4 Holland America Volendam Fitness Cruise Reviews

The Japan to Vancouver 16 day cruise was our fourth on HAL. Volendam is the smallest of the four ships we have been on, but it has all the characteristics of the larger versions and we felt right at home from the outset. The crew is ... Read More
The Japan to Vancouver 16 day cruise was our fourth on HAL. Volendam is the smallest of the four ships we have been on, but it has all the characteristics of the larger versions and we felt right at home from the outset. The crew is probably the biggest plus - as with all our other HAL experiences, with minor exception, all crew members were friendly, polite and could not have been more helpful. The cruise itself was exactly what we had expected - and with the six sea days it was a relaxing way to recover after two months travelling in SE Asia. While the northern Japan ports were for the most part largely forgettable, the Alaska portion was very memorable. The Ship. The ship is very well laid out, and although small, still has most of the amenities one would expect. However, while some will say the ship is in great shape - it is really not, and the upcoming refurbishment (this fall?) should spruce things up considerably. The crew works very hard to keep it clean, but there are many examples where age is creeping in. The chairs in some of the bars are tattered and ripped in places. Carpets are getting old and worn, The bathroom in our stateroom needs an upgrade. Some of the public rooms need repainting. To name a few. Nothing significant enough to ruin a cruise - but things that do need to be upgraded. Stateroom. We had an inside cabin (older ship - very few balcony cabins put their price at a premium - for this type of cruise inside worked just fine). It was well laid out, lots of space for storing belongings and was very quiet. Bed very comfortable. Dining Room. We tend to eat most of our meals in the MDR but this time for the reasons below we ended up taking many breakfast and lunches elsewhere. All the dinners in the MDR were either very good or excellent. However, breakfasts were - to be blunt - abysmal. Service was exceptionally slow and the impact on temperature was as to be expected - warm to cold. The lunch experience was not a great deal better - slow - cold and often not quite what one had asked for. I have no idea why (maybe two different supervisors) but whatever it was there was a hugely noticeable difference between breakfast/lunch and dinner. Lido. On the whole, quite good once you can get by the herd mentality of buffet dining. The approach of having staff serve (ie no self serve) has certainly slowed things down a great deal - particularly for the popular "cooked to order" stations. But on the whole - the food was warm to hot, relatively fresh, and usually refilled quickly. If a HAL rep reads this - one suggestion for the Lido - why cannot there be a toaster station where people can at least do their own toast? Nothing is more frustrating then getting cooked eggs (or whatever) and then having to find the station where toast is made (it is not the egg station by the way) - and then waiting while one of the staff has to cook the toast (it normally takes three times to get it brown), while serving other customers? There has to be a better way. Pinnacle Grill. A huge disappointment! We have been to the PG twice before and this time we were not impressed with the steaks or the King Crab. In fact, we had steak and crab legs two days later in the MDR and both were superior to what we had had in the PG. Menu could use a change once in while as well. Caneletto (sp?). The Italian extra charge (minimal) was Outstanding - no other way to put it. Signature Drinks Package. We received this as a perk for early booking. On the whole it was fine, although the selection of wines covered by the package available by the glass in the MDR was extremely limited. Not sure why they could not offer a bit better selection there. Also, when we tried to address this by asking if we could upgrade our Signature Package to Premium (at our cost) we were told we could not. I don't really get the "no, we don't want your money" and if you are not happy, too bad", approach. Bar tenders were, without exception, fabulous. Entertainment. The entertainment on this cruise was probably the best on ANY cruise we have been on. Lots of activities programmed each day, including interesting talks, bridge, games, port visit talks (and not endless attempts to sell excursions), movies etc etc. The entertainers ranged from good to outstanding. No complaints here at all. Gym. Good, clean, well laid out with sufficient apparatus. It did get tiresome when working out to have to constantly listen to the gym rats trying to sell the benefits of eating seaweed, cleansing or using specially designed insoles. The promenade deck is outstanding for walking. Dress Code. Ah yes - the dress code. HAL has abandoned formal nights and adopted Gala Nights at about the same frequency of the old formal night. However, the definition what constitutes "Normal" and/or "Gala" dress is not well laid out and subsequently the result is confusion and inconsistency. HAL has to get a grip on how they define gala or they will continue to confuse guests, cause embarrassment and potentially lose business. In summary, this was an enjoyable cruise, good value for money and reflected exactly what we have come to expect from HAL. There were a few areas where our expectations were not met, however this has always been the case regardless of the line we have chosen. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We originally booked direct with HAL for Lower Promenade Ocean View #3334 about 9 months before the cruise - at the holidays last year, the prices dropped and we were credited. Then, after final payment, the B category balcony prices ... Read More
We originally booked direct with HAL for Lower Promenade Ocean View #3334 about 9 months before the cruise - at the holidays last year, the prices dropped and we were credited. Then, after final payment, the B category balcony prices dropped so we upgraded for free. That turned out to be a splendid choice - the balcony in Alaska was worth it. We didn't feel any additional movement really from being aft, and a Bonine a day took care of any seasickness. The cabin was roomy and in good condition and the bed and pillows were very comfy. We had no toilet or AC troubles and our location right next to the stairs was so convenient. We heard no noise from anywhere or anyone and we were blessed with no smokers on the balconies next to us. All of the ship was in good condition as far as I could tell and our room stewards and MDR waiter were great. The ship has a lot of open public space so you never really felt too crowded, except at the Lido buffet and Crow's Nest comfy chairs. The Volendam had the BEST public women's restroom of all time in my opinion. To me, if you are going on the Volendam expecting superb, "white glove" service and exquisite dining, then you will be disappointed. You need to choose Oceania, Crystal or Celebrity. However, Volendam is a great value for the money paid and the fabulous itinerary and ports. It's not a bad cruise for the food and service, just not a great cruise. If you have small kids, I'm not sure Volendam is for you. I didn't see very many and I preferred that. If you have kids, I think Carnival or Disney or Princess and the larger ships are better choices. I think that the rooms on the lower decks at the cheapest prices all have issues unique to the location and I don't think the plumbing on any ship in the lower, cheapest cabins is going to be completely reliable. There is a reason they are the cheapest rooms. We really enjoyed our cruise immensely, mainly due to the beautiful Alaska scenery, fabulous weather (sunny with NO rain), our private balcony, and the great ports with plenty of time in each port. We did NOT book this cruise for the ship entertainment, nightlife, food or activities. We chose the Volendam based solely on ports of call, time in port, departure port of Vancouver, and smaller size compared to Zuiderdam or Westerdam. We chose HAL over Princess because we are 50-ish and 60-ish and we wanted a more adult clientele which HAL caters to. We were so tired after each port that we never went to a single show and never took part in any activities. Honestly, I can't fathom why anyone would care so much about cooking classes or computer classes or afternoon teas when sailing in Alaska. Why miss any of the fantastic scenery? There is ALWAYS wonderful scenery anywhere and the Volendam has lots of great walking choices on outside decks. The food was hot, good, and there was always plenty of it. Good enough for us. We weren't interested in dressing up for formal night more than once so we skipped the other formal night. My biggest complaints: you can't hear the captain's wildlife announcements in your room; half the Lido was usually closed for staff only and that half was almost always deserted while the passenger side was jam-packed; the MDR lunch hour was way too short - only open for 1.25 hours; on port days when we got back very late after our excursions, the Lido and MDR were closed and the only choice was room service which takes way too long - ridiculous; seemed like all the good indoor spots in Crow's Nest and Explorer's lounge were ALWAY taken when we wanted them. We couldn't hear any of the captain's announcements clearly in our room and besides being a nuisance that we missed wildlife announcements, that seems like an imperative safety issue to me. Also, I am all for the staff having their own dining area to get away from passengers for a while, but it should NOT be at the expense of the passengers who are paying for the staff's salaries. I don't see why the staff can't have their very own dedicated cafeteria. The MDR and Lido hours were ridiculously short. I definitely prefer Carnival in that respect - there is always pizza and burgers 24 hours. I really liked our room stewards and the service in general from nearly all the staff. The food seemed very good overall to me with only a few misses. The only HAL excursions we booked were in Skagway and they were both unique and GREAT. We loved the Summer Sled Dog Mush Camp and we absolutely, positively LOVED LOVED the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari to Davidson Glacier. The train ride in Skagway is very popular, but a train ride is just too boring for us. The Glacier Wilderness Safari is such a unique experience that really kicks butt compared to a train ride, IMHO. I also can't understand why anyone would want to spend a lot of time shopping in the towns - you can shop anywhere. Alaska has priceless scenery everywhere you look for free. There is even plenty to see very inexpensive, but Alaska is once place where you should totally splurge on excursions. Overall, we absolutely thought the Volendam was a super value for the money, and we would definitely book again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Stateroom requested Suite G2706 ... Paid $3850 per person march 2012 The same stateroom selling for $2200 per person in December 2012 two months before sailing. Called Holland America office and talked with supervisor who informed me that ... Read More
Stateroom requested Suite G2706 ... Paid $3850 per person march 2012 The same stateroom selling for $2200 per person in December 2012 two months before sailing. Called Holland America office and talked with supervisor who informed me that he could not refund the difference but would upgrade to window stateroom. No refund but an update from HAL offered........BIG MISTAKE..DO NOT ACCEPT UPGRADES...... LIES FROM HAL #1 FEB 4 Day 1 to Day 14 To our shock and dismay the uPdated Stateroom is below galley kitchen Suite number 3372--- avoid any even numbered unit between 3300 to approx 3400. Noise started at 5:30 am every morning lasted (2 weeks). It sounded like large industrial mixers and chains being dragged through the walls of our suite. Notice that the location of the galley kitchen is never advertised on their website, on any brochure or on any ship map.. They show it as a blank spit with no information. LIES FROM HAL # 2. Asked to be moved to verandah suite for the last 2 weeks of our 4 weeks cruise. Estimate given to us $699 per person for 14 days left on the cruise...... We said yes because we were desperate..before we moved I found an old email listing the price for a verandah upgrade to be for $599 per person for entire 28 day cruise....caught HAL again in a lie. LIES FROM HAL #3..... FOOD SERVICE ON A 28 DAY TRIP FROM HAL Breakfast : stick to toast butter and jams... Milk imported from china...it smells. Be careful if you are coming from North America No respect for vegetarian cooking...all pasta dishes cooked with same utensils whether meat sauce or vegetarian in the Lido.. Chef is too busy trying to sweet talk the single women guests rather than worrying about serving good quality food by his untrained young staff. If he starts with Hello Darling ...move to another place to eat....LIES FROM HAL #4. The quality of food in both the main dining room and the Lido is mostly mediocre served by waiters that would never eat it themselves. Reminds me of my college dorm days.. Day 2,5,8, 12,16 The Main Dinning Room (Ida the evil matire'd) Look out for the maitre 'd on the 4th floor dinning room. He basically does not want to give you a nice table for 2... Most nights we waited for 15 minutes even when there were many small tables open. We wondered if he had something personal against us although we were polite and appropriately dressed. it would seem that this man needs some multi-cultural and manners training. The smile he use shows when his supervisor is around is not sincere. More Lies from HAL #5. Day 18 The last time we ate in the main dining room was on our 18th day of a 28 day cruise. The dinner started with us finally getting a nice table by a window, for once. We ordered some wine and had our dinner. We expected to enjoy our evening , as we were leaving Shanghai. But as The ship left the magnificent lights of Shanghai our nightmare started.. We usually go to bed around 10 pm as we are not much of late night people. I went to bed as my wife watched tv in bed next to me. All of a sudden, I start to feel my fish and bok choi started to rise in my stomach. I barely made my way to the washroom where my dinner flew out of my mouth at full speed. This lasted the next 4 hours as I sat by the bathtub making sure not to make too much of a mess. After each throw up I ran the shower to make it disappear... Next morning my wife went down to the doctors office and picked up some anti-diarrheal pills ... We were told I was on voluntary quarantine, in our room. As I slowly waited out my condition in a room with no heat , while the temp in China dropped below freezing.... Calls regarding the lack of heat were ignored. LIES from HAL #6. Day 19 Next morning while freezing in our verandah suite my wife took charge as I lay in bed shivering. She got me tea one cup at a time because if you order the flask from room service, it was at most lukewarm , not hot. She cancelled my excursion bookings for Beijing and the Great Wall of China. . I could not bear the thought of a twelve hour excursion, riding buses 3 hrs each way without a rest room on the bus. My wife was determined to go see the Great Wall the next day... So she would have to go alone. Day 20 The day started with me still in bed and my wife running around the ship to get me some HOT soup. Lido serves two kinds of soup everyday. One is usually cream based the other being vegetarian. She brought me a cup of the vegetarian soup which I have to describe as smelling of rotten eggs with green leafs floating on the top. The smell of this soup started me into throwing up again. Please take a can of chicken noodle just in case you catch a bug as consomme is not available. My wife noticed that she was feeling a little tired. As she rested in the afternoon on her bed, I knew that she too would be sick. It happened around 3 pm. She ran to the bathroom and threw up so violently that I was afraid for her. I jumped out of my bed and took charge. Now I had to be in control. She had magnificently handled my sickness , now it was my turn. As she sat near the bathtub spilling out her guts, I phoned the doctor and asked for more pills. The nurse came to our stateroom and informd us that we were both quarantined. If we violated quarantine we would be expelled from the ship and have to find our own way home. This seemed an extreme threat when we were left extremely ill, in a room with no heat. We stayed in bed watched some movies and drank lot's of water $3.75/ bottle. A night from hell..no heat in our room. Temp outside approaching freezing. Both confined to our stateroom. God help us.. A day from HAL...More Lies from HAL#7. Day 21 A new day dawned with me feeling better and my wife still feeling the effects of up chucking all night... Breakfast meant calling room service ....some cereal and toast with tea...we could not look at any other food. The joy of eating was gone. Phoned the front office. Requested that they clean our room and give us some fresh towels. We were informed that they would send someone in the evening to clean up. We basically lived in the filth of our stomach up chucking for 48 hours. Our normal stewards did not want to clean up. Also, no heat in the room. We were told that someone would check the heater but it had been days since our first request. We sat in our room waiting for some help which came at 7pm with a knock on the door. An officer named Arpalata appeard with 2 stewards. The Stewart's cleaned the washroom and disinfected the room. We were grateful. Next came the guy to fix the heater. We finally had a clean room with some heat. Things were looking up. The doctor called and inquired about our condition. We told him we were feeling much better. He informed us that we were no longer in quarantine. We were free to roam the ship. Free at last...I so much wanted to see Tianmann Square and salute the heroes of 1989. It was not to be. Thanks HAL. Day 22 Beijing day 2 We stayed on the ship in Bejing . Had a quiet breakfast of hot cereal and toast with lot's of Earl Grey tea....so many lies constantly told have made us fearful of trying another long cruise with HAL. We will try cruise lines that are modern with new technology and newer ship.. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
I am sure that if you look hard enough in any service industry, you will find matters to criticise. The measure of how good a company is how they respond to those criticisms. I have to say that our trip around NZ on the Volendam was a very ... Read More
I am sure that if you look hard enough in any service industry, you will find matters to criticise. The measure of how good a company is how they respond to those criticisms. I have to say that our trip around NZ on the Volendam was a very pleasant experience and we enjoyed the cruise very much. We were travelling with 2 other couples and did our own thing generally during the day and then met at night for drinks and dinner. The positives: room was a good size, with large bathroom; cabin stewards unobtrusive and efficient; food was excellent (some of the best beef I have eaten); on-board credit was a welcome surprise; the Volendam singers and dancers were excellent; most of the guest entertainers were also excellent; the staff in the main dining room were great (we tried to sit in the same area each night); the gym was excellent with very good staff on hand; the Captain was excellent with his twice-daily briefings (although he seemed shy when we tried to chat with him informally); my wife loved her almost daily omelette; the cost of wine was quite reasonable (it helped that the Aus dollar was better than parity while we were on the ship); my wife found some moisturised that was about a third of the price she pays at home; The negatives: smoking areas pervaded the non-smokers (HAL are considering this issue); our friends found the kids were VERY noisy in the pool area; the coffee generally was rubbish; the TV in the room was set up too high; Eugene, the guitarist on the pool deck could not sing and was a tad annoying if you were trying to read a book or just relax (a nice guy though!); The disappointments: we were unable to get into Milford Sound because of bad weather; we didn't win the bingo; my wife did not get a Royal Flush at the poker!; Christmas dinner was quite disappointing; the weather was not great but we expected that. Other comments: we did not go on any excursions, but did our own thing, really enjoying Napier. Mt Manganui and the Bay of Islands; there were no problems with us bringing a couple of bottles of wine on to the ship at each port. I enjoyed this cruise and would like to experience the service on a higher rated HAL ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
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 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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