The Volendam was chartered on this cruise by Atlantis Events, a US based gay and lesbian travel operator, and timed to arrive in Sydney on the day of the Mardi Gras parade. Accordingly, I haven't included any comments about entertainment as this was specific to this cruise.
Summary: an acceptable 4 star experience (even though my comments below look more critical than that) but overpriced for what it delivered.
Cabin: we had a verandah cabin. It was spacious. It was well kept, though clearly showing signs of age. It must be said that the ship needs a refurbishment. This is not to say that the cabin was unpleasant, however for the price (USD$3,350 per person plus the USD$11 per day per person service charge) it did not present good value or an exceptional experience.
Pools and other common areas: the pools were small but ok. Again, the areas needed refurbishment. The Explorer's Cafe area and the Crows Nest were very nice spaces.
Dining: the main restaurant (the Rotterdam) was efficiently run. The food was of average to good quality and perfectly acceptable for a facility that serves many people per sitting. It was open dining and there was never a wait for a table. The Lido buffet was unexceptional but well run with good food choices.
The Pinnacle Restaurant: we thought that this experience was not much superior to the main dining room. The best feature was that it was small and quiet with good (but, it must be said, over attentive) service. The food varied from virtually inedible (yes, really) in the form of the small taster of ravioli which was first offered, to bland (tasteless prawn/shrimp cocktail) to very good (filet mignon, although cooked extremely rare rather than the medium rare ordered) and a dessert souffle. I wasn't expecting anything out of the box and in that respect the restaurant was no great surprise. Although only a small charge (USD$20 per person), in my view not worth a visit.
Service standards in the shop generally : friendly but no effort to deliver any more than a basic pleasant service.
Ports: Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Melbourne. Had a great time in each because we made our own arrangements (ship organised excursions were ridiculously overpriced). In Christchurch and Dunedin we hired a car and headed out of town to some wonderful scenery.
Standard verandah cabin, but well towards the back of the ship. Next time would choose more midship, but this wasn't available on this cruise.