Sorry it has taken some time for me to post, but I couldn't see the computer over the mail, laundry, etc. Transitioning to the real world after all that pampering isn't easy either. First of all, I want to say thank you to all who gave us great advice and information regarding HAL. That background knowledge increased our ability to enjoy Vancouver, the ports, and the HAL experience.
The Volendam is an elegant, richly appointed ship with beautiful art and fresh flowers everywhere. It doesn't have the "mall" feel that seems to be the focus of so many newer ships. The design allows for many cozy areas throughout the ship. We were also impressed with the rich detail of each room and with the great thought given to color, texture, space, and visual impact. The use of marble, leather, brass, and wonderful fabrics equals class, not flash in this interior. Grand!
Going with the upgrade to the mini-suite was worth every penny! We loved the space and being able to dart out the door to see whales, seals, or the black bear running along the beach was incredible! We did have a few laughs over the size of the whirlpool tub since one would need to be about 4' 6" to be able to straighten out his/her legs in it.
The food was wonderful all week. No matter where we ate, everything was delicious and well presented. No one at our table had a complaint and there were some picky eaters. My only complaint- so many choices, so little time!
The staff on the Volendam was friendly, gracious, and would do anything possible to enhance your time on this ship. Rico, Rocky, Jo, and Omar (beautiful voice) in the Crow's Nest were super. Our waiter, Gusto, was always attentive and smiling. It is an understatement to say that we enjoyed HAL. Now I know why HAL has so many loyal followers.
Alaska was an amazing experience as well. The pictures we took are wonderful, but they still don't hold a candle to the real thing. Wow! Everyone should be able to see it at least once. We hope to go back someday. I could go on, but have to quit for now. Thanks again!
I forgot to say that I did get to the Crew Show and really enjoyed it. Although they are not professionals in that area, the crew worked hard to pull the show together. We talked with some of the staff in the Crow's Nest about it the next day and were amazed to hear that they would practice from 1-3 am after the long days that they put in! They also seemed so pleased to know that we had seen the show.
Gather you saw the Filipino Crew Show - aren't they wonderful to give up so much of their time practicing to entertain us. Sad to say, but I do prefer the Filipino show to the Indonesian one, although they work just as hard. In the "old" days we would get both crew shows in one night - a little long. Some of the crew have wonderful voices and they are all very talented.
Toley - Glad you enjoyed your cruise and the crew show! I've seen the Indonesian and Filipino shows and love them both. Especially when you know what effort they put into them - as you said, rehearsing in the wee hours AFTER their shifts are done - it really is a "labor of love" done for the enjoyment of the passengers. Thanks for letting me know!