For our first cruise we decided to travel in familiar territory (Australia and New Zealand) so that we could focus on the cruise rather than the destinations. We had looked at a large number of possible cruise lines but thought that HAL would be the right demographic for us (active couple, 59,62, retired) and we were proved right.
Boarding the Volendam at Auckland went very smoothly and we spent the afternoon familiarising ourselves with the layout of the ship - it seemed very spacious and well laid out, easy to get around. We had been upgraded to Deck 2 and the category L cabin was large enough for us with plenty of storage space. (We did not spend very much time in the cabin at all - only slept there for about 6 hours a day!) The cabin steward was always very cheerful and helpful with very unobtrusive service. (We enjoyed the towel animals very much and were slightly disappointed to discover that it wasn't just for us, but a standard feature!)
One slight glitch with the dining seating was soon rectified after boarding and we opted for open dining which suited us very well. We had dinner most nights in the Rotterdam with two nights in the Canaletto and one in the Pinnacle Grill. We took all breakfasts and lunches in the Lido. The standard of the food preparation, taste and service was excellent throughout, and on returning home we are finding it difficult to return to catering for ourselves! It required a great deal of self-control to limit our eating so as to not put on too much weight. We walked around the lower promenade deck 7 or 8 times every morning and went to the stretch sessions at 7am everyday in the Gym (this is a really good idea to get you going in the morning after a busy evening), as well as dancing every evening which helped keep the activity up.
An interesting city with many interesting buildings. Plenty of places to stay and to eat (try the shopping mall near the ferry dock for cheap and good lunches before boarding). We will try a harbour cruise to nearby islands next time we are here.