9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back ... Read More
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back to the dinning room. Janet almost threw up when I found the hair. One morning we were having an omelets and I discovered a hair in my omelet. (picture attached) Another morning I grabbed a fruit cup and was eating the fruit when I looked down and saw a filthy glass the fruit was in. I took my finger nail and scratched the crud. This was disgusting. I took the cup to the front desk and heard crickets. (picture attached) After this incident we lived on scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit, salad and pizza for the majority of the cruise. Anything that was prepacked or would be killed in high heat. The fruit juices were watered down just like their cocktail drinks. We went one evening to the Crow’s Nest for happy hour. The Holland America app said happy hour was from 4:00-4:30. This crated a lot of confusion with the bartender. The guy in front of me had a discussion with the bartender about the time. I showed the bartender the H.A. app which clearly said 4:00, but the bartender insisted it was 4:30 as printed in the daily ships guide. The bartender eventually gave the guy his drinks at first one at regular price and the 2nd for $2.00. When it came my turn, he said I had to pay full price or wait until 4:30. I told him this was discrimination and the people behind me agreed. It is obvious some of the ships personnel need to be retrained. It gets more interesting. Every evening at happy hour there was trivia. The cruise director Tom Webber was great as was Eileya who did the trivia in the evening. One evening we ordered Mojitos. The bartender never mulled the lime and mint together, so on this evening I discovered a bug in my drink. (picture attached) There was dust everywhere. No one ever dusted the bases of the fixed table.(picture attached) I called for a meeting and Mr. Bashir met with me in the lobby, outside of the customer service desk. I went through my list of issues and was told “there are 1,350 on board the ship. “We are trying to make everyone happy”. You are the only complaint”, which is a lie. We did excursion with many people who complained about the services and quality aboard the ship. I showed Mr. Bashir my pictures and he didn’t believe me. I told him “I bet you that spinach is still on the wall”. He said “they clean every day”. I took Mr. Bashir up to the Lido deck and showed him the spinach on the wall. He too was unhappy about the quality of the food. I was at breakfast one morning, before I met him, and he was complaining about how his food was cooked. We did a lot of excursion. One had only one excursion that was not good and that was the trip to Corfu. The WORST excursion we EVER had. I complained about this excursion, as did others. We did not get a refund, only crickets. As for Holland America, I will not cruise with them. This was our 3rd cruise. This was our gift to each other for our 45th anniversary. Not a glass of wine, not a glass of Champaign nothing! Holland America’s was all about separating you from you money and if you didn’t like what you got, well that was just too bad. See you later sucker, they just didn’t care because they had their money. We paid high dollar for a low budget, low quality return. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people ... Read More
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people working the ship were very good and professional. The ship is old and dated. Poorly layed out and not designed for the older passengers that go on this trip. Lots of space used for shopping stuff and recreational stuff. Not very many good outside quiet spots to enjoy the view. The one pool is worthless! It was dominated by kids and screaming. We went there once and never went back. There should be an adult pool. (Dont ask me why kids were on this cruise, not a kids ship or intenerary). Lots of things were broke on the ship. You could never get the water and ice machine to work properly in the Lido Market. Many times a sign was up that it was broke. The Lido market had decent food but was only open until 8pm. There was viryually no casual dinner after 8. The many restaurant was open until 9:30 but you should be dress appropriately for that. The Pinnicle Grill was very good and we ate there 3 times but that is an extra charge. None of the bars had the same beer and wine. One bar would say they were out of a beer and another had the same beer. Frustrating when you have a beverage package. I would say go for the itenerary not for the ship. The ship was only a means to get us where we wanted to go! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle once; it was OK but we enjoyed the MDR more. Entertainment was good if not excellent; there were some but not many activities during the day, but most everyone was off the ship anyway, as we only had one day at sea, and on that day there were many activities at all times. Embarkation was easy, as was disembarkation at the end of the trip. The Veendam is a small ship, so the staff/guest ration is much better than on the larger ships. It is comfortable, and we much prefer the smaller ships for this reason. Sailing up the Adriatic into Venice was an amazing and beautiful ending to our voyage. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches ... Read More
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches on embarkation and disembarkation. The lectures were informative and pleasing; the Kitchen at Sea was great as was the entertainment. We were the first passengers to enjoy the new carpets and the new chairs and the number of renovations on this ship! There will always be a place for these smaller ships in the industry. (1200 Passengers, but about 1000 on our crossing) the captain was all around the ship, available for questions, and very informative about the nuts and bolts of the ship and the navigaion. He was from Scotland and had the sense of humor, understated, and excellent rapport with his staff and of course the passengers! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Excellent embarkation, and oddly, they seem to have dispensed with the silly health declaration. The nature of the muster drill has changed. One must not leave the cabin at the first alarm, but wait for the third or be told off by Miss ... Read More
Excellent embarkation, and oddly, they seem to have dispensed with the silly health declaration. The nature of the muster drill has changed. One must not leave the cabin at the first alarm, but wait for the third or be told off by Miss Trunchbull, who now works for HAL. Shades of Costa Concordia telling the English speakers to jolly well stay in their cabins as the ship went down is what this brought to mind for me, but ‘whatever’. We booked this one knowing that the lanais would mean very few non - reserved deck chairs on the walking deck. Initially we were pleased to see that there were plenty of deck chairs but then we noticed that they were almost all where the steel side went up to the railing, so no sea view. As the cruise went on, our fellow cruisers took to “reserving” the very few good loungers with towels. This is not the cruise for anyone who loves sitting on the boat deck. HAL also removed the cushions every night at 5:30! (Nobody on the cruise was quite THAT old.) We note that some passengers seem to have adopted a “Manifest Destiny” attitude on the walking deck, and will bark out “Coming through!” Or an imperative “Excuse me!” (As opposed to a polite one) and then expect you to clear the entire path for them instead of merely passing by. There were a few odd ducks on this cruise, but more on that later. Food in the MDR was disappointing compared to previous HAL cruises, as well as every other line, except MSC. The portions are beginning to be skimpy, even for a small adult. This is not really a problem, you just order more courses. The real problem was the menus. The regional menus were invariably Cuban. This cruise didn’t even have Cuba as a stop and Cuban food is famous, in Canada, at least, for not being very good. (My apologies to any genuine Cubans, who doubtless know where to get the good stuff.) The addition of paid menu items drastically reduced the variety offered without extra charge. Service in the MDR was spotty and slow until we finally met Agus and his sidekick Bonbon. The good news about food on this cruise is that the Lido had some much better food than the MDR. The salad bar was better than any salad ever seen in the MDR and by getting a slice of meat off the joint, you can get just what you want. The Asian is generally good, and the pizza and Dive In are good, too. Breakfast was always excellent, but you must specially ask, and wait three minutes, if you want a hot, crisp waffle. (You DO!!). The baked goods at breakfast were good except for the croissants. Drink service, at least for the non alcoholic choices, was spotty, but we found that staffers didn’t mind in the least if you just poured your own when they left their pitchers at their stations. Desserts were generally disappointing on Veendam, including, alas, the macaroons in the Library which we enjoyed vastly on Noordam last year. (A pitiful collection of books, as well. Definitely bring lots of your own reading material.) For all that, the Explorer’s Lounge in the library is your best chance for a decent, small, dessert. Watermelon was just slightly rotten from the start to the finish of the cruise. In a strange way, this is almost impressive. On a happier note, the milk was fresh right to the end, and milk is often not worth drinking after the first week or so. Others have complained about AC problems on Veendam; ours was fine. Plumbing, often HAL’s Achille’s heel, generally worked, though there were a few leaks in the atrium and once walking past a cabin with an open door, we heard a staffer say, “that is NOT normal!” .......So naturally we looked in ...... to see water pouring from the ceiling. As reviewers have reported for some months past, there were only five of eight elevators working, which was sometimes very inconvenient. Midway through the cruise a little miracle happened and a sixth elevator came back to life. This made for four at the rear and still just two at the front. Those who don’t like stairs might do well to choose the aft of the ship till this is fixed. There are some wonderful things about these old ships that old age doesn’t damage (and the Veendam is definitely due for either a massive refit or a transfer to a lesser line). The laundry rooms are a boon to those who travel light, even when all the machines don’t work. They even provide free detergent. The old fashioned walk around deck is a glorious way to get exercise. The cabins have massive amounts of storage. On HAL everyone gets a bath tub in outside, balcony and suites cabins, which is also wonderful. There is a vague sort of dignity to Veendam that is rather loveable. There are fundamentally no hard sells. The photographer was never once a pest, nor was the cruise director annoying. They didn’t seem desperate to close down dining venues on port days. They even offered a pretty decent tea (scones and jam were both blueberry for some reason, and cream was skimpy and not clotted). Nevertheless service was good in the MDR at tea time and they didn’t try to herd you into a tiny corner of the room as some ships do, even letting you choose your own table, which we appreciated. One lovely thing about this cruise was the utter and complete absence of terrible bands playing on the pool deck. Music of any sort was rare in public areas, though they did have a pianist in the bars sometimes, and some noisy music on the back deck of the Lido. They also don’t subject you to the choice of boiling under a duvet or freezing without one, opting for the old fashioned luxury of triple sheets. Very civilized. Possibly the walls are paper thin in the cabins, but I think it much more likely that the old dude travelling solo in the next cabin was either terribly inconsiderate blasting his tv for hours, or (let’s be more charitable) he may have been deaf. Another unusual cruiser was the fellow who turned down a table at a breakfast where tables were rare, pointing at the ceiling. Sure enough, there really was a camera up there, but I can’t imagine it mattering (what does one DO at breakfast in public that couldn’t be caught on camera? Perhaps I lack imagination.) More to the point, who the heck checks out their environment that carefully on vacation? Spies? Criminals on the run? The fellow who wore the Betty Boop bandana tied around his head for formal night (and a different bandana under a giant top hat with a very wide red sash on the second formal night) did rather catch the eye. Recovering from brain surgery? Winning a bet? Or just giving the rest of us a chuckle? May he recover fully, or win his bet as the case may be, and keep making formal nights fun. Some things about the Veendam itself are odd. The cabin numbering system on Veendam is chaotic, but this is more than made up for by the fact that the beds and pillows are both pretty comfortable, which is also a little odd for cruises in general. For some unknown reason, they sprinkle cinnamon on the cottage cheese in the Lido. This is merely an eccentricity, but I still wish they wouldn’t. The Crows’ Nest is strangely democratic. There are just a few recliners facing the front, and they are off to one side, but there is a padded bench all the way along the front windows. So everyone gets a window seat, though few get the view. We missed Half Moon Cay, nothing strange about that, we find that about half the time, the waves are “too high” to tender. (Makes you wonder how those lifeboat tenders would fare in a bad storm at sea, doesn’t it?) The part I liked about this time is that the captain actually added the real reason, which was that the supplies and staff hadn’t gotten there. On the second formal night, when they finally produced a first rate dinner in the MDR, one steak seemed to have been boiled, which is odd as steak is usually the last thing that Cruise dining rooms would ever go wrong on. Oh, well, the flourless chocolate cake was even better than what we make at home (many things on this cruise were not) and they had added berries, which idea we liked enough that we will copy it. There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with this cruise, but not a lot was terribly good. The ship itself and the service have both just come down far enough for us to think that we will definitely revert to Celebrity, our other favourite, for our next cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Attracted to cruise because it visited Cuba - first time on Holland America after approximately thirty prior cruises - Ship was in total disrepair - Booked four cabins near elevator bank to accommodate ninety year old birthday celebrant - ... Read More
Attracted to cruise because it visited Cuba - first time on Holland America after approximately thirty prior cruises - Ship was in total disrepair - Booked four cabins near elevator bank to accommodate ninety year old birthday celebrant - By end of ten days only one elevator cab was running for passengers resulting in extremely long waits to move around ships - Crew has to use one elevator as theirs were out of order - One day elevator opened and we saw crew member with carts of filthy linens! We were told they were waiting for parts - Public bathrooms on pool deck 11 were out of service from first day until last day - waiting for parts. We were directed to use facilities on same deck at rear of ship through buffet area - One stall only - filthy - no towels to wipe hands - Complained but to no avail - Leaking safety sprinkler valve on 12th deck down onto pool deck for entire length of cruise - Pool deck was always wet and slippery - Cone saying “caution wet floor” with no attempt to repair - Food was inedible with exception of breakfast - Too little personnel - family style trays of food were not refilled when empty - Italian specialty restaurant was disgusting at best - Entertainment crew shows would have been okay as high school productions - Cruise director wore same decrepit suit and dirty shoes nightly - Commented it was a uniform! Sent complaint letter to President and CEO of Holland America about all occurrences - Received response from customer service (not from Pres. or CEO) - Surprise! She claimed all issues were related to awaiting spare parts - Offered $100.00 discount per person on future cruise - Insulting at best - As repeat cruiser on Oceania they offer 10% discount on cabin which works out to hundreds of dollars and well worth every penny - Will never sail with Holland America ever again and neither should you Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a getaway for New Year's Eve. We were pleasantly surprised at the young ages on this sailing knowing Holland's reputation. However, Holland did not take this into consideration and maintained a "Senior" ... Read More
This was a getaway for New Year's Eve. We were pleasantly surprised at the young ages on this sailing knowing Holland's reputation. However, Holland did not take this into consideration and maintained a "Senior" environment with night symphonies, cooking demonstrations, etc. The shipped appeared dated, especially the exterior with cracked windows in several locations. The entertainment in the theater was awful using the staff which appeared more like a high school production. The headliner comedian canceled and New Year's Eve was held in the theater. 1,000 people crammed into a two tier theater having to watch the Cruise Director sing three or four songs. He was not Frank Sinatra! Champagne was limited and those of us on the upper tier just received our champagne at the strike of midnight. Now tell me why they did not take advantage of the pool area with the covered top and some energetic live music? Sea Days: Young ages throughout the ship, yet Carlos the Cruise Director did not make any adjustments for some fun on sea days at the pool and no live music. Food, overall was good with an imbalance of proportions. Some had a healthy plating while others had barely a portion for one person. God forbid you asked for extra sour cream. Seems the ship had a premium on that! Service was very good. Stateroom was nice size but never saw our attendant and we ended up with the same used glasses for four days in a row. Towel animals needed some work and the towels and wash clothes were grey and dingy looking. Excursions: Took one "Old and New San Juan". The driver gave no history of the city during the drive. Stopped at fort for a 45 minute walk. 23-acre fort! Not much time. Dropped us at a corner for shopping not giving any suggestions or time for a bite of food. The only saving grace on this cruise was "Martini Mike" with nightly martini tastings and the beautiful islands of Grand Turk and Half Moon Bay. Sorry, Holland but a huge disappointment for on board experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on this ship has windows so you can have ocean-side dining. The restaurant was also good. My only comment would be that we have gone from formal night to gala night to come as you are. Old t-shirts and flip flops should not be part of gala night. Room service breakfast was excellent, always on time. Holland offered water color classes but they cancelled them as the person was transferred to Rotterdam. My understanding is that she will offer them there and if they concept takes off, it will go to other ships. I am told that the Ocean Trio is going away from this ship come mid-year. Adagio was also quite good. Stewards did a great keeping our cabin up, they are assigned around 30 to keep up with. Gym opened at 6 AM every day and they kept the music down, much appreciated. Captain was excellent and dealt with a couple of weather systems very professionally. Cuba Form - If you say you are going ashore Holland gives you a Cuban visa (tourist card) when you get on to fill out. It costs $75. Don't lose it or you will be charged $75 to replace it. Cienfuegos - I found the information provided in the Cuba orientations and lectures on board to be very biased. The usual phrases such as "100% literacy" without telling you that Cubans do not have free access to information or "free health care" without telling you that they don't even have Advil. Very disappointing. Sailing In - The approach is interesting, try to be out on deck to catch it. This is a tender port for Holland. It is a 15 minute ride in, two Holland tenders and one Cuban boat. Brochure time for the visit is 8 AM to 5 PM. We got there at 8 AM. People were able to go ashore without a tour. Holland typically was giving tender tickets when we cleared. For this port they did not give out tickets until 9 AM (this did not apply to the 4 and 5 star mariners.) The last tender for independent travelers was at 3:30 PM. I thought I could take a shorter tour and then have time to wander around. The ship's shorter tours left later in the morning (around 10 AM.) Irrespective of the ship tour, most did not have time to wander around outside of the tour. They might have some time to shop in Jose Marti Square in Cienfuegos at the end of the tour, but that was it. Our tour (Santa Clara) returned straight to the dock at which point where we were strongly urged to return to the ship. In my view there are a number of constraints that limit one's time here. The Cuban government says the ship can only clear the narrow part of the channel in day light. In mid-December that about 5:30 PM. The ship can't afford to be running late. The dock is a choke point as everyone has to go through Cuban immigration and customs coming and going. The officials were friendly and efficient, money-changing was quick, too, but they can only handle so many people at a time. They did not take our picture. Money - Change some and get some change. This is one of those places in which some of the rest rooms have an attendant you need to tip. Also some small bills for tipping guide and driver. Shopping - I am not much of one, but some folks were quite pleased with some of the hand crafted items they bought. Leather purses, wood domino sets, etc. But I also saw a lot of folks changing money back at the end of the day. Tours - The Cubans had new buses. Good ride, a/c, had bathroom inside. The guide spoke good English. The driver was good and careful. Roads are ok, not much traffic. Santa Clara Tour - The order may be reversed and if time is limited one won't do everything on the tour. Between the ride in and out of Cienfuegos, we saw the main square and the Passo del Prado. We did not drive through Punta Gorda. We stopped in the main square of Santa Clara and walked about a block to a new restroom facility they have built. They on about another block to "Grandparents Party." A senior center with folks who danced and shared their stories. They also had crafts for sale. I chose to go out on the street and look around. Next to the Armored Train, an event from the Cuban Revolution. More time to take in the street scene. Then a buffet-lunch at a hotel outside town. Not bad, like the Lido honestly. The last stop was Che Guevara's mausoleum. It wasn't listed, but it was worth seeing. The tour listed seeing a monument to John Paul II, but we didn't see that. Then back to the ship. Santa Clara is about an hour a way. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We live in RI & had not yet visited Bermuda. I had been watching HLAV “deals” out of Boston, published by HLA, in the past and then heard the ship would be changing their IT BOS-Bermuda out of Hamilton. We grabbed the last sail ... Read More
We live in RI & had not yet visited Bermuda. I had been watching HLAV “deals” out of Boston, published by HLA, in the past and then heard the ship would be changing their IT BOS-Bermuda out of Hamilton. We grabbed the last sail & spent a wonderful 3 full days, 3 nights on this lovely island. The Bermudians are kind & friendly, Hamilton is near center of either end for convenience & the Veendam has wonderful staff, clean & well maintained, nice variety of entertainment throughout the evening (DJ in Crowsnest late night, classical in Explorer lounge day & evening, jazz in the Ocean lounge and popular/sing along in another. The shows in the comfortable, soft seating theater were very well done & included fantastic magician, comedian, singing & dance broadway caliber which I did not expect for a smaller ship. We dined on the main dining room every night and always had a very good dinner with extensive variety to choose from. Everyone at the table seemed pleased with their order. The Lido Market buffet is served by servers and there was very little wait to get anything in any amount you desired. I feel strongly that the buffet servering keeps ships illness down. The buffet has plexiglass in front of the food choices so that passengers do not handle or breath on the food. Great way to do it. Hand sanitizing dispensers all around the ship! Our inside cabin was quiet & plenty of room for 2. We did not have food down beds on the walls so that opens it up. Shower was fine with shampoo, conditioner & body wash on the wall. Upon arrival the phone in the cabin was on the blink & was changed out. There was plenty of lighting, a TV with a few news channels, ship’s related channels, movie channels, etc.. A book in the room listed 200+ Popular movies you could plug into the DVD player. You got your next days ship’s IT nightly (with a little chocolate & animal towel design). Wonderful robes ready to use, plenty of closet space and I brought a combo of at least 25 outfits! Not that you need it but was not sure about the weather & wanted to be comfortable on ship’s promenade deck where we lounged on the traditional teak chairs (which could use thicker cushions). We did 1 excursion & toured Bermuda & beaches by bus. Embark & disembark well organized. Captain very personable. Fitness room state of the art, programs free & interesting. Veendam has a dedicated card table room for bridge & other table games which I have not seen on larger ships. I was very happy my husband could find a few bridge games. There is also a large open room dedicated to games, puzzles & CHESS already set up 4 chess tables not to mention a GIANT CHESS game set up in the large pool area! An adult hot tub area is on ship’s AFT as well with a bar, seating & handmade NY style thin crust pizza! Delicious! Given it’s an older ship, it is well maintained, great size to navigate around and stylish. Ready to go with you to Venice Italy when you get there! Veendam has all the small ship personality you could hope for plus big ship activities & entertainment. It’s a classy operation & the passengers love Holland. No, We so not work for or with them, yes We paid for my trip and absolutely gave our fabulous stewards a healthy tip (on top of the mandated ship’s tips) because they were in that cabin 2-3 times a day making the cruise a very special experience! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We took this cruise because the ship docked in Hamilton - the old cruise port - and not the Dockyards, the new one, at the far end of the island. The MS Veendam is considered a small ship by many these days; so it was (just) able to berth ... Read More
We took this cruise because the ship docked in Hamilton - the old cruise port - and not the Dockyards, the new one, at the far end of the island. The MS Veendam is considered a small ship by many these days; so it was (just) able to berth there. As a small ship and having a commensurate entertainment budget, they do very well providing a variety of shows nightly. Some folks were disappointed but we've encountered that on much larger ships as well. We do not travel for the shows; so this was not high on our list. High on our list is the service received and the attitudes encountered. Once again we were pleased by the HAL dining staff, who went out of their way to make sure we had everything we wanted when needed; but the food was only average to good. The cabin stewards were exceptional as was the other wait staff, front desk, lounge etc. all were what we have come to expect from HAL. Hamilton is a great port very convenient to the island transportation system and, of course, you are directly downtown at this port. As frequent Bermuda travelers (until now, never by ship) we used the buses and ate off the ship several times, enjoying Bermuda as we always do. We did have one excursion from the ship, a harbor cruise concentrating on the history and families of the island and their homes, very interesting and enjoyable. We noted that the ship is aging but well maintained; all of the mechanical systems worked without flaw (heating, cooling, light, plumbing, etc) including the too few sockets to charge personal electronics in the cabin, the biggest negative. Also, the décor is dated, but again well maintained, and nostalgic HAL which is always fun; they still have a real library aboard, and a funky atrium! All told, we enjoyed the cruise greatly, would go again. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because of its Havana port of call. We booked via Holland America reservations and received a complimentary upgrade from a a BC Vista Suite to a A category Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (10). We arrived at ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its Havana port of call. We booked via Holland America reservations and received a complimentary upgrade from a a BC Vista Suite to a A category Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (10). We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:15am and went swiftly thru security and the various Cuban Visa desks, we waited in the waiting room for approximately 30 minutes. At 11:30 we were allowed to board and we were settled in our cabin with 5 minutes of our group being called in the terminal. We unpacked our bags and explored the ship. Our cabin (A051) had ample space to hang our items, and pack in the drawers. The cabin was in need to new wall-paper, etc, but it was very clean. There was also space under the bed to store two 22" rollaboards as well as one large 42 or 44" bag. The cabin comes with a small tub and there was plenty of space to store items in the bathroom on the shelves as well as your own shampoo and soap in the shower. The ship was launched in 1996 and it is on the older side however we very much enjoyed the small size and ease of travel. We make a rule to never ever use the elevator on the cruise ship in at attempt to combat delicious food. I used the gym on five occasions to run on the treadmill since Veendam does not have an official running track and running on the Promenade deck is prohibited. The equipment was fine however the temperature in the fitness center was very warm and the air was stuffy. I only waited once for a treadmill and that was only about 3-4 minutes. For dinner, we had standing reservations at 8pm each night and dined on the upper level of the MDR at a table for 2 (requested). Our waiter was fantastic and worked hard in his full section, but always delivered impeccable service. The food was very good, from the appetizers to the desserts. The coffee on the ship was some of the best I ever drank- though I am not a coffee snob in the least. We purchased the Elite Beverage Package and our sommelier always had two glasses of our wine ready for us within 5 minutes of being seated. It was fun to see tuxes and gowns on the Gala Nights and we enjoy dressing up on all nights. Our evenings were spent at the piano bar or in the casino and found we would spend the evenings with the same cruisers listening to music. Our before dinner drinks were taken at the Ocean Bar listening to the Ocean Trio. We very much enjoyed our excursions. We booked all 3 with HAL. We visited the Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya, we took a Fury Catamaran Cruise with snorkeling in Cozumel, and we did the Hemingway Hangouts and Hideaways in Havana. All three were great. Our cabin steward was fantastic and did a phenomenal job making towel animals for us to enjoy in the evenings. My only two complaints regarding this cruise were: 1) The temperature in the public spas was very warm. Our cabin AC was mediocre to non-existent. Most nights I slept without a sheet and getting ready in the cabin after a shower was awful. 2) I understand most if not all cruise lines allow smoking in the casinos, but it would be lovely if this practice is ended. I love that HAL does not allow smoking on any balconies and the smoking is contained to a small area on the starboard side of the ship in the back. We are already looking to book our next HAL cruise to the Panama Canal in spring of 2019. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
My husband and I chose this ship because of the itinerary..... 14 days and 9 ports (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Granada, Guadeloupe, St. Johns Antiqua, and Puerto Rico) that we had not been to in the Caribbean and then ... Read More
My husband and I chose this ship because of the itinerary..... 14 days and 9 ports (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Granada, Guadeloupe, St. Johns Antiqua, and Puerto Rico) that we had not been to in the Caribbean and then their private island Half Moon Cay. This was a smaller ship than we were used to with HAL(Eurodam and the Norsdam), but because it was smaller and 300 rooms were cancelled due to the Hurricanes, we got excellent service. I might go as far as saying Impeccable service. The embarkation and disembarkation went so smooth and fast that it was unbelievable. There were no crowds at all, just smooth sailing on and off the ship. Very impressive. As I mentioned, this was a smaller ship and also an older ship. You could smell in some hallways mildew or mold in some spots which they tried to remedy with blowers and deodorizers. However, you can't fix ratted and torn carpets around the elevators and in the cabins and in some areas in the cabin it felt like buckled floors under the carpet. But the decor was very very nice and clean. The bathrooms were up to date and clean also. Dinning was exceptional in the MDR. The service and presentation was just IMPECCABLE...The only thing I would site would be how cold it was. Everyone was wearing coats or heavy sweaters to eat and of course we complained, but nothing was done until the very last night. Very dissappointing,...we tried going to the Lido deck a couple of times to eat but there wasn't a variety of food and it was too cold in there to. We also tried room service, the food was great as in the MDR and Lido deck, but it had limited selections. As a result of the coldness, many of the passengers came down with colds including my husband, which put a damper on our festivities because we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary!!! The shore excursions were too expensive from the ship so we took tours from the outside Van services. We enjoyed the tours and if you are in Barbados, be sure to ask for Carlos and his tours, and if in Guadeloupe try and get Max and his tours. Both of these were quite informative and interesting. I don't know if I would take the Veedam again, because it may be too small for my taste, but definitely cruise with HAL again!!!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We have been looking forward to this cruise for some time. At two weeks, it was the longest cruise we've been on. We had been on the Veendam about 7 years ago and liked it. However, since then we have been on the larger ships of ... Read More
We have been looking forward to this cruise for some time. At two weeks, it was the longest cruise we've been on. We had been on the Veendam about 7 years ago and liked it. However, since then we have been on the larger ships of HAL (Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Eurodam) and so the Veendam felt very small to us. But we quickly got used to the smallness of the ship. We picked this particular cruise because of the itinerary and the ports did not disappoint. We loved all of them. Things that we really liked: First, the food was great! Really very good. The only downside to that is that variety is not big in the Lido. Service was exceptional. I really have to give a shout out to the guys in the main dining room because they were just awesome. I enjoyed the entertainment very much and we did manage to go to most shows. Things that we didn't like: First, the variety in the daily activities was very limited. It was really just the same schedule of activities every day for two weeks. I found this very boring and disappointing. Thank goodness for my kindle! I also thought that the hot tubs could use a good scrubbing. Replacing the aft pool with hot tubs was not a smart move on HAL's part and even though there always seemed to be some sand in the tubs, we did not find them crowded and were able to enjoy them. Overall, this was a great cruise and the passengers were all so nice. Every day, folks would tell us that we look too young to be on this cruise--I guess because there was a lot of older folks and my husband and I are in our early 40s, but that what we liked about it. Everyone was kind, and calm and respectful. Loved it and love HAL Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
1st - No airports, no re-packing for 50 days, 13,000 miles roundtrip, transatlantic x 2, spanned the length of the Med, and included Casablanca and 3 Portugese islands. 2nd- Served the best tasting HAL food in Lido and main dining ... Read More
1st - No airports, no re-packing for 50 days, 13,000 miles roundtrip, transatlantic x 2, spanned the length of the Med, and included Casablanca and 3 Portugese islands. 2nd- Served the best tasting HAL food in Lido and main dining room compared to last 4 HAL cruises. No complaint about our Veranda deck Vista suite cabin. Brought a room thermometer which showed between 68 and 72 degrees daily. This voyage visited Mediterrean countries during the month of November when the temps dipped to the 50's at night. Some public rooms occasionally were cold. 3rd - The ports were fantastic and 95 percent of time we had the closest berth to town when other ships were present. When shuttles were arranged, some ports' buses were $6 + per person roundtrip from ship to town, be aware 4th - The captain, officers and crew were fantastic. 6 stars. 5th - Would love to cruise these ports again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
I write my review with a small tear in my eye as we just disembarked yesterday from the Atlantic Adventure Cruise to the Mediterranean. Where shall I start? Embarking, HAL has the system down! We were settled into our stateroom ... Read More
I write my review with a small tear in my eye as we just disembarked yesterday from the Atlantic Adventure Cruise to the Mediterranean. Where shall I start? Embarking, HAL has the system down! We were settled into our stateroom with very little trouble, from the port to the ship they had things moving along. Our cabin, deck 10, #076 was wonderful! Love the nice large verandah on the aft with a nice 180 degreee view. Cabin was comfortable (couch was a bit uncomfortable but not truly an issue). Only issue was deck above was “the Retreat” and staff setting out loungers at 6 a.m. was a rude awakening! Cabin stewards were wonderful, each time we visited they asked if there was anything they could do to make our stay more comfortable! Common areas were clean and well maintained, staff were visible cleaning and polishing and picking up after guests. Were there areas that needed repair, sure there were! It is an older ship and the salty seas are hard on it as are the thousands of passengers who sail on it each year! Dining was great, good choices in Dining Room and on the Lido. The Pinnacle and Canelletto were suburb each time we dined there. Staff was wonderful. HAL has a great reputation for service and this ship is no exception. From “salad girls” on the Lido to Dining Room Managers and Wine Stewards they were all willing to go the extra mile to be certain your trip was perfect. Shore excursions were top notch. A bit spendy and several other passengers had made other arrangements. Perhaps HAL might want to reevaluate their tours if they are losing business to others. Entertainment was spotty. I have been on other HAL cruises and seen better. But you can’t please everyone and others seemed to enjoy most of the shows. All in all HAL offers a great cruise, a quiet ship and wonderful service, you can’t ask for more! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I frequently cruise with Holland America. This Cruise to Bermuda was very enjoyable, but the ship itself needs some TLC. The A/C was a problem in many cabins, and public areas. I was traveling with two other couples, and their cabins ... Read More
I frequently cruise with Holland America. This Cruise to Bermuda was very enjoyable, but the ship itself needs some TLC. The A/C was a problem in many cabins, and public areas. I was traveling with two other couples, and their cabins wouldn't cool below 76 degrees. The entertainment was first rate, along with the food and service in the Dining room. Our Cabin was showing its age, but it was comfortable and clean. The reason we choice this cruise was primarily because of where this ship docks in Bermuda, Downtown with everything at your fingertips. This made it easy to travel with Senior family members. We have cruised before on other "S" Class ships and didn't notice their age, but this ship in particular needs to be dry docked, overhauled and given up-to-date features like the other ships in the fleet. Boston is a port that is not easy to drive to, but once you're there, the parking was extremely close and affordable Would we travel on this ship again....Yes Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This is my third time on this exact same boat, and my grand kinds seem to enjoy it tremendously. This year one of my granddaughters is thirteen, and was in the teen program, The loft. She had the absolute time of her life and has made ... Read More
This is my third time on this exact same boat, and my grand kinds seem to enjoy it tremendously. This year one of my granddaughters is thirteen, and was in the teen program, The loft. She had the absolute time of her life and has made friends she's still super close with months later. The crew is polite and excellent, and food is delicious. The shows were enjoyable, especially the comedians. The pots were fun, and I truly got to see part of Canada. the ship however is a little older than the others, but still works perfectly fine. The ship is a perfect size, not to small, and not to big. I rarely got lost, and when I did there was always crew members nearby willing to point me in the right direction. getting off the ship and disembarking was an easy and smooth journey, and made getting back home easier then expected. Best cruise I've ever been on! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
June 15-24, 2017 (For context: my wife and I are both in our late 60s. This was our 24th cruise since our honeymoon in 1977. We’ve ocean cruised on Eastern Seaboard Line (1), Holland America Line (aka “HAL”) (4), Royal Caribbean ... Read More
June 15-24, 2017 (For context: my wife and I are both in our late 60s. This was our 24th cruise since our honeymoon in 1977. We’ve ocean cruised on Eastern Seaboard Line (1), Holland America Line (aka “HAL”) (4), Royal Caribbean (7), Windstar (4), Oceania (1), and we’ve Europe river cruised on Uniworld (7). My review is of course subjective. As always, your mileage may vary). This cruise was our 40th wedding anniversary celebration, our third cruise to Bermuda (twice docked in Hamilton, once at Dockyard). We chose this specific itinerary because unlike other east coast departures this season that tie up at Dockyard or only spend one overnight at Dockyard, Veendam spent three nights in Hamilton. There were lots of things to like on this trip, but some not so terrific issues, too. It always seems to us, though, our lasting memory of every cruise is positive. Our HAL pre-cruise hotel was the Langham in the financial district. A very positive 4-star experience once we got there. (As seems to happen more often than not, the included HAL Logan airport-to-hotel transfer began with an hour-long standing wait for the SUV pickup (for only us) in the hot airport parking garage with the pleasant-enough HAL greeter. “It’ll be here any minute” became very tiresome. The Langham was well-located for walking to many of the tourist sites, interesting places to eat/drink, and a short walk to the waterfront where preparations were underway for the “Boston Sail 2017” international tall sailing ships parade on Saturday morning (also Veendam’s departure afternoon). Our hotel room on the sixth floor was well-appointed, with a comfortable king bed and capable air conditioner. The only non-4-star experience was the noticeable lack of servers/service during our tasty, separately purchased full breakfast on Friday morning in the hotel restaurant. Our Saturday morning breakfast came from Dunkin Donuts a block away. On embarkation/Saturday morning, the HAL transfer from the Langham to Veendam, docked at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, was organized and efficient even with the added chaos of the Boston Sail 2017 already well underway in the area. HAL’s Masdam was also on her turnaround day, tied up in front of Veendam. Security and check-in went well, and we walked aboard to find our cabin already available. Veendam does not show her age. For the whole cruise, we never saw a single indicator she was not lovingly maintained. The hull looked to be freshly/continuously painted. All of the public areas, passageways, outside teak decks, stairways, dining rooms, clubs, lounges, Lido pool and deck chairs, and 2-deck showroom looked like they were freshly painted/carpeted/furnished with not a single worn-out looking piece of furniture or fixture. That has to be quite a feat for a ship her age. Then there was our cabin. We were lucky enough to be able to afford a Neptune Suite, #009, for this cruise. It had lots of room, a king bed, a dressing area with mirrored vanity and sink, plenty of drawers/closets/storage, a minibar, a leather L-shape couch with side chairs and a glass-top sitting table, an (unusually small) flat screen TV with DVD player, a BOSE mini Bluetooth speaker, and a bathroom with tub. It had the largest balcony of any cabin we’ve ever had, long and deep enough to comfortably fit a round table and four side chairs, plus two large recliners and another small table. Overall, the cabin was quiet from all sides. Everything looked great. As we were soon to learn, though, not everything was as perfect as it seemed. The first thing we noticed was the noise coming from our cabin’s 3-foot by 3-foot ceiling grill over the couch, which appeared to house the heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (“HVAC”) system. Inside it we heard a random but almost-continuous annoying mechanical or electrical rattle. We reported this to the wonderful Neptune Lounge concierge, Dinelle, who said she’d report it to the “technical” department. The noise was minimized by the time we got back from supper that first evening, and eliminated early the next day. Also at bedtime the first evening one of the heavy mirrored sliding closet doors fell off its track as it was being opened, and luckily it missed my wife’s foot. Earlier in the day when we first got to our cabin we noticed several gashes on the adjacent wall, so this probably wasn’t the first time this door had come off its tracks. When we reported this to Dinelle, (we were sure by then she must’ve thought we were going to be troublemakers for the entire cruise), she had “carpentry” reattach the door the next morning. The worst issue, though, aside from the sometimes lukewarm-to-frigid showers, appeared during the afternoon of our second cruise day when the temperature and humidity in our cabin reached unbearable levels. Our guess was when “technical” fixed the ceiling noise, that also stopped the HVAC cooling. Of course, this same evening was also the cruise’s first “dress up” night, plus our actual wedding anniversary day. After we’d showered and dressed for the evening, we were both still uncomfortably hot and drenched as we left our cabin. So much for formal anniversary photos that evening. We had arranged for our anniversary celebration dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, which turned out to be a worthwhile extra-charge venue with excellent food and service. While we were at supper, the outstanding Dinelle (can you tell we were very impressed?) called upon “technical” again to try to fix the HVAC, and she also arranged for someone put a nice box fan in our cabin before we returned. The fan definitely helped, and although “technical” did come back several more times during the week, as did Dinelle during her breaks to check on our cabin’s temperature, our suite never did cool down during the cruise. We happened to overhear other passengers’ comments when we’d pass in the starboard passageway on our deck, and it turned out our cabin wasn’t the only one with uncomfortable temperature/humidity issues. Perhaps “technical” knew this was an ongoing issue in this aging ship, and there were already box fans at the ready for anyone who needed one? We also heard of a fifteen-minute power outage in one section of cabins during the week, but we didn’t experience that ourselves, and there apparently were frustrations with lights in cabins that didn’t work, and a TV remote without batteries. Attention to details issues. One usual cruise ship malfunction we thankfully didn't experience except for one hour on the last day of the cruise: Our cabin toilet flushed every single time we pushed the button. Outstanding! In addition to the very capable Concierge Dinelle and her coworker, Concierge Micaela, our cabin stewards, Dwi and Mas, were outstanding. They were cordial, seemingly happy, efficient, hardworking, and there wasn’t a single instance when we were lacking for anything. Dwi even placed a different towel figure every night on our bed before we returned for the evening. We ate almost all of our breakfasts and lunches in the Lido buffet on deck 11. The variety of offerings seemed adequate, the soups and baked goods we tried each day were excellent, and we enjoyed the custom-made omelets at breakfast. The Lido attendants delivering coffee/tea/drinks and setting/resetting tables were cordial and accommodating. The layout of the two identical service lines on each side of the Lido weren’t very well laid out, and passengers never seemed to figure out how to queue up at the different stations along the lines. It was pretty much a free-for-all. The main dining room menu variety seemed a bit less than we’ve experienced on other ships, but we always found something we liked, served hot when it needed to be, and cold when appropriate,… except for a warm, wilted, very tired “signature” Caesar salad (only selected once) that had probably sat on a galley staging table way too long. As in the Lido, the soups in the MDR were delicious. The waiters, assistants, and sommeliers seemed a bit overworked for the number of tables they were assigned, but they were always pleasant and helpful. Veendam has an actual “movie” theater on deck 7 which also doubles as the venue for the cooking presentations. There were several Windows 10 classes on different topics in the classroom every day. Also scheduled were the usual trivia games, wine tastings, shore-side shopping tips, casino events, napkin folding demonstrations, art auctions, and daily religious services. We only attended a few of the nightly events in the showroom,… an entertaining juggler one night, a funny ventriloquist another evening, a very good singer who worked with the showroom band one night, and a unique BBC video enhanced by the live showroom orchestra along with a violin and piano duet from one of the lounges. Due to the timing of our open seating suppers, we didn’t get to the showroom in time to get seats to watch the singers/dancers. After a very smooth day-and-a-half crossing from Boston, Veendam slowly sailed into Bermuda’s Great Sound, maneuvering through the narrow channel past the two larger cruise ships tied up at the Dockyard. We even had a chance to witness one of the underway Youth America’s Cup competitions close-up as they sailed past. Our docking location in the middle of Hamilton turned out to be very convenient. Shopping is along the main street in front of the cruise terminal. It was only a short walk to the ferry terminal, and to the adjacent tie-up for various boat water-related excursions. On Wednesday evenings during the summer the main street in Hamilton is closed off for a street festival for locals and tourists. We enjoyed a sunset sailing catamaran excursion with easy-flowing rum swizzles our first evening in Hamilton, while sailing quietly past all of the amazing multi-million-dollar huge motor and sailing yachts in Bermuda for the month of the America’s Cup races. We also went on a motoring catamaran water tour excursion to the other side of the Great Sound for swimming off the boat. We had all picture-perfect-weather days with blue skies and warm temperatures. As always, our time in Hamilton was much too short. As Veendam turned for home we passed through the Bermuda Great Sound again, and we got to see both the US and Kiwi varsity foiling catamarans out practicing for the weekend’s final races. Our crossing back to Boston was also smooth, although we had thirty-six hours of dense fog, requiring Veendam’s very loud, very piercing, deep-throated ship’s horn sounding 4-second blasts every three minutes around the clock as its foghorn until we were almost back to Boston. I suspect many cabins with a balcony like ours thought the ship’s horn sounded like it was inside the cabin. Not much sleep happening in our cabin that last night on board. Disembarkation went well, and except for several confused HAL shore-side greeters not knowing which bus/coach to direct passengers and their luggage to so they could get to their correct destinations, everything else (in the rain) seemed to proceed okay. Our HAL transfer to Logan was uneventful, especially since it was a Saturday morning. We’ll have lasting memories of this cruise. Veendam looked well cared for in most every respect except for maybe the aging HVAC, electrical, and plumbing issues. The staff everywhere aboard was as friendly, competent, and accommodating as any we’ve experienced anywhere. As usual, we’ll probably embellish both the good/fun times, and the hiccups along the way, when we tell our friends and family about our trip. But in the end we’ll be happy we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on a cruise to Bermuda. Cheers! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
I was bracing for the worst-- this board is not very kind to the Veendam. We have previously cruised down to Bermuda on the Summit which we enjoyed, but we found this format to be much better. We found the ship to be delightful and the ... Read More
I was bracing for the worst-- this board is not very kind to the Veendam. We have previously cruised down to Bermuda on the Summit which we enjoyed, but we found this format to be much better. We found the ship to be delightful and the itinerary was really great. No other ship docks in downtown Hamilton (which we found vastly superior to being exiled in the Dockyard) and no ship on a regular itinerary spends this much time there-- what equates to be 3 nights and about 3 days. It was really great to arrive into Hamilton at 1pm rather than getting in at 7am and feeling the need to rush right off the ship. Likewise, having Thursday morning in port until 1pm was perfect to do some shopping around town and not have to take time away from activities we did other days to go shopping. We actually weren't going to cruise to Bermuda at all this time time but rather fly down and stay in a hotel-- but with Americas Cup going on hotels were wildly expensive and this ended up being a much better deal. The ship itself is old-- in the best, charming way possible. It has a proper promenade deck and the public rooms are comfortable and well laid out. We never felt like it was too crowded. If I had to be hyper critical the two things I would say are problem spots are the elevators and "The Retreat" in the back. The elevators are slow. No way around that. The Retreat is the replacement for what was an additional outdoor pool. This ship needs two pools-- the one in the Lido becomes full of kids and a little grungy. The hot tubs in The Retreat don't cut it. The food was generally very good. We ate in the Rotterdam Dining Room on the open seating plan. The open seating things isn't as much as a disaster as some people had mentioned-- they give you a pager and you go and sit at a bar for 20 minutes. Nobody dies. The food in the main dining room was good but not anything to rave about. About on par with Celebrity, possibly a little bit better. We opted to dine in the Pinnacle Grill the first night and last night which was the way to go. Both meals were very good-- at least on par with a nice restaurant ashore-- and being able to count on a set time and nice dining experience on both of those nights was well worth it. Really no wrong answer here. Service was very good and the food was significantly better than other parts of the ship. Room service was easy and prompt. Limited menu for breakfast (only time we used it) but hot meals for breakfast are becoming rare these days on other lines so having the option for free is nice. The Lido buffet was fine-- the sandwiches were very hit or miss (who makes a turkey club with one slice of turkey?). The build your own salad station was very good. The pizzaria in the Retreat was very fun for a midday snack-- fairly solid pizza. Waits can be long so put in an order 45 minutes before and they give you a pager to come pick it up. We didn't go to any of the shows-- just not our thing so cant comment there. The jazz trio in the Ocean Bar was very good and fun to listen to. The lounge singer in Mix, Barry from Boston, is campy in the best of ways. Fun to sit there and the crowd gets into it. Bar service was great and selection was fine. We opted to do the elite beverage package which we were a little hesitant to do because of how much time we were in port, but it was nice not worrying about the monster bill at the end and I think we felt like we got our money's worth. Bermuda is a lovely island-- so much cleaner and upscale than most of the places you see further south in the Caribbean. We were spoiled and had access to a private beach club while we were there so we didn't do the usual Horseshoe Bay thing or pay for a day pass at a resort which made a huge difference. We used taxis mostly to get around which definitely adds up-- they aren't cheap-- but we found the convenience of going anywhere we wanted when we wanted to outweigh the cost. They have an app called Hitch which lets you pay with credit card and functions a lot like Uber-- made it worth it. This is where being docked in Hamilton was a big advantage for us as you could step off the ship at night to go to The Princess Hotel or a pub and you didn't have to pay for a cab. In a similar situation (such as Americas Cup or another event driving up prices) we would absolutely do this again. The ship was great, the service was great, and the itinerary is much better than what is offered to Bermuda on other lines. Don't let the naysayers on this ship sway you. If you can put up with not having water slides and belly flop contests and like a little more traditional shipboard ambiance, you'll really enjoy it. It gives you more time in Bermuda than anything else and at the end of the day, thats really the point right? Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We had HAL take care of us airport to airport...no hassle. Stayed at the Langham in Boston two days prior to the cruise. Loved it, so much to do within walking distance. Loved the Veendam. We had a forward cabin and the walk to the ... Read More
We had HAL take care of us airport to airport...no hassle. Stayed at the Langham in Boston two days prior to the cruise. Loved it, so much to do within walking distance. Loved the Veendam. We had a forward cabin and the walk to the stern was not very far. Service, dining, our cabin was excellent. Docking in downtown Hamilton, Bermuda was perfect. Sailing through the America's Cup race course with boats on the water made everything even better. We had last been on Koningsdam's first cruise, so the change to a 21 year old ship was surprisingly nice (although we did miss the Tamarind). Veendam's crew bent over backwards to make sure our voyage was one to remember. Room stewards, bar staff, restaurant staff, concierge in the Neptune Lounge all deserve a raise. The only thing we wished was better...more days in Bermuda as three days is not enough to do everything. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The perfect cruise of 7 days between Boston and Bermuda. We were on the East Coast visiting relatives. We have cruised over 3 times, mainly with Celebrity. The Veendam sailed out of Boston and back so it was good schedule and we ... Read More
The perfect cruise of 7 days between Boston and Bermuda. We were on the East Coast visiting relatives. We have cruised over 3 times, mainly with Celebrity. The Veendam sailed out of Boston and back so it was good schedule and we wanted Bermuda for 3+ days. The ship was small-1400 passengers. It is over 20 years old but well maintained, with an excellent mostly Indonesian crew. The service and attitude of cabin and food staff was excellent!!! The window cabin was fine and the bathroom tub/shower was fine. Food and entertainment were not as good as Celebrity, but still very good. The captain and his info (capt Noel) was excellent in keeping people advised of weather and route. The advantage of being docked on Front Street, right in Hamilton town was great. The staff were not pushy or overly vocal with announcements. Criticism I read about cabin smells, noise, etc were not at all applicable. We cared about the seas and had only one rough day on the way back and lucky to have two out of 3 sunny May days in Bermuda. If weather was bad, that would have been bad. Overall value was excellent. We had only taken one other HAL cruise, which was a bunch of ol' people only. This was a better mix of ages and also about 30 families with kids. Was my opinion of HAL changed-Yes-good job Veendam!! Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Veendam cruise 4-21-17 15 nights FLL – Montreal. Long and detailed. Skip to the conclusion if you only want the summary. Getting to Florida to day before the cruise proved to be full of adventure. Our Southwest flight left the ... Read More
Veendam cruise 4-21-17 15 nights FLL – Montreal. Long and detailed. Skip to the conclusion if you only want the summary. Getting to Florida to day before the cruise proved to be full of adventure. Our Southwest flight left the gate early, only to turn around on the taxiway due to an ill passenger. They ended up being removed from the plane by paramedics. By that time, the runways were backed up and we were #10 for departure. We ended up arriving in FLL an hour behind schedule. Good friends from a previous cruise picked us up at the airport and we enjoyed a wonderful German dinner at the Old Heidelberg Restaurant. After a great dinner they dropped us at our hotel, the Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale cruise port north. The hotel is right next to a shopping area so if we find we need anything in the morning it is convenient. When checking in they offered us a transfer to the cruise port for $6/pp. Even Uber would be more than that so we signed up for the 10:30 departure. Just before turning in for the night a text came in from Holland America telling us there would be a delayed embarkation due to a delayed arrival of the Veendam. I posted a note on cruise critic and it was quickly confirmed that the Veendam was well behind schedule. Friday April 20 – Embarkation day. First think is I spoke with the front desk at the Hampton. They already knew about the Veendam and had arranged a 2:30 shuttle to the port. They also offered us 2:00 late checkout. We enjoyed our breakfast and sat with another couple heading to Veendam who were not yet aware. We walked over to the strip mall next door and perused a few of the stores. We bought a few small items including a travel pack of cleaning wipes for the cabin. Walking back we noticed a McDonald’s right next door to the Hampton. We visited McDonalds for a dollar promo soft drink and two dollar promo iced coffee. We returned to the Hampton and considered using the pool but in the end decided not to. I used the time to catch up on e-mails and also to book airfare for next March’s cruise on Zaandam beginning in Santiago, Chile. While hanging out we also caught an X-men movie on HBO. The movie ended at 1:45 so timing worked well. We closed up the suitcases and headed down to the lobby. The 2:30 shuttle ended up full with 14 passengers heading to Veendam. There were still lines of disembarking passengers waiting for buses and shuttles. Veendam had arrived at 11:00. We were given boarding card number 15 and after a while were called to get our cabin cards. Boarding began at about 4:00 and we were on board at 4:30. With a 5:15 dinner we had little time before dinner but we did check out our cabin. Due to a late upgrade we are in Vista Suite #181. The cabin is clearly larger (longer) than our normal outside. The verandah is double the depth of the one we had on Koningsdam, with a full size lounger, two chairs, and a small table. The bathroom is the same except for a jetted tub, but it is a small tub so I doubt we will ever use it as a tub. I was pleased to see the old tube TV had been replaced with a small flat screen. We are assigned table 50, a 6-top in the dining room. We were joined by one other couple and we seem to get along fine. The other two seats remained vacant. Our wait staff is Rota and his assistant Putu Adi (Adi). Our wine steward is Ricardo. We know we have had Ricardo as wine steward before but it has been many years. Dinner was great with the traditional first night Prime Rib enjoyed by all four of us. Holland’s culinary team knows how to do Prime Rib right. It was hard to make a choice at dessert so we had to get two. The Banana crisp is always so good. We visited the Ocean Bar for “The Ocean Trio.” They also just boarded today and the drummer is ill. However the remaining two did a great job without the drums. When their set was over we joined the small group at the Piano Bar. We ended up staying over an hour and had a great time. Thinking it was unusual for us to stay up this late (10:45) we checked out the ‘late night snack’ in the Lido only to find grilled Shrimp as a selection. Needless to say a few Shrimp were eaten. It was 11:30 before we called it a night! Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Port Canaveral, FL Veendam docked at 7:10 in Port Canaveral joining Disney Magic, the Queen Victoria, and a large Carnival ship. Disney and Carnival was on a turnaround while the Queen was on a port call like we were. My Nephew lives 30 minutes from the port and he agreed to pick us up and spend the day with us. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast and at 9:15 my nephew and his girlfriend picked us up. We took a scenic ride along the various islands back to his house. He showed us some projects he is working on and we walked the block to his beach. Took some photos there and enjoyed the breeze. Walked back and then left to enjoy an “Art show” at the County Park. What a huge park this was! We walked a lot and by 12:45 made it back to the car. Next we headed back towards the port passing thru Cocoa Beach and the famous “Ron Jon’s surf shop.” Between port Canaveral terminals A & B there is a public area with a row of waterfront dining and marina establishments. We enjoyed lunch at “Grills at the Port.” The Mahi sandwich was terrific and the fish tacos (also made with local Mahi) were greatly enjoyed. After lunch we took in the Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral. Just the view from the observation deck is well worth the modest admission price. We also took in the exhibits on the development of the port and the space center’s history. But it was now 3:30 and with a 4:30 all aboard it was time to get back to Veendam. Ten minutes later we bade our nephew and GF farewell, we will see him again closer to home in four weeks. Back on Veendam I quickly changed and headed up to the pool while DW began to prepare for dinner. The pool was wonderful. Very clean and nice warm water. DW would love this! I stayed in the pool nearly an hour and enjoyed a conversation with another guest. I showered off using the pool showers and headed back to our cabin for a quick change into dinner clothes. With just enough time I went to the Ocean Bar to get Happy Hour wine. Then I stopped at the Pinnacle Grill to see about making lunch reservations for us and two cruise critic friends. The first ‘sea day’ opening is next week Saturday! I made the reservation. The dining room opened and we enjoyed dinner. Same couple from last night was at the table but the final two seats were again vacant. Halibut was the entrée we both enjoyed. The Mango-Blueberry Crisp sure made for a great dessert. Leaving the dining room at 7:00 we visited the Ocean Bar where the Trio (still without a drummer) was playing. We listened until their set was done and took care of some business at the front desk, and also checked to make sure all our expected on board credits were posted to our account (they were). As there is a single “Welcome aboard” show tonight at 9:30, and the Piano bar is not starting until 10:00, we retired to the cabin to enjoy the Verandah from where I am creating this log. We saw Hengky our room steward. I asked him about the white cloths on our carpet on both sides of the bed. He explained they say “Good night” and “Good morning,” and that is something left for guests in Neptune and Vista suites. No, they are not napkins! We talked a little bit and he said his last contract was on Prinsendam and he greatly prefers the smaller ships. He’s been with HAL six years. Hengky is most accommodating and I am sure we will have no issues with our cabin service this cruise! A few notes so far on Veendam. Veendam has a tarnished reputation on cruise critic. Indeed, there was some kind of mechanical issue that caused her to be late getting into Fort Lauderdale, and I am sure than tarnished the end of many guest’s Panama Canal cruise with missed flights and connections. On the other hand, the service so far has been stellar, even after Embarkation day obviously being a great extra strain on the crew. The Lido deck, poolside is terrific with more than ample tables as well as two full rows of loungers for any sun worshippers on board. The aft lido deck (“Retreat”) is certainly not as nice as an aft pool but what turned us off is more the smell of smoke back there (even on the non-smoking side) than the retreat redo. The Ocean bar is large, open, and had a ‘full house’ when we visited tonight. I sure wish that HAL president Orlando Ashford would visit a ship like Veendam and see how much the guests enjoy the ‘traditional’ HAL entertainment offerings. When we passed by Adagio they also had a full house listening to them at 7:00. At this time, we are greatly looking forward to the remainder of this cruise and the two sea days ahead of us until we reach Boston. Sunday, April 23 – At Sea: We did not order coffee & tea this morning. We woke on our own and were waiting at the dining room when they opened for breakfast at 8:00. We enjoyed breakfast at a six-top table and attended the 9:00 interdenominational worship. Afterwards we stopped in the lido for juice and coffee before heading to the cruise critic meet and greet in the Crow’s nest. This was very well attended and we met most of the folks we will be touring with. We changed into swimwear and enjoyed the still quite warm pool. I relaxed on the lido pool deck while DW changed out of the swimwear. When she returned we had lunch, salad from the lido and a burger and hot dog from the Dive-Inn. I attended the 2:00 destination talk on Boston and Bar Harbor and then went back to the pool. By now we have hit higher seas and the pool water action was fun. The captain announced a few water spouts around the ship (port side) and I left to pool to view these. Something neat to see that I’ve never seen before, but of course the camera was in the cabin. All too soon it was time to get ready for Gala night dinner. We caught the end of Happy hour but both the Crow’s Nest and Ocean Bar were out of the wine DW enjoys. Walking past the mix they enticed us to try the $4.00 ‘sip and savor’ pre-dinner glass. Dinner was quite nice with our table only set for four. Everything was enjoyable with lots of laughs. We caught the last three songs of the trio (still a duet without the drummer) in the Ocean Bar and went to the showroom for the Captain’s welcome aboard. It was nice that guests had a choice of beverages and I went with a diet Coke. What surprised us was that the Captain did not introduce his senior staff. The show tonight was the singers and dancers with “Classique.” While parts of the show were entertaining (mostly the live violinist) overall it was not our cup of tea. We went to listen to Barry from Boston at the Piano Bar. He had a full house, but tiredness overtook us by 9:30 so we called it a night. Monday, April 24 – At Sea Coffee & Tea were delivered early, 6:45 with a 7-7:30 time slot. We were up so no complaints. We sat out on the verandah a while until the wind got to us. Veendam is now sailing pretty much into the wind and it is coming in on our side, starboard. Breakfast was enjoyed in the DR but DW thought her eggs lacked something. She did order “No salt” so who knows? After breakfast she returned to the cabin to do her P.T. exercises and I walked the ship. I ran into our dinner tablemates and a few from the cruise critic gathering. At 10:00 we went to the lido pool deck for the HAL clothing sale but nothing was there. Yes, there was some rain outdoors but it was dry and pleasant on the pool deck. We found the sale outside the shops but it was the same things we already have. We ended up back in the cabin and dozed off for a while, this sea air sure helps us relax. Lunch was in the lido and dive-inn again. After lunch was pool time followed by the 3:00 talk on the pirate Blackbeard and his ship that was discovered off the North Carolina coast in 1996. We stopped by tea in the mix and had an appointment with the future cruise consultant where we bought two sets of future cruise deposits as well as one set for friends we are meeting after the cruise. Dinner was enjoyable and was followed by a special guest entertainer, the madman of music, David Meyer. His performance with an electronic xylophone was outstanding and at shows end he received a standing ovation. We next visited the Mix for “Barry from Boston” at the piano bar. Barry is the most interactive piano bar entertainer we have enjoyed. This evening he found a guest in the room from Scotland and then gave him the job of finding the “Two worst Scottish accents” in the room during a sing along of “500 Miles.” I ended up winning one of the awards, what fun! We hung in there until the end of his first set at 10:30 and called it a night. Tomorrow is Boston. Tuesday, April 25 – Boston Veendam docked right on time in Boston. I caught the (very) early sunrise through a small break in the clouds. That was the only time we saw the sun all day. We left the ship about 9:00 and found that one of the hop on / hop off companies was offering tours right from the port. After a short wait we were on our way to pier number 2 near Faneuil hall. Nearly everyone on the port shuttle went directly to take the main line hop on tour. As there was a break in the rain, we elected to walk around the area and got on the 10:30 Harbor cruise (included in the ticket). We enjoyed the harbor cruise although the ‘driver’ of the boat had great challenges docking at the Navy pier. After the harbor cruise we boarded a bus and did the entire loop. Towards the end of the tour the rain began again and after we left the bus it began to downpour. We made our way to market. We thought about having a slice of pizza to wait out the rain but at nearly $5.00 a slice thought we would just head back to the ship. As we approached the pick-up point the shuttle driver Bunker was just pulling away. Bunker recognized us from the morning and stopped so we could board. He truly earned his tip and we were very grateful! We were back on Veendam at 3:00 at had a late lunch of salad, pizza and a burger. We left our jackets out to dry. Dinner was again very enjoyable, although it took longer tonight. We were invited to a “3, 4, & 5 star cocktail party” in the crow’s nest at 7:00. No one made any announcements or welcome at the party. We met some very nice cruisers, but overall thought the gathering lacked a purpose. The show featured the music of the Beatles by Jesse Kazemek. Again the show was very good. We next went to the Mix where cruise director Jude told the gathered crowd that Barry was ill and could not perform. This gave us the excuse to make it an early evening and we turned in. Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Bar Harbor, Maine This was the first morning the coffee & tea delivery was not early. It was about 7:15. We went down to breakfast at about 8:15 and they began calling tender numbers shortly after. At about 9:00 they announced no wait for tenders but did say that they expected a rush between 9:30 and 10:00. Regretfully it is a rainy and foggy day. We did go ashore but our prebooked private group excursion on the Lulu lobster boat was canceled via e-mail the prior day. We walked around and saw most of the town. About half the shops remained closed but those open had some reasonable deals. DW obtained a fleece jacket and a hooded windbreaker at one shop. Most of the restaurants were closed. By 11:30 we were back at the tender pier and were soon on our way back to Veendam. We bobbed around in the water about 20 minutes while waiting for the tender dock shipside to clear. Once onboard we hung our jackets to dry and enjoyed a lido lunch. I spent quite a bit of time in the pool and hot tub. We attended the 3:00 movie, and it was a full house in the theater. Dinner was very good. Ricardo the wine steward is entertaining. I enjoyed a pork chop and scallops wrapped in bacon. A new dessert was on tonight’s menu, “Apple blossom.” It was very good. After dinner DW tried to find seats in the Ocean Bar while I distributed my tour reminders for Thursday. No seats were available. We went to the showroom early for the singers and dancers in “Heat.” By 7:40 the room was standing room only. The show was okay. The rocking of the ship surely gave the dancers some added challenges. By the time the show was over we were exhausted and called it a night. We ‘lose’ an hour tonight moving to Atlantic Time and have an 8:15 shore excursion meet time tomorrow in Saint John, New Brunswick. Thursday, April 27, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada – King’s Day Veendam arrived in Saint John just a few minutes late, apparently due to the challenges of docking with strong tidal currents. Our private tour group met at 8:15 and the ship was cleared at about 8:30. We were off the ship within five minutes and quickly met our guide for the day, Alexei of Go Fundy Tours. Alex took us to his van and off we went. It was still foggy and a bit rainy in the morning but the weather did improve as the day progressed. We first visited the reversing falls which were quite a torrent heading downstream as the tide was out, and hour after low tide. He also showed us his ‘secret’ passage under a bridge to another lookout. We visited the fort at the highest point on the city. While it looked historic it is a recreation built in the last 30 years. Alex told us that the best things to see are outside of town. The area is known for wonderful scenery and wildlife viewings, as well of course, for the world’s largest tidal changes. We headed to Saint Martin on the Bay of Fundy. Along the way we made several other stops for photo ops. At Saint Martin, we climbed the lighthouse for 360 degree views. The fog had lifted inland and had retreated to the harbor entrance. There are two covered bridges and several lobster boats in port. When the tide is out the lobster boats are aground, but by this time the tide was well towards high tide and one of the boats was preparing to leave as we watched. We next drove a mile or so down the road to see the Saint Martin sea caves. These large caves were bore into the sandstone cliffs by waves over many centuries. Alex parked the van a little past the caves and asked if we were up to a 30 minute walk ‘through the woods.’ Everyone was game. We basically walked above the sea caves to a few overlooks where we could see the sea action up close. We also had great views back toward the village (and watched the ship’s tour bus pull into to restaurant). Alex also showed us a 19th century family cemetery above the caves. We opted not to stop in the restaurant preferring to see more. The tour was to include the Fundy Trail parkway. Due to insurance complications (this is a private road) Alex could not obtain access this early in the year. We drove to the small town of Sussex and stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a rest break. Alex provided beverages and a snack. There were several banks nearby so I visited an RBC branch to obtain some Canadian currency from the ATM. We returned to Saint John via the expressway. Returning to the reversing falls the tide was right at high tide and the flow was still reversed. There were many more birds enjoying the high water and there were no ‘falls’ as the water covered the rocky river bottom by many meters. Alex took us to the beach where the fog greeted us once again. Afterwards we returned to town at about 2:45 and he left us at the city market. We settled up with Alex and he accompanied us into the market where he provided a sample of smoked sweet Salmon. Everyone enjoyed the sample; it was quite tasty and actually sweet. In the city market I purchased some cut tulips for cabin. The only other purchase was a can of diet coke. We stopped in the mall to use the restrooms and look in the ‘dollar souvenir shop.’ We walked back to the ship. Today is King’s day (The Netherlands King Alexander’s 50th birthday) and Veendam had scheduled several special events. The first being a “King’s day afternoon tea.” This was the first complete “Service failure” of the cruise. We went to the dining room and found there was still a line, so we returned our jackets and touring essentials to our cabin. Back to the dining room it still took us over 15 minutes in line to be seated. The poor dining room host was seating everyone by himself and he really needed help. We were seated with four others who were about done with their tea. Our cups will filled with hot water but no one came around with tea. Finally the tea appeared. No one came with any small sandwiches or desserts. Finally DW got so frustrated, she went and found a waiter and had him come over with desserts. The almond cookies are not what they once were. She left to clean up after our day ashore. I spoke with the dining room hose and shared with him how the service was not up to HAL standards. We went to dinner and much to our surprise another couple was at our table. After five nights it was rather awkward having a ‘new’ couple join us. They were rather quiet and are celebrating their 60th anniversary. Dinner was very good, especially the Dutch Apple Pie dessert. We attended the show, comedian Mike Robinson. I don’t generally like ventriloquist acts however Mike’s was rather enjoyable. As we were seated in the midst of a row, we could not make a quick escape to the 9:00 King’s Day party in the crow’s nest. Rather we enjoyed the trio and the Ocean Bar. When their set was complete we went to the crow’s nest and by that time some were leaving and seats were available. We enjoyed listening to the band and seeing the crowd. Many of the ship’s officers were present but I noticed they nearly exclusively stayed in the own little groups rather than mingling with the guests. Just before 10:00 we headed down to the Mix to listen to Barry at the Piano bar. We managed to stay until 10:50 and called it a night. Friday, April 28 – At Sea Today is the fifth foggy day in a row. This is getting to be a bit much. We slept in being woken by the coffee/tea delivery that came at 7:28. A bit later we began to stir and made our way to the dining room a little after 9:00. I attended the 10:00 “BBC Earth” presentation and most appreciated the middle section which was on the Rockhopper penguins of Cape Horn. I worked some on my log and then distributed the tour reminders for tomorrow’s tour in Halifax. We had Pinnacle reservations for noon with cruise critic friends. The food was all very good but they did mix up DW and my orders (wrong sides with wrong entrees) so they needed to take it back. Of course apologies came that the kitchen mixed things up. However they also had our dessert orders confused and it really appeared the servers were rather clueless. I enjoyed the pool (rather warm) and hot tubs (not as warm as they should be) for a while before getting ready for the gala evening. We stopped by the Ocean Bar for the end of Happy Hour on our way to dinner. Dinner was good and was followed by Vocalist & Impressionist Tricia Kelly. We have seen Tricia at least once, I think twice before. My opinion is she would do better singing her original material. We enjoyed Barry at the Piano Bar. His impression of the captain’s weather announcement was hysterical and I laughed so hard I cried. Quite a way to end the evening. Back in the cabin, I noticed we were moving at high speed towards Halifax and we ended up docking around midnight. Saturday, April 29, 2017 – Halifax, Nova Scotia We woke already docked in Halifax. Our meeting time for our tour with Paul McNeil of Halifax Titanic Historical Tours is 9:15 so there is no rush this morning. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast and I had the special order Gingerbread waffles. They were very good. They gave me four which was way more than I could eat so some were shared with others at our table. We met our tour group with everyone on time in the Ocean Bar. Paul was waiting for us immediately outside the terminal building and away we went on a very through tour of the historic and photo scenic sites around Halifax. We were at the Citadel for the firing of the noon gun, were able to tour inside the Citadel after the firing, saw the sites of the Halifax explosion of 1917 and the cannon that was shot 3 ½ miles into Dartmouth. We also stopped by the Titanic gravesite and many other places, including a number of the seven universities in Halifax. One think Paul pointed out on numerous occasions is how new construction is designed to match or blend in with older buildings in the downtown area. A booming ship building industry has made Halifax into a boom town and growth is evident, even though they average fifteen feet (nearly five meters) of snow per winter. Paul pointed out a snow pile still slowly melting in a parking lot, and the snow was still white. The weather improved during the day and by early afternoon it was becoming rather pleasant. We went to the nearby (30 minutes) authentic fishing village of Fisherman’s Cove. It was obvious they still caught fish here as you could smell the fish, but in a pleasant way. He showed us a five pound lobster. We had a great lunch at “Wharf Wraps” with some of the best Fish and Chips I recall. They make it from a ten ounce Haddock fillet lightly crusted and fried. Yummy. After lunch we returned to Halifax via the older bridge. Interestingly, they are ‘raising’ this bridge incrementally so that it gives an additional six feet of clearance to ships. This is being done while the bridge remains in use. Paul showed us the hydraulic jacks installed on the cables. Every night they bridge is raised a little bit. This is expected to extend the life of the bridge by 50 years. Returning to the port everyone agreed this was a great tour. We did some shopping at Pier 21 and I bought a couple of polo shirts. We were back on board just in time to get cleaned up for dinner. Dinner was very nice tonight despite an apparently lackluster menu. I went with our server’s suggestion of the “Clod tenderloin.” It reminded me of a good London Broil. The show tonight was local talent, a Celtic concert by the “MacDonald sisters.” After the show we enjoyed Barry at the Piano Bar. We’ve been staying up past 10:30 every night lately as Barry is a bad influence, but also so much fun. Sunday, April 30 – Sydney, Nova Scotia Coffee & Tea were brought a little early but I had previously been out just to catch an actual sunrise! Yes, no fog! Although we don’t dock until 11:00 in Sydney the dining room is on a port day scheduled so we went for breakfast at about 7:40. We enjoyed sharing travel tales with two couples we had not met before. I attended the Sunday non-denominational service and brought tea & coffee back to the room. The sail in to Sydney is quite pretty. It was extremely windy and about a half-hour after the pilot boarded the ship listed further than we have experienced in 27 prior cruises. Fortunately DW was seated at our desk and was able to catch the bottles as they began to fall. We ended up docking about 30 minutes late, and this is a brief call to begin with. We had a private tour set with Blackwood tours along with one other (unknown) couple. Despite our best efforts to be among the first group off the ship, we were the later ones to arrive. Still, we left long before the ship’s tour buses and were off on a very through tour of the area. Our driver/guide was Tom and the owner Bob also came along. We enjoyed a great ride down the St. Andrews channel to the Scottish highland village of Iona. We took a “Cable ferry” across a narrow point of St. Patrick’s channel and then drove to Baddeck. At Baddeck we were treated to some incredible views of the waterfront, a cute lighthouse, and the Bell mansion across the lake on a hillside. Next we had 45 minutes to explore the Bell museum, and we felt this was just the right amount of time to spend there. After leaving the building we saw two Bald Eagles soaring above us. We tracked them for some time and were able to get a few photos and video. Leaving Baddeck we stopped to see St Ann’s lake and bay. We tried to stop at Gaelic college but it was closed. We climbed the mountain, stopping at the viewpoints well worthwhile to stop. We got off the highway for some great views along the northern end of St. Andrew’s channel and returned to the port at 4:40 for our 5:30 all aboard. With very little time we did peruse the vendors at the port market and made a few purchases, including a photo of Veendam passing behind the Sydney lighthouse. Back on board we quickly changed clothes and made it to dinner. The elusive ‘third couple’ made an appearance tonight. The show was comedian Jim McCue. I did not think he was very funny, although some on board enjoyed his routine. We sat in the back for a quick exit to get good seats at the Piano bar. We stayed until Barry’s extended first set ended at 10:45. We were again in stitches over his interpretation of the captain’s announcement. Monday, May 1 – Charlottetown, PEI We were up early as we had a full day planned. Breakfast was in the lido and I waited a long time to get an Omelet made. Even though we reached the lido a little after 7:00, the starboard side was not yet opened. Of course, after waiting for an Omelet, then it was open. The two couples touring with us were ready and we disembarked promptly at 8:10 with no delays. We used “Tom’s port guide” and found our way to Founder’s Hall, where the Enterprise rent a car van picked me up. I was back 20 minutes later with our mini-van for the day. Our primary objective for the day was to have “Fun with Falcons.” We booked this through “Experience PEI” and made no mention of being cruise ship passengers. My phone application “Waze” got us there with time to spare for our 10:00 presentation. If I could give this outing ten stars on TripAdvisor I would, but their limit is five stars. This was the most personal & close up encounter with these magnificent birds that I have ever experienced. What a wonderful day learning about, holding on my hand, and seeing these incredible creatures in flight. This is a “Once in a lifetime” type of experience that I recommend without hesitation. Jaime and his family (including several very well behaved dogs) are a delight. Bring lots of empty memory card space on your camera for sure! After our two hours with Jaime we headed West the few additional kilometers to the Confederation Bridge village. This bridge connects PEI to New Brunswick and is the only fixed crossing. Many of the shops in the village had not yet opened. We enjoyed the welcome center where I obtained maps for the “Central Coastal Drive” tour that we would take along our return to Charlottetown. We purchased a few hats in the gift shop and stopped at a Tim Hortons for coffee and a small snack. The Central Coastal Drive was a great way to spend our afternoon returning towards Charlottetown. We enjoyed the lighthouse at Victoria Harbor and many wonderful views along the coast. We visited the Port-La-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site and saw two of the three lighthouses near there. We crossed the West River and soon found we were back on the main highway. We stopped at Cows Creamery, rated #1 in the world for Ice Cream by Tauck World Discovery. We also visited the “Anne of Green Gables Chocolates” for some chocolate covered potato chips. We filled up the van with fuel and I dropped everyone off at the ship at 3:35 to return the van. I was back on the ship at 4:00 for our 4:30 sail away. Dinner was fine but unexciting. I ordered a “Grilled flank steak” and received three small slices of what looked more like London Broil. The waiters knew I would want more so a second helping was ready. We skipped the singers and dancers show “Dance” in favor of watching the transit of Veendam under the Confederation Bridge. It was really cold on the deck over the Crow’s Nest and it reminded me of viewing in Antarctica, except I was not prepared for this cold. They how lowered the one antenna to ensure clearance but it looked to me like we had plenty of room as we sailed under. We went early to the Mix to get seats in the back area near where friends usually sit. Again we greatly enjoyed our time there and stayed until Barry took a break at 10:35. Tuesday, May 02, 2017 – At sea, up the St. Lawrence river. The fog is back. We gained back the hour last night and needed it. Coffee/tea was delivered at 7:30. We went to breakfast in the DR and for the first time this cruise ended up with four companions that we did not enjoy. When all four show up with their ‘newspapers’ and they are more interested in looking at the papers than having a conversation that is not a good sign. Finally today there is an “America’s test kitchen” presentation that DW attended at 10:00. I stayed behind to catch up my log and also look over e-mails while catching yesterday’s movie “Passengers” on the room TV. We joined our dinner tablemates for lunch at the Pinnacle. Today were the two Mariner’s lunches. The menu was particularly unappealing and the Pinnacle sounded like a better option. The food in the Pinnacle is very good, but the wait staff seems quite challenged. I heard they boarded just four weeks ago in San Diego, but would HAL put rookie servers in the Pinnacle? They seem to have trouble communicating with the guests… In the afternoon we attended the Q& A with the captain. The Q&A led our opinion of the Captain to improve. He clearly takes responsibility for the ship. I also found it interesting that he sailed with Veendam on the Amazon River cruise a few months back as a passenger as he wanted to experience the itinerary. Tonight is the last gala night of the cruise. The fog had kind of lifted during the day but came back with a vengeance at dinner time. Surf and Turf was the popular entrée tonight. Without asking, our waiters brought me two filets and two lobster tails. One of the filets was exceptional. The other was overcooked and I did not eat it. The Lobster was very good for frozen, no complaints. The show tonight was the “Skinny German Juggle Boy Hilby.” Realizing that people’s tastes in entertainment differ, I thought this was the single worst entertainer I’ve even seen on a cruise. When I was pretty sure he was occupied in a different direction I made an early escape. The Piano Bar was again the place to be and we stayed until Barry’s break at 10:35. Wednesday, May 3 – Saguenay, Quebec This is the Veendam’s only call this year at Saguenay, and that is a shame. I really don’t understand why HAL doesn’t change up the Canada/New England cruises a bit. Saguenay has a well-earned reputation as the friendliest cruise port in the world and we agree. Townsfolk were on the dock as the ship tied up. They were dressed in period costumes and did a number of dances. The Veendam tweeted its horn several times in reply. We were off early (8:15) for our planned 9:30 tour and enjoyed the pier area, where we were served complimentary Blueberry pie, Blueberry juice, got to cut a log like a lumberjack resulting in a nice souvenir, and took photos with a historic car and Native Americans. All this before passing off the pier! Saguenay also has a modern clean cruise port. About seven vendors were present (along with tourist information and a pleasant coffee shop). We ended up purchasing a wood carving of a lumberjack. I took a walk to an ATM at a bank a few blocks away. Regretfully the ATM was only accessible from behind locked doors and the bank did not open until 10:00. We were on time for our tour with “Tours adventure Fjord et Monde” and checked in quickly. It was not until after we left the port that the guide told us that due to lingering snow the National Park, the primary destination of our tour, was closed. They had alternatives to “Substitute.” It turned out that three of the six “Steps” of our tour could not be done. We could not view the nativity scenes in the village of Riviere-Eternite as the path was still buried in snow. We could not visit the Arse-de-Tabatiere National Park and see the “7th most beautiful view in Canada” as it was closed. Finally our visit to the Anse-Saith-Jean marina area became a one hour ‘lunch stop’ rather a brief coffee break as only one local craft shop was open and there was time to fill up. We did enjoy the visit to the unique covered bridge and the Pyramid in town. But as we generally do not take time for a full lunch on a port visit when time is so precious we felt we did not receive what we paid for. Getting back to the port at 2:00 we quickly prepared for the 2:15 meeting time to attend “La Fabuleuse” a show performed by over 100 local volunteers. This show was truly magnificent and the special effects were Broadway quality. Live animals, real antique vehicles, fire and paratroopers were all part of the performance. This is very highly recommended if you are lucky enough to have a port call in Saguenay. Returning to the ship we quickly prepared for dinner. After dinner the onboard show was Piano Virtuoso Hyperion Knight. He is superb. We made a quick exit at the end of his show for the Piano bar and enjoyed another evening until Barry’s break at 10:35. This is becoming habit-forming. What are we going to do Saturday night when we are off the ship??? Thursday, May 04, 2017 – Quebec City We went to the Lido the second day in a row for breakfast. Today they had waffles and I got them hot right out of the waffle iron. Before breakfast, we enjoyed sailing up the Isle de Orleans and with the morning sun effectively right behind us, the colors we great for photography from the balcony. Yes, sunshine – only the second sunny day since Florida! I had arranged a rental car for the day with Avis from the Hilton hotel. We met another couple who joined us for the day and took an Uber to the Hilton. Finding the rental car in the Hilton’s underground garage was quite an effort. While we were upgraded to a Grand Cherokee, this was by far the dirtiest rental vehicle I’ve ever seen, like it had not been washed for months. Regardless, it was a good deal and got us where we needed to go for the day. We found our way to Montmorency Falls and Ile d'Orleans Island. We spent about two hours at the falls including a ride on the cable car and a walk over the suspension bridge hanging over the falls. With the combination of snow melt and recent heavy rains the falls were roaring and kicking up a lot of mist. Next we drove over to the island. We enjoyed the tour of about 2/3 of the island and stopped for several photo ops. We found a great orchard where they make Apple ciders and Apple Ice Wine, along with other Apple products. Could not resist buying some to bring home. We stopped at a café for a light lunch. Nothing exceptional but it was a good chance to take a break. We left the café a little before two and all agreed to head to the Basilica of Saint Anne-de-Beaupre. This was worth the half-hour drive as it is an enormous Basilica and quite beautiful. After the Basilica we began to drive back stopping to fill the fuel as we approached Quebec City. A slow taxi ride returned us to Veendam at about 4:40 and we prepared for dinner. This is our last evening in the dining room as cruise critic friends invited us to the Pinnacle for the last dinner tomorrow. We said our farewells to Rota and Adi and thanked them for their service and taking care of our special requests. Same with Ricardo our wine steward. There is no 8:00 show tonight and by the time we left the dining room the “Trio” (which ended up being a duo nearly the entire journey) was just wrapping up their set in the Ocean Bar. We returned to our cabin and enjoyed being out on our verandah as the sun went down and the city lights came on. I brought my log up to date and caught up on e-mails. At 8:45 we went down to the Mix and secured prime seats for the piano bar. Tonight was exceptional and not crowded as many guests attended the 9:30 performance in the showroom but we stayed in the piano bar. When Barry took his short 10:35 break we went to the late night snack and had a light bite. We then returned to the piano bar and remained until after 11:30. The cruise is almost over and we are making the most of it! Friday, May 05, 2017 – Quebec City - day two After our late night we did not order in coffee & tea and we slept until 8:00. We went to breakfast in the dining room and enjoyed visiting with two couples from Canada. We returned to the cabin for a while and had an invite on our phone from our friends to join them for pre-dinner appetizers in their suite tonight. It is raining this morning but it appears a break is coming late morning / early afternoon. We also need to pack today. We left the ship around 11:00 and took a taxi to the farmer’s market. We enjoyed walking the market and ran into the friends we are having dinner with tonight. The orchard we visited yesterday had a stand at the market. A few different items were available which were sampled. We also bought a few single-serve bottles of non-alcoholic cider for immediate consumption. So good. With our friends we walked back to Veendam. We put our purchases in the room and had a light lunch at the lido. We left the ship again about 1:30 and walked to and through the lower part of the old town. We visited a few shops and at one they had a lot of blueberry products from the Saguenay region. We sampled a blueberry cider and it was unique and enjoyable so we obtained a bottle to bring home. We returned to Veendam at about 3:00 and began the packing process, which was essentially complete by 4:15. We called our dinner tablemates and asked if they would like to meet in the Ocean Bar for happy hour. They met us there and we were able to say a proper farewell. Our friends we are having dinner with are in a Neptune Suite and invited us for pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at 5:30. From their verandah we watched the sail under the Jacques Cartier bridge as we head towards Montreal. We went to the Pinnacle Grill at 6:00 for our reservation. We laughed as we were seated at the exact same table for our two lunches at the Pinnacle. Once again, the food at the Pinnacle was very good and the service below par. I ordered the King Crab legs and it had to be a full pound of them, so good. Our friends like the Cherry Garcia ice cream from the Baked Alaska but are not fans of the meringue. They prearranged for the ice cream to be available separately. Once again, the dessert order was confused. I ordered the Chocolate Volcano cake and only ate about half of it. They did bring extra Cherry Garcia ice cream so I had some of that. We enjoyed our meal with these new friends and bade our farewell at about 8:30. We returned to the cabin to find Hengky & Krikson as they took good care of our needs especially with our abundant use of the laundry service, so we had a little thank you for them. Afterwards we went to the Piano Bar one last time this cruise. Had a wonderful time there until Barry’s break at 10:35, when we headed back to call it a night. Saturday, May 06, 2017 – Disembarkation & summary The Veendam seems to be perpetually late, and again this morning was no exception. The distance from Quebec City to Montreal is not very great, and despite leaving Quebec City early, we were 45 minutes late to dock. Of course, this pushes back everyone’s disembarkation time. We went to the dining room for breakfast at 6:30, as we were passing parts of the very industrial port. It was nearly 8:00 by the time the gangway was in place and the door was open so luggage could be retrieved by shore side staff. Sure enough, our 8:00 departure became 9:00. Taxis were waiting and a $25.00 cab ride got us to our downtown Avis car rental. Summary: I hesitated to book Veendam based on cruise critic feedback and reviews. Some on board had issues with their cabins, especially with climate control. Fortunately we had no such troubles. The entertainment is way above what we experienced last fall on Koningsdam, and despite its age, I much prefer the smaller ship size. One of the aft elevators was out of order the entire cruise. I don’t know who is responsible for the entertainer’s schedules but it seems to me that a little tweaking, especially of the Ocean Bar trio would serve passengers well. Their first set is at 6:30. This is too early for first seating guests and also too early for late seating guests looking for pre-dinner cocktails and entertainment. I would think that bar revenue would increase with a tweaking to 7:00 for the first set, and it would entertain more guests. The Adagio duet had a large early audience but I often saw just two or three couples at the later sets. I would really like to know who determines these schedules, is this corporate dictate or is this managed on each ship? If on the ship, is it the cruise director, hotel manager, who? It is not the ship’s fault that the weather was so horrendous, but many on board were commenting that this cruise is ‘just too early.’ That may be why they had to reduce the price so much as sailing date approached. Perhaps the experts in Seattle should consider doing this one two weeks later as I think that would make a huge difference. Alternatively, do a Caribbean / Bermuda repositioning cruise, calling on Aruba to comply with the Jones act. “America’s test kitchen” was invisible on the first two-thirds of this sailing. We were told the presenter had a family emergency. Fair enough. Is there no chef on Veendam that with the CD could not do an entertaining kitchen demo? We’ve attended some wonderful cooking demos on various ships and no corporate tie in was needed to provide guests with a great sea day experience. What really ‘made’ our cruise was Barry from Boston in the Mix Piano Bar. He starts at 9:00 and takes one very short “Eight minute break” at about 10:30. Barry will be on our booked Maasdam New Zealand/Australia cruise over the holidays and it will be great to see him again. In summary, this was a pretty okay cruise so far as the on board experience. Certainly not four stars, but way better than our Koningsdam experience last fall. 3 ½ stars to the Veendam with hopes that things may improve as we would like these smaller ships to stay in the fleet. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We were so excited about this cruise. Planned it for a long time. This was our 29th anniversary. The scenery and excursions were great, except tour in New York didn't include the 911 Museum. This was our 3rd HAL cruise. ... Read More
We were so excited about this cruise. Planned it for a long time. This was our 29th anniversary. The scenery and excursions were great, except tour in New York didn't include the 911 Museum. This was our 3rd HAL cruise. Alaska and Panama Canal were flawless. The Veendam was a smaller ship than expected. The shops were small. The "blowout" sales were the same price as they were the beginning of the cruise. Service was slow as if understaffed. Shows were mediocre except for the ships' singers. The worst was the food. Everything in the main dining room was far too upscale. I can see having a few dishes for a more sophisticated palette, but all the dishes were like that. I ended up eating French onion soup every night and the daily roasted chicken most of the time. The desserts were a joke. Everything was fluff. Nothing like it sounded it would be. So I ate fruit for dessert. This is the 1st cruise I've actually lost weight on. The Lido deck food had a good variety, but the best dish on the whole trip was the spaghetti and meat sauce, which I ate almost every day. Their desserts were also tasteless, except for the cookies and ice cream. Need to go for less quantity and more quality. Also, the heritage night food was very good. One evening they had a black and white night in the crows nest - supposedly by invitation of the crew. Thought there would be at least a free drink and hor' dervs. Instead, the crew was segregated from the passengers until they had their drinks, etc. Then they mingled for a short time. It was written up and n the daily schedule that it was one of the crews favorite events. Another joke. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I heard some Shipmates from our time being stationed in Bermuda were planning a return trip, and after a thirty hear absence from the Islands, it was time to go back for a visit. We settled on the Veendam as it is a smaller ship and docks ... Read More
I heard some Shipmates from our time being stationed in Bermuda were planning a return trip, and after a thirty hear absence from the Islands, it was time to go back for a visit. We settled on the Veendam as it is a smaller ship and docks right down town Hamilton. The larger ships have to pull into the Dockyards, at the far end of the islands. It also spends more time in port in Bermuda. The staterooms and dining facilities were wonderful, the staff attentive and accommodating. Bermuda was as wonderful as we remembered, made some new friends and visited old haunts. I would recommend this ship and cruse line for anyone heading to Bermuda. Our next trip might include the extra week cruising the Canadian maritime. All in all a very pleasant experience and more than lived up to our expectations as our first cruise. Thank you very much. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Embarkation went very smoothly. Stayed on deck 5 (Main). Very quiet, but felt like sleeping in a crate as ship is old and creaky with each sea swell. Had to take extra Bonine one night just to get to sleep. They need to retire the ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly. Stayed on deck 5 (Main). Very quiet, but felt like sleeping in a crate as ship is old and creaky with each sea swell. Had to take extra Bonine one night just to get to sleep. They need to retire the Veendam. Beware also bad sewage smell emanating from expensive lanai cabins. We noticed it as we took a deck walk one evening. Vegan menu in main dining room disgusting. Lido Deck has better vegetarian choices. Liked Lido Deck food. Room service was good for breakfast, and on time. #1-Quebec-Beautiful! POURED rain. Very walkable. Erico Chocolate Museum a must for chocoholics, excellent! Paillard's lunch unremarkable, croissants awesome. #2-Charlottetown-Loved it! Old historic buildings, churches, very walkable. Beaconsfield House, good tour, pretty. Gahan House Pub excellent for lunch, good service. #3-Sydney-Very walkable. Don't waste your money taking expensive Holland America tours here. Cossit House (C$2), Jost House (C$3), St. Patricks Church Museum (free) are literally one street over from where ship docks. Heard others complaining about their H.A. tours and feeling ripped off. Cape Breton Fudge Company and Old Triangle Ale House excellent. #4-Halifax- Seaport Farmers Market a joke, only Asian food and cheap jewelry, no fresh produce, disappointing! Maritime Museum Titanic exhibit smaller than expected, but husband liked museum. #5-Bar Harbor-Very charming, walkable. Side St. Cafe, Thrive Juice Bar, Maine Popcorn Co. recommended. Recommend Shore Path walk and Museum in the Streets (both free to do!). Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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