We were on the Veendam to Bermuda May 6 - 13 2012 in cabin 688.
Embarkation: Embarkation was relatively smooth considering this was New York. Arrived by cab about 11:15. There was some confusion about where to put bags for which ship but fortunately ours found the Veendam. We were aboard by noon.
Cabin: We booked a guarantee ocean view and were pleased with the cabin we received. It was clean and all was in proper working order. Our cabin attendants were both efficient and friendly.
Dining: We chose "open seating" based upon what we were told by the Holland America employed agent through whom we booked. We were told it was similar to Princess "anytime" dining where you show up when it it convenient for you with the expectation of being seated relatively promptly. This is NOT the case. Open seating means you have to appear at the normal seating times and will be seated at THEIR convenience based on your preference for table size and your comfort level More
with being seating with different people each night. So beware!!! This is NOT the anytime dining your agent may describe! Aside from seating issues the food was excellent and the service was impeccable.
Entertainment: For the most part the entertainment was pretty lame. We did enjoy the piano bar with Wil Key. Definitely a highlight of the trip!
Demographics: As seems to be the norm with HAL, the clientele was definitely skewed to the senior side. It's sad, but the seniors in many cases were oblivious to their surroundings and created numerous bottlenecks. Maneuvering around the ship did require a lot of patience. The fact that two elevators, one at the front and the other at the rear of the ship were disabled and not in service for the entire trip did not help things.
Bermuda: Bermuda is by far the best island one can visit in the Caribbean/North Atlantic. It is safe, clean, and easily accessible. The natives are friendly and eager to assist. We purchased bus/ferry passes and were able to get around quickly and easily. We were struck by how the school kids will stand and offer their bus seats to adults. Not something one would expect in the USA.
Disembarkation: It was a smooth process getting off the ship but once ashore, good luck. All we wanted was a cab to Penn Station. Once out of the building, expect chaos. I will not knock HAL for this, it's just part of being in NYC.
Overall: Except for the glitches in "open seating" and the sometimes oblivious behavior of our fellow passengers I would have to rate this cruise at the top of the 13 cruises we have been on. In summary, the ship is well appointed and clean, the staff is friendly and efficient, the food was excellent and the destination perfect. Less