We sailed with the Ryndam to Mexico on a seven-day cruise over Christmas 2007. The cruise departed from San Diego. We are first-time cruisers, and we are a gay couple in our 40s. Overall, we had a very pleasant experience.
The ship exceeded our expectations; it was clean and well maintained. Our verandah stateroom on deck 9 turned out to be much nicer than the room we stayed in while in San Diego at the Westin. We were very impressed.
The white-glove style service aboard was impeccable, and both crew and staff were friendly and attentive. The cruise director, Michelle, was high energy and charming, and made an effort to remember your name.
The food in the Lido cafeteria was good, but tasted and smelled like cafeteria food. I disliked the self-service aspect of the cafeteria, as many people chose not to sanitize their hands prior to handling the serving-ware. The taco bar next to the pool was a bit odd -- who puts chopped dill pickles on a taco?
The food in the main dining room was varied and of exceptional quality. About halfway through the cruise, we decided to eat all lunches and dinners in the main dining room because the quality of the food seemed so much better, and because the ambience of the main dining room was so much more pleasant than the Lido.
We chose the open dining option, and dined with others most nights. We found open dining to be pleasant overall, even though the thought of dining with a different set of strangers each night was initially uninviting. We had an exceptional dining companion the last night, and meeting and talking with her turned out to be a highlight of our cruise.
David Deebles, a juggler and comedian, was the highlight of the professional entertainment aboard our cruise. He was funny, and his show was the most consistent on board. Bruce Block, magician and comedian, was amusing, although some of his act was a bit uninspired. His rabbit is hilarious and very funny. Janine Gardner gave a brief and awkward comedy show the first night and never reappeared. Although a few members of the cast seemed to have some talent, overall, the cast of the Ryndam was awful -- their material was cheesy and they performed much of it off-key and with a lack of grace. The "Club Nevada" show was a collection of random songs crammed together in a medley -- a Barbra Streisand lookalike rendition of "People" only made me wish they would ban that song. The four-person Filipino band in the Ocean Bar was excellent as long as only one singer sang. When they sang harmony, though, it was anything but harmonious. Their renditions of Willie Nelson songs were amazing, as they get even the accent perfect. They were the best band onboard. The Indonesian crew show was another highlight. It included a very well-done traditional costumed dance, and some fun group performances by the male crew. The group performances were not professional caliber, but were very enjoyable all the same because of how much fun the crew seemed to be having. The MC of the show was hilarious! Highly recommended and appreciated.
Having little experience of Mexico, our first port of call (Puerto Vallarta) was a shock. When I opened the verandah door as we docked, I was greeted by a very thick smog of car fumes and wood smoke. While the Malecon was pleasant to walk along, the town itself felt decrepit, noisy, and dirty.
Mazatlan was the second port, and proved a little more interesting. Although it was equally dirty and decrepit, we walked from the port to the historic center through the neighborhoods without any problem, something most passengers avoid. We toured the center, the market, and the cathedral pretty quickly as that is about all there is of interest, and then we fled to the Zona Dorada in a taxi. The Zona Dorada was as nice as many older American beach resorts. We did wander inland a few blocks and toured through a middle-class neighborhood that was nice and pleasant, and distinctly Mexican.
The only thing of interest in Los Cabos, our third port, was the beach. If you don't plan on going ashore to lay on the beach, you should book a shore excursion of some sort.
Ours was a Christmas cruise. There seemed to be lots of retirees with multiple cruises under their belts, lots of family groups (three generations) with small children, and lots of dutiful adult children taking their elderly parents on a cruise. The average age seemed very high.