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Robert Booth

Age: 39

Occupation:Project Manager

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Statendam

Sailing Date: December 20th, 2002

Itinerary: Hawaii

Embarkation – 9 (scale of 1-10, 10 being best)
My wife, 2 year old son, and I arrived by taxi at the cruise terminal in San Diego. There were porters at the curb to take our luggage. We then stood in line to enter the terminal and register. Within an hour we were in our cabin, as a Holland America representative noticed that we had a small child, and he gave us a boarding number that allowed is to get on the ship as soon as we registered.

The Cabin – 7.5
Our cabin was roomy, with two twin beds that converted to a queen, a sofa that converted to a bed, and a hard backed chair for use at the desk area. A medium sized window was behind the bed. The bathroom was adequate, with a tub and shower combination. The clothes cabinets were adequate or better, with lots of space that converted from shelves to a hanging closet. I am downgrading the cabin slightly because it was aft and the thrusters were very noisy when in use. There was also a bad odor coming from the drains at times, although this is common on ships. The curtain that hung between the bed and sofa area was for decoration only, and would not close to offer privacy or shield light while our toddler was sleeping and we were reading. Cabins located forward or aft were conveniently located near stairs and elevators.

Service – 6.5
Holland America seems rigid to me when it comes to accommodating something a little out of the ordinary. For example, my son never received his meal (from the children’s menu) until we were already having our entrées. His boredom presented us with the challenge of keeping him occupied and quiet for the hour and a half that it took for us to eat. In addition, the plate and food was often so hot that we could not place it in front of him; rather, we would wait another ten minutes for it to cool. We ended up ordering for him from the adult menu to make things easier for everyone.

Another example of Holland America’s inflexibility is the length of time it took to get the tenders started when going into Lahina, Maui. We waited over an hour, and were lucky to get away that soon.

Finally, at disembarkation, we were unnecessarily detained in the terminal when we were not permitted to get our luggage, as there were forklifts still unloading in the area. We had communicated to the Purser’s desk that our flight was early, but were still not given the priority that we needed because we did not make our air travel arrangements through Holland America. Instead of helping me get a porter to assist me with the luggage, a Holland America representative lectured me about why I should have booked my flight later in the day. My relentless complaining finally paid off when the terminal manager cleared the area briefly for me to retrieve our luggage. We barely made our flight.

Dining – 7.5
The Lido cafeteria was maybe the best I have ever seen on any ship, except Seaborne Pride (this is my 7th cruise). The food was very good, for the most part. The best foods were the breads, cheeses. salads, pizzas, and pastries. There was a wok station (good) and a sandwich bar (didn’t try it). The French fries were also very good. Fish items seemed to have a fishy taste, as would be expected when they are prepared ahead and left out as with a cafeteria style restaurant. The iced tea was fresh brewed and good, and the coffee came from a machine, but was fair to good. There was an ice cream bar and a dessert station, both of which were very good. The grill area by the pool offered hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos/fajitas. I was disappointed to see that the hamburgers were cooked ahead and were soaking in water until ordered, and then pressed on the hot, steel grill to warm up.
The Dining room was good. I thought that the room itself was beautiful, and the atmosphere excellent, but our waiter was not very good at all, and the food sometimes gave the impression that it was just a well prepared frozen dinner. All in all, the food was fine; however, it was not the five star dining experience that Holland America promotes it to be. Since we have sailed Holland America before (Noordam), our dining expectations were very low. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Statendam does a better job. The best items came from the grill section of the menu---steaks, veal chops, etc. None of the “pan fried” fish entrée’s that I ordered were fit to eat. And the flambe’s were not up to the standards of other ships on which I have sailed. I had one or two meals that were excellent, but the others were only good.

The room service menu looked adequate, but not tempting enough for me to want to try it. Unfortunately, if you are assigned to first seating dinner, and miss it, room service is the only alternative. The Lido closes too early, in my opinion.

Public Areas and the Ship in General – 9
The Statendam is a very pretty and well-kept ship. One of the best features was the central (indoor) pool area, adjacent to the Lido restaurant, which had windows all around, and a retractable glass ceiling. I was told that the pool was fresh water and heated, although the water was too cold for swimming.

There was a movie theater, coffee café, alternative dining restaurant (extra charge, but very good), internet café (extra charge), gym with adequate workout facilities (except maximum dumbbell weight was only 25 pounds), promenade deck (very nice), observation lounge, shopping area, show lounge, and casino. Throughout the ship, there were other drinking areas, and numerous nooks with seating. Despite the fact that we were at sea for 4 days straight both to and from Hawaii, I was never bored; although, it would have been nice to have access to a VCR and movie rentals, as the movie selections via closed circuit television were only fair. None of the fountains were in operation; although, there were Christmas decorations in some of them.

There were lots of children (all ages) on this particular cruise (Holiday 2002), and the ship was completely full. There were also a lot of senior citizens aboard, as expected.
We never got sick, even though there was a lot of motion. We were taking medication as a precaution, which I would recommend. There were many people who suffered unnecessary sea sickness because they did not plan ahead.

Disembarkation – 7
I already commented about our difficulty retrieving our luggage in San Diego. Aside from that, disembarkation was fine, I guess. The ship was not cleared by the Coast Guard right away, which may or may not have to do with increased security, so I cannot assign blame with Holland America. The shuttle from the cruise terminal to the airport was overpriced, as we paid much less to ride in a Mercedes sedan from the Marriott to the cruise terminal (longer drive) when we embarked.

This was one of the best overall vacation experiences I have ever had. I only wish that Holland America could offer vacations priced more commensurate with their quality. We were attracted to this cruise because of the itinerary and date, despite it being overpriced.

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