My wife was on a Holland America cruise once before, to Bermuda. This was my first time on Holland America. We got to the pier in Manhattan in about an hour. We live in NYC. Holland America checked us in pretty quick. We had to wait for a short while until they started boarding the ship. We got on board and got up to our stateroom. It was roomy and had lots of closet and drawer space for storage of clothes. The Veendam is also used for longer voyages. We ate at the dining room since members of the Mariner Society, a past cruiser, is able to go to a sit down lunch in the dining room instead of the Lido area. It was more calm. Then we made our way around the ship to find where everything is. An important discovery I made. There is no craps table in the casino. I did play a couple of other games in the casino, but, craps is my favorite game. Did play in the casino every day it was open. In one of the bars we discovered a table with these games in it. Video games. We saw the ship stores which were closed while in port.
Let me mention a few things: Service: The service aboard the Veendam ranges from very good to excellent. If you stand around for a few moments someone from Holland America will approach you to inquire if they could do anything for you. Wait staff was very efficient. Room service was very good. Very efficient. Brought fairly quickly. Breakfast, lunch, late night snack all were done very professionally. I tend to bring a few sets of silverware to my stateroom because in the past silverware was not always brought.
Food: Food ranges also from very good to excellent with the exception of the pizza. This pizza was one of the worst I've ever tasted. I have heard that they just changed pizza dough they use. They should use the one that Carnival uses or at least used to use. The rest of the food was well prepared and the cooks are willing to accommodate you. When I got some beef from a carving station and wanted it more well done they did that for me without giving me an argument first. There was a staff person at the drink station dispensing drinks and the ice cream was very good. No 24 hour restaurant though so if you want something between meals or a meal in your room you must order from room service. Someone from a cruise before us stated that the BBQ that they do on board the ship was not good. Not true. Their BBQ is very good. When they BBQ enjoy it. They do it once on embarkation day and once while in Bermuda. They had a dessert night like a giant Viennese table. It was nice and you could take pictures of it before it opens. However, they opened it before the pastry chef's could take their place which led to chaos at the start. There were cooking exhibitions sponsored by Food and Wine Magazine. They had Chef Achisson and the owners of several restaurants in NYC and around the world. They were good.
Entertainment: The entertainment was not bad. You may see bad reviews on entertainment, I know I did. It is not true. If you like fog machines, dirty jokes, people swinging from or climbing ropes you won't see it or hear it. They do song and dance, have a comic, have a ventriloquist as well as Bingo games in the theater. They have a DJ in the Crow's Nest., They also have a band and a harp player. There were also movies shown in the small theater most nights. Some where good and others were so so. Depends on your taste in movies. They served popcorn at the theater.
Debarkation went fairly smooth and we were home before 1100 hours.