Veendam Cruise Review by TNCruiser2011: Disappointed with HAL....
Member Since 2011
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Disappointed with HAL....
After a wonderful first experience cruising last year on Princess, we were excited to go again but this time with Holland America. The reviews I read prior to booking were a mixed bag of good and not-so-good so we took a chance. From the first night when we were all but scolded by the head steward in the dining room for lingering too long at a table designated for the 8:00 dinner seating (we had anytime dining but were SENT to the other dining room by those seating us) to the total lack of available food between 8pm and 11pm (and at other times during the day if you didn't want to wait for room service) to the "not bad but also not good and definitely not exceptional" taste/quality of the food to the lack of service by the stewards at the buffet - the whole realm of food on the ship was substandard. I could go into lots of detail but I won't, I'll just give a few examples: my husband asked for a glass of orange juice at the buffet after he finished his workout one morning at approx More
10:30am - he was told breakfast was over and there was no more juice; he observed at lunch time, again at the buffet, that a passenger had plates in both hands but was handed a drink with no offer to assist her to a table; empty plates remained on tables while stewards fussed around with silverware or sweeping floors; waiting 30-45 min (pager in hand just like any other restaurant) for a table at dinner; when I called for a dinner reservation I was told the only times available were 5:15 or 5:30 - you didn't need a reservation for those times as they were always available!; running out of plates and ingredients to make sandwiches at 3:30 in the afternoon - the sandwich station was the only buffet station open when we returned from our excursion; etc.
On other topics, the entertainment and staging was just OK - no elaborate sets (actually not really scenery/sets at all) and only 2 dancers. One comedian was good, the other so-so. NO instructions on how to work the shower configuration - we never did really figure out how to not freeze or scald ourselves even after 7 days! About the only thing I can say was nicer than Princess were that the robes in the cabin were thicker and nicer. I had a couple of mixed drinks which were rather weak - I will only ever order wine or beer from now on as you can't (or it would be harder) to mess with the quality of those. My husband spoke to the management more than once about several of these issues and, while they listened, they only resolution they offered was "order room service" which isn't really an option unless you want to spend the whole cruise in your cabin waiting for it. As for the shore excursions, I don't think I will book those in advance in the future. We spent a lot of time on a bus to be told we had 15-20 minutes to see the destination. I can't blame HAL for this but it definitely was a disappointment. The schedule had to be kept so we were moved along quite quickly.
All in all I can only assume they were understaffed or no longer care about the service aspect of cruising. Needless to say we won't be sailing on HAL any time in the near future and that's exactly what I said on my survey at the end of the cruise. I will vote with my hard earned dollars and time to choose a line that provides exceptional service and makes me feel special. That's what I want on vacation! Less
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Cabin review: Veendam Large Partial Obstructed Seaview Lower Promenade
My biggest issue with the cabin was that there were no instructions on how to operate the shower. The configuration was not standard American (hot on left/cold on right) and we never did figure out how to not freeze or scald ourselves. The left knob seemed to control water flow and the right knob seemed to control hot water but I never got consistent results when I turned it. We had the beds configured to a queen size and they didn't put anything between the two to bridge the gap, therefore one of us was always stuck in the crack. They were the most comfortable beds either - not enough padding.
Port and Shore Excursions
We did a tour that took us to the top of Cadillac Mt and then a schooner sail. It was wonderful!! And Bar Harbor is such a lovely town - great shopping and be sure to stop in the drugstore to see the ORIGINAL soda fountain (they served delicious homemade ice cream too - try the blueberry)
We took the light house tour since most everything else was either about Anne of Green Gables or lobster. Lots of driving, little time at each place, not all that great....Didn't really see anything special at PEI which was the one port I thought I'd really like.
Halifax was a wonderful city and the trip to Peggy's Cove was worth the hour drive BUT again we were not given enough time once we were there. I'd suggest finding a tour that gives you 2-3 hrs there if you want to grab a bite to eat and see any of the shops. We were there 1 hr and only had time to walk thru the town and back (with a short bathroom stop).
We saw the falls the Isle of Orleans and a Sugar Shack. We enjoyed the falls but the rest was kind of oh-hum.