Veendam -- New York/Bermuda
Homeport Bus: Once again, we booked the Homeport Bus from Boston to the NYC Terminal. Parking in Braintree (suburb of Boston) was $25 for the week; the bus $110/pp. It's an easy way to get to and from the city. We had to be there at 6:15 to park the car; the bus left at 6:45 with stops in Pawtucket, New London, New Haven, & Bridgeport...and a pit stop in Fairfield.
Embarkation: We arrived at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal about 12:45 and were on the ship as soon as we completed the preliminaries. Too late for the Mariner's Lunch in the Rotterdam Dining Room, so we at the Lido as soon as we dropped off our carry-ons in our stateroom. As we were coming down the hall to our room, our luggage.
Our Stateroom: We unpacked immediately and went to the Lido for lunch. We had a "J" inside, mid-ship, on the Lower Promenade Deck...our 1st time in an inside cabin. We've had verandah's with the exception of our January cruise on the Maasdam in an outside. I wanted to try an inside because I'm finding that most often, we've gotten stuck with smokers around us on the verandah making it unpleasant to use...was concerned that I might find it claustrophobic, but to my surprise, it was perfectly fine! So I think we have another inside convert here! I find the lanai's intriguing yet when I looked in some yesterday as we had late disembarkation, I found it disconcerting...seemed like a "fishbowl" to me...with a full door looking out at everyone walking the Promenade! They seem quite cramped for space too. So, we were pleased with our experience in the inside.
Retreat: After lunch, we checked out the ship as it was our first time on the ms Veendam...I was, of course, curious to see the often discussed & dissed Retreat. I enjoyed my first Wang Wang of the cruise, DH had his iced tea, and we sat in the warm New York sunshine, enjoying the view of the Intrepid next to us. The "new" Retreat seems to be well-maintained...no loose tiles, etc., like the other had. It's an unusual space but not as bad as I imagined it might be. I certainly prefer the Sea View Pool, but on a cool weather or port intensive cruise, it's not really an issue. One negative is that the chaises around the edge have a limited view since the hot tubs are elevated by quite a bit in the middle. DH used the hot tubs the last sea day and enjoyed it.
At 4, we headed to the Passenger Safety Drill (or whatever the "new" name is), where attendance was taken as has been reported recently. One couple was paged because they were missing...not sure of the end result. Then, some on our Roll Call gathered on the Lower Promenade, Starboard, for our webcam wave! Lou had asked me to bring our US Flag so that he could spot us.
DH loves the Barbeque (me, not so much), but we proceeded to the Lido Pool after our "wave" - one thing HAL does not do well is the barbeque. DH agreed that would be our last...thank goodness! We headed back to our stateroom and called it a night! We'd awoken at 4:30 AM so were beyond tired.
Meet and Greet: On Monday, we had breakfast in the MDR, then our M & G at 10:30 in the Crow's Nest. David Wood, the Hotel Manager, attended...he's a very friendly, approachable HM. Also, Carlos, the CD, and the Event Planner on board spoke. Carlos ends every speech with, "Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands" and then repeats it in Spanish. Following our M & G (25 roll caller's...give or take), Bob B. arranged a wonderful, very organized Cabin Crawl, and we saw cabins in each category...from an inside to a suite across from the Neptune...and everything in between. DH and I enjoyed lunch in the MDR that day. We usually try to do that on sea days and knew that we wouldn't do it again until the end of our cruise.
Monday evening was our first formal night...we started with the jumbo shrimp cocktail, and as entrees, I had Beef Wellington. Our dining steward brought me two lamb chops to sample as I had a difficult time deciding! DH had the Beef Wellington...we each had asparagus as well. We had a table for two in fixed dining...only problem was that when we got to our table, it was a table for 4 and two folks were already seated there. I don't mind larger tables; but my experience with 4 tops is that if it's someone with whom you just don't "gel", it can be very uncomfortable. I sought out one of the Dining Room Managers, Pudu, who I happened to recognize from our Noordam b2b in '09, and he found us a table for two at the back of the Dining Room by the window...one he was "saving" for situations such as this, I suspect. All was well for the rest of the cruise...and this Dining Steward was the best we've had in recent cruises...we had our appetizers by 6 every evening, and were out of the dining room in just under an hour each time...awesome! With so much to do in the evening, we get antsy with 2-plus hour dinners!
Showroom at Sea: Love the decor and the colors...lots of coral on the Veendam which is my favorite color. I noticed on the Maasdam, many of the ceiling lights were out (not sure if they were just out or if it was a cost-cutting measure), but on the Veendam, every light was lit.
Bermuda: On Tuesday morning, May 8, we picked up the pilot at St. Georges at 8:15 AM and docked in Hamilton at 9:40 AM. We were out on the bow for the journey into Hamilton.
Had lunch in the Lido, then at noon, met up with another couple from our Roll Call at the cruise entrance on Front Street, with whom we'd planned a tour of the island. Our tour was with Dennis Hollis whom we'd read about on the Bermuda "Ports of Call" thread. It was a nice tour...Dennis took us along the South Shore beaches, including what was "Mermaid Beach Hotel" where we spent our honeymoon in '68, and has now been converted to condos, and on to the Gibbs Lighthouse.
On our way out to St. Georges, Dennis drove down Harbour Road where he showed us where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones live...and then by a place we stayed for a week back in '79, "Glencoe", which, again, has been turned into condos...sadly, like a lot of other hotels/guest houses on the Island.
Then we ventured toward St. Georges and, along the way, in Tuckers Town, he pointed out Michael Bloomberg's home as well as Ross Perot's home. Our next stop was the Swizzle Inn for a rum swizzle. And, then on to St. Georges where we spent a half hour or so exploring the town. On our way back to Hamilton, we stopped at the Flatts...and the aquarium. We'd been to all these places before...but haven't been to Bermuda since October '93...many, many changes for sure. We returned to the ship just before 5 PM...after a great tour of the Island.
Bermuda: Wednesday, May 9...took the ferry to The Dockyard...walked around, took some photos, the NCL Star and the Celebrity Summit docked early that morning. They left Manhattan and Bayonne same day as we did...but arrived in port a day later. Hmmmmm...seems smart...saving a day of the costly Bermuda port charges. Much hub bub about that on the Veendam! Perhaps if HAL had taken 2Â½ days to arrive in Bermuda instead of 1Â½, it would be cost effective to continue this itinerary.
Had dinner in the MDR, then went to the "Harbour Nights" along Front Street. It was windy with some showers, so some of the vendors left. But we managed to enjoy it anyway.
Bermuda: Thursday, May 10...set out to the Library (free Internet!) and other sights in Hamilton: The wonderful park dedicated in April by Queen Elizabeth...just a few steps toward Front Street from the library. Went in some shops along Front Street, bought some t-shirts for our grandchildren, then back to the ship for a lovely lunch in the MDR. After lunch, out and about on Front Street to explore more shops.
We booked a shorex from 5 PM to 7 PM..."Famous Homes and Hide-aways". The boat was docked just in front of the Veendam so it was a very easy walk. Tammy, the wife of Captain Jamie, was the guide and she was fabulous...we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. We had a reservation at 7:30 in Canaletto, and immediately went to our stateroom and fell asleep after that! The sea air and dinner were all that it took!
Bermuda: Friday, May 11: After an early breakfast, we set out...me to do a little shopping along Front Street, DH to go to the BUEI museum a half hour's walk outside of Hamilton. "All Aboard" was Noon...we met in the Customs Bldg. at 11 just to be on the safe side. We had front row seats on the Starboard LP Deck...to see all the late comers...the heavens opened up about 11:30 with torrential rain, and it was amazing to see how many didn't pay attention to the Noon "All Aboard". Probably 25 pax or so. Lucky for them the horse and carriage shorex was late returning!
We departed Hamilton at 12:27 PM amidst the downpour (which Bermuda needed desperately)...and went to the MDR for a late lunch. Spent the afternoon reading and napping...needed that after 3Â½ days in port!
Formal night in the MDR: Sadly, no escargot on the menu...not sure why...had a lovely dinner anyway, with the surf and turf... sans my favorite escargot. After dinner, went to the Showroom at Sea for the 2nd time this cruise.
Sea Day...Saturday, May 12...lovely to have a sea day after such a port intensive cruise. For the 1st time in many cruises, went to the Disembarkation talk after breakfast. Then on to the Mariner's Lunch at 1 PM...followed by the chore of packing. Not that difficult for just a 7 day cruise! So we chilled out enjoying time to read. Had my 2nd...and final...Wang Wang late in the afternoon at The Mix.
We enjoyed dinner at the Pinnacle Grille on our last night on board...a lovely way to end this wonderful cruise. DH had the Porterhouse; I had the lamb chops. We shared a tableside Caesar Salad...and we enjoyed asparagus and creamed spinach. Shared the CrÃ¨me Brulee trio for dessert.
Arriving in Manhattan...Sunday, May 13... We awoke early so that we could enjoy the sail into New York up the Hudson River...we were out on deck just in time to pass under the Verrazano Bridge...and then went up to the Lido for breakfast...and in time to sail by Lady Liberty. I took lots of great photos from the Retreat...of Lady Liberty on the Port side, and of the Freedom Tower on the Starboard side. Truly, that is such a memorable sight.
Wrap Up...we loved the Veendam. She's a very, very beautiful ship with a fabulous crew. This was truly one of our best cruises!