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 Some information was out of date or incorrect.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