Holland America Line
January 12, 2001 ~ 15-Day Circle Hawaii
On January 12, we boarded the Statendam in San Diego for a 15-day roundtrip
cruise to Hawaii. It's a pleasure to write a review of such a totally
To provide a context for this review, I'll tell you that we are a long-married
couple in our mid-fifties, and this was our 21st cruise. We love cruising
and have enjoyed every cruise we've been on, though some more than others, of
course. I write very dry reviews, so if you get bored easily, you might
want to stop reading now!
We arrived at the terminal about noon. We stood on line for about 15
minutes, but registration took only a couple of minutes once we got to the desk.
Then we sat around till our number was called for boarding, but that wasn't too
bad because we sat with Ermalee, Bill, and Judi Carpenter and her friend Debbie.
We were in our cabin - WITH our luggage - by 1:30.
We thought the Statendam was a lovely ship. This was something of a
relief, because someone in a recent r.t.c. review reported that she thought this
the ugliest ship she'd ever seen. While it wasn't the most beautiful ship
we've been on (I think that honor goes to the Splendour), we didn't find
anything offensive and we thought it very pretty. I particularly liked the
Van Gogh showroom, thought it was just gorgeous.
We had booked an outside cabin guarantee and were pleased with cabin 664 on Main
deck. Like all the cabins we've seen in this class of ship, it was
spacious and very comfortable. It was a little smaller than our mini-suite
on the Veendam, a little larger than our outside cabin on the lower Promenade
deck on the Zaandam. There were 4 closets with adjustable racks and
shelves, 6 large drawers, two night tables with 2 drawers each. We enjoyed
the full-length sofa with the height-adjustable coffee table and the tiny but
The food on this cruise was simply fabulous. We generally had breakfast in
our cabin, lunch sometimes in the Lido buffet or the dining room, dinner
invariably in the dining room. There were other options; Howard enjoyed
the lunches out on deck at the pool, and our tablemates sometimes had dinner in
the Lido. Buffet food was very good. The ice cream bar was
wonderful, though I didn't see things like bowls of peeled pistachio nuts as I
have on other HAL cruises. Dining room food was varied and delicious.
We had the best lobster tails we've ever had anywhere, and all the standard
cruise yummies like prime rib, escargot, caviar, roast duck, lamb chops.
The desserts were just incredible; if you like chocolate, Holland America is the
line for you. There was chocolate this, that, and the other thing every
day. Their flourless chocolate cake was the best I've ever had, even
better than what Royal Caribbean serves up. Our pleasure in the meals was
enhanced by our delightful table companions, the aforementioned Ermalee, Bill,
Judi, and Deb.
HAL is known for weak entertainment, but I think they've worked on improving
this. The production shows were terrific. There was a good variety
of other entertainment: comedians, a magician, a concert pianist, a
ventriloquist, and more. In the small lounges, there was a wonderful
string group that played sweet mellow music, a singer and pianist, a small
combo, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. The orchestra was wonderful,
and played at a couple of events as well as at shows.
While I don't attend these, there was every variety known to man (and woman):
pool games, trivia, name that tune, napkin folding, flower arrangement, horse
racing, port and science lectures, crafts-making, to name just a few.
There were several deck parties and of course HAL's popcorn-accompanied movies
The Statendam's casino deserves special mention, as it was the best-run casino
I've played in. All the staff were friendly and helpful; more than once I
saw staff patiently spend lots of time teaching people how to play not just
table games, but slots as well. There were a number of tournaments, and
there were times when table minimums were very low - 25 cent roulette, $1
blackjack and poker, etc. There were also a couple of free-drink events.
There was a good variety of slots. Worth mentioning is that some new rule
went into effect during our cruise; the casino had to close for the 5 days
and nights we were in Hawaii; I'm not sure if this was a state rule or what,
certainly it was not of the ship's doing. The casino staff put this too
good use, spending one night teaching games,
letting passengers act as dealers to the real dealers, holding a free slot
Service on this cruise was utterly superb. One got the impression that the
crew were a happy and practiced team. Our room steward was the best we've
ever had, and that's saying quite a lot, as we've had wonderful stewards on
practically every cruise. Our waiter, assistant, and head waiter were
fabulous, knowing what we usually wanted but never assuming anything. We
were cheerfully given whatever we asked for, from multiple choices of a
particular course to variations from what was on the menu. We were truly
We had five days at sea, followed by stops at the big island (Hilo and Kona),
Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, then another five days at sea. Since we love sea
days, we thought this was a fabulous itinerary. We took no excursions but
rather toured on our own, renting cars at three ports and using public
transportation at the other two. If anyone would like info about what we
did in the ports, I'd be happy to answer your questions. We saw numerous
whales and dolphins just from the decks of the ship. Bring your binoculars
on this cruise!
A frequent topic of discussion on r.t.c. is whether quality on line X has
slipped. We've only been sailing HAL for 4 years and this was only our
third HAL cruise, so I don't have a large basis for comparison, but here are my
observations. Food on Holland America has improved greatly, and it was
very good to start with. Service is still excellent, but has slipped a
little; only people obviously needing assistance with trays are now helped in
the Lido restaurant. Public restrooms are still stocked with real towels -
but only with a few that are soon used up. There were no flowers or robes
in our cabin. I was very disappointed at the flowers in public rooms
because there were few and they were small - but a day or two after we left
Hawaii, the huge gorgeous bouquets I'm used to seeing on HAL ships began to
spring up everywhere. Entertainment has definitely improved. In
general, a HAL cruise is still gracious and luxurious.
IN CONCLUSION -- I wanna go back!
2001 Eileen Garland
America Line Cruise Reviews