Just completed a 30 day on MS Veendam. The ship is clean, the crews morale outstanding, and the ports of call were well thought out. We left LA, went through the Panama Canal, then up the Amazon River 850 miles, back down, and after bouncing around to Caribbean ports, ended in TAmpa. I have sailed 3 times on HAL, but this was the best. The Cruise Director, Tom Faulkner, and his asst, Mark Fishman, were superb. Lots of meaningful activities were provided daily. The entertainment was also a cut above the average Holland Cruise. Many terrific entertainers were flown in, and the nightly shows were excellent. Of special mention is the ships band, The HALCATS. They were far superior to most cruiseship bands. They are very versatile, and can support almost any type of backup on a moments notice. Another thing worth mentioning was the Ships Captain. He was superb, a great speaker, had a sense of humor, and was far superior to other HAL ships captains we have observed. His attitude is a direct reflection of the ships crew morale which was high. One thing to mention: The ships self-service laundrys were overcrowded, and I observed several verbal confrontations between ladies doing their laundry. Problem is, washing takes 36 min, and drying 45 minutes. There are 4 dryers and 4 washers, so from the onset, the customers get backed up using the dryers, and after a day, the women are fighting over dryers.!!
To resolve this issue the cruise line should have 2 more dryers than washers in each laundry, so there is enough to keep up with the volume of wet clothes. Aside from that the Veendam is a great ship. It was a pleasure to ride her. The head waiters were very thoughtful, and always made the rounds, speaking to each guest. The cruises are becoming more and more competitive, and the employees at dept head level are under a lot of pressure to maximize profits. I noticed drinks on this cruise were very expensive, and there was a lot of pressure to "push" them. I realize that the Beverage manager is under the gun to maximize sales, as are all the other Dept Heads. The Pinnacle Grill had raised prices to $30 on Veendam, which was a $10 increase from other HAL ships I traveled on this year. I believe we will see more and more price increases across the board as the cruise lines struggle to stay in business, due to overbuilding of cruise ships who will sail with less and less passengers.