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Holland America Cruises aboard the Volendam.
Above: Holland America Cruise Lines Volendam Cruise Ship.

Passenger reviews

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Ship Details
Began service: January, 1999
Guest capacity: 1,440
Total staff: 647
Length: 780 feet
Passenger decks: 10
CDC inspection score: 87

Volendam Overview

The Volendam cruise ship departs from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Anchorage, AL, and Seattle, WA. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.

When she was launched in 1999, Volendam had the highest passenger capacity in Holland America's fleet. She proved her modernity by being the first ship in the fleet to boast a dedicated Internet center (The Website) with eight satellite-connected computer stations.

Service personnel are primarily Indonesian and Filipino; most officers are European, and most of them are from Holland. One noticeable distinction of Volendam is the manner in which the staff welcomes and accommodates passengers with physical challenges. Considerate crew members assist guests in wheelchairs and those with difficulty walking, when required, and there is never a sense of impatience or rushing. There are about 30 wheelchairs on board for guest use.


Deluxe suites offer 563 sq ft. -- including a "terrace," large enough for a couple of loungers and a dining table for four. A marble entry foyer, curved seating area, separate dressing room and full bath with whirlpool tub provide a luxurious ambiance. More utilitarian are the 284 sq ft. veranda suites, with a smaller veranda, separate seating area and small whirlpool tub in the bath.

All suites include a combination TV/VCR, refrigerator, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, down duvets, 250-count cotton sheets, bathrobes, and personalized stationery. This ship also includes a single penthouse "apartment," at 1141 sq ft., with a dining area for eight, a pantry with microwave, an enormous veranda, and a powder room. A "concierge club," The Neptune Lounge, is available for guests in deluxe and penthouse suites.

The 384 standard outside cabins are 197 sq ft. but don't feel spacious. The addition of a large floor-to-ceiling cupboard and a slight expansion of the bathroom pushes the desk and sitting area further into the room (and leaves less floor space while increasing functionality). The storage space is sufficient for two or more people for several weeks of travel, with a combination of closets, shelves, drawers, cabinets and desk space.

In most outsides, the TV is wall mounted, freeing the desktop. For some reason it has been placed near the ceiling, which requires a very uncomfortable viewing position from the sofa located a few feet away. Watching TV from bed is the only way to avoid neck pain.

Holland America distinguishes itself in the premium cruise category by providing one of the nicest standard bathrooms afloat, with plenty of space and a small but deep bathtub in even the lowest category outside cabins. A new line of soaps, lotion and conditioning shampoo (called "Royal Dutch") is presented in large bottles and bars. There is a new salon-style hairdryer, a magnifying make-up mirror and a multi-spray showerhead, which can be used as a hand-held or overhead. The tub enclosure has several well-placed grab bars.

Note One: The water pressure is fine, but during a three-minute shower, the temperature varied between scalding and frigid. Be careful; the scalding range can really burn.

Caveat Two: The tub/shower combinations are very difficult to get into (and out of) for those who have hip, knee or joint problems, but the ship has a total of 23 cabins designed for physically challenged passengers, 13 of which are outside, with walk-in showers.

Inside cabins are slightly smaller at182 sq ft., and have showers only. Even smaller are the 113 outside staterooms on the Lower Promenade Deck. These are a favorite of many repeat guests because of the easy access to the promenade that circles the ship. (Some of these outsides have fully obstructed views.) The wide overhang makes the cabins very dark, and although the windows are covered with a one-way film, prying eyes can still see inside when the lights are on.

While clean, the spreads, curtains and upholstery are showing signs of wear, but the brand new Euro-style mattresses make up for it. As part of Holland America Line's Signature of Excellence initiative, the ice buckets have been upgraded, a new steel wire-mesh fruit basket has been added, and triple-sheeting adorns the beds with high-quality linens. Fluffy Egyptian cotton towels and bathrobes have also been added.

Hint 1: If you want a longer sofa, book a stateroom designated as a "triple."

Hint 2: Those who are going for an inside cabin should try to book either 2555 or 2554, on Main Deck. Guests who are wheelchair-bound get first dibs, but if either one is open, grab it. They are huge and they feel more like a hotel room than a cruise ship cabin.

Hint 3: Some of the Lower Promenade cabins that are listed as "fully obstructed" really aren't; they are "partially" blocked by the outside bulkheads around the promenade, and from a few, you still have a limited ocean view. They are priced comparably to an inside and can be a fantastic bargain, especially the ones at the aft of the ship.


Dining options on Volendam are varied and plentiful, from early morning continental breakfast to the themed midnight-snack buffet. Apart from the regular restaurant service, hungry guests will also find a hamburger/hot dog/taco/fajita station located near the Lido pool, (self-serve from 11:30am - 5 pm), afternoon tea, and room service is available 24 hours. Special diets are easily accommodated by Volendam's kitchen, but advance notice is required.

The two-story Rotterdam Dining Room, surrounded with windows, serves open-seating breakfast and lunch and has two assigned-seating dinner times with plenty of small tables for two. Even as the concept of open-seating dining is becoming more popular throughout the industry, there are still many cruise guests who enjoy the traditional same-table, same-time, same-partners dinner.

While I generally prefer the ease of casual dining, I look forward to the shows that the waitstaff puts on, as do many who enjoy traditional cruising. In response for the demand for more choice, the line will soon be introducing four assigned-seating dinner times throughout its fleet.
Hint: Early seatings tend to book up first on this ship, so book your cruise early or be prepared for one of the later dining times.

The Lido Cafe, a cafeteria-style restaurant, is open for all meals. Most guests choose to have a casual breakfast and lunch in the Lido, and for dinner, the dining area is transformed into a semi-restaurant, with table linens and waiters. During busy breakfast and lunch times, fruit, salads, cheeses, breads and other cold items are self-serve while most of the hot items are portioned out from behind the counter. There is a pasta station, a wok station, soup and salad bar, pizza bar, ice cream and dessert bar. Dining-room fare is served in the regular buffet line. The restaurant itself is open and cheery, with indoor and outdoor seating.

Pinnacle Grill, Volendam's only specialty restaurant, serves aged beef, lobster tails, fish, and lamb in an elegant environment. Reservations are required and there is a $20 per person charge to dine, but all courses are included, the selections are terrific, and the service is impeccable.

The room service menu is not extensive but does offer a fair variety. While not specified anywhere, during lunch and dinner times you can order from the restaurant menu and have it delivered to your room.

The Java Cafe remains one of the most popular spots on this ship. Serving a variety of coffees (espresso, cappuccino, latte) and freshly baked cookies, there is no charge for this little luxury ... yet. It's one of the small indulgences that Holland America's guests appreciate the most, but when the ship goes through an upgrade in early 2006, it will be merged into a larger Internet Cafe/Library/Card and Game Room center. There will be pastries, flavored coffees, more specialties, and it will no longer be free.


The entertainment on Volendam is surprisingly diverse, with two shows nightly in the two-tiered Frans Hals lounge, a dance music combo that doubles as the deck band on warm Caribbean evenings, a harpist, a classical quartet, a resident pianist and a variety of individual performers. Lavish Broadway-style productions are offered in Frans Hals, pre-dinner piano and post-dinner dancing in The Crow's Nest, Baroque and Classical after dinner music in the Explorer Lounge (complete with brandy, coffee and divine chocolates) and dance music in the Ocean Bar before and after dinner. Recent-run movies are shown both in-cabin and in the Wajang Theatre, where you can get freshly made popcorn.

A Holland America favorite is the crew show, with folkloric presentations from the native countries of these hard-working individuals. On every cruise, there is a series of games at various times of the day: Team Trivia, Name That Tune, Liars Club and others administered by the Cruise Director, and of course there are both bingo and art auctions. The casino gets quite lively at table games and at the wide assortment of slot machines; price-to-play ranges from a nickel to $5.

Fitness & Recreation

The Ocean Spa offers a wide range of gym equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, free-weights, stair-steppers and rowing machines) which can be used while watching one of the flat-screen TV's or while gazing through the wall of windows. A large aerobics section is included in the gym, featuring daily classes; Pilates and Yoga instruction is available for a fee.

The spa offers pampering treatments and salon services at prices comparable to other spas at sea and on land. Mud wraps, facials, and deep-tissue and aromatherapy massages are among the most popular treatments, while manicures, pedicures and hair care is available in the salon. There are men's and women's sauna and steam rooms available to Volendam guests at no charge. The spa will be getting a facelift that will include a Thalassotherapy pool, an expanded pedicure section, and a softer, more tranquil look to the massage treatment rooms.

On the Lido Deck, you will find the central pool, which is surrounded by a glass enclosure and has a retractable dome cover, two hot tubs, food stations, the Dolphin Bar, and the aft pool.

The Promenade deck is ideal for those who like to walk (each circuit equals one-quarter of a mile), and joggers can use the Sports Deck track. There is a netted tennis/volleyball court on the Sports Deck and shuffleboard courts.

Public Areas

Bright colors prevail throughout most of the ship; her theme is "flowers."

Volendam is an easy ship through which to maneuver; both her size and layout make her comfortable within minutes of boarding. While the cruise I was on was completely sold out, not once did I have a feeling of crowding or experience any long lines, anywhere.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this ship is the hidden "nooks and crannies" located around her public decks. Perfect for intimate conversation, or just to hide out and read, these spaces include sofas , armchairs facing sweeping vistas, and corner banquettes away from the crowd. Look for the massage chairs on deck 5's port side; have a $1 bill ready if you want to vibrate.

The circular three-story atrium is surrounded by shops, offices, and guest service counters. The Future Cruise consultant's desk is located here as well. One floor up, the Promenade deck holds the Front Desk, the Shore Excursion counter, and desk for the Guest Relations manager. The Upper Promenade deck has a wide assortment of shops surrounding the atrium, as well as cozy seating and little tables placed around the perimeter railing.

Smoking is extremely limited on Volendam, with small sections for smokers allocated in most of the bars and lounges. Only in the casino, Sports Bar and at the Dolphin Bar for "Cigars Under the Stars" was there any noticeable tobacco smoke odor.

There is a large (and usually busy) card room and a library; the Internet center sits between these two rooms. Although the satellite service can be very slow at times, the Internet program on board Volendam is more reasonably priced than on many other ships, with packages starting at 75 cents per minute and descending to as low as 40 cents per minute if you buy a block of time. Wireless service is available for those with laptops and wireless cards (the cards can be rented from the Internet center as well), with "hot spots" located throughout the ship.

At night, the Crow's Nest, located forward at the top of the ship, is a bar and dance venue, but this room truly shines during the day. Floor to ceiling windows surround the large space, which has seating divided into intimate groupings and sofas along the windows. It's an ideal place to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee or glass of wine


Volendam is ideally suited for a family vacation. There were several families aboard during my cruise, and while there may not be rock-climbing walls or ice-skating rinks on this ship, there were plenty of activities for young people to enjoy.

Club HAL, Holland America's "kid's camp," operates daily, with age-appropriate activities and a space called the Sky Room . Arts and crafts, computer classes, games, sing-alongs and sea lore are all part of the program, which is complimentary for all families. Evening babysitting can be arranged for an additional fee if available (it's best to inquire as soon as possible to reserve your preferred times).

Teens enjoy the movies, pools, video arcade and the unlimited pizza, hot dogs and ice cream available during most of the day; special activities are set aside for those in the teen group when there are enough of them on board.

Expert Volendam reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.


Discount Code

Volendam cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Volendam Score: 87

Cruise Critic: Volendam
The Cruise Critic gives Holland America's Volendam a 3-ribbon rating.

Web links

Holland America Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Holland America Cruises at the company's official Web site.

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