I was a little anxious about traveling on the Veendam after the mixed reviews it received on the forum, but my experience was really great.
I traveled on this cruise with my spouse, we are in our early 30s. It was my 13th cruise, 4th with HAL. The Veendam was in very good shape and its small size and relaxed atmosphere were perfect for us as we were looking to completely unwind. It has been said before but this cruise is really about taking advantage of Bermuda. You are right in Hamilton with easy access to the bus system and with closer proximity to the beaches than ships at dockyard. The 3.5 days in port allow you to experience all the island has to offer without enduring the high resort prices. We did not do a shore excursion though I wish we had. I had read some comments about it being easy and cheap to book in port, but I think this is only true for dockyard. Once we found a place that ran excursions in Hamilton our time in port was over, and there was not enough savings to really merit the inconvenience of not booking through the ship.
Service on board was generally very good, as was the food. My husband and I live in Manhattan so we are use to having great food. Was the food as good as the gourmet eats in NYC, well no, but was it absolutely competent and satisfying, yes. Really the only issue we did see on the cruise was poor service in the Rotterdam Dining Room. We had open seating and the first few nights had to wait 40 minutes to get a table, and once seated often waited a longtime to be served. I did see several people walk out and I have personally never seen that on a cruise before. I got the feeling that the dining staff never learned to cope with the open seating concept. Honestly, I would not mind seeing the return of all fixed seatings. I think a lot of people select HAL because it has the elements of more traditional cruising. I would rather see the line play to that strength than flounder with the fads you see on other lines.
Still overall this was a terrific vacation and an incredible value. If you are looking to relax aboard a great ship and thoroughly explore a beautiful island, don't hesitate to book this cruise.