We do an annual late winter cruise every year. We've traveled mainly on HAL, and have been pleased with the smaller ships and good service. This year we did the full transit of the Panama Canal, leaving from San Diego.
We splurged this year on a Neptune suite. We have had one in the past, and really enjoy the bigger room, but especially the larger balcony. They are twice the size of the Vista suite. The extra perks of the Neptune Lounge and the Concierge service is excellent. We met quite a few other Neptune suite passengers, and had many interesting conversations. The room steward was top notch. Always had ice, coffee and fresh fruit. Laundry service was top notch and was always ready by the next day.
Embarkation was very smooth. Neptune passengers go through the same embarkation as the 4 star Mariners. There is virtually no line. For tender ports, there is no need to go for disembarkation passes. You simply hold up your room key, and you're put on the next tender. Unfortunately, there is no priority disembarkation after the cruise.
We travel with our daughter, who has a learning disability. She gets her own room. But, she gets to know everyone on board. Her favorite breakfast was an omelet. The Lido omelet chef knew her by name, and what she ate. The same goes for the salad bar crew.
We chose to eat in the dining room, along with another couple. Our daughter ate salmon nearly every night, and she had a chocolate mint mocktail every night. For desert, it had to have chocolate. Our dining staff went our of their way to accommodate. On the last night of the cruise, there was no chocolate deserts. But, they went back and got one for her. In addition, my daughter had told them previously that she liked carrot cake. They brought out 2 pieces of carrot cake. She ate one, and carried the second one back to her room. You can't find service like that just anywhere! Every evening, the wine steward would make an origami animal.
We did have a complimentary dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. It was very good. It was more than I would normally eat. Steak done to perfection. The only thing I regret is that I didn't try breakfast at the Pinnacle. It was included with the Neptune suite. But, I did have breakfast at the dining room. It is a step above the Lido and I would recommend it. Lunch is also very nice.
Lido is a typical buffet. I didn't eat breakfast in the Lido, but opted for a light breakfast from the Neptune Lounge. Lunch offered an International option. They rotated national foods, and it was interesting to try foods from other nations. They were all Asian offerings.
The ports were very nice. Some of the places aren't as developed as much as on the Caribbean ports. Cabo San Lucas is a tourist trap, and we didn't have a bunch of time there. We booked a glass bottom boat tour on Viator. A long walk to get there, but well worth it. We didn't book anything in Guatemala, and their port area was very relaxing. On Honduras, we booked with a local guide and it was very informative. In Costa Rico, we booked the eco tour, which took us to a rive to see crocodiles. We visited the aviary in Cartengena, which was very enjoyable.
Entertainment was very good. John Wing was the comedian on board. He was runner up in America's Got Talent. I'm not big on production numbers, so I didn't attend. We did spend several evenings at the Crows Nest. Some nights we were the only ones there, some nights there were quite a few. Happy hour at the Crows Nest is always a lot of fun, especially the 2 for 1 drinks.
The crew was very accessible, even the Captain. The team at the Neptune Lounge couldn't do enough. I would definitely travel this itinerary again, and would definitely would travel on the Volendam.
The balcony is huge, and the reason we went with this type of room. We spend a lot of time on the balcony. The inside is spacious. The bathroom only has a single sink, but that's all we have at home. I would prefer an individual shower, instead of one inside the tub. The only down part of the room.
We stopped by for the barbecue. The beach was packed, as there were 2 ships in port. Went back to the ship early.
Bumpy roads, but there are a ton of birds on display. You can get really close to many of them. Make sure you take a camera.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Saw crocodiles and lots of birds as well as a lot of the countryside.View All 35 Mangrove River Tour Reviews
We booked a local tour before we went. The locals had a big production complete with band and dancers. I didn't go into the local town, but it looked to be okay.
We stayed in port. Its a small port and not a whole lot to do. There was a town close by, but we chose to stay by the ship.