11 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Asia

We took this cruise because we wanted to see Japan, as well as Shanghai, Alaska and Vancouver. And this cruise did it all! We love the Volendam!! Just the right size, not crowded, great staff everywhere (except EXC tours, more on ... Read More
We took this cruise because we wanted to see Japan, as well as Shanghai, Alaska and Vancouver. And this cruise did it all! We love the Volendam!! Just the right size, not crowded, great staff everywhere (except EXC tours, more on that later). Nothing was "pushed:" photos, drinks, drink packages, unlike some other lines. Spent some time in the just-the-right-size casino. Embarkation: I liked the idea that in Yokohama you sat down until your number was called. Unfortunately, once you were called, you still have to wait on line until you check in. But once checked in, the rest was easy. Dining: We chose to eat in the Dining Room for dinner, and in the Lido breakfast and lunch. All were great for the meals we had. Lido did get a bit crowded and finding a table was sometimes tough. But again, a small wart. Dining Room food was very good, except for the soups. Didn't try the specialty restaurants, as we found that on other cruises they usually weren't worth the extra money. Cabin: Lovely oceanview cabin, large, plenty of storage, very comfy. Newly renovated bathroom was great. TV's in the cabins were ancient, and I'm surprised HAL didn't replace them. But that was a small wart. Entertainment: The usual mixed bag. They had a British group called the Emperors of Soul who were fantastic! The Volendam troup were very talented, but underutilized. They had a wonderful violinist. Other than that the entertainment was typical cruise ship. Ports: The highlight of the trip. The small cities we visited in Japan were just lovely. We arranged local guides through Toursbylocals.com and Goodwill Guides. All the guides were great: some volunteers, some paid but very reasonable. We enjoyed our time with all of them. Our experience with HAL's EXC Tours was something else. In Shanghai, the tour left my wife at the meeting point 43 kilometers north of Shanghai and she had to make her way back to the ship on her own. Too much detail to go into here, but when we reported this to the onboard EXC staff, they didn't even listen to her story, said they'd investigate, got back to us a week later and refunded a third of the tour price. We felt that being abandoned by the tour guide (when getting us back to the ship is one of the key selling points for all the cruise line tours) was inexcusable and we should have received a complete refund (EXC tours are not cheap). When we got home, we made our case to the EXC Tours office at HAL's headquarters in Seattle. Two months later, we are still waiting for a response. One really positive EXC feature: there was a guide on board providing detailed port information for passengers who are not taking tours. We never experienced that on other cruise lines, and thought it was wonderful. Bottom line: We like HAL (this was our first HAL cruise in 25 years), loved the Volendam and would definitely cruise with them again. But no more EXC tours for us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We loved our cruise itinerary. Seeing Japan was our goal and the added days in Shanghai, South Korea, and Alaska were nice additional perks. The ports were all fantastic and the excursions we took through HAL were very good but the ... Read More
We loved our cruise itinerary. Seeing Japan was our goal and the added days in Shanghai, South Korea, and Alaska were nice additional perks. The ports were all fantastic and the excursions we took through HAL were very good but the excursions team had to make changes to some of the tours and itineraries and instead of being transperent with their reasons, hid behind no-blame disclosures in their letter to our stateroom. We were travelling with another couple and we received a letter telling us that they had to cancel one of our excursions because the departure time was earlier than our return from an earlier excursion that day. They ended the letter by telling us they were sorry but this had only happened to one other couple on the ship. Well, the couple we were with plus a dozen other couples we spoke to had all had the same change! It was clear we could make both events, but don't undermine our intelligence but telling us that it was an isolated incident. The glitch was that anyone who had pre-booked the excursion online prior to the cruise was given the option of the excursion on a date and time that were not valid. They had also mislabeled the level of activity required for many of the excursions, with some being more strenuous then suggested and others being less strenuous. There were also many errors in departure times printed on the tickets and we received multiple notes in our door updating times. We were disappointed in the lack of quality control from the excursions team. The third party providers of the excursion tours were excellent in all the cities We have sailed with HAL for 15 years and we could really see changes in amenities and services but "trimming the sails" is an economic reality and for the most part Holland America offers an excellent product. Our experience was excellent and thanks to the hard working and dedicated service crew we had the time of our lives. The cabin was perfect, the room steward, Sam, was excellent. The dining experience has two sides to it. The food was fantastic, but Holland America has got to address the open seating in the main dining room that isn't open seating at all. You cannot just show up and expect to be seated. They hand you a pager and the wait is as long as 45 minutes. Once they have started the 5:15 service they don't seem to seat anyone else until after 7:15 and when you show up at 7:15 they hand you a pager and you can wait up to 30 minutes to be seated. The staff cuts have been significant but the service is still an expectation of the ship's reputation as well as the clientele, so stewards are run off their feet, taking orders, replacing cutlery, brushing crumbs from the table, making sure the correct order is in front of you, prepping your next course and doing that 4 or 5 times per person. For the first time in 15 years of cruising we had waits between courses that were as long as 15 minutes. Our servers cannot be blamed they never stopped hustling, Either staff the dining room or change the service method in the open seating area. We were able to get set seating at 8:00 PM in the upper dining room on the last 15 days of this cruise and it was a far better experience because there was no chaos. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Great experienced with Volendam, The food in general is super, rate it 5 star, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, That I love. Only kind of confusing to us that the tip( fooien) charge us daily They should include with the total price ... Read More
Great experienced with Volendam, The food in general is super, rate it 5 star, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, That I love. Only kind of confusing to us that the tip( fooien) charge us daily They should include with the total price when we booked the cruise. Our excurshion we all booked through Volendam so no headache ( little kind of pricey), But It was worthy indeed, even booked also the airport transfer,.. All our local guides in every ports were super, excellent. Its small cruiseship but seem huge spaces.. The design, interior is excellent. Everywhere in the ship is clean, except the public toilet kind of no goed smell. I thought it was just my sensitive nose but more than few people complained about it. Certainly we will go again with Holland America line. The Embarkation in Singapore Harbourfront went smoothly, so as disembarkation in Hongkong, All were excellent organized. My husband and me love the Holland America Line, We love the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Holland continues to give you less on each cruise. Staff cutbacks and the quality of food products continues to degrade the experience. Have been sailing Holland for many years and have close to 500 actual days at sea with them. It looks ... Read More
Holland continues to give you less on each cruise. Staff cutbacks and the quality of food products continues to degrade the experience. Have been sailing Holland for many years and have close to 500 actual days at sea with them. It looks like Holland's management is more interested in they yearly bonus than the experience for the passengers. Ship was headed for drydock and needs for TLC to fix plumbing problems and water leaks in public spaces. gone is the lobster every Gala night, gone is the shrimp cocktail every night, gone is the librarian, gone is the fresh squeezed orange juice, gone is the great quality of steaks, gone is the free expresso at dinner, gone is great evening entertainment, gone is the ship's log at the end of the cruise, gone is the crew member that used to provide hand sanitizer in the public areas (replaced by machines that noone uses, thus many more sick days onboard a long cruise) and gone is the pleasant feeling that its really great being onboard (replaced by its OK) Read Less
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date April 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
Sail Date March 2017
We chose the cruise for 2 reasons. To experience the Brand with a view to using them again and to see the destinations on this trip. That was - Hong Kong down to Indonesia. The ship is dated and the air con is ferocious everywhere. People ... Read More
We chose the cruise for 2 reasons. To experience the Brand with a view to using them again and to see the destinations on this trip. That was - Hong Kong down to Indonesia. The ship is dated and the air con is ferocious everywhere. People were in the show lounge each night with outdoor coats on. Whilst some people do stick to the dress code, it is not encouraged and there are people in the dining room with jeans and Tshirts at dinner. The food was good initially but was quickly repetative and the standard dropped after the first fortnight. The cost of the trips is eye watering and the ship docks at container ports and long distances away from the featured destinations. It is then necessary to take their trips as the time schedules for departures are tight and there is a danger of not being back on time if you decide to go independently.Many people complained about this as this cruise was all about the destinations! We chose an ocean view cabin but were very disappointed as the noise from the next cabin was terrible. After enquiries it turned out to be 4 children aged 8 and 12 years who were in the cabin alone and unsupervised. Reception refused to move us stating the ship was full. This was untrue as it was not full at that time. We then had to wait to the end of the first leg of the voyage and pay for an upgrade to get the peace we were entitled. Reception saw no problem with 4 children alone in a room. THIS IS VERY BAD HOLLAND AND AMERICA. The entertainment was often poor with much repetition and weak resident singers.They need a new cruise director. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Pick this cruise ( vancouver to tokyo) as a part of our round the world trip. We flew from London to vancouver cruise to Tokyo and then by air to Sri Lanka and London. We have had two previous cruises with the sister ship Zandaam and ... Read More
Pick this cruise ( vancouver to tokyo) as a part of our round the world trip. We flew from London to vancouver cruise to Tokyo and then by air to Sri Lanka and London. We have had two previous cruises with the sister ship Zandaam and this vessel is exactly the same. The crew was even better on this voyage, the food an average of the same quality, slight below par the entertainment. We had a lanai cabin on the promenade, but it was very noisy with squeaking and knocking if the sea was a bit rough, which you have to expect around Dutch Harbour in october. We have had only one excursion in Juneau to see the whales and although expensive well worth it because we spotted five or six from very close distance. All in all positive, even if drinking and the extra fees to dine in the dedicated restaurants are getting quite expensive together with the excursion, some of which have quite ludicrous prices.....but you have a choice of doing your own arrangements. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We boarded the Volendam in Hong Kong. Embarkation was a breeze and we were happy to hear that our cabins were ready even before noon. Our cabin had lots of storage space. The newly installed lanai cabins had great new showers ... Read More
We boarded the Volendam in Hong Kong. Embarkation was a breeze and we were happy to hear that our cabins were ready even before noon. Our cabin had lots of storage space. The newly installed lanai cabins had great new showers and we enjoyed the amenities like lotions and soaps. It was nice to have the shelves on the bathroom wall and the shelf under the sink. We did find that the thermostat made no difference to the temperature in the room. Since dry dock in December and the installation of the lanai cabins, the ship had obviously not sailed in cold temperatures. As soon as we left Japan and the weather cooled off, our cabin was freezing. A lot of cold air was coming in under the lanai door. Our stewards put wet towels on the door sill and that helped. We informed the front desk and they sent someone fairly promptly who checked our air conditioning. After several days of cold temps, weather stripping was installed around the lanai doors and this helped a lot. Meanwhile the front office phoned everyday to ask us about the temperature and they checked the room twice/day to monitor it. We were satisfied with how this was handled. There were also common areas on the ship that were very cold - particularly the Lido cafeteria. Servers there were wearing coats. The lanai door was very heavy and difficult to open and close. There was not sufficient space for your hand on the handle. Both of us jammed our hands between the handle and the door frame which caused our wedding rings to be crushed to ovals. We had to take them to a jeweler when we got home to have them straightened. We found the staff very friendly. There seemed to be good morale on board. Our cabin stewards, Dedi (big Daddy) and Joko were the best. They learned our names on the first day and called us by name whenever they saw us. They kept the room clean, responded promptly to requests and did a great job of chatting to the guests to smooth over problems. We very much enjoyed the evening shows. The performances by the HAL cast had beautiful costumes. We also enjoyed the violinist, Kateryna Sychova; pianist, Maiko Mori; and the Unexpected Boys. The Dancing with the Stars Competition seemed to reward those with the most popularity rather than their dancing ability. We often found that several things were scheduled at the same time and it was difficult to choose which one to attend. I was very disappointed that the Royal Dutch tea was scheduled on a port day when we were off the ship for an excursion. We very much enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar every night. They played music that was both easy to dance and listen to. The Dansant tea in the showroom with music, dancing and tea on the last afternoon was a new, welcome activity. The results of the model ship-building competition were lots of fun to watch. Everyday we looked forward to attending the lectures. We really enjoyed Dr. George Sranko's talks. He was down to earth, humorous, and informative. Another great addition was the "On Location" guide, David Happe. He gave very informative, well-balanced presentations about the various ports and their history. He also provided good information about transportation, etc. for independent travelers. Mr. Ishibaru gave great insight into Japanese culture and we particularly enjoyed the demonstration of how to dress in a kimono. We enjoyed the food although the soups were very salty. It was really nice to have lobster on the menu on formal nights. For the most part service in the dining room was satisfactory. We appreciated being able to walk in at whatever time and secure a table. Occasionally we requested a table for 2 and were dismayed to be seated at a table that was only inches from another table for 2. It was awkward to know whether to converse with the other guests or if they wanted privacy. We liked the daily updates from the captain about our location, weather and sea conditions. Cruise Director Carlos made announcements only twice/day so it was nice to not be bombarded by announcements. I felt that this cruise had less emphasis on buying merchandise and photos than previous cruises. We took 4 HAL excursions. They were expensive but they were of very good quality with good guides and worthwhile sights. There were issues with the tenders when we were in Kodiak. Some people waited for many hours before getting off the ship. We were lucky to have a HAL excursion that day and were only delayed by 1/2 hour. We really appreciated having a self-serve laundry available on such a long voyage. It was always busy but the machines were all in working condition. Because of its smaller size, the Volendam was able to dock in excellent locations near the centre of cities, particularly in Shanghai and Tokyo. Disembarkation was efficient and timely. We took the expedited option and had no problem getting our luggage into the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Embarkation in Singapore was reasonably straight forward (in spite of being taken to the wrong cruise centre by the taxi driver). The only thing that could have been improved was the forms we had to fill out while standing in a mass of ... Read More
Embarkation in Singapore was reasonably straight forward (in spite of being taken to the wrong cruise centre by the taxi driver). The only thing that could have been improved was the forms we had to fill out while standing in a mass of other guests. Our cabin was fine apart from the fact we could barely see out of the window, a window clean now and again would not hurt HAL! Now for the bad bits. First night in the Rotterdam (open dining) we had to ask for water, then we had to ask for a wine list, then after about 20 minutes we had to ask for the wine waiter to order our wine which eventually arrived after we had finished our main course. And this standard of service only improved marginally over the ensuing 4 weeks. Food standard was good, entertainment marginal and other activities a bit ordinary. Then came the dreaded GI, along with a plumbing problem which delivered half the ship filthy dark brown water. this was sorted after a week or so. And have you spent a reasonable amount of time in a cabin when the toilet would not flush? At least 8 different occasions after which only by pounding on the front desk was this problem eventually fixed. Don't get me started on shore excursions and HAL's ridiculous charges. We only did one ship excursion, the rest were all organised privately for about a third of the price. Finally, as some other reviewers have mentioned, the 15% "service" charge levied on every thing, followed by the $11.50 per person per day tipping charge (which I refused to pay) is way overboard. Apart from the above it was a pretty good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Cruise Critic's embarkation port selection did not have Kobe, so I typed in Osaka which is near Kobe.We were very impressed when we arrived Vancouver, our final destination. All passengers could wait in the stateroom until the ... Read More
Cruise Critic's embarkation port selection did not have Kobe, so I typed in Osaka which is near Kobe.We were very impressed when we arrived Vancouver, our final destination. All passengers could wait in the stateroom until the announcement was made to disembark.  It was very comfortable waiting. It took us only less than 30 minutes from stateroom to the taxi stand at the very user friendly port of Vancouver.Volendam's lunch and dinner improved a lot on May 18 and 20, 2009, on last two days.  Maybe the company wanted us to forget the past 17 days of budget oriented dinner menu with fancy names and explanations.  First time Lobster appeard on the dinner menu was May 18th, and the lobster they served there as well as in the Pinnacle Grill was a warm water lobster and not the cold water lobster like Maine Lobster.   Even  Carnival's 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise serves a lobster and filet mignon once during their 7 day cruise ! We had to wait 17 days to see our only Lobster and Filet.At the speciality Coffee station, I saw the attendant opening a milk carton made in China, obviously Volendam uses milk materials made in China.  So I start to drink my coffee black and avoided all milk products. Somebody should check each Cruise Line to see which product they buy and use aboard the ship from China. I do not want to dine on food made in China.On our  10th day, we still had the same bed lines from Kobe. There were 61 Japanese guests travelling as a group and one of them told me that I had to request personally if I want my linens changed.  So on our 11th day, we had a bed linen changed. I requested bed linens to  be changed on every fourth day and the cabin steward followed my request.In Ketchikan, I returned to my cabin,exhausted from the shore excursion and found out that my bed was neatly made with 3 day old linens.  Cabin steward told me that the fresh linens were not available on the morning of May 18th and when he came back with the fresh linens at 1:30pm, my husband was asleep and could not change the linens.   This shows that cabin steward is doing their best: making bed neatly each morning with the same sheets, and the fresh sheets were not available some mornings.  I suspect it is Holland America's policy to cut the cost, therefore, they instruct the cabin stewards to use the same old sheets as long as they can. I do not blame ship employees as it was obvious everyone was working very hard and they were always pleasant and kind.  I blame Holland America's Corporate Office to put a cheap.policy on bed linens and foods the guests consume daily.I suggest the Line to start offering the eco-friendly card indicating if a guest wants clean linen and towels, to indicate a guest's request as done in most of US Hotels.There was a great Musician/Pianist/Band Leader called Jim. But his Afro American female vocalist was not good.We had sailed Holland America in the Mediterranean and the Carribbean about 15 years ago and our most recent trip was a sad experience for us.  Is there any hope for Holland America to return to the past LEADER of the Cruise Industry ? Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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