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jsy lee

Age: 40

Occupation:mystery shopper

Number of Cruises: 20+

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Volendam

Sailing Date: 2010-07-15

Itinerary: HK-HK

overall cruise experinece: was value for money but it was not a luxury of travel: oct 2009 on a 15night cruise from HK to da nang,saigon,nga trang,xiamen,sanya,shanghai n HK again.
my mother is in a wheelchair with limited mobility . the ship and travel agencies were all informed of this during booking and we were assured that this ship is well catered for handicaps and elderly people.
the handicap facilities were good but the staff needed training on how to deal with embarkation and disembarkation for wheelchairs. no one offered t help me push my mom up or down the gangplanks at each port of call. and when i asked for help, they gave me a black face.very different from costa romantica ( costa line) which i will later write a review about.

Food: not the best. a lot of it but after the 4th day it got boring. 1 main dining room with 1 set service and 1 variable service.its best to go early if you want to get a table for 2 as they dont assign the same table every at the main dining room wasnt very good for the first few days but it improved .towards the end they offered escargots and lobsters etc so that was nice.the service was lovely though and they always offer to change your dish if you arnt satisfied.loved the duck l'orange and escargots.mmm....
Lido deck: thats where the buffets are.they have buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.lots of service stations and varities but its the same stuff throughout the cruise. after the 1st 5 days it gets a little boring.but lots of staff ready and willing to help you carry your plates and drinks to your table so you can continue getting more food.
breakfast was mostly egggs, sausages, smoked salmon .a small selection of congee .lots of juices
lunch : 2 kinds of pasta , some form of asian noodles and dishes that arnt very authentic or interesting.roasts are usually tough and dry.daily salads that dont vary much .not very appealing to me but it proved popular with most of the passengers.i usually waited till 3pm and filled up on pizzas.
drinks: they have a good selection of teas and coffees, chocolates etc .you can also order soft drinks or alcohol from the service/bar staff there.
pizza station: theres a pizza, sausage and hamburger station near the pool .LOVELY pizzas there, hot and lots of cheese .self service station for tacos and hamburgers. very nice
room service: good variety at no service charge.theres also daily breakfast room service
supper: never tried that.
desserts: extremely sweet.theres a daily ice cream bar which was rather popular but i found it too sweet.
overall for food: more cafeteria style but good if you like a lot of choices and arnt too fussy.

cabin: lovely.very spacious with lots of closet space and seating area.mattresses were extrememly comfortable.a 3 seater couch long and comfortable enough to lie in, a coffee table and another arm chair. a 21" flat screen tv which we never turned on as there wasn't much on tv. Semi big bathrooms with very hot and high pressure water.lovely amenties which were topped up every day.I ADORED their shampoo and bathgel.thick cotton bathrobes and towels which were also changed upon request.nighty turn down servcie with a top up of ice and cute towel animals every night..cabin stewerds were v friendly and efficient.

not much going on. or rather, not much which i was interested in. spent my time reading, listening to my ipod, eating and talkint to people

didnt join any of their excursions. they were all rather expensive.i did however sign up for a private car in shanghai through the tour was v expensive (usd1000 for 8 hr) .it was all right but shanghai is easy enough to navigate by cab, and there are lots of cabs at the dock , a mere 5 min walk from the ship. they use meters so no bargaining needed.went to the old part of shangai where theres lots of food and stalls selling stuff. had tea in an authentic tea house ( where queen elizabeth is said to have visited) and had the famous xia long paos ( 20 for usd 2)
Xiamen offerede free shuttles to the city center which was nice and had lots of activities. just be prepared to squeeze and push your way onboard the shuttles back to the ship. a cab should cost no more than usd 5 though.lots of small stalls and resturants offering food. some of my friends took the ferry across to an island where theres lot of nice building to look at. i prefered shopping and food :)
sanya: due to bad weather the captain decided not to stop at sanya, so we had an extra day on board the ship
da nang, vietnam: horrid.thired a cab for usd 50 for 4 hours.went into the cultural center which was sleepy with overpriced food.did a ride down china beach which was rather nice.there was a small resturant by the port which offered decent local food and a view of the sea.much better deal. the costa romantica ( we went in april 2010 ) docked in a differnt part of da nang which was much much better.
phu my (saigon ), vietnam: nothing to see at dock area. hired a cab for usd 100 for the 4 of us (7 hr) to take us into the city center .it was a 2 to 2.5 hr ride into the city through shanty towns. very distressing to see such appalling places.some of my friends took the city excusrions to see shadow puppets and war tunnels and said it was good but very expensive.(usd 100 to 150 each) my suggestion is to join up with some like minded passengers and hire a cab to do what you want. it would be much cheaper
nga trang , vietnam: we hired a cab for usd 30 for 4 hours to take us into town where theres a wet market. had local food there and lots of ice cold coke. blazzing hot . but i managed to buy lots of hand painted vietnamese clogs for a bargain ( usd 10 for 4 pairs) but you have to do lots of bargaining. cokes are about usd 1 /can. great photo ops there with the wet market
overall opinion: its easy enough to get around these places by cab. just be ready to stick to the budget you have in mind and be prepared to bargain. the tours offered on board are very expensive ( nothing below usd 50 pp) and you can easily do it for half that amount. be warned though , the cab drivers in vietnam were very tricky, they would ask you for more $ than agreed upon at the end of the trip

we enjoyed it a lot . met lots of nice only complaint is the treatment by the crew at the gangway.bad bad attitudes.
2 formal nights but not every one dressed up.cocktail dresses were adequate .for other nights dresses were fine.

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