My husband and I decide to take the first New England/Canada cruise (POC Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City) of the season for the Veendam that departed from Boston. First off let me advise you to watch the taxi cab drivers if you are departing from any Airport Hotel properties or catching a flight from Boston after your cruise. The cost should not be more than $25.00 (that includes the toll fees the driver must pay for entering and leaving the airport) So be sure to ASK how much they will charge you and make sure they start the meter.
We received an e-mail a few days before our cruise advising us that there has been an GI illness breakout during the cruise of South America and that the ship would be doing a complete CDC required cleaning of the ship before our departure so they asked we not arrive before 1 pm. The ship was supposed to arrive in Boston by 7 am. However, while going up to our room we could the ship arriving to the dock around 10:30 am (please note: we were advised that the ship was delayed due to very bad weather while sail from Florida) and my husband and I figured there was no way the ship would be able to leave by 5 pm that evening.
I wont go into all the details about the embarking because not all the issues were due to HAL staff but more towards the Boston Port Authority staff not being prepared to the first cruise ship of the season. Once we got to the check-in area, it was a breeze. We entered the ship on the main deck (level 5) and we were able to go directly to our room 676 (inside cabin ALT area). The room in our view was very spacious for an interior room and plenty of closet space and desk area. The bathroom was a good size with a shower only that had a soap/shampoo/conditioner dispenser. There were shelves and plenty of counter space in the bathroom for our items.
We had a king bed, couch, and a chair in the room along with a small coffee table that stored under the desk area. Our room steward was Donald and we cannot say even nice things about him and his crew. They kept our room spotless through the whole cruise. The ice bucket was always full and we never wanted for anything. Donald and his staff were ALWAYS working and keeping our section of the deck clean. I NEVER saw dirty dishes from room service in the hallway. There was always a room service menu for breakfast each evening on the bed along with chocolates, the next days itinerary and our little towel animal of the day.
The selection of food in the Lido dining room and Rotterdam formal dining room were wonderful. Even though we have the Dine when you like plan we chose to eat in the Lido Restaurant as they usually service the same dishes as the Rotterdam. We heard from other guest that dining in the Rotterdam lasted over 2 hours and some people had to leave before dessert to catch the 8pm performance in the showroom. On formal nights the Rotterdam serviced filet mignon and lobster the Lida only services the filet mignon, which was wonderful both nights. Here is a helpful note I learned from the staff, if you dont want to dress up for formal nights but still want your lobster, call room service and they will delivery any of the items prepared to your room. So you can have your lobster without dressing up!!!
A number of passages who we met preferred eating in the Lido due to the food choices (ie you could have seconds on the items you like along with a wonderful variety of desserts to choose from without having to ask the waiters). The exploration Cafe served wonderful and tasty coffee drinks that cost no more than starbucks and just as good. They also offer some delicious food options at no charge to go with your beverage.
The Veendam provided a new entrainment format. They start have they onboard performers but they now offer performers from the different ports of call you will be visiting and special guest performers.
I also enjoyed a spa treatment during my trip. The spa treatments while in port are generally a better deal. My spa treatment included the use of the Thermal Room. It has heated tiled loungers, a mineral water spa, dry and wet sauna and showers. Blissful time !!!!!
All the ports of call were very nice communities and we felt had many choices for all the passengers. Please be aware in the Port of Bar harbor the ship is tendered so if you are in a wheelchair, scooter or unable to walk up and down stairs you will not be able to go ashore.
The ports of Sydney and Halifax offered a wide array of local artists works and crafts as way on a farmers market in Halifax. The view of all the ports harbors were breathtaking and offered excellent opportunities for great Kodak moments. All the ports, offer free WIFI but some have better service than others. All the POCs have their own special features but the arrival into Quebec City was the crown jewel of the trip. The city is breathtaking both day and night.
Disembarkation in Boston was a breeze!!!!!
Did we run into bad weather, yes.... We were unable to stop in Sydney,.... Was it the crew's fault NO!!!!!
Overall, this was one of the BEST trips we have ever had and we look forward to our next adventure with Holland American and their fabulous staff and crew. Thank you for a memorable experience.