Age: 36 to 45
Number of Cruises: 6 to 10
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: January 8, 2000
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The Cabin: We booked a mini-suite and were pleased with cabin B171 on the Verandah Deck. It matched exactly (literally) the brochure and web-site photos of this category. The cabin was, of course, spotless. A problem with one of the lights was reported to the steward and was repaired that evening while we were out.
The Ship herself: The Ryndam is beautiful. Furnishings, trim, brightwork, and ship’s facilities were in excellent condition and showed signs of steady maintenance. Although now several years old, the Ryndam gave one the impression of a new ship. We also liked the layout of the ship and her scale. She was easy to move about and relatively quiet; ambient noise in the corridors and common areas was noticeably lower in volume than other ships we’ve sailed.
The artwork, too, was first rate and displayed in sometimes unusual (but pleasing) settings.
The Food: We found the food excellent and varied. Dining room service was absolutely flawless at every meal. Food served buffet style on the Lido was high quality and also varied; we particularly enjoyed the Indonesian/Philippine late night offering.
On the downside, one evening Ryndam offered a cook-out dinner poolside and we were a bit disappointed. Food was good but the ship had to keep experimenting with the retractable dome to remove smoke from the barbecues. Perhaps this idea would have been more pleasing if the weather had cooperated; the wind played havoc with the smoke. A note to any coffee drinkers: Holland America offers fresh coffee ‘round the clock in the Lido restaurant. It’s free and it’s good. Pastries and sandwiches are offered alongside the coffee urn.
The Personnel: It has been our experience that all cruise ships’ personnel are generally friendly but, without a doubt, Ryndam’s staff are it’s claim to fame. Cabin steward, waiter, maitre’d, wine steward(ess), shop attendants… literally every single employee we met was wonderful. Their command of the English language was excellent in every circumstance; they even use slang.
I was a bit surprised to find all British officers… there was only one Dutch officer aboard this Netherlands flagged ship… but they were a friendly lot too.
Entertainment: My wife and I disagree on the entertainment; she found it superb, I found it a mixed bag. Shows were good but never played to a full house. The one man acts were also good and about on par with shore side clubs. The Piano Bar was excellent and the String Quartet playing in the Explorer Lounge every night were absolutely superb. They loved requests and it became a sport to try to find a song they didn’t know.
Ports: Having been to the Caribbean several times, we know that virtually all ports are overcrowded, but Cozumel was absolutely terrible. So bad, in fact, that I wrote a letter to Holland America complaining about the port… the only letter of complaint I have ever written. We were one of seven ships at Cozumel that day and the crowds were so bad people were forced to venture into the street simply because there was no room on the sidewalks. Unbelievable.
Overall: My wife and I are in our early forties and were pleasantly surprised at how “young and cheerful” the Ryndam turned out to be. Very few kids aboard, of course, but the passengers were an eclectic and happy group. Nothing stuffy or snooty.
We enjoyed the cruise so much, we promptly booked an Alaska cruise with Holland America upon our return. I highly recommend the Ryndam.