My wife and I chose this cruise for its multiple sea days and then interesting ports in NE and maritime Canada. On this cruise I received 3-Star Mariner status as a Holland American Line repeat customer; I am unlikely to reach the next step. We cruise enough to notice the differences between each experience but not enough to know whether it's a ship-specific or whole fleet mandated change.
The Veendam has some age on it; malfunctioning elevators and the occasional plumbing outage being prime examples. Public restrooms were few and awkwardly placed. Cabins were poorly designed with too much space devoted to the little used couch area.
Cost cutting was very obvious from cheap toilet tissue to subtle rationing of the more expensive foods by making it difficult to order. For example, smoked salmon at the breakfast buffet has always on HAL been a self-service, take as much as you want affair. Now two very small rolled up pieces of salmon are put on a full size dinner More
plate with a quartered tomato and capers. This is found on the far end of the line from where you would get bagels. The part of the line that prepares Egg Benedict and its variations was staffed by just one person, resulting in an unpleasant delay, while the part with scrambled eggs and pancakes was well staffed and moved smoothly. Another example of poor customer service is the "happy hour" drink policy advertised as "buy one, get a second for $1". In practice what this means is they bring you two drinks at once and charge a dollar more than normal. The second drink is either warm or diluted by the time you are ready for it.
Kudos though to cruise director Mario who was energetic and entertaining who enlivened trivia and other occasions. He is the only one of the staff not to either out-right disappoint or just appear to be going through the motions.
Housekeeping of our cabin disappointed on several occasions with a cleaning rag left on the nightstand and baggage mats still out on our bed on the first night when we were ready for bed (after the late show). Less