When launched in 1999, The MS Volendam, at around 61,000 tons and carrying 1,432 passengers, was the largest capacity ship in the Holland America fleet. In its 2006 ‘Signature of Excellence’ upgrade, it was extensively modernised. The refit included the addition of the new Explorations Internet Café, which is equipped with 10 computers as well as a library and games area. The children’s and teenagers’ spaces have also been upgraded, and staterooms now all have flat screen TV and DVD.
In terms of size, the Volendam has been superseded by the newer mega-ships, but it has style and comfort to match any HAL cruise ship. It has a garden theme that is seen throughout its beautifully decorated staterooms and spacious, elegant public rooms. Everywhere there are huge displays of fresh tropical flowers, combined with floral tapestries, fabrics and motifs that artfully enhance its sleek and comfortable modern interiors. HAL’s extensive collection of artwork is well represented throughout the ship, with everything from intimate pre-Columbian pieces to grand Italian Renaissance fountains adding that extra sense of luxury and style, culminating in the huge centrepiece sculpture by the modern artist, Luciano Vistosi, which is the focal point of the ship’s atrium.
The Volendam sails the South Pacific, visiting Australia and New Zealand, or the countries of South East Asia. Holland America Line has always drawn many of its crew, its waiters and cabin stewards from the former Dutch colonies of Indonesia, or from the Philippines, who make a great contribution to the friendly atmosphere aboard ship.
The main Rotterdam Dining Room offers a five course menu in spacious elegance, light and airy by day and sumptuously luxurious by night, with ornate chandeliers and a high ceiling that glitters with stars. Although large, this is also the perfect setting for an intimate lunch or evening meal, with plenty of small tables for two.
The Lido Restaurant is popular for casual meals, a leisurely breakfast, with a wide choice from a Full English to a made-to-order omelette, or a buffet lunch. In the evenings, the Lido serves the same menu as the Rotterdam and also houses in one section the Canaletto Restaurant, which offers an Italian menu.
At the Pinnacle Grill, you can enjoy an intimate meal from an extensive steakhouse or seafood menu, which includes a range of superb desserts. For one night during each cruise the Pinnacle becomes Le Cirque, the Volendam’s most exclusive dining venue with a superb choice of French cuisine.
The Volendam has a diverse choice of entertainment in the Frans Hals lounge, a modest but spacious 580-seat theatre. The ship’s dancers and singers perform a series of revues built around a selection of pop songs and country music. Big favourites are the crew shows, where crew members put on presentations based around their native cultures. The ship’s entertainment also features HAL’s new audience-participation show, ‘Dancing with the Stars at Sea’, where passengers can partner dancers from the ship’s group of professionals, who tutor them for a show on the final night of the cruise.
The ship’s activities programme offers a wide choice of activities, whether you want to get fit, attend a cookery demonstration, get hands-on with a professional chef, take part in a wine-tasting, an art discussion or auction, or brush up on your computer skills. There are presentations on a range of subjects in anticipation of the Volendam’s various shore excursions.