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Holland America Line: Statendam

Statendam Cruise Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

A subdued classical style of cruising on a reasonable priced mid-size ship; large cabins and staterooms with private verandas; non-smoking dining areas; ample breakfast and luncheon buffets, free ice cream salons with tasty toppings.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A high-energy ship; lots of singles looking to meet; single, open seating dining.

Onboard Experience

As you board these ships, a beaming Indonesian or Filipino staff member in white gloves greets you delightedly and then shows you to your quarters. Many of the most fondly recalled elements of the classical style of cruising are unmistakably alive and well here. You'll find no feverish singles action here, and the casino closes at an hour that will horrify some high-rolling insomniacs. What you will find is a palpable reverence for culture, art, and antiques, and lots of fresh flowers. If large cabins with private verandas, ballroom dancing and bridge float your boat, these, moderately-priced premium cruises may well be the boats to float it.

Statendam is fully subscribed to Holland America's "Signature of Excellence" program of enhancements to nearly every area of the ship. New features include tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids Centers, and new shore excursions. The Explorations Cafe is a combination library, Internet center, music listening area and sidewalk cafe. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, flat screen TVs, and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings.


Warm colors graced by antiques and reproductions with subdued lighting in cocktail lounges. Marble and luxurious fabrics are ubiquitous.

Public Rooms

Statendam may lack the breathtaking atria typical of other ships built in the 1990s, but it is remarkably easy to find your way around. The large Ocean Bar, with sea views by day and romantic lighting at night, is the most popular spot for pre- and post-dinner cocktails, though it gets serious competition from another cozy lounge, the sing along piano bar. The 89-seat Explorer's Lounge offers a string quartet or a harpist performing light classical favorites in the evening.

The glamorous two-story main dining rooms, framed with floor-to-ceiling windows, feature a dramatic staircase and a classical trio holding forth demurely from a perch on the top level. Just outside the second level, ladies will find a wonderful, spacious powder room with ocean views.

The main show lounge has two floors and a wide stage, with comfortable seating, though sight lines from the balcony are partially obscured. There is a large dance floor in front of the stage and the onboard 9-piece orchestra plays pre-dinner dance music nightly. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port; at night it becomes the shipboard "disco" dance room. The beautiful wood-paneled library has etched glass doors, comfortable chairs and ottomans, an inlaid marble table, and excellent reference and travel book sections. The nearby card room can simultaneously accommodate four dozen players.

One sour note: The library requires a $25 deposit of anyone wishing to borrow a book.


The main lounge presents variety shows, a lavish Broadway-style revue and an energizingly fervent dance production. There's a jazz quartet in the Ocean Bar and fresh hot popcorn in the Wajang Theater, where you can see first-run films every afternoon and evening.

Children's Facilities

Younger passengers are kept diverted with supervised Club HAL crafts, parties, and games for three age groups 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17, with the number of counselors allotted to each cruise dependent on the number of younger voyagers. Many children find Holland America's planned activities severely humdrum. The restaurant offers a children's menu. Baby-sitting is available at sea for $7.50 per child per hour.


Cuisine varies a great deal from dish to dish, ranging from flavorless to divinely prepared and cooked; desserts generally score well with most people, while meat and fish may be over-cooked or arrive luke warm. Some of the most interesting meals occur at the buffet, when various ethnic cuisine is featured served. Watch for the seafood buffet where you might find delicious crab claws available by the plateful.


There are tables for two, four, six and eight in the opulent two-level Vista Dining Room, which benefits from sea views and a romantically twinkling, fiber optics-lit ceiling, Rosenthal china, sparkling crystal, and crisp linens. There are four dining seatings - 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Casual breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets featuring ethnic cuisine are served in the Lido restaurant adjacent to the pool.

The cozy, intimate Pinnacle Grill specializes in the ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Its dedicated galley includes 1600-degree grill. Bulgari china, unique holloware and a dedicated service staff enhance the elegant atmosphere, as too does the wine list, which features several California and Washington vintages not offered in the main dining room. Reservations are required and there is a $20 service charge.

Twenty-four-hour room service is very efficient, and between meals you can order from a large list of snacks, salads and sandwiches. At mealtimes, you can order from the same menu those in the dining room are perusing.


Holland America's Indonesian and Filipino crew is warm and gracious, though not always as fluent in English as American and British passengers might prefer. Speak slowly and make sure they understand what you need, because they can be too polite to ask you to repeat yourself.


For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, intended to make passengers believe that staff were doing it for love, rather than money. (Yeah, right.) Nowadays, though, gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. That a 15 percent service is automatically added to bar bills should surprise no one.


Aboard the Statendam you'll find some of the largest cabins afloat, all beautifully appointed with handsome fabrics and attractive art. Standard inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, while outside staterooms are 197 sq. feet, with enough closet and drawer space for the serious traveler. Balcony cabins offer considerably more interior cabin space than you might expect. The Penthouse suites with private verandahs are a huge 1,100 square feet, and include wonderful amenities. The 563-square foot suites, ultramodern with large private verandahs, are nearly as grand. The 120 deluxe category A and B cabins are 284 square feet (including verandah), each with VCR, minibar, and sitting area. There are whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms.

Stateroom amenities include bathrobes, a complimentary fresh fruit basket on arrival, stainless steel ice buckets and serving trays for use with in-cabin beverages and massage shower heads in every bathroom. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in the Neptune Lounge, a private retreat where they can relax, read and socialize.

The outside cabins on the Lower Promenade Deck have pedestrian walkways (and thus, at least intermittently, pedestrians) between their occupants and the ocean. While special reflective glass precludes said pedestrians from peeking in during the day, at night you have to close your curtains.


These ships all have large spa and windowed Ocean Spa gyms attractive enough to make even the most determinedly sedentary want to come in. The sauna/steam rooms, segregated by gender, are impossible to fault. Way up top is a jogging track, isolated from cabins and other activities to spare non-joggers the sound of thundering hooves. On the deck, comfortable striped cushions line a large pool covered by a retractable dome on Lido Deck, just the thing for rainy days in Alaska. The Dolphin Bar, with umbrellas and wicker chairs, is an unbeatable spot for a late afternoon drink and snack after a visit ashore.


On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas.

Ship Overview

Launched in 1993, Statendam introduced the Statendam- or S-class of Holland America Line ships. Historical Dutch life and exploration is the theme of the ship’s art, which features more than $2 million worth of art and rare artifacts. A highlight is a pair of gilded bronze monkeys stationed outside the Piano Bar; maritime art includes interesting maps and charts as well as a series of oil paintings of Holland America ships painted by world-renowned marine painter Captain Stephen J. Card.

The sister ships included in the S- or Statendam-class retain the most classic and traditional characteristics of Holland America Line vessels. Routinely updated with innovative features, including Signature of Excellence upgrades, they combine all the advantages of intimate, midsize vessels with high-tech and stylish details.

At the heart of the ships, triple-deck atriums graced by suspended glass sculptures open onto three so-called promenade decks; the lowest contains staterooms encircled by a wide, teak outdoor deck furnished with padded steamer chairs, while interior, art-filled passageways flow past lounges and public rooms on the two decks above. Either reach the lower dining room floor via the aft elevator, or enter one deck above and make a grand entrance down the sweeping staircase.

Holland America Line has enjoyed a distinguished record of traditional cruises, world exploration, and transatlantic crossings since 1873—all facets of its history that are reflected in the fleet's multimillion-dollar shipboard art and antiques collections. Even the ships' names follow a pattern set long ago: all end in the suffix dam and are either derived from the names of various dams that cross Holland's rivers, important Dutch landmarks, or points of the compass. The names are even recycled when vessels are retired, and some are in their fifth and sixth generation of use.

Noted for focusing on passenger comfort, Holland America Line cruises are classic in design and style, and with an infusion of younger adults and families onboard, they remain refined without being stuffy or stodgy. Following a basic design theme, returning passengers feel as at home on the newest Holland America vessels as they do on older ones.

What You Should Know


  • Statendam-class ships have some of the fleet’s most trendy bars
  • The Ocean Bar hits the right balance for socializing with the after-dinner crowd
  • Movie theaters double as Culinary Arts Centers


  • Railings on the balcony level of the main show lounge obstruct the view of the stage
  • Club HAL can feel empty on some cruises
  • The addition of Explorations Café means no more free coffee bar
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 580
  • Entered Service 1993
  • Gross Tons 55,819
  • Length 720 feet
  • Number of Cabins 630
  • Passenger Capacity 1,260
  • Width 101 feet
  • New

Jun 19, 2014

Vancouver - Seward

This was our 7th cruise but first with HAL. Many operational issues from reservations not knowing things about the ship and cabins to on board customer service that was poor to say the least. Seems understaffed and crew was not a happy one. Our cabin steward was by far the nicest person we encountered. As one guys at the Lido put it when I asked him how long he had been working on the ship. His response without any smile was " a really long

time". Many staff who come in contact with guests did not understand English well. We had many times where drinks orders were delivered incorrect or a few times they never brought them at all. Terrible customer service on this ship but again the staff seemed understaffed and in desperate need of supervision and training. The food was just OK. Food was as good, if not better, in Lido than the dining room. Fish dishes were barely OK but meat was really just on par with a sizzler. Desserts were the best part of the courses at meals. We did not go hungry but the food was nothing special. You are better off just keeping it basic and expectations low unless you pay at the Pinnacle for a good meal. Stateroom (window spa room) was OK and clean. Our window was so dirty on the outside it was not a clear view. It had not been cleaned in a long time as there were streaks of rust dried on the window. We had been upgraded (paid upgrade) to a verandah suite a few days before the cruise but because of some organizational problems with the reservation department, they could not honor the offer they made but the on board staff will be able to take care of it. They said they would contact in our room one way or another on the reservation problem. We waited in our room and did not unpack. No one ever called as promised. Again, this is a company with really operational management problems. Our stateroom filled with toxic fumes while in port in Juneau which made us ill. I talked to guest relations and was told it happens quite often and also in the crew cabins. She said it should clear out after leaving port (10:00pm) Since we did not go back in our cabin until 10:00pm and I was not well from the fumes, we ordered room service. After a 60 minutes I called to see about our order. They said they did not have the staff to fill all the orders and to try back a little later. I did call in another order and we finally got some food delivered near midnight. By the way, no one ever called back to see if I was felling better from the fumes in our room. Low key and limited but that should be expected from a smaller ship like this one. If you are looking for lots of activity and are traveling with kids, this would not be the ship for you. We booked off the ship in ports since we could find the same things for a greatly reduced price than booking from the cruise line. The day in Glacier Bay was the highlight of the cruise. Lucky to have perfect weather that day (and all week) which was a bonus. The scenery while cruising is great. The ports are fine and a fun walk around. Everything close to the ship so no big deal to get off, walk around, go back to ship and go back out to town again if you want. Shopping was good and prices good for a tourist environment. Trip was good but cruise line and ship are not good. Again, our 7th cruise but first with Holland America. You only get one chance to make a first impression and HAL failed. They do not compare to other lines we have taken. (Princess and Celebrity) Highly recommend cruises and an Alaska cruise but most definitely not Holland America. Find another cruise line to travel on.

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  • New

Apr 23, 2014

South America

An interesting and somewhat unique itinerary on a dated, but well run ship. The high ratio of sea days to port days was an aspect we liked. Average food for a cruise line. The Pinnacle Grill is nice, but the charge is fairly steep. Fortunately, we were "guests" both times we went there. Reasonably spacious cabin for a standard verandah. Two good enrichment lecturers - a nice "good music" duo, but otherwise pretty routine Two

pretty good ships' offerings in Huatulco and Panama. Three excellent private tours; Monica Tours Peru and Peru Inca Wonders in Lima and [email protected] in Trujillo. We did not hear any complaints about any ship provided excursions Statendam Peru Cruise – March 2014 Why This Cruise? The principal appeal of this cruise was the itinerary. Except for Cabo San Lucas, we had never visited any of the ports of call offered. We had sailed on Veendam, Zaandam and Eurodam among our 32 prior cruises, and thought that Holland America provided a decent, if not exciting, on board experience. The previously unknown ports were Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Fuerto Amador, Panama; Salaverry/Trujillo, Peru and Lima, Peru. So we boarded at San Diego on March 16, and were on our way. Embarkation This was a very bad start. As we told HAL in our survey response, the embarkation was the worst we had ever experienced. Part of this was undoubtedly due to the poor facilities provided by the Port of San Diego, and the difficulty of its location; but a good deal was attributable to the lack of planning and disregard of the passengers’ legitimate needs and expectations by Holland America. We were forced to stand in a line which took well over an hour, without seats, and for part of the time without shade. HAL used only half of the ticket counter stations available. They easily could have rented chairs and a tent to provide seating and shade, in addition to halving the time simply by using all the available stations to check people in. Many of us were, as would be expected, in the “senior citizen” class, and standing for a lengthy period was tiring and stressful. On Board_- Our Accommodations Once checked in we proceeded to our stateroom. It was on Verandah Stateroom Number 174 on Deck 9. The accommodations on all HAL ships are reasonably spacious, and Statendam is no exception. The closets were noticeably larger than on many ships. The couch was full sized and comfortable. There was one side chair which fit under the desk and a coffee table, which apparently has a height adjustment we were never tempted to use. The walls were a light cream color with light brown wood trim, matching the drawers; which were more than adequate for our needs. The bathroom was a little small, but had a tub/shower. The towel racks were minimal, but adequate, and while there was limited shelving for toiletries, a shelf below the sink enabled us to stow everything we needed for regular use. The verandah had teak decking, two wicker arm chairs and a small table. The thermostat may or may not have been connected, and the room was fairly cool, perhaps as an acknowledgement of the southern climes we were to visit. The light switch arrangement, which switch operated which lights, was weird, illogical, and required constant manipulation. The portable hair dryer provided plugged in beneath the desk! The TV setup was only fair. The screen was small, fixed for location, and the programs rather limited. There was a lighted, magnifying cosmetic/shaving mirror which swung out from the wall over the desk, and enabled me to shave sitting down. Cool. HAL’s corridors are decorated with an extensive array of photographs of old ships, passengers, crews etc. There is plenty of public space, and most of it is fairly accessible. The general layout of Statendam is somewhat different from most ships this size. The gross displacement is 55,800 tons, making it slightly smaller than Oceania’s Marina and Riviera. The lower three decks, 4,5 and 6 are largely cabin decks; Decks 7 and 8 contain much of the activities, Deck 9 is almost all verandah staterooms, Deck 10 is mostly devoted to larger suites, but also contains the bridge and an aft outside pool area with deck chairs. Deck 11 is the typical Lido Deck with the buffet aft, the main pool amidships and the spa and gym forward. Deck 12 has the Crow’s Nest, the forward looking lounge, and Hal’s Club for children aft. There is a small “Oasis” aft on 13 with a hot tub, which we never visited. Since our stateroom, No. 174, was on Deck 9, we could reach the Lido deck by walking up only two flights, and most of the activities by walking one or two flights down. This was a very convenient arrangement. The only slight annoyance involved the main dining room. It is a two story affair, located on Decks 7 and 8 aft. The upper level was reserved for the fixed seating dinners, with meals at 5:45 and 8:00. The lower level was for open seating. However, one cannot walk to or from the dining room on Deck 7 because the kitchen facilities block the way. One has to go up to 8 or down to 6 to get through. Not a big deal if you remember it. Deck 8 has the Pinnacle Grill, a number of drinking and casual music venues, and the Explorer’s Lounge where the classical “Adagio” duo played nightly. It also has the Explorer’s Café which, in addition to a small coffee bar, holds the fairly extensive library with very comfortable seating and the computer/internet center. The upper level of the Showroom at Sea is forward. Deck 7 has the Wajang Theatre and Culinary Arts center, featuring movies and cooking demonstrations. It also has the Hudson and Half Moon rooms for meetings, card playing and religious services. The main and shore excursion desks as well as the art and photo galleries are on this deck, as is the main entrance to the showroom. Access to the gangway and tender service is on Deck 3. The space ratio on Statendam is 44.3, which makes it among the better ships at sea for this measure of passenger comfort and service. Food Experience On a scale of 1 – 100; where Crystal scores 98 and Oceania’s Marina 96; Statendam would come in at 84. The main Rotterdam Dining room is not bad for dinner, with a fairly decent selection, and with some lapses, mostly well prepared. They did a superior job with a duck dish, always a bit tricky, but the leg of lamb was tough. Edith was pleased with most of her vegetarian selections, but a couple of them were failures, over salted and not good generally. The Pinnacle grill, which we visited twice, [but did not have to pay for] was excellent, both with respect to the food and the service. We enjoyed our conversation with the maître d’, and the fact that he told us we could leave to make a show and come back for dessert. The Lido breakfast menu was somewhat limited, and uninspiring. Edith missed the miso soup which she had enjoyed on prior HAL cruises, and there were was only a very standard fruit selection. I missed the authentic Vermont maple syrup provided by Oceania and Crystal for the pancakes and French toast. The coffee was not bad for shipboard. Lunch at the Lido occasionally had some interesting items. I enjoyed the sushi, which was always available. Edith was usually able to put together a satisfactory salad. We both enjoyed the pastry selection which was quite good and imaginative. The “Mexican” lunch offered on the pool deck one day was not really Mexican, but a weak California imitation. But then, since we are from Arizona, we have high standards for this particular brand of ethnic food. We had been told originally that only fixed seating was available, and our TA had put us down for early seating. We then found out about the dining room division into fixed seating in the upper level on Deck 8. When we showed up at the maître d’s station on Deck 8 the first night and asked to change, he said he would try later. However, when we were led to our fixed seating assignment, the able was already full. We were then seated with one other person, and the maître d’ came over and placed an “open” tag on our room card so we could use open seating thereafter. We never had to wait very long for seating, and always enjoyed the varied company (mostly new, always enjoyable) each night. After the first few nights, we arranged our seating to conform to the showroom times. HAL decided to offer three shorter shows (35 minutes) each night rather than two longer ones. The show times were 6:30, 8:00 and 10:00. This meant that we could attend the 6:30 show and then proceed to dinner shortly after 7:00. Since we finished dinner at about 9:15 under this arrangement, we could then go to the Explorer Lounge and enjoy the Adagio duo until about 9:45 and then retire for the night. Entertainment As noted above, Hal went to a three show per night format; although one entertainer I spoke to was not thrilled with this plan. The shows ran 35 minutes instead of the normal 45-50 minutes. I think this worked out better for the passengers, giving us more flexibility in planning our evenings. And, to be frank, a shorter show was just fine. The Showroom at Sea is not a great venue. The “orchestra” floor has four levels, with two rows of seating at each level. The seating is either on couches or chairs, with tables for drinks. The rear portion of the lower level has scattered seats and couches with tables also. Visibility is limited to some extent, but our principal problems were the cold temperature and the over amplification. This latter was particularly evident with one solo male singer who had an operatic voice, and did not need amplification at all, but none the less was amplified until it hurt ones ears. The actual offerings were the usual mixture of fair to middling talent. The “production” group was an different mixture, four male singers, two female singers and two female dancers. There was a lady pianist who we had seen on another cruise, and who was continuing to beat her instrument into submission, a ventriloquist, a comedian we did not see and a female harpist, playing an electric amplified small harp, who sounded best when playing solo and not competing with the dance band back up. The “Johnny Cash” guitar act was amusing and fun. The other entertainers around the ship were a piano bar lady pianist/singer who was pretty good, and a nice sounding guitarist. Unfortunately, the timing of their sessions did not work out too well for us. The group we saw most was the Adagio Duo, two young Hungarian men playing piano and violin. Their shows ran from 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. in the Explorer’s Lounge, which seats about 60 people on comfortable chairs and couches, with bar service at a table in the rear. The music ran from classical, most of the light variety, to show tunes and some pop songs, with a little jazz thrown in. We were there most nights for about an hour, and while there was some repetition of the numbers, it was always a very pleasant and relaxing time; and well attended. The Crow’s Nest on Deck 12 also had a disc jockey at night, and we had fun attending one session devoted to ABBA music. Crew As with all HAL ships, a substantial number of the crew, especially the cabin servers and wait staff, were Indonesian. Because Indonesians are Muslim and technically forbidden to use liquor, the bar crews and other alcohol servers were mostly Filipino. This caused some language problems, but, as other HAL travelers have noted, the staff is uniformly smiling and friendly. The Captain was normally seen having lunch in the Lido buffet, often joined by the young Staff Captain, and other officers. The cruise Director joined the ship after it was about six days under way. We were told that HAL had held an in-service meeting for all its cruise directors in Seattle, the site of their home office. His place was taken by Jeremy, who was described as the Entertainment Director. Apparently this is a new position on HAL ships, and I have read, some other cruise lines, who want to take some of the administrative pressure off the Cruise Director so that this individual can have more interaction with the passengers. The Flood At 4:00 A.M. on our fourth night out we were awakened by noise in the hall, and saw water running under our cabin door. We hastened to remove our luggage from under the bed to the balcony. We went outside and saw crew members attempting to deal with water running down the hallway walls and out of the overhead lights sockets. After a few minutes the water stopped, but our carpet was soaked. Fortunately the water did not rise high enough to enter either the bathroom or the closets and drawers. But the floor resembled a wet sponge. We were also fortunate in that we had enough shoes with rubber or otherwise waterproof soles to get around. It took three days with a fan placed on the floor of our cabin to dry it out, and we could not use the cabin for much with the fan on because of the noise. We had to call each night to have someone remove the fan so we could lock the door. About seven other cabins were affected, and it seemed that at least two of them required the fans for a much longer period. HAL at first sent us a bottle of (cheap) wine and a dinner invitation to the Pinnacle Grill. (Our first meal there had been courtesy of our Travel Agent as a birthday present to Edith). Later we received a $150.00 shipboard credit. This was fairly decent, but could have been more without breaking the HAL bank! In any event, we survived with only some minor inconvenience and annoyance; and a story to tell to gain our fellow passengers’ sympathies. Ports of Call Cabo San Lucas. This was a stop from noon to 11:00 P.M. I had contacted a local company which had afternoon snorkeling. The cost was very reasonable, but it was a short excursion. They sent a satellite photo of their location in the large “Mercado” located at the tender pier, but it took a considerable effort to find it, not helped by the many people who cheerfully offered advice and directions which turned out to be wrong. We had been worried about the time since the tenders were an hour late getting started in the harbor which had three other cruise ships anchored; but everything worked out. My companions were a family of three from Missouri staying at a local hotel. The 13 year old son was a PADI certified scuba diver, while his parents snorkeled with me. We were transported to a beach and dropped off while the boat took the son to deeper waters, all near the Arch and swimming beaches. The water was cool, and the fishes somewhat limited in variety, but it is always good to get in the water. Edith simply went back to the ship. The area around the pier is basically a tourist trap with overpriced restaurants, the views enhanced primarily by young ladies on spring break wearing minimalist bikinis. Huatulco. This area has been developed by the Mexican government since the 1980s as a tourist destination. Its major attraction seems to be a string of 7 bays off the ocean. Our stop was for two days. The first day we took a bay cruise on which I had hoped to snorkel. Unfortunately the night before I had scraped my arm badly and did not want to take a chance in the water. The boat, which I had arranged for in advance, was quite large and our fellow passengers, about 80 or so, were, with the exception of four Americans from a local hotel, all Mexican, and mostly family groups complete with grandparents and children. They were cheerful companions, but the music on board was very loud. The bays were attractive, and it was cool and pleasant. We stopped at one so people could both snorkel and swim off the beach. We stayed on board and chatted with the fellow I would call the ‘Cruise Director” since he seemed to be in charge of everything except sailing the boat. He had spent time in Atlanta, and spoke fairly good English. On the way back the boat stopped in another bay where there was a large restaurant, since it was now about 2:00 P.M. This proposed stop did not appeal to us, but our cruise director led us up a hill where we caught a short taxi ride back to the pier for $7.00. This was an interesting if not exciting day, and quite inexpensive. The next day we took a ship’s cruise to what was described as a “Tropical Flowers and Fruit Extravaganza”. This most interesting trip involved a comfortable, air-conditioned 8 passenger van trip about 50 miles into the hills. There we entered the “Hagia Sophia” project, a development founded with the idea of providing local farmers with better, environmentally friendly crops to reduce their reliance on corn. The entrance had some ramadas, and one was laid out with a delicious selection of fresh fruits grown on the site. We then went on an extended, but mostly shady walk through botanical gardens as well as fruit growing areas. The selection and variety was delightful, and our guides quite knowledgeable, with pretty decent English. On the way out we met the owner of this wonderful place. He is Middle Eastern in origin (hence the “Hagia Sophia” –Sacred Wisdom - name); although he actually moved to Mexico from Italy. The farm has been legally conveyed to his children, and he explained his goals to us. This was an inspiring and delightful excursion. Puerto Chiapas. This is the southernmost port city on the Mexican Pacific cost, just a few miles from the Guatemala border. The port is not much. But there was a shuttle to Tapachula, about 18 miles away. There is not much in Tapachula either, although we could get a partially cloud shrouded view of the Tacana volcano about 25 miles beyond Tapachula. However, we had contacted a fellow passenger, Tom, who had been here a year prior, and he said he was taking a taxi from Tapachula to a small town called Santo Domingo about 25 miles north. We decided to join Tom and his wife Peggy, and our shuttle driver located a taxi for us, although not the same one he had used the year before. None the less we made our way through the country side and small towns, stopping briefly at some ruins, where a ship’s tour had conveyed others from on board, to our destination. Tom had been told that German settlers had gone to our destination area and built houses in European style. Our goal was a hotel which purportedly had been started by the Braun family, of Eva Braun notoriety. In any event, we found it and it was delightful, with gabled roofs, a small museum, and a covered porch outside where we had a small post-breakfast snack and enjoyed the view, the cool breeze, and the thoroughly relaxed atmosphere. It was about 1600 feet in altitude. We really hated to leave, it was so pleasant and contrasted most favorably to tourist sites. After the drive back to the ship we shopped at a pier side bazaar and bought some coffee from a German lady who ran a coffee plantation with her German husband. Her teen-aged daughter, who could have walked in from the streets of Heidelberg, handled the cash. This is considered a good coffee growing area and a very expensive ship’s tour took people to a large combination resort hotel and coffee farm. All in all it was a good, and inexpensive day and we greatly enjoyed our private tour and “Alpine” stop. Fuerte Amador. This is the Pacific Ocean gateway to the Panama Canal. It once consisted of a small group of islands occupied by military forts. It is now a long causeway and pier, (although we were required to tender ashore). To the left (actually northwest), is the Bridge of the Americas, which is part of the Pan American Highway, and the first major bridge over the canal. To the right, northeast, is Panama City, a very modern city with at least 100 high rise buildings, many of over 40 stories. The entrances to the canal are always busy, but since we had made the transit in 2002, we did not have much interest in seeing canal operations. So we opted for the “Monkey Watch and Nature Canal Cruise” provided by HAL. This was a good choice. We travelled by a small air conditioned bus, seeing some of the construction of the new enlarged canal locks on the way. They have been delayed but should open next year. We arrived at our “debarkation pier” immediately after crossing the Chagres River which flows west and slightly south from the hills to the east. The bridge is at the junction of the river and the beginning of Gatun Lake after it leaves the channel called the Culebra Cut. We boarded a small boat, (actually two boats for our tour) seating people four wide, with a shade roof overhead. We went out under the bridge we had just crossed and were in Gatun Lake, which at that point runs due east and west, with the Pacific to the south and the Caribbean to the north. After some chugging along, we were able to turn into some bay like portions of the lake, pretty far away from the main transit route, and pull up to the shore. We saw howler monkeys, who stayed in the trees, and white faced capuchin monkeys who climbed on board for their expected mid-day snack. We also had a pretty good view of a river crocodile, and some bird and turtle sightings. On the way back we were passed by several large freight vessels and had a head-on view of a Princess cruise ship making the transit. On the way back to the ship we were advised that we were passing the prison where the former dictator, Manuel Noriega, has been imprisoned since being returned from a French jail in 2011. This was a pleasant and worthwhile day. Salaverry. This is the port for the metropolitan area of Trujillo, which has close to a million population in its extended area. The main reasons to go here are that two ancient ruins are found; the Temples (Huacas) of the Sun and the Moon of the Moche culture which flourished from about 1 A.D. to 800 A.D, and the Palace of Chan Chan of the Chimu culture, which succeeded the Moche culture and lasted until the Incas took over in about 1450 A.D. We wanted to do a small group tour, and located a provider through the recommendations of a guide book. This firm was found at, and the e-mail address is [email protected] Michael White is an English accountant,, but we never found out his actual role. In any event, they offer a wide range of services and vehicles at $60.00 per person for a small group and $100.00 for one person. We had worked out arrangements for one other couple on the Cruise Critic roll call, but they cancelled their cruise due to illness a few days prior to sail date. We were approached by another couple at the Meet and Greet, and the four of us joined together. We met Clara, our guide at the pier, and drove off in a small, newer van. Clara had been studying and visiting these two archeological sites since their early discovery days in the 1970s, and was immensely well informed. The Palaces of the Sun and the Moon were indeed amazing with regard to the preservation of their tile murals and rooms. The architecture was incredible for people working basically with small hand tools, without iron or steel. Our companions faded out after a while, but Edith and I managed to see and go just about everywhere. We then visited the Chan Chan ruins, which were very extensive, although not as dramatic. We also went into Trujillo proper and visited the main square, which has been described, I am sure with accuracy, as one of the cleanest and most attractive central squares in Latin America. We also visited a small and attractive museum there. On the way back the husband who was with us pulled a muscle in his leg, and could not walk. Fortunately the dock supervisors allowed our van driver to drive directly up to the gangway, where he was put in a ship’s wheel chair and pushed back on board. Except for this problem, we thought that the tour was an extremely good value; and we highly recommend it. Lima. This was our final port, although it was only the halfway point for most of our fellow cruisers, who were returning to San Diego after several different port stops on the way back. And some were squeezing in a trip to Machu Picchu in the three days Statendam would be in port in Callao. We thought the round trip to be too long, and did not feel up to Machu Picchu. Our return to Phoenix would be after two days here, and we had the consideration of filling in the final day where our flight did not leave until 11:55 P.M. The first day we decided to join a group put together on Cruise Critic, since the number would be limited to eight. This was with a firm called Peru Inca Wonders; found at The tour was to begin at 10:00 A.M. and return at 4:00. Through no fault of the tour company, things got off to a delayed and aggravating start. The Port of Callao is very large and quite busy. Even though our pier location was as close to the exit as it could have been, private tours were not allowed past the exit, so a shuttle was necessary. While large buses for the ships tours could pick up their passengers, shuttles to the gate were limited to two or three small vans. Some of those passengers catching these vans were carrying luggage because they were doing Machu Picchu on their own, rather than paying the very high price charged by HAL for its Machu Picchu trip. In addition, there were a large number of people like us, doing private tours. And, to add to the problem, the ship was late getting port clearance. The result was mass confusion where the shuttles were being filled, and even further delay. It was almost noon before we got to the gate and found our tour. We believe HAL could have done a much better job in both providing shuttle service, and organizing the boarding process. Our tour actually had a small bus which was only partly filed with the eight of us, the tour guide, the owner/operator’s sister and the driver. Our first stop was the Pachacama Ruins, a series of structures and a major pyramid constructed by the Huari people between 800 and 1200 A.D. Eventually, they were conquered by the Incas. We climbed a sloping road up a few hundred feet to a vantage point where we could see the Pacific Ocean to the West. The ruins are about 20-30 miles south of Lima proper. We were not allowed inside these ruins, and I am not sure what rooms there really are. The size is impressive, but lacking the marvelous tile mosaics of the Moche ruins in Trujillo. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of these ruins is that they have withstood all the earthquakes common to this area, and they are of adobe brick construction. We then drove down the oceanside near the Municipality of Miraflores, one of several cities that really are part of Lima. There are several public beaches here. Above the beaches there is a city park, running almost a mile, with trees, statuary and benches. This is a first class area, and contains many handsome high rise apartments and condos with balconies providing ocean views. Since this was a Sunday, the beaches were busy with a number of surfers. We then went back into Lima proper, past areas which were truly slums to the center of town. The Lima metropolitan area has about 10,000,000 – yes that’s ten million – people. In the center of town we visited one of many old churches, the St. Francis Monastery, which still is active and is the residence for some Franciscan monks. Beneath the church we visited the catacombs, whose construction began in 1540. There are at the bones of at least 25,000 people here. Our guide explained that within the catacombs are several circular “wells”, although dry, which held bones. It is thought that the circular nature of these wells allowed the catacombs to absorb the many earthquakes which have struck Peru and this area. Our guide told us, as we looked up at the low ceilings and rough walls that “we were in the safest place in Lima.” Afterwards we walked around the main square, and then went to a restaurant because one of our number was very hungry. Most of us did not eat, but merely had good coffee. I took a bite of one dish a baked mixture of beans and rice, and it was quite good, although our friend who ordered it, and who was from Santa Cruz County in southern Arizona, agreed with me that it needed some good Mexican hot sauce. We then returned to the ship, arriving at 6:00 due to the delay in starting. This was a pretty good tour for $115.00 per person. We had been asked, prior to sailing, to pay with “new” $100.00 bills. As noted, we were scheduled to fly out of Lima at 11:55 P.M. on our second day in port. This meant that we would be disembarked, with the luggage, from the ship sometime prior to noon so that our cabin could be prepared for a new arrival sailing to San Diego. We were concerned about how we could deal with our luggage for that extended period of time, especially if we wanted to see more of Lima. Fortunately we located a company on the net that promised high flexibility and coordination with our needs. This was “Monica Tours Peru”, and they are worthy of the highest praise. Their website is: and e-mail is [email protected] . We found another couple who had the same flight as us, so we hooked up with Monica, who agreed to carry our bags and to drop us off at the airport. She met us at the port exit gate at 10:00 A.M. Since this was the second day in port, and all the tour buses had left much earlier, we had no trouble getting to the port gate, although the turnstiles made baggage handling a slight problem. Monica provided a nice van which easily held all our luggage, and we were on our way. There actually was another guide whose English was better than Monica’s, although she was with us, running things with a nice smile, the whole day. We made our tour choices from a “menu” provided to us on line before we arrived. This was a detailed, thorough and knowledgeable tour. We stopped again at the upper park in Miraflores for a better look at its features; we went to the beautiful Saint Dominic Priory, and the Aliagra Virreynal House in central Lima. Only part of this house is a museum, the rest of it is the home of the Aliaga family which has lived there since the founding of the city in 1535. Truly amazing! We had lunch at a local restaurant in Miraflores. Its other patrons seemed to be all young, nicely dressed office workers, and the feature was chicken roasted over an open spit. It was pretty good, and when I got my credit card bill it was only about $20.00 for both of us. We also spent time shopping in an Indian artifacts bazaar nearby, and Edith bought some stuff for her daughters for very little money. They accepted U.S. dollars, but did not want to take one of our $20.00 bills because it was slightly torn. We spent a good deal of time at the marvelous Larco Herrera Museum, which we had been told by the archeological enrichment speak on board was an absolute must when visiting Lima. How right she was! It has a wonderfully complete collection of pre-colonial artifacts going back 3000 years, including literally thousands of Moche pottery pieces, mostly dating from 800 to 1200 A.D., and in superb condition. The pictorial representations on the pottery is extremely sophisticated and still has pretty good coloration. The fabrics are very colorful, and while I loved our local Navajo weaving many of these Peruvian textiles are quite admirable. The museum also has an attractive garden and a very nice looking restaurant, but we could not stay for dinner We also visited several of Lima’s Plazas. Our tour cost was $110.00 per person, which for an almost nine hour excursion with delivery to the airport is most reasonable. We were required to pay separately for each museum, but Monica had sent us a price list by e-mail, so there were no surprises. Our trip to the airport, which is actually in Callao, took some time as it was during rush hour. All the local buses we saw were completely full, and the bus stops had long lines. We did not think that we wanted to live in Lima due its crowding, poor transportation and overall third world economy. Miraflores is an upper class area, but the city is still too big for us. Peruvians are uniformly friendly and prices seemed reasonable, and this is true of South America generally. We arrived at the airport between 7:00 and 8:0 P.M., but took the time to rearrange our luggage and get a small bite to eat. Overall we were very grateful for Monica’s transportation of our luggage in the van all day and then to the airport. It gave us a full and very delightful second day in Lima. Fellow Passengers. Our companions on board were typical of a HAL ship; mostly American and largely senior. There were only a very few children along for this journey which lasted 31 days for about 80% of the passenger complement. As noted, some were using HAL to provide the Machu Picchu tour, some went on their own and planned to re-board, some opted to end their cruise in Lima as spend as much time as they wished exploring Machu Picchu. The HAL cost was $3000.00 per person, far more than one would pay using one’s own resources and the wide range of available tour companies; but those choosing HAL wanted (a) comfort and (b) security for the return to the ship. Cruise Notes PA announcements were fairly well limited. The internet charges were $60.00 for 115 minutes – fairly good. Daily news sheets were available in American, English, Canadian Australian German and Dutch editions, although only the American version was available in the Lido buffet. There was a lot of ship announcements and handouts about sanitation and health issues, but we never heard of anyone being sick, and none of the many people we talked to had either. Despite what was reported on the Cruise Critic Roll Call that there would be 8 formal nights, we only had two on our half, and I can’t believe there were any more than that sailing home. At the most, 10% of the men were in tuxes. The interpretation of “smart casual” for dining on other nights was heavily oriented to “casual” with polo shirts and short sleeve shirts being very common. A little too “casual” and not “smart” enough I thought. Conclusion Despite some glitches, a poor embarkation, a flooded cabin, the shuttle foul-up in Callao, and some cuisine lapses; it was a cruise we greatly enjoyed, primarily for the places we visited and the people we travelled with. We often mused about whether or not we should have done the whole 31 days, but now, agree that it was too long. As I am typing this, Statendam is still en route from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego! Maybe next year we will fly to Lima and sail home. Bon Voyage!

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  • New

Apr 25, 2013

Panama Canal

The Canal is the real point of this 2 week itinerary. It is one day but well worth the wait to see one of the wonders of the world. Ship had been updated so was looking very nice. It is a smaller and older ship but if you do not like crowded conditions, this was fine. There was only one time we had a problem finding a table on the Lido deck and that was when all the tours returned at lunch time in Cartagena. I think almost everyone had been off

the ship and so wanted lunch at the same time. The food was exceptional in all regards. Had an interior room which was fine but relatives had a partial view room and it was larger--resulting in an extra closet for hangups. On a two week cruise with 4 formal nights that would be helpful but no real problem as there was still lots of storage. We just layered some hangars and folded some things in drawers or on the shelves. Note: the window view rooms have a tub--a very high sided tub so my relatives had a time getting in and out of it. The interior rooms have a very modern updated shower--much better for us. The exercise options were only early am--would have liked some options later in the morning. Water aerobics was always full--needed more sessions of that. They had random games which were actually fun and different every day. We got a full tour of the kitchen--they actually added one on during the cruise because we and others missed the one offered the first day. If you want a tour of the kitchen, check your pre departure schedule. It was very interesting. Movies were first rate--new releases. Captain's presentation on the history of HAL was very interesting with lots of pics and a history of cruising in general. They gave two pre-canal presentations on the canal history and operation which were excellent and a pre stop overview of ports. We did the Puerto Vallarta tour and visit to the Ranchito where tequila is made, folkloric dancing and lunch. it was excellent. Well worth the reasonable price. We also did a scenic tour of Huatulco--also good value. You could also just take a taxi to the nearby town of La Crucesita which has an old Town Square--really lovely. Good shopping. The other stops in Chiapas and Quetzal were really nothing unless you wanted to spend alot of time and money traveling to the interior of Mexico/Guatemala so they became ship days in addition to the sea days. The best port beyond the canal itself was Cartagena, Colombia after the canal trip. We took the horse drawn carriage and it was great way to see the walled city. Otherwise you have to walk and since it is so hot, the open carriage was great. It did not really cost much more than the vans that take you to the walled city for a walking tour. None of the stops in the good locations: Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Cartagena were long enough to explore much. The other stops were only to allow passengers to travel inland. I heard passengers commenting that going to and from Quetzal to Antigua was on really winding roads and one bus broke down so they lost the time they would have had in Antigua.

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By Gigi_CR

  • New

Sep 27, 2011

Angrage to Vancouver

If you are not 75 years old, it is better take another cruise. The ship is very organized to board and leave the ship, but the entertainment is fit most seniors test. Most I want to let every one know do not buy last 3 period cruise. I had Sept 18, it was strong storm. The ship top in Seward 36 hours, we only stop in Juneau and direct back to Vancouver. It not happen often, but it happened this year. The ship is too small to go

through the storm. The food is great and there was a lot. Nothing to say about the stateroom. My stateroom was not done properly. I have to ask the manager toredo it. And they give me $50 credit. The hallway looks so old. Activities most fit Seniors. Not enough choice. Could you believe one class for MSN photo edit for whole week. If you're not taking your grandma to the cruise, it is better to take another cruise ship.

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By Bob_CR

  • New

Sep 6, 2011


Major issue with misrepresentation of offering. Major pricing deception on boat. 16 oz draft beers were advertized, but sold in 12 oz glasses. There were no 12 oz glasses available. Brought up issue with staff with no response. Would like to know if this is an issue with just this ship or does it involve other boats in the fleet. Wrote up my concerns in my evaluation and other issues were addressed ,but no response about pricing deception,

asked a second time with still no response. Food was average Stateroom was what we signed up for, clean , etc. Trip was what we expected.. Most of our issues were in regards to the one week land touring before the cruise. False promotions of beer offerings must stop.

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