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lovely_serenity

"Live from" ms Volendam to Alaska! My First HAL Experience

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Here's the couch that turned into a bed. (Haha, there's my cardigan) Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of a couch being a couch. This couch stayed a bed the whole trip. Aren't the stateroom servers supposed to turn it back into a house in the morning? Note: It wasn't as comfy as the bed.

 

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Here's the view of our cabin door. The metal door to the right it the bathroom door.

 

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The hallway is pretty narrow, this meant that if you opened a closet door or the bathroom door all the way (90 degrees), there wasn't much wiggle room. As in, a human being probably can't fit between the wall and the door. HAL created a clever way to keep the bathroom door open by itself. It has 2 relatively strong magnets (I tried to close the bathroom door from up inside the bathroom before and almost pulled a muscle LOL) that keep it against the wall. (I have pictures of it, but I'm not sure where in my files. My pics are set up chronologically so I'll just post it later).

 

The magnets are the black things up at the top.

 

Here's the vanity that is located next to the closets. It has a mirror that stretched all the way to the roof. It also has this nice red (one seater) seat instead of the usual little stools that cruises provide.

 

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Above it was the TV. It had a DVD Player connected to it. We didn't use it, but I read that you can get DVDs upon request of the Front Office.

 

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I found out that the daily movie (yeah, every day, the theater plays ONE movie) was played on a loop on a certain channel all day. Some of the theatre performances could all be watched in the stateroom. We saw one, the disembarkation one that happened at 11am on Day 7. We saw the replay.

 

Something else we came back to our room to see was this:

 

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The Holland America tote bag. It was pretty nice, better quality than their old ones (according to Mom & Dad). It was smaller than I had hoped though.

We used it to hold our Alaskan Coupon Booklet. MAKE SURE YOU GET ONE. You need them to get a lot of deals/free stuff. They are handed out by a guy when you're getting on the ship at the terminal. When you see the guy standing next to the stand with Alaskan brochures, DON'T AVOID HIM. HE IS NOT TRYING TO SELL YOU STUFF. HE'S HANDING OUT THE FREE BOOKLETS. Take one per person. It's pretty useful. Review it's contents the night before a port so you know which stores you have to hit.

 

Anyways, we got ourselves up and went to the theater to watch SkyFall. Upon arrival, I noticed how the Wajang Theater was set up. Literally, it consists of a lot of theatre chairs, not enough of an inclined plane, a white pull out screen and a projector. Literally the type of projector schools use. My parents had made the mistake of sitting at the back row yesterday when watching Silver Linings Playbook (their usual theatre seats on land) and saw that the screen looked 2"x1".

 

Online, I had read that complimentary popcorn would be served in the movies. When I got there, no popcorn. :(

 

While in the middle of Skyfall ("Who are you?" "Bond. James Bond" :DDD), I heard crunching and smelled the delicious smell that is: popcorn. I perked up like a puppy and started looking around. I asked my brother if he knew where to get some. 15mins later, Dad put a bag of popcorn in each of our hands and said "Enjoy!". I popped up and scanned the room to figure out where it came from. I spotted a table against the wall (in front of entrance doorway) with a tray of popcorn and water or something.

 

For you guys, after the movie ended, I popped up and ran to the table to try and get a shot of it to put in my trip report. The lights would not come on. It was agonizingly slow. Like. Oh my god. People were starting to file out and I was getting antsy & worried that everyone might take all the popcorn before I could get a shot of it. I felt like an idiot when people stared at me being so desperate to get a shot of popcorn bags D,: . Finally, I did. Here (I hope you guys appreciate my efforts >_<

 

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Edited by lovely_serenity

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By the way, this last post took 2 tries to write. I wrote for 40 mins and then my internet dropped. Yeah. I lost it all in one shot and had to do it again .______. That took 25mins.

Edited by lovely_serenity

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After Skyfall ended and my pictures were taken, we quickly proceeded back to our rooms with satisfied smiles on our faces. We looked at the time and realized that we only had 20mins to get ready for dinner & the Captain's Toast at 7:45pm. While on our way back to the room, we saw that many people were decked out in suits and dresses. Oh yeah! Tonight was formal night!

 

After getting ready, we scurried up to the Franz Hal Lounge. We were met with servers who handed me a juice (for minors). We looked around for seats and were met with no success. I scanned the room and found a little table with 2 chairs (couples sit here) and ran over there. My family settled on & around it. I looked farther down to see 2 more available seats. I shuffled down the inclined plane in high heels and successfully managed not to trip, fall and kill myself while simultaneously getting covered in what I had now realized to be grapefruit juice. Bleh D;

 

I waved my mom over and she came to sit with me. We watched as the captain introduced some of his crew mates. Eventually he made a toast in hopes for a safe and wonderful vacation. Every raised their glasses and said "Cheers!" Even we, I with my bitter fruit juice, Mom & Dad with their red/white wine and Bro & Sis with their watered down cola, raised our glasses.

 

As soon as that was done, Brett Rudolph came out to thank the Captain and began to introduce tonight's act. This was when the audience thinned out. All the people that had dinner at 8pm all left the theater (including us). We dashed to the Rotterdam and politely declined the ship photographers who had screens setup for pictures.

 

We arrived in (a bit pooped) and set down our drinks. Basik and Hank gave us tonight's menu:

 

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Tonight, the tables were decorated more elegantly with a flower in water. This was the first night of decoration change. It used to just be a candle (which I later learned in the Lido, was a little lightbulb that flickers in a similar pattern as fire inside an opaque holder. Clever (:)

 

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After we ordered, I was bored so I took a picture of Dad's white wine:

 

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They asked me if i wanted to taste it, I let it touch my lip and licked it. Bleh D; so bitter. I scrunched up my face and they laughed. >_>

 

First up on the menu tonight was Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin:

 

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Dad, Sis & Bro got it. Sis gave me some, it was goood :D

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Loving your review.

Yes -- the sofa / bed is suppose to be a sofa during the day time.

I will not put any clothes in the drawers without them being in plastic bags -- I have all sizes of sweater bags, etc (with zippers) that I got years ago. Keeps everything clean and I don;t have to worry about what was in the drawers before us.

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Happy Belated Birthday!!

That is very nice that you got a card from the captain.

We used to celebrate DH's birthday and anniversaries on cruises and never got a card. Sometimes we did get the cake.

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Loving your review.

Yes -- the sofa / bed is suppose to be a sofa during the day time.

I will not put any clothes in the drawers without them being in plastic bags -- I have all sizes of sweater bags, etc (with zippers) that I got years ago. Keeps everything clean and I don;t have to worry about what was in the drawers before us.

 

Happy Belated Birthday!!

That is very nice that you got a card from the captain.

We used to celebrate DH's birthday and anniversaries on cruises and never got a card. Sometimes we did get the cake.

 

Thanks! & Oh, I guess we aren't just being paranoid :p Other people do worry about the cleanliness of the room too!

 

Thank you! & yeah! I thought that was very nice on their part :) you'll see later that they did sing happy birthday & gave me the cake. You guys should check with the maitre'd earlier in the daytime if you're celebrating something special! It'll ensure that your celebration won't be bypassed!

Edited by lovely_serenity

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You write very detailed in your communciations. You also write very well.

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Read through this all and am now following the rest. You really make your experiences come alive. Now I'm hungry and really can't wait for my next cruise.

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What a delightful read! My 8 year old daughter especially loved the photo of the "sofa bed"--she's been wondering what it would look like.

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You write very detailed in your communciations. You also write very well.

 

Thank you. Thank you very much (:

 

Read through this all and am now following the rest. You really make your experiences come alive. Now I'm hungry and really can't wait for my next cruise.

 

Thank you! Haha, it's so sad on my part when I'm choosing the pics to use, and I'm making myself hungry! :p

 

Thanks for the info so far.....we board the Volendam in a short 9 days! Keep it coming. :D

 

You're welcome! c: && I hope you have a nice cruise ^^

 

What a delightful read! My 8 year old daughter especially loved the photo of the "sofa bed"--she's been wondering what it would look like.

 

Aw! Thanks! :D I'm glad your daughter likes it! Why, is she going to be sleeping on it anytime soon?

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Then came the Lobster Parisienne, everyone but Sis got one.

 

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The actual amount of meat was kind of small. Like, one bite's worth. The rest of the lobster's body was full of vegetables. :/ Alright.

 

I wiped my mouth with my napkin and soon, my Chilled Lychees with Kiwi Wedges. Tasty! The sauce was yummy, but a little watery.

 

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As I gobbled up my fruit, Mom's Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho arrived.

 

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It wasn't as sweet as I had hoped, but it was refreshing.

 

Dad got his Gold Rush Soup:

 

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After ordering it and tasting it, he realized that he forgot what exactly it was. It looked like chowder, but tasted like tomato. ^^'

 

After we all finished up our starters, we chatted for a while as the food made it's way over. I took a shot of the butter dish. I thought it was cute,the way they set up the butter to be little cubes c:

 

Looks nice in the shot, it was slowly starting to melt.

 

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Finally, our entrées arrived, Me and I ordered the Maple-Lacquered Duck Breast. This was by far one of my favourite dishes throughout the whole trip. It was flavourful, moist and delicious. (: Mmm.. The sauce complimented it well too, not too strong.

 

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Even after tasting everyone else's entrées, I still liked mine the best.

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While I enjoyed my duck, Sis enjoyed her Parmesan-Coated Veal Loin. I thought it'd be a veal loin with Parmesan on it, not a veal encased in bread crumbs. Hm : / It was still not bad.

 

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Dad got the Cracked Pepper Tenderloin with Grilled Shrimp. This one was very nice. The tenderloin was cooked perfectly and the grilled shrimp were tasty. I actually really liked it, but too bad I dislike pepper :/ I still like the meat though lol.

 

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Bro opted for the Crispy Sweet-and-Sour Shrimp. This made me laugh:

 

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We expected American style shrimp, not tempura. The whole dish was basically tempura and rice ^^' Don't get me wrong, we like our tempura, but we sure as heck didn't expect to get it here.

 

Still, pretty good. Crispy and good sauce to match.

 

Now, it was time for dessert. We were handed our menus:

 

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After we finished ordering, a couple of waiter came over to me. They put down a cake and said Happy Birthday! What language would you like us to sing in. I said, you pick! They decided to sing Happy Birthday in Indonesian. By the end of the cruise, we all would have memorized the tune of Happy Birthday due to the nightly singing of it.

 

I forgot to get a picture of it before they took it away to cut it. Oops :P

But here it is cut up. This was actually my favourite dessert of the night. This was because HAL never failed me in bringing food that doesn't sound like it's description.

 

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After that, our actual desserts came. First up was Master Chef Rudi's Double Strawberry Cheesecake. If you don't know, our family loves cheesecake (with the exception of my brother. He's alright with it, but he's more of a sherbet kind of guy). So we were delighted by this one. It was really good!

 

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It was ordered by Sis. She ordered it with a side of Strawberry Sorbet.

 

Next up was the Tiramisu. Mom got it.

 

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Next came my dessert, I ordered the Black Forest Cake since I'm the type that likes sponge cakes and cream. This was a big disappointment. They even brought a second one as extra, but I accepted before I knew what it tasted like.

This was an abomination of Black Forest Cakes. Does this look like a Black Forest Cake to you??

 

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Black Forest cakes are supposed to be a chocolate sponge cake with cream, and dark chocolate. This was a cake of mousse. =___= I don't like mousse.

Like seriously, what the heck?? I wasn't happy about this. This was one of those "push it in the middle" moments where I claimed that I ordered it for everyone c:

 

I just kept eating everyone else's desserts & my birthday cake. I literally ate half of that birthday cake ^^

 

Then came Dad's Chocolate Soufflé. I was warm and delicious. A little bit pudding-y though. Basik spooned some chocolate sauce on it after setting it down. Mmm c:

 

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While I enjoyed all the desserts, my brother worked on his Peach Frozen Yogurt. I reached across the table and stole a bite. Not bad!

 

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By this time, the boat was starting to sway. We took our Bonine, bid our servers farewell and headed out. It was actually quite amusing to try to walk in high heels while the boat swayed (quite strongly). ^^

 

As we were heading out, I noticed this. Quite a pretty swan ice sculpture. They had an ice sculpture displayed near the door every formal night.

 

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After taking a shot of the swan, I realized that this was the perfect time to get some pictures of the Rotterdam Main Dining Room!

 

So here they are (shot with the macro lens):

 

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I was actually surprised by how lovely the pictures turned out. The lighting was actually quite bad, but my camera seemed to light up the room on my screen!

 

The Rotterdam was often pretty dark during dinner time. Maybe they were going for ambiance or something.

 

They also had these cool chandeliers.

 

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Something else I noticed, Deck 4 was rarely used. Almost all of the occupied tables were upstairs. If they ran out of space for As You Wish Diners, they'd use downstairs. But it was only a cube of space they isolated. Weird. They only time we got to eat downstairs was during the Mariner's Society Brunch. It had been delayed until Day 7 due to the ship disinfection on Day 1. (Mom & Dad are Mariners).

 

As I looked up from my camera after taking those shots, I turned around to see this:

 

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I laughed. Bro whipped around and asked, "Did you just take my picture?"

Me: "Yeah (:" And then we proceeded to take a proper picture with the swan.

 

We left the dining room, took some pictures at a nearby mini scenery. There was a stone bench and a painting. We also made our way to the lobby to take some pictures with the ship's photographers.

Something I disliked about HAL's photography system is the way they print their pictures. What we want are simple 8"x10" family shots with everyone in it (not our shoulders cut off =____=) to frame in our house. HAL apparently doesn't do that. They print 8"x10"s, but this is one photo divided into ~5 pictures. The same picture but repeated in a couple sizes of rectangles. Why??

 

Anywho.

 

Drink in hand, we teetered to the Franz Hal Lounge (despite being called a lounge, it's a theater). Out side the theater, we all played a game. Who could stand longest on one foot while the ship throws you about. After Mom & Dad were out, it was just the 3 of us left. Sis got knocked over. It was then down to Bro vs Me. While we hopped about, we heard a lady laughing. It was tonight's entertainment: Julie Barr! She's pretty funny. 7.8/10 She is friendly and has half her hair bright pink, and the back half purple. :D Hehe. I then attempted a suicide mission and one-foot tackled Bro. I lost :( Aw.

 

After our stupid little game, we went into the theater. Here are my shots of the Franz Hal Lounge. (my view from right to left):

 

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As you can see, a good variety of seats/chairs. Can accommodate a wide range of groups. Pretty comfy.

 

We set down our drinks from the Captain's Toast and sat down. I noticed that each of the tables had a pretty little rose light.

 

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While we waited for comedian Julie Barr to show up, I took some pictures of our drinks:

 

Bro's champagne:

 

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Mom's red wine:

 

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Sis's watered down Coke:

 

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And my virgin something that turned out to be cranberry juice mixed with grapefruit juice. Mom ended up drinking it up for me.

 

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L.S.: Thanks for the well-written travelogue. Three of us will be on Volendam in ten weeks. Your comments provide us with a workable strategy for selecting our meal items and some thoughts on family fun.

 

At first, I got the impression that you've got a cushy lifestyle for someone so young. In all fairness, your parents earned it and your family seems to be a great model of companionship and mutual respect.

Good of you to show us how it is done. Keep improving your writing and photography; you never quite know where those skills can take you!

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Thanks! & Oh, I guess we aren't just being paranoid :p Other people do worry about the cleanliness of the room too!

 

Thank you! & yeah! I thought that was very nice on their part :) you'll see later that they did sing happy birthday & gave me the cake. You guys should check with the maitre'd earlier in the daytime if you're celebrating something special! It'll ensure that your celebration won't be bypassed!

 

We always check whenever we are celebrating something.

One time the wait staff kept saying that DH had a birthday coming soon. Every day they would mention it. Then the actual day of his birthday -- nothing --not even a cake that time.

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Love all your pictures, Sarah!

 

I think you're right about the Black Forest Desert. Looks to me like they brought you something different. Aren't those blueberries in the picture?

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Thank you for this great review and belated Happy Birthday. Your pictures and attention to detail is amazing. Glad you had such a good cruise.

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I am definitely subscribing to this one! I'll be on the Volendam in August, and it will be a birthday cruise for me, too (although I may be a *few* years older than you :)).

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Hi, Sarah, great review and photos. In more than 125 days on HAL, I've never been to tea, so really I enjoyed yours! Now, I have a question - you're a great photographer - how do you manage to post the photos on Cruise Critic? I have a MacBookPro, and can't figure out how to do it. I usually just drag the photo onto my desktop and then drag it into an email, but that doesn't seem to work with CC. Help! :) Ann

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