The choice of cruise lines imho is not very important as it once was. Newer, larger ships do not replace older ships. New ships are very glitzy, with great production shows, more dining choices, large full size discos, casinos that are professionally run, more fitness choices and the list goes on and on. The Ryndam is about ten years old and unable to compete on an even level with the larger ships. They have to do things differently. Attention to detail, exciting bands, luxurious service and wonderful food is what HAL is known for and if any of the above is missing then the cruise experience is diminished. One should just choose Princess or Carnival. The Ryndam is missing that attention to detail that really made me want to come back again and again.
Itinerary: Cabo San Lucas (9 AM - 6 PM The extra hours do make a difference in this beautiful, fun town), Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta are described in many of the reviews and do not need to be repeated. I just want to say that I have done this six times and will do so again in the future.
Food: B - B+ Just good food, but there is a definite decline from the solid B+ on my other HAL cruises. I do not know if this reduction is company wide or if this is just the Ryndam.
Bands: Rosario Strings is the finest band on the high seas and can compare on the highest level to the best lounge/classical bands that I have ever heard. Wow! I would like to see them again on another cruise. The Crow's Nest band is quite good. The Ocean's Bar band is well.they try hard, but do not get the point and their singing is not up to professional level.
Entertainment: The shows cannot compete with the larger ships. I gave up watching the shows on smaller ships 20 cruises ago. I can't chuckle anymore when the comedians still do the same toilet jokes. Cruise lines that have depend on return cruisers should not allow comedians to do toilet jokes.
Attention to detail: Poor. Give the Captain and Staff bad ratings. Yes, probably the worst on the high seas. The small things are maddening. Go play basketball - no rim. Ocean's Bar - the speakers intermittently go on and off and crack. Lunch napkins are so stained they look used and dirty. Crow's Nest floor is so bad that I heard many ladies complain about their heels getting caught in the grooves on the floor. I saw one gentlemen fall when he got a heel caught. The Java Cafe does not serve coffee or anything else. Anything else? Yes, poor, poor training of officers. The Guest Relations Manager is rude. Front office personnel should be highly empathetic. This was also the first cruise where I had to get my own coffee and refills on the Lido. There is just not enough crew on board. In our section we did not have a second waiter for dinner. It goes on and on. Nothing major, just maddening.
Engineering: We had a power outage for twenty minutes. The boat was immediately stopped without letting people know, like the people in the pool. Imagine the wave action on stopping a 55,000 ton vessel. If you did not sit down immediately or grab onto something then you could have fallen. Does the intercom system not work when there is no power? When the power went on we were then told the power failed. The one other problem is when we were given a bad odor (sewerage?) coming from the ventilation and it was ship wide. The first day we received a ten minute smell. Later we got another one lasting a minute. Grumble, grumble - there were many.
Service: The crew was up to my expectations despite the actions of the officers. There are many fine young people working hard and HAL does have many return crew. I applaud the fine job they did in spite of the poor management. The Service staff of Philippino and Indonesians do a cultural show exchanging places each week. We saw the Philippine show that was wonderful. I would like to see the Indonesian one sometimes. This was the Xmas cruise and the staff of the Ryndam had an evening show of caroling. Very nice.
Casino: The reason that the casino is not used by many of the passengers is that it is not professionally run. The slots are very cold and will not let you play for long, unlike LV. The tables are few and not busy. Carnival has a bonus card system like those in LV. Carnival could use the same system company-wide. Well, let's just say that the casino is not exciting and leave it at that.
Hosts: none. Officers acting as hosts: none. Single women: plenty. Just more stupid stuff.
Now after reading my review you should say that I was disappointed with the cruise. I had a wonderful time. I will not let the ship's staff ruin my vacation! The ports are fun. The Rosario Strings band was awesome. My wife and I love to dance, but when the music and facilities disappoint I find something else. So what about the coffee - we learn to bring our own. HAL is a good line and the Ryndam below average. Will I travel the Ryndam again? Only if the Rosario Strings are playing in a destination that I am considering. Given a choice of cruise lines and ships plying the same routes you can indeed find one now that can come close to your ideal travel vacation. If the Ryndam is being considered by you imho think again.