Veendam Cruise Review by KenProspero: Enjoyable Anniversary Cruise on the Veendam
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Enjoyable Anniversary Cruise on the Veendam
Just returned from a lovely vacation on the Veendam. Much of what we experienced has been written about before by others, so I'll summarize the highlights.
Holland America -- I know that everyone who has found this board already knows this, but I'll say it anyway .... Holland America caters to an 'older crowd'. Say 50's and up. They have a kids club, so parents with younger children should be fine. However, this is NOT a party ship. I mention this because I did run into several younger first-time cruisers who were disappointed with the demographic. Apparently, their travel agent did not see fit to mention this to them. Holland America is what it is but it's important to be forewarned. (We're in our early 50's so the demographic was fine!!!)
Veendam -- This is a smaller ship. There are advantages and disadvantages. We found it to be intimate and liked it a lot. Also, for going to Bermuda, you get to dock directly in Hamilton, a major plus. However, there More is less going on than on some of the mega ships, and the shows were scaled down. (In fact, I liked it a lot that the shows were smaller and played to the strengths of the performers. But no major Vegas-y type show.) We did find that the events we did attend were not super crowded. Bottom line, we liked it, but the experience is what it is. Some may prefer mega-ships.
Lanai Cabins -- We opted for one of the Lanai Cabins. I have seen several threads saying these are not worth it. I disagree. Strongly. First, there's the question of how much you pay. Admittedly, we didn't pay that much extra ($79 pp upsale from a HH obstructed view, friends upgraded for $150 pp from the lowest category inside cabin).
The Lanai Cabins are on the Promenade Deck, and have sliding glass doors that open up directly onto the deck (and provide you with floor to ceiling ocean views). Each cabin has two lounge chairs that are 'reserved' for that cabin. There is a sign on wall that says so as well as plaques on many of the chairs saying they are reserved. We never had anyone sit in our chairs, and didn't hear of any problems with people taking the chairs. Because you're on the Promenade Deck, you see people walking by. Someone may decide to look at the ocean in front of your cabin. Well, it's not a balcony. It's not billed as a balcony. You don't have the privacy you would on a Balcony. If this is a problem for you, don't book it.
We found the Lanai Cabins great for socializing. We got to know the people next to us, and when we wanted pre-dinner drinks with frends on the cruise, we had plenty of deck space. The sliding doors are 'one way mirrors' meaning that people can't look into your room -- however, I hear that at night if it's dark and you have your lights on the people can see in, so ... draw the drapes if you don't want to put on a show. I would definately book a Lanai again if it could be had for a reasonable price.
Bermuda -- we loved the island. We were docked for three + days, so could explore at our leisure without worrying about what time we got back to she ship. Many public beaches, some practically empty. Very easy to get to by public bus. We bought a bus pass -- two days for $20 and it got us everywhere. Pretty much any excursion can be found on shore for less money. Our activities -- Beach (Stone Hole and Jobson's Cove); Snorkelling, Crystal Caves, Island Tour (public bus to the "Dockyards) to see the sights), Wednesday Street Fair in Hamilton and a horse and buggy ride.
Unfortunately, this is the last season for the Veendam in Bermuda. All other ships dock in the dock-yard (the Hamilton Harbor is not deep enough for the mega-ships) which is ok, and has all the tourist shops. But not as nice as Hamilton. The Dock yard is at the far western edge of the island and is a 20 minute boat ride (or about an hour by bus) to Hamilton. Longer to St. George.
Biggest complaint -- Dining room service is VERY SLOW, we had an 8:00 set seating and could not count on getting out for the 10:00 show (unlesswe told the waiter we were trying to do so). People who went to the non-reserved dining said that they had a long wait to be seated. The cruise director admitted to us that the dining room could only accomodate 90% of the passengersand this was a problem. However -- if we told our waiter we were trying to make the show, he got us out on time. Another alternative was dining on the lido deck (where we had most lunches and a couple of dinners). The food is fine, but more limited that the main dining.
Biggest Pleasant Surprise -- Cabin Stewards were the best we've had. Although I think they have 30 cabins for two, they did their job flawlessly and were never underfoot. The main steward always greeted us by name (tough to do when there's a complete turnover every week.
Other things -- (1) On this cruise there was evening entertainment in three lounges. One had a small band playing 'standards'. A second had a guitar player. The third had a string quartet. All were very nice for hanging and relaxing for half an hour. (2) We did try Pinnacle and were mildly disappointed. It was ok, but the steaks were not as good as at a top Steak House. Good for a romantic dinner, and it is what it is.
Overall -- a very nice, relaxing trip. We loved it. Less
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Cabin review: 336
Lanai. Cabin is larger than standard cabins on other cruise lines. Plenty of room under the bed for luggage. This particular cabin is across from the guest laundry -- but we NEVER heard it (and we're light sleepers). View was excellent. Room has 'dedicated' deck chairs, which everyone respected. We were close to dead center of the ship (a couple of rooms away from the Atrium. We didn't have any noise problem, though might have if we were right at the atrium. We would definitely consider this again.