5 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Asia

There were three adults in our cabin, an inside cabin, that was supposed to be wheelchair-accessible, but when the third adult was added to the reservation, the travel agent changed us to the wrong sized cabin. Not the cruiseline's ... Read More
There were three adults in our cabin, an inside cabin, that was supposed to be wheelchair-accessible, but when the third adult was added to the reservation, the travel agent changed us to the wrong sized cabin. Not the cruiseline's fault. At once when we arrived with 14 pieces of luggage split between 3 adults in an interior tiny cabin, we called to ask for a larger cabin. At first we were categorically denied, then 5 days later, we had a long and loud discussion with the guest services people, asking for the head of GS but never, ever speaking to her even after multiple daily requests, and they offered to let two of us (the married couple) move to a wheelchair cabin down the hall for only $4000 more than we had already paid. We argued because it is simply not safe for three adults and 14 pieces of luggage to reside together in an emergency situation. After much talk about safety and lawsuits, (an empty wheelchair cabin was available 5 doors down) we agreed to pay another $700 for the second cabin, 1 week into a two week Japan cruise. That's down from a $4000 additional payment, mind you. The room steward refused to help us move, even though I am a wheelchair user. He said he would be right back, but never returned to help us, when he knew very well that we needed help. That second cabin was fine, but then the officers of hotel services approached us a few days later and offered us a balcony cabin, (the third cabin) which we were very happy to move to. Now the story adds more depth: the reason why we were offered the balcony on another deck was because we had complained that our toilet was not cleaned by the room steward: there was still poo splatter inside the bowl. Because I complained, the room steward was angry and proceeded to enter my cabin without knocking, unannounced, to discuss the matter, while I was in the bathroom half naked. I told him to leave and called guest services and the hotel manager immediately. Not long after my security report, we were offered to move to a balcony on another deck. I was genuinely afraid of that room steward who saw me half naked. I hope he got in big trouble. As for the rest of the cruise, the dining room food was always the best, Master Kan, who did Tai Chi lessons and lectures was wonderful, the acrobats were great, and trivia was very fun. I am glad that HAL does not push the shops, bingo, and alcoholic drinks all the time. That gets old quick. The Lido tables were cleaned quickly for the next guest, the America's Test Kitchen was just wonderful. More of that, please. More games all day long, please. They had Chinese Mahjong, but never American Mahjongg. I play American and the Chinese guests would not let me join in. We were glad that there were no loud PA system announcements, so that people could nap in the daytime. We were disappointed that the cabin safes are only accessible by one single credit card, so that's not cool. If you are staying onboard and the one credit card to get into the safe is in a pocket of your roommate on shore, you are out of luck. Since this was a Japan cruise, we expected daily Japanese stuff to do like origami, Japanese calligraphy, you know, short language lessons, we are in Japan after all. Our first cabin had problems with the toilet refusing to flush. This is really bad knowing that we were three adults in a very small interior cabin. Also a dirty, used coffee cup in our room was never replaced, and we were afraid to drink out of the room cups and glasses. Of course we reported it immediately, but the room steward's work was never good. Once, we arrived 15 minutes late for dinner, and the manager refused to seat us, saying in a snide way, "You're a little late!!", but we finally got him to stop being rude and seat us. We never, ever ordered all the courses or stayed past 1 hour. Andrew did not receive any tip. We tipped our third cabin's stewards, who were wonderful, but not the one who walked into my cabin and caught me half naked, of course. We tipped our dinner wait staff. We deleted all the other regular daily tips because, 1. The cruise line should pay their employees a decent wage, 2. The gratuities keep increasing to an appalling rate, and finally, 3. Once we took a South American cruise filled with Brazilians, and there were No Daily Tips Charged to us. None. I asked why, and guest services said that Brazilians complain en mass, and they all refuse to follow American tipping practices. I feel that if the cruise lines can get some gravy money out of the guests, they will try. It's not going to work on me. Hate me if you want to. I really don't care. You do what you want with your money, I will decide about mine. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Warning, if you're not a foodie the first few paragraphs will bore you! FOOD & DINING VENUES I am a lowly two-star mariner, but know the ropes of HAL cruising and had been going to the specialty restaurants to reduce my ... Read More
Warning, if you're not a foodie the first few paragraphs will bore you! FOOD & DINING VENUES I am a lowly two-star mariner, but know the ropes of HAL cruising and had been going to the specialty restaurants to reduce my meals in the MDR on past cruises. After reading so much about HAL's cost-cutting measures I thought I'd be disappointed with my meals, but instead was pleasantly surprised. Certainly the portions are small, but not when it counts. On steak and lobster nights, it was more then enough (though I think some were ordering a second lobster tail -- and good for them!). My steak was perfectly medium-rare, and this was the first cruise it came out perfectly. Most of the lunches in the MDR, were even better than dinners. I was surprised to like even the chicken strips which appeared to be hand-breaded with a coating containing crispy almond slices. I loved them so much and knew my (12 year old) daughter would actually want to eat in the MDR if she could have them, so asked for it to be arranged, and no problem -- she had them for dinner that same evening. Curries, were mild and the lamb was fork-tender, and delicious. I usually don't order any ethnic food on HAL, because I mistakenly thought it would be food-fair quality. Shame on me! As for the paid dining venues, we had 3 dinners in Canaletto, 2 dinners and 2 lunches in Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle was excellent (as had been our previous experience), and the menu also included a page of selections from Tamarind (which I had tried on the Eurodam previously). I had not liked Canaletto on a past cruise, but due to recent reviews here gave it a try again. It was really tasty. Not every dish was to my liking, but we did get to try most of the selections over the 3 meals, as there were 3 people sharing -- lots of food to choose from each evening. The service in Canaletto was just as attentive and kind as I've had in Tamarind, and I feel like I'm getting better value as the price has crept up over the years for PG. Breakfasts for us were primarily in the Lido. I liked the quiet atmosphere of MDR breakfasts, but the hours didn't always work. With my jetlag I was up early and waiting for Lido to open most mornings. I also seemed to have a better chance of getting my eggs done perfectly (for eggs benedict) as they were made to order instead of having the poached eggs reheated. I think the food in the Lido starts out very good, but if it sits there it tastes terrible. There was a huge difference between getting french toast made to order, vs. them taking it out of the warming drawer. The waffles also suffer under the heat lamp, so my main trick to the Lido was to pick anything they would make in front of me. Prime lido breakfast times were terrible to get a seat. People were circling watching for any sign that you might be finishing, and if you were 4 people (at a table of 6 for instance), you could bet another couple would come to sit with you. Next cruise I think I will take those extra steps out to the pool deck -- it is such a quiet spacious atmosphere in comparison. Tea time wasn't as good as I remembered, they serve Bigelow teas (English Breakfast, Darjeeling and Early Grey primarily -- not sure if they have herbal choices) and can't really manage to get you milk for your tea like they do the silver cream jugs. They will bring milk in a juice glass (which you can then spill all over the table when aiming for your teacup). The hot water comes to you in small metal-ish pots, but is often not quite hot enough to really brew well (which is done in your cup not a teapot). That aside, there were a couple of tasty deserts and sandwiches -- most were rather bland but pretty. My husband and daughter raved about the tuna salad sandwich, so when I asked for one they were already done. The next batch of sandwiches to come out did not include the tuna -- so be warned, they are a good thing and will be gobbled up! Despite the great onboard food, don't fill up on a big breakfast for your days in port on this itinerary. Vietnam (in particular) is a treasure of AMAZING food! Eat in the lido on your day in Cambodia (you'll understand when you go!). Okay, enough about food. ENTERTAINMENT (or lack thereof) I will start by admitting my husband and I are in our mid 40's and do not fit the HAL demographic they are trying to serve. We LOVE Trivia and pretty much centered our schedule around it. The BBC Earth presentation to music and EXC talks about the ports you're seeing are also very good. The mainstage shows were often cringe-worthy (as my daughter and husband decided), and we walked out of many. Those talented Volendam dancers and singers are poorly choreographed, have old music, boring sets and some awfully ugly costumes to deal with. I hate to be negative, but only one of the 3 special acts they brought in were really enjoyable right to the end and kept me in my seat. I don't really want to mention the acts I didn't like, everyone needs to form their own opinion. The venues often did not hold the crowd adequately -- standing room only (uncomfortably crowded) at the Test Kitchen presentations, the one good movie they showed we couldn't get a seat at. There were scheduling blunders so trivia got moved to a bar (yes, people had to leave the crows nest and head to The Mix, and there were hardly any seats for everyone. If you like classical violin, the couple who plays in the Explorers Lounge are excellent. As for our beloved Crow's Nest, the DJ request nights were awkward. When you have such a spread in ages wanting to dance, each song could have a whole new set of people going to the dance-floor or not at all. The disco set got a few tunes and was getting in their groove, when all of a sudden a ballroom dancing type song comes on and there is a complete change of the demographic. Same with 80s-now music -- a whole new crowd would come on. It made for a disjointed evening, and who wants to sit around and listen to 10 songs from a decade they don't related to, just to get to the ones they do like. They need another dance club on this ship and have a theme IMO. I'm not sure if wine-tasting counts as entertainment -- it was a paid event. It was a fun enough event but mostly mediocre wines. There was only one that I ended up purchasing for dinner, but it was a good way to spend a bit of the afternoon. People were relaxed and chatty -- it was quite social even though I attended solo. STAFF I love them. I had a list of names at the end of the cruise to make sure they got formally recognized in my review sent to HAL. I hope it helps them -- they are a wonderful crew. My room steward San, was amazing and predicted my every need. SERVICES This is the first cruise I purchased the unlimited laundry. OH MY WORD. Lovely and clean pressed clothing, bagged and folded neatly. It was almost the highlight of the day to get my clothes back! Also with this hot itinerary, I really needed those linen shirts more than I thought -- it was fantastic to have the laundry and I won't go without it on future cruises. SHORE EXCURSIONS I had 3 HAL excursions, and only one of the guides had fluent enough English that he was great to listen to. One of them practically shouted and kept spelling out words (to make up for her accent no doubt). It was very slow with such a large bus of people. I highly recommend going to the Sanctuary of Truth (it is stunningly beautiful, a marvel). However, I would have been much happier taking it at my own pace and hiring someone to get me there and back. The ships tour was too long and the guide appointed to us was loud and annoying to be around. I had 1 excursion with a group from Cruise Critic, and it was a smaller group for Ha Long Bay. I think that was much better, the smaller group made it more relaxed and this tour included an amazing seafood lunch. Three other tours we did were arranged privately for our family of 3. Now I know this is absolutely the way to go. We had amazing fun with our guides in Vietnam. On the back of scooters in Saigon, with insane traffic, driving into districts where they rarely see foreigners is really fun. They were very curious about us. It was food/sightseeing tours we had arranged and we had the most amazing food experiences. Things I can't get at my local Vietnamese restaurant for sure. And the ones I had tried at home were different there, and so delicious. It is shockingly cheap outside the tourist areas, we had a feast at lunch for 6 of us (3 guides and 3 in our family) and it came to the equivalent of $12 CDN. Getting off the beaten track, in to back-alleys and cooked in front of you almost primitively. Not something I would have experienced without a local guide for sure. Do not miss Hoi An. It is an absolute treasure and not to be missed. If you can stay into the evening, it is very beautifuol and atmospheric with the lanterns lit throughout the streets. Great shopping there too. If you need souvenirs in Vietnam, they are much classier in Hoi An. IN CLOSING Overall, we loved this cruise. It was an amazing itinerary, the ship was in good enough shape for us, food was great as were the kind gracious staff. I had a good book and a deck of cards so can entertain myself anywhere -- I didn't need HAL to do that in the end. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We had never sailed on HA and had heard good things about this cruise line, so when a Dec cruise to Asia came up with ports we had never been to but wanted to see, we jumped at the chance to be a part of this experience. First off, the ... Read More
We had never sailed on HA and had heard good things about this cruise line, so when a Dec cruise to Asia came up with ports we had never been to but wanted to see, we jumped at the chance to be a part of this experience. First off, the crew and staff for the most part were great - very friendly, helpful and accommodating. In addition to the destinations, they were the best part of the cruise! Negatives: 1. our cabin - it looked good, but the air conditioning never worked so it was always 75°F or more, in countries that were already uncomfortably hot and humid. The staff were vigilant in trying to fix the problem but were not successful. Also, there was a leak somewhere that left a wet area outside our bathroom for the entire 2 weeks. To remedy the problem, a large, loud fan that blew hot air onto the spot was brought in, but as our cabin was already too warm, we sent the fan away after a few hours. 2. public areas - meanwhile, the hallways and public rooms (bars, theater, restaurants, library, etc.) were freezing cold, which other passengers also complained about. That finally got fixed on our last 2 days on board. It's a wonder that we didn't catch a cold. 3. the food - the food at the Lido and in the dining room was bland for our tastes (being foodies from SF who are 65+) and seemed geared to older people whose taste buds don't like surprises. I finally started asking for sambal to be brought out for my meals, which they did. We also thought that the meat and fish served was not the best quality... The fries at the Dive-in and the morning congee and omelettes at the Lido, however, were some of the best we had. The other problem with the food was that it was generally not served until 7am or after 8.30pm, so there were a few times we woke up or went to bed starving. Also, as everything at the Lido had to be served, there were long lines of impatient, sometimes rude, passengers. 4. the activities - On Princess cruises I'm usually racing from lectures to dance classes to trivia, and back again, often without enough time for a sit-down meal. On this HA cruise, I was rarely busy as there were few lectures and even fewer dance and arts and crafts classes. It was good to have down time, but I felt again that this cruise was geared to older, more sedentary passengers. The Test Kitchen and lectures that were given, however, were excellent and informative. 5. the excursions - Most ship excursions are expensive, and these were no exception, but the HA excursions were much better than the ones I've been on with Princess. The guides, transport and organization were generally excellent, but were worth paying the premium prices. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some ... Read More
This was a very informative busy cruise. It was a great way to experience a lot of different Asian ports . The ship itself is small without any extra perks like climbing walls or skating rinks but the trip highlights some really interesting bustling Asian cities . The excursions were hit and miss . We rented a car with driver and guide from holland america for both days in Shanghai and Beijing. It was ridiculously expensive but worth it. A couple of tips about seeing Shanghai and Beijing this way. We got Chinese currency before we left home but still ran out of cash because we forgot touring this way doesn't take into account admission fees or tips . Also,when we booked the car and guide for 2 days in Beijing it was well worth our while to also book a hotel in Beijing because it's a 2 1/2 hour drive from the cruise terminal in Tianjin to Beijing . Sheraton hotel in Beijing was beautiful and cheap $163 US per night and included a wonderful breakfast . Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was the first time after my husband was confined to a wheelchair that we were cruising, and we were so looking forward to it The Volendam was an old ship but quite nice. We were in an wheelchair assissible cabin, with a restricted ... Read More
This was the first time after my husband was confined to a wheelchair that we were cruising, and we were so looking forward to it The Volendam was an old ship but quite nice. We were in an wheelchair assissible cabin, with a restricted view. The entrance to the cabin was slightly wider to accommodate a wheelchair, though I must add, I had to stand in the way to hold the door open! If only these cabins had push button opening doors, it would have been so helpful! The cabin was rather small and we had to request that the beds be separated so as to have enough room to manoeuvre to the bed. The bathroom was comfortable with a 180° opening door. The grab bars too were adequate. There were a number of hooks on the door for hanging things which was really very welcome. The cabin had ample wordrobe space and for the first time the hangers were more than enough. There were emergency call buttons located near the bedhead, this could be so useful but there was a time when my husband while reaching for the light switch at 2 am, pressed the emergency switch. We had a call immediately from reception asking if we needed any help!!! The rest of the ship was all wheelchair assissible, the theatre was slightly difficult.... But we did manage. The staff was really wonderful and always ready to help us. There were three tender ports but with good assistance we managed fine. Entertainment was good and so was the food. The atmosphere for Xmas and the Ney Year party were great. The cooking demos were really good. We did our own port excursions and hired taxis from the port areas. Embarkation and disembarkation was well handled. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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