Our Ryndam experience
Originally we decided not to post this , as it just seemed too negative, and thought that maybe a lot of it was a one-off, after all surely HAL couldn't survive if this was their standard offering.
But having now read pfeifela's report, I feel our experience only goes to support their's
HAL - MS Ryndam 24th to 31st July 2011
After cruising, amongst others, P&O, Cunard and Princess for many years we thought we would try one of the other Carnival brands. We wished we hadn’t and were so very disappointed with the whole HAL experience. It might have been down to us thinking that HAL were a ‘premier’ brand, how wrong we were. For the amount we paid I thought they would be somewhere between P&O and Cunard and having read reviews and the HAL website, thought they should be better than Cunard. In the end the whole experience was lower than the most basic of the cruise lines that we have tried.
The cruise websites state HAL is a 5 star ‘Premier’ cruise line - certainly not Ryndam.
It is a real shame as there is nothing good we can say about the ship and the whole HAL experience, apart from we were lucky we were only on for the 7 nights and did not do the 14 night (it was marketed as 2x 7nights or 1x 14 nights cruise). The food, entertainment, service was the lowest standard we have ever had and we started to think that it was the norm and we had just been on far superior cruise lines. However, when other passengers started telling us they had much better cruising experiences on the likes of Island Escape, Ocean Village and Thomson we were far from alone. Some good news was that past HAL passengers did say that the other ships were far better than that week’s experience on the Ryndam, however that is not going to encourage us to part with our money on the brand again.
After a couple of days we resorted to making a huge joke of the whole experience, as we felt that was better than getting annoyed or upset over it. We were certainly not the only ones, and even during the last show the Cruise Director said about passengers leaving tomorrow and there was a massive cheer from those leaving (presumably not the response that he was looking for) and a much lesser cheer from the poor passengers staying on.
The ship is old (1993)and showing it. Rusty lights, grubby flooring & carpets fraying in places. The age of ships is not an issue with us as we loved Victoria, Artemis, Caronia, QE2 and we had a soft spot for the Black Prince, all of whom we sailed on during their last year in service.
Cabin – TV, DVD player, no fridge but ice delivered daily, bath with shower over and Elemis products in pump dispensers attached quite high over the bath (a very small bath even for a ship).
Food – VERY bland and never more than lukewarm. We were on board for 7 nights and neither of us had a meal that we can say we really enjoyed or was even hot from anywhere on the ship. The main topic of conversation each night around the table was not what did you do today but how bad the food, service and entertainment were and which was worse :o The best meal was the fish & chips from the burger bar as the fish was nice and hot but unfortunately cold chips. The pizza from there was disgusting and we have never had anything like it in our lives (Alan has worked out in Holland, America and Italy many times and had nothing like this). They cannot make pastries or cakes and they were disgusting and it was a great laugh to order one at afternoon tea or as a dessert in the evening (just to see how hard & dry they were that day and they never failed to deliver a laugh around the table) There was one item that Alan tried & was describing it to the table, and a lady jumped in with the comment, “oh yes, they left a waxy feeling in the mouth”, to which Alan thanked her as that was his exact experience, but he couldn’t think of how to describe it.
The amount of food wasted every night around the tables was just amazing and it never improved. From very ‘red’ chicken (not cooked) to lamb chops that as soon as you cut into them blood poured out. The two ladies on our table said the crab legs smelt ‘off’. If you did want a replacement meal it took such a long time for it to come out everyone else had finished and were sat there watching you eat yours, so as we didn’t want to keep the other passengers waiting we would just eat what we could before the food got cold and left the rest (most days over ˝ the meals around us were sent back). It was only on the last evening (tip day) that the restaurant managers bothered to go around the tables and ask the passengers what was wrong with the food and offered to replace it but we all knew how long it took and we were not sure how we and our food would be treaded so we politely declined and said that we would get room service again later.
Extra vegetables – as with all American ships you have to ask for vegetables, though 1 extra sliver of carrot (size of a very, very small baby carrot) does not count as extra vegetables. We think you have to ask for a bowl of vegetables but we never worked it out and after asking for a couple of days we gave up as the waiter would just point at the 2 slivers of carrot and say “extra vegetables”.
At lunchtime the MDR was open for 1 hour (and not a minute longer) but it only opened every other lunchtime (even closed on a Sea Day!!!). If you wanted ‘waiter’ service lunch you had to pay $10 to eat at the Pinnacle Grill ($25 for an evening meal). We found out on the last day that the food & service there was value for money, but of course it was too late to try, and given the standard level of service we weren’t about to pay out & be further disappointed.
1st sitting in the MDR was 5:45 and 2nd sitting was 8:00. There is also ‘open dining’ which was fine if you got there before 7pm but after that you could have a long wait. We were very lucky as we were sent away with a bleep and only had to wait 15 minutes or so, but one family with a young child told us they had to wait about an hour so they didn’t get into the restaurant until 9pm.
In the MDR our table was never set up correctly and every evening we had to ask for napkins, cutlery, bread rolls & butter, water glasses or something. We were often shown to tables which were still being made up as we all sat there. At afternoon tea the waiters had placed empty milk jugs on the table and had forgotten to pour the milk into them. We checked a couple of other tables and they were all the same. Alan also made the mistake of asking for tea one morning, top tip – remember to ask for hot water as well ;o)
Lots of very creased linen on the tables, and stained chair covers (not sure if they should have been white but have creamed with age as some looked whiter than others). Alan’s cover had red wine over the arm & down the front, we had a napkin covered in lipstick (looked like the napkin had been used for an earlier sitting and then reused).
Luckily for Alan when the waiter knocked over a full glass over him, it was filled with water and not red wine, the waiter didn’t even apologise and just mopped it up without saying anything, as if it was an every day event.
The Lido (self-service restaurant) was the normal bun fight, which wasn’t helped by having one side closed off for Crew & Officers at night. On any of the P&O and Cunard ships (and I am sure on other cruise lines we have been on) the crew eat side by side with the passengers in the self-service area, even interacting with them. There were no themed nights i.e. Indian, French, Italian etc.
Hand gelling was not enforced at any time and very few passengers gelled going into Lido area. This is not too much of an issue on most ships, however, passengers have to cut their own cheese which always looked well handled (yuck), as passengers would hold the piece in one hand whilst cutting.
Lido did the usual breakfast but at lunchtime they only served hot food from 11:30 until 2pm and was very busy especially the days the MDR was not open. Salad & sandwiches were available until 5pm, dinner was 5:30 until 8pm and then late night snacks were from 22:30 until 23:30.
After the shows you had to be quick if you wanted a quick snack otherwise you had to order room service with the 45 minutes wait.
The Lido only had 2 coffee stations each with water, tea selection, decaf or normal coffee and on more than one occasion they were both broken. There is no coffee making facilities in the cabin so you have to get it in the Lido, order it from room service (45 minutes wait) or pay around $2.50 in the coffee shop on board.
The tables were not regularly cleared and people often had to clear a table themselves of the previous passengers’ plates, cups, half eaten food etc.
In the Lido area most things were self service, however, the staff would serve things like stir fry however they used the same utensils and cutting boards to serve/prepare one thing and then another without cleaning them off. Not too much of an issue for us but might be if you are a vegetarian or allergic to something. I had the chicken sweet & sour with rice and it had 3 well coated chips in with the chicken. Fish & chips had additional deep fried rice hanging off a couple of the chips. At the sandwich bar she was just placing my chicken mayo sandwich on top of where she had been cutting someone’s tomatoes and I shouted NO. I hate raw tomato and she just moved it to the left of the tomato mess and apologised to me.
The Panini machine never got the food warm enough to melt the cheese let alone properly heated up any meats.
Entertainment – we were lucky that we were getting off after the 1st 7 days and not continuing on for the 14 night cruise, which a lot of passengers were doing, one of the gentleman was really moaning as he had found out that they were going to have the same entertainment both weeks. Leaving the ship today the ‘Explorer’( HAL’s version of the what’s on) had been delivered and tonight’s show is ‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ which was the same show we had on day one.
There are only 2 dancers (and not that good) and 5 singers (3 men and 2 women) We did try, but walked out of all of their shows as they were just plain boring. If you like crooners/barbershop quartet music with minimal dance/costume effort then you might like it. The last night was publicised as “Vegas” (more like an old burger bar set). Costumes were not great and during the show ONE of the dancer’s came out in a “Vegas style feather boa outfit” the singer even had to draw everyone’s attention to it with a “Doesn’t she look incredible and what an amazing outfit!, “give her a big hand”. ALL other cruiselines “Vegas” shows are far superior, with amazing outfits for all the dancers.
The bar video game tables were very with lots of games eg chess, jigsaws, Tetris... but no gelling station even though all the games were touch screen, and you had to go another bar to find a dispenser.
The Casino had one dispenser at the far end, but no-one ever passed by it, there was nothing near the slots or card tables.
Smoking still allowed in places and naturally drifts across from one side of a room to the other. Smoking was even aloud in the show-lounge/theatre until the show started – weird.
Both sides of the Promenade deck and most open decks allowed smoking, and the smokers included the officers from the hotel department who often emerged for a quick smoke.
The Captain’s Welcome on Board Party is very similar to Celebrity whereby you pick up a glass of ‘Champagne’ (tasted more like Cava to me) on the way into the show. The choice of drinks was very limited and it was only ‘Champagne’, coke, orange or water (Alan thought it might have been Vodka & lemonade but I am sure it was water). The captain introduces some of the officers and the wine waiters then empty the dregs from the bottles for those who wanted them before the show started. The officers immediately vanished from the stage, so there was no mingling between officers and passengers.
Dress Code – There were 2 formal and 5 casual nights. The formal dress code is not enforced and less than half of the men wore a suit with most wearing shirts/T-shirts with casual trousers (no tie) and some of the ladies were wearing nothing more than beach wear or what you would wear in the garden. On the casual nights there were even passengers wearing shorts into the restaurant in the evening. We both felt so overdressed every evening even though we had taken the clothes we normally wear on our Princess cruises (Princess is less formal that Cunard and P&O).
Drinks – expensive and then 15% service charge added on top. The only good thing was that there are 2 happy hours (4pm-5pm and 11pm-midnight) where a good range of drinks & cocktails come with a 2nd one for $1. These sessions were very popular :o
Were we passengers just an inconvenience to this cruise line or ship? maybe they would prefer us to just sent them our dollars & credit cards, and then stayed away.
Well the good news is, we WILL be staying away from them.
Last Cruise: Queen Victoria November 2014
Next: Minerva April 2015
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(6), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey