I booked the Veendam, 7 day Montreal to Boston due to time constraints. Having read the rather variable reviews, plus the somewhat unfortunate news of the CDC inspection failure, I had more than a few worries, that said, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Embarkation and Debarkation: They have this down to a science. It was better and less congested than my last cruises which were on Oceania. If there is any caveat I found embarkation a tad "scattered" but it went quickly enough. I was there after 11 and on the ship by Noon.
The Ship: While clearly not new, I liked he Veendam. The decor to me is very "shippy" as opposed to the equally attractive but somewhat more Laura Ashley meets Ocean Liner of Oceania. It ship was clean and I did not see any signs of obvious wear. There are lots of nooks and crannies where you can grab a seat to read or relax and the size of the ship makes it very easy to get around.
Cabins: I was upgraded from a fully obstructed to a ocean-view amidships. There was plenty of storage space, I have had smaller bathrooms in apartments I have lived in recently, and the cabin attendants kept it remarkably clean. I enjoyed the fresh fruit, and the beds are comfortable. Like many I might have preferred a different bed placement so I had a better view of the ocean, but that was a very small thing.
Dining: Here is where HAL needs improvement. The meals varied wildly and many things were oversalted, even for me. Breakfasts were generally good in the main
dining room, but the Lido meals were often less than exciting. I found nothing inedible, but do feel that HAL could improved this experience. I was impressed with how inexpensive cocktails were. Much less than on Oceania
Activities and Staff: I have nothing but good things to say about the staff, who where to a man (or woman) universally, cheerful, friendly and charming. The entertainment staff is very approachable and everyone seems interested in your criticisms/compliments. There was the usual round of Karaoke, Trivia and Name that Tune, but it was all fun.
Entertainment: Generally very good. I found the on board entertainer excellent. My compliment to Dan who was the best cruise director I have had on my (limited) cruises.
The Ports: I enjoyed Halifax, Charlottetown and Quebec. Sydney could have been a sea day, Bar Harbor is one big shop.
The Passengers: A large mix of ages, including some children. A number of wheelchairs and oxygen machines, many active seniors, including myself. Everyone pleasant and friendly
would I sail Holland American again. Yes! I feel it offers better than average value for the dollar In fact I have booked for next year.