7 Osaka Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews

Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well ... Read More
Our April 15 to May 1 time on the Volendam as we crossed the Pacific Ocean was mixed between positive and negative. Perhaps this is the case with others on the subject cruise, as well as many on other cruises with Holland America, as well as on other lines. First, the positive. The ship was in excellent condition. Never did I see any worn carpet, or worn upholstery on furniture. Contrary to other reports, all the the ship's water supply was properly filtered and treated. We had no problem with foul looking or tasting water as reported on other reviews and information about the Volendam. Our shower could have had more water pressure and hotter water, but it was adequate. While our initial boarding was delayed, the ship's captain made the correct decision by ordering a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas of the ship. The previous voyage had experienced much illness of the GI type. A free shuttle bus was provided from and back to the boarding terminal. The bus went to and returned from a very nice and large Kobe department store. I was able to purchase four bottles of good wine for later consumption on the ship. The captain correctly continued having the ship areas disinfected and insisting that all passengers and crew wash hands and use the hand cleaning dispensers available throughout the ship. As a result, the extraordinary procedures for sanitation were relaxed about half-way through the cruise, although reinstated for a short time a few days later. The entertainment was generally good, although sometimes not well attended. The Piano Lounge pianist, Steve, was very skilled, clever, and entertaining. My wife, more of a knowledgeable musician than I, said he was an excellent pianist and accompanist. Steve also organized, was Master of Ceremonies, and accompanied singers for the guest talent show. I believe all the participants performed well, and that the two to three hundred in the audience enjoyed the show. I think, and hope, my 'Ol Man River was appreciated. As is proper, there was no determination of a winner, etc., for the talent show. These shows used to occur on most cruises, but now seem to have been replaced with Karaoke contests, with winners determined by ship staff personnel. While I enjoy Karaoke as much as anyone, I believe making it a contest is inappropriate. The adagio performers in the Explorer Lounge were a violin and pianist from the Ukraine. They were good musicians and played well, but attendance was too often sparse. They did give a fine performance at their own show one afternoon. Our favorite waitress was Marivic, who served us in the Explorer Lounge. She is from the Philippines, always pleasant, and with a great sense of humor. Our Neptune Lounge concierge ladies were also exceptionally pleasant and helpful. Now for he disappointing factors. For the first time ever, we splurged for a Superior Suite, named a Deluxe Verandah Suite, or Neptune Suite, on this ship. The pricing, changes in pricing, and our final attaining of the best price by contacting high level management are too detailed to get into here. The suite in general was what we expected, although perhaps a bit smaller than those on larger ships. Our main problem with the suite itself was the bathtub-shower. We only showered, never using a filled tub or the water jet function. We found the width of the tub base to be extremely narrow and uncomfortable for showering. Two feet would barely fit, and we are not large people. The verandah was very wide, as much as 11 or 12 feet. While this would be nice for warm weather cruising, the great width would hardly compensate for the very narrow bathroom and its narrow tub. Why the ship was designed this way in the first place escapes me. However, except for the very small bathroom and tub and waisted verandah area, the suite was nice. The complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service for suite guests was a plus. Cabin cleaning and service was fine, given that we seldom saw the cabin steward or assistant. In room breakfast service was good and on time. A minor problem occurred with the one live plant in the suite. One day my wife noticed it was drooping and lacked water. She watered the plant and it recovered. The cabin steward should have done this. Our major problem occurred during our first night on board, and continued for several nights. It happened that our cabin was immediately under the dishwashing room on the Lido deck above. Early every morning at about 6:30 am the dishwashing machines would be started. As they were drained the night before, the start-up was accompanied by a loud water hammer, or other such noise. Then, for a few more minutes, other noises occurred. We occupied 7028. I soon learned the suite guests on both sides, 7030 and 7026, were also awakened each morning by this noise. One of these guests inquired and was told nothing could be done about this noise. I then visited with our nice concierge lady in the Neptune Lounge and discussed the problem. She went to the Lido deck, asked about what correction could be made, and was told nothing could be done. I then asked to see the Hotel Manager. An intermediary then had the problem fixed by the dishwashing people using a different procedure. However, I still later met with the Hotel Manager who maintained that no one had previously complained about the early morning noise. What! Are you kidding me? I also spoke with this gentleman about the fact that shuttle buses in the Japanese ports we visited were never announced in the Explorer, the daily "poop” sheet. He responded that each city provided these buses, and it was not known if the buses would really be there. Well, then write a probable/possible entry for the Explorer to inform people that he buses could be available. While the Cruise Director spoke to our Cruise Critic "Meet and Greet” group the first cruise day and said Karaoke would be several times, it was provided only once. Our dining room experience was sometimes fine, but often lacking. Escargot was offered only once. As an example of our disappointment, I offer this. Once the menu included pheasant. The serving consisted of only the leg. The same occurred with duck. Neither menu stated leg. It is expected that if nothing is otherwise specified about the pheasant or duck part, the serving will be the breast. But I repeat, neither menu stated leg. I will not further elaborate about dining, but the experience was mixed. We did not participate in Pinnacle dining except for the complimentary lunch for Neptune Suite people, That was very good. So I could write much more, but the above may provide a flavor of our cruise experience on the Volendam across the Pacific. Bob (bobblsc) Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board ... Read More
After our comfortable flight with Emirates to Osaka we had a night to relax in our hotel.transfer to the port of Kobe seemed to be well organised but on arrival at the embarkation it was absolute chaos.It took nearly 90minutes to board .endless queuing despite documents being in order.Not a good start to a 5 Star Cruise! Our stateroom on the Verandah deck was as expected.our stewards were extremely helpful. No complaints. However the food in the Rotterdam and the Lido were not of the same quality we had on previous cruises.we had fixed dining in the Rotterdam every night and soon discovered that the food was not served hot . We complained to the maitre d and had a very indifferent reply .(how dare you !) The stewards were very efficient being let down by the kitchen. Entertainment was ok nothing outstanding .daily activities were adequate . Travel guide information was good but information for the independent traveller was not very forthcoming .many of our fellow passengers did not like to be herded in large groups on shore excursions .The prices were so inflated too. Nagasaki was ideal to explore on your own using public transport.the ship docked conveniently within walking distance. Shanghai was the best port of call.We docked opposite the Pearl Tower. A fantastic view from our stateroom. We choose HAL because the smaller ships can dock in places not suitable for larger vessels. However Hong Kong was The Great Anti climax.instead of the Ocean Terminal we docked at a container port without any facilities. Not only were we robbed of the spectacular entry into Hong Kong Harbour but wevended up in a backyard! The cruise information on your webside tells you that ships are docking at the Ocean Terminal,Downtown. As a result disembarkation was a debacle. No taxis were available and your choice was you and your luggage were transferred to the Ocean Terminal.What a joke! The second choice an overpriced bus transfer to your hotel ($34 per head !) costcutting by HAL and a further opportunity of taking money of its passengers Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This cruise was good, but mainly because of the food, the service and the company we were lucky enough to meet. We're in our early to mid 50's but were much too young for this cruise.......... Entertainment was sparse! The ... Read More
This cruise was good, but mainly because of the food, the service and the company we were lucky enough to meet. We're in our early to mid 50's but were much too young for this cruise.......... Entertainment was sparse! The nightly shows were all (apart from the comedians - I use the term lightly) directed at the 70+ age group - we were told average age was 63...more like 75-80! Operatic and really constrained. Activities were also sparse, even Pictionary only ran twice. Apart from Trivia and the odd wine tasting (additional cost) there was not a great deal to do. Many people enjoyed the line dancing but were very disppointed it only went for 1/2 hour and was only on 3 times. An hour would have been much better for the people I spoke to. Shore tours were very expensive and quite rushed. On one of our tours the tour guide said almost nothing after the 1st 20mins on the bus and fell asleep on the way back. She also told us we'd have free time to shop and then when we'd finished the tour and asked for shoppng time she said "I went slowly so you could shop" Who moved the goal posts and why?!!!! At our Beijing stop (which is listed as Xing Yang (Beijing)) we found to our surprise (maybe we are ignorant but it still should have been pointed out) that the port is about 2 1/2 hrs drive from Beijing and that the VERY expensive tours are mainly driving. The only way the ship offered to minimise travel was to offer a 2 day/1 night tour (incl accom) for US$890 per person. We, at the last minute organised a similar tour which was VERY good for less than US$300/person. Only trouble is that before we organised the tour we were told that we had to re-board and hand in our passports by 6PM 2nd day. After we'd booked and were leaving the ship we were told we had to do this by 4.30PM no explanation. Tends to mess up a tour a bit. This sort of thing happened all the time - times were given in writing and then changed verbally without explanation or apology at most destinations. Information WAS forthcoming but WAS unreliable! When trying to find out about hop-on/hop-off buses and other info for arranging our own tours we were met with little help or advice unless it was a ship-organised tour. Some of the problems we had with entertainment not fitting our age group has to be attributed to our travel agent giving us poor advice but I do believe that the targeted audience was MUCH too narrow. Ship temp TOO HOT ALWAYS-VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Ultimate Japan & China. March 2013 Very disappointed with Holland America, not up to 5 star standard expected. Kobe Japan, Check in experience very chaotic. Nearly every passenger was extremely jet lagged after long haul ... Read More
Ultimate Japan & China. March 2013 Very disappointed with Holland America, not up to 5 star standard expected. Kobe Japan, Check in experience very chaotic. Nearly every passenger was extremely jet lagged after long haul flights, this was not taken into consideration. Our luggage was not put on our transfer coach it was taken to a truck, this included my hand luggage which contained articles that I needed in the cabin. I had to chase around up and down stairs with an assistant to look for it. Cabin On entering the cabin strong smell of sweat, on bed especially pillows. Blood on floor and wall of bathroom not ours, reported then it was cleaned. Bath slip mat black around logos. Dirty black stains on pillow case before use, reported it,they changed pillow case. Thick streak of dark blue paint across window, rectified after about a week Dirty windows for the duration of the cruise, not cleaned in port. The painting around the window has been poorly executed, smudged and sloppy. Promenade Deck The painting on promenade desk was amateurish, there is no excuse sloppiness Lounger cushions dirty with bird droppings. Rugs were left out to get soaked and could not be used when needed. White plastic tooth pick/floss tool was in the gutter for days. Restaurant Trying to get a 2 table each night was a joke, staff stared blankly at the screen as though no one had ever asked for a table for two before, always had to wait even though there were loads of empty tables. Service patchy, waiters seemed to be novices or bored, working by rote. Muddled orders and long waits, stacked food left for 10 minutes to get cold before taking to tables. Lido, Outdoor table-tops stained and worn not clean, these should be replaced, even on 3 star ships they are not this bad. Coffee mugs often dirty and stained inside. Plates are badly crazed, we would have thrown them out at home ages ago. Some Food not hot enough, thermometers should be used surely? Last day on board the passengers and outside tables on lido deck were showered with large flakes of black soot. That's a first on a cruise! No attempt by the crew to remove the dirt from tables or the deck, they just took a couple of empty glasses away and left. The soot was getting into peoples hair and onto their light coloured clothes. Red Tape Disorganised 'face to face' with .Chinese officials Excessive queuing due to passengers arriving too early, before their allocated times, just because they were not told NOT TO. Surely their vast customer research has taught them to manipulate crowds, or at least keep them happy while waiting. Ports of Call We feel that Independent travellers were treated as second class passengers NOT 5 star ones. When booking a cruise, the most important thing for us are the ports of call, each one is analysed for the length of stay. All our previous cruises have allowed half an hour before departure - for all aboard. As one example 6.30 departure normally means 6 .00 all aboard, not 4:30 last shuttle for a ten minute coach trip, or 6:30 last shuttle when we are overnight onboard!. Shuttles were too late departing and too early coming back,this made it impossible to achieve our planned itineraries on several occasions. Their excuse to us was Chinese Red Tape, so does lengthy red tape only apply to those not on excursions? The shore excursions were leaving hours earlier and coming back 30 mins before sailing This was a once only holiday, we cannot consider repeating it to catch up on the missed sights. In all aspects a very tired ship. Crew suffer from lack of motivation and loss of any identity. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was our first cruise with Holland America Line on board the MS Volendam which sailed from Kobe, Japan on 4th March 2013. The cruise was to take us to Nagasaki, Busan, Dalian, Xingang, Shanghai and to Hong Kong on the 18th March. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Holland America Line on board the MS Volendam which sailed from Kobe, Japan on 4th March 2013. The cruise was to take us to Nagasaki, Busan, Dalian, Xingang, Shanghai and to Hong Kong on the 18th March. We have cruised with most of the major cruise companies in the past and so this review is based on a wide experience of ships and companies. We had never previously booked with HAL because their prices were always quite a lot more expensive than some of the other major cruise lines and I suppose for this reason we had formed the opinion that they were something outstanding and this view appeared to be shared by a number of fellow passengers that we met. Recently, HAL have advertised some very attractive fares and this was the main reason that we had booked this cruise together that we had friends in Hong Kong that we wanted to meet up with. Pre Cruise Experience The booking procedure was fairly straightforward but our first problem that emerged was obtaining a Visa for China. Obviously, we were notified that we needed a visa but everyone that we spoke to appeared to have a different view as to which visa we needed one company informed us that we needed a double entry visa, another indicated that a multiple entry visa was needed and another indicated that a single entry visa was needed so we submitted an open entry and sent a copy of the itinerary with the application and a credit card number and we had a multiple entry visa granted at a cost of £90 plus recorded delivery postage. On the first night at dinner on board we sat at a table of 6 people, none that we had met before, and the question of visas was raised and it appeared that we all had different visas and that everyone had also been given conflicting advice from different sources. One lady had been informed that a single entry visa would suffice at a cost of £30 whilst the others had either got double entry at £60 or multiple as we had. It appears that HAL had also given conflicting advice to different passengers. Obviously, the difference in cost was quite significant so during the cruise I sent a note to the Front Desk asking which was the correct visa but did not receive a reply. Shortly after this I was in a queue at the Front Desk when I heard a lady in front of me also asking the same question and so I related my experiences and we were informed that they could not answer our query but would get back to us. As I had not received a reply I raised the question again and received an apology together with some chocolates and was asked to go and discuss the matter with the person that understood these matters which I did and it appears that only a single entry visa is required and so we had wasted £120. The second problem arose in the form of a notification that the ship would not now dock at the Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong but at a Container Port some 30 minutes away from the center of Hong Kong. As my friends had advised me that this would be difficult to get transport from this container terminal I emailed HAL asking if they were going to provide transport and this was their reply "The new address for the dock at which the Volendam will be at is attached in the following documents. A map is also attached for your use. Local taxi services are located close by and they will be able to take you to and from the new terminal. If you are unable to alter your arrangements from the original Cruise Terminal to the Modern Terminal a taxi will be able to take you." As my friends had informed me that getting a taxi would be difficult here and with over a 1,000 people disembarking I could foresee many problems and so I had asked my friends to make alternative arrangements which they did. During the course of the cruise we were notified that HAL were now providing a shuttle to the Hong Kong Cruise Terminal as obtaining taxis would be almost impossible and I raised this issue with the Front Desk and was informed that this docking arrangement had been in place for 12 months. If this is correct why was the cruise sold on the basis that it docked at HK Cruise Terminal two months before it sailed? I did ask the question but have not received a reply. The third problem arose due to the fact that the Internet was not available on the ship whilst the ship was in Japanese ports or within 50 miles of the coast of Japan -- this really inconvenienced many people that needed to be in touch 24/7 and should have been notified to passengers at the time of booking. The last problem relates to the seating for dinner and as I wanted an early sitting I was informed that this was not available and that we would have to have a late sitting and try to change this on the ship. When we boarded I was informed that we had been given open seating, which suited us better but there was no mention that this was available when we booked. The Cruise The ship accommodates 1432 guests and is now some 14 years old but is still in nice condition and is quite well laid out and it was never very difficult to find a seat in the restaurant or Lido. The choice of food was reasonable but not outstanding and the officers and crew were always polite and helpful. The ship was kept very clean and our cabin steward was excellent. Entertainment was ok but not outstanding as were the enrichment sessions. The fresh flowers around the ship added to the atmosphere. The shops are very limited and do not carry a good range of products and tend to major on jewelry, watches and small gifts. The library and internet rooms are quite good and spacious and it was only on sea days that it was difficult to find a seal. Excursions We did not take any excursions because we found them very expensive -- for example the overnight Beijing Trip offered by HAL would have cost us about £280 each but by arranging a private tour we did it for £180 each and visited more sights. The Nagasaki Trip that we arranged via the local Tourist Office only cost us about £50 whereas doing it via HAL would have cost us about £120 and in this instance we had a personal guide as well. In addition to this we found the private tours more personal and were able to make some good friends. This was the first time that I had arranged private tours but it definitely wont be the last. Overall Impressions We enjoyed this cruise because it went to destinations that we wanted to visit, was good value, the weather was quite good, the ship and facilities were good and we made some nice friends. On the minus sign HAL need to improve their communications pre cruise and their customer service on board. Whist I made these comments on board some of the questions have not yet been answered. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
After a fairly intensive dry dock in Singapore for two weeks, the ship looked very good wih new carpets, seating, decking etc. The ship was due to travel to northern Japan but due to the recent disasters there, HAL opted for South Korea ... Read More
After a fairly intensive dry dock in Singapore for two weeks, the ship looked very good wih new carpets, seating, decking etc. The ship was due to travel to northern Japan but due to the recent disasters there, HAL opted for South Korea & Russian ports. Less than 1000 passengers. Each passenger was given $250 OBC and 10% discount on their next cruise due to the itinerary change. The crew were excellent as with entertainment, although we had seen the regular shows on past cruises (12 months ago) Meals were the standard fare and nothing to complain about...especially the extra seafood on offer as they were taking new supplies on in Alaska. Tender ports were speedy with minor lines. Overall an excellent repositioning cruise. Click the link to see the highlights: Video highlights of the Volendam Northern Explorer cruise from Kobe,Japan to Vancouver,Canada via Busan, South Korea, Vladivostok & Petropavlosk,Russia, Kodiak Island & Sitka (via Inside Passage) Alaska May 2-17, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQgh4_pMEKI Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Cruise Critic's embarkation port selection did not have Kobe, so I typed in Osaka which is near Kobe.We were very impressed when we arrived Vancouver, our final destination. All passengers could wait in the stateroom until the ... Read More
Cruise Critic's embarkation port selection did not have Kobe, so I typed in Osaka which is near Kobe.We were very impressed when we arrived Vancouver, our final destination. All passengers could wait in the stateroom until the announcement was made to disembark.  It was very comfortable waiting. It took us only less than 30 minutes from stateroom to the taxi stand at the very user friendly port of Vancouver.Volendam's lunch and dinner improved a lot on May 18 and 20, 2009, on last two days.  Maybe the company wanted us to forget the past 17 days of budget oriented dinner menu with fancy names and explanations.  First time Lobster appeard on the dinner menu was May 18th, and the lobster they served there as well as in the Pinnacle Grill was a warm water lobster and not the cold water lobster like Maine Lobster.   Even  Carnival's 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise serves a lobster and filet mignon once during their 7 day cruise ! We had to wait 17 days to see our only Lobster and Filet.At the speciality Coffee station, I saw the attendant opening a milk carton made in China, obviously Volendam uses milk materials made in China.  So I start to drink my coffee black and avoided all milk products. Somebody should check each Cruise Line to see which product they buy and use aboard the ship from China. I do not want to dine on food made in China.On our  10th day, we still had the same bed lines from Kobe. There were 61 Japanese guests travelling as a group and one of them told me that I had to request personally if I want my linens changed.  So on our 11th day, we had a bed linen changed. I requested bed linens to  be changed on every fourth day and the cabin steward followed my request.In Ketchikan, I returned to my cabin,exhausted from the shore excursion and found out that my bed was neatly made with 3 day old linens.  Cabin steward told me that the fresh linens were not available on the morning of May 18th and when he came back with the fresh linens at 1:30pm, my husband was asleep and could not change the linens.   This shows that cabin steward is doing their best: making bed neatly each morning with the same sheets, and the fresh sheets were not available some mornings.  I suspect it is Holland America's policy to cut the cost, therefore, they instruct the cabin stewards to use the same old sheets as long as they can. I do not blame ship employees as it was obvious everyone was working very hard and they were always pleasant and kind.  I blame Holland America's Corporate Office to put a cheap.policy on bed linens and foods the guests consume daily.I suggest the Line to start offering the eco-friendly card indicating if a guest wants clean linen and towels, to indicate a guest's request as done in most of US Hotels.There was a great Musician/Pianist/Band Leader called Jim. But his Afro American female vocalist was not good.We had sailed Holland America in the Mediterranean and the Carribbean about 15 years ago and our most recent trip was a sad experience for us.  Is there any hope for Holland America to return to the past LEADER of the Cruise Industry ? Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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