Just returned from the first cruise of the season around South America on the Ryndam (Valparaiso to Rio). Had good success with non-HAL shore excursions at much reduced prices. Had wheelchair accessible cabin. Willing to share information/resources for others planning this trip.
HAL had not informed us about the $61 cash required entry fee for Chile that had to be paid at the airport in Santiago. Also required for those from Canada, UK, Australia and NZ, but lower price for these countries.
We had pretty good weather except for very rough seas the first two days. It was cold but sunny in Ushuaia and Falklands, and relatively calm seas around Cape Horn. Hot already in Rio.
They have cut the dining room and cabin steward staff severely on this ship. Dining room service was only fair at best, and poor on many days esp. at breakfast and lunch. We had a very good cabin steward in spite of his being assigned 5 additional cabins with the cuts, although this did result in our cabin not being made up until 1PM many days.
Was the staff reduced so much because the ship wasn't full? I just booked an Alaska on Amsterdam for June and have seen other postings talking about less-than-expected service due to staff cuts, which concerns me. Excellent service has always been a real selling point for me to sail HAL. I was last on Ryndam in 1999 and service was excellent throughout. Glad you enjoyed your cruise, though.
No, the ship was sold out. We were told at the Senior Officers' Coffee Chat that they are cutting costs by cutting staffing. I was very disappointed in both the food service and in the lecturers on this cruise (poor quality) as well as uneven entertainment. Suspect this is all related to the cruise lines making cuts and blaming it on 9/11/01, but I think they just have seen their chance to decrease service esp. on ships that are sold out on popular routes. I will be reconsidering going on HAL again.
I was on the same cruise she was. See my comments on the South America board.
We had excellent service in the dining room. The food quality was good, not excellent, but that's fine with me. I lost a pound or two.
The entertainment was better than Royal Caribbean, not Broadway quality for sure, but most of it was entertaining.
The lecturers were useful if a little redundant.
Enjoyed ballroom dance lessons and the Piano Bar.
The crowd was mostly 70+. Mostly couples married over 50 years and some older singles as well. The dance hosts (male) seemed to be doing a great job entertaining the single ladies. Dance hostesses for the single men don't seem to be deemed appropriate.
Most ports were doable on our own using information from the port lectures, guidebooks and maps. I prefer seeing cities on foot to bus and prefer to see museums at my own pace.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to write.
I'm having trouble deciding where to go next year (Sept or Oct..... any suggestions?