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South East Asia on the ms Volendam

South East Asia on the ms Volendam On Tuesday 12 April we left Australia on Singapore Airlines Airbus 380, how incredibly large this plane is, so very quiet and comfortable but however it does it stay up in the air? Two days were spent in Singapore at Novotel’s Clarke Quay, we’ve stayed there twice previously; it’s a good location in this ‘user friendly’ and immaculately clean city.

MS Volendam was sparkling after her refurb when we boarded in Singapore on April 14 for our 18 day South East Asian Cruise. This was our 6th with Holland America which entitled us to 3 star status of the Mariner Society. We were accompanied by two dear friends who had not previously cruised with HAL and had been telling them for months prior of the high standards they could expect on board from accommodation, dining and entertainment. They were greatly impressed, which in turn made us feel once again, extremely happy to be aboard.

Apart from flying visits, Rob my husband and I had visited South East Asia before having cruised aboard Statendam from Sydney to Hong Kong in 2007. Following this year’s cruise which provided a very comprehensive list of ports, our holiday plans were to disembark in Kobe then travel by train to Kyoto where we were to spend 4 days at the ANA Hotel which we can thoroughly recommend being directly opposite Nijo Castle. Apart from touring Kyoto as extensively as we could in the limited time available to us.. from a quiet stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk and Gion Area to being caught up in the Golden Day celebrations with wall to wall people along the route to the magnificent Kyomizu-Dera Temple with its impressive 13m high verandah (just spectacular), we endeavoured to understand in some small way the Japanese culture.

A visit to Nara is a must, train travel is recommended rather than picking up an organised tour. It was hard to keep the mouth closed touring this ancient capital of Japan. The Todaji Temple, the world’s largest wooden structure also houses Japan’s largest bronze Buddha and the total complex is just simply amazing.

Back to our cruise on Volendam, from start to finish it was superb. We choose HAL because the ship offers exactly what we like and expect. We particularly enjoy ‘sea days’ which apart from total relaxation, offer many interesting activities if one chooses. Another feature of HAL cruising is the very high standard of entertainment on board. Our typical evening would be cocktails in the Crows Nest or Ocean Bar, Dinner (we elected ‘open seating’ on this occasion which gave us much more flexibility) followed by a first class show with live band in the lounge then a night cap listening to the string quartet.

To us cruising offers so much more than alternate travel, No. 1 you only have to unpack once. Each evening, having spent time ashore exploring new horizons, you reboard the ship and while you enjoy an evening of fine dining and entertainment, the Captain and his very efficient crew are sailing the ship to your next port of call. You can find yourself walking along The Bund in Shanghai, a short stroll from where we were berthed or riding in a cyclo-rickshaw/cable car in Nha Trang - brilliant and so versatile

The reasons we booked this Volendam Cruise was two momentous occasions were upon this year; one our 50th Wedding Anniversary and I became a Septuagenarian in May which I find extremely hard to believe!

Thank you TTW and team for looking after us once again.

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