We had a great time on Volendam’s 14 day, February 14 Indonesia sailing from/to Singapore. The crew was great, food was very good and the ship is in excellent condition. It had been several years since we sailed HAL and thoroughly enjoyed this sailing. For the past several years, we have been Celebrity faithfuls and I will post what we saw as very minor differences between the two brands. The most significant difference to us was the lack of entertainment. The Tai Chi expert served as a speaker about a few SE Asia topics, but the presentations were superficial. The first two cast shows were, at best, amateurish and onboard solo entertainers were weak. We received an offer for a discounted upgrade to a veranda from ocean view a few weeks before sailing and were assigned cabin 6138, a slightly forward A category veranda which was a better draw than anticipated. Cabin attendants, maitre ‘d, and dining stewards were friendly and enjoyed talking about their home, Indonesia, as we visited their port. At each non-tendered port, hundreds of family and friends were invited aboard to see where their relative/friend worked. It was a pleasure seeing them aboard, although in most cases they were off the the ship by the time we reboarded late in the afternoon. The master, Captain Frank van der Hoeven, and other officers were not particularly visible the ship and did not engage with the passengers, but morale and enthusiasm of the crew was evident. Most of our tours were arranged on CC before hand, although we did three ship’s tours. The privately arranged ones were far better. Traffic in all the Indonesian ports was heavy and unpredictable which made planning for the independent guides challenging to ensure we were back well before the all aboard. For example, one day in Bali, it took over an hour to go ten miles. The next day we took the same route in less than 30 minutes. Volendam used the old cruise terminal at VivoCity and it cannot accommodate the number of pax embarking if there are any delays and there were. Disembarkation was fine.
Cabin was in very good condition - spacious with plenty of storage. The bathroom had been updated and was very good. Cabin fixtures were showing their age, but still very functional.
HAL’s tour is probably the way to go as those using other vendors must us the tenders which HAL controls. We reserved early and were in the first group which meant some of the monitors could be seen in the forest before the hordes came through. Plus is wasn’t as hot. Even with that we had one gentleman pass out who was quickly attended to by the guides who said that usually 2 or 3 go down each day. Go early, come back, take a shower and relax/recover.