An Amazon Adventure for sure

Volendam Cruise Review to South America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 5
Helpful Votes: 134

Overall rating:

4.1 out of 5
Verified Review

30 Night Amazon Explorer (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 20, 2019

Ship: Volendam

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

We really enjoyed this cruise and it knocked one of those things off of our bucket list. It was certainly an adventure. Between the tender issues, running aground on the river and our fabulous eco lodge tour, it will be a cruise that we'll never forget.


3 out of 5
We had an awfully long wait to get on the ship. I think it might have been because of the passport collection that was necessary for our visit to Brazil. It wasn't communicated why it was taking so long to get through the lines.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The food in the main dining room was cold the two times we ate there. The great thing about HAL is that the Lido buffet serves the same food for dinner as you can get in the dining room. So, we ate there almost all of the time and we were satisfied with the selection, taste and temperature of the food in the Lido. There could be a little better selection of deserts though.

Onboard Activities

2 out of 5
Very difficult to find interesting things to do on the ship during sea days. The lecturer that was supposed to talk about the indigenous people talked about the current political discourse over the burning of the Amazon rather than the people and history. Most activities listed did not have an explanation so it was hard to determine if it was something we were interested in. We had basic Portuguese lessons after we left Brazil, they might have been more helpful before we went to Brazil.


3 out of 5
The World Stage shows were pretty good. The Billboard Onboard musicians couldn't sing very well. The replacement musicians for Brazil were fabulous, unfortunately, we only had them for Brazil and then got the regular ones back.

Children's Programs

No children with us.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
One of the great things about HAL is the service. All of the service folks that we had contact with were fabulous. Service with a smile and they rarely say no. Sitting out by the pool and need some coffee, they'll go get it for you. HAL is well known for it's service and it was nice to see that the service hasn't suffered any cutbacks yet.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Very clean, easy to get around. The elevators were so fast!

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Huge cabin. I read the reviews after we were assigned this cabin, and I was a little concerned. Normally, we book guarantees and almost always get a great cabin. We didn't have any problems with this cabin at all. Some things that might bother others didn't bother us. The windows open onto an aft deck and the lights are on out there all night. As long as you close your curtains, it doesn't bother you much. There are occasionally some noises that you hear when you have an aft cabin, but that is pretty much everywhere on the lower decks. There wasn't any engine noise, but sometimes you'd feel and hear the thrusters. Also, the retrieval of the lines can be heard. Most of the time that happens when you aren't sleeping anyway, but we hadd one late night departure where we could hear it. Overall, I liked the room and didn't think that the noises and lights affected our sleep.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

5 out of 5

Gustavia, St. Barthelemy

3 out of 5
Tender issues getting ashore. One thing to keep in mind when you are sailing a specialized cruise like this one is that 4 & 5 star mariners have tender priority and the ship is full of 4 & 5 star mariners. This makes the wait for a tender really long for us lowly 3 star and below.

Castries, St. Lucia

4 out of 5
Nice port, but not much going on.

Devils Island, French Guiana

5 out of 5
Just wow. No excursions available, but a nice self guided walk around the island. Restaurant/bar was expensive and had limited stock. Make sure you bring insect repellent.

Cruise Amazon River

5 out of 5
Reading about the Amazon is certainly different than visiting it. Depending on the time of year, the river can be low and there are almost no bugs. Although the Amazon is a wide river, the ship was usually close to a bank for photos.

Macapa, Brazil Did not visit port

This is just an immigration stop. You don't get off at this port.

Cross The Equator

5 out of 5
Fabulous ceremony the second time we crossed. We've done it before, but it is always fun.

Santarem, Brazil Did not visit port

Because our ship ran aground, we didn't get to this port until after 5 pm. Since most of the region is not particularly safe after dark, we chose not to go ashore.

Boca Da Valeria, Brazil Did not visit port

This port was cancelled because of the ship's grounding.

Manaus, Brazil

5 out of 5
We did an overnight eco lodge tour through HAL. It was fabulous! Although it was expensive, it checks off all of those boxes you have for the Amazon....see and touch a cayman, see monkeys, hike in the jungle, visit an indigenous village, see birds, flora and fauna.

Parintins, Brazil

3 out of 5
Most of the ports are tender ports on the Amazon, this was no exception. The Boi Bamba show was great.

Alter Do Chao, Brazil

5 out of 5
Fabulous beaches. Make sure you walk around to the east and go around the corner. Bars with tables and chairs in the water. This port was a big surprise as to how beautiful the beaches were.

Belem, Brazil

2 out of 5
Lousy tenders, nothing much to see here.

Bridgetown, Barbados

4 out of 5
Nice port. About the same as all of the Caribbean islands.

Oranjestad, Aruba

5 out of 5
We always enjoy Aruba. This time, we walked down to the Renaissance mall and pier and booked a charter fishing trip from the pier. We had a great time!

Willemstad, Curacao

4 out of 5
So many of the stores are closing and they all have the same thing. Not too exciting.

Falmouth, Jamaica Did not visit port

Been here, done that. Don't like the people in Jamaica, they seem to bother you more than at other ports so we chose not to get off.

George Town, Grand Cayman

5 out of 5
Rented a bicycle and rode down to 7 mile beach. It was a nice break and a little exercise to boot!

Key West, Florida

5 out of 5
Always enjoy Key West. Lots of things to see right off of the ship. We did not book an excursion, just walked downtown.


5 out of 5
Because we had gone through immigration in Key West, the disembarkation process was very smooth.
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