Wonderful Ryndam Experience for this 20-Something Couple: Ryndam Cruise Review by FirstTimeCruiser87

Ryndam 5
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Wonderful Ryndam Experience for this 20-Something Couple

Sail Date: March 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
My husband and I just returned from a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Ryndam. As a first-time cruiser, I was a bit skeptical about the experience at first, but ended up LOVING it. My husband had been on a few cruises as a kid (on Norwegian) and this one was his favorite.

Having read some of the more negative reviews on here, I wonder if we just lucked out?? We really didn't have any negative experiences- just a couple of mishaps (which I will detail later), but overall it was pretty amazing.

Why did we love it so much? Well...

FOOD: We are big foodies - we've eaten at many a Michelin-starred restaurant and love, love, love good food. As such, I did not have high expectations for cruise ship food. However, the Main Dining Room was amazing! 4 courses at lunch and 5 courses of dinner, plenty of choices, and so many creative combinations/ingredients! The service was also amazing - we had a different steward each time and all of them were incredibly More friendly, talented, and efficient. We only had to wait a while for food twice during the entire week, (and once was the night of the Baked Alaska parade, so it doesn't really count).
The buffet (Lido) was standard fare, lots of options and manageable lines (at least the few times we went). I didn't understand why someone would go to the Lido very often when the Main Dining Room had much better food! We didn't splurge for Pinnacle Grill but heard great things from fellow cruisers.

MORE FOOD: In addition to regular meals, you could pay extra for a cooking lesson ($30 - a great deal), which I really enjoyed and for $80, you could eat with the head chef, who prepared you a 7-course gourmet meal which came with a wine pairing from the cellar master. Again, a great deal - would have cost at least twice as much on land!!

THE SHIP: We were very happy with the public areas of the ship - I was prepared for them to be all old and run-down since this is an older ship, but they were beautiful - we loved the Explorer's Lounge, where we often listened to the string quartet, the Explorations cafe/library, the Mix bar with cool computerized tables, the crows nest, and the outside areas on decks 10,11, and 12, where we sunbathed during the day and stargazed at night.

THE SERVICE: The vast majority of the staff was so incredibly open and friendly. We really enjoyed this aspect of the cruise. It was so much fun to talk to people from all over the world.

OUR CABIN: Again, I was prepared for it to be tiny and run down, but it was quite spacious for a cruise ship, and the furnishings were nice. Our bed was really comfortable!

FELLOW PASSENGERS: Younger than expected, probably since it was spring break. Still mostly 60+, but also lots of families, 30 and 40-something couples, and a few couples our age. Everyone was really nice and we made quite a few friends. The one downside of an older demographic was that the nightlife was v. quiet (see below).

ENTERTAINMENT: The shows weren't Broadway-quality or anything, but they were quite good. We enjoyed the ones we attended (a juggler, a comedian, a Broadway special, and a performance from the ship's band). We loved the string quartet and listened to them almost daily. We also enjoyed listening to the band play by the pool during the day.

ACTIVITIES: We did a lot of trivia, which was really fun and a great way to meet people. They could have done better prizes though!!! There were a couple of dance lessons that we went to. Overall, it was a full schedule each day, and even though we're not the target demographic for Holland America, we found plenty to keep us busy.

- Nightlife: I don't know if anything can be done about this, but the main bar, Crow's Nest, was DEAD some evenings. Like the-DJ-packs-up-and-leaves dead. Even when people came, few of them danced. It was mostly older couples sitting around chatting or having a drink. We're not big partiers at all but would have been nice to have a livelier scene.
- On "At Sea" days, it was hard to get a seat on the deck. I should have probably figured this out and gone early to reserve one, but being a first-time cruiser I didn't realize there'd be such demand!
- Food service: We had open dining. Whenever we tried to make reservations there'd never be any available, and if you wanted to go during a peak time you had to wait for a while. However, they'd give you a buzzer that you could take anywhere on the ship so you could do something fun while you waited. One night they actually ran out of buzzers, so that was slightly annoying.
-Cleaning sheets/towels: we saw a couple of stains on our sheets and also on one set of beach towels we used.
- Pools - the intimate ship size was awesome in most aspects, but the pools were laughably tiny. I didn't swim in them because it wouldn't be fun - they're too small! Less

Published 03/20/12

Cabin review: DA648 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Just by the Aft staircase - super-convenient for getting around, and we didn't notice any increased noise. Right across steward's closet.

Read All Large Ocean-View Stateroom (DA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Mayan Ruins

* This review is for the Holland America Tulum and Beach Break Excursion* This was the excursion we most looked forward to but ended up liking least. It was an 8 hour excursion and we spent LESS THAN AN HOUR at the actual ruins. It took a while to get to Tulum (45 minute ferry and 1 hour bus ride). Then about 30-45 min once we got off the bus due to various unnecessary holdups. We asked the tour guide twice whether he would take us everywhere or if we should go off on our own if we'd like to see everything. He reassured us that Tulum is very small and we'd see everything, so we stuck with him. He spent a long time at the entrance talking about stuff you could read in a book, and only took us to the main areas of the ruins. Then we got 5 minutes of free time before heading back. I snuck off to explore on my own a bit and saw gorgeous, deserted parts of the ruins that we had not gone to. Explored these for a bit and finally jogged back to the bus to make the "strict" deadline that the guide claimed we'd be leaving by. My husband and I were THE FIRST people on the bus - the guide had somehow lost everyone else and spent the next 20 minutes herding them from the souvenir shops to the bus. Overall, we only got to very quickly walk through the ruins and didn't even get to visit the beautiful beach at Tulum. We were surprised, since our excursion was supposed to include a beach break. Turns out they decided to drive us about 20-25 minutes further away to a nondescript restaurant for a buffet of food (it was okay, nothing special) and our break would be on the restaurant's beach, which was not nearly as nice as the Tulum beach. We didn't have too much time at this spot either. I really don't understand why we had to drive further away from the port to eat - neither the beach nor the food were anything special. Given that time is a luxury, they should find a place to eat that's on our way back to the port - how is this not obvious to the tour operator? They should also be honest about the limits of the guided tour, especially if people ask. Overall, not worth the time, money and hassle, next time I would just hire a cab or something to take me to the ruins independently :/

The port is a very sanitized, constructed area vs. authentic Jamaican life. Perhaps this is inevitable, since so many people on cruise ships visit that area, but I would have liked to see more real Jamaica. Our excursion was horseback riding on some trails and then in the Caribbean. It was an awesome experience, but we barely got any time in the water and then had to sit around for a while waiting for our bus driver. The ride over was also quite long.
Read 1033 Falmouth Reviews

Dolphin Encounter

This was a fun excursion - the ride over from the port was very quick (~20 minutes), and we loved playing and swimming with our dolphin. We were split in groups of ~12 people so you had to wait for your turn with the dolphin for each little activity we did with him, but it moved quickly and watching the others was fun. Afterwards we looked at and played with some turtles. My one huge complaint about this excursion was PHOTOS. They ensured that you could not take a single photo of your dolphin experience, even if you had a waterproof camera. Then, they charged $100 for photos!!!! That's almost as much as the excursion itself! So we ended up not having any photos of our experience.

This was one of my favorite ports. It was easy to get around on foot (or by public transportation), so it wasn't necessary to book an excursion. The Hemingway house is within walking distance - we took a tour and really enjoyed it. There are plenty of other tourist attractions, though. Key West also has several awesome places serving key lime pie, and I felt that the souvenir shopping was a bit more fun than the other ports we saw (more authentic stuff that you'd actually want to buy vs. tourist knick-knacks, though there were plenty of those as well). Due to wind, we had to dock away from the central tourist area and take shuttles over. That was the one inconvenience during our stay.
Read 1393 Key West Reviews
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