X).

I found the food to be okay (banquet food probably best describes it) but my wife, a vegetarian, characterized HAL as the worst she can recall. HAL has a vegetarian menu - unfortunately you need to select what you want for the following night; there is no ordering off the vegetarian menu for that day. This struck as as extremely odd and out of place with the other cruise line offerings.

We could have lived with this but unfortunately what was ordered off of the vegetarian menu wasn't what was delivered. For some mysterious reason the HAL chefs couldn't actually prepare what was ordered even with 24 hours notice. And what was delivered was pretty much inedible. Vegetables, both for the vegetarian dishes and as accompaniments on main dishes, were horribly overcooked and inedible. Sauces, in a nod to the rather older clientele that HAL services, were quite bland and tasteless.

The buffet was much smaller than what we were used to and tended not to change very much day over day. Vegetarian options here, beyond a salad and pasta, were pretty much non-existant. We also found the buffet quite crowded regardless of what time we arrived for lunch.

We did two dinners at the Pinnacle Grill. The Grill is a $35pp surcharge ($49 for Le Cirque night) and features outstanding steaks. Everything here was cooked properly and the service was fantastic. Be sure to try their version of Baked Alaska!

Somewhat interesting was that the Pinnacle, a steakhouse, had the best vegetarian options on the ship!

Entertainment and Activities

The Volendam is a small to mid size ship and, as such, has limited entertainment. The nightly entertainment consisted of the Volendam singers and dancers butchering pop and rock songs, and a guest comedian and guest magician on a couple of nights.

We didn't expect much here and HAL didn't disappoint.

The trip up Glacier Bay National Park was terrific - we had not been able to go to Glacier Bay on a previous cruise (not sure who the park is restricted to). This was a highlight.

Service

We found the cabin crew to be fantastic. The Neptune lounge was terrific - everyone knew our names by the end of the first day.

The food service was mixed. In particular, the MDR staff were a mixed bag; often bringing the incorrect order or bringing something that wasn't even requested!

Ports/Shore Excursions

The ship stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. All three are quite small towns that you can walk through in no more than 90 minutes.

We booked one excursion through HAL - the Yukon Rail trip to White's Pass. This was pretty much as billed; it was nice to be able to hop off the ship and walk 100 yards to the train.

We booked a whale watching tour through a third party in Juneau. This was a highlight and I recommend doing a whale watching tour in Juneau if you go to Alaska.

HAL excursion prices seemed to be only slightly more than the independent tours available online or dockside. We certainly would consider the HAL ones if time was an issue.

Would we go Again?

This is a bit of a tossup. We really liked the amenities of the ship and the itinerary. The smaller size meant that the ship never felt crowded (buffet aside) and we really enjoyed that. However, the food really fell short for the vegetarian and that was a significant issue for us.
argyllsock’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Holland America Volendam price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Neptune Suite with Verandah
Cabin SB 7002
Large suite located forward on the port side. Massive balcony. Lots of room but could benefit from better storage options to improve the amount of available space. Bathtub/shower combo is a compromise that keeps no one happy. Shampoo/conditioner dispensers in the bathroom seem really cheap for a suite.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews