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Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by LUV2Cruz2, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Never been on HAL and have been wanting to go for a long time. I went to Walmart Travel today (since I was in the store) and got what I think is a very good deal on a 10 day cruise in October with an S Suite on the Navigation deck.

    Having never been on HAL I am very impressed with the amenities and the classiness of the Line.

    Is there anyone who has been in one of these suites and can tell me if the service is as wonderful as it appears? I'm so excited now. Are there movies to borrow for the VCRs? Is the laundry service truely complimentary (excluding tip)?

    I never heard of a "no tipping" policy, but I will certainly tip and tip well if everything is as wonderful as it seems so far. How is the food?

    If anyone has info on this catagory of accomodations, please tell me everything you can, I will appreciate it.

    Now, I'm waiting with anticipation for my cruise which will be my "biggie" cruise for a real vacation. I just got off Carnival's Fantasy which I take frequently for shortie cruises, but am really looking forward to a REAL cruise with HAL!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    We just got back from the Rubber Ducky Cruise...


    If you have any questions, just ask.
  3. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Volendam is my favorite of the Holland America fleet.

    Please take the time to read Bruce's narrative. I was on that cruise and the general agreement among our group was that it was THE best and most memorable cruise of our lives.
  4. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Hi Bruce,
    Well, my first question is: What pray tell is a "Rubber Ducky" cruise? LOL

    I saw your pix and you all sure look like you were having a great time! Nice pix and a very nice looking group of people!

    From my understanding the Volendam first set sail in 1999, is that correct? If that's the case she's certainly not "old" by any means.

    Were you totally satisfied with your cruise? Any special pros and cons? Has she been refurbished at all? Does she NEED refurbishing? I spoke to a HAL rep and she says the suites do not have personal butler service, but they have a concierge, what duties does that person perform and is this service reserved for suite class only and is it for ALL suite class or just the PS and S class?

    Are suite class passengers able to order from the full dining room service in their suites?

    Are the passengers mostly an "over 50" crowd? Are there many children onboard? I ask this because I'm more interested in entertainment and music more suited for an older crowd without all the glitter and booming from extremely loud music that goes with the GenX generation.

    It's not that I'm a snob, only that I want to take a different kind of cruise this year. I generally take my long cruises on Celebrity or Costa and my short getaway cruises on Carnival's Fantasy because she's close to home and is a small enough ship for me.

    Does the Captain walk the ship occassionally and does he do the muster inspection at the muster drill?

    How's the food? I know there's a "reservation only" dining room and I'm assuming it costs over and above the included meals served in the main dining room, how reasonable is it? How's the food there?

    How big is the casino? Is it crowded most of the time?

    Do the announcements get blasted into the suite, or do they come over the hallway speakers or on the TV speakers?
    Do they have internet dial-up access from the staterooms for a flat fee or is all internet access from the internet "cafe" type of place?
    Do they have provisions for wireless connections that can be used NEAR the internet stations?

    I'm sorry I have so many questions. Any help you can give me would be appreciated. I've not seen most of these questions answered in any publications, but I'm sure I could call HAL and get some of them answered, but I prefer to hear from some passengers who most times are more knowledgeable than some of the reps.

    Thanks again
  5. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Thanks Shipmaven...as you probably already saw..I have loads of questions.
  6. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Volendam entered service late in 1999 and she's very much in pristine condition.

    She was in 10-day drydock just prior to our April cruise - the Neptune Lounge was added, some stateroom amenities were added (an ongoing project for the next two years in the fleet). She will undergo another refit late in 2005, but she certainly does not need refurbishing.

    The Concierge serves only the PS and S guests - you can register your credit card at the beginning of the voyage with her, book shore excursions, book reservations in the spa/hair salon, book reservations in the alternative restaurant, cash travellers' cheques, etc.

    Yes, you may order the full dining room menu in your accommodations during normal dining room hours. There's also a 24-hour menu, and you can order hot and/or cold hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon.

    The age of the guests is a function of a number of things - length of cruise (the longer the cruise, the older the passengers), time of year (school in session or not), itinerary...
    You'll enjoy the music selections - especially in the Ocean Lounge and Explorer's Lounge.

    All Captains are not created equal, but Volendam's Master - Captain van der Zee - is very visible and pleasant with passengers. Any Captain is on the Bridge during life boat muster, but there are numerous Officers and Staff at each muster station - the drill is NOT taken lightly.

    Food is very much a matter of personal taste, but it was excellent on our last cruise. The alternative restaurant is the Pinnacle Grill - food is outstanding and well worth the $20.00 per person charge. I only wish we had topnotch restaurants ashore that offered that high caliber of cuisine for only $20.00 from soup to nuts.

    The casino is not huge - sometimes it's crowded, most of the time it's not elbow to elbow.

    Messages, except for emergency messages, are not piped into the stateroom unless you turn on your radio dial to a certain number. There are very few announcements compared to other cruise lines. Announcements can be heard over the TV, again on certain stations.

    On Volendam, there is no internet access from the stateroom. You need to go to the internet cafe. There ARE wireless hot spots in several areas of the ship.
  7. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Thank you so much for the response! Uh oh, I have another question...is there more than one 110 electrical outlet?...and also, I've been reading about amenities that HAL is dropping...is the complimentary laundry service still a perc? (Well, I shouldn't say "perc", because suite passengers DO pay quite a bit more for the extra fru-fru)
    This is important because I'll only have to pack for 5 days instead of 10 if the laundry service is included.

    I don't mind paying $5,000 for a cruise, but I don't like paying $3.00 to have a pair of drawers washed! LOL

    I'm sure I'm going to think of more ???'s

    Thanks again!
  8. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Yes, there should be more than one 110V outlet in the Suites. I'm addicted to Penthouse Suites, so I haven't sailed in a Suite for awhile.

    As for the pressing/laundry/dry cleaning amenity being dropped, that, according to HAL, is a rumor - no one in Seattle is aware of any plan to drop that perk.
  9. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    My first choice was the PS, but it isn't available for my sailing. Maybe next time. How far in advance did you book to get the PS suite?
  10. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    I pounce the moment the cruise is open for booking - sometimes over a year in advance.

    If you want the PS, I would suggest you have your TA wait-list you if he/she hasn't already done so. Also, keep monitoring the HAL web site for your particular cruise. There are cancellations at times. Check close to the 60-day mark, too.
  11. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Welcome to the world of cruising HAL and particularly cruising HAL in an "S". Once you have, many think it is difficult to book a lesser cabin in the future.

    We have cruised many times most of the ships of HAL, always in an "S" and love that cabin. We are booked to return to one of my favorite ships, Maasdam, next month and will enjoy the comfort and space of our favorite cabin.

    The veranda is huge and so very pleasant in the Caribbean. There are few treats that top breakfast on your veranda on a gorgeous Caribbean morning.

    I particularly enjoy having the dressing room and dressing table. I enjoy being able to do my makeup and hair in the comfort of that area which has a small sink. Plenty of drawer space to store "my things" and wonderful mirrors all around.

    Hope you enjoy your cruise.
  12. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Thanks! I know what you mean about cruising in a suite with a verandah...it's the only way to go...and I take advantage of my suite on a cruise. Many people think it's not a big deal because they say they don't spend much time in their room.

    I spend alot of time in my room. I'm a freelance writer and photographer and I like to enjoy myself writing to relax on my trips and I like to check out and edit my photos as well. I also enjoy my verandah and like to entertain in my suite and have dinner served for any guests I invite as well a couple times a trip.

    Have any of you joined the Captain at his dining table on this ship?
  13. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    You might want to read my review


    which also contain's Bruce's wonderful narrative and photos within my review.

    Yes, we dined with the Captain, but I don't know if he'll be on board (or on holiday) when you sail - I gather you're sailing in October?
  14. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    I'm sailing in October. Do you know who masters the ship if he's not there?
  15. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Excellent review Mary Ann! I'm so glad I read it. Next, I'll read the journals! I'm very happy that I chose the Volendam. I really appreciate people who travel well and often..especially on cruises!

    You mentioned that you've cruised on Celebrity. Did you notice any difference in the service without having a butler? The reason I ask is because I like to have dinner in my suite once in a while and I like the attendence of a butler during the meal. From my understanding the steward serves in the suite.

    I'm very sure, after reading your review that my short 10 days aboard the Volendam will be exceptionally fine. I can't wait as I'm sure you can't wait for you next cruise! I've also cruised so many times that it's the ship I sail for, the royal treatment, the pampering and not the ports so much anymore except when I hit one where I know someone and go to visit for a few hours. Of course I do go ashore once in awhile, but I'm more an "on the ship" type of person.

    I know what you mean about loving ships. I'm descended from a sailing family. Of course they were sailing ships that traversed the globe from Maine and Mass. around the world and back from China then eastward toward home port again.

    I love hearing people tell their stories about cruises and ships. Thanks for the opportunity to read a wonderful review!
  16. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    The substitutes switch around a lot - impossible to say with any certainty who will be in command in October.
  17. ajdegumbia

    ajdegumbia Guest

    Shipmaven: I will be on next week sailing (6/23) any good tips for me. Really excited. Am taking my husbands family so this will be a family reunion. Who is the current captain?

    Thanks for your assistance
  18. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Sorry I've only been here on a hit-and-miss basis the past few days. :roll What type of "tips" are you seeking?
  19. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    LUV2CRUZ - I'm glad you enjoyed my review. I hope you've been able to read Bruce's by now (the journals contained within my review).

    Frankly, between the service of the Cabin Steward and the services offered by the Concierge and the Neptune Lounge, I don't miss a Butler. The Butlers are excellent on Crystal, and I had only one Butler on Celebrity whom I considered good (he was outstanding, as a matter of fact - Desmond). But I don't find the lack of a Butler on HAL an issue at all.

    Yes, I'm very much a ship person. The ports are of interest to me only on a few out-of-the-ordinary itineraries, but I'm happy with the ship and my accommodations, which is why I choose carefully when it's strictly for myself. Like you, I come from a seafaring background on my Father's side, so the lure and lore of ships were ingrained from an early age.
  20. LUV2Cruz2

    LUV2Cruz2 Guest

    Ohhh Mary Ann, don't you just FEEL it inside your mind and heart ALL the time? I've never been able to live far from the water, it's just the greatest thing in my life. I guess we're a couple of old salts!

    I'm sure I'll be fine without the butler service especially with what you've said about everything else. Sometimes if you don't get a good butler, or if you have one that's new to the job, they can be annoying too!

    I'm going to read the journals RIGHT NOW! I've been a little busy, but now I'm free so I'll read them and enjoy them.

    You said you came from a seafaring family...what kinds of ships? Were they the old sailing ships? We have paintings of the family ships and the ones great grandfather mastered when he was 17!!!! I still have some ship logs that he wrote way back in the 1800's. It was so interesting and exciting! They sure had beautiful penmenship back then too! Your family wouldn't happen to be from Maine by any chance would they?

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