My husband and I have just returned from a lovely 14 day Back-to-back cruise from Vancouver to Seward and back on the HAL Ryndam. The weather was actually hot enough to sunburn in Sitka, Haines and Skagway. Boy were the fish were biting! We have a 60 lb. Halibut, a King Salmon, some Silver and Pink Salmon being Fed Ex'd to us! Our freezer will be filled to the brim! The Ryndam is a lovely Ship! HAL has yet to disappoint us with the decor or cleanliness of any "Dam" ship we have sailed. The Ryndam was in good condition, but is in need of the 3 week dry dock to remedy the small stuff a ship needs repaired or replaced every 5 or so years. The Ryndam will be dry docked at the end of Sept. 04 for 3 weeks, at which time I would hope they repair minor things like the crack in the sink and the light fixture missing a light direction cover. The towels on the Navigation deck the second week were replaced with upgraded all white cotton towels, a nice large size, which fit around my ample size nicely:) The mattresses were still the older ones, I'd think that would be rectified after dry dock hopefully.
The crew again was the icing on the cake. I was so relieved to find that the crew is as friendly and accommodating as ever, maybe even more so than we've experienced before! We were pleased to see that the crew seems to have adjusted well to the changes now, and I didn't hear any real complaints about it and we did talk to staff members quite a bit, they are so friendly in general. One thing that came up is that the staff is "stuck" for the 3 weeks when the Ryndam goes into drydock. The good news is they are in drydock in Victoria, B.C. which is fairly affordable and is as beautiful and hospitable a place one could hope to find. The bad news is it's unpaid which is difficult and presents a hardship for many staff.
Our experience at the Pinnacle was generally good during our 3 visits. We had one "pretty good" meal in the Pinnacle, one "really good" meal, and then one "spectacular" meal! We had dinner there the night they allowed the Chef to do a vintners menu and deviate from the regular menu, it was absolutely fabulous food! The Chef of the Pinnacle is obviously very talented and really shined when allowed to offer an alternative menu.
The food was pretty good in the main dining room. We had mixed feelings about the new dinner times. We loved our first week at a table for 2 at 5:45, our waiters Jaye and Lucky were fantastic. The second week there was no availability in the early sittings so we requested 8:00, and had a table of 8. While we enjoyed the company, it was often 10:15 before we left the dining room and we had Much slower service at the bigger table. Neither the waiter or his assistant asked my name, nor did they introduce themselves, but they did keep my ice tea full and were very accommodating. The dining times on the Ryndam were 5:45, 6:15, 8:00 and 8:30 for the Alaska itinerary.
Our room stewards both weeks were just wonderful, Suaji and Agus. Both were wonderfully efficient and very friendly, we were very lucky to have gotten 2 stewards of that fine calibur:)
Room service has been changed a bit for the good! A new breakfast menu has been developed that has delivery options for 15 minute increments, and ours was delivered promptly by a very lovely member of the wait staff whose name I regretfully did not get as I am usually not at my finest before coffee. Each morning our breakfast was delivered really piping hot, as each plate had a bottom metal platter to keep the plate warm!
Overall we had a phenomenal trip to Alaska and highly recommend the trip, especially back to back. In Seward, HAL this year provided a free shuttle into Seward and free tickets to the Sealife Center that day. It was a wonderful and unexpected touch, making for a great day in Seward!
I totally recommend the Ryndam to others, the Capt. Jan Smit and the Hotel Manager Theo Haanen are to be congratulated for having a tip top staff!