This is my 3rd cruise and I decided to give HAL a go since I wanted to avoid the usual mad rush to Florida that most people tend to go to during March Break. It paid off taking the long flight from Montreal to San Diego to get onboard the Ryndam for what would be 7 days of total relaxation.
The early boarding provided by HAL is excellent. With our other 2 cruises that we have sailed on - getting onboard those ships was not as smooth sailing as how HAL has it organised. Maybe because Ryndam is a smaller ship and therefore less passengers this was the reason for how smoothly it went. Also the ship wasn't fully booked - so possibly another reason.
Our outside stateroom that we booked was quite comfortable. We had a bathtub in our washroom which was different - but it was never used. Too busy to take a soak in the tub on our cruise <lol>.
We ate in the dining room at the later seating. I am a diabetic - insulin dependent - so it took a few days to adjust to eating this late. Not sure if I'd book the late seating - but it meant that you had more time to lay around in sun and be able to find a free deck chair (had problems on sea days trying to find one that wasn't "reserved" - so often ended up at the front of the ship lying on a deck chair pad).
The entertainment on the ship wasn't bad. It kept us entertained until we would go up to the Crows Nest to dance away the rest of the night (and work off our dinner!!). The only bad entertainment was the magician - I am a Canadian - and I root for anyone Canadian - but the magician wasn't the greatest - the fact that he was hoping around on one foot due to a sprained ankle didn't help probably. <lol> The movies that were available onboard were great as well. We only saw a movie once - again - too much to see and do.
The ports of call on the Sea of Cortez cruise weren't what most people probably would like (Loreto and La Paz) - but I enjoyed them since they were not "Americanised" yet. The only port that had become touristy was the last port in Cabo San Lucas - supposably it was only a small fishing town about 5 years ago - you would never know it today. Sad.
While on board we renewed our wedding vows with Captain Jan Smit and a few of his staff while a classical guitarist played in the background. We were hoping more would be renewing their vows along with us - but unfortunately we were the only ones which was abit of a disappointment. I have to admit I wish we had been married onboard a ship right from day one - very relaxed and different. Overall - it was a nice treat to remember our commitment to each other for now and for the future.
Now to the only dismal part of the cruise. The food unfortunately for me I found very salted. After about 3 days onboard I found I was experiencing swollen feet/ankles and could only get my feet into my Berkenstocks without too much pain and it made walking a wee bit uncomfortable for me (lower legs felt like tree stumps if you can imagine that feeling). Being a diabetic I was afraid my kidneys maybe were having problems - and by the 5th day I headed down to the infirmary. There I was told by the nurse that the food that was prepared on ships/restaurants tended to be more salty then what is prepared at home. She looked at my legs and told me that she'd seen worse and that once I got back on land I would be back to normal (which did happen). Since I'd brought some nice strappy shoes with me for dresses - it didn't make me feel too great stompy around in my gladiator like sandals. Next time I go on a cruise I will inquire about a low-salt diet - hopefully it will be better tasting and not too bland. This has never happened in the previous cruises - but it also was noted by the nurse that with the long distance we flew that probably helped towards the swelling.
On a good note - we are not gamblers - we took the plunge in purchasing some Win-A-Cruise Lottery tickets that were being sold. It was for a 7-day cruise for two for any Caribean cruise that HAL offers. Well, we won it! We were pretty shocked. I have to admit becaue of the salt issue - I was actually thinking I was all cruised out - and not wanting to go on one again - but we have gotten sucked in again. We have 18 months from the date we won the cruise to book it (outside of major holiday times). Not a bad deal for $20USD.
Hopefully this gives you a little bit of help in deciding about cruising on the Ryndam. The staff is excellent and I am glad to know that now HAL charging cruisers a tipping charge (the no tipping policy has changed now to $10/day/per person). We did tip a few of the staff - since they did such an excellent job and felt guilty for not tipping others that had done an excellent job as well. At least with this system being in place like other cruise lines do - hopefully all employees will share in the rewards.
BTW, the age of my husband and myself are 42 - incase you are wondering.
Happy cruising to all of you - be it 1st timers - or more experienced ones.