1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took. ... Read More
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took. Embarkation: The Veendam arrived later than expected from the prior cruise, so when we arrived at 11:30am, most of the passengers were waiting in the hall, as boarding did not proceed until approx. noon or just after. It was not a long wait, but we had never experienced a wait in boarding in our 10 HAL cruises, so this was an exception. Cabin: SA009 on Navigation Deck (Deck 10). A standard Neptune Suite on HALs smaller ships with 575 sq ft of space including a pull out sofa, dressing room, and large deck with table/4 chairs, and two loungers. The new "suite" look for HAL had not been completed, and instead of having two sinks in the bathroom, there was one and an additional in the dressing area. Unlike Vista class ships, there was not a separate shower and tub, but instead a combined shower/tub combo. The decor was from the last revision (I believe 2009, I think) with the Hawaiian style prints in orange and browns and leather brown couch. My wife and I surmised that Veendam may be utilized soon for another Carnival brand line, such as P&O soon, which is why the Suite changes had not taken place yet. However, for being a 22 year old ship, everything was in fine working order and we especially liked the artwork in our cabin of large watercolors. The flat screen appeared to be the same size as my IPAD Pro (about 12-14 inches) was was what I would call - minimalist. Dining: We absolutely adore the Pinnacle, so we had pre-reserved every evening, except one in Canaletto for the Pinnacle. We dined at 7pm each evening and loved getting to know the staff, not only from breakfast each day in the Pinnacle, but also the same team in the evening. Ordering a la carte each evening, we worked our way almost through the menu by the end of the cruise. Service was impeccable and we appreciated getting to know most of our wait team. Lin was exceptional as the wine steward (now on to Nieuw Amsterdam) as we had brought a week's worth of wine on board, but she was eager to make recommendations based on what we had brought and shared. Entertainment: We were surprised that on Veendam, even with the venues similar to the Vista class - the branding of experiences was completely different. No Billboard, Lincoln Center or BBKings here, but the much more traditional entertainment at each venue. Also, we walked into several of the dance/singing shows and found the quality significantly below our expectations in pitch, movement and energy. While we had a great cruise, we found the main showroom entertainment not to our taste, and missed the branded experiences that HAL has moved to on other ships. A distinct exception was the America's Test Kitchen and EXC services, which were superb. Service: It is what HAL is known for, and we found that standards were maintained and exceeded. The Neptune attendants in Tyson and team were SUPERB and very ready to accommodate any need. Ports and Shore Excursions: Most of the ports on this cruise were the HAL or Carnival produced variety, with shopping centers, pools and bars in the port area (HMC, Amber Cove and Grand Turk) These were functional, but we especially enjoyed the cabana in HMC, and the "Tours with a purpose" to the Women's Cooperative Chocolate Factory in the Domincan Republic. Old San Juan on Easter Sunday was a highlight as well with many shops open as well as churches. The ship overall looks fantastic and has constant upkeep. We noticed this especially in the Thermal Suite, which looked like the day it was new and was FABULOUS. Great cruise to get away on a smaller ship with HAL, where we got to know our neighbors and saw people onboard multiple times to catch up. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports ... Read More
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports were great, for a typical caribbean 7 day cruise. The only issue we had was an excess of young children, often poorly supervised (BY THE PARENTS!!!) but that is the risk you take during spring break periods. I had a much worse spring break experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise a number of years ago. (Read: 13 year olds pushing ALL the elevator buttons every time, exiting after one floor, thinking that was very funny). Food was very good, typical Holland fare. Had a nice first day dinner at canaletto, which avoids the first day dining room hassles. We use the main dining room for all breakfasts, and had a lot of great table mates and interesting discussions. All in all a pretty good cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was the first time my husband and I have ever cruised with our children. We chose the Hal over the other more traditional family lines because before children we loved Holland America. We liked the quiet atmosphere, the service and ... Read More
This was the first time my husband and I have ever cruised with our children. We chose the Hal over the other more traditional family lines because before children we loved Holland America. We liked the quiet atmosphere, the service and food. Our children can get overwhelmed by too much action 24/7 and large groups of kids did not appeal to me. Overall we were very pleased with this cruise. The kids had a fabulous time. I cannot say enough about the ClubHAL staff and program. My children had a blast. They were so sad to see their teachers leave. The facility is small but the activities were many and the kids looked forward each and every day to them. It gave my husband and I just the right amount of family time and alone time. On At Sea days (we had 2 scheduled and then a bonus when we had to miss Key West) were filled with activities for them starting at 9 in the morning and then together time for lunch with the family and then again 2-4 and always an evening filled from 7-10pm. Many do not think of Holland America as a line to bring kids but we had a wonderful time. The dinner staff was very accommodating, my son always ordered off the kids menu (pizza every night with a fruit starter) but my girls loved to order off the adult menu. The wait staff was very kind to them and they loved the attention. The Lido deck food was also great for the kids. They loved the sushi and of course the burgers but they always had help to the table and every one was just great. It's about Santo Tomas De Castille, Guatamala which for some reason will not show on this site. This was a WONDERFUL stop. I was very nervous as we were not sure what to expect and especially with kids. We took a humanitarian excursion through Go With Gus in Livingston. We travelled through La Dulce Rio and were able to hand out school supplies to children at a local school. We were treated with a Mayan ceremony as a bonus and ate fresh tortillas from a local, not to mention the wonderful lunch and pre-trip fruit that was given at Gus' hotel. My kids were fascinated with the life on the river, from seeing locals washing clothing in the river to children selling all sorts of wares from their canoes. It was a first class experience. Very professionally done. The guides were amazing and it was a wonderful day. The port itself is very nice. The straw market I regret not buying anything at. The hand crafts and jewlery I thought I may see again in Mexico but it wasn't nearly the same. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
My husband and I are frequent cruisers, retired, but this time we traveled with our son, daughter in law, and two young grandchildren (7 and 5). All in all,this was a great trip. The ship was clean, but in need of refurbishing. Our inside ... Read More
My husband and I are frequent cruisers, retired, but this time we traveled with our son, daughter in law, and two young grandchildren (7 and 5). All in all,this was a great trip. The ship was clean, but in need of refurbishing. Our inside cabins had plenty of room and were kept nicely done up. The big pluses were the children's program (they loved it), the dining room food (delicious) and the friendly, helpful staff. Negatives, were of course, missing Key West due to wind, rough seas, and the main evening entertainment. There were reported to be 500 children and youths onboard and I'm sure only the magician had any appeal. Need a big improvement here. Really liked Mike on the guitar, for us older folks Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This cruise, our 5th with Holland America Cruises, was a last minute decision, since the price was tempting, the embarkation port of Tampa was nearby and we were celebrating our anniversary. The boarding process went smoothly and we were ... Read More
This cruise, our 5th with Holland America Cruises, was a last minute decision, since the price was tempting, the embarkation port of Tampa was nearby and we were celebrating our anniversary. The boarding process went smoothly and we were satisfied with our stateroom, mid ship and on the main deck, just one level down from the lower promenade deck, convenient for those daily walks. We did find the lifeboat drill to be a noisy event, people were talking all through the verbal instructions and cabin numbers check in, so consequently we did not hear ours and had to reconfirmed later with the front desk that we had attended. Perhaps more crew should be required to participate in this and ensure that the guests are aware of the importance of this drill. The departure from Tampa was scenic and as the ship passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, we joined lots of folks taking pictures from the top deck forward. We chose Anytime Dining, and found the service and food to be good. We usually were seated at a table of six or eight, and always had interesting conversations with people from various locations. We did not travel on this cruise with formal clothing, so on those nights, we dined at the Canaletto or the Lido. The ports of call were interesting and educational. We had a Holland America tour in Honduras, Trujillo by Land and Sea, in which we enjoyed a boat ride through the Guaimoreto Lagoon, observing bird life and seeing crab fishermen at work, and then boated through mangrove forests, using narrow canals which are kept open and usable by local men. Following this we were bussed to Santa Barbara Fort, and heard about its history. We also visited the Cathedral and checked out some local vendors who had reasonably priced items which were created locally. There are also shops at the tender dock which also carry similar items and prices can be negotiated. In Santo Thomas, Guatemala, we again used a Holland America tour, Ak-Tenamit People, Cultural Exchange and Eco Adventure. We were given life jackets, then boarded boats and had a 45 minute boat ride out of the port and along the lovely coastline, passing beachfront resorts and cottages, until we arrived at the town of Livingston and the mouth of the Rio Dulce. The trip up the river was a feast for the eyes, as we viewed lush vegetation, steep limestone cliffs, a wide variety of bird life, and local people in a varied assortment of boats. After boating this area for 30 minutes, we arrived at the lakefront home of an Ak-Tenamit family, and were able to walk through the home, sample their tortillas, which they were making and cooking over a basic fireplace, and we noticed that they also had a rudimentary grocery shop, plus a small souvenir shop, with hand carved items for sale. They have solar panels to provide some power, use mosquito netting over their beds, and their children are able to go to a local school by rowing their small dugout canoes to that location. As we boated back down the river, we visited a boarding school which is used by local people. Some students were away for the Easter Holidays, but those that were still there guided us around the grounds, showing us their classrooms, dining hall, kitchen, craft shop and the area where these crafts are made. We were served a lunch, prepared by students who are learning the aspects of the hospitality industry. Most of the teaching staff are missionaries who give of their time and knowledge for several years. Following this interesting visit, we boated to Livingston where we walked along several streets with our guide, and then returned to the ships dock by boat, passing by the beachfront homes and resorts we had seen at the beginning of the tour. In the dock area, there is a spacious building which holds many vendors booths all filled with appealing items, all made in Guatemala and reasonably priced. At our last port, Costa Maya, we had booked an independent tour with Costa Maya Tucan Tours. This proved to be a terrific choice, both in the cost and the quality of the tour. Their 15 passenger air conditioned Toyata bus carried us to the Mayan Ruins Chacchoben, which is a 50 minute drive from the cruise port. The guide, Ishmael,spoke English quite fluently, and he has a comprehensive knowledge of the Mayan history, their buildings and accomplishments. When we reached the site, he set a comfortable pace walking through the grounds and explaining the function of each of the temples, plazas and living areas. The temples were built in relation to the sun's orientation and functioned as a calendar, linked to agricultural cycles. This tour has left me with a desire to learn more about this amazing civilization and race. After a sea day, enjoying the Veendam lifestyle, our return to Tampa on Easter Sunday was a smooth and efficient disembarkation. A pleasant trip, which offered insights into the lifestyles of Central America. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
In addition to loving cruising on our own sailboat around coastal Floria where we live, we have been regularly "big boat" cruising for the last twenty or so years with family, friends and many of sailboat club members. As a ... Read More
In addition to loving cruising on our own sailboat around coastal Floria where we live, we have been regularly "big boat" cruising for the last twenty or so years with family, friends and many of sailboat club members. As a result we have exhausted all ends of the Caribbean, especially the east coast of Mexico and the Yucatan. We have danced in the conga line at Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel, snorkeled at San Francisco Beach, hiked up the ruins at Tulum, taken the long bus ride to Chitchen Itza, hiked in the rain forests and cave tubed in Belize. This year we intended to do something different and book a cruise in the Mediterranean, but after seeing the cost of airfare to Europe, we opted for a 10 day cruise out San Diego down to Baja California (our Mexican guide explained they owned all of California once and just because we gringos took part of it, they were not changing the name) and up the Sea of Cortez to mainland west coast Mexico. Each port was new and different and reminded us why we love to travel. The real unexpected bonus was the intimate Holland America ship the Veendam. We usually cruise on very large ships that are more like floating cities so at first glance we were a little underwhelmed by the size of the ship but after a few days we really learned to appreciate the benefits of a smaller ship. It was less crowded, easier to embark and disembark, easier to get around but the best part was how nice it was to get to know the staff and to be made to feel like part of the HAL family. Not only would we definitely do it again but we are already booked on that Mediterranean cruise for this spring on another HAL ship. Finally, there is not an option fro reviewing either Loreto or Toppolobampo but we loved both of them and would definitely go back. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Although the check in was very efficient, that's where all pretense ended. Starting with the crew member greeting us with hand sanitizer on the gangway, we knew this would be a different kind of cruise. Too bad I hadn't read ... Read More
Although the check in was very efficient, that's where all pretense ended. Starting with the crew member greeting us with hand sanitizer on the gangway, we knew this would be a different kind of cruise. Too bad I hadn't read other reviews before sailing! The whole 5 days was an experience in frustration. The daily bulletin did not accurately report the times and places for lectures.The 'dine anytime' feature was a hassle, as that meant dine anytime THEY could fit you in. At a table size of their choice. Meals were so-so, and never finished in time to go to the shows in the ever so cold Rubens Lounge.The poor ventilation and smells on the ship, along with the carpet splitting at the seams, the ceramic in the bathrooms falling apart and rusted,and the poor physical condition of the ship questions why HAL even bothered to have this 5 day cruise. It went into drydock just hours after we disembarked, but they were already dismantling the ship while we were on it! It was like the passengers were in their way! The attitude of the staff members was mostly of indifference, as if they were too busy planning their vacation. One staff member even cut in front of me in the food line in the Lido buffet!!! No trays, making multiple trips necessary, which added to the confusion. No coffee on the last day! Where to eat became a game of the lesser of evils. Lectures were designed to sell products and spa services. The movie, on the small screen in the culinary arts center, had no popcorn.They didn't bother to inform us that movies were repeated on the TV in our room during the week at various times. Free lectures were given at 9am, while other ones, like scrapbooking, given later in the day, cost $29. Art auctions, art sales, raffles, BINGO (which was the most boring BINGO I have ever been to), also raised money. Charges for the water and soda they so nicely provided you in the rooms was a bit much.The smoking on board was also troubling, especially with the poor ventilation. Plumbing problems were everywhere, with toilets backing up and sewer smells in various parts of the ship. You didn't have to read the menu for dinner, just walk on main deck toward the kitchen, and you knew. Elevators that didn't work, even trapping two women, added to the 'fun' and adventure of the trip. As we had been to these two islands before, we did not take any shore excursions. In Cozumel, we docked at the farthest port, had to tender in, another frustration, as if they had never tendered into a port before, and we had to pay a taxi $7 each way to drive us into 'downtown'. But the worst incident concerned shopping at the two ports: Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Alison, the shopping expert, gave the shopping talk, which indicated several #1 rated and cruise line backed merchants. She was even in the stores herself to 'help' you spend your money. She touted great values and investment quality stones. 30 day buyers guarantee if you bought ONLY at the stores they endorsed. (You even had to turn in a sheet telling what you bought, the price and where, in order to 'activate' your guarantee! (and indicate the % Holland America got back?) When I realized the ring I bought in Grand Cayman, at Diamonds International was uncomfortable because of the design, we spoke to Alison on the dock in Cozumel the next day, on our way back to Diamonds International, to return the ring. She was of no help. It's between me and the store!! She sure was there to help us buy the day before! As we discovered,Diamonds International has a NO RETURN policy, which isn't mentioned at all in the ships' talk, and although the receipt says on the bottom, "returns must be accompanied by receipt", the back, which we were never allowed to see in the rush of purchase, says 'buyers remorse' is not covered. Call the 800 number. When you do, you get assigned a bogus claim number, and a callback from a blocked international call with a foreign sounding agent you can't understand. THERE ARE NO RETURNS FROM THIS COMPANY, DIAMONDS INTERNATIONAL, AND NOT ONE WORD OF HELP FROM THE SHIP!BEWARE! Do NOT shop at this store, anywhere. H. Stern and Columbian Emeralds are fine, ethical, established stores who actually care about customers. And don't believe that Holland America will help you. And ask the 'expert' first about minor details about returns. It's not like shopping at home. Better yet, stick to cheap souvenirs like t-shirts and vanilla. To book another HAL cruise while on board, it is a $100p/p non-refundable booking fee! After the way we were treated on this one, why would we want to endure any more of this nonsense? We came home, and immediately started looking at Oceania, MSC and Celebrity. After 39 years of cruising and many many wonderful cruises on HAL, this 5 day cruise did us in. Perhaps we have grown up and they haven't. It felt more like a Carnival Cruise than anything else. When another reviewer said it was Motel 6, he was being extra nice. I only hope that the complete renovation of the ship will help the physical features. However, the REAL problem is the staff and their horrible attitude. The crew, on the other hand, were just fine. Our cabin steward did his job. Even so, I was so enraged at the total cruise experience, that I went to the front desk and lowered the service fee they automatically add to your bill. I hope they get the message. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
We chose this cruise for the reasonable price, particularly for our college student travelers, as well as the sailing from Tampa, an easy drive for us. We were a little worried because we took the guarantee reservation, but were upgraded ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the reasonable price, particularly for our college student travelers, as well as the sailing from Tampa, an easy drive for us. We were a little worried because we took the guarantee reservation, but were upgraded several levels and ended up with 4 cabins together. The HAL staff did a great job of getting our cabin assignments and ship cards straight, since we were traveling with 4 twenty year olds who could not book on their own. The cabins were spacious and in very good condition. I thought the whole ship was in great shape, not what I was expecting from some of the reviews and the upcoming drydock. We wanted late seating dining but could not get. We reserved the same table for 8:00p.m. every night and except for the people at the tables around us changing, we couldn't tell much difference. The service was great and the food was excellent. Actually, I thought the food was just as good, if not better, than Celebrity, usually our cruiseline of choice. My only challenge related to the food was that there were no trays in the cafeteria and sometimes it was a challenge to juggle food and drink and get to a table. The entertainment was a mixed bag and has been addressed by another reviewer, so I won't go to much detail, but the opening "show" was not a great way to kick it off. Except for one bad experience in the bar at happy hour (my husband waited for a drink for an hour and even repeatedly asked the server for it!), the service was good and the crew very pleasant. We really enjoyed being able to the find deck chairs around the pools all of the time. The retractable roof on the pool area really came in handy on the windy days. Most of the passengers were older, but seemed to be fun loving and the ship had an energy to it. Daytime activities were slightly more limited than we were used to. I really enjoyed the fact that the ship was a manageable size. Everything seemed convenient. All in our group enjoyed, even the younger set. 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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