We had never been to Alaska and as we're getting up in years we felt that if we were going to do it, we would do it all in one go. So when we saw a Holland America three-day cruise, followed by a nine-day land tour, followed by another seven-day cruise advertised, we jumped on it. Having never cruised with Holland America before we weren't sure what to expect. Our entire cruise history was with Carnival (many many years ago) and more recently with several cruises on Celebrity and Azamara. So with that level of expectation set, we boarded the Volendam in Vancouver. The boarding process was fine, and we got on the ship very quickly, and even found our cabins ready (though the bags had not yet arrived). It took a while to find our room steward to ask for some special requests, but finally found him. We had not purchased a drink package for the cruise so the first thing we asked for was to have someone empty our refrigerator. We didn't want to be accidentally charged for any beverages. We were instructed to take out all the bottles and cans and place them on the top of the refrigerator, and that someone would be there shortly to remove them. Well, by the end of the next day they were still there, and we had to call again to get them removed. Our next not-so-great experience was in the Marketplace, their buffet. Every Celebrity ship we have been on had numerous stations throughout the buffet area so that people could get different types of food in an orderly fashion. Holland America has everyone queued in one line for all the main dishes and sides, so that you have to wait for everyone else to clear, even if you only want one item from that area. I assume one of the reasons they have done this is to ensure that not a lot of guests touch the serving utensils and food, but it seemed really inefficient to us and to everyone we spoke with in the line. The last thing I'll mention is the general lack of consideration of the guests by the staff. This was noticed in the main dining room, where, as one example, it took 15 minutes to get a dessert menu; to lounges where not a single ship employee could be found most times. You get the feeling that the staff knows they will get their gratuities regardless, so why bother? We were quite happy to get off the ship after our three days. We followed that cruise with an Alaska land tour, and I have to say it was very well orchestrated and coordinated, with all the motor coaches, a boat trip, a plane ride, and train rides. Good job with that one Holland America.
The cabin was actually very nice, with lots of storage space including many drawers, which our second cruise on the Westerdam did not have. We paid to upgrade to that cabin from an ocean view, but only $79.