I have been on the Veendam a number of times. This was my first cruise on the Ryndam. it is the same size but has less people and more public space. We had over 1100 people (full is around 1260) on this crossing and the ship often felt empty. There certainly were never lines or waiting for tables either in the Lido or the open seating for dinner. Many of the crew learned my name. The food was great. I have never been disappointed with the food on HAL but what made the dining experience exceptional on the Ryndam was the service.
I used the ellipticals regularly and appreciated the lockers and showers in their gym space. I also paid for the greenhouse spa for the 16 day crossing. The $150 was well worth it for the crossing. I used it everyday with the heated ceramic beds and mineral hot tub. It was a great treat after my workout. I wouldn't get my moneys worth on a more port intensive cruise.
The entertainment was exceptional. The HAL crew did 5 shows in the 16 day crossing which were all excellent and left you wanting more. I usually don't stay for shows on ships. I sit in back so when I get bored I can slip out. Not on these. The choreography, sets, costumes and general flow were all exceptional and the talent was amazing. These were the first of a new series of shows that are going to be introduced on all HAL ships and I am glad to have been able to see them. On the second part of my cruise i made sure to go see the two that were repeating that week. I wasn't disappointed.
The talent brought in for the crossing was also amazing. There were two lecturers who could pack the house 3 or 4 times a day. One was on astronomy and one on Spanish History. I only went a few times in the 8 days across but many people went religiously. They really were very good but I had other things to do. The two comedians who crossed with us were also great. One was a low keyed storytelling type and was very entertaining. He reminded all of us old fogeys where we had come from, always with a laugh. The other juggled and mumbled as he did so, always in a self deprecating manner. He was highly intellectual and you had to be paying attention but he was roll on the floor hilarious. Again you need to realize that I don't find most comedians funny.
The cruise director Eric was personable and funny. We found out how funny when he played a redneck character in a game show. He also entertained us twice a day at trivia in the crows nest.
I traveled solo for the first time on a cruise ship. My cabin was more than comfortable. There was tons of storage and everything worked well. I was in cabin 691 which is all the aft on the main deck. I loved that I was able to climb the little stairs straight up to the promenade. I could get outside quickly in this manner and I often used it to get to and from my cabin without walking the long corridors inside. The only problem with this room happened twice in the middle of the night. A metal door was banging just on the other side of the wall aft of my cabin and it took them a while to 1. believe me, and 2. fix it. This meant a sleepless night as it would start banging again about two hours after they said they had fixed it for sure. The second night this happened they fixed it much more quickly. Next time I will seek a room that is at least one room away form a working deck. They gave me a book on appetizers as an apology. I would have rather a ships credit or night at the Pinnacle.
The librarian, Jenna, was overworked on this crossing. The explorations cafe was always crowded with internet users, game players, puzzle makers or book readers. People read a lot in a 16 day crossing. She was always helpful and cheerful. She called when she found a book she knew I was looking for.
The only tour I did from the ship was the Gaudi tour in Barcelona. It was excellent. We saw an apartment building, the Park Gruell and went inside the Sagrada Familia. I am not usually a tour person but I would never have seen all that without the tour. I met people with multiple days in Barcelona who didn't go inside because they didn't want to deal with the crowd. We went right in and had a great tour and free time to take photos. The tour guide had flexibility built in for people with physical limitations on the tour.
Not having been on a crossing before I was pleasantly surprised by the passengers. Most were seasoned cruisers. They were friendly, low keyed and interesting. At 58, I felt young. The average age must have been in the high 70's. There were many walkers and canes. Crossings don't make the physical demands that multiple ports do so people just were enjoying the experience. I made friends and acquaintances easily. There were many solos on this crossing.
I fell as if I had a classic cruising experience. The ship is comfortable-not flashy. It is understated elegance with the service to pull it off. It is a small enough ship that they will let you out on the bow when it is not too windy or wavy. I got to watch the dolphins frolicking in the bow waves as we came in to Punta Delgado.