IIIAlaska08: Ship Ryndam
The Line’ From
July 28- August 6, 2008
By LEWIS NOLAN
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Wednesday, July 30,
2008 – Boarding the Ship M/S Ryndam in
For storage space we had two small closets plus a bunch of drawers. There was a good assortment of ceiling and other lights in the room, which were adequate for nighttime reading.
I suppose it was the luck of the draw, or it could have been an outcome of my bitching at the hotel about the no-show of a vendor bus upon our arrival two nights previously. Regardless, we were pleased with our ship stateroom, especially because we were only a few steps away from an exterior door to the Promenade Deck on Level 6, which consists of a teak-covered, 15-foot-wide walking track that circles the ship at mid-level and is one-quarter of a mile long. Just two floors up is the main dining area, Internet access room and other ship services.
We were fortunate to have the services of an eager-to-please
room steward from
The early indications of the high level of service we
quickly came to expect – and receive – from all aspects of the “hotel” portion
of the ship reminded me of the high recommendations made of
The material left in our cabin provided a great deal of information about the ship and its itinerary. Here are some of the facts taken from an at-a-glance sheet:
Ryndam Boat Statistics
Decks - 10 Gross Tonnage - 54,451
Passenger Elevators - 10 Length - 720 Feet
Passengers – 1,266 Width – 107 Feet
Crew – 560 Draft – 24 Feet, 6 Inches
Built – 1994 Public Rooms – 15
Bow Thrust – 2 Units, 2,340 BHP
Engines – Diesel Electric
Max Speed – 21 Knots
The ship’s beautiful, three-level high fountain in the lobby (at mid-ship spanning Decks 6,7 and 8) gushes water from dolphins carved out of limestone.
The M/S Ryndam (named for the famous
Counting the pre-trip extension of two nights in a
five-star, modern hotel right on the waterfront in
In the material left in our stateroom for our review was a “Health Notice” signed by the ship’s captain. It said, in part, that “In the past few weeks we have seen new reports of gastrointestinal illness on some cruise ships and at some shore side facilities. While none of the reports have involved Holland America Line ships, we still take them very seriously.
“This gastrointestinal illness is very common and its symptoms, which include vomiting and diarrhea, generally run their course within 24 – 48 hours. It is spread person-to-person rather than through the ship’s food or water supply. This means, for example, that a person could become ill by touching a surface that had previously been touched by someone who was ill, and then eating a sandwich or some other finger food.
“For this reason, it is especially important that all guests wash their hands thoroughly and regularly during the entire cruise (especially before meals) with soap and water. Make sure to rub all surfaces of lathered hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, followed by a thorough rinse under a stream of water. Hand santizers have been added around the ship, and we encourage you to use them often, especially before eating and upon return to the vessel from your time ashore. . .”
A pair of the hand sanitizers – which automatically squirted a spray of an alcohol-based liquid upon sensing the presence of hands – were placed on the sides of the gangplank when the ship was docked. There were also sanitizers strategically located at the entrances to dining areas. Of course, Betty and I took advantage of them and are pleased to report we had no intestinal problems during our cruise.
The main restaurant was called the Rotterdam Dining Room,
which was on two levels. One level was for reservations-only. We ate dinners on
an “open seating” walk-up basis and the food was absolutely fabulous. I had
such superb main courses as freshly caught King Crab legs, wonderful scallops
served on mashed potatoes, filet mignon and salmon. Available was a premium
restaurant, called The Pinnacle, with extra-special, gourmet food for a charge
of $20 extra per person. The extraordinary food served with impeccable service
We purchased one of several “wine packages” offered by the
ship. Called the “Navigator’s Choice,” we paid $89 in advance for three bottles
of Monkey Bay Chardonnay from
After lunch, Betty and I walked four laps around the ship on the Promenade Deck, with each lap one-fourth of a mile long on embedded planks of teak on the 15-foot wide walking track lined with deck chairs. Signs proclaimed “No Jogging.”
Ship facilities included a well-appointed fitness center with assorted aerobic equipment, weights and other exercise material. There were two hot tubs available on the pool deck – which had a retractable, glass or plastic cover to keep the chill out on cold days. There were also basketball and squash courts (surrounded by netting) on the top deck, assorted shops for gifts and supplies on Deck 8, a medical center staffed by a physician on Deck 4, several bars with live music and sometimes dancing that were strategically located on different decks, the Greenhouse spa and salon on Deck 11, an art gallery and photo display on Deck 7, a library with high-speed Internet access terminals on Deck 8; and ship excursion and shopping desks staffed by ship personnel during the day in the lobby on Deck 7.
The M/S Ryndam ship has a passenger maximum of more than
1,200. But the design and appointments make it seem like it is never crowded.
Marketing material make much of its medium size that allows for in-close looks
The ship offered daily lectures on nautical and port
activities, cooking classes, exercise classes, live entertainment and movies in
the Theater and
The captain of the ship was Vincent Smit, a tall and
distinguished gentleman who joined
The ship departed
The inland water from the Pacific Oceans had the mainland with its steep and high mountains capped with snow on one side and steep mountains on islands to the other side. The white wake of the ship was broad and white. We could see another cruise ship a mile or two behind the stern of the ship, but it disappeared overnight and must have been headed to a different port.
A publication appropriately called “Cruise Log” was
distributed to all passengers and gave fairly detailed nautical information about
the Ryndam’s itinerary. Following are the daily entries for our seven-day
voyage up the
* Thursday, July 31, 2008 – AT SEA
- 12:00nn Partly cloudy, moderate breeze; 14 degrees C/57 F
7:30pm Dropped off our pilots at
* Friday, August 1, 2008 -
8:00am Picked up our first
- 12:00nn Cloudy Skies, light breeze; 13 degrees C/55 F
1:44pm Safely docked in
- 10:14am Unmoored
- 10:42am Commenced
* Saturday, August 2, 2008 -
6:34am Safely docked in
- 12:00nn Overcast, light airs; 14 degrees C/57 F
- 8:54pm Unmoored
- 9:24pm Commence
* Sunday, August 3, 2008 –
1:00am Transiting the
- 6:00am Pick up Park Rangers at Bartlett Cove
- 10:00am 02nm off the face of Margerie Glacier
- 12:00nn Overcast, light airs; 10 degrees C/50 F
6:12pm Commenced voyage to
* Monday, August 4, 2008 -
- 5:00am Transiting Snow Passage
9:42am Safely docked in
- 12:00nn Partly cloudy, fresh breeze; 17 degrees C/57 F
- 6:12pm Commenced voyage to
7:00pm Drop off Alaskan pilots at
Tuesday, August 5, 2008 – AT SEA
- 12:00nn Moderate to rough seas, cloudy skies; 13 degrees C/55 F
3:00pm Canadian Pilots board at
- 6:00pm Transiting Race Passage
Wednesday, August 6, 2008 –
- 7:00am Safely docked at
TOTAL MILEAGE THIS VOYAGE
Ports of Call Mileage Average Speed
Vancouver-Juneau 763 nm 17.7 nnots
Juneau-Skagway 96 nm 13.5 knots
Skagway-Glacier Bay 143 nm 12.2 knots
Glacier Bay-Ketchikan 289 nm 18.4 knots
Ketchikan-Vancouver 539 nm 16.8 knots
Total Distance 1,830 nm
(1 nautical mile equals 1.15 statue miles or 1.85 kilometers)
Betty and I waited until dusk at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to dine
in the Rotterdam Restaurant. We happened to sit at a table next to a window and
met two couples who were very nice. One couple were Russ and Cindy of
Vancouver, who were traveling on the ship as a present given to them for their
25th Wedding Anniversary by the mother of Russ. We learned that Russ
is a musician-actor and Cindy does legal research for the government of
The other couple at our table was roughly our age or perhaps a bit older. They were Dr. Ulrich Bauer, 75, and his wife, Susan Brown Bauer of Somerville, NJ. Highly intelligent and with an excellent sense of humor, they later told us their fascinating story of their families’ escape from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Ulrich, with the nickname of Uli, is a physician who served 21 years practicing pediatric medicine in the U.S. Army. He is now a practicing allergist.
Ulrich came to the
The family of Ulrich’s wife, Suzi, also escaped in time from
It isn’t often that we have happened to be “paired up” with
such interesting people during our travels and we joined the Bauers for several
later meals. We also met their new friends Tony Hernandez and his wife Shelly,
who had been a soldier for the Army of Israel when a young woman. Tony, an
architect originally from
For dinner, I had a very good Caesar salad and some slices of Leg-of-Lamb, which were served on mashed potatoes and were delicious. Betty had broiled salmon and a cup of fruit. We shared a serving of apple strudel for dessert.
It seemed to me that all aspects of the ship and its operations were excellent. The Communications program targeted at keeping passengers informed of virtually everything that affected them was extraordinary.
Just outside our cabin door was a “mail slot” stuffed daily
with a 10-page news digest produced by the New York Times that contained the
top stories in the newspaper of the day. Included were a page of financial news
and a page of sports news. Also delivered quite early in the morning (in the
slot by the time our breakfast was delivered about 7 a.m.) was also a copy of
the ship’s “Daily Program.” The well-printed, four-page brochure listed information
about ship briefings and programs of the day plus a feature article about major
points of interest in scheduled stops. Following is a sample of the “Today at a
Glance” listing for our 7th day of the voyage on August 5, 2008, a
day spent at sea between the
7:00 AM Fitness Class: Fab Abs Greenhouse Spa, Deck 11
7:30 AM Fitness Class: Early Morning Stretch, Greenhouse Spa, 11
8:00 AM Morning Walk-a-Mile (4 laps = 1 mile), Lower Promenade, 6
“ Mass is Celebrated in Wajang Theatre, 7
“ “On Deck For The Cure” 5K Walk to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation,
$15. Meet in the Atrium, 6
9:00 AM Fitness Class: Pathway to Yoga, $11. Greenhouse Spa, 11
9:45 AM Crew Farewell & Disembarkation Briefing. Vermeer Lounge, 7&8
10:00 AM Spa Secrets: Detox for Health & Weight Loss, Greenhouse Spa, 11
10-2:00 PM Build
Your Own Smoothie Bar,
10:30 AM Around The World Golf, Atrium, 6
“ Behind the scenes backstage tour with the production cast, Vermeer
11:15 AM Chef Karl Turns Up The Heat on Pacific Rockfish and Quenelle’s of
11:45 AM Win A Cruise Bingo! Win a 7 day Caribbean Cruise. Cards go on sale
15 minutes prior. Vermeer Lounge, 7
12:30 PM The
Art of Ice Carving,
12:30-3:15 PM Slot Tournament Qualifying Rounds, Casino, 8
1:00 PM Grand Finale Art Auction Preview begins 1 hour prior, Ocean Bar, 8
1-3:00 PM Bridge players meet (un-hosted), Queen’s Room, 8
1:15 PM Celebrity
Cooking Demonstration, Culinary
1:30 PM ‘Custodians of the Sea’ Environmental Tour by Movie with Environmental
Officer Ralph, Half Moon Room, 7
1:30 PM Play
“ Team Trivia Challenge with Your Cruise Director Travis, Crow’s Nest, 12
2:00 PM Cellar Master’s Premium Wine Tasting, $35, Pinnacle Grill, 8
“ Alaskan Gold Rush Dreams briefing with Your Travel Guide Darlene,
Vermeer Lounge, 7&8
“ An Engine Room Tour by movie, Wajang Theatre, 7
2-2:30 PM Redeem your “dam dollars,” Atrium Fountain, 6
3:00 PM An Afternoon Classical Concern with Garin Bader, Vermeer Lounge, 7&8
3:30 PM Fun & Easy Towel Animals, Wajang Theatre, 7
3:45 PM Slot Tournament Final, Casino, 8
4:30 PM Mixology Class. Learn to mix our signature cocktails. $10. Crow’s Nest, 12
“ Finds of Bill W. meet Hudson Room, 7
4:30 PM Final Snowball Bingo & Cruise Lottery Drawing. Cards on sale 30 minutes
Prior. Vermeer Lounge, 7.
4:15-5:45 PM 2 for 1 Happy Hour, Ocean Bar, 8. All drinks 2 for 1!
7:00 PM Showtime: Street Singin’, Featuring the cast of the Ryndam, Vermeer Lounge, 7&8
7:30-11:30 PM Coffees, Cognacs and Classics, Explorer’s Lounge, 8
9:00 PM Farewell Sing Along with Fritzie, Piano Bar, 8
9:30 PM Showtime: Street Singin’ Featuring the cast of the Ryndam, Vermeer Lounge,
10:00 PM 2nd Chance Lotto Scratch Cards, Casino, 8
10-11:45 PM Rock It ‘Til We Dock It In
12:00 MN DJ Jason Spins the Hits, Crow’s Nest, 12
To better serve people in a hurry, the ship’s communications departments has inserted quick-to-find symbols on the daily agendas. The at-a-glance listings are distributed very early in the mornings to all passenger cabin mail drops and list special Exercise or Culinary Events, the Dam Dollar promotional events and Travel Guide information sessions.
It was obvious to this retired newspaperman and corporate communications executive that the Holland America people know their stuff. For what it’s worth, my belief after taking a quick look at material from some competing cruises by other lines is that Holland America charges a bit more. But in our experience, the quality of its on-ship and on-shore staff and its superb ship – plus its consistent delivery of excellent food - makes a cruise Holland America worth far above that of other lines.
We plan to take another cruise on the line within the next few years. I just hope that their ownership doesn’t undergo a change in management philosophy of decentralization before we get to it. I went through the tectonic plate shifting that accompanied a change in CEOs at companies where I formerly worked and saw the sudden and truly awful things that can happen when a new guy with itchy hands and his own ideas comes along with the power to change things.
The twin beds pushed together to form a Kingsize Bed in our stateroom were the most comfortable I recall having during our travels.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 – Aboard the M/S Ryndam at Sea
I awakened just after 7 a.m. and noticed from the view of our two picture windows that there were a dozen or more early risers power walking on the Promenade Deck on our Level 6 of the ship.
While they powered off the calories, I relaxed in our room and enjoyed a delicious hot breakfast I had ordered on a ship’s form left on the doorknob of our room before retiring about midnight. It was elegantly served by a room steward on a wooden tray covered with a white, starched cloth. It included two fluffy, scrambled eggs; two perfectly cooked sausage links I hadn’t ordered; two big pieces of whole wheat toast with butter and a selection of jams; a serving of hash brown potatoes and a small glass of tomato juice; and glass of ice water. After my complaint and only a very short time later, the steward fetched a half-dozen pieces of well-drained bacon that had somehow been switched for sausage.
While I enjoyed my breakfast,
worked on my travel account and read the News Digest from The New York Times
the ship provides to passengers, Betty attended a class in carving fruits and
vegetables into table decorations. It was held in the ship’s
The ship was at sea the entire day so we had hours to relax and read. The at-ease time compensated for the hectic days of packing, travel and hassles of the previous few days.
The two of us later attended a cooking class taught by the ship’s Executive Chef, a haughty German by the name of Karl. The scrumptious dishes he prepared and talked about while we and perhaps 100 other passengers watched were Dungeness Crab Cakes with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and Marinated Cucumbers. Small samples of the dish were distributed to the audience. He also demonstrated his version of Klondike Alaskan Halibet. But there were no samples of that dish for us to enjoy.
The demonstration was in the
Among the information she conveyed to us was the “ranking system” used by the chefs aboard the ship for various jobs and responsibilties. All the chefs wear a small band of colored ribbon cloth around their necks, with the color denoting their rank.
I also learned about the importance of keeping a pitcher of ice water handy when cooking such colored vegetables and carrots and green beans. At the exact time, the just-cooked vegetables are removed from boiling water and plunged into the cold water to stop the cooking process and to maintain the color and crispness.
After the interesting class, we repaired to the Lido Deck for a nice buffet lunch served cafeteria style. I selected some tomatoes stuffed with scallops and baby shrimp plus a spoon of tasty chicken salad on a section of avocado with a nice piece of breaded fish fillet and a small serving of seafood lasagna. Betty and I shared a few dessert cake treats.
We sat next to a couple who
appeared to be a little older than us who live near
After our relaxing lunch, Betty and I donned our winter coats to walk around the Promenade Deck four times to get in our mile for the day. Skies were partly sunny and I think I spotted a whale spouting in the distance – maybe a quarter of a mile away from the stern of the boat. At times the boat was perhaps 200-to-300 yards away from the shore during the passage through some narrows. We saw several waterfalls crashing down the sides of the thickly forested mountains. The sea was blue and mostly clear on this segment of the passage. It was truly a gorgeous sight of nature at its finest that I’ll remember for a long time.
Quite a few of our fellow passengers walked around the Promenade Deck that day, on a wide, wooden sidewalk about 15 feet across. It was made of weathered planks of teak wood that are cleaned with electric brushes on most days.
We went to the ship’s Internet Café at mid-day. I paid $16.50 plus $3.95 for access fee for 21 minutes of connection time on a computer terminal. I quickly deleted almost all of the 94 email messages that had backed up in my Yahoo account in only a few days since leaving home. I was glad to see that nothing of importance was in my email (it seems that people try to reach you for emergencies when you are on big trips).
Later, we stopped at the ship’s Ocean Bar and took advantage of the afternoon 2-for-1 drink specials and enjoyed tasty but weak margaritas. That evening, I donned my sport coat and a necktie for the “Captain’s Party” in the Rotterdam Restaurant. Supposedly, the captain was in the room but we never saw him.
Seated next to us near a window were a couple observing their 7th wedding anniversary. She was a gynecologist by the name of Roz. He is her business manager. Both have children from previous marriages. They came across as nice and companionable.
For dinner, both Betty and I went for an appetizer dish of three large shrimp served with cocktail sauce plus a fairly small serving of cracked King Crab claws served with melted butter and a few, small potatoes and some vegetable jullieane. I also had a Caesar Salad with dressing on the side. We finished a half bottle of Australian Chardonnay we had started the previous night. For dessert I had some delicious Crepes Suzette served with a dollop of ice cream for the first time in a long time. Betty had a so-so Chocolate Souffle.
Unfortunately, Betty broke a tooth while biting into a hard roll at dinner. She had been warned of a crack in the tooth by our dentist before the trip. At least there was no pain and a new crown can wait until our return home.
We decided to retire early so we can be well rested for a big whale watching excursion the next day.