by M. Maxine George
I was fortunate to be on board Holland America's Ryndam on the Vancouver to San Francisco portion of its repositioning cruise last fall. It was my first opportunity to experience Holland America's hospitality. Believe me I now know how they maintain their well deserved reputation for excellence. From the moment you place yourself into Holland America's hands until you disembark, the staff will try to make your stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Holland America has, for four years in a row, been named the "Best Overall Cruise Value," by A&E, because they say that "Holland America consistently presents more than ever dreamed possible in a cruise." I traveled with a group of well-traveled writers who are fairly picky, having seen it all. We discussed it amongst ourselves and could not find a fault with our cruise! Holland America had impressed us!
You will find a wide range of activities at your disposal. A fitness centre with activities for all ages, gambling in their onboard casino, sports, an art auction, swimming in either their outdoor pool or their indoor pool with a retractable glass dome (for inclement weather,) duty-free shopping, gourmet dining, dancing, a movie theatre, a constant circuit of activities which you may chose to join or not. Broadway style stage shows are offered each evening. For those looking for a quieter pace the library has a good choice of current books, a card room and puzzle corner are amongst the many public rooms. If you want to feel truly pampered you might try the massage, sauna and steam rooms, and for the ladies - the beauty salon.
There is no pressure to join any activity - the choice is always yours. I found a lot to do. The ship's daily paper arrives at your door each morning to let you know what will be happening aboard ship that day. You may chose to do as much or as little as you wish.
The ship docked in Seattle, affording us the opportunity to take a city tour or just to go out into the city to see what we wished of the city. I discovered the heart of a city that had been my a neighbouring city for most of my life, but had been a relative stranger until that tour. Seattle is a great city. I will go back again when I can spend time revisiting some of the places that particularly appealed to me. Cruising is an easy way to see the world. You don't need to repack your suitcase to travel to a new city each day. Your hotel travels with you. Unpack when you arrive and don't repack until you reach the end of your cruise.
I became aware of several things during the trip. No one age group ruled supreme. There seemed to be a cross section of the population represented amongst the passengers on board ship - families, honeymooners, singles and seniors were all there. I sat with an elderly lady at breakfast one morning, who told me she was 83 years old and this would be her seventh trip through the Panama Canal. The lady had been cruising for twenty years and been on many cruises throughout the world. She went on to say that she was a widow, but never had a worry about traveling on a cruise ship alone as passengers were so well looked after. She found there were always friendly people around, so never felt lonely. Another aspect of cruising that she found reassuring was that there was always medical assistance available should anyone require it. A doctor and nurses are available in the ship's infirmary to assist passengers and staff who require medical attention.
For those who enjoy good food, cruises offer the best! Gourmet food comes in your choice of venues. The Rotterdam Dining Room provides an elegant ambience for dining in style. The two level dining room is connected by a pair of grand staircases. A string quartet serenades you while your choice of the gourmet food offered is being served in elegance. For breakfast and lunch you may opt for eating in the Lido Restaurant, which serves fantastic buffets in a more casual style. If you get the late night nibblies, the Lido Restaurant also offers a late night buffet. Add to this several other snack bars and five lounges, one never needs to suffer from the pangs of hunger or thirst on a cruise! For those who really want to "get away from it all," there is 24 hour room service available.
If you don't feel like engaging in any other activity, just strolling the different decks on the ship can be a fascinating pastime. The Ryndam features a collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century art and artifacts valued at over $2 million. The theme centres on a time of adventure and discovery.
As I said at the beginning, cruising is a way to feel like a Greek tycoon on your own yacht. Now that you've read about it, I ask you, "What more could anyone ask for in a cruise?"
By M. Maxine George
For further information:
Holland American Line
300 Elliott Ave. West, Seattle, Washington 98119
Telephone: (206) 281-3535 Fax: (206) 281-7110
Or contact your local travel agent
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