I have come to the conclusion that when your expectations are not met on a cruise ship the crew are almost always The Saving Grace as they were on the Veendam. Thank you wonderful crew.
I took my 12 yr. old grandson, Dillon, on the Veendam June 3rd-10th out of New York City. He has been on four cruises and loves cruising. I have been on six and wanted him to experience HAL as I had an outstanding cruise on the Noordam.I had booked an inside cabin 784, low deck and mid ship as he sometimes has motion sickness.
Pre-cruise - we are from Virginia and flew into LaGuardia and took a taxi to the hotel. We stayed at Hotel 31, a quaint, clean and very reasonable hotel on 31st. This was a great location, friendly staff and each night we viewed the Empire State Building out our window all lit up.
Embarkation - smooth. We took a taxi to the cruise terminal at 11:00 am and were in our cabin within the hour.
We had lunch in the Lido - limited selection. Our bags arrived 2 hours later. We unpacked and I mentioned to Made, our cabin steward, that the cabin felt hot. He said he had already called it in.
Welcome to the Veendam! Sigh. Someone from the front desk came up and told me they would send maintenance to check the air. Night came and no one had come so I called front desk and was told a fan would arrive immediately. That never happened and we spent a sweltering first night.
Tues am Made brought us a fan. Tues pm Chona from front desk came and informed me the air could not be fixed during this cruise. She was helpful and said we could move to another cabin as a couple had cancelled - cabin 520 forward. She showed us the cabin and told us we had a time limit to decide as others were experiencing problems and wanted the cabin. Apparently the ship was filled to capacity. It was obvious to me that they knew the air did not work in this cabin but they put us in it anyway.
We had no choice but to take this cabin. I was told someone would bring us a cart and effortlessly move us. They never came and Made and Gede moved us carrying everything piece by piece. This whole ordeal was insensitive and handled very unprofessionally. Come on HAL you can do better. I am a past guest. The ocean crossing was rough and Dillon stayed seasick in this forward cabin.
Thursday I received a letter of apology, a bouquet of flowers and beverage credit of $50 which I changed to on board credit. They later changed it to $100. At least they did something which I appreciated.
Dining - We ate dinner in the Rotterdam on formal night. The service was very slow and we were there two plus hours. Food was good. The Canaletto restaurant was booked with a wait list so we settled on the Lido. Food was just o.k. Pizza good.
Public Rooms - The ship was easy to navigate and relatively clean.
Entertainment - The Adiago Strings quartet from Romania were excellent. Dillon takes violin lessons and we both enjoyed listening to this talented group every night. The band on the Lido were very good as well as the other music throughout the ship. We went to a show we enjoyed, watched a movie, played the big chess game, and swam when we could inch in.
Spa & Fitness - N/A
Family and Children - N/A
Shore Excursions - We did not book any as the weather was not good.
PROS - Our cabin stewards Made and Gede in cabin 784 and Sauli & Minto in cabin 520 were wonderful. We met so many special people from all over the world and enjoyed our times together. A kind couple from Canada found and returned my camera and sun glasses and I was grateful for their honesty.
The dessert extravaganza was awesome. The chefs did a super job with delicious cakes, etc. etc. on 3 decks.
CONS Only one swimming pool which was always overcrowded. The retreat is not worthy of any comments. When they painted the outside of the ship the chemical smells were overwhelming. They did go around and spray cabins with air fresheners if you asked.
BERMUDA - The weather was very windy and rainy but we made the best of it and enjoyed all our adventures. Bermuda is a beautiful, colorful, clean island with friendly and helpful people.
We took the bus to St. George and walked around but it poured so we took a ferry to the Dockyard. We got on a bus to sea glass beach and the sea glass covered the beach. The sun came out and we swam and collected unique sea glass for two or more hours. We went to Horseshoe Bay - lovely setting. Dillon snorkeled in the cove and I swam. We visited the cast iron lighthouse, took a tour of Bermuda on the ferry and shopped some in Hamilton. We also visited the exquisite cathedral and Fort Hamilton where we met up with a family from London also on the Veendam.
Disembarkation - smooth. Our plane did not leave until 7:30 pm. We took a taxi to the Hotel, dropped off our bags and walked to central park and St. Patrick's Cathedral for the afternoon.
Would I try HAL again???? It would have to be something exceptional and certainly not the Veendam.