Reading recent, highly negative reviews of Veendam's Boston/Quebec run, I can hardly believe DH and I were on the same trip! We enjoyed our cruise and would happily embark again. I'm not saying there are no areas for improvement on Veendam, but in general we enjoyed the food, the crew, and the itinerary. Our stateroom was comfortable and our Indonesian steward was thoroughly professional. He spoke English without difficulty. In fact, I rarely had any difficulty making my wants understood to the serving staff, and they were always responsive and courteous.
Veendam is an old ship and one sees signs of patch-ups and such, but everything was clean and comfortable. Some of the Veranda deck chairs were set aside for those who paid for a Veranda cabin, but there were others not reserved and available. DH and I really loved the new Explorer's Cafe and library setup. There's an excellent selection of books and magazines, plenty of internet terminals, board games, and lounge chairs. The entertainment in general was good, although the screen in the theatre is too small for the room. I was sitting on the left aisle and had to crane my neck uncomfortably to see the film.
We ate mostly in the Lido, due to DH's physical mobility problem. I did find it odd that one side of Lido was reserved for the what appeared to be officers and senior staff; most ships provide separate dining facilities for the crew. When the passenger side of Lido was full we ate on the crew side. Nobody threw us out, or made us feel unwelcome, but I did wish I did not have to invade the crew members' space during their down-time.
Food in Lido ranged from very good to occasionally dry and tough. It's a buffet, and the early bird gets the best food. the cold sourps--peach, cherry, and rhubarb, were quite tasty. Sometimes they ran out of things like mashed potatoes. There is definitely room for improvement in the Lido setup, although it might take a complete re-design of the food service counters and lanes to get it right. More staff is needed to run Lido, especially during the first 48 hours, when, for hygiene reasons, the passengers are not allowed to serve themselves anything, even ice water. Breakfast, in particular, is chaotic!
Other reviewers have complained about the captain. Apart from a stern announcement on the PA from him about hand-washing, and the daily weather announcements, we had no contact with him. Hopefully he was on the bridge, running the vessel. We did not encounter the cruise director, either, so don't know what he/she is like. The service desk staff were polite and helpful. The instructor for the computer courses was particularly good.
The July 4th US holiday was celebrated with a barbecue on the Lido deck that we thoroughly enjoyed. Not so enjoyable was the poutine bar set up to introduce what is supposedly Canada's favorite fast food. I can't believe our northern neighbors actually enjoy soggy french fries with gravy and curds on top, but it was certainly an experience. I greatly preferred the taco bar that usually occupied that space.
All in all, it was a fun cruise, with interesting little port towns that haven't been spoiled yet by hordes of cruise passengers. Quebec City is magnificent, and we were anchored right in the middle of it.