Volendam - Sydney/New Zealand/Sydney
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP:
Excellent value for money. The ship is kept in very good condition by its crew and lots of fresh flowers in the public spaces. Clean and tidy everywhere though some signs of early wear are present.
WOULD YOU CRUISE THIS SHIP AGAIN:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR STATEROOM:
Ocean view stateroom which was enormous with a separate sitting area and desk. I've been in smaller 4 star hotel rooms. Beds are extra comfortable, plenty of fluffy pillows and the stewards take great pride in their towel animals. Cabin service is unobtrusive, the stewards wait patiently for you to go to meals or entertainment before servicing the cabin. Cabin service for food and beverages is free, but it takes a while at peak periods. You can order anything on the meal menu in the main restaurants at normal meal times to be consumed in your cabin. There is a wi-fi service, at a price! Further, there's no fridge in the cabins other than balcony ones, but it can be hired for a reasonable daily fee. The outstanding service is the laundry which is both efficient and very reasonably priced if you use the bag option. A laundry bag is provided and whatever you can stuff in it will be returned in a basket washed, ironed, starched where necessary, folded or on hangers for a flat fee.
HOW WERE THE PUBLIC SPACES:
Public spaces were almost universally clean, excellent and comfortable, the exception being the casino area and bar where, for some perverse reason, smoking is permitted in an enclosed space. The bars and lounges are pleasant spaces otherwise with most tastes catered for. The service is usually quite good though at happy hours (1600-1700hrs) it can get a bit frazzled. There's a later cocktail happy hour at the Piano bar. Prices are standard throughout the ship across all bars and lounges.
Regular (every few days) LGBT get-togethers are organized by the ship, but were very poorly attended. Those that did were friendly and there was no sign of any hostility from the ship's staff at any time, indeed there seemed at times some extra enthusiasm to serve the LGBT passengers by the wait staff.
TELL US ABOUT THE SERVICES:
The food in the restaurants is generally excellent. Service is very good to excellent. The stewards and stewardesses are friendly without being gushing and they quickly develop a good personal rapport with the passengers they are serving. There is an upmarket Grill restaurant at a small additional fee (less at lunchtimes than the evenings). There are Captain's Gala dinner evenings where lobster is served in the main dining room. Dinner suits for the men and evening frocks for the girls on such evenings add to the ambience of opulence. The tea and coffee are, unfortunately, not the best but you can order Indonesian tea or coffee at any meal and get a teapot or french press coffee which is quite passable. The espresso coffee, when available, is attuned to American tastes and is somewhat weak to European and Aussie tastes.
Entertainment is standard and there's an excellent gym with great views. Crew from the Captain down are friendly, professional and polite - some are quite cute!
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