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We took this cruise because we wanted to see Japan, as well as Shanghai, Alaska and Vancouver. And this cruise did it all! We love the Volendam!! Just the right size, not crowded, great staff everywhere (except EXC tours, more on that later). Nothing was "pushed:" photos, drinks, drink packages, unlike some other lines. Spent some time in the just-the-right-size casino. Embarkation: I liked the idea that in Yokohama you sat down until your number was called. Unfortunately, once you were called, you still have to wait on line until you check in. But once checked in, the rest was easy. Dining: We chose to eat in the Dining Room for dinner, and in the Lido breakfast and lunch. All were great for the meals we had. Lido did get a bit crowded and finding a table was sometimes tough. But again, a small wart. Dining Room food was very good, except for the soups. Didn't try the specialty restaurants, as we found that on other cruises they usually weren't worth the extra money. Cabin: Lovely oceanview cabin, large, plenty of storage, very comfy. Newly renovated bathroom was great. TV's in the cabins were ancient, and I'm surprised HAL didn't replace them. But that was a small wart. Entertainment: The usual mixed bag. They had a British group called the Emperors of Soul who were fantastic! The Volendam troup were very talented, but underutilized. They had a wonderful violinist. Other than that the entertainment was typical cruise ship. Ports: The highlight of the trip. The small cities we visited in Japan were just lovely. We arranged local guides through Toursbylocals.com and Goodwill Guides. All the guides were great: some volunteers, some paid but very reasonable. We enjoyed our time with all of them. Our experience with HAL's EXC Tours was something else. In Shanghai, the tour left my wife at the meeting point 43 kilometers north of Shanghai and she had to make her way back to the ship on her own. Too much detail to go into here, but when we reported this to the onboard EXC staff, they didn't even listen to her story, said they'd investigate, got back to us a week later and refunded a third of the tour price. We felt that being abandoned by the tour guide (when getting us back to the ship is one of the key selling points for all the cruise line tours) was inexcusable and we should have received a complete refund (EXC tours are not cheap). When we got home, we made our case to the EXC Tours office at HAL's headquarters in Seattle. Two months later, we are still waiting for a response. One really positive EXC feature: there was a guide on board providing detailed port information for passengers who are not taking tours. We never experienced that on other cruise lines, and thought it was wonderful. Bottom line: We like HAL (this was our first HAL cruise in 25 years), loved the Volendam and would definitely cruise with them again. But no more EXC tours for us.

Great ship, terrible tour.

Volendam Cruise Review by evfred

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2018
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
We took this cruise because we wanted to see Japan, as well as Shanghai, Alaska and Vancouver. And this cruise did it all!

We love the Volendam!! Just the right size, not crowded, great staff everywhere (except EXC tours, more on that later). Nothing was "pushed:" photos, drinks, drink packages, unlike some other lines. Spent some time in the just-the-right-size casino.

Embarkation: I liked the idea that in Yokohama you sat down until your number was called. Unfortunately, once you were called, you still have to wait on line until you check in. But once checked in, the rest was easy.

Dining: We chose to eat in the Dining Room for dinner, and in the Lido breakfast and lunch. All were great for the meals we had. Lido did get a bit crowded and finding a table was sometimes tough. But again, a small wart. Dining Room food was very good, except for the soups. Didn't try the specialty restaurants, as we found that on other cruises they usually weren't worth the extra money.

Cabin: Lovely oceanview cabin, large, plenty of storage, very comfy. Newly renovated bathroom was great. TV's in the cabins were ancient, and I'm surprised HAL didn't replace them. But that was a small wart.

Entertainment: The usual mixed bag. They had a British group called the Emperors of Soul who were fantastic! The Volendam troup were very talented, but underutilized. They had a wonderful violinist. Other than that the entertainment was typical cruise ship.

Ports: The highlight of the trip. The small cities we visited in Japan were just lovely. We arranged local guides through Toursbylocals.com and Goodwill Guides. All the guides were great: some volunteers, some paid but very reasonable. We enjoyed our time with all of them.

Our experience with HAL's EXC Tours was something else. In Shanghai, the tour left my wife at the meeting point 43 kilometers north of Shanghai and she had to make her way back to the ship on her own. Too much detail to go into here, but when we reported this to the onboard EXC staff, they didn't even listen to her story, said they'd investigate, got back to us a week later and refunded a third of the tour price. We felt that being abandoned by the tour guide (when getting us back to the ship is one of the key selling points for all the cruise line tours) was inexcusable and we should have received a complete refund (EXC tours are not cheap). When we got home, we made our case to the EXC Tours office at HAL's headquarters in Seattle. Two months later, we are still waiting for a response.

One really positive EXC feature: there was a guide on board providing detailed port information for passengers who are not taking tours. We never experienced that on other cruise lines, and thought it was wonderful.

Bottom line: We like HAL (this was our first HAL cruise in 25 years), loved the Volendam and would definitely cruise with them again. But no more EXC tours for us.
evfred’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin D 2557
Loved our cabin. Plenty of storage, very comfy. Ancient TV should have been replaced. Newly renovated bathroom was lovely.
Lower Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins