My sister and I elected to use HAL's fly and cruise package for our 10 day Wayfarer cruise on March 25,2000. We were promptly greeted at the airport, only to wait for what seemed like hours for the right bus to the complimentary hotel. (We are from the West coast and HAL provided a free night at a 3 star hotel.) I was told that there were 4 HAL ships departing the same day as we were at the height of the spring break, which accounted for the bus problems. The next day they escorted us to the ship and within a 1/2 hour we were taken to our lovely room with verandah. To our amazement, our luggage arrived before us. The room itself was very spacious, much larger than a verandah room on RCCL. The furniture is solid and the beds are beds, not lightweight like the "cots" that other lines provide. Our bathroom included a whirlpool bath.....I declined to use it as such, as I was not sure both I and enough water would fit in the mini-whirlpool without grave bodily injury. Although both my sis and I packed with wild abandon, we found that there was an abundance of storage space. Within an hour of embarkation, our cabin steward introduced himself.....and through out the trip he kept our room neat with extra pillows and towels as we requested. At times I marveled at how he could get in and out of the room so quickly.
Our favorite part of the room was our verandah. It was large enough to fit a chair and a lounger with small table. I spent a great deal of time lounging about on the veranda during our days at sea. The Volendam is a brand new ship, but amazingly it was being painted. I guess it must be like the Golden Gate, a continuous project. The open areas are lovely, so many lovely nooks for a quiet conversation. The Volendam's theme is flowers and the wonderful art collection enhances one's experience greatly.
I had heard that HAL's food could be bland, due to their primarily older clientele (my sis and I are in our late 30's, early 40's), but I found to the contrary. The food was wonderful and many dishes were zesty. I myself feel in love with the freshly baked breads, that we learned during the kitchen tour, were baked daily. The baguettes were so good, i occasionally would sneak up to the lido just to grab a couple of crusty baguettes to nosh on before our late seating dinner. Another real pleasure was the ice cream bar.....lines of not just children formed every afternoon for anything ranging from a small cone to an all out hot fudge sundae with cherries, whipped creams nuts and sprinkles......Also, the food at the alternative restaurant, the Marco Polo was lovely, and we were able to eat there on 2 different occasions in the evening and once at lunch. My sis and I both appreciate a good bottle of red wine and found the selection and price on the ship to be wonderful.
I also used the new computer stations to keep in touch with my kids and family and to check my stocks....I am fairly computer literate and at .75 cents per minute I learned very quickly how to check my email and send a few short notes for about $5 a day. One day I watched a woman painfully type an email.....part of me wanted to scream, hurry up, this is gonna cost you a fortune!
I can't comment on the entertainment, as I found that my go had usually gotten by the time the second seating entertainment began. The ship was always clean, the crew was very pleasant, without being intrusive, and I always found an available lounger at one of the 2 pools on the ship. I would highly recommend Holland America to my friends....with the touches other lines forget....fresh flowers in abundance and the best darned breads on the 7 seas;)