30 Holland America Volendam Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Alaska

Although the cruise was nice, going through customs at the Vancouver Airport PLUS the registration at Holland America requires a ton of walking and standing. My feet throbbed for two days after getting on the ship. We are both in our ... Read More
Although the cruise was nice, going through customs at the Vancouver Airport PLUS the registration at Holland America requires a ton of walking and standing. My feet throbbed for two days after getting on the ship. We are both in our 70's and are fortunate to not need a wheelchair. However, there was a lot of unnecessary walking at the warehouse prior to boarding. On one leg of the walk we had to go up the escalator, walk down the hall into a room, check-in, down to the end of the room, turn left, turn left again, only to see we were leaving the same room. We had circled rows and rows of empty folding chairs when we could have simply turned around and gone out the same door we came in. After going through customs at the Airport,which was a ton of waiting and walking, we were tired. All of the unnecessry walking involved in Holland America registration just made it worse. I heard many guests complaining about the amount of walking to get there. One said, "it was torture". Another said, "they make you do all that walking so when you get here, you think everything is wonderful". I also wanted to comment on the Totem Pole tour. they should describe is as a "walking tour". If we had known it was all walking, we never would have signed up. Yes, you take the bus to the Totem Pole Park, but you have to walk the entire tour. If you are bothered by cigarette smoke, don't plan on going into their Casino as they allow smoking in the Casino. As soon as you get off the elevator on the 5th level, you can smell the smoke. It was very annoying and prevented us from going into the Casino as much as we would have liked. All in all, the cruise was very nice. The Holland America team offered excellent customer service at every turn. We would use your Cruise line again, but never, never, will we ever cruise out of Vancouver again. Thank you for your time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We had never been to Alaska and as we're getting up in years we felt that if we were going to do it, we would do it all in one go. So when we saw a Holland America three-day cruise, followed by a nine-day land tour, followed by ... Read More
We had never been to Alaska and as we're getting up in years we felt that if we were going to do it, we would do it all in one go. So when we saw a Holland America three-day cruise, followed by a nine-day land tour, followed by another seven-day cruise advertised, we jumped on it. Having never cruised with Holland America before we weren't sure what to expect. Our entire cruise history was with Carnival (many many years ago) and more recently with several cruises on Celebrity and Azamara. So with that level of expectation set, we boarded the Volendam in Vancouver. The boarding process was fine, and we got on the ship very quickly, and even found our cabins ready (though the bags had not yet arrived). It took a while to find our room steward to ask for some special requests, but finally found him. We had not purchased a drink package for the cruise so the first thing we asked for was to have someone empty our refrigerator. We didn't want to be accidentally charged for any beverages. We were instructed to take out all the bottles and cans and place them on the top of the refrigerator, and that someone would be there shortly to remove them. Well, by the end of the next day they were still there, and we had to call again to get them removed. Our next not-so-great experience was in the Marketplace, their buffet. Every Celebrity ship we have been on had numerous stations throughout the buffet area so that people could get different types of food in an orderly fashion. Holland America has everyone queued in one line for all the main dishes and sides, so that you have to wait for everyone else to clear, even if you only want one item from that area. I assume one of the reasons they have done this is to ensure that not a lot of guests touch the serving utensils and food, but it seemed really inefficient to us and to everyone we spoke with in the line. The last thing I'll mention is the general lack of consideration of the guests by the staff. This was noticed in the main dining room, where, as one example, it took 15 minutes to get a dessert menu; to lounges where not a single ship employee could be found most times. You get the feeling that the staff knows they will get their gratuities regardless, so why bother? We were quite happy to get off the ship after our three days. We followed that cruise with an Alaska land tour, and I have to say it was very well orchestrated and coordinated, with all the motor coaches, a boat trip, a plane ride, and train rides. Good job with that one Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Seven day Alaska cruise, is easy for us, no flying It was for our 55th anniversary. HAL screwed up the delivery of flowers for my wife, they never showed up, had to go to service desk, to straighten it out. Finally got them. After ... Read More
Seven day Alaska cruise, is easy for us, no flying It was for our 55th anniversary. HAL screwed up the delivery of flowers for my wife, they never showed up, had to go to service desk, to straighten it out. Finally got them. After dinner that night, other table guest were gone, wife mentioned it was our anniversary. The waiter did not know, told us to wait, ran off and got a cake for us, poor communication. Waiter, probably doing his job, trying to up sale dinners. Card on table, advertises a seafood dinner for $27 and a steak for $76 and waiter tells about it every night, nobody was impressed. Leave this to the specialty restaurants. If this is the way things are going, average people "the bread and butter" cruisers, will stop cruising. The "whole" dinning experience was disappointing, things are going downhill fast. Entertainment, not much better. Really not much to do on board. The Mariners Club lunch was poorly organized two of us stuck at a table for six, other people the same way. The Captain and staff did not even stay. No Captains cocktail party. The best thing was the assistance my wife received, getting on and off the ship thank you. Sailed three times with HAL and this was definitely the last. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Check in: My mom has special needs. She’s is loosing her sight for many eyears. They separated us on the check in (I felt as cattle). We lost the welcome picture. Also they denied to carrie my laundry clothes. After theree long ... Read More
Check in: My mom has special needs. She’s is loosing her sight for many eyears. They separated us on the check in (I felt as cattle). We lost the welcome picture. Also they denied to carrie my laundry clothes. After theree long lines. They arrived all rugged on the ship. Cassino; Texas Holden; 15% of rate every hand; and the price isn’t the problem here; but it’s good have a sensation that you can win. I won the money from every person seated on the table. We did the math; I won 40% of the money of everyone’s buy in, the cassino took 60%. The time to cash out. My money wasn’t there. The celebration moment was gone. The cassino manager was tired, and said that I lost my money. No fun. First stop in Juneau Alaska. My mom, three of her friends and my self bought 5 tickets to see the whales and glaciers for 1:30pm. The ship arrived 1:00 pm at the port, but there was a huge line to leave the ship. HUGE. 15% of the people who pay $200 for the excursion lost it. I was one of them. The laid from the excursion said that she couldn’t know if my mom was with the excursion or not. But she was just lianing. She actually was with her ticket in her hands. I lost my mom again, and my mind. This time I was so frustrated. I love whales since I was very young. I was so excited about this experience. They ruined for me and 7 people of 50. I cursed them. I came back to the ship without showing my key. I left the ship without showing my key. They call the cops and put me out of the ship. This was a security problem to them, I couldn’t think about. I assume my responsibility here. It seems that I cannot lose my mom. The capitan did not take the time to listen my version. The officers, I cannot complain, they were gentlemen, and treat me with a lot of respect; a proud to apply to American citizenship those guys gave to me. I lost the rest of the trip like my mom did. I’m paying $700 to come back to Denver plus one night of hotel in Juneau. My mom just stay on the ship because would costed some thousand dollars to go to Seattle, and Brazil on rush, losing her already bought ticked. I cannot say that I will come back to any cruise again. Ler make justice with Diana from guest service, Deden my room service, and Gabriel who took care of our food, and dutch woman from the excursion, I forgot her name though. . And Ash, from Mumbai who cut my hair. Terrific people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This cruise was supposed to be highly rated but it turned into a nightmare. Some of the extremely wrong encounters are as follow. If I have to list all that were wrong and unsatisfactory I will end up writing a few chapters. - the ... Read More
This cruise was supposed to be highly rated but it turned into a nightmare. Some of the extremely wrong encounters are as follow. If I have to list all that were wrong and unsatisfactory I will end up writing a few chapters. - the ship is very old and has an stale odour from time to time - bathroom fixtures are mounted lopsided besides visibly unclean and unhygienic - mini fridge door was not closed properly and we had to fix theproblem ourselves - vanity fixtures are stained and dirty looking - beddings had large patches of yellow stains - female staff in officer uniform was hostile towards the crew and passengers during the life boat drill - most of the staff incapable of giving accurate information - some of the staff incapable of communicating in basic English - probably the first "reputable" cruise line that served expired food items to passengers and insisted on payments - placement of staff at the serving stations on Lido Deck was extremely inappropriate as a few of them had no cooking experience - rotten vegetables served to passengers - being told only one side plate of food allowed because they were standing together as a couple - most of the menu items in the Dinning Room came in small decorative portions except on the very last night of the cruise - cloth napkins have dangling loose threads everywhere - so-called "midnight buffet" end at 23:30 - some salon/spa staff did not provide all the services as printed but still charged us full price for it - it was absolutely innappropriate for spa staff to give specific medical advice under false pretense and intentionally misinterpreted findings - there was no embarkation assistance to mobility challenged passengers - disembarkation forms and instructions were all so different from what were supposed to be - many touch screen casino slot machines had irresponsive key pads - etc. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our third cruise on the HAL Volendam to Alaska. We went because we had enjoyed the experience of a cruise. Having traveled in many parts of the world, mainly by flying or driving, we wanted to see what cruising had to offer. After ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the HAL Volendam to Alaska. We went because we had enjoyed the experience of a cruise. Having traveled in many parts of the world, mainly by flying or driving, we wanted to see what cruising had to offer. After three trips I can say if offers a pampered lifestyle that allows you to relax and enjoy the travel. The Alaska cruise is the perfect venue for a first timer and there are many different ships and cruise lines. We chose Holland America for the simple reason they catered to older folks but still offer something for the younger set. The prime reason for repeating with the Volendam is the dining venues. The Main Dining Room with set settings was our choice, the same waiter and wine steward was a refreshing service. The menu was varied and supported anything we may have wanted. The menu was the same, although differed daily, for all three cruises. The only disappointment was the oceanview cabin was obstructed, this was because all the other oceanview were sold out, because we had booked late. Our cabin was exactly like the previous oceanview, except there was a bulkhead out the window. I felt it was like an interior cabin, with a window. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Booked this cruise in 2015 as I have wanted to cruise for 40+ years. You know, bucket list and all. Decided on 7 day first as didn't know how we would be on the ocean (motion sickness etc.) None of us (4) got sea sick although the ... Read More
Booked this cruise in 2015 as I have wanted to cruise for 40+ years. You know, bucket list and all. Decided on 7 day first as didn't know how we would be on the ocean (motion sickness etc.) None of us (4) got sea sick although the sea was a little rough. Loved the feeling of luxury. Felt like a queen. Everyone was so accommodating. Want to go again. Next time would like to go on the Asian cruise and for 2 weeks at least. MS Volendam was out dream come true. Loved the main dining room and also the Lido deck where you could almost eat all day. Loved the fact that there was someone there to assure everyone used the hand sanitizers before entering the dining rooms so were not cross contaminating anyone. Rained at the ports of call so didn't go off the ship for very long. That was okay because could do whatever you wanted on ship anytime. Even the children that were on board were so good. Never heard any loud chatter etc. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Our previous experience made us want to return for another Alaska cruise. Same ship, same cabin - almost the same experience. The only disappointment was that training sessions were limited. The time aboard was as good as we remember. We ... Read More
Our previous experience made us want to return for another Alaska cruise. Same ship, same cabin - almost the same experience. The only disappointment was that training sessions were limited. The time aboard was as good as we remember. We feel that because this was the first cruise of the season for the Volendam, that we should cut them some slack. There really were no surprises and the crew were outstanding. The entertainment was a little short. The crew's dance and signing performance could very easily be classed as professional, the dancing for people whose normal function is working aboard ship was outstanding itself. We found ourselves frequenting the "Ocean Bar", the servers (Michael & Catherine) gave us excellent service, we would, and have recommended their service to Holland America. Cruising to Alaska should be on everyone's Bucket List. For those who have never cruised, this is probably the best on to take. Holland America's Inside Passage routing is the best routing and the choice of cities to visit cannot be faulted. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
If you are looking for a glamorous ship you are in the wrong place. Holland america ships do not provide all the "action" & "agadoo agadoo" like on other cruise companies. It provides a pleasant smooth trip with ... Read More
If you are looking for a glamorous ship you are in the wrong place. Holland america ships do not provide all the "action" & "agadoo agadoo" like on other cruise companies. It provides a pleasant smooth trip with very good food & outstanding service from crew members on board the ship. Found the cabin spacious & clean very good cabin staff. The ship is a bit aged but it is A cruise ship not a box of cabins & entertainment areas. Once again I suggest future travelers to buy A cruise after reading many articles regarding the profile of the company or ship and choose one that suites them the best. Embarkation procedures vere fast & smooth. Luggage arrived very fast to cabin. Some of the shore excursions were over priced. Disembarkation was a not in good order & crowded. Booked a cruise for march 2017. I had a great time on board the "VOLENDAM". Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our first cruise, after checking several websites we decided that we wanted a medium size vessel and chose "Travel Best Bets" from Vancouver to complete our plans. They did a wonderful job and Megan Stone was most ... Read More
This was our first cruise, after checking several websites we decided that we wanted a medium size vessel and chose "Travel Best Bets" from Vancouver to complete our plans. They did a wonderful job and Megan Stone was most helpful with her suggestions and tips. We chose to travel with Holland America's Volendam. It can be very daunting to find the day you are leaving that there are three cruise ships, all headed to Alaska within an hour of each other. We had completed our paperwork prior to boarding so the whole operation was even more simple than getting on an airline. we parked our vehicle in the Cruise Ship Parking area, which really saves time and effort. We had decided to select an outside cabin with a window, and on Megan's suggestion chose one on the third deck near the stern. Comments about engine noise were really unfounded and after a while one gets used to the minor vibration, which you can feel throughout the vessel. We found the meals to be above reproach, every we tried was very good, even the hot dogs from the dive-In was great. We had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill one night which was as good as others had told us about. We took most of our dinners and the main dining room and the waiters and the quality of the food was marvelous, everything was very tasty. On-board entertainment was very well done, there was something for everyone. It would be hard to fault the programs offered. The highlight of the Alaska Cruise had to be the visit to Glacier Bay, it was a slow cruise through the area, really great for getting good photographs. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Prices, food, nice rooms, sightseeing, awesome staff. We saw everything from our verandah whales and dolphins. Room service was awesome and always arrived promptly. Dining was great with very attentive staff. Entertainment eas ok have had ... Read More
Prices, food, nice rooms, sightseeing, awesome staff. We saw everything from our verandah whales and dolphins. Room service was awesome and always arrived promptly. Dining was great with very attentive staff. Entertainment eas ok have had better. Laundry service was great I had to see the ships physician and his treatment and diagnosis were correct. Getting on and off the ship was great we moved swiftly compared to other cruises I have taken. Also we had excellent fast fire drills unlike any I had ever experienced on prior cruises. We met nice people who were very friendly, and informative about Alaska. When we arrived in Vancouver for a onenight stay our accommodation s made by the cruise line was excellent . I would definitely recommend this ship and cruise line to anyone if it is entertainment you are after choose another line. I look forward one day to booking again with Holland America Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
It was my 65 th birthday have never been keen to cruise but wanted to see glacier bay. We chose the Volendam because it is a small ship taking 1400 passengers. We booked an inside cabin and were allocated one on deck 3 the lower ... Read More
It was my 65 th birthday have never been keen to cruise but wanted to see glacier bay. We chose the Volendam because it is a small ship taking 1400 passengers. We booked an inside cabin and were allocated one on deck 3 the lower promenade. It was much larger than we were expecting and we came out the door right next to the promenade deck,nearly as good as an outside cabin, as there were loungers right by the door. The food was good in the lido bar and the Rotterdam restaurant was very good. We had a window table on 3 occasions which was lovely.We were always greeted with a smile and nothing too much trouble. The staff were excellent especially the cabin staff.we hardly ever saw them but there was always a towel animal and chocolates on the bed when we returned from dinner The entertainment was low key but enjoyable.I think we were all too tired most evenings to be too bothered. I was a bit worried about the 'dressing up' but again it was very low key. The ladies looked lovely nearly every night and the men smart casual most of the time. As we are in the 21 st century ,and a lot more informal than years ago it suited us Would I cruise again? It would have to be another spectacular destination. Would I choose HAL again Yes. All in all a n excellent choice and a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We're an active, retired couple who take 3 or 4 trips abroad each year. This 7-day Alaska cruise (Vancouver to Vancouver) on the Volendam was our second with Holland America. Our first HAL cruise was on the Nieuw Amsterdam which ... Read More
We're an active, retired couple who take 3 or 4 trips abroad each year. This 7-day Alaska cruise (Vancouver to Vancouver) on the Volendam was our second with Holland America. Our first HAL cruise was on the Nieuw Amsterdam which took us to the Caribbean for a week. We did not enjoy that cruise, probably because as long-time (spoiled) Viking clients we did not know what to expect. However, this cruise on the Volendam exceeded our expectations for Holland America. Embarkation was handled extremely efficiently. Although we had to go through 5 lineups, we were into our room, with baggage delivered, in less than an hour. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, we found the ship to be in beautiful condition, considering it is 20 years old. Carpeting and wall coverings looked near-new and everything was sparkly and clean. After reading several 2016 reviews, we wondered what our room would be like, particularly with regard to clean water and a properly flushing toilet. Thankfully, we found everything was in perfect condition. We were especially impressed by the large number of drawers and cupboards. The only annoyance was the safe, which could only be opened or closed with a single magnetic strip card supplied by us. Our suggestion: bring a non-bank card with a magnetic strip and keep it hidden in the room so that either occupant can access the safe at any time. We were glad we did not buy a lanai stateroom, advertised as having a sliding glass door which opens onto a lanai with your own deck chairs. That's a joke! What you get is a sliding glass door that opens onto the main deck. Two deck chairs sit against that door and a sign says they are reserved for your use. However, there is no privacy; people are walking right in front of your chairs all day long. We chose the As You Wish dining option for dinner in the 4th floor Rotterdam restaurant. Service was superb and we liked the fact that there was no enforcement of the formal wear requirement on the 2 Gala Nights. Our waiter even accommodated our dislike of garlic by giving us the next day's dinner menu 24 hours ahead of time so we could pre-order and give the kitchen time to prepare our meals with alternative spices. After our first dinner, we were pleasantly surprised to have the head waiter suggest he would reserve for us the same table for 2, at the same time, every evening. We tried the Pinnacle Grill which is one of the specialty restaurants that charge an admission fee of between $10 and $49. In our case, the lunch was a gift from our fabulous Hagen's travel agent. It was a nice change, and much appreciated, but we didn't choose to visit a second time. There are no windows in the place and although the menu has good choices, some items come with an additional charge varying from $10 to $59 (for a large lobster tail). We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the 8th floor Lido buffet restaurant. The food was excellent, there was lots of variety and many healthy food choices. We did not order the drinks package (soda and booze) which cost a ridiculous $45 per day for each person in a stateroom. HAL advertises ahead of the cruise that only water, tea and coffee are served at meal times, --- but that only applies at dinner time in the full service restaurants. All day long at the Lido buffet, a large selection of fruit juices are available in addition to tea, coffee, water, ice-tea and milk. Our recommendation: Give your body a rest from booze and soda for a week and save yourself over $600 per couple on the drinks package. The on-board entertainment was good. There were 4 different musical group options, from classical to jazz. The evening shows were not up to Viking standards but we enjoyed most of them nevertheless. We were able to find, on average, one lecture per day that taught us something about Alaska and the places we were visiting. Almost all the other lectures or demonstrations were thinly-veiled advertisements for the boutiques, casino, bars, or excursions. The day in Glacier Bay was exceptional with park rangers coming on board to give lectures and a running PA commentary on what we were seeing. We did not go on any of the HAL shore excursions because of their exorbitant cost. Instead, we used Tripadvisor, Google Maps, and local tourism websites to plan excellent activities in each port, which cost us 10% of the price for similar excursions sold by the ship. Moreover, going out on our own allowed us to see things at our own pace and get away from the “herd” for a few hours. We were impressed by how fast the crew members got us off the ship at each port. We made extensive use of the sports facilities and activities. The free stretching and abs classes with the fitness instructor were excellent. The gym was well equipped. And it was really nice to find a half-size practice tennis court on board. Our recommendation: Bring your own racquet and balls if you like to practice serving or hitting against a wall. The ship's library is large and quiet, with comfortable chairs and tables. A full time librarian keeps the extensive book and games collection well organized. There is a "mandatory hotel service charge" of $12.50 per person per day which totals $175 per couple for the week. HAL says that this money is distributed to all crew members. If, like us, you do not agree with forced, impersonal tipping, then simply go to the Front Office at the beginning of your cruise and fill out a form requesting a reduction of the fee to $0.00. Then you can personally tip the people who actually serve you. Embarkation was a breeze! We were able to choose the time we wished to exit the ship. When we were called it took only 20 minutes to clear customs and be on our way home. In summary, we would highly recommend this HAL cruise to anyone looking for a reasonably priced scenic vacation and an opportunity to enjoy and learn about south-eastern Alaska. We booked 2 weeks before the cruise departed and paid $925 (CAD) per person for a large ocean-view room. We thought we received good value for the money spent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
After reading many different cruise site articles, speaking to friends and relatives, we decided on a total Inside Passage offered by HAL round trip from Vancouver. We wanted to avoid the choppy waters completely, as such Seattle round ... Read More
After reading many different cruise site articles, speaking to friends and relatives, we decided on a total Inside Passage offered by HAL round trip from Vancouver. We wanted to avoid the choppy waters completely, as such Seattle round trip itinerary was out. We also read a few ‘Must Do’ reviews of Amtrak ride from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. which helped us decide on flying to Seattle, WA. Spending 2 nights sightseeing the wonderful city and the Boeing Museum and Factory. The Amtrak was so worth taking in being able to see lovely scenery and a whole bunch of (about 25+ perched as pointed out by the Conductor on speakers) bald headed eagles. We spent 2 nights at the Pan Pacific hotel on the Canal Place port that is built to look like a ship. Our suite had a panoramic view of the water, with floating planes landing, helicopter and ferry rides, sail boats and freighters plus cruise ships; besides awesome scenery of snowcapped mountains far on our left, water being bordered by the lush green land and hills. All this took a lot of discussion, planning, by my husband and I with all the bookings coordinated all by us, without a travel agent. All our bookings were direct with each of the service provider. HAL, in spite of agreeing to provide a wheel chair for embarkation due to my inability to stand for a long time, did not come forth with it, with the excuse that they only agreed to do so after checking in! Our hotel was in the port and fortunately, an extra conscientious employee that escorts all the cruise passengers that booked the same hotel thru HAL, went out of her way to help us. Watch out for the reservation department employees make promises that are not honored. Embarkation went fast, was well organized with HAL guides all over the port, Customs, Security and all the way into the ship! I liked how organized everyone was unlike on our prior cruises on other lines that we boarded in NYC. The de-embarkation was also excellent, without any crowding, the same went for port excursions. The ship is old, we were in Vista suite #6049 mid ship – port side for all the best scenery. The bathroom is a step up with shower in the tub. As always, the room stewards were excellent, very trust worthy and honest. In spite of my husband leaving them a couple of dollars tip on the bed on the first night, we found it was still there when we returned for the night. Got some really good pictures and videos. We were able to see dolphins, whale from the main dining room, eagles, bear and mountain goat. The scenic cruising in the Glacier Bay, was the highlight of our cruise. The Captain, gives ample time as he turns the ship, maneuvering slowly, to view, take pictures of the calving that occurs almost every 3 minutes or so. We may have watched 9 to 10 times at least. The sea gulls try to share your balcony railing too during this stationery time. The Q & A program with the Captain was very educational on one of the sea days. He even came to the Main dining room to thank us with champagne, though he had to toast with ginger ale! Food was excellent and it really surprised me at the Chefs’ caring efforts and ingenuity to meet my no ginger, no garlic, no nuts and no salt with vegetarian and white fish diet, yet be served a flavorful meal at every sitting, no matter which dining room, restaurant we chose. My food arrived at the same time as those at our table, thanks to the brilliant idea of letting those of us with restricted diets, selecting our options at prior meal. Hats off to HAL chefs! Service is excellent in the dining rooms, as good as or better than a 5 star restaurant! We were not assigned a seating time by the reservation dept. in spite of our request. However, the host supervisor that receives you, placed us with perfect dinner mates. Ours must have been the most enjoyed table, with 2 other couples with good sense of humor – one from UK and the other from Canada. You are led to your table, chair pushed in once seated, napkin spread on your lap! They even cut the meat, lobster and some of the other foods for those that ordered it. We ordered room service daily and it arrived so hot off the stove, that it made us realize how hard these foreigners work for little money with gratitude for the job! We were surprised to find how the rank system affects how long the work on board a ship – 9 months is the usual work period, with 3 months off. They get to de embark on a port only if they had the most accumulated guest compliments in writing or verbally submitted to the ship’s office as per our room steward! Job well done by the Dining room supervisors, waiters, other staff and Maître D, all of who speak perfect English, though some of the guests had trouble understanding them and remembering them! We never used the fitness room though I was in there for a complimentary foot analysis which led to efforts of selling foot inserts. Spa was not up to standards, the massage room needed pillows and good chair in which one can relax for a shoulder, arms and foot massage. The masseuse that gave leg therapy, was more focused on selling the products than a good 45 minute massage as paid for. Hair stylist was excellent both at making you comfortable, not getting you wet with even a drop of water, leaving looking like a model – fully satisfied with your style. She also gave the scalp, shoulders and foot massage and was excellent at it. Entertainment was really great and enjoyable. The ship’s entertaining staff has talented singers, dancers, with acrobatic skills and the costumes were beautiful, the lighting incredible for awesome Broadway style musical productions. We enjoyed two such productions. One night, the Indonesian staff was on stage at the last moment for a second entertainment event late in the night at 11.00 p.m. We were surprised to see the house full! They got the standing ovation. The comedian was very good, with American jokes went over the head, we heard, from other guests on a ship full of Canadians and Aussies plus Brits (being too tired from the shore excursions to attend). The next one by the same artist, left the whole audience in stitches. The magician was entertaining with inter active tricks that kept our blood pressure steady and happy. The various bars had entertainment - Piano music and the coffee in the exploration cafe was really good. Karaoke was entertaining and seemed to be enjoyed by all. We did not get to experience the HALcats dancing. The stores were many with inexpensive pricing that got even better on final days. however, the business that came on board to sell jackets and other outerwear did so at double the price of those very same sold in the port stores! Glad we did not need any due to a heat wave during our cruise with 70 degree weather in Juneau and Skagway in May. Ketchican had a bit of a cloudy weather with a little drizzle. Shore excursions were sold at a similar rate both on board and at the port. We had checked on line, at Viator and other sites and found HAL’s combination to be the most reasonably priced. My husband did the helicopter ride with dog sledding on Ice field, when I opted for rain forest, salmon hatchery and city tour of Juneau, being unable to fly. My husband raved about his experience, while mine was mediocre. In Skagway, we took the guided bus tour of the city along with Liarsville history camp where we had a really well prepared camp lunch, an act of storytelling in song and act by actors dressed in period clothes of the AK’n gold history, ending in gold panning experience. It combined with Red Onion Salon and White Pass & Yukon rail road trip combo that was worth paying every penny! In Ketchikan, we did the bus tour that combined Saxman village – actually lived in by the natives, the totem pole park. A ritual of festive dance was performed by the native Americans in traditional faux garbs, which were transferred to the volunteers from the audience and taught to perform by a little boy. Yes, my husband was happy to comply our tour bus driver’s prodding and participate, that I video-taped! All the tour bus drivers and other operators are young people, mostly college students from all over the USA. Internet was way too slow and quite expensive, The computers antique to say the best! What we were disappointed with: Most of the passengers on board the ship were tourists taking tours of Canada and Alaska from mostly Australia, UK and various parts of Canada, with very few independent travelers like us. unfortunately they were not too social and not quite friendly, hanging out with their own travel buddies and the tour guide who shepherded them together for convenience. We were fortunate to have been matched with independent travelers for dining. The highlight of Alaskan Cruise on board the ship: Daily lectures combined with short documentaries on Alaskan history. On final day prior to the Ketchikan stop, a Native American of the Ravens tribe boarded the ship at the Glacier Bay in her genuine traditional garbs, showed documentary and shared her personal story. Yes, we would cruise HAL again, but not so soon since we do like and enjoy colorfully decorated ship’s interiors, fancy stair cases and glass elevators. Ms.Volendam was an art oriented and flower themed ship, with the usual art sale. The flower bouquets were nice and some of the sculptures and wall arts were worth taking a second and third look. The colors were drab inside the very small Verandah cabin that we paid the price of a mini suite! There was a pair of binoculars for our use to view from the verandah. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This Cruise was supposed to be part of a 19 day treat for my wife to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I booked a mini suite (6118) and once on board disappointment set in as the rooms were old and dated with trim missing and ... Read More
This Cruise was supposed to be part of a 19 day treat for my wife to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I booked a mini suite (6118) and once on board disappointment set in as the rooms were old and dated with trim missing and paper coming away on the wall, the bath side panel kept popping out and the balcony was dirty and rusty. Lido service was dreadful, front desk staff frosty, had taken out drinks package however checked my receipts every time as 2 waiters constantly over charged me. Excursions booked on board were expensive and quite honestly this ship spoilt our holiday as the entertainment was poor compared to other cruise lines we had used. Would we use Holland America again...... NO!! We have travelled before with other major cruise companies who offered far higher standards of accommodation and their entertainment was of a far higher standard and had much friendlier staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Alaska " inside passage " was better than expected. The Volendam is able to barely get into the places that make this cruise worth waiting for. We really enjoyed a beautiful week of warm/cool breezes (65F) along with some ... Read More
Alaska " inside passage " was better than expected. The Volendam is able to barely get into the places that make this cruise worth waiting for. We really enjoyed a beautiful week of warm/cool breezes (65F) along with some midnight lights to fascinate my wife. GREAT fresh salmon steaks all week changed my diet; whoa! Smooth sailing, fun activities and great service created a memorable experience for America's most thrilling sailing destination. You guessed it, a whale jumped while we were in the dining room. We want to go back in the fall season. Woot ! Woot ! We just got back, May; 7 day cruise the inner passage and glacier bay. Holland is top notch service, food and entertainment. On Embarkation went okay but appeared to us the ship was understaffed. And the moving passengers on and off the ship at port stops was anal, then issue of language. Most of the crew still learning English; a definite challenge. Then what about the photographer in your face looking to take your photo and selling you the glossy at inflated prices. Really, the most offensive were the people who took drink orders. They were constantly asking walking around you if you wanted to purchase a drink. When all we wanted was a glass of water, there was no one to be found! On a positive note, our cabin steward was great. The room was always ready and cleaned, very efficient and served us well. Fantastic weather in all the ports we visited in Alaska. We brought sweaters and boots which we never had to put on. Our ports were Juneau, Skagway, and Kechikan. HEY! Alaska is a beautiful state and everyone should see it. My wife thinks this is best cruise ever; me, I think Hawaii then Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The embarkation part of this trip felt like a cattle call. there were five or more buses trying to board at the same time. Crew members were barking orders and expecting instant obedience. On the flip side, it was the smoothest ... Read More
The embarkation part of this trip felt like a cattle call. there were five or more buses trying to board at the same time. Crew members were barking orders and expecting instant obedience. On the flip side, it was the smoothest disembarkation I have ever seen. Kudos to them for this. We only had three dinners on board the ship. the Pinnacle was good and the service was good. The Italian restaurant was ok. Our first server handed us the menus and explained the unique qualities of ordering, unfortunately, we only understood about three isolated words during her 60 second explanation. The menu did explain what she had said, but I had to confirm what I thought is was saying with the next waiter. Fortunately he was more fluent in English. In the Rotterdam the server was in between the two in his ability to speak English. It appears the great majority of the crew are from Indonesia. I love the Indonesian people and these people were delightful. Unfortunately, many of those expected to interact with the guests were not fluent in English. The more fluent ones were selling in the gift shops. That makes sense since visiting them is more voluntary than the restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The cruise to Alaska on the Holland America ship Volendam was a mixed experience. The places visited, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan were all great in their different and dramatic ways. We went on a number of excursions, whale ... Read More
The cruise to Alaska on the Holland America ship Volendam was a mixed experience. The places visited, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan were all great in their different and dramatic ways. We went on a number of excursions, whale watching, a train journey to the Yukon and sailing the misty wilderness waters, which were all very well organised with informative, enthusiastic, guides to provide information and answer questions along the way. The Captain did a great job of getting close in and turning the ship slowly in front of the Glaciers so everyone could get a good view. Life on board the Volendam itself left a little to be desired however. The staff were all very polite but not very effective when we needed something doing. The toilet blocked twice in a week. The first evening did not start well as we had to wait ages to get seated in the restaurant for dinner, then we waited over 20 minutes between courses. We complained and lots of notes of our complaint were written down but nothing came of it, no apologies, no offer of compensation, nothing. The restaurant service did improve during the cruise, however. I could not understand why we had to wait around for ages to be seated every time we went to the restaurant, despite having booked a table time. I have never come across such a slow system of table allocation and seating on any of the many cruises we have been on. When the food arrived the quality was reasonable but not that good as was the choice and variety on the menu. The Volendam only has two speciality restaurants and when we tried to book a table we were only offered 5:30pm, which is not the time most people want to eat in the evening. We did eventually eat in one of the speciality restaurants, but compared with other cruise ship speciality restaurants e.g. Marco Pierre White and Gary Rhodes, Holland America's just don't make the grade and generally don't compare well with other cruise lines we have been on, no fridge or coffee/tea facilities in staterooms, $4 for a bottle of water, poor toiletries in the bathroom etc, the nice little personal touches you get on most cruise ships are missing from the Volendam. I even had to ask to get a few nuts with my drinks. The visiting entertainers were good but the resident musicians and entertainers were not. There were two formal evenings but the number of men in tuxedos could be counted on two hands. Many people on board did not appear to change for dinner each evening, which says a lot. When I got my onboard account I had been charged twice for one item. When I queried it with the Front Desk I was told they would look into it but they never did and as they have access to my credit card I could not prevent the wrong amount from being taken. I never did get a refund. The landscape and scenery of Alaska are magnificent and I would recommend an Alaskan cruise to anyone, but I cannot recommend Holland America. There are much better cruise lines out there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Having read previous reviews of MS Volendam I think we must have been on a different ship. Our cruise was faultless, staff helpful, cabin clean, food good, shows excellent & ship not too crowded. We found the whole experience much ... Read More
Having read previous reviews of MS Volendam I think we must have been on a different ship. Our cruise was faultless, staff helpful, cabin clean, food good, shows excellent & ship not too crowded. We found the whole experience much better than our last cruise which was with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having traveled on a number of cruise ships prior to the Holland America Volendam there are a number of items I wish to high lite, firstly the ship is in need of a spruce up, looking tired in some areas. The food both at the Main Dining ... Read More
Having traveled on a number of cruise ships prior to the Holland America Volendam there are a number of items I wish to high lite, firstly the ship is in need of a spruce up, looking tired in some areas. The food both at the Main Dining room and the Lido restaurant was very good, Tried the upmarket Pinnacle Restaurant while the ambience of the place was very good, at $29 each I thought a bit expensive for what was on the menue. The size of the ship (61,000 tons) limited the on board entertainment when compared to the last ship I had been on which was the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas (136,000 tons), which had numerous places to go on board. Volendam entertainment was usually very good and a number of current movies shown in the main theatre. I did have one specific beef with the ship, that being after an early picture showing, there was no restaurant open for sweets or ice cream, in fact nothing open from 20.00 to 22.30 when late night snacks were availabe. There was an onboard coffee shop, coffee ok but most times no sweets or cake later at night. Room service was available in the cabin 24 hours but you had to be in the cabin to use it. I don't know of any large cruise line that does not have food available in some restaurant from 0600 to 2400. All in all, a comfortable cruise but I doubt I will go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Boarding seemed to take a long time - over an hour standing in line. We must have missed some information for third-time cruisers on HA.Basically, it was an enjoyable cruise, but there were a few glitches. We had dinners in the dining ... Read More
Boarding seemed to take a long time - over an hour standing in line. We must have missed some information for third-time cruisers on HA.Basically, it was an enjoyable cruise, but there were a few glitches. We had dinners in the dining room, and they were generally good quality, and the servings were modest, which met our needs. We enjoyed the afternoon tea, but observed some training lapses. Once, when we were at a table for two, I was served tea before my wife was served. Several times, sweets arrived before the sandwiches. Most disconcerting was when the server tried shaking the jam on to the scones, instead of using a second spoon to dislodge the jam on to the scone. I had this image of the jam ending up in my lap. I fault management, not the servers, for these lapses. Those of us who were prepared for the two formal nights were disappointed that the dining room staff admitted those who were not appropriately dressed, unless jeans and sweaters are now acceptable formal wear.The safe was a pain. To start with, it was locked, so a call for help was necessary. The use of a card with a magnetic stripe struck us as being downright stupid. My wife and I do not always follow the same agenda, so as a consequence, only one of us would have access to the safe. The use of a code that we could both use would seem to be sensible.We are not big fans of the shows, but we did enjoy the dancing in one of the lounges. The Neptunes were very accommodating in playing the tunes we, and others, requested. We also appreciate the classical groups that HA still has on their ships.It was disappointing to this news junkie that only Fox and CNN appeared to be available - the two most unsavoury news sources in North America. Since the passenger list is so international, perhaps HA should consider using something like BBC.For people who hate those high charges for slow internet, two of the communities had quite accessible internet cafes at $5/hr, and the public library in Juneau, on the dock, has FREE internet service for 15 or 30 minutes. Can't beat that price. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
NOTE: This was my second cruise to Alaska, but the first for my husband. (Ironically my first Alaska cruise was on the old Statendam after it was sold to the Paquet Line and renamed Rhapsody. She was still a lady.) Our trip started ... Read More
NOTE: This was my second cruise to Alaska, but the first for my husband. (Ironically my first Alaska cruise was on the old Statendam after it was sold to the Paquet Line and renamed Rhapsody. She was still a lady.) Our trip started shakily. We were an hour late out of Chicago heading for Dallas-Ft Worth. Needing to avoid a big storm meant we had to land in Wichita Falls, Texas to get more fuel. That was another hour out of our 3 hr dinner layover. On arrival we raced from Terminal A to D, well the Skytrain did most of the racing, and made our plane. We landed on time in Vancouver in the middle of another big storm. Then waited 2 hours for our luggage because the lightening made it too dangerous for the luggage folk to be out and about. AND we made it LOL The rest was smooth sailing, so to speak. The Metropolitan Hotel was great and just up the street from the cruise terminal, but with luggage we took a taxi. Canada Place is glorious on the outside and totally utilitarian on the inside. And it works. How well it works: on our return we exited the ship, cleared formalities, found our luggage and took a taxi to our hotel. The total elapsed time was 45 minutes. I cannot say enough good things about the Volendam. Yes it's a bit worn. No it doesn't have high-end finishes, and you can feel some of the results of the cutbacks enforced by Carnival. But it was CLEAN, the staff were warm, welcoming and helpful. The captain, Peter Bos, is a total rockstar. He got to show his mettle before we even sailed. There was a "situation" on deck 4, which turned out to be a fire in a light fixture. Once the cause was located we were told exactly what was going on. Midships was closed off and embarkation was paused for about an hour or so. He and the crew were totally professional. And the life boat drill was before we sailed and VERY serious as well as organized and there was a second drill for the stragglers. Both drills were repeated when we took on new folk at Skagway. Captain Bos also obviously loves Alaska as he would announce wildlife sightings with evident enthusiasm. Our cabin (DA2550) was perfectly located. I chose better than I knew. Close to the elevator, but not too close. Laundry down the hall on our side. But the best part? At Skagway and Ketchikan all we had to do to exit the ship was go to the stairs and turn right or left. And at Juneau it was just 2 flights of stairs down. It was also very convenient for getting places on the ship. Food started out great, and then, especially in the Lido Cafe, started to look tired and a bit messy, lthough the dining room did pull it together for the last International Night. A word of advice. The stuff they list on the DR menu as available every night has to have been frozen. It was not up to the standard of the rest. And we got tired of the food in general. Another trick is even at open dining you CAN be assigned a table, but they don't guarantee it. I think the key is to wander up to the Dining Room right after boarding. We delayed and ended up at 5:30pm. But we got a table for 2, which we wanted. It wasn't guaranteed, but we had it every night. I think the secret is to be right on time. We had fabulous waiters and were right on the wine station. Not much wine was moving so Emma spent a lot of time talking with us. BTW set dining is on Deck 5 and open seating is on Deck 4. PORTS: Sent husband on the Tracy Arm excursion, which he LOVED, despite low clouds and dreary skies. I got exhausted wandering around Juneau. Didn't get where I wanted, but ended up spending about an hour at the Juneau Arts Community Center talking to people. We had a late lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, which was both hokey and fun. In Skagway we did the RT White Rail Pass train ride, which was just perfect. It was also our best weather day, although it did turn cloudy later. I'm glad we took the advice that the morning train tour tends to have better weather. The guide on the train PA system was excellent. We ate at Skagway Brewing Co. at Broadway and 7th st, right where downtown ends and houses begin. Skagway looks like what Disneyland Main Street would if Walt had been born in Alaska. It is a bit of a hike back to the pier, BUT you could get off the train at 2nd & B'way on the train's return trip instead of going back to the pier, so that cut off some walking. What can I say? We had crappy weather for Glacier Bay. So we decided that "mysteriously brooding" was a good thing. It was pretty cold. Irish coffees were consumed. Our rangers were delightful young women, who obviously love their work. And Captain Bos was getting us pretty close for our size and pointing out the wildlife. Did I say he was a rock star? Then, of course, Ketchikan gave us "liquid sunshine." Alas the Misty Fjords floatplane excursion was canceled (with an immediate and automatic refund that paid much of the bar bill) so we just wandered around. I had taken the floatplane trip on my first Alaska cruise and recommend it highly. It's not inexpensive, but it's hard to put a price on landing on a mountain lake and hearing the silence when the engines are turned off. We ate lunch at Alaska Fish House, which was local and fun. And then we "discovered" the SE Alaska Discovery Center. $5. gets you a beautiful 20 minute movie on the Tongass, a small area of nicely done exhibits on the ecosystem and native life, and a free DVD if you ask. We did give a contribution though. The people were just plain nice. It's well done. The recent upgrades at the Center were courtesy of the Recovery Act. Personally I thought it was a better investment than the lumberjack show, but each to their own. The Culinary Arts program is obviously designed to shill for the Pinnacle Grill and heavily weighted (pun intended) towards chocolate and desserts, but the two sessions I attended were well done and we got to taste the food. It's a nice activity to have for an at-sea day. One thing I LOVED was that, rather than one big cocktail lounge there were lots of little nooks and places for drinks, coffee, reading, internet. We hung out on deck 5 a lot. I had acupuncture and a hot stone massage in the spa.The first opened up a whole new world to me. The second was a bit more vigorous than what I expected. They were pricey, especially compared to my current acupuncturist. The entertainment was ordinary and the cruise director wasn't my favorite one in my cruising history, but on the whole you can just ignore that part, which we did after the first night. I've been on more upscale cruise lines (Royal Viking Sea, NA Vistafjord and QE II as well as some more entry level ones, but the comfort of the Holland America middle-of the-road product suits our temperament and we will return, hopefully again and again:) Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My sister and I booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. We flew into Seattle, took the AmTrak coach to Vancouver to spend the night before boarding the ship the next day. We stayed at the Ramada close to Gastown and ... Read More
My sister and I booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. We flew into Seattle, took the AmTrak coach to Vancouver to spend the night before boarding the ship the next day. We stayed at the Ramada close to Gastown and enjoyed shopping there in the morning before boarding. The Ramada was close enough to Canada Place that we could have walked, so we didn't include the transfer cost, but taxis are reasonable there and we didn't want to struggle with luggage. Boarding was painless. The lines were long, but moved rapidly. There were two ships in dock and a lot of people milling around but the process was well controlled. There were ample HAL employees directing traffic and it went seamlessly. We had our photos taken, issued cabin keys, then seated in the "holding area" until the line opened for us to pass through customs. Once on board, the Lido (buffet) was open for lunch and it was recommended that we eat before going to our cabins in order that the stewards had plenty time to ready the cabins from the cruise that had disembarked that morning. As soon as we arrived in our cabins, our luggage was already there. We unpacked, gathered at our Lifeboat stations for the Emergency procedures, then went on a tour of the ship with the "Lifestylist," Claire. (Very helpful, cheerful personality.) The ship was a good size and appropriate for what we were looking for in a cruise. There were no discos, rambunctious youth, or blaring music (for the most part, although one time it did get awfully loud on the Promenade Deck). The crew maintained a very clean ship, and the captain and crew were overly cautious about curtailing the spread of viruses and sickness. (Hand sanitizer "stations" at all elevators, stairways, dining entries, etc.) The only complaint in the maintenance department is that they were continually painting. Every day areas were roped off and marked "wet paint". Also, every day, the promenade deck was washed down, which meant if you were an early walker you walked on very wet decks. Our cabin was on the Promenade Deck, which was convenient. We had a large window, while not looking directly out, looked across the open promenade deck to the outside. Being on that deck and close to an exit door from the hall to the deck made it easy for us to get out on the deck for photos, walking, etc. Even though many people walked the promenade, the windows were tinted so that our cabin was still private even when the curtains were open. We had previously read that if you have trouble with sea sickness, dizziness, etc., a cabin toward the aft (back) of the ship on a lower deck would be best, and that's just what we had. We would have walked less steps overall if our cabin had been more centrally located (especially when we left something in our cabin that we needed), but with the large meals, the walking was good for us! The cabin was a cozy size, larger than we anticipated, with ample storage space (certainly for the two of us). The beds were comfortable and the bathroom spacious enough with a full tub. A shelf under the sink as well as a cabinet built into the corner over the sink offered plenty of room to store our toiletries. The water pressure was good, but we took several cool/warm/cold showers. (We never even thought to bring this to the attention of our steward. There may have been something he could have done to correct this!) We had some minor problems with the toilet flushing, but access to public restrooms on the ship caused that not to be much of a hardship. One thing we had not prepared for was the absence of a clock. We would not leave our phones turned on (to make sure we did not receive any $16/minute international calls), and as neither of us wear watches, we were constantly wondering about the time. This was important in order to make it to planned events taking place on the ship. Every night we were given a schedule of the next day's events. (Finally we bought an inexpensive watch at one of the ship stores but it did not keep good time and really wasn't worth what we paid for it.) I believe the television might have displayed the time, but we would not turn it on for that. The classes from Microsoft on digital photography were very good for beginners. The young guy, Craig, who taught them was patient and willing to help with any problem cruisers were having with their digital cameras, computers, etc. Some really got their "money's worth" out of his help! Not being interested in the bars, casino or many of the shows, we retired to our cabins fairly early each evening. It was quiet and peaceful (maybe more so for us because we were toward the back of the ship?). Since the sunset was late (around 9:30 or 10:00) we saw a couple of beautiful sunsets. (When it wasn't raining or cloudy!) Our steward was very efficient and thorough. He attended our rooms twice a day, smiling every time we saw him and always helpful. We had first dining at 5:45 and the dining staff was efficient and for the most part friendly. Our assigned table was toward the center of the restaurant, with little access to views of the outside, so we decided we really enjoyed the buffet better -- our choice of seating, seeing and choosing the dishes that looked good to us at the time, and not being on a schedule. We wound up, for the most part eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Lido. We also decided that, although prepared, we did not feel like dressing for the formal dinners, so the Lido was a better fit for us. The bars and lounge areas, library and card room with window access were comfortable places to sit during the day to scan the water and banks for wildlife, to catch a snooze, to eat that extra dessert, to read or to chat with new acquaintances as the ship made its way through the Inside Passage. For the most part, it was too windy and cold to sit outside on the deck areas. One of my recommendations to the ship line in this area would be to make access to outer areas easier. From the seated areas, if you noted something you really wanted to photograph, you had the options of 1) taking it through the spotted, dirty window (most of the time covered with raindrops!) or 2) running to an outside area hoping to catch the shot before it disappeared. (I missed most of these!) There were some covered seating areas on the back pool Lido deck with easy acess, but it got awfully cold and windy there as well as on the Promenade Deck. I tried it a few times, but usually gave up and headed inside. We were glad for the captain's schedule when we made our first stop -- Juneau at about 1:00 pm. I was afraid that late arrival wouldn't give us enough time to check out the capital city, but it was ample time. There was only one other ship in dock which made it much easier to get around town, to our excursions, etc. without being jostled by crowds. Skagway was the next port of call.This was my favorite stop (or would have been, if not for the rain!). Thankfully, up in the mountain the rain stopped. Glacier Bay was astounding. Again, misting rain and cloud cover, but we were able to see several glaciers. It was another rainy, cold day and the Crow's Nest was a good place from which to view since the windows stretch all the way across the front of the ship. (However, you must arrive EARLY to get a seat in there.) Having the National Park ranger and personnel come on board and give comments and explanations gave it an added dimension. We didn't witness any large "calving" which we would have liked to seen, but there was a calming quietness that was almost "otherworldly." It's hard to imagine the natives of yesteryear existing day in and day out in that cold, sublime area. The last port of call was Ketchikan. Enjoyed it but didn't take any tours. Just wanted to walk around, get souvenirs and get a feel for the city. Walked through the Creek Street area and along the Married Man's Trail. The last day was another day of cruising the Inside Passage, making our way back to Vancouver. It was still very pleasant viewing and the captain did a fairly good job of keeping us updated on where we were and what was coming up that we might be able to see. Although I enjoyed the viewing, I was beginning to want to be off the ship and on dry ground. Six nights of being rocked to sleep was beginning to get to me! I think others must begin to feel the same way because they scheduled more "active" events that last day than usual -- table tennis tournament, basketball game, WII bowling, etc. The disembarkment was carefully planned, but no matter how well organized, 1,400 people disembarking and some not following directions caused some chaos. However, overall it went well. Once off the ship, we were somewhat confused where we supposed to go, but once through customs, there were HAL employees directing us and answering questions. Found them to be very helpful. Overall I recommend Holland American Lines and the Volendam. There wasn't pressure to buy anything on the ship, although we felt a little pressure from the professional photographers to allow us to be photographed. (They made a DVD of the week which was available for sale at the end of the cruise as well as individual photos taken during the week. That would make a nice souvenir for those interested in pictures of who was on board as well as what could have been seen during the sailing.) The other thing noted about the cruise was lack of North Americans working on board. As far as I could tell (by accents), there may have only been a couple. Although the workers spoke English to some degree, a few were hard to understand and had trouble understanding us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Last year my sister and I were idly discussing going on a cruise, and by the end of the year I had done hours of research and booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. Cruise Critic was instrumental in our choice of ship ... Read More
Last year my sister and I were idly discussing going on a cruise, and by the end of the year I had done hours of research and booked a 7 night Inside Passage Cruise on the MS Volendam. Cruise Critic was instrumental in our choice of ship and itinerary and I read just about everything written on CC, and found it all very helpful. In fact my husband said I no longer needed to go to Alaska as I had read everything there was to know! We were a party of four, my sister sharing her cabin with another widowed friend, all in our early 60's. My sister came from Austin, her friend from Syracuse and my husband and I from Australia. We met up in Vancouver on June 5th, the day before sailing, and I am so glad we planned to arrive the day before as our flight times were changed by the airline and as it was we didn't get into Vancouver until 9.30 at night. It would have been so stressful to be travelling on the day the ship was leaving. Stayed at Days Inn Downtown, which is rather quaint but perfectly adequate for a nights sleep. I chose that hotel because they had a shuttle bus to the cruise dock. In actual fact it was so close to Canada Place that you could have walked! The driver of the shuttle said it would take about an hour and a half to get onto the ship and he was exactly right. There were two ships in dock and a lot of people milling around but the process was well controlled. We were split up though as my husband and I had Australian passports and my sister and her friend had US passports. We were sent to a holding area where we could sit until there was room in the line to pass through US customs etc. My sister and her friend had to stand in line the whole time! We got onto the ship first and our cabins were ready so we took our hand luggage to the cabin and then headed to the Lido for lunch. The Volendam is a great ship,just the right size, and gives the first impression of being an ocean liner, rather than a "fun" ship. Which is what we wanted, we were not looking for loud music, parties or crowds. There was another ship boarding at Canada Place which was huge, and had loud disco music playing, so we were very pleased to be on the Volendam. The ship was spotlessly clean and everywhere there were members of the crew cleaning and polishing. Our inside cabins were a good size and there was loads of storage space. The bathroom was surprisingly large and very well appointed. The shower was good with good water pressure. The hairdryer did not work but there was a replacement dryer in the cabin. The provided shower gel, shampoo and conditioner were really nice. The cabin was so quiet, you could not hear a thing, apart from occasional voices in the corridor. We tended to retire fairly early and there was never any late night noise. Our stewards were very efficient and obliging. Again thanks to CC we had taken a clock and a torch, but found that if you left the bathroom light on and the door closed, there was enough light at night to see your way around without turning on the cabin lights. We had first dining at 5.45 which suited us and for which we had been wait listed. The dining room staff were excellent and the food was first class. We all ate far too much. We had breakfast and lunch in The Lido and found the choice of food to be varied and of excellent quality. The afternoon teas in the Dining room were really lovely. The bars and lounges were comfortable and the music provided was excellent. We had cocktails on two occasions before the formal dinner nights and it was nice to get dressed up and sit watching the scenery from the windows. We went to two shows, the Indonesian Crew Show which was very well done and the crew seemed to be having a good time, and their band was great. We also attended the Broadway show, which was good,some of the performers had lovely singing voices and the HalCats were excellent. I think they could have chosen better songs, but that is a personal observation. On the sea days we walked around the Promenade Deck, a mile per meal was our aim,(another hint from CC) or sat wrapped up in a blanket on a deck chair reading. Hot cider was served which was lovely. Juneau was the first stop, and it was so wet. We took the shuttle bus ($16 round trip per person)to Mendenhall Glacier and although we got soaked to the skin it was worth it. We walked to Nugget Falls, and the view of the glacier and the blue of the ice was amazing. Having read the advice on CC about the weather in Alaska we were well equipped with rain coats and rain trousers, but there were people there with only thin plastic ponchos,and they must have been so cold. It was too wet and foggy to go up the Mt Robert's Tramway.Skagway was the next port of call, and what a contrast to Juneau. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we had a wonderful trip on the White Pass Railroad. I had pre booked this months before with Chilkoot Tours. They picked us up at the port and drove us to the Railway Station where we boarded our own rail car. There were only 16 people in the car so we had lots of room, and plenty of opportunity to stand out on the end of the car and take photos. If you can only ever do one excursion then this is the one! The train to Fraser takes you through wonderful scenery and in early June there was still a lot of snow around, and it was magical. We even saw a bear running alongside the train. At Fraser we transferred to a bus for the journey back to Skagway. The guide/driver was very informative and stopped at several places of interest on the way. The best was stopping to watch a mother bear and her three cubs feeding on the side of the road just outside Fraser. Going up on the train and back on the bus is a great way to see the countryside. Glacier Bay was the absolute highlight of the trip. It was cold and misty with a bit of rain, but that just added to the atmosphere. We stopped at the Marjorie Glacier and the silence was profound, until the glacier started to"calve" and then there was a loud crack and thunderous noise rolling across the water. This is a magical place. Ketchikan was the last port of call, and again it rained, but then it always does apparently! The rain only lasted a short time so we wandered around town and went up in the little tram and walked down the steps to town. We wanted to go out to the Totem Park, but the bus never seemed to arrive, so we did some shopping and then went back to the ship. Our friend did get the local bus out to the park but then it broke down and she had to share a taxi back into town as everyone had to be back on the ship by 5.30 and she was getting a bit worried about missing the boat. Disembarking was a bit of a muddle, even though we had chosen a late disembarkation time and were carrying our own luggage. Although everything was colour coded it appeared that some passengers were determined to get off when they wanted regardless of the time they had been given! My sister had booked a bus transfer to the airport and they were told they would go into a secure area and their luggage would be passed through Customs, but this didn't seem to work as expected and they still had to pick up their own luggage at the port and then sit on a bus for an hour. I can't recommend Holland America and the Volendam highly enough. It was everything we wanted and more. The staff all seemed genuinely happy to be of service and every member of staff greeted you when they met you. The ship was quiet, very few messages over the public address system and there was never the feeling of being pressured into buying anything on board ( a frequent complaint on CC about certain ships.) Thanks to everyone on CC for their advice and informative postings. Now on to planning the next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Rather than a detailed account of our trip I will highlight some of my impressions and offer some tips and hints. I have also included some information that I had a difficult time researching before our trip. This was our third Holland ... Read More
Rather than a detailed account of our trip I will highlight some of my impressions and offer some tips and hints. I have also included some information that I had a difficult time researching before our trip. This was our third Holland America cruise and second aboard the Volendam. (Note, we boarded the ship in Skagway but this form does not have that port in the drop down list). In general, the land tour and cruise exceeded my expectations. The land tour was super organized and the handling of baggage and other details was extraordinary. Room keys were always provided as soon as we departed the bus and our Tour Directory, Gwen, did an outstanding job of taking care of all of our travel needs. We also had a great bus driver, Rick, from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. The bus (coach) itself was full but was configured for just 44 passengers. This meant we had extra leg room. The coach had a reasonably sized bathroom and we were not discouraged to use it (other bus drivers on tours usually tell us to only use the bathroom in emergencies). There were also frequent rest stops, usually every two hours or less. The coach had video screens, music via provided headphones, just like a plane. HAL had two buses on the same route but they tried to stagger our times so that the restrooms and other facilities would not be overloaded. We also had several buses from other tour companies that seemed to be duplicating our itinerary. The trains to Denali and Fairbanks were also comfortable and there are good views on either side of the train. I highly recommend this Cruise Tour itinerary. It provided a diverse schedule of included activities. All of the hotels were centrally located and they were clean and well maintained. I read some negative reviews of the Westmark in Beaver Creek but our room was fine. We didn't get the meal plan but were satisfied with the number of meals that were included. We used the $25 per person coupon at the Westmark Whitehorse for breakfast and dinner. We are light eaters and the restaurant gladly split our dinner, even putting it on two plates for us. Unfortunately the Salmon was dry and other diners reported similar disappointment in their entrees. The days start very early and we usually did not attempt to eat breakfast on most days. We brought snacks and instant oatmeal which were sufficient to eat in the room. There were usually stops in mid morning and mid afternoon for additional refreshments. We did not book any of the land tour excursions but opted to try to do some things on our own. We asked the bus driver on the included Denali tour if he could leave us at the Visitors Center before returning to the hotel and he happily agreed. We took the time to see the movie, view the exhibits, etc and then went on the free shuttle bus to the dog kennels. They had a good presentation and ran the sled dogs on a dirt path. On the second day in Denali we took the free shuttle from the hotel to the Visitors Center. The shuttle runs every half hour and is convenient. We then joined the 10:00 am free Ranger led hike. There were 20 of us on this hike and the Ranger said he would call another Ranger if more people showed up. This hike lasted about 2 hours and was fun and informative. Similar hikes are offered by HAL but cost almost $100 per person. At the end of the hike we saw a Beaver dam and were told that between 4pm and 6 pm is the best time to actually see the beavers at work. The Beavers are up to 100 lbs and they pull their downed trees right along the hiking path down to the dam. We were sorry to have missed that. We walked back to the Science Center and then had lunch at the Visitors center. We did not have to go back to the hotel and just walked down the path to the train which departed at 4 that afternoon. The Fairbanks visit included excursions (sternwheeler, and gold mine) were both done well. On the sternwheeler, there are free doughnuts, and later in the day free salmon dip with crackers. I thought they would charge for the coffee but this was free also. The best seats on the boat are on the left side. The gold panning was fun but they sort of lock you in the gift shop after since you have to take the train back to the busses even though it is a five minute trip. However they have free cookies and coffee in the shop so can't complain too much. The Yukon portion of our trip was far more scenic than I envisioned. There are two long bus rides but they are broken up with frequent stops and some fun activities on board. Again, our bus driver, Rick, and our tour director, Gwen, did a admirable job in entertaining us. The dog sled presentation and demonstration just outside Whitehorse was disappointing. The talk was good but we couldn't believe they used a motorized ATV instead of letting the dogs pull a real sled as we saw in Denali and in Fairbanks. In Whitehorse we took the free day to hike the river trail. It is essentially one loop and takes you to the fish ladders and back. A pleasant way to spend the day. There is also a trolley that costs $2 one way and $4 for the whole day. The White Pass railway was a great way to end our land tour. The best seats are on the right side of the train. Embarkation in Skagway went smoothly and we were on board before 1 pm, in plenty of time for lunch on the Lido Deck. The main dining room was closed that day so it was not possible for Mariners who embarked in Skagway to have lunch there. The Volendam recently completed a refurbishment and the ship was in excellent condition. However one big exception was the mold on our shower curtain. I am sure our room steward would have changed it if I asked. We had a "guaranteed" port hole room and were upgraded to a room with a large window and it was midships on the lower promenade deck, a great location. I was a bit odd having people walking past the window but we checked and it is almost impossible to see into the room during daylight hours. We usually like to eat at the Lido but found that the buffet was a "free for all". Some of the food was on the line too long and the "display" dishes looked better than what was served. Desserts were not replenished often enough and the line for the ice cream was always long. The toppings were inexplicably placed before the ice cream which led to even longer waits on line. The dinner buffet does not offer any more service than lunch. You still have to pick up your own drinks, entrees, etc. In general, the food tasted much better in the dining room. We ate dinner in the Lido the first night while still in port and one side was open for staff only. The staff side had a nice view of the bay and the guest side had a view of the pier and the graffiti covered rocks. The Lido has almost the same menu as the main dining room but on formal night they did not have the lobster. The main dining room had Surf and Turf that night and we opted for Surf and Surf and the waiter did not hesitate in bringing us two lobster tails each. They were large and perfectly cooked. Probably the best lobster we have received on any ship. I packed light and just wore a dark shirt and tie. I saw several others dressed similarly and no one seemed to mind. We ate all of the other dinners in the main dining room as well. We had open sitting and whenever I called for a reservation for a table for two I was only given the options of 5:30 pm and 7:45. this worked for us. Without a reservation, a table for two meant a 20 to 25 minute wait (they give you a beeper). It seemed like many of my previous suggestions had been incorporated. I guess they really do read those comment cards. There were few announcements, particularly in the stateroom so there were no repetitive reminders about bingo, etc. There were more activities than I remember on previous voyages. The entertainment was excellent and the shows were better than any I remember. The singers/dancers were good as was the comedian (Lee Bayless). Debarkation went smoothly and a nice improvement is that you can wait in your stateroom until your departure time. We had breakfast in the dining room on the last day and the waiters did not rush us at all. We walked the short distance to the train station. The train leaves frequently and it takes about 30 minutes to the airport. Just make sure you are on the Canadian Line. You can pay via credit card. We used our credit card frequently in the Yukon and did not need to change to Canadian currency. Leave extra time for the airport because you must go through U.S. customs and there was a long line. This turned out to be longer than I expected. I would be glad to provide any other information so feel free to ask. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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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