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6 South Pacific World Cruise Reviews

30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise ... Read More
30 day Hawaii & Tahiti Cruise----Feb. 14, 2014, 16 sea days and 14 port days. Although we are four star mariners on HAL it has been almost three years since we cruised with them. The following is a summary of the ship and my cruise experience, beginning with the positive followed by concerns. Generally speaking—I find no significant degeneration in HAL's service or facilities. This was a very good cruise and I highly recommend it. Excellent weather and relatively calm seas all the way except Moorea, the port we had to miss due high winds. * I recently read a review from a lady regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the Statendam in which she condemned the ship and company for allowing the ship to deteriorate. I find that not to be accurate at all, conversely, this ship is well taken care. The Statendam entered service in 1993 and, with the possible exception of the Prinsendam, I find it better maintained than most of the HAL fleet we have previously sailed on, most of which were newer ships. HAL has always enjoyed a reputation of taking good care of their ships; I find they still do so. *The meals were better in general than I recall on most previous voyages, the only exception being the “Pinnacle” which is still good but has slipped slightly, we used it 6 times. The Lido buffet seemed to have a larger food variety this trip and HAL does a great job of making certain everything is sanitized. I love the fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning there. The Canoletto was very good and made for an intimate dinner, last time we were on the Ryndam they didn’t charge the $10.00 per that they do now in the Canoletto. However, on the Ryndam things were so crowded, probably because no charge for the Canoletto, that the tables, even for two, were so packed together that it was like joining a "6 conversations going at once club". *Shore excursions were all pretty well put together and of quality. All escorts were tour knowledgeable and easy to understand. HAL did not overload the coaches and managed to keep most of the passenger loads to around 50% max. We also sail a lot on Regent which equally has excellent excursions, but their price is included in the cruise package which I greatly prefer. *During our last 200 days or so at sea we have elected to take open dining. No more traditional for us. We experienced excellent service in the main dining room by HAL personnel and always got a table for two, seldom we had to wait, maybe twice for a minute or two. This is our second voyage on HAL using their “Any time you wish dining”, or, almost 60 days at sea with HAL using that service. It is my opinion that HAL critics of this procedure are flat wrong. *The gym on this ship was excellent in that it had lots of modern workout equipment, was located up high with good views of the ocean and not overcrowded like so many of them are. *The Statendam is one of HAL's "S" class ships. So is the Ryndam which we have also sailed on. It occurred to me that this class ship has more open deck public area per passenger than any ship we have been on. This proves to be a major plus for guests on cruises where a lot of scenic cruise days are involved, like along the coast of Alaska, glacier viewing, Antarctica, fiords of Norway and so on. All open decks on this ship are planked with Teak, and there is two 360 degree complete walk around decks, the promenade and the uppermost outdoor deck which runs around the top perimeter. Also there are many decks where public can gather to sightsee. On so many ships when approaching spectacular points of interest, like Hubbard Glacier at Yakutat, everybody is on deck trying to find nook for good viewing. Decks are so crammed that it is ludicrous. One frequent criticism of the newer megaships is that they have little open deck space for observation, sunbathing or cozy quiet places to read, which used to be considered of value for traditional ocean travel of yesteryear. Instead, the ships are designed like shopping malls and amusement parks where guests are pretty much confined to interior areas. Even though these ships might have excellent space to passenger ratios, getting out and enjoying an open sea breeze is not a number one priority for ship designers anymore. *Prior to boarding someone told me that HAL still had the same old selection of news service on cabin TVs. I dread being relegated to watching only FOX and CNN, so I simply leave the TV off. Imagine my surprise then, when I find MSNBC (My favorite), BBC, and FOX. HAL got smart and got rid of program duplicity leaving CNN out and giving their guests a “fair and balanced” selection of news choices and reviews. *As always, HAL has provided a good selection of theme lecturers for a voyage. Three in particular I liked so much on this one I didn’t miss a single one of their presentations. On this voyage they have something new, a Polynesian, Kanioa, who works full time describing ports and history of the Pacific, he even does some Alaska and South America. He has an artful sense of humor that really cracked folk up occasionally. Quite a change from the old travel agent style delivery by someone speaking about everything in general with a delivery similar to reading from a text book. Both HAL, Regent and Princess are excellent in providing experts for areas being traveled, such as naturalists, biologists, anthropologists and historians. HAL is one of the few lines anymore that provides a protestant cleric for Sunday services and daily devotionals. *We had a normal balcony stateroom located on deck 9 slightly forward of midship. Enjoyed it although would like a larger bathroom without the tub, but only a shower. Great balcony, larger than most. Even though this voyage has been very smooth, one time during the day when we couldn't get into Moorea I felt the ship take on a big one, I looked outside, through our patio windows, to see a wall of white water completely obscure the view for a few seconds. Being on deck 9, or 7 decks or stories above the water line, the spray must have reached 10 stories up. *We had seven formal nights, which we like. *I really like their hot tubs on the Lido deck, used them every day. *Entertainment was pretty much on par for most ships this size. They had some great singers and performers and have pretty much done away with the bore comedians with their corny political jokes that leaves half the audience mad and the other cackling (although they do have a comic now and then that is very good they are now wise enough to stay away from ignorant politics or religious issues). *Most unique port visited: Fanning Island. *Best deals and quality on local made items: Fanning Island. *Most exciting: Port: Rangiroa--Due to dicey departure through channel in order to enter ocean again. Also, best demonstration of Black Pearl farming found here. *Most educational shore excursion: All day tour around Island of Tahiti which looked good in the shore excursion description but expensive. Later, when I checked it out on the ship it was closed out. But later yet they expanded it. Sure glad they did, besides being an excellent tour it included lunch at a restaurant that was out of this world, du Musee Gauguin. If we ever get back to Tahiti again we are definitely going to try to get there for dinner. Regarding the down sides: *HAL has definitely reduced staff levels. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have that many apparent negative ramifications, although the reductions do have an impact. For instance, the laundry equipment was down more often than should be and all around staff effort isn't near as coordinated as it used to be so there is a lot of reacting and not enough anticipation of potential problem areas. *I am not enamored with HAL's new wine policy. I do miss the old one where one could bring a modest amount of wine on board at any port without charge or restrictions, it was an unique feature of their sailing experience. Since they are determined to go the mediocre route in order to fit in with most of the other big cruise lines, the least they could do is provide a red wine selection that is more reasonably priced. For instance, a $12.00 bottle of Cab. from COSTCO sells for about $55.00 on board. If you buy at COSTCO and pay the $18.00 corkage to bring it on board, you pay about $30,00. I would gladly pay HAL $35.00 for this wine and eliminate the hassle. *The price of Internet is horrible due to the slow speeds. I wish HAL would give free Internet perks like Regent does. I would greatly appreciate that over some of the other Mariner perks provided.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was our third cruise on Oceania (including one on the predecessor Ranaissance) and the first on Marina. We did the itinerary from Sydney to Tahiti - 25 days - in March/April 2013. I cannot say enough about the quality of this ship. ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Oceania (including one on the predecessor Ranaissance) and the first on Marina. We did the itinerary from Sydney to Tahiti - 25 days - in March/April 2013. I cannot say enough about the quality of this ship. Luxury is found in every aspect of the ship. Among the most important elements is that the ship is very well sized for the passenger count. The Marina is larger than the previous Oceania ships and takes 1250 passengers. Both the physical size of the ship and the size of the staff is perfectly matched to the passenger count. There is never any difficulty finding a place to sit anywhere, whether in the buffet dining room, poolside, lounges, casino, or even getting on equipment in the fitness center. The cabins are very well sized and the space is very well used. The staff is uniformly excellent. I have never seen such friendly and pleasant people who are so eager to be helpful without being overbearing. The food is the best I have encountered on any other cruise line (and I have been on many others). There are four specialty restaurants (French, Italian, Asian and Beef) and each is fantastic with regard to both the quality of food, quality of presentation, breadth of menu and quality of service. There are no additional charges for these restaurants, although reservations are needed. The main dining room does not come up to the same high standard. Although the service there is excellent, and being seated (open dining) was never a problem, the menus and food quality not not nearly as good as the specialty restaurants. As a result, we had 19 of our 25 diners at the specialty restaurants. We eventually learned that on the nights when we could not get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, the buffet was an excellent alternative. The selection and quality was actually much better than the main dining room. As long as you don't mind the informality of a buffet, it is an excellent choice.We really enjoyed the more casual dress code of this ship. A jacket is never required at any of the restaurants. There are no "formal nights" which for us is a pleasure. We really appreciated that there are no extra charges for anything except liquor. Soft drinks, cappuccino, mixers, etc. are all free. We were on the concierge level and the concierge lounge was always well stocked with juice, soft drinks, bottled water, small snacks, coffee/tea/cappuccino. The fridge in out room was also stocked with soft drinks and water. Of course, alcohol is available for purchase, but much to our delight, they do not constantly push it on you as is the case on many other ships. If you are poolside and want a soft drink, it will be brought to you. If you want a drink you will get one easily but you won't be bombarded with constant attempts to sell you liquor. Especially nice that that whenever you leave the ship there is bottled water available as you leave. On so many other ships, they squeeze an extra few bucks out of you by selling water to you as you leave the ship. Now for the one big negative...the pricing of their shore excursions is outrageously high compared to any other ship I have been on. Also, the quality of the excursions is nothing special. At a couple of our ports we took independently arranged excursions and they were much better and very much cheaper (1/2 to 1/3 the cost). One striking example is that at our disembarkation in Pappete, Tahiti, they ship charged $149/person to transfer to the airport by bus (a 15-20 minute ride). We took a cab which cost us $20 for 4 people. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Lastminute.com offered a good fare on Singapore Airlines' new A380, and the long outbound flight was surprisingly enjoyable, with an amazing choice of entertainment, very acceptable food and good service. Sitting on the upper deck on ... Read More
Lastminute.com offered a good fare on Singapore Airlines' new A380, and the long outbound flight was surprisingly enjoyable, with an amazing choice of entertainment, very acceptable food and good service. Sitting on the upper deck on the Singapore to Sydney sector, albeit in economy class, was a further bonus. We had booked a hotel in (frighteningly expensive but enjoyable) Sydney for 2 nights prior to boarding and were blessed with gorgeous weather. We then had one night on board before sailing (in rather worse weather) for Noumea in New Caledonia; this first port was the least interesting of our stops, perhaps partly as we were there on a Sunday, when things were rather dead. It is several months now since we took the cruise and a bit late to go into lots of detail. I'd rather just give our overall impression, which is highly favourable. Our cabin was in the lower-priced range but quite spacious, well-equipped and beautifully serviced. The quality and variety of food were very acceptable, service in all departments was excellent, entertainment fairly low-key but enjoyable. Guest lecturers were, on the whole, interesting -- some truly inspiring -- and the entertainment staff, in fairness, did, at least, make efforts to gear their offerings somewhat more towards the non-British or anglophone passengers, who made up almost 20% of the total -- after complaints from 'foreigners' like us... The other ports of call were fascinating and the last nine days at sea, when all we saw were flying fish and some dolphins (no other ship, not even a plane), passed all too quickly; we were never bored and would gladly have stayed on to the end! As it happened, the charter flight back from Lima to Gatwick on a Pullmantur B747 was a bit of a letdown after the standards we had become accustomed to onboard. We had cruised with Fred.Olsen before and have become avid fans! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Our 'gap year' had to wait until we were three score years and ten. Sydney to Vancouver on the Holland America line ship Volendam in April & May 2010 was a part of our 'gap year' world cruise, Southampton UK to ... Read More
Our 'gap year' had to wait until we were three score years and ten. Sydney to Vancouver on the Holland America line ship Volendam in April & May 2010 was a part of our 'gap year' world cruise, Southampton UK to Southampton UK, but it was a world tour including cruising that we researched, saved for at least three years plus, booked and enjoyed more than words can express - but I'll try. We were away from home for nearly six months and missed the worst British winter since 1947. It involved P&O, Holland America, Canadian Railways and Cunard and just one short airflight - the least we could get away with. But this section, reviewed here, was through the Pacific Ocean visiting many islands and it was the the cruising highlight of the whole trip. Why? In a word - the people. The crew and passengers. The welcome at Sydney, on arrival on board, was exceptional. My wife uses a wheeled 'walker' to assist her (she has spine problems) and on spotting this a member of staff was assigned to take us to our cabin, an unprepossessing 'ocean view' with no balcony but certainly 25% larger in length and width than similar cruise ships. We might have expected this level of service if we had been travelling in a suite but we were travelling with the hoi polloi and this extra welcoming support was greatly appreciated. The cabins on HA ships are apparently all larger than you might expect from other shipping lines and we were made to feel not just welcome but valued guests. This was our first HA ship so we knew we did not have a confidential record in the purser's office that some regular travellers have - and even unworthily boast about over dinner. Despite that, flowers decorated the cabin, chocolates snuggled up to the ice bucket to prevent them melting and a bottle or two of sparklers wrapped in Irish linen napkins begged us to open them. Our cabin attendants, one male, one female paid us a visit without any implication that we should offer them a tip. In fact they already knew that we had opted for the per diem rate and thanked us in advance for our kindness. The ship's departure was scheduled for two days hence so we had the luxurious delight of having a waterfront cabin overlooking the iconic Sydney harbour bridge and two days of refined service without any sea-movement beneath our feet. We made the most of it taking harbour trips and a visit to Sydney zoo where a baby elephant had just been born to worldwide media acclaim. Earlier we had sailed from the Panama Canal down through many pacific islands but had to miss some that had been planned due to the Captain running ahead of a tropical storm. The journey northwards to Vancouver however was less threatening and more relaxing. We have come to expect gently falling standards of service and food on long cruises as particular food items run out, some with unexpected irony. For example we ran out of oranges in Floridian waters, bananas in the Caribbean and fish in the largest ocean in the world but that's cruising for you. On the Volendam however excellence persisted throughout. We visited Noumea after 3 days at sea, a very French culture with "15 colours and creeds", we were told. We went ashore under own steam to save funds and found the protestant cathedral at the top of a hill that was well worth a visit. Next came Ils Des Pins' french Polynesian culture. We only had two hours ashore but beautiful beaches and warm seas cried out for a longer stay. Port Vila Vanuatu was interesting but the town was 5 Kms from the port and the humidity drove us back to the ship early in a taxi without air conditioning. Two days at sea and Lautaka followed. There the policemen wore national Fijian uniforms of white skirts with pointed hems - and that was only the men - oddly the women officers wore trousers. Such a friendly and colourful place with seemingly everyone smiling. We sent parcels and cards from the tiny post office and they ALL arrived safely. Dravinu Island came and went as the weather prevented safe tendering ashore and we sailed onto Suva where the greeting on everyone's lips was 'BULA' or even BULA BULA to add emphasis. Certainly a place to return to ... one day! After crossing the international date line we arrived at Apea in Samoa. We visited author Robert Louis Stevenson's house organised by HA. It cost $US59 each and was very good value. We left the ship at 8.20am in gaily decorated buses with wooden slatted seats that played havoc with less upholstered bums. Fresh coconut drinks were served and the tour guides gave thoughtful and well researched information in the house and about his many books. We returned in time for one of Volendam's finest afternoon teas. Five days at sea found us in Ohau in the Hawaiian Islands docked at the fine port of Honolulu. We have previously visited the island and the Pearl Harbor experience so we indulged in some retail therapy. The oldest inhabited island in the archipelago is Kauai and its capital Nawiliwili which produced many a snigger from those who had that turn of mind. It's a beautiful island with no high rise building and a real sense of what Hawaii must have been like when the settlers first arrived. Maui came next and the town of Lahaina, so beautiful but suffering economically as the demand for sugar cane is decreasing. A remarkably large banyan tree, the world's largest, covers the whole of the town square and free buses, with guides, transfer you to beaches and resorts. Hilo is the place to share a taxi with friends for a tour that is half the price charged by HA if you don't want to do the live volcano. It's the insurance costs that pump the price up apparently. We saw the botanical gardens, a coffee roasting plant and the Rainbow Falls - who needs to see a volcano? Another five days at sea and we landed at Vancouver. The sea days some people dread in case there's nothing to do, but on the Volendam we were spoilt for choice. Uniquely in my experience we had creative writing and daily play readings with a group of cruising thespians led by arguably the most professional and enthusiastic cruise director and entertainments manager, Anthony Choice. Inevitably he has been promoted to bigger ships in the line now. The musicians on board were excellent, particularly the dance trio whose bass player hailed from a village just a couple of miles from where we live in the British midlands. It's a small world. As with all artists the stage shows were like the proverbial curate's egg, good in parts. An English singer and impressionist er 'doing' Neil Diamond should never have left British shores and an appalling American comedian with arguably the bluest and most lavatorial repertoire deserved to be put ashore earlier than he was. But the group of touring players and dancers were wonderful. The highlight of the entertainment was, in our view, the presentations by the staff from the Philippines and Indonesia. They got and deserved their standing ovations. The Volendam is a very pretty ship and will be even prettier after its scheduled refit later this year. The crew were impressive and a particular tribute must be paid to the First Officer who hosted a question and answer session about the ship in a determined effort to improve an already excellent level of cruising service. The email systems were just as bad as the Queen Mary's but we all have an unrealistic expectation of what can be delivered mid-ocean but technology will improve but probably not fast enough for our Internet appetites. Shopping aboard was an improvement upon the British run franchises if only because there was less 'tat' on offer but perhaps this was a reflection of a well-heeled clientele. Entry into US territory has become a punishment rather than a pleasure when dealing with their immigration service. We felt sorry both for the officers themselves with their unsmiling rituals to perform and the passengers. Disembarkation is always a poignant experience but we found ourselves assisted to the gangways and the shores of Vancouver with a generosity of spirit that made us really want to return to be served by our splendid Volendam dining room stewards who seemed to work 24 hours a day every day. They even made our departing breakfast a meal to remember. Oh happy Volendam days. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Our review starts with an overall assessment for the first day for this 30 day round trip cruise aboard the Holland America Statendam—San Diego to San Diego. Embarkation was in San Diego which has a good pier ... Read More
Our review starts with an overall assessment for the first day for this 30 day round trip cruise aboard the Holland America Statendam—San Diego to San Diego. Embarkation was in San Diego which has a good pier for cruise ships and the best part is the pier is in downtown, not far from the airport or city attractions. We stayed at the Marriott Gaslamp Hotel which is a short cab ride from the pier. Expect to pay around $12 for a short trip in the downtown area. At the pier was a Carnival ship and the Statendam. Our cab was permitted to cross security and pull along the ship terminal. Unloading was a snap as many porters were present. Holland American never mailed us baggage tags thus we had to ask a porter and then take the time to complete filling them out. When I offered $10 for the two baggage tags and the porter service, I was rudely told I would have to pay $20.Inside the building we went through security and got in line to get our cabin assignment. The lines moved very quickly. There is a separate line for handicapped and the wait was even shorter. Suggest if you are handicapped, look for that line. Once documents are given to you, the walk to the ship is short. There is an elevator for the handicapped. You may wonder why I am often mentioning the handicapped. There were many handicapped aboard this ship including many in wheelchairs. We were in our cabin within minutes. This was a very quick embarkation. It could not have gone easier. DINING—Let's start with the one subject that is most often heard in a conversation aboard a ship. Eating! We were greeted with a new dining concept aboard the Statendam, called "As You Wish Dining" The Main Statendam Dining Room as many will recall who have sailed on this ship earlier, is two decks. The top deck (Deck 8) is reserved for early and late fixed dining time seating. The bottom dining room (Deck7) is for "As You Wish Dining". You can make a reservation the day of dining for seating at various times. Unfortunately we never found open times available other the 5:30PM and 8:00PM. Perhaps you can have better luck. You can also "walk in" and ask for seating, however from the long lines we saw and the unhappy passengers who were turned away while we were dining at 5:30, it is difficult to see how this is going to work to everyone's satisfaction. We were told it was better to ask for late seating as late times were plentiful. For " walk in" dining you will be seated at the next vacant seat thus you may sit at a table for 2,4,6 or 8.After a few days it appeared this system begin to break down as many people including ourselves sat at a specific table. We noticed many people doing this and less and less dining reservations were noted in cabin mailboxes. It's day number four and I need to update the "As You Wish Dining" process. A call for reservations this morning was not successful. I was told that all reservations were taken except for 8PM. I checked with a fellow passenger and she was told the same, nothing available until 8PM. It may be a coincidence, on being told there was no reservations available and then seconds later getting a call from the front desk wanting to know if there were any problems and was there anything the front desk could help with. I declined any help and decided we will try the "walk in" approach this evening. If that doesn't work we will head for the Lido Deck dining area. You also have the option of eating at the Lido Dining which has just been renovated with new serving area and new seating. It is very nice. You may not be able to serve yourself as almost all the food is behind glass window dividers and you ask the server for the item. Perhaps some of this separation was brought about due to health concerns. Now the passengers cannot get directly to the food. No more touching food with your fingers, coughing or sneezing over the food. The serving area is broken down into theme type foods (Asia, beef, Italian, fish, etc ) This makes it rather easy to go directly to the items you desire. Breakfast , Lunch and Dinner are all served in this manner. Remember the times you have had to wait for a passenger who could not decide what slice of bacon they wanted and the line backed up and backed up. Now they get the next two pieces of bacon. If that is not your thing then you may not like this expedited serving process. We also noticed that portions offered are smaller. In fact everything that is served seems to be in smaller portions. Juice glass, coffee cups, etc are all smaller than we found in the past. The Pinnacle Grill is open for both lunch and dinner. There is an additional charge of $10 for lunch and dinner $20. We never saw many passengers dining in this restaurant. The food at dinner is steak and seafood. It is excellent. Lunch includes a hamburger-remember you are paying $10 to $20 extra per person to dine in this restaurant. Several passengers we found out had been given complimentary seating from their travel agents. If you like hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza or tacos, the Terrace Grill is on the same deck as the Lido Restaurant. Service is slow as each item is cooked after you order. We tried this snack bar several times and the slow service never changed. Your burger is not cooked until you place your order and cooking will take several minutes. The process never seemed rushed so expect ordering to take several minutes. If you drink cokes, then a drink card is available for $25 for 20 cokes. HOWEVER we learned that the card does have limits. For example my wife asked for a diet Sprite. Sorry but diet drinks are not available from the auto dispenser, only in cans and guess what, cans are not included for the card. We went to three bars one afternoon before we found a bartender willing to let us have two glasses of Diet Sprite poured from a can. There is no refill and the drinks show up in a small glass. You can also purchase from the bar cans of drinks. There is also a coffee card available for $20 for 10 coffees. Look at the prices as you will probably be better off purchasing individual coffees as you desire rather than buying the coffee card. In fact the bartender told us we might rather purchase individually than purchase the card. There is free coffee in the Lido Restaurant. Specialty coffees area available at several places on the ship at an additional cost. CABIN LOCATION-This is a small ship thus cabin location does matter. We've had cabins, on other Statendam cruises, in several places throughout the ship. Trust me-don't get too close to the front and aft ends of the ships as you will feel the ship's motion all night long and even more so if you are in rough seas. Some travel agents assist you and you decide which cabin suits you best. If you have a long cruise don't settle for anything less than what you want. ICE CREAM BAR-Contrary to other ships we have recently sailed this ship has an ice cream bar where you can get soft serve and hard frozen ice cream until 5:00PM without charge. You can make your own sundaes, get the ice cream in a dish or waffle cone. Several toppings were available. PHOTO SHOP-We continue to believe the cost of snap shots on cruise ships are way too much and this ship we found no different. The quality of the snapshots left a lot to be desired. Purchase your own quality digital camera and either print them off your computer or have a quality shop print them when you return home. The quality will be much better, plus you can all the photos you want to print. TIP—notice where the ship photographers go with their equipment, both on the ship and off the ship. Then take photos of your traveling companions at those locations, just like being at Disneyworld where there are many signs that read "photo spot". You will be dollars ahead. Photos sold as portraits aboard ships are just snapshots made with a medium price digital camera. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Prices on photo supplies are high aboard cruise chips, so make your purchases at discount store before you leave home. SPORTS ACTIVITIES-There is a basketball count on the top deck and ping pong on deck 11. Traveling on the Holland America Statendam will usually provide you ample opportunity to play. There is also golf putting, golf chipping, shuffleboard, basketball and volleyball aboard the ship. You can ear "Dam Dollars" if you win and later exchange those dollars for prizes. WHO ARE MY FELLOW TRAVELING PASSENGERS?-Traveling on the Holland America Statendam is certainly a far cry from traveling on a Carnival or Princess cruise ship. There were a large number of handicapped passengers and a great number that are social security age. We only saw one grade school child on board and two small 1 year old children. We would strongly urge young passengers, honeymooners, and families with children to consider a cruise other than this one. While the destinations are great, you should expect to sit at a table with seniors rather than people of their own age. Do you really know what to expect for table talk? You'll hear about the stock market, global travels, social security, Medicare, grandchildren and politics. Unless my observations are all wrong 90-95% of the passengers would easily fall in the 70-85 year old range. WANT A GREAT VIEW-The Crow's Nest is great for relaxing and seeing the world go by. The days we visited it was obvious a lot of smokers had "camped out" in the area. We found the smell of smoke too much to stay a long time plus on many days they kept the area very cool. Wear a sweater just in case you go there on one of those days. There was free coffee, tea and cookies on some days. There are many bars throughout he ship however we never found any of them very busy. Each morning the cruise director has a coffee chat with an entertainer. We found the chats interesting and informative. Some of the entertainers also participate in lectures aboard the ship. Time and locations vary. ART AUCTION-As with most cruise ships there is an art auction. If you want to buy a print or painting wouldn't you really be better off going to the local art dealer and discussing such a purchase? It's difficult to believe quality art work , in such scarce quantities, could be found aboard a cruise ship a thousand miles out in the seas. Think about it. FUTURE CRUISE PURCHASE-We are always amazed to see large numbers of passengers talking with an onboard Holland America future cruise person. There is the offer of $100 ship board credit or a room upgrade if you just put a down payment today for that cruise next year. The cruise industry is like so many other businesses in this day and time. There are good buys and even great buys to be made on future cruises. Are they aboard a cruise ship? You be your own judge. We get so many e-mails advertising discounted cruise that we have always been hesitate to purchase a cruise while at sea. INTERNET ACCESS OK—I am an internet junkie and this is most often the way I stay in touch with family and friends. The service aboard this ship was equivalent to the old dial up service that I ditched 10 years ago. There was one big difference as the cost was $100 for 250 minutes. I could even live with that however just getting onto the internet sometimes took a full 10 minutes with each minute costing 40 cents. I update this review on day four. The internet is said to be working so I head for the internet area. After 15 minutes I finally log on to the ship's system however it will not let me go to the internet. I ask the attendant for assistance and she told me I didn't know my name and password needed to log onto the internet and that I should call my provider (sbcglobal) when I get to Hawaii. This is strange since I have been using this service and have maintained my "login name" and "password" for many years. I ask the person next to me if he has been able to log in and he advises that he is on the ship's hookup but can't get to bank account to pay a bill. Almost thirty minutes have passed and I started to try to reach various providers and sites. Finally by going to Google and them to SBCGlobal I have able to at least get to my provider's web site. A few minutes later I am on my site and I get into my e-mail. The fellow next to me is still trying. One thing I noticed, once you log onto the ship's system you will find various Holland America links. DON'T GO THERE AS IT IS DIFFICULT TO GET OUT WITHOUT LOGGING OFF. That will be having to go back and try the process all over again thus wasting many, many minutes. I figured sending a simple e-mail was costing me many dollars each time. I have experienced far faster connection time aboard the Princess line. The person on duty was friendly and helpful thus it was not her fault. Library and Internet Rooms I plan to rethink my internet experiences aboard cruise ships. I will no longer sign up for the ship's internet service unless the ship is reasonably close to land. No more open sea "lack of internet service" for me. The quality of the service is poor even in the best of times. You have a far better chance of getting a reasonably good quality hookup when docked. Another tip-take a minute to meet the person in charge on the ship's service. If she/he does not appear proficient or willing to help you, then pass up the high internet fees and wait until you are on shore. Thus far I have been unable to use my own laptop on this cruise as I hookup one minute while being disconnected the very next minute. Asking for help on this cruise was certainly not even close to the excellent service we received on a recent Princess cruise. I have been unable to use my laptop in my cabin. I ask some other passengers if they can get on the internet in their cabin and neither have they. I was able to use my iPhone even in the cabin to connect to AT&T and download my emails. The phone worked great in all ;ports in Hawaii. RETAIL STORES-If you can find poorer retail stores in the cruise industry please send me an e-mail as the stores on the Holland America Statendam have some of the poorest quality merchandise we have ever seen. In addition some stores had very little merchandise. One store advertised everything in the store at a $10 price. We thought we were at the local dollar store. My wife had always purchased perfume aboard cruise ships, but not this one. The selection and quality was extremely poor. Holland American needs to address this immediately. VAN GOGH LOUNGE- This is the entertainment area for the on board singers and dancers as well as other invited entertainment. It is worth a visit to the area during the day time just to view this very nice theater area reminiscent of eras gone by. Looks a lot like the movie theater I attended in the 1940s. Seating is comfortable and the theater is small, compared to the big mega ships. The entertainment is one star level therefore don't expect much and therefore you won't be disappointed. Movies are sometimes shown on a small screen. Sound is not the best. Limited amounts of popcorn may be available for free on days movies are shown. Movies were also shown in the Wajong Theater. CASINO—One of the smallest casino we have ever seen on a ship. One roulette wheel, five or 6 tables for various card games, one crap table and one table for poker. There are a limited number of older slot machines. The staff is far more friendly than we have experienced on recent cruises. This is certainly not a place where you go to win money. It is just entertainment. Don't worry, they will take your money just as quickly on the older slots as the newer electronic machines. One of the best gambling bargains is the Texas Holdem Poker Tournament. Buy in for $30 and the winner of the tournament gets $200 with the runner up $50. Great hour of fun and play and not too expensive. On our ship the first time players seemed always to beat out those who thought they were pros. Be patient with the players and dealers as this is not a professional tournament. SPORTS ACTIVITIES-Most days there is some type of competitive sports taking place. Shoot basketball and golf putting are two such activities where you can win cruise dollars that if you get enough you can win a prize. Kind of like going to the fair or carnival. SHORE EXCURSIONS-As with many other items you may purchase you may find shore excursion prices beyond your budget. Shore excursions can cost you far more than the price of the cruise, therefore I suggest you be very selective. Cost range from $59 to $599 for such excursions. If you are not the adventurous type, don't like to go off on your own and don't much like driving in an unfamiliar area then the ship's shore excursions may be your only choice if you want to get off the ship and see the sights, let me suggest some alternatives. In Kauai there is a helicopter ride of 1 ½ hours that sells for $265. By doing a little research on the internet we found an equivalent helicopter tour priced at $350.40 for two passengers, thus we saved almost $180.00. We were fortunate in that our son is a pilot and he had flown on the helicopter we booked, thus we got a great recommendation. The price of the ship's helicopter could have been purchased for around $200 on shore on the identical helicopter, thus there was a mark up of approximately $65 per passenger for the ship's tour. In Hilo the ship's tour office has a variety of tours costing $51 to $219 per person. Find another couple and rent a car for around $50 and head for some of the same tourist spots at a fraction of the cost from the tour office. By splitting the cost of the rental car and gas, you can see the exact same sights on your own time and save a bundle. It takes a little internet research and a few reservations before you arrive. One couple at our dining table made reservations with a tour company that will meet them at the dock and take them to the same places as the ship offers with the really big difference being the price which was less than 50% off the ship cruise prices, plus don't forget the freedom that goes with such a tour-stop when you want to and stop where you want to. TENDERS Like many passengers we are not always excited when we have to "tender in" at a port. The tenders on this ship ran quite well when it came to passenger pickups, transportation and drop offs. Car Rental TIPS-We rented cars at Hilo,Kailua,Lahaina & Honolulu. Check and double check that you understand where the cars are located and how you will get there. For example we were told by Alamo Rental that we could walk to their office in Honolulu. Upon arrival we found the office to be about 6 miles away or a $30 taxi ride. Most rental car companies will pick you up at the dock at no additional charge. Make certain that you know what the closing hour is for that location and if you can turn a car in after closing hours. In Honolulu the Hertz office was close to the cruise terminal, however they did not permit car turn ins after 4PM. Parking in Honolulu was $30 to $50 for overnight. Plan your traveling route well before you arrive at the port. We found that even though we were at Honolulu for two days, one day rental was plenty as traffic was a nightmare. Also determine the kind of vehicle you really need. Unless you are going "four wheeling" don't opt for a Jeep Wrangler on the islands. These are not the most comfortable vehicle to drive or ride in (I own one thus I write from experience) and they will cost an arm and leg at most locations. Going down the highway in Hawaii in a convertible is a picture of fun. Maybe—maybe not, as we hit rain quite often thus time after time we lowered the top only to have to raise it an hour later. Otherwise the convertible was quite fun. Leave all you "stuff" in the cruise ship cabin as it will be exposed for the easy heist at you next unattended stop. Do you really need that extra insurance for collision and theft? You need to review the terms of your credit card AND your personal insurance policy and then make your own decision. Many articles and guide books stated that car reservations should be made before leaving home. While that is a good suggestion, we found prices to be the same or in some cases lower at the location than prices quoted before leaving home. LIBRARY-A very good at sea library offers many books and CDs (cost $3 to rent) that can be viewed in your cabin. All need to be checked out at the desk and returned by the due date. There is a section for paperback exchanges which is free. Just leave the book that you have read for another passenger and pick up a paperback of your choice. Some of these books were in French with most being English. SPA & SALON—Located on deck 11 is a very nice Spa and Hair Salon. Depending of what part of the country you live in, expect to pay highly inflated prices. WAJONG THEATER-The movie theater has been renovated and is now a theater with movies being shown several times a day. It also serves as the location for the Culinary Arts Center where cooking and food demonstrations are given. Seating in comfortable theater chairs type seating. Popcorn is available for free at the movies. Get there early if you want free popcorn as it goes fast and there was never enough for the entire crowd. QUEENS ROOM & EXPLORATIONS CAFÉ—Lots of internet locations in this area and several good areas to relax and read a book. EXPLORERS LOUNGE-A great place to relax, watch the world go by , have a drink and read a book. Comfortable seating throughout the room. OCEANS BAR-One of the places we found to be the busiest aboard ship. Good seating where passengers can have a drink and chat with friends. HALF MOON ROOM & HUDSON ROOM These rooms are next to one another on the Promenade deck. They were being used by private groups much of the time and were also used by some of the ship's lecturers. POOL AREAS -Located on the Lido Deck is the Lido Pool which can be covered by a sliding glass dome when weather is adverse outside. The area is very nice and there are new lounges, chairs and tables throughout the area. Plenty of towels are available for those who want to take a swim or get into one of the hot tubs. Just one deck below is a small outdoor pool. We did not find many passengers using that pool as the weather was windy and cool. There are a couple of ping pong tables located close to the indoor pool. DECK 6-This deck offers a walking area completely around the ship and there are plenty of lounge chairs along the way. On the days "at sea" this area was heavily used by the passengers. Deck 6-Deck Around The Ship. 4 trips Equals a Mile BARS & LOUNGES-If you are one of those that don't mind expensive drinks aboard ship then head for one of the six lounges or bars on this ship. There are four on deck 8, one on 11 and one on 12. We never once found a bar or lounge full and could always find a seat. Service is sometimes slow as there were few attendants during some hours. PORTS - I will not try to list all ports. The reason we found most passengers taking this cruise is for the unusual ports in the South Pacific, the cost of which to individually by air would be astronomical. We found that a few hours at each port only whets one's appetite for future visits. Raiatea French Polynesia-A most interesting port with modern port facilities. Rent a car and take a tour of the island. It can be covered in about an hour, thus a four hour car rental would be sufficient. There is a Eurocar Rental office not far from town and we found a representative at the dicks offering a ride to the office. Roads are decent and not a lot of traffic. You can stop often and take in the sights. Check your travel book for those places the author feels a "must to see". There are vanilla plantations on the island. Take a tour. Rentals will be about $100 for four hours. Bora Bora-Here we rented a car at the city docks (Avis). Takes about two hours to circle the island. Suggest you take a slow leisurely trip and use the four hours you are paying for the rental car. About $100 for 4 hours. There is only one road around the island and it is a good road for most of the way. Don't hesitate on a car rental as there is little traffic and driving is easy. Bloody Mary's is located on the southwest side of the island. It is a great tourist destination. Traveling on a cruise to the South Pacific can be an adventure of a lifetime. Island stops were too short as we would liked to have stayed longer at some of those islands that are not on the regular tourist beat. The opinions and observations expressed in this review are those of this traveler and we recognize that with 1200 passengers on the same trip there will be different opinions and observations and we respect that. We are in no way connected with the cruise line industry. I would be pleased to try to answer any question anyone may have concerning this posting. Just send me an e-mail to texaswillie@sbcglobal.net. Would we travel again on this same ship yes we would. Would we want to take this same destination cruise yes we would. Have a great cruise-wherever you travel! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I embarked on a "one world cruise - three ships" adventure with Cunard in New York on January 13th. I started out on the QE2 and transferred to the Victoria in Sydney, then took the QM2 back to New York from Southampton (107 ... Read More
I embarked on a "one world cruise - three ships" adventure with Cunard in New York on January 13th. I started out on the QE2 and transferred to the Victoria in Sydney, then took the QM2 back to New York from Southampton (107 days). Since I live within driving distance of New York, I booked no hotels, flights or cars through Cunard. Here, I am only going to review the Victoria, which has been the subject of much bad publicity and reviews. I was on the Victoria from Sydney to Southampton, - 59 days. Accommodations - I occupied an A3 cabin with balcony, midships, portside. My first impression was - it looks exactly like the cabins on the QM2 - and it did. Virtually the same dEcor and colors - very attractive. I did not think it small, especially when one takes the balcony into consideration. I admit that I was alone and so did not want for closet space, despite the fact that I brought 6 suitcases!!! But a couple traveling with 6 suitcases would have had plenty of room. When my steward arrived, I said: "So the rumors are true - there are no drawers!" We had a laugh. Well, there were two shallow night table drawers and two in the desk - containing information and a hair dryer. So, yes, it was true - nowhere to stash the lingerie!!! Shelves? Yes, one for the two life jackets, which I stashed under the bed; one over the large closet; one with the safe; and one other. My steward offered me a set of plastic drawers on wheels, which I squeezed into the lower hanging space in one of the closets. If you have read previous reviews, you will know that all these drawers, plastic or cardboard, were those purchased by the world cruisers in New York and Ft. Lauderdale in January whilst ashore. All of these drawers stay on board and are stored when passengers disembark...so you have to ask for them. We were told that the closets would gradually be retrofitted with drawers. When we asked who made such an outrageous mistake, the answers were too confusing to go into. I saw other cabins, inside and outside, with and without balconies - nothing to criticize, in my view. Bathroom was disappointing - shower is about half the size of the QM2 and woe betide anyone who drops the soap. The shower curtain is not going to stop your fall backwards. Storage consisted of two small shelves and one long open shelf under the counter. Very odd that. No cupboards as on QE2 and QM2. Sink is tiny and there is no soap holder. Again, what were the designers thinking? Some people went up to the spa to take showers. After my initial shock, it didn't bother me. Public Rooms - Beautiful, even if the wood isn't always real.... or the marble, or the decks. Hey it's the 21st century! The pub is the best I've seen. It's like a real pub building rather than an open space. The Queen's Room is very nice, but does not compare to the QM2 or even theQE2. The traffic flow is not good at all - a problem especially on port days when everyone meets there for excursions. This is also the main venue for concerts and the space is terrible for that. The Theatre is spectacular...like a West End theatre. Boxes look inviting and, for special events, one can book them for the night, complete with champagne and truffles. However, the glass is curved and one does not get a clear view. Britannia two-level dining room is very nice - a sort of scaled-down version of that on the QM2. The Lido is very long and narrow, more like the King's Court on the QM2 (which I still find very confusing), and not as welcoming as the Lido on the QE2. The bars are all good, but the best is the Commodore Club which occupies the entire forward section of deck 10. Great place, with great bartenders, day or night. To my mind, the Chart Room, which has always been a favorite venue on the other Queens, is badly located. It is right outside the Britannia and people start lining up almost 30 minutes before the doors open. (You'd think they hadn't eaten for 24 hrs!) Not a good place for a quiet drink before dinner. Library is beautiful, but how many people want to go up and down a spiral staircase - think of the average age - and the upstairs checkout desk is rarely, if ever, manned. Hemispheres, the disco, is absolutely gorgeous, but underused. It is not easy to find and opens late. Probably does better on shorter cruises when average age is lower. The overall dEcor is splendid, especially the carpets - beautiful. And the red rug for port, blue for starboard in corridors is most helpful. Dining - The food is virtually the same as on the other Queens, but no truffles unless you really insist! (It was tough making the transition from the Caronia dining room on the QE2!). Todd English is superb - same menu as QM2. Alternative dining in Lido for dinner - I tried Carvery, Fondue, Indian and Italian. Indian was outstanding, as good as anything I had in India and the dEcor was wonderful. Carvery was excellent. Fondue was, too, and it was fun! Italian was, to my mind, barely Italian at all. Lido pool grill has the best hamburgers and onion rings I've had in years. Cafe Carinthia is great for elevenses and snacks. Room Service has a good, but limited menu - the Queen Victoria club sandwich is wonderful and comes with salad and fries. Oh yes, the fries are great ion this ship! Shops - No comparison to other Queens, but adequate. Lots of space for those "cruise specials" outside the shops. Way too much space allocated to jewelry and fancy gifts. Missed the great selection of casual clothes and the $10 shop on the other Queens. Pools/Spa/Fitness - Two large pools with Jacuzzis and bars. Great. Spa pool very disappointing. - gave half of my package to a friend. Did not do any treatments. Area with saunas, steam rooms, aromatherapy etc. very nice, especially the warm tiled chaises lounges grouped in a semi-circle in front of picture windows. They were wonderful as long as quiet reigned! Beauty Salon, no better no worse than others. A treat, though, to have a pedicure in front of a picture window! Gym takes up entire forward section of Deck 9 - divided into two areas - one for machines, mainly treadmills and the other for exercise classes. Also, an array of bicycles for spinning. Some classes had an extra charge attached, but Zumba didn't and it was great - but not enough room. Disappointed in lack of variety of machines. Great view over the bow from the treadmills Entertainment - Excellent all around. I saw many of the same shows and entertainers as on the QE2, but that was fine. Some of the shows date back to 1999, but that's OK - they are still gorgeous. The Caribbean band - Lido pool at lunch, Hemispheres at night and theme nights in the Queen's Room - really terrific. Good concerts, despite the venue. String quartet and Harpist - the usual Cunard suspects, and very good. Great bands in pub and Queens Room. Activities - All the usual choices. Any Cunarder would recognize the list. One could take lessons in just about anything all day long. The lectures were top-notch, as usual. Can't imagine better: an astronaut; a Great Barrier Reef pilot; the current Afghani ambassador to the US; biologists, authors, linguists.... and more! Great first-run movies plus the Academy Awards live and the first-ever satellite broadcast to cruise ships from the Met in New York - Zeffirelli's "La Boheme". Staff/Crew - Friendly and smiling, as always, except for the Purser's Office where the customer is usually wrong on Cunard ships. Not enough Lido or Britannia staff. Tours - Excellent staff. Terrific selection of shore excursions. Only one caveat - we went to so many container ports which involved hours of driving before reaching a "real destination". So, for example, a 4-hour tour of Bangkok involved a 12- hour day!!!! As for overlands, Cunard does them in style. I did two and one was a 6-day trip to Bhutan and India. We were accompanied by a member of the Tours office, a full-time Indian guide and we had local guides in every city. 5-star hotels were gorgeous; food was excellent; service was of the highest order. We never once touched our luggage or even got our own boarding passes - we were very spoiled. They are expensive, but, if you are traveling alone, they are ideal. Plus, the ship will wait for you if there are delays!!! Overall impression - I love the ship and have booked for a segment in 2010. While one inevitably makes comparisons, especially to the other Queens - can't be helped. But Cunard isn't Cunard any more (though some vestiges remain!) and the Vic is not the QE2. Nor should she be. She's young, she's flash, she's got some warts, but she is a keeper. Any specific questions? Just ask. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008

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