We sailed on the Veendam on May 16th out of Vancouver. We have done this trip several time before (but not on Holland America), and it is always a good experience. We love Vancouver, and always spend a few days there on our own before the ship departs.
Embarkation: This was a breeze. No lines at all, and we walked right onto the ship. Once on the ship, however, we had to wait quite a while on the Lido deck before we could go to our room.
Cabin: An inside cabin. Very plain, but roomy enough, and adequate. Our room steward was very good. Plain, but adequate, is a good description of the Veendam.
Ship: The ship was clean and well-maintained, but rather on the plain side. There was simply not a wow factor anywhere on the ship. This was somewhat of a disappointment. We did enjoy having a wonderful teak deck to walk on on the promenade deck that went completely around the ship.
Food: The food was good. We enjoyed almost every meal. The fresh strawberries in the Lido in the morning were wonderful! The Lido ran out of coffee everyday, though. This was irritating.
Service: Fine, but no better than other ships we have been on. We were seated at Open Seating in the dining room. Service was okay, sometimes slow. The waiters really made no effort to make the service special, except for the special show they put on two night.
Entertainment: Sub-standard, in general. We went to most of the shows. Some of the most average entertainment we have seen on any ship This was our 17th cruise.
Shore Excursions: We enjoyed all of them, especially the Canopy Zipline at Ketchikan. More will be noted on this topic below.
Disembarkation: Easy, not crowded, and not rushed. But, here is where our problem began. We had purchased a transfer from Holland America prior to the cruise, a bus from Seward to Anchorage. We purchased an add-on of a boat tour of the Portage Glacier. No problem with the bus transfer from Seward to Anchorage. But, the Portage Glacier cruise was canceled by the tour operator. Many buses arrived at Portage to board the boat. We waited around at the terminal for about an hour, while the operator tried to clear ice in the lake. In the end, the tour was canceled because the boat was iced in. We all boarded our buses and went on to Anchorage. We were told by the bus driver that a Holland America rep would meet us at the airport to deal with refunds. This did not happen. I have been calling Holland America, and sending emails ever since we returned from Anchorage, and have been stonewalled by everyone I have talked to about this. Holland America does not return my calls, nor do they answer my emails. So far, they have refused to issue a credit for the Portage Glacier tour that was canceled. I have never been treated this bad by any cruise line.
On the whole, the cruise was pleasant. Alaska is always wonderful. But, there was nothing particularly wonderful about the Veendam, and Holland America's behavior post-cruise has been appalling. For that reason, I can not recommend this ship, or Holland America to other cruisers.