How it started
Actually, it all came together rather quickly. Some friends of mine saw an article in the travel section of the local paper describing this repositioning cruise for the Holland America Volendam, and told me about it. I looked at the itinerary, and liked all the ports of call in the South Pacific. I realized that if I wanted a choice of staterooms, I had to decide quickly about this trip, since it was almost sold out. I ended up booking a mere four hours after hearing about the cruise!
The last time I took a cruise was 1981 - a trans Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to San Juan, Puerto Rico with several ports of call in the Caribbean. Needless to say, the cruise ship industry has changed a great deal since then!
How it evolved
A few days after booking the cruise, I booked my return flight home on Qantas
from Auckland to Victoria. I very much liked flying with Qantas last time I was
returning from New Zealand in 2004.
I took note that they offered a considerable improvement in in-flight service as
compared with their competitors.
I priced out the cruise, and factored in the single supplement; estimated the additional costs (on-board expenses, land expenses in New Zealand, and airfare home); and still found the trip was an incredible bargain costing only about half the normal per day costs for a cruise! I booked through the travelocity.ca online travel service, since I received Holland America's Flash Rate. This reduced the fare even further by several hundred dollars.
So was it worth it?
It was a fabulous trip. Holland America is a cruise line which continues to provide the personal touches for its passengers, despite the major cutbacks in service being implemented across the cruise ship industry. My friends and I feel we were spoiled while aboard the Volendam, and would be happy to book another cruise on a Holland America ship given our positive experiences on this ship. The highlights of the trip for me have to be Fiji (both the police band in Suva and the snorkelling and beach on Dravuni Island), wonderful snorkelling near Port Vila in Vanuatu, and seeing the beautiful Ile des Pins in New Caledonia. It was also a real treat to be able to see New Zealand`s North Island at a slow enough pace to enjoy both the scenery and the friendly people.
Resources used for travel planning