A bucket list item completed. The trip was everything, and actually much more, than I anticipated.

Volendam Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 1 cruise (first)
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 28

Overall rating:

4.9 out of 5
Verified Review

15 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (San Diego To Ft. Lauderdale)

Sail date: January 03, 2019

Ship: Volendam

Cabin type: Oceanview

Cabin number: 1848

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

It was a wonderful ship cruise I would mark as absolutely necessary for every human being who wishes for more than just the cruise at sea experience and the sights thereof. The historical endeavors of governments, individuals, and the hard labor of men and women to achieve a true wonder of all time, the Panama Canal, is beyond description in this cruise. Holland America brought to us (especially by dedicated individuals like Captain Turner, Jude and Justin) all one can possibly expect in a cruise plus an educational historical summary of all the areas visited to include entertainment and relaxation beyond description. This cruise was fulfilling, exciting, adventurous, and luxurious beyond my expectations. I extend my personal heartfelt thanks to Holland America and all of the Volendam cruise ship crew.


5 out of 5
All the support people were friendly and helpful.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
We ate most of our meals at the buffet. The choices on the buffet line never disappointed my wife or me. At times it was crowded in the buffet line, but never unreasonably so; travelers were always friendly and we met new friends. The servers, regardless of the crowd, remained on-top-of-things, remained courteous and professional - never an issue. We did attend the dining room for dinner four times. These experiences could not have been more pleasant or accommodating. We met very interesting travelers when we shared a dining table. The servers were always professional and very friendly.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
The On Deck for a Cause (cancer research activity) was special to my wife and me. We would have made this event everyday if it was offered - for many personal and practical reasons. Windows 10 meetings were well received and very informative. Plenty of activities for everyone in our 6-person group. Never board - every day's activities resulted in "where did the time go?"


5 out of 5
All entertainment was exceptionally well scheduled. I'm not sure how to do it better, but I often wished that the Main Stage seating area was larger so everyone who wished to attend events could find a seat. I say this because we felt privileged to actually feel personally close to the entertainers and did not want to miss even one minute of their performances. The Volendam dancers, singers and musicians were all a beautiful, energetic, lovely professional group of entertainers. Could they have done better -- NO! Could they have given us more of their outstanding performances -- ABSOLUTELY!

Children's Programs

Retired with no children with us on this cruise.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
All ship and service personnel were outstanding. I want to especially thank Cory and Budi for always, and I mean always, going beyond the call of duty to keep everyone's room in our group in perfect condition - not once did they ever pressure us or make us feel uncomfortable regardless of the schedules we kept or our need for privacy. Outstanding, beyond professional and extraordinarily friendly people. THANK YOU!!

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
This is my wife's and my 1st cruise. Therefore, I can't reasonably compare this ship to others. I can say we were pleasantly busy every day. We can't imagine not having the daily-schedule-of-events so that we could plan our day. We stayed so busy with ship activities and events that, other than sleeping (slept like logs), we were seldom in our cabins for more than a few minutes. That means to my wife and me that you folks, along with the Holland America's ship designers, did it RIGHT. The going beyond to provide hand-sanitize stations everywhere we looked was great. We used them religiously and felt always that we were in an exceptionally clean environment; never stuffy or foul air or questionable air flow.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Other than to sleep or rest, we were seldom in our cabin. I can say we never had a problem with any of our stateroom accommodations. There is nothing I can mention that would have made it better for us. It was especially nice to be able to adjust our AC/heat and that it was so very quiet and efficient. In fact, our stateroom was so nice and quiet that we rested and slept better than in our own bedroom at home.

Ship tip

To the Ship's planners: we very much wanted to have more time on Half Moon Cay. Suggest that could be a two day stay knowing that a lot has to do with the weather. "Could it always be as beautiful as our short time there?" Be sure to have and apply plenty of Sun Block; have a full brim hat with a tie down and long sleeve thin shirt. Be careful the amount of time spent in the sun.

Ports of call

San Diego, California

5 out of 5
Just the way it should be...all went very well. No excursion.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

5 out of 5
We walked the sea wall area and just took it all in. We spent some time at Our Lady of Quadalupe church in old town. We felt good about this port and would like to come back to see and experience more of what the city can offer. No excursion.

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5
We so enjoyed the port itself, but especially the walk we took to town of La Crucecita from Las Cruces. We just enjoyed the whole area; a lunch at a cafe next to the old town center square was especially nice. It was nice because there was no, or very little pressure, from the sidewalk vendors. Nice people willing to show us and talk to us about the town.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

4 out of 5
Mostly a cargo port, however, we visited the visitor terminal, had lunch, watched some Iguanas show off. Very pleasant and enjoyed talking with the vendors. We especially enjoyed being outside, drinking the local beer, Gallo, and the pleasantly warm weather.

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

5 out of 5
The town of Corinto and our visit of Costa Rica were our favorite ports of this cruise. The people of Corinto were especially friendly. Often it takes just one person to make a huge impression. A young man (18 yrs) named, Amando, was really good in showing us Corinto: where he, his siblings and mother lived, his school and meeting with his English teacher, a museum, a church, visited with a few of his friends, helped us to understand a bit of the culture and just an all around great time. He took us on this tour via his tri-cycle.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
We wish we had more time to experience this port. Costa Rica is beautiful, exciting, and full of enticement to explore. We did the Tram / Zip Line excursion. This excursion I would recommend to everyone. The Zip Line is not at all intimating and truly gives one the experience of excitement, a bit of a Rain Forest, a great walk in the Forest and a wonderful lunch by the park contractors.

Enter Panama Canal At Balboa

5 out of 5
What can I say? This is an experience of extraordinary historical value and wonder. Our ship, the Panama Canal operations to include watching other ships pass through, the "mules," tug boats, waterways, dams, Bridges of the Americas, etc, all accumulates into a one of a kind experience; and the weather could not have been better. The Canal's Operations salute to our Captain Turner via the horn blasts for his last passage as a ship's captain was heart warming. I felt our captain was very special, especially after hearing his story and answering questions of the passengers during one of our scheduled events in the Main Stage.

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
The port was beautiful, especially the high-rise buildings viewed from a distance as we entered and progressed into the harbor. We did an excursion to the Aviary to hear the history of the area and also see and experience the exotic birds on the island of Baru. Notable was how poor the residents lived, yet how expensive the land was to purchase.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

5 out of 5
We loved our time on this beautiful key. We suggest to the Holland American trip planners to stay anchored (weather permitting) for two days in this paradise. We wanted to do so much more while here, ie. paddle board, corral reef experiences, swimming, walking the paths, more swimming, snorkeling, etc. before leaving.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

4 out of 5
Well, it marks the end of our journey, a good thing I suppose, but sad. We chose to stay a few days after the cruise to enjoy the area and visit NASA's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral before flying home


5 out of 5
All went without a hitch. The entire experience was beyond our imagination, especially the Panama Canal passage itself. Now a bucket list item completed...I think we will do it again.
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