Holland America Line
by James Tagliani
Statendam 16 Day Circle Hawaii Cruise
The following is my review of Holland America's 16 Day Circle Hawaii Cruise on the Statendam. I have sailed on 29 cruises, with this being my 15th on Holland America. I have previously sailed on Princess, Home, Regency, Carnival, RCI and Windstar. We really enjoyed this cruise, especially the itinerary which consisted of ten sea days packaged at the beginning and end of the cruise.
Our itinerary was as follows: San Diego, Ensenada (service call), Kona, Maui, Honolulu, Kauai and Kona. We had four days at sea after Ensenada and five days after Hilo. We arrived back into Vancouver as a repositioning of the ship for her Alaska sailing.
The Statendam was the first of the line of ships in which Holland America based all its following ships, including all the new ones currently under construction (a few alterations, but essentially the same floorplan). It is a plan that works. We love these ships. Since this ship was built in the early nineties we were concerned about the condition of the ship, but the Statendam was in great condition. No noticeable wear and tear in the cabins or public rooms.
We had a category B on Verandah Deck. We usually get this cabin. It's a great one. We loved the verandah on this cruise. We had perfect weather for 16 days and extremely calm seas. The cabin consisted of two twin beds that converted to a queen, a full size sofa, refrigerator, large verandah with chaise lounge and chair, multiple draws and closets as well as a TV/VCR and small whirlpool tub. I love the Holland America verandahs because they are full teak and not metal or astro-turf. The cabin was done in muted earth tones with lovely old world maps framed on the wall.
The public rooms were very nicely decorated. We much preferred the calm cool colors of the Statendam to the harsh colors on the Rotterdam VI, which we sailed last year. The beautiful Van Gogh Lounge was done in teals and blues and the dining room was stunning. The Crow's Nest is the only room that I can see some renovations done, but the marble walls in that room are wonderful. The fountain in the main lobby was quite nice.
I love sea days and this cruise had ten! Five and five in a row. It was a great way to relax on the way to Hawaii and a great way to end the cruise. This was my first visit to the islands of Hawaii and here is my quick and dirty review of them:
Kona: Like Hawaii used to be, very colonial and quaint. Once the ship left Kona we sailed at night past the Kilouiea Volcano. You could see the steam and lava flowing into the ocean. It was very interesting.
Maui: Loved Maui and the lovely hotels and beaches. The town of Lahaina was a quaint colonial village with lots of shops just perfect for walking. We were here till ten o'clock so we ate dinner at Roys, a wonderful restaurant not far by cab from the ship in Kaanapali. I will come back to this island and stay at one of the luxury hotels for a few days.
Honolulu: A big city rather like Miami Beach. Waikiki had a crowded beach and hotels that were nice, but not as nice as on Maui. We visited the Arizona Memorial, which had a nice documentary. We were in port with the Independence.
Kauai: I loved the natural beauty of the Island. We took a helicopter excursion that should not be missed. We had one of those few days where you could actually go into the crater of the volcano to see all the waterfalls and lush greenery. We were in port with the Independence again. It was nice to see this grand old ship still in service. She has such a history.
Hilo: A small town with not much to do. We walked around and looked into the windows of many vacant stores. We returned to the ship.
The Islands were magical.
Many of the production shows we had seen before except the biggest show, Copacabana, which they save for the last formal night. The best nights were the individual headline singers. We had a singer from Les Miserables, and another jazz vocalist from Vegas. They were wonderful. We also had two great comedians, one from the CBS show the King of Kings and the other from the Broadway play Catskills.
For a ship, Copacabana was one of the best productions we have seen in a long time. The sets, costumes and even the voices were wonderful. It was a great and enjoyable show.
The food ranged from good to excellent. I have to admit that by the 12th day I could no longer eat with the gusto that I did at the beginning of the cruise. The Lido was fine for Breakfast and Lunch. They had a great selection and the taste was better than average for buffet type food. In the Dining Room, as on every cruise line, some items were good and others excellent and a few misses here and there. HAL does meats and fish very well. If you are looking for pastas go on Princess. One thing I like about HAL is that they do simple foods well. Many interpret this as bland, but it is fine for those that just want good food without all the heavy sauces and such. We had a few special requests and they were fulfilled without any hesitation. We had lobster twice which was nice as well as caviar four nights.
Well, I am 29 years old and we were traveling with a group that ranged from 29 to 60 years old. Needless to say we were by far the youngest aboard (even the 60 year old!!). This cruise had the oldest average age I have ever sailed with. Granted this was a long cruise which gets an older crowd, but even the Chef on the last night during his speech said he has never gone through so much prune juice!! We had many walkers and wheelchairs and we had to make an emergency return to Ensenada for someone who fell during the lifeboat drill. I have fun with the older folks. After about a week they finally realize that "No, I am not in the show", and you can really learn a lot from those that have so many life experiences. I have to mention though that there were some mean older folks onboard! You know the kind that can always find something wrong. We just ignored them.
The Crew and Staff:
One of the reasons I love HAL is the friendly and warm Indonesian and Filipino staff. They truly like their jobs and enjoy seeing their passengers happy. The captain was young and very personable, often stopping to tell a joke and see what his passengers were doing. The cruise staff was fine. I think they are used to the older crowd for it took some pressure to get them to open the disco and keep the music flowing past midnight.
We had a memorable Mariners party (Ed: for Holland America Line alumni) in the main lounge. They really made you feel that you were welcome onboard.
We loved the Statendam and her Circle Hawaii cruise. I look forward to seeing more of the world on board another Holland America ship. There are certain things on Holland America Line that separate them from others like the hot hors d'oeuvres in the lounges before dinner and the small cotton hand towels in the public bathrooms and the personalized stationery in the cabins, and of course all the fresh flowers around the ship. More important than the above are the smiling faces of the Filipino and Indonesian staff.
James Tagliani lives in San Francisco where his is employed at GAP Inc. His first cruise was on the Rotterdam V at the age of 3 and he hasn't stopped since! James can be reached at: AVALON1025@aol.com.
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