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Edward Comer

Age: 65

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Ryndam

Sailing Date: 2012-03-18

Itinerary: West Caribbean

Holland America's culinary focus has made a believer of me. I also like all of the little, but right touches a real brewed coffee in every venue, newspaper, fresh fruit in cabin without asking, plush bathrobes, real hairdryer, etc., etc. We also like the mid-sized ships. We WILL cruise with HAL again! Soon!

In addition to the two-tier Main Dining Room, there are two extra restaurants, the Pinnacle Grill (extra charge) and the Canaletto Italian (no charge). There are also the buffet and poolside grill. We utilized all of venues.

The Main Dining Room (MDR) consistently surprised us. We were used to receiving each meal a couple of good courses along with mediocre or poor courses. This was our first cruise in many, many years where we enjoyed every course of every meal. Our meats and fish was never over cooked and the meals were delicious and attractive. One real treat was our Indian meal in the MDR. The 2nd Executive Chef previously offered for a specially prepared Indian meal for just my wife and me. The 2nd Executive Chef came to our table at the Canaletto Restaurant to discuss what he would prepare for us the next evening. Boy did he deliver! We had delicious chicken tandoori, pork curry, raita, papadam, naan and more. We couldn't help ourselves and were soon stuffed. We ate five dinners in the MDR, one in Canaletto and one in the Pinnacle Grill. We thoroughly enjoyed both the MDR and Canaletto. We didn't think that the Pinnacle Grill was worth the extra charge, which has been the case, in our opinion, of all of the extra charge restaurants on all cruise lines. We always try one extra charge restaurant on each cruise but have not yet found one that was worth the extra charge when compared with the MDR. We were wait-listed for early assigned dining but ended with Anytime Dining. We used reservations for every meal with Anytime Dining but were only able to get our preferred time on one occasion. We feel that Anytime Dining doesn't work very well on any cruise line where they try to simultaneously accommodate both fixed seating and Anytime Dining, and HAL is no exception. They need to pick one or the other and stop trying to do both. Renaissance Cruise lines had only Anytime Dining and it worked well. It is trying to do both that creates problems. Nonetheless, by reserving tables in advance it worked sufficiently well on this cruise only resulting in our eating earlier or later than desired.

The buffet's food was, in our opinion better than that of recent Princess or Celebrity cruises. The buffet's orange juice is fresh squeezed in front of you. They have a machine with oranges in a hopper that squeezes the juice into a pitcher. The coffee is brewed in large machines from finely ground beans. A bit strong, but not quite as strong as Starbucks.

We originally booked an obstructed view guarantee but one-week before the sail date we were assigned a nice unobstructed view cabin on deck 4, A757. It was quite roomy, with a king size bed arrangement, side tables, sofa, table, desk and chair, bathtub, flat-screen LCD television and DVD-player. There was no refrigerator, which was our only disappointment. Instead of the wall mounted, anemic hair dryer, there was a 1,000 Watt hand-held hair dryer in the drawer. The only Euro-style plug that it could be used in was at the desk. The closet and drawer space far exceed our needs with about half of it going unused. We stored our bags under the bed.

With a passenger capacity of 1,266, the Ryndam is what we consider a perfect size. It has all of the amenities that we desire without so passengers as to overburden the amenities. The ship is well laid out with many, many nooks and crannies where you can enjoy privacy. It has a large swimming pool on the Lido deck that has a glass and steel cover sectioned dome that slides open and closed depending on the weather. We felt that this was a very nice feature. There are two hot tubs by this pool. There is another, smaller pool on the fantail. We took a spa tour and it has all of the normal amenities; sauna, etc., but we only used their gym for semi-daily workouts.

The Ryndam has a real movie theater that doubles as the Culinary Theater. We used this facility four times, twice for Culinary Theater events, once for a future cruise talk and once to watch a movie (with popcorn). I hate to see other lines eliminating movie theaters, which Celebrity is doing with their Solsticizing efforts, expecting passengers to watch DVDs in their cabins, and Princess has done, to a degree, by showing movies on an outdoor pool screen, exposed to the elements. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed two Culinary Theater events which was much like being in a Food Channel audience. There events were well done and I applaud Holland America for providing this venue.

One thing that continually amazed us was the ship's many antiques. Everywhere you look there are antiques from the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. Most of the antiques are behind glass but sturdy ones, like the 1700s one-ponder bronze cannon in front of the Customer Service Desk, is open for inquisitive hands.

We like the fact that HAL still publishes a daily mini-newspaper. Princess has eliminated their newspaper and Celebrity, as of two years ago, doesn't print enough copies nor do the reliably print every day (it may even be eliminated by now).

The library is the largest that I have ever seen on a cruise ship.

In Costa Maya, just walk off the pier and swim on the public beach right next to the pier. The chairs and umbrellas are free public provided.

We WILL cruise with HAL again! Soon!

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