My husband and I have previously been on 9 cruises, mostly Princess, but also Holland America and Royal Caribbean.
I wanted to write this review because when I was trying to decide on whether or not to go on the Ryndam I was concerned with the number of bad reviews on the websites. So that being said - here it is!
My husband and I (ages 60 and 51, respectively) decided to go back to Alaska on a cruise. Our last cruise to Alaska was about 10 years ago on the old Star Princess. We decided to go on Holland America this time as we had such a wonderful cruise last year on the Holland America Veendam in the Carribean. The Ryndam is a sister ship to the Veendam so it seemed perfect.
We had a wonderful time! None of the awful things that I read in the reviews reflected my experience.
We arrived by train from Anchorage. The train station is quite a walk from the cruise terminal so we caught a cab. Check in was easy and seamless, no wait and we boarded. The ship is very attractive, clean andwell maintained. It became clear immediately that the crew took the health and safety of the guests very seriously because of the problems with Norovirus on cruise ships and other places where lots of people congregate. I appreciated their insistence on using the antibacterial cleansers at all areas where people handle things or eat. I didn't find it scarey or threatening, just thoughtful.
The Ryndam and Veendam are not your megaship - because of this it seems to be a calmer environment where you get to know both guests and crew. The crew of the Ryndam were friendly and helpful. Our cabin steward was a gem!
We had an outside cabin on A deck (the lowest you can go) because I am sensitive to motion sickness. There were no bad smells nor was there a problem with toilets. The cabin was very nice and roomy with a tub in the bathroom.
One of the reasons I wanted to go on a smaller ship is that I like the set times for dining. I don't enjoy eating with different people every night - I think the feeling of family and kinship you get seeing the same waiters and tablemates every night. Our table was great, two other very nice couples and we all bonded.
The food on the Ryndam was very good. I can't really say if it is better than the Veendam or other ships. I tend to enjoy Princess better. This is because on Princess it is an Italian kitchen. Pasta is frequently made at the table and you can get a pasta course that is small (not entrée size). The Pinnacle Grill was just OK. On the Veendam it was better. I did enjoy going there just for the ambiance of the dining room and the change of scenery. For the cost it was fine, but I didn't think it was any better than the dining room. As this is a smaller ship, the Lido is also smaller, however, I found plenty to eat and the food was always very good. I enjoyed the ice cream bar and the desserts!
One thing that I really enjoyed about this cruise was that Holland America had a Naturalist on board the entire cruise. He gave several talks which I found very interesting. In addition, park rangers boarded in Glacier Bay - which was great.
I enjoyed all the excursions that I took. We went canoeing to the Steward Glacier in Haines; Rafting along the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau; and took at jet boat to the Misty Fiords National Monument. I did not feel that the cost for the excursions were high based on the service we got and the quality of the tours.
I thought the shows in the evening were pretty good. The Ryndam had some of the best shows I have seen in a long time - the singers were very good!
A few comments on areas for improvement - I didn't like the fact that there was no carafe of drinking water in the room. This resulted in endless trips to the lido so that we could constantly refill our bottles. Holland America tries to sell you bottled water and soda in the room - so no drinking water is available. . . I think it is important to have the basics first - like drinking water. I think that when you are paying for a cruise there should be little no extra charges. DVDs for the player in the cabins should be free, there shouldn't be massage chairs in the common areas that you have to pay to use (remove them). The hawking of specials at the stores was overwhelming. However, I may be the only one who was bothered by it.
Also, the majority of the folks on this cruise were older - 70 and above. Because of this activities were catering more to that age group. On the sea day there was not much happening for us younger old people.
One other thing that is very important, especially for those people who have less stamina or are physically challenged. Avoid the Vancouver Airport. The US customs is done in Vancouver and because of this the US makes you carry all your luggage around to different places for hours. First you stand in line with your luggage to check in and get tags. Then you get in another line that took about 1/1/2 hours around the airport until you reach customs. There you are sorted and have to load your own luggage on to conveyer belts - insane!
So in conclusion, we had a great time. Would we sail with Holland America again? Definitely. Would I choose Holland America over Princess - no, they both have pros and cons. Next year I will look for itinerary, size of ship and then either Holland America or Princess.
I hope this review helps you, if you have any questions, feel free to email me.
We chose this cruise because it had as one of it's shore excursions "Copper Canyon" This was our 4th Holland America cruise.
The Ryndam is 11 years old and in some areas the ship is in need of repairs. Unlike the review you published in May, our experience was mostly positive.
The air conditioning is very uneven---our cabin would not cool as much as we liked and several areas were too cold. The heater heating the pool was out of kilter and the pool went to 100 degrees. The Hot tubs heaters were not working at all the entire 10 days.
The entertainment was fine although the main lounge is very uncomfortable.(If you arrived less tha 30 minutes before a show, you couldn't find a seat that afforded you a good view os stage.)
The food was fine although no food is available from after dinner until 11 o'clock. (Princess cruise line has food available after dinner so you can snack)
We found the crew to be very helpful and the Captain even got up at 4:30 AM to wish us a good trip to Copper Canyon. He stayed up until 11 PM to geetus when we returned. In 35 cruises we never had a Captain do this
We prefer Princess because we like their Dining any time policy and the food buffet available after regular dining hours. Their entertainment is also more consistant.
We would however, give Holland America a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Thought you might like a review from someone who, until June 5, 2005, had not been on a ship for over 35 years. In 1969, I--along with a husband and a baby--crossed the Atlantic on the QE2 and then crossed back on the France in 1970. Those were the days of bunks in staterooms, different passenger classes, rampant seasickness, and bribes to the longshoremen upon disembarkation.
I was prepared to hate the ship but to enjoy the Alaskan scenery. I'm happy to report that I loved the ship as well as the scenery. My husband felt the same way. ("Baby" did not accompany us this time.)
First, the standard stateroom was like a hotel room with a very comfy queen-size bed, a sofa, a table and chair, plasma TV with DVD, and good closet space. The bathroom had a shower in a very high bathtub-one had to be nimble to get in. The room, in fact the whole ship, was spotless. Only complaint-there was nowhere to store our 5 pieces of luggage, so we had to keep them on the sofa.
Second, third, and fourth-there were no classes, no seasickness (I wasamazed at the smoothness of the ship's motion), and no bribes.
We did not participate very much in the ship's culture, having bad memories of shuffleboard in the past. Instead, we spent most of the time in the Crow's Nest-a delightful public space with a panoramic view at the front of the ship. Because we had been assigned to a late seating and our stomachs were 3 hours ahead of Alaska time, we ate all of our meals in the Lido-a gourmet cafeteria with waiter service. Only complaint there was that they didn't serve enough seafood. I was looking forward to that in Alaska. In the Lido, we always tried to sit at the last table in the back of the restaurant, because it had wrap-around windows and the best view.
We also enjoyed the Explorer's Lounge, which is the library. Good selection of books and DVDs, plus Swedish-style lounge chairs. This is also the location of the expresso bar. HAL now charges for gourmet coffee-about half the price of Starbucks.
The Ryndam is said to be a smaller ship, but it seemed uncrowded. There was never a wait in the Lido. Embarkation and disembarkation were easy. At Sitka, we were tendered to shore, and that also went very quickly.
The staff, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, were very gracious and sweet.
My husband and I have had our minds changed about cruising and would take the same cruise all over again in a heartbeat. What a difference from the past!
By the end of the first evening my wife and I were very disappointed at the decline in everything we had experienced since boarding. We had decided we would probably try another shipping line in future. The probably soon became absolute certainty and you will soon understand why. Virtually everything which once gave Holland America an edge over other cruise lines, has deteriorated to the extent that nothing is really special anymore. Ice sculptures are limited to one in the Dining Room on formal evenings. It used to be one or two every night and at least two in the Lido cafeteria. The beautiful large floral displays at the elevators are no more. No Ice Sculpting or melon carving demonstrations, no Salmon Barbecue, juice etc. only at breakfast. The Chocolate Extravaganza was replaced by a Dessert Extravaganza, a very poor substitute and the list goes on. The standard of cleanliness has deteriorated to a disgusting extent and we always had to look around to find a reasonably clean chair to sit on in the Lido Cafeteria. Almost all of the seats had filthy stains all over them.
Despite the above and what follows,the Captain always ended his announcements by referring to "the beautiful and elegant ship." What a crock that was. The first evening our toilet broke down and this was the forerunner for 12 days of continuing problems which usually took from a very poor best of 2 hours to over six hours for someone to arrive just to check that there really was a problem.
On two occasions we had filthy brown feces laden water swilling around our bathroom floor. A third occurrence was avoided when I realised that the overflow problem was due to instructions received from a steward sent to check that the toilet really was not working. There was almost no vacuum so he demonstrated a "fix" by rapidly pumping the knob four or five times which, at that time and a couple of others, did work. However when it did not work the water kept filling the pan and eventually overflowed. Fortunately the third time, I held the seat partially up and discovered how this procedure was causing the overflow and stopped just in time.
It soon became obvious that the "plumbers" were totally incompetent when repairs lasted only a few hours. This carried on and our frustration kept mounting. After a few days we requested another stateroom but were told that nothing was available. I queried the competence of the "plumbers" and asked for an engineer. I might as well have talked to the wall.
We both have health problems and the stress was becoming too much for us so we asked to leave the ship at Sitka with Holland America to arrange and pay for our trip home. This was met with an immediate sharply spoken outright refusal.
In desperation I decided to make two signs. One to hang on my chest and the other on my back then parade around the ship.
I told the Guest Relations Manager of my intentions and that I would go ashore at Sitka to purchase the material, which I did. I also advised her that the signs would read :-
HAVE YOU HAD, LIKE I HAD, BROWN FECES LADEN WATER FLOODING YOUR TOILET FLOOR? CONTACT CABIN C328.
,HAS YOUR TOILET, LIKE MINE, BROKEN DOWN AT LEAST ONCE EVERY DAY? CONTACT CABIN C328 Suddenly all the things which had been impossible were now possible. Another stateroom was available, two bona fide engineers plus "plumbers" miraculously appeared to fix the toilet. While working on the signs I was disturbed numerous times with engineers and/or "plumbers" who were in and out of the stateroom. The offer of another stateroom was turned down since I foolishly assumed that with engineers on the job our problems would soon be over so why go to the trouble of packing up and moving. That turned out to be a huge mistake, incompetence reigned supreme. The efforts of four or five of the best available workers, like other efforts, lasted only a few hours.
Within two hours of mentioning the stained chair seats, newly reupholstered seats were being installed in the Lido cafeteria chairs.
An insulting offer of $250 each on board credit was made and rejected. Another offer was made to return our fare if we left the ship at Sitka and found and paid our own way home. Since we had no wish to be abandoned in a foreign country with no idea of the cost of transportation and accommodation this offer was also turned down.
These miracles occurred before the signs were even finished.
.After leaving Sitka I walked around with the signs for about half an hour before being accosted by the Hotel Manager and another officer.
The upshot of this was that we were offered the return of the full fare on condition that we left the ship at Juneau and paid our own way home. This was countered with us asking for a full refund of fare plus out of pocket expenses for travel to and from the ship. This would only be accepted by Holland America Line if we left the ship at Juneau and paid our own way home. If I did not accept that offer I would have to sign a letter stating that I would stop my disruptive actions blah, blah, blah and if I did not sign that we would be thrown off the ship in Juneau.
I had not caused any trouble. Not one person was inconvenienced in any way. Nobody even had to step aside since I got out of everyone's way and some people enjoyed taking photographs, so I refused to sign anything. I was then told that I must leave the ship. I had no intention of leaving the ship but when my wife heard about this she was terrified and started packing.
At this stage, having previously refused to speak with the Captain, the Hotel Manager and "Corporate" in Seattle in a conference call, I was asked to meet with the Captain and the Guest Relations Manager and refused. After some consideration I thought it may be advisable to accede to the request so I told the Guest Relations Manager that I would meet with her and the Captain.
As I expected the meeting was a complete waste of time and, when I got fed up being interrupted by the Captain, I said there was no point in continuing, the meeting was over. The threats were repeated and I told him that, although my wife was terrified and would leave voluntarily, I would have to be forcibly removed from the ship. There was an inference that I was a complete fool and I should think of our state of health and what would happen if I should have a heart attack.
Since there was no effort to negotiate anything it became obvious that the meeting was merely a useless effort to bully, terrorize and intimidate me.
I was really worried that my wife would have an episode of irregular heartbeats and, to calm her down I promised that I would not use the signs again. My intention was really to use the signs again on the last leg to Vancouver when the threats would be pointless.
While speaking to a woman in the Lido cafeteria she told me there were numerous toilet problems on the Verandah Deck. She also told me about the cruise review websites where I could reach the world instead of just 1200 passengers with the signs so I was able to keep the promise to my wife.
There were also problems on the Lido Deck. The men's toilet at the pool on the Lido deck was out of order every time I tried to use it and the shower to rinse off before entering the pools was also out of order. See pictures. Why were the pools open when there was a notice posted that one of the rules for using the pools was to shower before entering? The women's toilet was usually out of order when my wife tried to use it. With both male and female toilets inoperative this made me wonder how many people would urinate in the pools rather than go searching for a toilet which worked and what the increase in the e coli bacteria count would be with no showering before entering the pools. Rather than take a huge gamble on the competence of the staff to keep the pools safe I decided to forego the pleasures of the pool and hot tubs.
The toilet problems were widespread. At various times my wife had problems with those outside the Vermeer Lounge and outside the Piano Bar.
The escalators between decks 5 and 6 were never working properly. Occasionally I could use the down escalator but never once was I able to use the up side which is of course the most needed..
I think that all these problems are due to lack of scheduled maintenance. This is a dangerous policy which can cause a domino effect resulting in dangerous breakdowns and/or in a flood of breakdowns which can swamp even competent staff. I think this is the reason for six hour waits.
The signs are obvious. A proper maintenance schedule requires attention to detail. This is obviously sadly lacking. A good example is the elevator indicator lights. Many of the external up/down indicator arrow lights were dead. Similarly many of the call button indicator lights were dead and you had to look around at the other doors to see if your call had registered and of course the filthy seats in the Lido cafeteria. See pictures
Worst of all was disastrous advice given by unqualified staff which twice resulted in the filth on our bathroom floor.
With so many visible problems we worried about what we could not see.
There is a serious lack in both quantity and quality of maintenance staff.
The quantity is obviously lacking when it can take over six hours to have someone just look at a problem. The incompetence is obvious when, until the twelfth day, no repair lasted more than a few hours. Also a review by J Higgins mentions a "punch list" of 300 items to be fixed throughout the ship on his voyage. I would love to know what the "punch list" was on our trip. The evidence that our toilet had recently been giving trouble was still there when we boarded and that cabin should not have been in use until the toilet was properly repaired. When you read through other reviews it appears that our problems were much less than others. Just looking back to October 2004 there are numerous reviews with complaints regarding sewage problems. These range from "like living for a week in a sewer in a major city" to "for periods up to five hours, no toilets at all, in cabins or public areas, were working. I cannot understand why HAL allows this ship to sail at all with the health hazard it presents. Is it any wonder that there have been two outbreaks of Norwalk virus on this vessel.
In a letter I received from HAL corporate in Seattle they had the gall to claim, and I quote, "Holland America is a leader in the implementation of state-of-the-art sanitation programs. We have stringent procedures and standards in place to ensure the health and safety of our passengers and crew." What a crock of "sanitation material" that is and an outright insult to any one with an IQ over 1.
It's a pity that they don't have any competent staff to carry out the implementation of their state-of-the-art programs."
I will welcome any email to firstname.lastname@example.org regarding problems with the Ryndam, particularly those concerning sewage problems.
It never ceases to amaze me how passenger reactions vary. Another review (same month) of Ryndam was for all practical purposes negative, and to that I strenuously object.
We are experienced cruisers, and this 14 day (RT Vancouver BC/Seward) voyage was delightful in virtually all respects.
Especially noteworthy is the major improvement made in Rotterdam Dining Room fare, associated with the Signature program and other ship upgrades. The meals are simply outstanding, rivaling those on so-called luxury lines. The menus are highly creative, and execution is nearly flawless. Service is outstanding, top to bottom. How anyone could complain about Ryndam dining room fare is beyond my comprehension.
We had second/second shift dinner seating, which we highly recommend since it's extremely leisurely and staff is under no pressure to clear for the next shift.
While we mostly dined in the Dining Room, we sampled the Lido buffet enough to be able to rate it above average. Interestingly, we were about the only guests to use the (very) small lido deck for meals in nice weather (we had lots of nice weather).
We were pleasantly surprised by the changes incorporated in the Explorations Cafe (library/internet center). Wehad anticipated an emphasis on the tech side, but the print library was extensive with excellent range of selections available. The space is very inviting and nicely distributes people.
Our accomodation was a roomy basic Outside cabin, and it was freshly decorated and impeccably maintained. Our Stewards were unobtrusive and efficient.
The only negative on the trip concerned the cabin toilet. Ryndam seems to have a continuing problem in some cabins with the vacuum toilets. After several days of problems, the courteous Guest Relations Manager assisted in getting to the bottom of the problem, so to speak. The problem was corrected, we were given a credit, and moved to another cabin for the second half of the trip. We experienced no further difficulty.
While we prefer smaller ships (smaller than Ryndam, which means there aren't many!), Ryndam is a comfortable ship with lots of private places. The Prom Deck is great, kudos to HAL for preserving this maritime tradition.
On a 0 to 10 scale, we'd give Ryndam a 9.5
I went on the Ryndam on May 5, 2005, from San Diego to Vancouver. This was my 23rd cruise and 4th with Holland America.
The Ryndam is a very nice ship and is in great shape for its age. The carpets are new everywhere including the cabins. I really like the Ryndam size. It's small, but doesn't feel that small. You have lots of places to stand and look out from the front to the back. It's perfect for Alaska for viewing the Scenery. I loved how you could go on the bow of the ship. It's really fun to go out on the bow when the ship is at sea. I always find Holland America crew to be the nicest. The crew always has a smile and always seems eager to help you.
Cabins We were up graded from an inside cabin to outside cabin. The cabins are very big compared to Princess cabins. You have a bath tub in your bathroom though, I would find it hard for older passengers to get in and out of it. The cabins were kept up very nice. One of the improvements thatHolland America put in the cabins were new beds. They are very confutable. I think it was the sleep therapy beds. Also, you now have new plasma TV's and DVD's in your cabin. You can check out movies from the library for a $3 charge. Or bring your own that's what I did. It was very nice having a dvd in the cabin.
There was a safe in each room but I was not happy how it operated. Usually on a cruise I like to lock my wallet, credit cards, and all valuables in the safe. But to open and close this safe, you had to use a credit card. There was no charge to use the safe, but it read the code on your credit card to work. So it meant you had to carry a credit card around or leave it in your cabin. Food Food in the Lido restaurant: breakfast was regular cafeteria style. They had an Eggs to order service, omelet station, precooked waffles, french toast, and pancakes. The food basically was the same every day. Lunch in my opinion was just fair. They had a nice salad bar and you could get fresh stir fry or pasta. But the buffet line items were tasteless and they did not have much of anything. Not much variety. You did have a choice of turkey or ham sandwich that never changed. Holland America has really gone down hill for food. You use to be to have a ton of choices to make your own sandwich. You can get ice cream but they don't have the good waffle cones anymore and the scoops you get are small. The deserts use to be very big and the last time I was on the Ryndam they had different cakes that you could get. Its not like that anymore. The food was ok, they need more sections.
One thing that I always ate at was the taco bar. You could make your own taco with what ever you wanted on it. You could get a hamburgers and hot dogs but was not that good. The hamburgers were already made and they just heated it up for a min. The taco bar is a must.
In the dinning room I thought the service was great. The food is still pretty good, but they have made the portions a lot smaller since I was on it two years ago. Again, they need more things on the menu.
You could eat dinner in the buffet, but it was only open to 7:30 pm and they had the same things what you would get in the main dinning room. They really need to kept this open to at least to 10pm and again need more items.
Room Service was ok. It use to be a lot better. Though, it was still pretty good for a late night snack.
At 11pm was the late night buffet. Again, they need more to choose from.
The food was ok, its was a lot better two years ago. I think Princess food is better and has a lot more sections.
Before Holland America changed, you were able to get free Espresso, Caffe Latte and Cappuccino with big cookies. Now at the Java Cafe you have to pay for it. It doesn't cost much but its the principle behind it.
The passengers age is older. Mostly from 40-80. I did see a dozen passengers my age. I rather be on a ship with older people rather than young passengers like on Carnival and Royal Caribbean that just want to party and get drunk.
I really liked how you could play basketball and tennis, shuffle board and a few other things. The only bad thing was they always took in the basket balls and tennis balls after 6pm. So if you did not got to the entertainment show, you did not have much to do after 6pm. Everything closes so early including food. The activities were very limited compared to other ships we have been on. The ship was completely dead at night.
With this new change for Holland America, the only big improvement that I see is the TVs and dvds. The food I thought got worse along with the portions. You now have to pay for your Espresso, Caffe Latte. And you don't have people bringing you free drinks on the life boat deck that you use to see. Their is a lot of things that use to be free now you have to pay for. Holland America sure has change since last I sailed with them two years ago. We did have good service beside our cabin attendant not making are room until after 1pm, but now you have to tip $10 a day. Holland America is charging more for their cruises because for the new so called look, The good thing is the beds and TVs, the rest you now have to pay for. I enjoyed myself on this cruise, though I don't think I will take Holland America on a 7 day cruise. I rather go on Princess or celebrity. I really don't think Holland America is a premium line anymore. I really see a big change since the last time I was on Holland America like nicking and dimming. If only I could take Holland America ships with Princess food and Royal Caribbean entertainment. I was not impressed with the signature upgrades. I don't think its wroth paying so much more.
Mexican Riviera / Sea of Cortez-Copper Canyon
Embarkation from San Diego, fast and easy.Size of the ship a positive,but as with most cruise ships rest rooms at a minimum.The first thing we did was contact the head waiter - we had been assigned second sitting with early sitting a standby.The ship was completely booked and no chance of an early sitting. The floor show for second sitting was after the dinner at 10:15PM. As we are not late goers, we skipped eating ccompletely in the Dining Room and ate all meals on the Lido.We could see no reason to pay an additional $20.00 per night per person to eat in the Pinnacle Room.
Food in the Lido restaurant:breakfast, regular cafeteria style. They had an Eggs to order service, omelet station, precooked waffles,french toast,and pancakes. The food basically was the same every day.Lunch - same set-up as breakfast. Not much variety. Dinner - a selection of 4 to 5 different entrees each evening, which they served to you at your table.The appetizers, salads, deserts etc were the same every evening.Food was acceptable but not on a par with other cruises we have taken.
Our outsideroom was roomy and clean, and excellent service by our attendent.Although basically a very senior citizen cruise the canned music played would appeal to a much younger group. They had during their refit pushed the gymnasium out forward and from the observatory instead of seeing the bow of the ship you looked at an ugly green roof.Although the Veermer Theatre was small and unconfortable the entertainment was some of the best we seen on cruises.
Ports of Call:Puerto Vallarta - always fun. Mazatlan, our first visit to the city and found it interesting and a step above most of the Mexican cities.Copper Canyon excursion - very BIG mistake.We were told to be ready to go ashore at 4:00 AM.We arose at 2:30
AM, bkfst at 3AM, didn't depart until about 5AM.Two hour bus ride to the train - very comfortable bus and police escort.Six hour train trip on very old train but that was to be expected. Scenery spectacular along the way.Arrived at destination, 45 minutes for lunch, very poor and confusing,a 15 minute ride by school bus to another hotel with an overlook for a very small portion of the Canyon, a steep walk to another view, a total of 45 minutes to see the Canyon, and then the reverse of our trip. It is advertised as greater than our Grand Canyon but from what we could see, there is NO com parison.The train was about an hour late in their return and we got back to the ship about 1AM. A waste of #349.00 each. They served box lunches - no comment.
Loreto - charming little city, one main street, about 3 blocks long, but nothing much to do.La Paz - beauthful city.Cabo - the best of the bunch.Sea very rough on return from Cabo to San Diego. Easy disembarkation once it was your turn.Would rate the trip just fair.
My husband and I have just returned from a lovely 14 day Back-to-back cruise from Vancouver to Seward and back on the HAL Ryndam. The weather was actually hot enough to sunburn in Sitka, Haines and Skagway. Boy were the fish were biting! We have a 60 lb. Halibut, a King Salmon, some Silver and Pink Salmon being Fed Ex'd to us! Our freezer will be filled to the brim! The Ryndam is a lovely Ship! HAL has yet to disappoint us with the decor or cleanliness of any "Dam" ship we have sailed. The Ryndam was in good condition, but is in need of the 3 week dry dock to remedy the small stuff a ship needs repaired or replaced every 5 or so years. The Ryndam will be dry docked at the end of Sept. 04 for 3 weeks, at which time I would hope they repair minor things like the crack in the sink and the light fixture missing a light direction cover. The towels on the Navigation deck the second week were replaced with upgraded all white cotton towels, a nice large size, which fit aroundmy ample size nicely:) The mattresses were still the older ones, I'd think that would be rectified after dry dock hopefully.
The crew again was the icing on the cake. I was so relieved to find that the crew is as friendly and accommodating as ever, maybe even more so than we've experienced before! We were pleased to see that the crew seems to have adjusted well to the changes now, and I didn't hear any real complaints about it and we did talk to staff members quite a bit, they are so friendly in general. One thing that came up is that the staff is "stuck" for the 3 weeks when the Ryndam goes into drydock. The good news is they are in drydock in Victoria, B.C. which is fairly affordable and is as beautiful and hospitable a place one could hope to find. The bad news is it's unpaid which is difficult and presents a hardship for many staff.
Our experience at the Pinnacle was generally good during our 3 visits. We had one "pretty good" meal in the Pinnacle, one "really good" meal, and then one "spectacular" meal! We had dinner there the night they allowed the Chef to do a vintners menu and deviate from the regular menu, it was absolutely fabulous food! The Chef of the Pinnacle is obviously very talented and really shined when allowed to offer an alternative menu.
The food was pretty good in the main dining room. We had mixed feelings about the new dinner times. We loved our first week at a table for 2 at 5:45, our waiters Jaye and Lucky were fantastic. The second week there was no availability in the early sittings so we requested 8:00, and had a table of 8. While we enjoyed the company, it was often 10:15 before we left the dining room and we had Much slower service at the bigger table. Neither the waiter or his assistant asked my name, nor did they introduce themselves, but they did keep my ice tea full and were very accommodating. The dining times on the Ryndam were 5:45, 6:15, 8:00 and 8:30 for the Alaska itinerary.
Our room stewards both weeks were just wonderful, Suaji and Agus. Both were wonderfully efficient and very friendly, we were very lucky to have gotten 2 stewards of that fine calibur:)
Room service has been changed a bit for the good! A new breakfast menu has been developed that has delivery options for 15 minute increments, and ours was delivered promptly by a very lovely member of the wait staff whose name I regretfully did not get as I am usually not at my finest before coffee. Each morning our breakfast was delivered really piping hot, as each plate had a bottom metal platter to keep the plate warm!
Overall we had a phenomenal trip to Alaska and highly recommend the trip, especially back to back. In Seward, HAL this year provided a free shuttle into Seward and free tickets to the Sealife Center that day. It was a wonderful and unexpected touch, making for a great day in Seward!
I totally recommend the Ryndam to others, the Capt. Jan Smit and the Hotel Manager Theo Haanen are to be congratulated for having a tip top staff!
This is our third seven-day cruise to Alaska, in the past ten years, always out of Vancouver and always on Holland America, but a different ship each time (other ships were the ms Noordam and the ms Statendam).
THE BUS RIDE TO THE SHIP AND CHECK-IN - We flew into Vancouver several days early to spend a couple of days, on Vancouver Island, to visiting Victoria and especially Butchart Gardens, before the cruise. On the day of the cruise, we return to the mainland by ferry, drove to the Vancouver International Airport, returned the rental car, and with the help of the airport information personnel located the area where we met the friendly HAL representative. The bus ride to the ship was uncomfortable (hot and stuffy), as the air conditioner was not working; plus the driver failed to get any description of the numerous city sites that we passed. On the other two HAL Vancouver bus rides, the drivers were most informative. Once at the HAL check-in location, long lines of passengers greeted us; then I spotted a very short line for suite passengers. However, this line was bogged down as thesingle HAL representative was trying to help a non-suite passenger who had birth certificate problems. The other lines moved much quickly and it was a mistake to select this line.
OUR CABIN - Once aboard we went directly to our outside stateroom - a deluxe verandah suite (category S) as we were offered by HAL to upgraded from verandah suite (A) if we would pay only half of the price difference. It was a good choice. The most oblivious difference was the stateroom size was doubled including the verandah. We had learned the advantage of having a verandah several years ago; HAL had upgraded and introduced us to a verandah suite (A or B) from a regular large stateroom (category C or D). Since we are early risers, we love to watch the ship pull into a harbor and watch all of the docking activities. Several of new advantages of having the suite was we were offered the free services of the Neptune Lounge which is located on the same deck as our stateroom (the Navigation Deck) and the Lounge is not a bar but instead provides a close location for early morning breakfast including hot coffee and tea and fruit juices, various snacks all day including High Tea, the services of the Front Desk and Shore Tour offices, etc. In addition, there was a special dining room for breakfast and lunch called the Queen's Room on the Upper Promenade Deck and a special cocktail meeting with the ship's captain, etc. Many years ago, we had learned to avoid staterooms on and below the Promenade Decks as the joggers could be heard overhead and the other passengers standing at the rail unintentionally blocked the views out our stateroom window.
DINING - Overall the food was good and tasteful and the menu was varied. For breakfast, we ate several times in our room using the verandah, or in the Queen's Room if it was a day at sea. If we had an early morning shore tour, then we ate in the Lido restaurant. We never made it to the Rotterdam Room (the main dining room) for breakfast or lunch. The dinner service in the Rotterdam was good but the service in the Pinnacle Room was outstanding. This latter room is a new smaller dining room but the food and service again was outstanding; there is an extra small service charge.
TIPPING - HAL has always stated a no tipping policy but we always felt that we should tip dependent upon the service. As usual the service was good and we tipped the stateroom attendant, the Neptune Lounge hostess, the dining room waiters, and the cocktail servers. In fact, I had to argue with the stateroom attendance to take the tip. HAL has recently changed their no tipping policy to add a ten-dollar charge per person per day to the stateroom statement and the ship then distributes this charge to all of their ship employees.
SHORE TOURS - The shore tours were all interesting and good and different as this is our third cruise to the same Alaskan cities. This time we booked all of our shore tours months ahead of the sailing over the Internet and avoided the last minute rush to the shipboard Shore Tour office and its long lines, etc. The first day that we were aboard, we received all of our tour tickets. The ports that we visited were Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and Haines (Skagway) with a sailing into Hubbart Glacier Bay to see the iceberg calving. In addition, we saw eagles, whales, sea otters, sea lions, etc., on this cruise. In addition, we had wonderful weather - no rain and comfortable daytime temperatures (50-to-60 degrees) and the time of the year was mid-May.
SECURITY - HAL issues you a ship identification card which you must use whenever leaving the ship and upon returning to the ship, you must present this card along with your driver's license, passport, or some other form of government-issued ID. This latter procedure slows down getting back aboard the ship at each port. At several ports, we saw US Coast Guard ships sailing around our ship whenever we were entering of leaving a port.
BUS RIDE TO THE AIRPORT AND THE AIRLINES - Our final port was Seward and the HAL-proved bus took us to the Anchorage airport. This driver was very informative. The airline was Alaska Airlines originally from Los Angeles to Vancouver (non-stop) and the return was two flights from Anchorage to Seattle and Seattle to Los Angeles.