The third "S-class" (for Statendam) of Holland America ships, the smallest and quietest class in the fleet.
Best For People Who Want
A subdued classical style of cruising on a reasonable priced mid-size ship; large cabins and staterooms with private verandas; non-smoking dining areas; ample breakfast and luncheon buffets, free ice cream salons with tasty toppings.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A high-energy ship; lots of singles looking to meet; single, open seating dining.
As you board these ships, a beaming Indonesian or Filipino staff member in white gloves greets you delightedly and then shows you to your quarters. Many of the most fondly recalled elements of the classical style of cruising are unmistakably alive and well here. You'll find no feverish singles action here, and the casino closes at an hour that will horrify some high-rolling insomniacs. What you will find is a palpable reverence for culture, art, and antiques, and lots of fresh flowers. If large cabins with private verandas, ballroom dancing and bridge float your boat, these, moderately-priced premium cruises may well be the boats to float it.
Ryndam is fully subscribed to Holland America's "Signature of Excellence" program of enhancements to nearly every area of the ship. New features include tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids Centers, and new shore excursions. The Explorations Cafe is a combination library, Internet center, music listening area and sidewalk cafe. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, flat screen TVs, and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings.
Warm colors graced by antiques and reproductions with subdued lighting in cocktail lounges. Marble and luxurious fabrics are ubiquitous.
Ryndam may lack the breathtaking atria typical of other ships built in the 1990s, but it is remarkably easy to find your way around. The large Ocean Bar, with sea views by day and romantic lighting at night, is the most popular spot for pre- and post-dinner cocktails, though it gets serious competition from another cozy lounge, the sing along piano bar. The 89-seat Explorer's Lounge offers a string quartet or a harpist performing light classical favorites in the evening.
The glamorous two-story main dining rooms, framed with floor-to-ceiling windows, feature a dramatic staircase and a classical trio holding forth demurely from a perch on the top level. Just outside the second level, ladies will find a wonderful, spacious powder room with ocean views.
The main show lounge has two floors and a wide stage, with comfortable seating, though sight lines from the balcony are partially obscured. There is a large dance floor in front of the stage and the onboard 9-piece orchestra plays pre-dinner dance music nightly. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port; at night it becomes the shipboard "disco" dance room. The beautiful wood-paneled library has etched glass doors, comfortable chairs and ottomans, an inlaid marble table, and excellent reference and travel book sections. The nearby card room can simultaneously accommodate four dozen players.
One sour note: The library requires a $25 deposit of anyone wishing to borrow a book.
varies a great deal from dish to dish, ranging from flavorless to divinely prepared and cooked; desserts generally score well with most people, while meat and fish may be over-cooked or arrive luke warm. Some of the most interesting meals occur at the buffet, when various ethnic cuisine is featured served. Watch for the seafood buffet where you might find delicious crab claws available by the plateful.
There are tables for two, four, six and eight in the opulent two-level Vista Dining Room, which benefits from sea views and a romantically twinkling, fiber optics-lit ceiling, Rosenthal china, sparkling crystal, and crisp linens. There are four dining seatings - 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Casual breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets featuring ethnic cuisine are served in the Lido restaurant adjacent to the pool.
The cozy, intimate Pinnacle Grill specializes in the ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Its dedicated galley includes 1600-degree grill. Bulgari china, unique holloware and a dedicated service staff enhance the elegant atmosphere, as too does the wine list, which features several California and Washington vintages not offered in the main dining room. Reservations are required and there is a $20 service charge.
Twenty-four-hour room service is very efficient, and between meals you can order from a large list of snacks, salads and sandwiches. At mealtimes, you can order from the same menu those in the dining room are perusing.
Holland America's Indonesian and Filipino crew is warm and gracious, though not always as fluent in English as American and British passengers might prefer. Speak slowly and make sure they understand what you need, because they can be to polite to ask you to repeat yourself.
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, intended to make passengers believe that staff were doing it for love, rather than money. (Yeah, right.) Nowadays, though, gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. That a 15 percent service is automatically added to bar bills should surprise no one.
The main lounge presents variety shows, a lavish Broadway-style revue and an energizingly fervent dance production. There's a jazz quartet in the Ocean Bar and fresh hot popcorn in the Wajang Theater, where you can see first-run films every afternoon and evening.
Aboard the Statendam you'll find some of the largest cabins afloat, all beautifully appointed with handsome fabrics and attractive art. Standard inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, while outside staterooms are 197 sq. feet, with enough closet and drawer space for the serious traveler. Balcony cabins offer considerably more interior cabin space than you might expect. The Penthouse suites with private verandahs are a huge 1,100 square feet, and include wonderful amenities. The 563-square foot suites, ultramodern with large private verandahs, are nearly as grand. The 120 deluxe category A and B cabins are 284 square feet (including verandah), each with VCR, minibar, and sitting area. There are whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms.
Stateroom amenities include bathrobes, a complimentary fresh fruit basket on arrival, stainless steel ice buckets and serving trays for use with in-cabin beverages and massage shower heads in every bathroom. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in the Neptune Lounge, a private retreat where they can relax, read and socialize.
The outside cabins on the Lower Promenade Deck have pedestrian walkways (and thus, at least intermittently, pedestrians) between their occupants and the ocean. While special reflective glass precludes said pedestrians from peeking in during the day, at night you have to close your curtains.
These ships all have large spa and windowed Ocean Spa gyms attractive enough to make even the most determinedly sedentary want to come in. The sauna/steam rooms, segregated by gender, are impossible to fault. Way up top is a jogging track, isolated from cabins and other activities to spare non-joggers the sound of thundering hooves. On the deck, comfortable striped cushions line a large pool covered by a retractable dome on Lido Deck, just the thing for rainy days in Alaska. The Dolphin Bar, with umbrellas and wicker chairs, is an unbeatable spot for a late afternoon drink and snack after a visit ashore.
Younger passengers are kept diverted with supervised Club HAL crafts, parties, and games for three age groups 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17, with the number of counselors allotted to each cruise dependent on the number of younger voyagers. Many children find Holland America's planned activities severely humdrum. The restaurant offers a children's menu. Baby-sitting is available at sea for $7.50 per child per hour.
On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas.