4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We have previously completed HAL cruises to Myanmar and Hong Kong from Singapore. This Indonesia cruise was the missing link. We have been to Singapore many, many times. Stayed at Sofitel So. The only highlights were the Telok Ayer Food ... Read More
We have previously completed HAL cruises to Myanmar and Hong Kong from Singapore. This Indonesia cruise was the missing link. We have been to Singapore many, many times. Stayed at Sofitel So. The only highlights were the Telok Ayer Food Market next door to the hotel. and the Botanic Gardens. Most ports of call were forgettable with heavy traffic. Shuttles only went to shopping malls. Lombok was the highlight. Komodo Island lizards are not much bigger than our large monitor lizards and much smaller than our crocodiles. We highly recommend Putu Supartana, a private driver in Bali (putusupartana@yahoo.com). He intimately knows the island, will recommend places to visit and can bypass the horrible traffic congestion. Overall an average cruise. HAL service is becoming less customer focussed but the ship staff were still excellent. Port information was minimal but port transfers were good. We did not do any ship excursions as they are too expensive and poor value. Other passenger statements reflected a lot of time in traffic on shore excursions. Main dining room food was good but the Pinnacle Grill needs to change its menu as it is still the same from 3 cruises ago. The lack of a cocktail of the day was a disappointment. Oceanview cabin better than other cruise lines and cabin staff excellent. Nightly entertainment was average. Two local culture shows were poor. Being a christmas/new year cruise the number of children was relatively low, unobtrusive and well behaved. A typical mid-60's HAL crowd. We would not do this cruise again as the ports of call are poor. However Indonesia is our nearest neighbour and we have been to more interesting, less tourist orientated places. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our tenth cruise with five cruiselines over a period of 14 years. We always choose verandah or mini-suite accommodation and have been happy with every experience so far. We had read differing views of Volendam but were prepared to ... Read More
This was our tenth cruise with five cruiselines over a period of 14 years. We always choose verandah or mini-suite accommodation and have been happy with every experience so far. We had read differing views of Volendam but were prepared to take the chance on a 16-day round-trip cruise, Sydney to New Zealand, for Christmas and New Year. What a surprise! This is the most gorgeous ship that measures up to, and often exceeds, some other high-end vessels. The decor is simply stunning in the Florentine style and lounge areas extremely comfortable and inviting. The only comparison we can make is Pacific Princess, also beautiful. We always begin the day with a light room-service breakfast, the only type usually available. Another surprise - a full breakfast menu for the first time, served on Rosenthal china with HOT tea and coffee. Also, we often eat lunch in the dining room, but we found the atmosphere and environment in the Lido buffet was quiet and spotlessly clean with genuinely friendly staff. Not the noisy mosh pit we've experienced many times! The Lido food was better than that offered by some dining rooms on other ships, especially the dreadful Rhapsody of the Seas, with a wide variety clearly separated into Asian, Italian, entrees, etc. We had pre-dinner drinks in the Ocean Bar every night and found the staff and service friendly. Music from jazz to modern was provided by the Neptune Trio, piano, bass and drums. It was a perfect background for a view of the sea or a whizz around the dance floor at the end of the day. Dinner in the Dining Room was always delicious. The food was prepared to perfection - the ship serves the best beef we've ever eaten - and variety unlimited. There's lots of duck and lobster, not offered routinely on many cruise ships, and service was impeccable. Our wine steward, Belinda from the Phillipines, was a joy to see each night and had good knowledge of the wines on offer. A string quartet played from the balcony during dinner. Christmas and New Year celebrations were just that, with staff going the extra mile to entertain us. Our final night in the dining room was remarkable, with waitstaff dancing into the room singing, twirling plates on poles, waving napkins, as well as the grand alaska (without the flambe, thanks to OHS). It was a bit sad to leave and that's our indication of enjoyment. We were particularly impressed with the fact that we had been allocated our requested table for two, something we have almost had to beg for on other ships where we have loyalty status. We booked for a special night in Pinnacle Grill to celebrate Le Cirque, an iconic New York restaurant which has authorised Holland America to provide dinners from its menu. For $59 a person, including matched wines, we had an extraordinary evening. It's the most beautiful restaurant at sea that we have found and a very, very special place. Following the principle of starting with two positive things before a negative, we must say the following: Our verandah accommodation (deluxe verandah is twice the price) was compact, but after the shock of entering a narrow space between bathroom and wardrobe where both doors can't be opened simultaneously, we settled in and found an abundance of storage (and I'm an over-packer) and must draw potential passengers' notice to the fact that there are two big concealed shoe drawers at the end of the beds. Also, it is a great pity that the open-plan casino spews cigarette smoke from the slot-machine area at one end and the bar from the other into the open walkway between show-lounge, Ocean Bar, shops and Piano Bar. The adjacent and barely divided Piano Bar is especially inviting and after trying it on day one we felt sorry for the excellent female performer there night after night with a poor early audience. Perhaps the smokers came later and took a regular three steps into the casino for a puff. Only 17% of Australians smoke and we manage to avoid it most of the time at home. Staff at the open-plan shop opposite the casino are concerned at the impact it has on their business and a glass partition might solve the problem, but might also deter the company's desirable impulse gamblers. We had one small problem when the ship was unprepared for the need for electric adaptors and were without for a couple of days. When an offer of lunch at Pinnacle Grill ($10 each) wasn't possible for us, the $20 was credited to our shipboard account by understanding Front Office staff. Take note, Princess Cruises! Embarkation from Sydney's Overseas terminal was unimpressive, as usual, for a landmark position, but disembarkation was well-managed. Again for the first time, room-service breakfast was not suspended at a time when it was most appreciated. We chose late departure of 8.45am and it was seamless. Congratulations, Holland America, for our memorable cruise experience - you will certainly be seeing us again, despite the rewards offered by our loyalty to other lines. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Travelled from Sydney to Auckland with many ports whilst en route. Volendam is showing her age - looking worn around the edges and needing a face-lift - but this did not detract from our enjoyment of this fab cruise. Particular ... Read More
Travelled from Sydney to Auckland with many ports whilst en route. Volendam is showing her age - looking worn around the edges and needing a face-lift - but this did not detract from our enjoyment of this fab cruise. Particular highlights include: mayor of Burnie greeting us when disembarking; wonderful botanic gardens at Dunedin (easily walkable on a day ashore); beautiful weather on the day we 'tendered' into akaroa; genuine warmth of reception by the people of Napier; wonderful scenery in Mount Manganui. Life onboard was generally fun with a variety of entertainment. Our favorites were great quizzes organised by cruise director David and DJ Phil. Questions did tend to be rather geared to US residents, but hey, we can cope. Didn't win though! The evening meals were much better than I remember having on Ms. Veendam earlier this year but breakfast and lunch were still a bit of a scrum in the Lido self-service restaurant. Much better to go to the Rotterdam for a sit-down affair if time available. Our cabin was clean, had a wide range of storage, and was generally quiet but had odd ominous banging sounds from below on occasions (engine room? tenders?). We made full use of the self service laundrette, having been away for a week by the time we got on board ship. It really does seem odd that you still need an enormous number of US quarters to operate the washers and dryers, it's probably time that they sold tokens which would be much more user friendly. Opted for open dining which means we could go any time we wanted rather than be tied to a specific sitting. Generally shared with other people in tables of 6-8 and this worked very well most of the time and forced us to socialise with others, which was enjoyable and entertaining. Evening shows were not to our taste for the most part, but we recognised that all had talent. Usually quite difficult to find space to sit if one went after dinner. All in all, we had a fab time and would thoroughly recommend this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 ... Read More
Having cruised recently on the Sea Princess, I imagined that Holland America would be a similar experience, well I was wrong! Boarding at Los Angeles (Long Beach) was a breeze, no queues, no hassle and the whole process only took 10 minutes, pre-checkin on the internet did help. This was the fastest embarkation I have ever experienced. The Volendam is a wonderful ship, very traditional with only 1400 guests it does not have that overcrowded feel of the larger ships. The layout is such that you never have to queue for anything. The two pools one of which is situated at the stern were more than adequate for the number of passengers on board. Dining was a real joy to look forward to every night. The main dining room the Rotterdam is on two levels, one being for traditional dining and the other for anytime dining. We chose the latter and always got a table without queuing- the two waiters at our first night were so good that we dined at the same table for the entire cruise. The standard of food here was very high ,the best we have experienced on a cruise ship,-Holland America have Daniel (the Head Chief) to thank for that-, so much so that we did not even try the speciality restaurant (The Pinnacle Grill). The other dining options-the Lido Cafe, Canaletto's and poolside Mexican/American grill were also of a very high standard. Entertainment was good with the resident company doing shows plus visiting artists gave us a wide variety of performers to enjoy, again the quality of the shows was very high. There is also a cinema on board which showed recently released films daily and free popcorn was provided. There were two bars where you could enjoy a pianist and a string quartet, so everyones taste was catered for.The biggest difference we noticed between Holland America and Princess were Holland America paid more attention to the "niceties", there were cloth towels in the public washrooms, staff provided free lemonade around the pool,use of glasses and china, not plastic plates around the pool, no pressure to "buy,Buy,Buy" on board and generally the service on board was much higher than Princess or Celebrity and some of this must go down to the staff. Apart from the uniformed officers every single person had a smile always acknowledged you when passing, very often knew your name, no mean feat when there are 1400 of us. They worked hard to ensure that we had a great experience and always without fail exceeded our and most other guests expectations. I believe that Holland America has got this element of cruising spot on. We had on two occasions reason to complain about the pool and attitude of a uniformed officer, both issues were dealt with immediately and we were very impressed at the way they deal with any form of poor service- well done. The ports of call were interesting, included New Caledonia, Ile des Pines, and Samoa. We were supposed to visit Eden in Australia, but due to inclement weather we had to forgo this please and instead have an overnight in Sydney, to everyone's delight!! On the whole we were very impressed with the standard on this ship, we loved it and will return again to experience the feeling of being part of the Voldendam Family. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
This was our first time with Holland America, 16 days Christmas/New year trip to New Zealand. Overall I found the crew to be great, especially the waiters in the buffet were we ate most of our meals. The food was really good and well ... Read More
This was our first time with Holland America, 16 days Christmas/New year trip to New Zealand. Overall I found the crew to be great, especially the waiters in the buffet were we ate most of our meals. The food was really good and well presented. Our cabin stewards were very nice, always polite and very helpful. The Captain was one of the best and very informative of what was going on. I was very disappointed in this cruise. Being a Christmas one I was expecting a lot more festive things, no passenger Christmas caroles etc. The daily program was the worst I have seen, very boring, repetitive, and hardly any choices, no passenger interaction. If you like cooking or digital stuff then this is the ship for you. The shows were ok, they had a couple of artists on there that were really very good. This ship was built old, and badly needs work. Our cabin had patched holes in the walls, and the air con leaked which took three days to fix. We did one shore excursion with HAL which was very good, but expensive. We were very surprised at the free things that were given to us. Wine, on board credit, speciality dinners etc. That was very good to see. DO NOT leave your account in credit, they won't let you off the ship. I was stopped from going off the ship as THEY owed me $5.00. No last minute account, hung up on when trying to find out where it was. When I was stopped from leaving the ship (red flagged) I was told to go to the front desk and sort it out, my wife had already got off and told to stay on deck. The line for the front desk was going down the stairs. I jumped the line and asked them what was going on, they owe me $5.00. I could not believe they had stopped me for $5.00 dollars. They had my MasterCard details. I signed a form saying they could keep it. We had made arrangements to meet friends in Sydney before flying home. By the time we got off the ship,went through customs, and finally caught a cab it was to late to meet them. We were originally one of the first to get off the ship at 7.15am. We will never sail with HAL again, this was our 14th cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
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 2009
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first ... Read More
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first impression of the Volendam was gloomy and dark and felt only half the lights were on. The same in our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on navigation deck and had everything we needed. The beds were very comfortable and I slept like a baby. The Indonesian stewards were very good but had limited English, and we did enjoy our towel animals every night. A bit too much of the Indonesian thing with 2 or 3 shows and even when I went for afternoon tea one day it was only Indonesian teas and food. The food was excellent and we enjoyed Christmas night at the Pinnacle Grill. They brought round a trolley and described every cut of meat and where it was from. My DH had a T-bone steak which took up the whole plate. The chocolate volcano cake was delicious. Great service and food. We had anytime dining and had different tablemates and never had to queue. We felt as there were a big percentage of Americans on the ship who had come all this way for the NZ experience that they should have had NZ entertainers as well as the Australian singers who sang a lot of Australian songs, etc. Also none of our beautiful NZ wines. The weather wasn't very warm and the temperatures in the ship were cold as well. Definitely long sleeves day and night. We went to the late shows and there were only a handful of people there. The ports were good and the free buses, I think put on by each local council to the centre of town, were great. The seas were very rough around Stewart Island and the Tasman with 6 metre swells. Milford Sound was one of the highlights. The tendering process left a lot to be desired in the rough seas and I saw 2 potential accidents. Not enough crew supervising the tenders. All in all I felt this cruise was rather staid and sedate. 17 days was a bit long and 4 formal nights - well the novelty wore off. If you like to read in a corner then this was the cruise for you. For me, I'm back to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
First, I would like to mention that the Aussies & Kiwis are the nicest, friendliest and most outgoing people in the world! This review is for the MS Volendam which left December 20, 2009 from Auckland, NZ and disembarked in Sydney, ... Read More
First, I would like to mention that the Aussies & Kiwis are the nicest, friendliest and most outgoing people in the world! This review is for the MS Volendam which left December 20, 2009 from Auckland, NZ and disembarked in Sydney, AUS on January 6, 2010 (17 Nights). We visited 11 ports (including Auckland) plus scenic cruising of the While Island Volcano and Milford Sound. We had an early arrival at Auckland airport, around 5 AM and you can't board the ship until around 11:30 AM. We wanted to see Auckland, but were having some trouble locating anyone to take us around for 2 hours. Then I found http://www.tourauckland.co.nz/ on the Internet. It's Roger & Lorraine of Auckland and we made arrangements with them to meet us at the port. They were a lovely couple who took us around in their car and we felt like they were our family. We highly recommend them!!! The Volendam: This is an older ship in great condition. This is the first cruise (been on 15 +) that really felt like a vacation. The Lido Buffet for breakfast had little or no lines and no problem finding a table. That was really a relaxing way to start the day. In the lounges, or by the pool, or in the showroom, they didn't keep bothering you about drinks. Service in the Dining Room & Lido Buffet was excellent. The Volendam had lots of NO SUGAR ADDED desserts and they were REALLY TASTY! Each Night at Dinner there was ONE NO SUGAR ADDED dessert selection as well as TWO flavors of NO SUGAR ADDED Ice Cream. We took the Ship's excursions which were all good and there were no problems except for a rough tender back from Half Moon Bay. New Zealand & Australia are simply AWESOME & BREATHTAKING. Plus they are full of lovely, helpful people who seem to love to have guests. The Scenic cruising of the White Island Volcano and Milford Sound were extraordinary!! We, of course, attended the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and met lots of lovely people. We did have VERY ROUGH seas after leaving Milford Sound on the Tasman Sea. It lasted about 10 hours. Glasses were flying off the table and chairs moving around in the Lounge. My Wife and I both became seasick. I got her meds at the Front Desk, the next morning, and she was fine by lunch time, just very sleepy. Christmas & New Years Eve were celebrated on board. Holland America went ALL OUT for New Years Eve. Party Hats & Tiaras were given to each guest. There was free champagne, Noise makers, horns & streamers. In the show lounge they had thousands of balloons tied up with netting and released them at New Years. That was a really great party. Some Extras: There were several coin operated washing machines & dryers on 4 or the decks. The pool had a sliding glass cover. There were 2 Chocolate buffets. The bathrooms had bathtubs. The Public Bathrooms were spotless and had lovely tile work. Plus there were rolled up washcloths to dry your hands with. (A very nice touch). Holland America also had FREE computer classes and some FREE cooking demonstrations. The embarkation procedure moved along quickly. The disembarkation procedure was really relaxing. No calling out colors or numbers. You just show up at the appointed time and no line whatsoever. The Australian authorities had been on board while we were at sea and took care of all paper work. Again, Holland America's scheduling resulted in this being a relaxing, no long lines procedure. Sydney Airport: We had a little time until our flight and found this sit down take out restaurant. (Trattoria Prego) Italian Food in Australia cooked by Asian Cooks?? We are from New York City so we know good Italian food. This food was simply great!!! If you're flying Qantas or Air New Zealand you're in for a wonderful (but a little long) experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We decided to have a really relaxing Christmas and escape cooking the turkey etc., cruising in 'our own backyard' seemed to fit the bill nicely. Home to the port was a breeze as we live only 30 minutes north of Auckland, ... Read More
We decided to have a really relaxing Christmas and escape cooking the turkey etc., cruising in 'our own backyard' seemed to fit the bill nicely. Home to the port was a breeze as we live only 30 minutes north of Auckland, embarkation was quick and easy and we were onboard in time for the Mariners Lunch in the Main Dining Room. Our first impression of the Volendam was the dim lighting in both public areas and cabins but we soon got used to it, secondly the ship is looking a little tired in places but in no way did we let the fact spoil our enjoyment. Our cabin was oceanview, midships on Deck 1 (Dolphin Deck), my husband is prone to seasickness so the lower down the ship the better for him. The cabin was very quiet but in a handy position with only a short walk to the lifts. It was spotlessly clean, very roomy with plenty of storage space, wonderful comfy beds and we were very happy with it. By choice we had fixed early dining which was at 5.45pm, this was a mistake as we found it to be too early especially on port days when it was a huge rush to get spruced up. We could have changed to Open Seating dining or the Lido but we had such great table companions we didn't want to desert them. We ate breakfast everyday in the main dining room also lunch on sea days, found both menus to be good except for the Kippered Herrings at breakfast, never again!! Only ate lunch at the Lido a couple of times, plenty of variety and we did not encounter long lines. Overall our opinion of the food in the MDR was mostly very good, tasty and well cooked with plenty of choices. We did eat one night in the Pinnacle Grill, it was very enjoyable but frankly we're not sure what all the fuss is about. The evening entertainment in the Frans Hal lounge was okay, but somewhat repetative with most, if not all, acts coming from Australia - not a New Zealand act in sight!! The Christmas Day celebrations were excellent with Santa arriving and all the children getting a present also New Years Eve was a fun night kicking off in the Crows Nest at 9pm then moving down to the Frans Hall lounge at 11.30pm where the champagne was flowing and the party really began to see in the New Year. Our fellow cruisers were a mixed bunch with many Americans onboard and we met some great people and had lots of laughs. The crew and staff were excellent especially our waiters in the MDR, always had a smile and nothing was too much trouble. We did have a bit of bother with the Front Desk with amounts charged to our onboard account that were nothing to do with us, this took several trips to the Front Desk and some heated discussion before the amounts were removed - so beware and check your account very carefully. Even though we were cruising in New Zealand we enjoyed all the ports and cruising in Milford Sound, the weather was pretty cold in the south of New Zealand and once we left Stewart Island we had heavy swells before the Sounds and crossing the Tasman was definitely rocky with a number of people being ill, thankfully we were okay. The highlight had to be sailing into Sydney at 5.30AM, rounding the Heads and seeing the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the distance with the sun coming up - magic. All in all we had a great trip, and are already planning our next cruise on the Volendam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Background DH and I have cruised on several other lines including Holland America Lines. This was our second cruise with HAL. We decided to try a midsize ship again after two previous cruises on smaller ships. We've cruised the ... Read More
Background DH and I have cruised on several other lines including Holland America Lines. This was our second cruise with HAL. We decided to try a midsize ship again after two previous cruises on smaller ships. We've cruised the Aegean, the Mediterranean, transited the Panama Canal, one transatlantic crossing and the Caribbean. This would be our first cruise in the southern hemisphere. We used our local travel agent. Travel To Port of Embarkation We flew on V Australia from LAX via Melbourne to Auckland, New Zealand. The flight was good, except our Melbourne connection was delayed due to the crew not advising all passengers the correct location to pick up their boarding passes. LAX couldn't issue our connecting passes even though it was Pacific Blue, another part of Virgin. That was the only glitch. Hotel Info (if any) We arrived 3 days prior to boarding the ship and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Auckland, with very nice accommodations and an excellent brunch in the mornings. The location was close enough to walk on foot to the Auckland Skytower and other downtown sights. Embarkation & Stateroom We arrived at the pier in a taxi and the staff tagged our luggage so we didn't have to use the thin paper tags we'd been given by HAL. This worked out beautifully. There was no actual line to board and the staff were swift and courteous in processing us. Our outside stateroom offered plenty of closet and storage space, better than I've found on any of our other cruises. The window over the bed required a bit of maneuvering on your knees to see everything outside. The bed was comfortable as was the high quality bedding. Our two cabin stewards kept things quite clean, were mostly invisible, but always friendly when we did see them. I found dried chewing gum on the sides of my expensive leather shoes upon returning from port and our steward Novie was able to clean them perfect as good as new in a matter of hours. Ship Info We found the TV offered cruise/shore excursion updates but we've experienced better on other ships. Standard info on the stateroom desk was adequate. We did the usual "new" passenger wandering to get our bearings. We appreciaed the elevator mats changed to state the day of the week as a gentle reminder. Dining Since we had "open" dining all our evening meals were on the lower floor of the Rotterdam dining room. Service 80% of the time was very good, 5% average, and 15% outstanding. We especially enjoyed the "theme" nights: once with the chefs and staff singing and marching into the dining room and, the other night was an Indonesian theme with costumes and beautiful Indonesian dEcor. Both Christmas and New Year's Eve had special presentation meals. The vegetables were often overcooked for our taste, otherwise, food preparation was very good to excellent. The variety was good. In comparison to our first HAL cruise years ago in the Caribbean we'd rate a big improvement in food quality. Activities I won a free hydro-wrap at the Spa, which was delightful. Service The staff were polite, friendly and sincere in their efforts to attend to our needs. We only ran into one server who seemed to rush us at the end of our dinner. Many times we were engaged in conversatio with staff who always had a cheerful attitude. Entertainment The International (crew and staff) Christmas Choir sang on Dec 24, a true delight. The New Year's Eve bash was quite fun with a huge balloon drop at midnight, champagne and fun hats and noisemakers. The ballroom was packed with plenty of good singing. During the rest of the evenings the ship singers and dancers were a mixed bag, but mostly very good with plenty of high energy and enthusiasm, which made up for one female singer who struggled with some material. One stand-out performer Aussie Annie Francis was fabulous. They all did a stand-up job when the ship ran into very rough seas. Port & Shore Excursions We booked three through the ship and all were better than we expected. In Tauranga we toured the Rotorua area, in Christchurch the High Country Explorer, and in Burnie, Tasmania the Wings Animal Park. We did walkabouts in the other ports, though both Gisborne and Oban at Stewart Island has little to see. Disembarkation Our tags were in our stateroom as expected on the last night aboard. The "silent" disembarkation was a nice change from past experiences on other lines. There weren't constant PA announcements of the time. Passengers left the ship at their designated times and we didn't experience any crowds. Free carts were available for our luggage, however the taxi line was quite a wait to our hotel. Summary This was our first Christmas/New Year's cruise and 1st time down under. The only difficulty was very rough seas while crossing the Tasman Sea and leaving Oban, Stewart Island, something unavoidable when you're on the high seas. We had a wonderful cruise. In regard to the ship and its crew and staff we'd give them an A+ overall, including our dear captain who kept reminding all of us to "wash your hands!" Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
SERVICE LEVELS VERY LOW, INCONSISTENT and WAY BELOW PRINCESS IN THIS MARKET ( The Christmas cruise on Sun Princess at the same time last year offered far superior service and all round product.) Some examples that may seem trivial but ... Read More
SERVICE LEVELS VERY LOW, INCONSISTENT and WAY BELOW PRINCESS IN THIS MARKET ( The Christmas cruise on Sun Princess at the same time last year offered far superior service and all round product.) Some examples that may seem trivial but the constant battle to get things right is not how it should be: Linen wasn't changed for 10 days and then only after several requests. It was also of very poor quality (thin, holes, stained) - no crisp white ironed sheets here! From check in it took 3 days and 10 keys!! to get ones that opened our cabin We had so many different charges on our bill that didn't belong to us it became a joke. Everyday we had to check and get them removed and then on disembarkation morning when the final bill arrived the whole lot had been put back on again! Room Service requests frequently never happened There was no information available in the cabin about what services were available - no info on things like the soda pass or wine card. Only people who had cruised with HAL before knew about them Turn down service existed of turning the corner of the bed down and putting chocolates on bed. No refresh of bathroom or room. Toiletries were also never replaced throughout the cruise except soap. Generally staff seemed undertrained, overworked and unhappy General cleanliness of cabin and ship average The only activities available for children under 18 was provided by the kids club and these were inadequate and boring. Apparently only 1/3 of the children onboard went to it regularly which left many (including mine) roaming the ship bored and taking over the lido pool. Despite politely worded requests in the newsletter that they restrict themselves to the aft pool it wasn't policed and their overwhelming presence and noise disturbed the older cruisers. Despite many complaints from the older brigade about this you rarely saw any members of the cruise "entertainment" staff on deck unless they were hosting a cocktail making function (paid) or towel animal demonstration (flogging book!). On other cruise lines they have very visible youth security patrolling day and night plus activity and entertainment staff always around The port arrangements left you believing this was the only time they had visited these ports. Despite knowing how few had taken up shoreex and would be requiring wharf to town transport they were always surprised by the numbers and inadequate services were provided which left people queuing for ages with no alternative as you couldn't walk off the port due to security reasons. The Hotel Manager's response to this was next time we'll charge for the shuttle service and arrange more buses! ENTERTAINMENT Unless it was a paid event or promoting a paid event e.g. SPA, BINGO, ART AUCTION, CULINARY EVENT, OPAL SHOWING etc there were very few activities during the day, no sailaway parties, rarely music on deck and no games you could participate in as a family. There was a daily quiz that was very dry, occasional games (adults only) and a daily cooking demonstration. Cruise Director was the worst of any I have ever encountered and refused to enhance or adapt the program to entertain those demanding more. There seemed to be an inflexible policy and "by the book" mentality that dictated the usual routine be followed come what may!. Many people we spoke with were bored, so much so that we formed our own entertainment group of different families which grew and grew and ran things that are usually run by the entertainment staff on other ships - shuffleboard and table tennis tournaments, scavenger hunts, sailaway parties etc. I contacted the Hotel Manager as I wanted to let him know how disappointed we were and that so many people were unhappy and give him the opportunity to fix it while we were onboard but he really wasn;t that interested. As I said to him we know things are different elsewhere on other cruiselines as we've always enjoyed our cruises as a family on a variety of cruiselines (Princess, Oceania, Carnival) and maybe this time we just chose the wrong ship. However for first time cruisers many would think this was what cruising was all about and will never cruise again. The ship was also so American and didn't seem to make any concession at all to the fact that the majority of the passengers weren't and that she was based in Australian waters for at least 3 months.There were many requests made by pax for some Australian and NZ news and to pick up an Australian feed on the satellite to cover the Sydney Hobart race and the Boxing Day test. They managed to organize it for 2 days while we were in NZ but after that nothing. They changed the timing of the evening shows so if you were late seating you had to go to the 7.00 show and early seating the 9.00 show. This left us with little or no choice after dinner. Usually when cruising the evening consists of dinner then the show, nightclub or piano bar - bed. The piano bar had a nightly "name that tune" but the piano man was very flamboyant and we enjoyed his performance but it certainly wasn't for everyone! With no show to go to after dinner, piano bar not suitable for all, string quartet in the Ocean Bar very placid, the nightclub run by a DJ who played questionable music, then got overrun by teenagers, nights became very boring for many. I would really hesitate to recommend Volendam to anyone that isn't sedentary and looking for entertainment.Despite big promotions for their kids club this one did not do the trick for many onboard. This was meant to be a celebratory Christmas and New Year cruise and is naturally going to attract families. Christmas was so poorly done (again compared to the event they made it on Princess last year) and didn't have any magic at all. New Year's Eve was quite a celebration on the aft deck, but with Sydney Harbour and the fireworks as a backdrop hard to get it wrong! ( Apparently it was originally promoted that the ship would be moored at Circular Quay or in the harbour to see the bridge and this later changed to put us at Darling Harbour with a much lesser view and the U.S. passengers weren't told - rumors of a class action pending!!) I have cruised on Volendam before many years ago in the Caribbean and expected so much more. I always believed HAL was just a cut above Princess but couldn;t have been more wrong. Service and standards were mediocre and indifferent. There was no excellence. On a positive note food was probably better than Princess, but presentation was below par. The cabins too were of a good size as per all HAL ships and the general layout of the ship gave it a very spacious feel with good public areas. Whinge over - but feel the cruise was a waste of a family holiday and not good value or an enjoyable experience at all. Thank goodness I know there are cruising alternatives and can only imagine they "dumbed down" the product for this market. Read Less
Volendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.1
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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