Embarcation: My reason for this cruise included a visit with some friends in Ottawa ending with a retirement party on the 20th. Therefore, I knew in advance that the 21st would be a travel day. However, since the Veendam overnighted in Quebec City I was assured that I could board any time until the ship sailed on Sunday. With that in mind I booked Via Rail Canada to transfer me from Ottawa to Quebec via Montreal. My hosts dropped me off at the rail station in Ottawa and the train ride was fantastic. I booked business class and was well treated during the entire trip.
I arrived at the Quebec train station on time at 9:30 pm and found a taxi to the ship without too much trouble. Cab fare with tip was $10 (Canadian). I arrived at the port right at 10:00pm. Here I had a little problem. There was little noticeable signage, and the taxi driver directed me around to the right to board the ship. As I walked toward the ship I saw the gangplank from the building and knew I should be there. After a little trouble finding the entrance I found excellent assistance from that point to the ship.
Arriving at the front desk I had a couple of seconds wait then I checked in with no trouble at all. A crew member had taken my bag when I first entered the ship, and it was in my cabin when I arrived.
As I normally do I booked an outside guarantee. In the two weeks prior to sailing I had three emails offering upsells. I declined each one. I ended up with an unobstructed outside on the “A” deck (4). Since I arrived late I didn't meet my cabin stewards, Edward and Mikko, until Sunday morning. They kept good care of me all week. I had no mechanical or plumbing problems with the cabin and it seemed to be well kept.
Meet & Greet:
We had a roll call that was a little slow until the last couple of weeks. Despite late notification the Veendam's crew was able to arrange a M&G for us. We had reasonable attendance, along with the Captain and Hotel Director. The Beverage Manager was around, and provided Champagne and Memosas for those who wished them.
It appears that the Veendam has the new system as I had to log into “ICAFE-GUEST-Veendam” instead of mtndsi. The rates remained as they have been in the past except that I had no signon fee.
100 minutes $55
250 minutes $100
500 minutes $175
1000 minutes $250
pay as you go - $0.75 per minute
I did not attempt any speed tests, but it seemed a little more responsive than the old system.
One note on internet access – the port in Halifax had free access. My cabin was close enough to the port building that I had a good signal all day. Someone in a cabin about 5 forward of me did not.
I am not much of a port person and had visited each of the ports two years ago so I won't comment other than to say each was nice. Poor weather in Sydney and Halifax prevent people from doing much in those ports.
Adagio – this was a duo that played each night. I listened to them several nights for a few minutes. To my untrained ear they sounded fine, but a fellow passenger wasn't impressed.
Neptunes – again, my impression is based on just a few minutes but they sounded fine and had a small crowd each evening.
I don't remember seeing a “HalCats” group, and didn't have a group playing around the pool at any point when I was there.
Piano Bar – Barry from Boston – this is where I was Sunday – Thursday evenings between 9pm and midnight. Barry is a very good entertainer and interacts well with his audience. He had a good to very good crowd each evening. He has a good voice and knows the lyrics well. Each night was a very nice time.
The only show I went to was Julie Barr. Pretty good show for an entertainer that interacts with the audience.
As we entered US territory in Bar Harbor, ME we had to go through immigration there. The officials were late boarding the ship, but once they were there the process went quickly and smoothly. When my deck was called I went to the designated area and, although the line was long it never stopped moving. I honestly don't think it was over two or three minutes from the time I got into the line until I passed the official and was done.
Saturday morning the Veendam arrived in Boston on time. The officials were late arriving but the ship seemed to catch up. My disembark time was 8:30 and I left right about that time. Once I started moving I continued until I was outside the port and entering the taxi. My flight didn't leave until noon so I let the cab driver show me a bit of Boston. I got to the airport in plenty of time, and the flight home was fine.