Trip of a Lifetime

Volendam Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 14

Overall rating:

5 out of 5

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

Sail date: March 04, 2019

Ship: Volendam

Cabin type: Oceanview

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

It is a cruise I will remember forever and would like to do again someday. Holland America will have my patronage again and again because of the amazing experience we had. Don't forget to have the Canal rolls during the morning of the transit. They are AMAZING!


5 out of 5
We arrived at the port after being picked up at the airport by Holland America. There was no line to wait in when we arrived, the security screening process was really easy and even with titanium knees, going through the magentometer was not a harrowing experience. When we got to the check in window our cruise cards were printed and waiting for us. We just had to get our picture taken and then we went and got on the ship. The team at the check in desk was very helpful answering questions. Getting to our stateroom was really easy and the ship is extremely walkable so we didn't get exhausted getting to our stateroom.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
The Lido Market has a wide variety of options in food. The breads were amazing in their variety. The bacon bread was one of my favorites in the sliced breads. The salad bar had a lot of variety, and if you are lucky enough to get Cris to make your salad, you will get to hang out with one of our favorite people on board. The lemonade is addictive. We probably drank more lemonade that water in the trip. Canaletto's was our favorite specialty restaurant. The Beef Short Ribs and Gnocchi were incredible. The short ribs were tender and fell apart with a fork. The gnocchi were not chewy like most can be. Oh yum! Rudi's Sel De Mer was another specialty restaurant that we ate at. It was not our favorite, but I am not a huge seafood eater so it isn't a surprise for us. The Main Dining room was really good. The service was great and the turkey I had was moist and edible not dry and chewy. Breakfast in the Main Dining Room was really good as well. I love their. bacon and bangers. The Banana Bread french toast was unexpected and really good.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
We had so much to do on board, it turned into chose one because you can't do it all. The Sea View pool was just cold enough to counteract the heat of the sun and made sitting in the pool really pleasant. The pool under the dome is really beautiful and heated, but we never got into it preferring the colder pool. We never made it to the fitness center, but we did the stairs on the ship so much, we really didn't need to find it.


5 out of 5
We had a lot of fun at the shows. They are very popular, so you had to arrive early to get the seat you wanted for the 8:00 show or to get a seat at all for it. The ship entertainers are very talented and a pleasure to watch and listen too. The guest performers were varied and we really enjoyed them. Hyperion Knight was a highlight because I have never been around that level of pianist that could interact with the audience, explain the music and play it so beautifully. He was really nice to talk to as well when we were around the ship.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Our room stewards Putu and Alan were the best. The cruise was over my birthday and they did a great job making my birthday special even though we didn't pay for a birthday package. They kept the room spotless and always a sanctuary when we were tired from other activities. As stated before Cris was a favorite waiter. She is also in Canaletto as waitstaff and she is so sweet and helpful. The customer service desk was so incredibly helpful with questions. It was nice to have to go see them, just to be able to say hi.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
I had read a lot of reviews that said the ship was showing its age and I was worried about the decor. Those reviews were not to be believed. The ship is so well cared for. I have no idea what those reviews were negative about. The maintenance crew was doing some of the usual maintenance while we were on the ship, but they weren't obtrusive and short of when they varnished some wood, you never knew they had been working when they left the area. The ship is only 9 decks and incredibly walkable. We were rarely on the elevator unless we were going from deck 2 to deck 8 or 9. The stairs were so easy to do. You have to check out the elevators. They have mats that tell you what day of the week it is. It was really easy to forget as you relaxed on the ship. There is sculpture and art everywhere. It was fun to walk around the ship and discover another piece in an unexpected spot.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
We were able to upgrade to this state room a couple weeks before the cruise. It was roomy, comfortable, had lots of closet space and lots of hangers as well. The in room safe was easy to use and secure. The bathroom was really nice and had shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower. We didn't pack any of those items and now I wish we had some of the products at home because they were so nice. The couch was really comfortable as well. One thing to know is you will need to go to Guest Services to get a power strip if you have more than one item to plug in because you are not allowed to bring your own power strips on board due to a fire hazard. Also, do not bring irons of any type and spend the money to get the unlimited laundry. There are no laundromats on board and the laundry service is phenomenal.

Ship tip

You need to go find the secret decks on deck 6 and 7 aft. There is a good chance you will be alone on those decks and they are really comfortable. Deck 6 is air conditioned in spots when it is really hot, so it was a wonderful. Go out there for the Panama Canal transit and you will get really great pictures without people in them.

Ports of call

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

5 out of 5
We did a land and sea excursion. We saw some really beautiful areas of the area. I got to buy some of my favorite Mexican sodas while we were there and found a new one that I really like.

Puerto Chiapas (Tapachula), Mexico

5 out of 5
This was a really great excursion. The demonstrations at the planetarium were very educational and informative. The ruins were also beautiful and there was a variety of plants in addition to the ruins to see and learn about history.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

5 out of 5
This was probably my favorite port. Antigua is so beautiful. We got to see an active volcano, we were there at the start of Lent and the town was full of people dressed in native dress. The colors were spectacular. The cobblestone streets were difficult and fun to walk on. Unfortunately I am not sure how many more people who read this review will get to see Antigua as the cruise lines are starting to remove it from their itineraries.

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

5 out of 5
We had a really great excursion here. We did a private excursion with Reynaldo Romero 505.8296.0670 or 505.88235931. We got to see more places in our excursion that we ever would have if we had taken a ship excursion. We got to eat bananas that had only been off the tree less than 24 hours, we saw volcanos, mud pots. Leon was so gorgeous! We went to an art museum and saw beautiful art and pictures, we went to the top of the cathedral and saw the gorgeous views. We also went to a local mercado and saw all kinds of products available for purchase. The guava's were huge, as were the avocados. The produce variety was incredible. If you get a chance to do a tour with Reynaldo, please tell him hi from Heidi. I hope to be able to go do another tour in Nicaragua with him again.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
We had so much fun at this excursion. We got to see some rare red Macaws, a couple sloths, a toucan and that was unusual. They maintain a natural forest in that excursion, so you are never guaranteed to see animals and they are upfront about it. The tram was really cool. The variety of plant life was really neat.

Enter Panama Canal At Balboa

5 out of 5
We woke up at 5:00 am to enjoy the canal transit from the very start. From our state room, we were able to see the pilots for the transit board the ship and see supplies be loaded onto the ship. The transit started about an hour before we were expecting so we went under the Bridge of the America's before the bow was opened. I hurried back to the secret deck on Deck 6 and was able to get some of the best pictures of the area without people in it. I was almost eye level with the locomotive operator and was able to talk to him for a little bit.

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
The transit is amazing. It sprinkled on us for a little while so we had to retreat inside the ship and look at the scenery. The jungle is gorgeous and we were able to see where the Chagras River emptied into Gatun Lake. It wasn't until we were in Gatun Lake that we saw two way traffic. We were also able to see ships in the new locks from a distance.The bird life was incredible along the shores. The brown pelicans were diving into the water very near our ship catching their dinner.

Exit Panama Canal At Cristobal

5 out of 5
I went and sat in our state room window for the transit of the last set of locks. It was really great to watch the world rise above our stateroom window, see the paint on the side of the locks, get a look at the lock gates and how enormous they were. It was amazing to be on deck 2 and be eye level with the canal employees and wave high to them. I won't forget that view of the transit for a long time.

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
Cartegena is beautiful! The traffic is crazy, and I was glad we weren't driving. We got to see a view of the old part of the town and the fort. Our excursion was the jewelry making excursion. They had raw emeralds drilled out and they pulled silver wire for use to make the jewelry. We made a necklace, bracelet, earrings, and a ring. We were able to take one piece of jewelry and then had to pay $30 for each additional piece that we wanted to take with us. It was an unexpected cost, so please be aware. The raw emerald jewelry is beautiful and some people say it looks flimsy, but I was able to make mine carefully enough it is really good quality and will wear for a long time. I bought all except the earrings I made because I do not have pierced ears. After making the jewelry, we went to an emerald museum and jewelry store. I didn't buy any more emeralds, but I did get an aquamarine that is really beautiful.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

5 out of 5
The island was really pretty. I was glad we went an got in the water. There were fish that were almost the same color as the sand in the water and the terns that were flying around were reflecting the green of the water on their bellies. It was amazing. The water is beautiful as well. I love that cobalt blue.

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

5 out of 5
Our excursion was rained out, but the alternate location of Long Key was beautiful. The museum was very informative and we got to see birds even in the rain.


5 out of 5
It was really fast and we got through customs quickly and easily.
Was this review helpful? 14

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Remember: Be polite and respectful. Our diverse community is home to members with different opinions and a broad range of cruise experiences.

Other reviews of this sailing