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Darrell Griffin

Age: 47

Occupation:retired US Navy Officer

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Ryndam

Sailing Date: December 18th, 2004

Itinerary: Mexican Riveria

This cruise was our second cruise, the first being two years earlier to the Mexican Riveria and also on the Ryndam. Since our last cruise they added one additional port to the itinerary (Topolobampo) and made significant improvements to the ship as part of Holland America’s “Signature of Excellence” program. Since our 27th wedding anniversary fell during the cruise we also purchased their “Just for You” package of romantic amenities. (We did the Renewal of Vows on the first cruise…just wonderful!)

We were allowed to board the ship at 1100, although we were encouraged not to visit our cabins before 1:30 pm since the stewards were still making things up from the cruise that had arrived just a few hours earlier. The boarding process was quick and painless and pleasant. Those embarking are provided with the items they needed to board the ship as well as a schedule of what is available where to keep you occupied until your cabin is ready. We took advantage of that time to eat, tour the new Greenhouse Spa and make reservations for our shore excursions.

We had a Veranda cabin on the starboard side of the Veranda Deck. The new linens, bathrobes and the flat panel TV (with DVD player) were obvious improvements from our prior cruise. Everything was tidy and ready for us to move in. Our bags arrived shortly after and we unpacked and slid the bags underneath the bed (plenty of room). We had also ordered formalwear and it was hanging in the closets when we arrived. Everything we ordered was there and in the proper sizes and our formal evenings were quite comfortable.

Things that were great…

The Greenhouse Spa is a wonderful experience. My wife and I both had massages and facials and took advantage of the Relaxation Room and the Thermal Suite. I was so relaxed during the massage that I almost could not roll over on the table. While the dress in the spa is little more than a robe, everyone that works there is very proper and thoughtful so you always feel at ease. I enjoyed the massage so much I had a second before the end of the cruise and I highly recommend the Greenhouse Spa. It was the epitome of pampering.

The Rotterdam Dining Room is a magnificent two-deck dining room at the stern of the ship. The food is always above-average with plenty of variety. People eating there are expected to adhere to the dress code for the evening (Formal, Informal, Casual) but I saw many folks that never really dressed up. T-shirts and sandals will definitely not work in the Rotterdam on any night. For the less formal there is the Lido Restaurant which had a decent variety of foods, and I found the service there to be as attentive and friendly as in the Rotterdam.

The Pinnacle Grill is the specialty restaurant on board, and I highly recommend making reservations as soon as you can after you board the ship. We had a table for two against the port side windows so we could watch the sunset while we ate. The food was beyond description and the service was impeccable. The filet mignon was the best I have ever tasted.

Things that could have been different…

The Just for You package did not turn out quite as advertised. We were supposed to have a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne in our cabin when we arrived. The champagne was there but the roses never made it. We let the Front Desk know but the roses were MIA for the entire cruise. We were also supposed to have a guaranteed table for two in the Rotterdam Dining Room for dinner. We did not get that either, although we ended up not missing the table for two. The two couples we shared dinner with were wonderful company and getting to know them made our cruise a whole lot better. The rest of the Just for You package was as advertised, and I would not hesitate to order it again. Even though we did not order the Renewal of Vows this trip the cruise line remembered our anniversary with a card from the Captain.

Topolobampo; where is that? I was asked that question a lot before we left for the cruise and I am still not sure how to answer. This was the first time any cruise ship had visited Topolobampo. The ship left Mazatlan early to get to Topolobampo and support the long trip for those taking the Copper Canyon excursion. Unfortunately we did not sign up for that trip($350/person). They tried to have things to do for those of us that stayed on the ship. The bay tour was nice, and the town set up a small shopping bazaar on the pier as well as a dance floor with local entertainment. I think Topolobampo has a lot of potential, but for those of us that did not take the Copper Canyon tour it was a slow day that maybe did not justify leaving Mazatlan early or getting to Cabo San Lucas late.

I enjoyed the entertainment in the Vermeer Lounge, but was disappointed that the Ryndam cast only performed twice during our 8 day cruise. During our last cruise of 7 days they performed 3 times. Although we only saw them twice the cast was quite good and myself carrying away some of the tunes in my head.

I could write 10 more pages of details but can sum up our experience in a paragraph. We had a wonderful time, both on and off the ship. We hiked in the jungle where they filmed Predator, toured the city of Mazatlan and rode ATV’s in the desert north of Cabo San Lucas. We pampered ourselves and relaxed, never went hungry, and met some wonderful people. The service was friendly, attentive and courteous. The ship seemed to be in excellent material condition. The one plumbing problem we had in our stateroom was fixed shortly after we reported it. I also noticed that a light that was out in the passageway was replaced within hours after I first noticed it. We definitely look forward to our next cruise on Holland America.

Darrell Griffin
San Diego, CA


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