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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, ... Read More
We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, disembarkation were fine. The captain did an excellent job of avoiding (as much as he could) typhoons which caused him to shorten our time in the last port. The lectures/talks were good. Dr. Kam was excellent and covered a variety of topics related to Japanese culture, art, customs. He explained much about Japanese society, habits and norms. The ship is a bit 'tired' and needs some renovation especially in the cabins. There were scratches/mars all along the baseboards, there was a crack in the sink, a dent in the tub and signs of rust/wear in many places. Wallpaper was beginning to peel. Public spaces seemed to be okay but cabins not so much. HAL personnel were friendly,helpful and efficient (except when they got to chatting with customers and ignored other customers). Entertainment-the jazz quartet was very good; the piano/violin not quite as good and the other singer in the lounge was pretty bad although he attracted a large following. Shore excursions-we took 2 HAL excursions for Shimizu and Otaru. They lived down to our expectations. The guide on the bus for Shimizu was not very good, did not give us good instructions (like wait for her to pay for our admission to the shrine) and that was disappointing. In Otaru-the guide was marginally better and the Herring Mansion was well worth seeing but I'd recommend grabbing a taxi and doing that on your own. We used "Tours by Locals" for Osaka, Vladivostok, Hakodate-they were great and that is definitely the way to go. While the HAL tours sped by, we were getting in depth information as well as seeing things the tours missed. In Kanazawa we used Kanazawa Tours and they also did a very good job. HAL ran shuttle buses in a couple of ports and that was very good. In some of the smaller cities, the 'passenger terminal for ships' was located far from the downtown or other areas of interest. But many of the cities were clearly delighted to see the ship and sent out bands, entertainment,balloons to welcome us which was fun. The other issue with the cruise was the weather especially in the Southern Japanese ports. It was hot and Very humid-to the point of sapping energy and really making it difficult to enjoy doing much of anything. I realize that HAL was running this cruise as part of a trip from the West Coast of the US but perhaps it should consider doing it in the spring or fall when the humidity might be more manageable and less chance of typhoons/cyclones. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show ... Read More
This cruise on the Maasdam has managed to achieve what no other HAL cruise has managed to achieve, make us regret booking it. With well over 75 cruises under our belt, this cruise scores the highest in its ability to underachieve and show indifference to guests. What more can I say other than when we got to Yokohama after the first segment, if we could have changed our air ticket we would have left the ship two weeks early and prepared for our September voyage on the RTDM. Aside from our DR steward Jaka, wine stewards Dave and Von, Lido manager Budi and his staff, Assistant Maitre'D Yudi, coffee gal Amee, our cabin stewards Roby, his assistant, Yusuf and Nicks and all of the other Indonesian, Filipino and Thai servers and stewards who were all terrific, serviceable, friendly and a delight to be around like most HAL crews we have experienced, I can honestly say the management, especially officers, have been the most uninterested, least receptive, least hospitable, unresponsive and aloof that we have ever had. Following is a review that I sent on one of the “Let us know how we are doing” (sic) cards": We just had the second of our complimentary dinners at the Pinnacle Grill, after which we decided the food was so below the level of the main dining room, we are choosing to give up our complimentary Pinnacle dinners to eat in the main dining room. On our first dinner, notwithstanding the salads which any mediocre cook can prepare, I ordered a petite filet, medium rare and fries, my wife ordered the Cioppino, almost two hours later I received a charred and grossly overdone, cold, flavorless steak and my wife received a Cioppino who’s broth was nothing more than hot water flavored with ketchup with a few measly pieces of seafood. Today’s dinner was as appalling, salad again, lamb chops medium rare for me with a side of hashed potatoes and my wife not wanting to risk it ordered a double portion of crab cakes for her entree, I received two lamb chops, grossly overdone again, tough as nails, grisly, cold and no flavor, the hashed potatoes were soggy and cold, my wife’s baked potato was half baked and inedible (because baking a potato takes real chef artistry maybe), the “crab cakes”, well, they were really bread crumb cakes, you would be hard pressed to find any crab, imitation or otherwise. If these dinners had not been free, it would have been catastrophic, the fact that you have the courage to charge $39 per person for food that is not as good as the Lido Market is outrageous. You would think that a restaurant that has “grill” in it’s name would have a cook that can cook a steak. Apparently you took a third level tier cook from the Lido and have him as a cook at the Pinnacle Grill hoping that the razzmatazz and glamour of the room would fool people into thinking they are eating something good. Perhaps this works for a few who really have no idea what decent food is, but from hearing people talk about their dinners there, perhaps not. Let’s not lose sight that a trained monkey could cook a steak medium rare, hot grill, two minutes per side, hot oven for one or two minutes and serve, tough huh? We will never attend the Pinnacle again even though it’s free. If possible, change our two complimentary Pinnacle Grill dinners on our next segment to two complimentary Canaletto dinners, otherwise we will just eat in the main dining room. The Pinnacle Grill is an embarrassment. You chose to raise the prices in all premium dining rooms and lowered the quality drastically, REALLY? Amazingly, You would think that such a review from a five star gold mariner would elicit some comment, any comment!, maybe a defense for such poor dinners or a response from somebody on board, anybody, maybe a cleaning person, perhaps Thomas the F&B manager, Sylvie the ROM or some Maitre'D, how about the PGM who sat there staring blankly at my plate with all the food remaining uneaten? As I show him the disastrous meal to which he acknowledged was prepared horribly. Perhaps: “ bury my head in the sand and pretend it did not happen and it will go away” is a poor management strategy. Clearly nobody could have cared less. Management (anybody with more than one stripe who is not Indonesian or Filipino ) shows an incredible arrogance, aloofness, invisibility and air of superiority. The food quality and prep in general on the entire ship was nothing short of terrible. The food was of poor quality, ill prepared and tasteless. How much more proof would you need than to realizie that while we get two complimentary Pinnacle dinners per cruise, we did not exercise that right because the food is so poorly prepared in that venue, and quite frankly not better than the main dining room and cannot hold a candle to the Canaletto food. To add insult to injury, on the 15th of August, most food stations were close to empty, apparently Thomas didn’t think he needed to think about food for the day after he left the ship. Interesting since we were docked in Yokohama on the 14th for almost 24 hours and then anchored in the bay for two days due to the Typhoon. Further, I would venture to bet that other than the executive chef all the chefs were apprentices or close to it. Aside from the inability to properly cook a simple piece of meat, we had braised short rib Stroganoff on buttered noodles which was nothing more than greasy brisket tossed with regular boxed spaghetti all doused in the same fake jarred stroganoff sauce, Caesar Salad made with Iceberg instead of Romaine lettuce, on the 14th the only greens in the salad bar at lunch were Iceberg, on the 15th and 16th no greens at all ( a salad bar with no greens whatsoever), Thomas leaves this mess for Ali and Ali continues on the same program. French Onion soup with no onions and a broth that is just salted warm water, mashed potatoes which were clearly instant potatoes prepared with water, always undercooked veggies as sides to all dishes, stuffed cabbage leaves served with raw (blood red) beef, Chef Rudy’s special roasted chicken was basically a dried hockey puck, roasted beet salad served with basically raw beets, advertised morel mushrooms when you serve button mushrooms, not even criminis, baked potatoes that are hard as bricks because they are grossly undercooked, If you would like I can keep going, honestly, I can fill a book with how bad the food and this cruise was. Your only saving grace was Budi in the Lido Market/Canaletto, he tried his butt off. Budi does a great job of managing The Lido Market and Canaletto. Budi is jovial, efficient and very hard working. As is true of all companies, the staff takes on the attitude of management. His staff works hard, are very friendly and highly efficient. Continuing with management principles, this addresses the Hotel management in general. From Florin on down, all officers on the Hotel side are aloof, arrogant and invisible especially the new F&B manager Ali and the new ROM Tony, I know for a fact that Tony was left a note from Sylvie to offer us a complimentary dinner (Sel de Mer) for the night of August 18 (Kochi) sent to us by an HD from another ship (Colin Jacob on the WEDM). we never heard from him. We could not accept this offer from Sylvie on our first segment (she insinuated she would be dining with us and said sadly she would not be there on the next segment since she was going home) because we were booked at various places already and the only dates left were on special dinners nights which were not part of the offer so she had to leave it for the second segment. Sylvie called our cabin on or about August 3 and told us that the offer would be forthcoming from Tony, for the night of the 18th when he came aboard, she would leave him a note to that effect. We never heard from him, or anyone else so we had dinner in the main dining room that evening. By some miracle on August 24, while at lunch, the PGM walked by us, waved and said “see you tonight”. I asked what he meant? He mentioned that tonight we had a complimentary dinner for Sel de Mer sent to us by our friend Colin Jacob, HD on the WEDM. We were dumbfounded, nobody had mentioned it or sent us an invitation. This is not a big deal except that for a chance meeting, with three days to go on the cruise, we would have never known about this very kind offer from a wonderful man who we have the pleasure to call friend. This is yet one more example of the right hand not having a clue what the left is doing on this ship. The HD is unresponsive and indifferent, we tried with three letters sent to him placed in his box by us, no response from him or anyone on his behalf, maybe 28 days is not enough time. Leaving the food situation, our cabin’s interior temperature measured 80 degrees (by guest services measure with digital thermometers) for five days! Exterior temperature was 107 with the heat index. I begged the guest relations desk every day, many times a day for help, the excuse was that the ship just came from Alaska and was set up for cold weather. Really? So you have 20 engineers on board scratching their butts, weather radars blinking everywhere, direct connection to NOAA and yet nobody knew we were going into oppressively hot weather which has been the case at this time of the year for several hundred years? Or maybe this was everyone’s maiden voyage and knew nothing! The geniuses at guest relations offered us a fan! How about we put Orlando Ashford and Stein Cruse in a cabin that has an interior temperature of 80 degrees and offer them a fan to keep them comfortable? Any bets on how many people would still have jobs? The immigration situation on our return to Otaru from our second Russian port was handled like beginners were doing it. We docked at 8:00 a.m. and all aboard was 5:00. Some people did not disembark until 2:30! We received a number 3 for disembarkation. For the second round. I approached “Guest Services”, which should actually be named the “Go to Hell Department”. The gal with the shaved head and the little blond with braids on both sides of the head are both nasty and condescending. I was informed that as a five star gold Mariner I had no priority in disembarkation, only in tendering. Priority was given for other reasons ( many to people who never intended to go ashore or just wanted off in the afternoon to use the internet had number one) I was told Disembarkation is when you leave a ship. Nowhere does that benefit get qualified, disembarkation is anytime you leave the ship there should be some benefit for supporting HAL for 15 years and spending almost 700 days cruising on HAL ships. At the very least, I should expect to not walk away from “guest services” feeling like some little girl told me to F off. Due to the Typhoon we had to anchor in the bay for two days (August 14 docked, 15 & 16 anchored) Did anybody think to politically maneuver with the Japanese government so that we could stay in the Yokohama mooring since other ships could not come in, allowing us to at least go ashore since we were going to be “at sea” for three unscheduled days? How about reversing the itinerary where the Typhoon had no impact? How about maybe going to an alternative port Northeast since the typhoon was tracking northwest? I am not questioning the Captain‘s call on safety, God bless him, but there had to be alternatives. You only need to look on Cruise Mapper and see all of the other ports schedules where weather was not impacting them and no other or at most one other ship was there on any alternative day. On the second round in Korsakov we know for a fact that the captain put on a show by lowering a tender into the water and announced that it was too rough and we would not be tendering there. I know he had a meeting the night before and announced to upper management that he had no intention of tendering but he would put on a show so as to justify his decision. Liar! On the 16th of August we departed our anchorage in Tokyo Bay and made our way to Kobe. As we left Tokyo Bay we received the tail end of the Typhoon experiencing 40 knot winds, driving rain and 5 meters seas. Apparently, some brainless wonder thought that this would be a good time to have a crew of Filipino workers go out to scrape and paint deck railings and some of the ladders going up to the tenders. So let’s see, let’s take a guy that weighs 85 pounds, give him a bucket filled with tools and have him climb up a wet metal ladder while wearing rubber soled shoes during a rainy, howling wind while the ship feels like you are on a roller coaster. Humm.. you certainly didn’t see that officer out there supervising or climbing the ladder in those conditions! You couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when we are docked, so that if the poor bastard falls into the sea he can at least swim to a dock instead of dying? On the 20th of August, they decided to repair the rails and various sections of the railings and exit gates to the tenders (in case of emergency, deck 6) along the starboard side. This was an area about 40 yards long. The wood rails were taken off, as were the gates in order to sand, zinc oxide, prime and paint. Everything was left off unattended for about four hours. You have wet decks (raining), three meters swells and large gaps left open along the railings for a few hours (I have photos if you care to see them, they are date stamped and obviously not shopped). You must admit, under the kindest of opinions the supervisor who ordered this and then did not have a watch person there while whoever was working on this and leaving it unattended is a moron. The old paint scrapings, rust and debris was hosed off into the sea! Having just paid a huge fine for polluting Glacier Bay, can you imagine the reaction of the environmental agencies if they were aware of this!. “Sea of Japan polluted by Holland America Line” reads the headlines. Future cruises? That was something. We tried to book three cruises, 54 days in total. We had received a private sale offer and wanted to take advantage of it. We approached Joanne to book it for us wanting to take advantage of the price and the onboard booking credits. Joanne could not make the offer discount code work or “see” the price we could see on the internet so we left her with all the information and trusted it would suffice, after all, she is a HAL corporate employee. Five days later, not hearing anything, we went to future cruises to find out what was going on. Joanne said that she was unable to book it. Mind you, these offers do not last long. She could have called and let us know what was happening. My wife said “How is that possible? I can do it on my iPad, why can’t you?” No response. My wife asked if she called Seattle (right in front of her at her desk) and was able to book it would she (Joanne), be able to get us the onboard booking credits? She said she should be able to was the reply. My wife called Seattle FROM THE SEA OF JAPAN! She booked the cruises in ten minutes and emailed Joanne the confirmations to try to get us the onboard credits and her commission. The incredibly helpful gal who helped us in Seattle is named Lisa Mayette who actually should get the commission, she was friendly, realized the problem and solved it with great efficiency and speed. Put her on a ship if she is willing. Except for a couple, most onboard future cruise consultants are generally not very efficient and uninterested in getting the job done, if it works, great, if it doesn’t, great. For basically being order takers within a target rich environment, you would think that their ability to book a cruise would match a guest’s ability since they have direct access to HAL and we go through the internet site. In addition to the three cruises we booked, three days prior to leaving we submitted a request for future cruise deposits (3). Having not heard anything, we stopped by as we were preparing to disembark and asked Joanne if she had processed them. Her reply was she didn’t recall ever receiving our request. We then waited while she sorted through about 50 unprocessed forms until she found ours - hopefully it will get processed sometime. I could go on but it would be beating a dead horse, I am sure you get the feel of how unimpressive this cruise was! No question, this was the worst managed cruise we have ever been on. We like to think that they transplanted the ms Jakarta or ms Manila (the training schools) and put it out to sea and we are the guinea pigs for the students. Apparently this must be your worst rated, lowest scoring, least revenue producing ship. WORST CRUISE EVER!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the selection/variety is not what it used to be. As well, even though the staff are all dedicated and hardworking and do their best to keep the cruisers happy, HAL seems to have reduced the number of staff and so the service is also not what it used to be. Embarkation, in our opinion, was poorly handled and slow and we spent a lot of time simply standing in line. Disembarkation, on the other hand, was quite efficient and quick. The selection of ports for the 14 day Japan portion of the cruise was very good and we enjoyed all of them. We arranged private tours for all but one of the ports and so were always in a very small group, which meant we had more flexibility and usually were able to see more than the large groups. We had an inside cabin and it was quite comfortable and our room stewards were great. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This was our third cruise (2nd with Holland) and we had a fantastic time. I think the Volendam is in need of some updating though - which I believe is taking place in the upcoming months. The service once again was extremely good - along ... Read More
This was our third cruise (2nd with Holland) and we had a fantastic time. I think the Volendam is in need of some updating though - which I believe is taking place in the upcoming months. The service once again was extremely good - along with the fantastic food. We ate at the Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants which we thought were just average and not worth the extra money. The entertainment was very good every night - a good variation of shows. Having a before dinner drink and dancing in the Ocean's Bar was a great way to start off the evening. The embarkation and disembarkation went extremely smooth and very well organized and staffed. The excursions were a bit pricey and very rushed. We didn't get any time for shopping. The day we were to see the Great Wall of China we got caught in a 7 hour traffic jam which was horrible and got to the Wall with less than an hour of daylight left. We also never got to see the Summer Palace. The "lunch" that we finally ate at 6:30 was very good. When we returned to the ship that night the staff all met us outside to welcome us back and purposely kept the buffet open. They also refunded our money back for the excursion - once again very good service by Holland. A new stop for Holland was Quindao, China which really was not very interesting at all for the money you pay for excursion - there wasn't enough interesting places to see there. The tour guides that they used could barely speak English and were so young and inexperienced that it made for not a very good day. The overall experience with Holland was very good and we will be traveling with them again on another cruise to Australia/New Zealand next year. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Japan, 6 sea days and Alaska : a great intinerary for us . Ship is in very good condition, no complaints. I read somewhere on the CC forum about the not yet upgraded bathrooms in some cabins on the Dolphin deck. We had a cabin with a ... Read More
Japan, 6 sea days and Alaska : a great intinerary for us . Ship is in very good condition, no complaints. I read somewhere on the CC forum about the not yet upgraded bathrooms in some cabins on the Dolphin deck. We had a cabin with a non upgraded bathroom. It was nothing like the post on the froum which described it at as 70's motel room style. Maybe a bit outdated ,but clean and in perfect working order, so why complain about it ? The whole ships looks good, painted, clean carpets etc. Too bad there is no librarian anymore, the place used to be in a better shape with books and games returnted to the right shelves, it was a bit messy now. Food in MDR as well as Lido was varied and good. Service still same HAL style that we like, I heard some complaints about the speedm, but we don't mind not having the main course right after the appetizer. In general a dinner took about an hour, so pretty normal. Entertainment was surprisingly good and varied: a great band called Savannah Jack, a capella singers The Alleycats , a comedian and a ventriloquist were outstanding ! Best so far on the 10 th HAL cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we ... Read More
My travel partner has a son living in Japan and this seemed a good way to visit Japan and come home easily. What a great decision that was. This was a well done cruise with three lecturers discussing the Japanese culture and as we crossed the ocean the topic changed to first Nations people. We also had lectures on the "One Ocean" and physics, which left us all with something to think about. There were navigation lectures and many other things to do on this ship. The Volendam is a smaller older ship so people looking for lots to do and big flashy ships would not want to choose this one. But, if personal attention and well done dining appeal then this is the ship for you. There were 1360 passengers and 1000 of them were returning guests. We were served by 598 crew. This was an older crowd but very well traveled and very interesting. Different ships and cruise lines for different people and so this would not appeal to everyone. There were very few children on board so there was a great sense of peace and quiet. Food was excellent. The shows at night were wonderful and we often left the show lounge chuckling to ourselves. A really great cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We choose this Holland America cruise on the Volendam for the great ports of call. Had a great time for our first time in Asia. The ship was clean, nice and small. We do not like large ship the smaller the better. The food and service was ... Read More
We choose this Holland America cruise on the Volendam for the great ports of call. Had a great time for our first time in Asia. The ship was clean, nice and small. We do not like large ship the smaller the better. The food and service was great. Our dining room steward was excellent. Good selection of wine. Most of the time the ship excursions were great. However in Japan it was very difficult to find a good english seeking guide. All of the crew were excellent. We loved the Team trivia. Bruce our cruise director was excellent. Very good in fact a great enrichment program this time. Terry Greenberg from the University of BC gave excellent lectures on the Japanese, Korean and Chinese culture. It was very informative. He should invited back on future cruise. We had a great time on our first Asian cruise. Very good time. Thank you Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups ... Read More
The itinerary for this cruise - Japan, South Korea and the N Pacific crossing was great. We enjoyed all the ports. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth in Yokohama. Going ashore in the other ports was easy - the only hold ups were Japanese immigration but that is to be expected. Favourite ports - Osaka and Incheon Service on the ship was very good but the cutbacks in staffing are putting a huge burden on the remaining staff. This was very apparent in the dining room where service was very slow. The ship is an older ship - it is kept very clean and tidy - but it badly needs to go in to drydock. The only chairs that the bottoms weren't falling out of was in the Canneletto dining room. Seriously, there was a 2" depression in the Rotterdam chairs! Uncomfortable for a leisurely meal! Food - we were not impressed! The meals in the Rotterdam were just okay - biggest complaint was that there were very few vegetables accompanying the entree and we routinely ordered a bowl of steamed vegetables for the table. The food served in the Lido was very much below what I expect on a cruise ship. I have no food issues - I love food - but the choices were over salted and way too many things were fried. I had difficulty finding items for lunch other than a salad. The Asian food bar was usually good but still oversalted. The fresh fruit was awful! Apples and oranges were soft and tasteless, bananas were slimy and black. The fruit salad was a mixture of over ripe and under ripe choices cut so small that it was mushy very quickly. There were very few activities planned for the 6 sea days as we crossed the Pacific - not a lot to do. We may avoid doing another HAL cruise Positive - we saw some of the best entertainment we have seen on a ship. The dancers and singers were exceptional! Very much enjoyed our evenings! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
We loved the ports in Jspan, Tsiwan, Shanghai and HongKong, missed Okinawa due to a weather delay. The captain was a very good communicator with frequent updates. The food was very good, lots of fresh fish and delicious osso buca and ... Read More
We loved the ports in Jspan, Tsiwan, Shanghai and HongKong, missed Okinawa due to a weather delay. The captain was a very good communicator with frequent updates. The food was very good, lots of fresh fish and delicious osso buca and lamb shanks. Nice selection of baked goods at breakfast in Lido, long lines for omelets but worth the wait. The Pinacle dinner was a little disappointing in food and service. Ant time dining is difficult between 5:45 and 8:00, hard to get a table. Overall the service was fine, in dining room, Lido buffet and bars. We loved the Explorations Cafe and the library, but sorry they no longer have a librarian on board. Last time had a two week book club on board going to Hawaii. Excellent Chinese lecturer and Tai Chi teacher on sea days. Wonderfully entertaining piano man, Barry from Boston, always a treat. Beautiful classical music from the Rumanian couple on violin and piano, Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
This was our first cruise and we chose it because of the excellent price. We Book an inside cabin and because it ended up being a handicap cabin we had extra space. It would probably be nice to have a window, and perhaps next time we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we chose it because of the excellent price. We Book an inside cabin and because it ended up being a handicap cabin we had extra space. It would probably be nice to have a window, and perhaps next time we cruise we will do that. The biggest complaint about the cabin is the single outlet poorly placed over a desk. I was warned ahead of time so I did bring a power strip although we found it necessary to get an additional extension cord from the steward. An extension cord will definitely be a part of our packing on our next cruise. I was happy to find that the Vollendam was a relatively small ship as it was easy to traverse and we enjoyed meeting up with people we got to know at dinners. I do not think I would enjoy having the kinds of additional activities found on a larger ship. One important thing that Holland America line should do is to update their website. Some information was out of date or incorrect. A huge mistake was information given out about the requirements for a visa to enter Shanghai. Late last year China revised there Visa requirements to allow cruisers to enter the country without paying a large Visa fee I did you get information from Cruise critic and followed up with information from the Chinese Embassy stating that no visa would be required. I called Holland America to find out how they will handle it, and after first being told I would need a visa, the person I spoke with came back and said that it would not be required. When I arrived to embark, I had to sign some kind of waiver stating that I was aware I might not be allowed ashore. It seems that Communication is not particularly up to date on Holland America. I know that China was very difficult to deal with, but if I was able to get information them I am sure that the cruise line also could get the same information and not create so much havoc. We met people who had paid the Visa fee for the two days admission to Shanghai and were not happy to learn that they did not have to pay that amount. I was not willing to pay Close two $200 just to go ashore for a couple of outings. I think that Holland America might look carefully at how they distribute numbers to go on shore leave excursions. Some days the distribution seemed adequate but not excellent. Other excursion days were very chaotic. The distribution of numbers for dis- embarkation was particularly poorly handled, and the ship personnel were initially mobbed in order to obtain the numbers for order to leave the ship. I think this needs to be re-evaluated and revised. As for shore excursions through Holland America, I found them to be fairly good but highly overpriced. In view of the bargain price of the Cruise itself, I do understand the necessity to monetize wherever possible. In the future, we will either plan our own excursions or use a different excursion Company such as Viator. That said, there were some excellent excursions offered. Perhaps throwing in one or two free excursions would be of benefit. When I have traveled in the past, I have always found my way around cities, But having a guide was quite valuable. The guides on the Shore excursions were very knowledgeable and that made them worthwhile. People who Book and share a private guide are probably much better off. My friend and I usually dined in the restaurant or occasionally the Lido. Food was excellent, but at breakfast it seemed that there were not enough people serving. Both at the food stations, and at the tables. Many times there were no waiters available to get coffee refills. Speaking of coffee, some days it was excellent and other days it was too strong. Of course this is purely for my own tastes in coffee. The best experience was because we opted for open seating. It was fun to sit with different people every night and we made some wonderful contacts. I found that to be a highlight. In the restaurant, food service was quite good as were the meal choices and desserts. My only complaint is that it was made far too easy to gain weight. I am sure that is a complaint from most people who participate in cruises. The choices of entertainment were fairly good and I believe something could be found to meet anyone's desires. The live entertainment was fairly good although I did not attend all of them. I did enjoy one of the movies I went to but did not like two others. Again, it would be very difficult to please everyone. The one aspect I did not appreciate was the sales pitches. If one attended a "Seminar" you could definitely expect to be inundated with a sales pitch. These are easy enough to ignore or walk out of but can be annoying. The shops were mostly hi and, but there were some good sales available. The one thing that was most missed was a sundries shop to fill in on items that might have been lost, forgotten, or misplaced. That could be a great addition to shops on board. I have to say that the stewards, not only our own but all up and down the ship, were extremely friendly and helpful. They took pains to learn and remember our names so even meeting in the hallways they always seemed happy to see us. I would definitely book this ship again and plan things a bit differently knowing now what I liked and disliked. It was a great experience for a first cruise and people on Cruise critic were very helpful in providing information. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
The itinery was good. Nice places but HAL is not confidence with the custom procedures of the harbours esp. not Shanghai! I lost 10 hrs of my 14 day cruise; waiting or custom procedures which were organised well by local authorities but ... Read More
The itinery was good. Nice places but HAL is not confidence with the custom procedures of the harbours esp. not Shanghai! I lost 10 hrs of my 14 day cruise; waiting or custom procedures which were organised well by local authorities but HAL staff couldnt handle his clients at a decent way. The was the worst cruise I ever had. A Boat with non communication. nor intern nor with clients. And this was due to a non communucatie captain vd Hoeven! We never heard him. For getting custom numbers" passangers had to fight with each other because of non organisation/capability of staff The cabin boys where fantastic as allways like all restaurant employees. The management didn't communicate with each other nor to their clients. 14 days brown sink water. Every morning wake up by sink workers (the reason of the brown water) and a spray on my cabin window. Planning? Below level and poor entertainment / shows; old fitnes'; Pinnacle restaurant again same menu and not that quality ecpected Shore excursions not used because of price/too big groups/ bad old fashioned iinnery Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Aussies Beware. Holland America Line (HAL) Our holiday (disaster), my wife and I were on the Volendam in stateroom 7062. We arrived in Vancouver May 4th, We boarded the ship in Yokohoma a 19 day cruise, the first night on board we ... Read More
Aussies Beware. Holland America Line (HAL) Our holiday (disaster), my wife and I were on the Volendam in stateroom 7062. We arrived in Vancouver May 4th, We boarded the ship in Yokohoma a 19 day cruise, the first night on board we had very little sleep the noise above our stateroom was excessive with the moving of the table and chairs and the trolley that they use to move things around in this lasted until about midnight, then the trolley was moved again at 3am the the table and chairs were again put out for breakfast at around 4:45am. at around 11 am the next day the noise started again, I quickly went up stairs and found 3 deckhands dragging the chairs and tables around. apparently there is a store room above which contains a lot of props for decorations which are constantly being moved. My husband spoke the the deck steward about the noise, he told him he would also speak to the night deck hand. We then started my complaints to the front office trying to get a room change. we complained regularly about this as it happened every day and night until I was told that compensation would be paid and nothing else could be done. We were fobbed off. At the end of the cruise $250 taken off our bill. Not one night did we have a full sleep and forget about catching up during the day just as bad, if you are unlucky enough to have a bad stateroom they have your money and you are not getting it back. Forget Australian Consumer Guarantee laws they don't apply. Complaints get you no where. I have been in touch with ATAS was told nothing could be done and the travel agent could not be held responsible, I have been in communication with office of the president of HAL and their ombudsman what a waste of time. Its not the money but the thought that nowadays you can still get ripped off so easy. I cruise quite a bit, HAL is not up to standard and would not recommend. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
The Volendam excelled once again. We took the opportunity to upgrade into a Neptune Suite for this cruise. We had already sailed on all decks of the Voledam and the Neptune Suite was the final class of room for us to try. The room was ... Read More
The Volendam excelled once again. We took the opportunity to upgrade into a Neptune Suite for this cruise. We had already sailed on all decks of the Voledam and the Neptune Suite was the final class of room for us to try. The room was more than enough to keep anyone happy. With a very large balcony and plenty of space inside the room we could have stayed on board forever. This cruise was one of the more extreme and showed why we enjoy cruising on the Volendam. After leaving Japan for the final time we headed towards a huge storm brewing in the North Pacific. On the second night out the weather was brewing up significantly and Captain Bayens gained approval to move the ships course North into the Bering Sea. We talked to Captain Bayens later and in all his time at sea he had not been into the Bering Sea so it was an experience which he will also remember. Despite the significant weather on that night Volendam behaved very well as I had experienced previously in a storm south of New Zealand. We had some experiences on this cruise which were beyond any expectations we had from our previous experience on Cruise ships. We hosted a party for the on board entertainers, had a one off specially prepared Indian banquet, met some people with experiences in life vastly different from ours but whom we related to very well. All of this supported by the always positive and friendly staff.   Read Less
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