Fascinating Panama Canal: Statendam Cruise Review by GrayGrammy

Statendam 5
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Fascinating Panama Canal

Sail Date: November 2010
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: San Diego
Statendam is the smallest Holland America ship we have cruised on. My husband liked it, because of its smaller size and capacity, better than either Volendam or Zaandam, while I like the larger ships a little better. No matter what, we were treated to the usual standard of Holland America service: the restaurant, bar, beauty salon, and cabin personnel are professional, hard-working, accommodating, and always warmly pleasant; the Front Desk people are unhelpful, abrupt, and frequently unpleasant; the Officers are mostly aloof; and the Entertainment staff is overly loud, pushy, and very full of their Very Show Biz selves. Also as usual, the food was good (not spectacular), with good variety, and with a nice range of dining venue options. Holland America prices shore excursions ridiculously high.

All things considered, we had a wonderful month aboard, with only one serious problem: dangerous levels on fumes from the ship's fuel tanks were vented, 3 different times, into our More Inside, Main Deck forward cabin, causing serious breathing problems for both my husband and me. A member of the Engineering Dept. told us that this is a recurring problem on all the lower decks near the bow. Holland America put an electric air purifier into our cabin for the duration of the voyage, but refused to even discuss moving us to some other area on the ship.

Visiting ports in Mexico was unnerving. Statendam was escorted into and guarded in every port by machine-gun-armed boats. Guatemala and Panama, on the other hand, seemed very welcoming and fun. Sadly, we suspect that Mexican ports ought to be eliminated from cruise itineraries, at least until Mexico becomes a safer place for all concerned. Less

Published 03/30/11

Cabin review: K Large Interior Stateroom

Inside cabin, Main Deck, forward: generally, we like these cabins. They have good living space, good closet and drawer space, nice decor, and minimal potential for seasickness due to roll (because cabin is low and in the middle), although being toward the bow, you get a certain amount of pitching when in rough seas. We like the inside cabins because they avoid the lack of privacy you get in outside cabins when in port, and we prefer having a shower only, since a bathtub in rough seas is an accident waiting to happen. Nonetheless, passengers need to be forewarned: there seems to be a recurring problem aboard the Statendam with marine fuel fumes getting vented into these forward cabins - that is not only seriously unpleasant, it can be a health hazard for anyone with respiratory or allergy issues.

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Port and Shore Excursions

As a cruise port, we rate Port Everglades pretty high. Disembarkation seemed to go very smoothly for those passengers leaving the ship, and was really slick for those of us who were just getting off for Turn Around Day.

On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale is really just not very interesting to tour around. The beaches look very nice, if you are going to do a pre- or post-cruise there and want the ocean beach experience. For the day-tripper, however, there is not much to do that is terribly interesting. Several excursions were offered, but the one we took turned out to be far less interesting than the advertising led us to expect: the boat excursion around the canals and waterways of Fort Lauderdale turned out to be run by a man who seems to care about almost nothing but local wannabe gossip concerning other people's money, houses, and boats. Not our cup of tea at all.

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