Back from our first ever cruise. We choose to cruise with HAL Volendam, mainly because of the great deal they had at the time. We cruised out of our home port of Sydney to Melbourne, Aust, Burnie Aust then on to New Zealand.
As we were new to cruising and had no idea how we would cope if we were sea sick, we decided to take tablets prior to cruising and continued to take them at night, until we simple forgot. We were worried about cruising around the bight from Sydney to Melbourne then over to Burnie Tasmania as these waters, to any ridgey didge Aussie knows are notorious for being rough.
We were pleasantly surprised to find we had near perfect weather the whole trip. The Volendam, having nothing to compare with, we were awestruck. Yes, it is older and looks it's age been still in extremely good condition, and showed it's age gracefully, and without trying to dress like it was a brand new ship.
We booked N internal cabin, which was in effect the 2nd worst cabin on the ship, on the lowest deck and backing onto probably the lowest rated cabin on the ship at the very front. We chose to have the chance of being upgraded rather than having an alloted cabin no., to our delight a day before sailing we were upgraded to a K internal cabin, which put us on the lower promenade deck. We were absolutely delighted.
So, we have an upgraded cabin, not seasick. Life was pretty dam good, and you know what, Dam, life on board just kept getting bettter. A DAM good cruise ship, with a DAM good cruise line. Sorry, but HAL does play on being DAM good ships.
The ports were great, the ship was fantastic. We loved the Piano Bar, Glenn Micheal is amazing. We also went to the Franz Hal Lounge every night, and other than the Comedian we loved every show. The resident HAL cats were a group of very talented individuals and together where very entertaining. The visiting guests were great.
We loved the Happy Hour at the Crows Nest, and dining although we enjoyed the main dining room, The Rotterdam, we did get sick of the formality and enjoyed the less formal dining at the Lido. We found, to our detriment in the last week of our 14 night cruise, Cannelotta, the Italian restaurant off the Lido which was included in the cost of the cruise, but needed to be booked. Cannelotta, was a relaxed dining experience, with great food. We also tried The Pinnacle Grill, which cost extra, $25 p/person was a great dining experience, with the the most fabulous beef I have ever experienced.
The worst part of the cruise, other than having it come to an end, was the coffee..... we drink Black no sugar, no milk. Which to be fair leaves no place for bad coffee to hide. Maybe it's a difference between the way Aussie and Americans like their coffee, but we resorted to instant Nescafe Gold which the supplied in the Lido, at other restaurants we would order espresso, that normally we would never drink.
The other disappointment was the beer, now admittedly we are bit of beer snobs, choosing to having basically in micro brewery in our garage rather than drink the IOHO (in our humble opinion) the poor quality beer offered by mega breweries in Aust.
With the complaints out the way, on board we booked an open booking for another cruise within the next 4 years. Home less than a week we have been trying to work out, how we can afford another NOW.
We will, IF we find another cruiseline with a better itinerary than HAL, try another cruiseline, but our first choice will be HAL and preferred ship. The grand old lady the Volendam.
We loved the small size, the staff and everything about this wonderful ship, we are happy to be proved wrong, as we have nothing to compare our experience with, but why fix something that's not broken, and Volendam and HAL, IOHO are not broken.
I can't stress, this is the BEST holiday we have every had, no, I won't be recommending HAL to our daughters with their young children, but if you don't want a party ship, are happy to have talented entertainment, without needing a disco atmosphere, (although this is available) and not interested in waterslides, ice skating rink or other things needed to amuse young kids. HAL maybe a cruiseline which would suit you.