Our first cruise ever was in January 2013 in the Caribbean with the New Amsterdam of HAL. The voyage with the Veendam around New England in Sept./Oct. was our second experience. To start with: embarkation in Quebec City and disembarkation in Boston were very fast and efficient.
But now about everything else.
The Veendam is a smaller ship, accommodating approx. 1200 passengers, what we certainly do prefer over huge cruise ships. Everything looks well maintained, but it is noticeable that it is an older vessel.
We had a mid-ship Lanai cabin with a sliding door directly out to a public promenade. We liked this very much and still had all the privacy we needed. The Lanai concept includes two reserved deck chairs. It was not always possible to use these chairs, because they were frequently used by other people, who were not aware that these were reserved seats. The tiny signs placed on the wall can easily be overlooked. We did not ask the people to move, because we don’t like such kind of discussions.
The cabin was clean, but showed many signs of wear. The cabin is quite small and we were surprised about the excessive quantity of (throw) pillows. We gave all of them but two to our steward and he obviously did not know what to do with them. He probably had no storage space either.
Disturbing was, that there frequently was some sort of very loud, mechanical clanging/slamming noise. It was just not often enough to complain about it, but it still was disturbing.
As far as food on cruise ships is concerned, we can only compare with the New Amsterdam and we have to say that the quality of the food on the Veendam was of a lower standard. We will not go into details, because such comments mostly depend on personal taste and preferences. We think that the entire catering crew was understaffed, but that is only a guess.
Our stewards were always very busy, but managed to have a perfect timing for tidying up our cabin, even when we were only out for an hour. Maybe it helped that we always used the "Please make up room” signs, so that they could see that we were out.
Generally we were satisfied with the service on board.
We enjoyed the two evening performances of a comedian and a magician, both were very entertaining. The other shows and performances on the program did not appeal to us.
In most harbors we had rented a car. We had checked in the internet which rental station was closest to the ship’s terminal. It usually was about a 15 minutes’ stroll to the rental office and we were there ahead of the crowd and never had to wait. Before the cruise we had already determined what we wanted to see and to do during the day trips. Many excursions offered by HAL are up to $ 100 per person. We only spent $ 70-80 a day for the two of us for a full size car including gas. For us a perfect solution, because we like to be independent; coach excursions and guided tours are not our thing.
All in all, we think that we have not received enough value for the total amount we have spent for this one weeks’ cruise. We don’t think that it will be our last one, but for the moment we both have had enough.