Domestic Delights With Holland America Line
Upon arriving at the cruise terminal in Fremantle, I was greeted by the friendly Holland America staff who directed me to the front desk. Most passengers had already been on the MS Volendam for quite some time so the whole check-in process only took around 15 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to find I had been assigned an ocean-view cabin with plenty of space for a couch, TV and queen-sized bed. Dinner was in the main Rotterdam dining room, which was two stories and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. The food was amazing and the service first class.
Breakfast in bed is always great on holidays, so before going to sleep I filled out a breakfast form and posted it outside my room. The complimentary meal arrived exactly as I requested at 9am. The south-west tip of Australia can bring some rough seas and I was certainly feeling ill come midday. However, the friendly staff at reception gave me some sea sickness tablets. In the afternoon there was a lecture in the main theatre followed by some bingo, which I unfortunately did not win. For dinner we tried one of the specialty dining restaurants in the Italian-themed Canaletto’s. For only $10, I was amazed at the amount of food on offer. Our party of four ordered the entire menu and almost had to be wheeled out by the end. After dinner we had some drinks at the Crow’s Nest.
We arrived in Albany at 8am, but I decided to stay on board and enjoy all that the MS Volendam had to offer. This started with a huge buffet breakfast, noticing the lack of crowd even though the ship was full. Not having to queue and always being able to find a quite corner to relax in is one of the best features about cruising with Holland America. For lunch I tried out Dive In, which is the complimentary poolside burger bar open from 12-6pm.
Since bingo wasn’t my game and the casino hadn’t been kind to me either, I decided to try out a bridge class. I was certainly the youngest there at 25 and was in for a shock upon finding out the complexities and etiquette involved. The food was starting to weigh heavily on my conscience, so I decided to go for a bike ride in the gym, which was virtually empty. The gym had a great location at the front of the ship allowing guests to look out over the front of the boat while exercising. Later on we went to the main theatre to watch a circus/comedy gig. As karma for sitting in the front row I was pulled up on stage, which provided some entertainment especially for the rest of my group.
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Holland America provided a large amount of music, particularly at night. Each bar had a different style, from a three-piece string band and a solo acoustic guitar and singer, to the main man Stryker who got the crowd singing along with his classic piano tunes. During the day I attended a cooking demonstration in the Culinary Arts Centre. It had a cooking-show setup with theatre-like seats facing a kitchen, along with screens to show a bird's-eye view.
After this I partook in a mixology class and learned how to make sangria and, more importantly, how to drink it. For a small fee, I received four cocktails and got involved in the mixing and also in the singing of several drinking songs. At 10pm, after another lovely dinner in the main dining room, we headed back to the theatre to watch one of Australia’s most successful stage performers, Peter Cousins, provide some great music and stories about his life.
Docked in Port Lincoln for the day gave us a chance to check out the prominent fishing scene in South Australia. For dinner we checked out the other specialty-dining venue: Pinnacle Grill. Dinner was fantastic with some amazing steaks and seafood on offer along with plenty of sides for a reasonable price. Being the Gala night on the cruise everyone was suited up and ready to party, so we headed to the Crow’s Nest where a live band was belting out some classics and all of the guests and officers were having a great time. Having this formal night was a lot of fun and a great excuse for everyone on board to dress up and dance the night away.
Before disembarking in Adelaide, I enjoyed one final breakfast in the main dining room, which didn't disappoint with huge range of delicious options. This was a totally different cruising experience with a surprising amount of space on board. Extra little touches like the next day's guide laid out on my bed each night along with a chocolate and an interesting towel animal creation were just some of the ways Holland America provided that 5-star experience.
Words by Courtney Waddell, cruise expert at Cruiseabout
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