Length: 781 ft
Slightly larger than S-class, with Explorations Cafe and lovely floral-themed decor.Best For People Who Want
A reasonably priced classical style cruise aboard a mid-size ship; large cabins and staterooms with private verandas; non-smoking dining areas; alternative dining venues; Internet Center.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A festive atmosphere; Broadway-style razzle-dazzle; late-night disco; single, open seating dining; dedicated facilities for kids.Onboard Experience
That the mid-sized Volendam and her younger sister Zaandam offer more personalized service than the megaliners is evident from the moment you board, as a staff member warmly greets you with a gloved hand, and then cheerfully escorts you to your cabin. In a host of ways, the ships' classical style is reminiscent of the great liners of yesteryear. 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 ships may well be the boats to float.
Volendam 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.Decor
Volendam's theme is floral; each aft staircase landing features a floral still-life, while a collection of elaborate delft tulip vases is displayed outside the library. The Casino Bar showcases music memorabilia, and the atrium's focal point is a towering pipe organ, complete with dancing mechanical musicians. In the cocktail lounges, you'll find warm colors and subdued lighting, antiques, and credible reproductions of same. Handsome fabrics and marble abound throughout.Public Rooms
Volendam may lack the breathtaking atrium typical of other ships built in the 1990s, but it also lacks some of those ships' confusing layout. 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 with piano bar, the 89-seat Explorer's Lounge, decorated with gentle colors and enormous red lamps. A harpist performs light classical favorites here in the evening.
The glamorous two-story main dining rooms, framed with floor-to-ceiling windows, feature dramatic staircases 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. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port. 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.
Keep an eye open for the remarkable red-lacquer piano aboard this ship.Cuisine
The unusually extensive main dining room menu features six appetizers, two soups, two salads, and six entrees for dinner, including vegetarian and low-fat options.
The alternative Pinnacle Grill specializes in dishes featuring ingredients from the Northwest, where HAL is based. Free hot hors d'oeuvres are served every evening in the cocktail lounges. A delightful Royal Dutch High Tea, featuring sandwiches, petit fours, cookies, cakes, and the accompaniment of a string quartet is offered one afternoon each cruise.Restaurants
There are tables for two, four, six and eight in the opulent two-level Rotterdam 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 at the Marco Polo on Promenade Deck 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.Service
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.Tipping
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.Entertainment
The main lounge presents variety shows, a lavish Broadway-style revue and an energizingly fervent dance production, not to mention the excruciatingly named "specta-crew-lar" in which crew members perform folkloric songs and dances. 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. Live sports broadcasts may be enjoyed in the Casino Bar.Cabins
Standard cabins are among the biggest at sea, and with a much more modern look than one usually associates with HAL, with lots of salmon-reds, burgundies, golds, and bronzes. Standard inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, while outside staterooms are 197 sq. feet, with enough storage space for even the long-haul traveler. Balcony cabins are sublime, with more unusually spacious interior cabins. The ultramodern 563-square foot suites have large private verandahs. The 120 deluxe category A and B cabins are 284 square feet (including verandah), each with VCR, mini bar, sitting area, and whirlpool tub in the bathroom. The Penthouse suites with private verandahs are a huge 1,100 square feet with appropriately wonderful amenities, including complimentary personalized stationery, afternoon hors d'oeuvres, free dry cleaning, and disembarkation at leisure.
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 showerheads in every bathroom. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in their own private retreat, the Neptune Lounge.Fitness/Spa
The magnificent huge gyms on these ships are among the best at sea, with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding dozens of state-of-the-art machines. The adjacent aerobics areas are comparably vast. The Steiner-run Ocean Spa has six treatment rooms with private shower and toilets. Two of the six rooms accommodate such wet treatments as hydrotherapy baths, seaweed wraps, and mud. The marvelous ocean-view gym has 11 treadmills, eight bikes, and an assortment of stairsteppers, rowing machines, Cybex weight training machines and free weights; aerobics area; dual sauna/steam rooms and a jogging track one deck above On the deck, comfy striped cushions line a large pool on Lido Deck covered by a retractable dome that makes the pool usable even in inclement weather.Children's Facilities
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. The restaurant offers a children's menu. Baby-sitting is available at sea for $7.50 per child per hour.Attire
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.
I traveled with 8 family members last week to Alaska, including 2 grandchildren under age 5. We had an absolutely unforgettable week!
The crew was exceptional.
The "Name That Tune" competition at the piano bar was great fun (we won free drinks 3 nights in a row for the best "team name.")
The ports and excursions were wonderful; be sure to ride the Kawasaki Mules in Skagway.
My only disappointment was the food. There was quantity, but not quality. Even the cookies weren't as good as the Pillsbury slice off variety from your dairy case! We loved the ice cream every day.
Our king size bed was so wonderful I'm going to order one for my home (they tell you how to purchase their special "mariner's bed.")
There was something for everbody on this cruise; a quiet spot to read or a swimming pool for kid's fun.
I would also add the crowd was a bit "dowdy." The information on dress code provided by Holland America gave a description of "Smart Casual" and to some folks, that obviously meant a baseball T-shirt and jeans.
Great ship with the best crew on board, however it seems that it's already in need of a facelift. The food needs improvement and also the entertainment.
But the great Indonesian crew makes up for everything else that is not up to par.
The Panama Canal is just that -- a way to move from the Atlantic to the Pacific thru the use of locks.
Very intersting on how it is done.
The city of Colon was not that impressive of a port to visit.
The ten days on the ship was just right with mostly elderly passengers on board.
The service on this ship was excellent. We did eat in the grill one night, and service was terrible, we told the hotel manager and he arranged for us to have dinner there again. Needless to say the service was much better. We had a few outstanding dishes in the formal dinning room, but mostly average. For some strange reason, we got flowers on our breakfast tray in room, and when they removed the tray they removed the flowers, this happened three times.
Wonder why? We did see whales in Dominica, gal on boat says it happens about 7 out of 10 times, so we were lucky. I had a bad cold and just did not feel like going to Halfmoon Cay and snorkeling trip, our money was refunded. We would go on this ship again.