I have cruised several times with Holland America and have always been impressed with their ships, food and service. This ship was an exception. The room was standard size but a little drab. The public area's were fine except for the long waits for an elevator. There are 8 total elevators which passengers share with the staff. One elevator was broken the entire cruise so you usually waited for a while.
The public area's are very nice for a mid-size ship. The problem with the Veendam is the food and service.
Our cabin stewart did a great job. I wish he would of been our waiter. The dining experience was as if everyone was new. We waited 55 minutes from the time we ordered to receiving our appetizer. After complaining our service did improve. However the food did not. It was terrible. Having taken a Royal Caribbean cruise the month before I was anticipating the food on the Veendam, unfortunately the food was actually much better on Royal Caribbean. Not only was the food overcooked, it was tasteless. We did eat at the Pinnacle grill which was better but the service was not great.
We travelled to the Panama canal earlier this year with Holland America and was thrilled with the food, service and ship. Unfortunately this cruise is like a different company. We only saw the cruise director once the entire time. She was AWOL for most of the cruise although she did scream at us over the intercom "silence on deck" during the drill. This was not necessary or appropriate.
Overall I like Holland America. Unlike other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean the rooms have robes, a DVD player along with over 1000 movies for free, a larger bathroom with a bathtub and excellent bath amenities (Elemis). However the cost of a Holland America cruise is usually higher so you have higher expectations. I would still recommend them but skip this ship.
As far as ports in New England/Canada: Quebec, Bar Harbour, and Prince Edward Island were fantastic. Sydney Canada is a dump. Obviously the town must pay the cruise ships to stop there since there would be no apparent reason.