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Ed & Linda Piltch

Age: 61 to 70

Occupation:Retired Computer Programmers

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Ryndam

Sailing Date:

Itinerary: Alaska Inside Route with stops in Juneau, Skagway

Accommodations:

Out stateroom was larger that we expected and had a balcony. There was a king sized bed that could be reconfigured into twins. On each side of the bed was a night stand.  There was a small light and a radio built into the headboard. One of the drawers in the night stand had a lock with a key. There was also a sofa, small coffee table and chair.  The room was equipped with a TV and VCR that sat on a unit with several drawers and a lighted mirror. There was ample storage for our clothes. The bathroom was equipped with a whirlpool tub. Our cabin steward did an  excellent job.  Our stateroom was done every morning while we were having breakfast.  In the evening he would turn down our beds and place a chocolate mint and small card on each pillow. We ran into him a couple of time and found him to be a delightful chap.

Meals:   It is physically impossible to starve to death on this ship. Food is available literally 24 hours a day without leaving your cabin.  There was a breakfast buffet in the Lido from 7 to 11 am. One could also have breakfast served in the Rotterdam dining room. We chose the breakfast buffet in the Lido. There were eggs, scrambled or fried; bacon; sausage (link or patty) hash brown potatoes; hot or cold cereal, pancakes, fresh fruit, all kinds of bread, rolls, and pastry; tea, coffee, regular or decaf and other items that I probably missed.  At noon, there was a buffet lunch in the Lido  There were also hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst, tacos, or pizza available out by the pool. We had dinner in the Rotterdam dining room every evening except one, when we opted for the buffet dinner in the Lido.  The food ranged from very good to excellent.  There were a variety of entrees. The food was tasty and well prepared.  Bear in mind that we are neither gourmands or connoisseurs. The dining room stewards were friendly, courteous and efficient. There was a dress code for each evening; two  formal, one informal and the rest casual. On formal night, the men were required to wear tuxedos or business suits and ties, the ladies, evening gowns. On semi-formal night,  the men were required to wear a jacket but a tie was optional. Friday was a formal gala night and the chairs all had slip covers, the dining room stewards all wore black Eton jacket and bow-ties Afterwards, there was a giant dessert buffet in the Lido. It was a nice touch.

Activities:

We were impressed by the Cruise Director.  He is an energetic, creative and enthusiastic young man we estimated to be in his early thirties.  He obviously loves his job. Activities were planned for each day of the cruise. There was even bingo in the afternoon.  There was live entertainment in the Vermeer lounge every evening.  It ranged from excellent to so-so.  I really enjoyed the magician/illusionist who also did a short performance in the Crow's Nest bar on Saturday afternoon to sell some of his magic products. My wife's favorite was the comedian/juggler, who engaged in some very physical, very funny antics. There was a banjo player, a female pop singer, a couple of ensemble performances by the the Ryndam cast, a group of 4 male and 6 female singers and dancers. We enjoyed their performances but it was apparent that this is where most of the big name performers started their careers. There were several musical groups on the ship; the six piece Ryndam Orchestra, the string quartet, the jazz trio in the Ocean bar and the group in the Crows Nest. The cruise director was also the emcee at each performance, introducing the performer for that show and also thanking everyone when it was over.   

The ship:

The ship was enormous. It was 720 feet in length, and over 100 feet wide. There were 12 decks. The common area of the ship was tastefully appointed. There were several works of art on display. There were two banks of 4 elevators and a flight of stairs at each end of the ship and a 3 story atrium in the center. There were several boutiques offering all kinds of merchandise, a beauty salon and spa, photo studio, exercise room and much more. There was a small casino inside of which was a small bar where one could watch sports on ESPN.  We were impressed with tha amount of communication from the staff to the passengers. There was a Daily Program distributed to each stateroom outlining the days events. Passengers were also kept informed by two closed circuit TV channels.  There were frequent announcements on the PA system from the bridge or from the cruise director informing the passengers of interesting sights in the water or on shore or of important events.

Other items of interest:

We were also impressed with Holland America's commitment to the environment. Passengers were asked to not waste water, to not throw anything overboard.  This cruise made three stops; Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. The length of time for each location was at least 8 hours, during which passengers could disembark for shopping, sightseeing or planned excursions. Except for Juneau, the weather was pretty good. Between Skagway and Ketchikan, we sailed into Glacier Bay National Park.  This, to us, was the high point of the cruise. The scenery was magnificent. The ship sailed up one of the inlets, where it stopped and almost everyone came out on deck to observe the glaciers and snow capped mountains.

In conclusion:

We had a marvelous time and really enjoyed this, our first cruise and hope to take others in the near future.  But there were some minor problems, too. There were a couple of short power outages one evening and the next morning we had no hot water so we were unable to shower.  No one takes a cruise to watch TV, but The only two satellite channels were CNN and TNT. TNT just carried old movies and reruns.  And CNN didn't always carry current news when we wanted to watch it and I was unable to get sports scores.  I feel that Headline News would have been a better choice.  We were also unable to use the VCR when we wanted to watch a video that we had purchased on the ship. We could not set the TV to the correct channel and found no instruction on how to do so.  It was probably somewhere in the large book of information.  I think a small folded placard with instructions on top of the TV would have been very helpful. We are non-smokers and the ship allowed smoking on deck and in selected areas including the bars and the casino, and the area around the swimming pools. But during dinner I could often smell cigarette smoke, which I found rather annoying. We found out that a small portion of the dining room is reserved for smokers. The ship docked in Vancouver on Sunday morning. We were still able to go to the Lido for a buffet breakfast. We disembarked with no problem, found our bags and headed back to our hotel to tour the city.  The next morning, we had breakfast and took a cab to the airport to return home from our adventure.

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