This was our first Holland cruise. We have cruised before with Princess, Carnival, and NCL. We decided to go on this cruise because Holland offered the 3rd and 4th guests free making this a very affordable trip for our family of four.
Boarding the ship in New York was pretty easy. We did not have a long wait, and the process went smoothly. Once on board, we ate lunch at the Lido buffet - it was pretty busy with lots of passengers trying to eat lunch too. After lunch, we went to our room and our luggage was all there, so we were happy.
My first impression of the ship was not a good one. The ship was small, smelled funky, and had ugly carpeting. The Veendam did show her age, but the ship was very clean. Most of the passengers on board were senior citizens. This cruise line definitely seems to attract older passengers. We were happy to see some families on board with kids. We met many very nice people. There were a few ruthless people at the Lido buffet, but you'll find that everywhere.
Our ocean-view room was small, but we were all able to sleep comfortably. Holland's beds are very comfortable. It was difficult managing all the suitcases in our small room, but we did OK. Our room steward was extremely nice and did a great job cleaning our room - considering 2 adults and 2 kids were crammed in there with lots of stuff. The hallway outside of our room always smelled like cigarette smoke - which was not a good thing for us because we do not smoke. I was surprised that there was smoking allowed in the staterooms.
The staff did a good job. The room stewards, restaurant staff, waiters were all excellent. However, the front desk staff were unable to answer simple questions. I believe these ladies should have known what was going on throughout the ship.
The food was very good (my husband thought it was excellent). There were many dining options - room service, dining room, Lido buffet, BBQ near the Lido pool, pizza, Italian restaurant, and the specialty steakhouse that cost $20 per person. We were extremely disappointed that we could not eat at the speciality steakhouse - it was completely booked for the entire cruise. Holland should extend restaurant hours so that they can accommodate more passengers. We selected the open dining option because we wanted flexibility, but soon learned that might have been a mistake. There was always a long wait for a table unless you arrived in the dining room right when it opened at 5:15pm. We found ourselves eating at the Lido buffet more often to avoid long waits for the dining room. We did get to eat at the Italian restaurant - it was very good, but don't order the Lasagna. The Lasagna and the hamburgers on the Lido was the only food on board that I did not like. The desserts were excellent! Thursday night dessert extravaganza was awesome!!
Holland offered a Kid's Club which was excellent. Our four year old had a blast there. In fact, she always asked to go back, and that gave us a break too. There were about 12 - 15 kids around my daughter's age that she played with at the Kid's Club. Every time I picked her up, all the kids really seemed to be having fun.
The ride to Bermuda was a rough one. The ship went through some storms which created 70mph winds. We bounced around a bit as we walked through the ship. Our 4 year old daughter and I were seasick and so were many other passengers. We were very excited to arrive in Bermuda on Tuesday morning especially because the ship finally stopped "rocking and rolling". Bermuda was beautiful. We had great weather too. It was sunny and in the 80's all three days. We purchased a 3 day bus/ferry pass so we could do our own sightseeing. Holland shore excursions were too expensive. The buses and ferries were very clean. The best beaches are Horseshoe Bay and Tobacco Bay - they are a must see. The water was crystal clear and the sand was like powder. Elbow beach was beautiful too, but be careful there were some Jellyfish that washed ashore on the sand. We were disappointed with Snorkel Bay. They charged $5 to get in, and the beach was loaded with sharp rocks. A guy next to us cut his foot pretty bad. They had food/bar at Snorkel Bay, and they wanted $14.50 for a hot-dog and fries. On Wednesday night, there was a street festival in Hamilton. The main street was closed off to traffic. They had a live band, crafts/t-shirt vendors, blow up bouncers for the kids - it was very fun!
Our ride home was much smoother than on the way to Bermuda. We had hot sunny weather on the ride back. We spent Saturday sitting by the Lido pool and eating a lot! Although the ride back was much smoother, I still felt more motion than I did on other cruises.
I don't think we would cruise with Holland again unless they made some changes to attract more families. We really enjoyed the food, but would prefer a larger ship with more activities.