Ian and Elaine Hill
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: n/a
Our Alaska cruise from Vancouver to Alaska onboard Holland America's VOLENDAM was wonderful. We flew out of Calgary Alberta the morning of Wednesday, August 3, and arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 a.m. Took a $28.00 taxi ride from the airport to Canada Place, breezed through the check in line at the terminal and was on board by 11:40 a.m. After a quick walk around on the ship, we ended up in the Lido restaurant on level 8 for lunch. The announcement came at 1:20 saying our rooms were ready. We proceeded to our inside room cabin 2612. As we were checking our room out, our luggage arrived so we unpacked and were ready for the 7-day cruise by 2:15.
This was our first inside cabin and we were pleasantly surprised by the size and the spacious feeling of the room. It was midship, just around the corner from the stairs/elevator. Our concerns about being next to the laundry room was unfounded. No sounds at all. There was a staff staircase between our room and the laundry room. Occasionally we could hear faint footsteps running up/down the staircase, but only a few times during the entire cruise. We didn't see our cabin steward until day 2 or 3.He put an extra bottle of water in our room one day and left areceipt for $2.00. We did not order the water, and it took us 2 more days to track him down to have it removed from our bill. (which it was) The room was always looked after and we had towel animals on 2 of the nights. (I think the formal nights)
The Volendam is noticeably a much smaller ship than the Oosterdam we sailed previously. At 781 feet long it is almost 200 feet shorter and has 400 less guests and staff. The smaller size was most noticeable in the Frans Hals showroom and the Rotterdam Dining room. Nevertheless, there was plenty of room for everyone and we did not feel crowded at all. The Volendam does have an outdated look to it. The colours and soft hues around the showroom, main foyer, even the bathroom tile could use an updated look and we thought the main display of a neon lighted column in the main foyer was tacky as was the display of plaques and such on the hallway close to the Marco Polo Restaurant. The ship was very clean, no foul smells. One of the elevators got stuck one night, trapping a young fellow inside, but was looked after immediately after we called for assistance. We did not like the inroom safe. To lock and unlock the door, you needed to swipe a credit card. Of course, the use of the safe was free, and the cc was just to open and lock the safe, but by using a credit card, you always had a credit card on you. We found the public washrooms around the ship to be very spacious, plentiful and very well maintained. Deck 3 is your outside walking deck, where 3 1/2 laps equal 1 mile. No jogging allowed on this deck, just continuous non stop walking. All in all, we really liked the Volendam and would travel on it again with no hesitation.
We found the food in the Rotterdam Dining Room very good. We had every dinner meal in the Rotterdam Dining Room (the main dining room) with 2 great couples, Don and Marlon from Minneapolis and Bruce and Judy from Burlington, Ontario. We had the early 5:30 sitting in the upper dining room, at table 34, right at the aft. Wonderful table but had to draw the curtains a few nights, as the sun was very hot beating into the room. The servers were wonderful. Actually we had the best service of our 2 previous cruises on this one. There was open seating on the night in Juneau, but found it nicer to be dining with our regular dining mates. We had room service for our first breakfast (yes, we had a light breakfast in our room, before getting mobile and going upstairs for the main breakfast). On two mornings the breakfast came 15 minutes early. It actually woke us up one morning. We were not impressed. We had a few lunches in the Lido Restaurant on level 8. The selection was disappointing as was the hours of operation. There were many times when no food was available at all.The hamburgers, pizza and tacos from the grill area were all enjoyed very much.
Juneau: Not much to do right in the town of Juneau. It is a one street town. It was raining this day but not too cold. We went up in the Mount Roberts Tram, walked around the top of the mountain and came down, walked around town, then back to the ship. Don't Miss; The Red Dog Saloon. The joint was hopping when we went in.
Skagway: A much bigger town than Juneau. We did the White Pass Railway. It was a great trip with wonderful weather and scenery. Don't Miss; A stream just packed with salmon runs beside the sidewalk just beyond the downtown area. It was fun to watch the salmon going upstream.
Ketchican: The largest of the 3 towns. We spend a few hours shopping in the morning and in the afternoon, did the floatplane tour and with a beautiful day, totally enjoyed the 2 hours that this tour took. We even landed on a lake in the middle of the mountains and got off the plane and stood on the pontoon of the plane. AWESOME.
Ship Day on day 2. We cruised
Tracy Arm, seeing all of the broken off ice chunks from the icebergs. We saw the
wonderful colours of the ice (blue, green) on this chilly, rainy day.
Ship Day on day 4. We cruised Glacier Bay and got real close to Margerie Glacier.
Always had lots to do in the course of a day. Of course, if you want to curl up on a sofa and do nothing that is totally cool also. We attended all of the evening showroom shows. Found the big production shows a bit below average from past cruises. The juggler was good, the magician was just OK. Played Name That Tune every night in the Crowsnest. Even won the Country Music one. Elaine got down to waiting for one number in the big Bingo jackpot the last day. Just about won the $3700.00 US :)
Alaska is a great cruise for people looking for great scenery and a little out of the ordinary shore excursions. (Dog sledding??) The Volendam was a great ship for this trip and not having an outside room did not matter. The people you meet, the staff that serve you and your attitude on what you want to get out of the trip will make it or break it. In this case, it definitely made the trip.