My experience on the January 31, 2018 sailing of the Volendam from Hong Kong to Singapore far exceeded my expectations. Having owned a large Incentive Travel planning company, I am admittedly very critical of services provided by hotels, airlines and cruise companies. It was my job to provide the highest customer service and to make sure every detail was planned to perfection for my discriminating High Tech clients. For that reason, I am simply amazed that my experience on the Volendam was so wonderful.
Let me explain....The ship was gracious and elegant. The food service was so outstanding, that it was shocking! The dining room, unlike other cruise lines, was quiet, spacious and every meals was better than the last. It was truly like dining at a fine restaurant. Even breakfasts were wonderful.
Although the ship had nearly 2000 passengers, it felt empty. There was never the mad rush for a lounge by the pool, or fighting for a seat at the piano bar. The LIdo Market, while providing outstanding options,it was never a problem finding a table.It was delightful to sit outside by the pool and have breakfast, as we watched the sea.
So, what makes this cruise so special, besides the dining experience? The shows were great, a small cast...but they really delivered delightful shows. The America's Test Kitchen surprised me by how great it was. I attended five classes. The lectures were wonderful. Our stateroom was very, very comfortable. It was clean, and when we had a problem, the Guest Services staff were right on it. Amazing!
The Ports were great, too. I loved the itinerary, and especially with four stops in Vietnam. We spent three days in Hong Kong prior to the cruise, and then sailed for two weeks. Cambodia was not my favorite, but I think it was my fault, as I just took the transfer to the town and it left much to be desired. The two night stay in Bangkok was great, as we spent the night in Bangkok. If there is one challenge with this cruise, is the port is a long way from the major cities, like Hanoi, Saigon and Bangkok. Hoi An (Da Nang) was my favorite....beautiful town, with great shopping.
I highly recommend Holland American Cruise line if peacefulness, great food, not feeling crowded or hassled, enrichment classes, and a beautfful library are important to you. Finding the right Ports is important,and I found the Asia cruise to be wonderful.
PS: This is my eighth cruise, and our travelling companions 37th. They felt it was the best cruise they have had, as well.
Our cabin was an outside with unobstructed view on the Dolphin Deck. We actually loved the location, no ship rolling. We liked the floor plan better than the Balcony, as the bed was at the far end of the cabin, rather than as you entered. The large window was fine. We usually get a balcony, but we did not miss it at all. We had trouble with a vibrating noise, and the Guest Services we quick to respond and help us out. It was close to the elevators which were so quick, we never had to wait.
Loved Hong Kong. We stayed at the Hotel ICON, which was so fantastic. Having stayed in Hong Kong at very deluxe hotels in the past, I was thrilled with the value and outstanding service we received at the ICON. I cannot recommend it enough.
We opted for the Hanoi excusion, which I am so glad we did. It was a long transfer, 3 1/2 hours each way, but well worth it. I have been to HaLong in the past, and took the book cruise of the bay, as well as the cave tour...and I felt it was beautiful. It would be very nice if the boat docked over night in HaLong so passengers could experience both Hanoi and HaLong harbor.
We took the transfer to Hoi An, which Is my favorite stop in VietNam. I have been there before, and it can easily be explored on one's own. It is a beautiful town, with great shopping.
We took the rickshaw tour, and visit to the temple. It was OK...not a fabulous port. We wish we had more time in Hanoi, and would have skipped this. The beaches were beautiful, and it may have been that we took the wrong tour.
We just took the bus into Sihanoukville. A depressing city, with unrelenting hawkers trying to get us to take a tour. Once again, I think there may be more to see than we did, so I would recommend a tour, rather than just being dropped in the town.
I greatly enjoyed this tour, as I have never been to Ayuddhaya....a beautiful city. I highly recommend. We stayed at the Sheraton in Bangkok, and had dinner at the Sala Rim Naam, Thai restaurant owned by the Oriental Hotel. It is on the river, and was a lovely evening. The next day was a river cruise and tour of the Grand Palace. Only negative, long walk after the Grand Palace, hard in the heat...and the crowds at the lunch meals.View All undefined undefined Reviews
I went to the Four Seasons resort, and spend a lovely afternoon at their Spa. This was one of the highlights of the cruise. The cruise offers a spa package at a local hotel, and I think this is a good option. The beaches were gorgeous!