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The Volendam crew worked very hard to make our cruise a special one and the staff succeeded doing so. It is the lack of management (or lack of understanding passengers on higher level) that has puzzled us. The only truly hard-working managers were the main dining room supervisors and manager, daily helping out during lunch in Lido and at evenings at the Rotterdam Dining Room. We personally brought some issues to the Hotel Director via a handwritten note and we were invited for a chat the next day and also three other department heads called our cabin. Unfortunately a part of our complaint was translated incorrectly and some members of staff approached us, which became it little embarrassing during our holiday. First off all it showed that management only moved the problem on to the staff (and washes their hands?) and secondly we did not want to appear to staff that we were complaining about them (as we were happy with their services). To us it seems that the amount of staff is cut back and I feel guilty that during my vacation some staff were actually running for me, in order to serve our table with wine or meals. You can really see that cabin stewards and waiters are cut back in staff and I do not get a 'happy vacation feeling' about this! Some challenges: Lido is set up for meals with clean loose cutlery/napkin and glasses, so no one knows if the table is taken, and if not, if everything is clean on the table is clean or dirty. For a buffet restaurant it is not a smart thing to do. An other management example is that passengers leaving the ship early in Myanmar were all given a priority so that passports were checked with local customs first. When the batches were handed down into the lobby, over 50 passengers were fighting over a guest relation desk to grab their passport. Two reception clerks were trying to solve the lack of system how passports were kept, but passengers elbowed and shouted, a nursery school playground were kids were given treats for free, would probably better handled than this. I went over to the reception desk, where 4 agents were standing and no passengers in front of them. Many of us had early planes to catch and thankfully our ground handler already changed departure times one hour later for our transfer flights to Bagan. Now I understand why passengers complain about an old ship: if your cabin lights are all on, there is only a yellow 'glow' on and there is no bright reading or working lights: as the ship is outfitted with the most old fashioned energy saving bulbs. Our Vista suite had many stains (from tear & wear) or damaged furniture. Luckily our bathroom was fully refurnished. Cabin attendants were truly very very good, efficient and friendly. We used the Lido, room service and Rotterdam Dining Room: all service was great, quick (except some Lido peak times) and above friendly. Most of the staff was engaged in conversation where they could. The Explorations Cafe is a lovely room with beautiful books and nice games. Why do passengers 'reserve' all the lounge seats, can they not take a nap on their bed in the cabin? Many were fast asleep on them. The coffee machine makes all types of coffee, only the machine is extremely slow. The staff was so kind & apologetic about it. But when there were 4-5 persons in line waiting to place an order each at least 2 coffees/cappuccinos, you would need 15 minutes to wait. A 'manager' appeared once and he called it "Starbucks' service" and run away: I think this person has never been in any Starbucks before and did not want to be confronted with unhappy passengers. We did not engage in the activities a lot (as they are sales driven) only the real lectures were great on topics as "China & the cultural revolution"; "Buddhism"; and above all the Tai Chi classes in the morning were entertaining, also little funny/cheeky and just interesting. All were run by a Chinese professor who has been living the USA and was on board for the first half of the cruise. We have done all excursions by ourselves and in Penang, Phuket, Melakka and Langkawi we used local taxis. Average charge was anything from 35 to 50 US dollars for a 3 to 5 hours drive and guide/explanation. In Kuala Lumpur I arranged my own roll coll group for a city tour and price as US$ 40 per person. I could even add two more guests last-minute. Funny as I started this roll call myself as I was told that we could not be added to an existing group 4 months out and here last-minute the same tour operator accepted my change easily. May be it was not the agent who did not want to change the group?! In Myanmar we arranged our own overnight Bagan excursion and the visit there it was well worth it! We visited temples, the river (sailing during sun set) and the next day by 4X4 jeep we visited rural villages: it is amazing how happy the local people are. We had lunch at someones home which received electricity only month ago. I do not understand passengers complain that container ports are used as port for a cruise ship in Asia. Cruising through Asia is a different cruise experience than sailing into the Caribbean from Port Everglades. Singapore is the only port that really offers a cruise port terminal, the rest are all industrial ports and understandably passengers (or taxis) may not enter this part of the harbor as this could be very dangerous. Also some passengers were upset that the ship did not sell Burmese Kyats: this currency is not being traded, only by official money changers in order to stop/prevent the black market deals. Please give Myanmar a chance to tourism: they do such a fan-tas-tic job and have so much to offer. As our flights included transfers from/to the airport we did not have to use taxis but during our hotel stay we used from in Singapore: there are all every good and reasonable priced. Entertainment was excellent on when the Volendam singers & dancers were doing the shows, some with live music other with recorded music. "Rule Britannia" become our favorite show as there was live music. Disembarkation was well organized as we had self-embarkation at 06.30am, which is before the official departure time. We asked for assistance and that was arranged 3 days prior to disembarkation. A member of housekeeping staff was exceptional as he went all the down to our limousine, although the ship only normally allows into the terminal (union). A big thank you goes to the Captain and his immediate crew: sailing into unusual harbors with strong currents, rivers with odd tides or any special attention destinations: he did this with ease and clearly explained daily during his short talk. We were all informed very well about the next steps and why sometimes the docking took over 45 minutes (Langkawi) as they had manually to rig the boat to the quay. Would I use Holland America again? We got our 3 star during this cruise and I would be very careful to select the ship as older ships do no longer favor my interest and in addition if HAL does not provide the great service and remains understaffed, I probably go to an other cruise line which provides me better service. This does not mean that the next cruise fare is cheaper: I do not think so and in fact a little more money with more service go for me hand-in-hand. Of course this is my personal experience.

Cruise with mixed feeling: great staff and destinations, and so-so management

Volendam Cruise Review by MobyandDick

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2016
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
The Volendam crew worked very hard to make our cruise a special one and the staff succeeded doing so. It is the lack of management (or lack of understanding passengers on higher level) that has puzzled us. The only truly hard-working managers were the main dining room supervisors and manager, daily helping out during lunch in Lido and at evenings at the Rotterdam Dining Room.

We personally brought some issues to the Hotel Director via a handwritten note and we were invited for a chat the next day and also three other department heads called our cabin. Unfortunately a part of our complaint was translated incorrectly and some members of staff approached us, which became it little embarrassing during our holiday. First off all it showed that management only moved the problem on to the staff (and washes their hands?) and secondly we did not want to appear to staff that we were complaining about them (as we were happy with their services). To us it seems that the amount of staff is cut back and I feel guilty that during my vacation some staff were actually running for me, in order to serve our table with wine or meals. You can really see that cabin stewards and waiters are cut back in staff and I do not get a 'happy vacation feeling' about this!

Some challenges: Lido is set up for meals with clean loose cutlery/napkin and glasses, so no one knows if the table is taken, and if not, if everything is clean on the table is clean or dirty. For a buffet restaurant it is not a smart thing to do.

An other management example is that passengers leaving the ship early in Myanmar were all given a priority so that passports were checked with local customs first. When the batches were handed down into the lobby, over 50 passengers were fighting over a guest relation desk to grab their passport. Two reception clerks were trying to solve the lack of system how passports were kept, but passengers elbowed and shouted, a nursery school playground were kids were given treats for free, would probably better handled than this. I went over to the reception desk, where 4 agents were standing and no passengers in front of them. Many of us had early planes to catch and thankfully our ground handler already changed departure times one hour later for our transfer flights to Bagan.

Now I understand why passengers complain about an old ship: if your cabin lights are all on, there is only a yellow 'glow' on and there is no bright reading or working lights: as the ship is outfitted with the most old fashioned energy saving bulbs. Our Vista suite had many stains (from tear & wear) or damaged furniture. Luckily our bathroom was fully refurnished. Cabin attendants were truly very very good, efficient and friendly.

We used the Lido, room service and Rotterdam Dining Room: all service was great, quick (except some Lido peak times) and above friendly. Most of the staff was engaged in conversation where they could. The Explorations Cafe is a lovely room with beautiful books and nice games. Why do passengers 'reserve' all the lounge seats, can they not take a nap on their bed in the cabin? Many were fast asleep on them. The coffee machine makes all types of coffee, only the machine is extremely slow. The staff was so kind & apologetic about it. But when there were 4-5 persons in line waiting to place an order each at least 2 coffees/cappuccinos, you would need 15 minutes to wait. A 'manager' appeared once and he called it "Starbucks' service" and run away: I think this person has never been in any Starbucks before and did not want to be confronted with unhappy passengers.

We did not engage in the activities a lot (as they are sales driven) only the real lectures were great on topics as "China & the cultural revolution"; "Buddhism"; and above all the Tai Chi classes in the morning were entertaining, also little funny/cheeky and just interesting. All were run by a Chinese professor who has been living the USA and was on board for the first half of the cruise.

We have done all excursions by ourselves and in Penang, Phuket, Melakka and Langkawi we used local taxis. Average charge was anything from 35 to 50 US dollars for a 3 to 5 hours drive and guide/explanation. In Kuala Lumpur I arranged my own roll coll group for a city tour and price as US$ 40 per person. I could even add two more guests last-minute. Funny as I started this roll call myself as I was told that we could not be added to an existing group 4 months out and here last-minute the same tour operator accepted my change easily. May be it was not the agent who did not want to change the group?!

In Myanmar we arranged our own overnight Bagan excursion and the visit there it was well worth it! We visited temples, the river (sailing during sun set) and the next day by 4X4 jeep we visited rural villages: it is amazing how happy the local people are. We had lunch at someones home which received electricity only month ago.

I do not understand passengers complain that container ports are used as port for a cruise ship in Asia. Cruising through Asia is a different cruise experience than sailing into the Caribbean from Port Everglades. Singapore is the only port that really offers a cruise port terminal, the rest are all industrial ports and understandably passengers (or taxis) may not enter this part of the harbor as this could be very dangerous. Also some passengers were upset that the ship did not sell Burmese Kyats: this currency is not being traded, only by official money changers in order to stop/prevent the black market deals. Please give Myanmar a chance to tourism: they do such a fan-tas-tic job and have so much to offer.

As our flights included transfers from/to the airport we did not have to use taxis but during our hotel stay we used from in Singapore: there are all every good and reasonable priced.

Entertainment was excellent on when the Volendam singers & dancers were doing the shows, some with live music other with recorded music. "Rule Britannia" become our favorite show as there was live music.

Disembarkation was well organized as we had self-embarkation at 06.30am, which is before the official departure time. We asked for assistance and that was arranged 3 days prior to disembarkation. A member of housekeeping staff was exceptional as he went all the down to our limousine, although the ship only normally allows into the terminal (union).

A big thank you goes to the Captain and his immediate crew: sailing into unusual harbors with strong currents, rivers with odd tides or any special attention destinations: he did this with ease and clearly explained daily during his short talk. We were all informed very well about the next steps and why sometimes the docking took over 45 minutes (Langkawi) as they had manually to rig the boat to the quay.

Would I use Holland America again? We got our 3 star during this cruise and I would be very careful to select the ship as older ships do no longer favor my interest and in addition if HAL does not provide the great service and remains understaffed, I probably go to an other cruise line which provides me better service. This does not mean that the next cruise fare is cheaper: I do not think so and in fact a little more money with more service go for me hand-in-hand. Of course this is my personal experience.
MobyandDick’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin B 6228
Cabin is wheel chair equipped, making it a little wider.
Bathroom was renovated, room was not. Furniture and wall paper chipped or marks from being old (has nothing to do with cleaning standards).
Lighting was very bad (old energy saving bulbs that only glow yellow)
Emergency button is behind the pillow, when I read in bed, the switch went off every night and many times 2-3 times.
Balcony is slightly larger as it has a little extra at the aft corner.
Very quiet cabin.
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