My family and I boarded the ms Veendam for a summer vacation to Bermuda. Some aspects of the trip were terrific - leaving from NYC, the towel animals in our room, the majority of the crew, and getting off the ship at the two ports in Bermuda. However, I would like to advise future Veendam cruisers of the following:
1. Open Seating Service is horrid. While the crew will tell you there is no difference between the stewards who serve you in open seating and those who serve you in set dining - there is. We experienced both. We sat in open seating for three days and had cold food night after night. Then, we were moved to set dining and our steward was wonderful (and the food was hot).
2. On the topic of food... eh. Menu was heavy on meat, but I did find out on the fourth night of dinner that there was a vegetarian menu. The food in the Lido was the same thing day in and day out. For lunch, check out the Taco Bar and Pool Grill. For dinner, we didn't go to the Canaletto restaurant, but heard great things from multiple guests. I'm still not sure why a Dutch ship features a dining room and overall menu so inspired by Asian cooking and cuisine.
3. Want to keep busy on the ship... bring your wallet. While the cruise director boasted that the Veendam had the most and best activities, you could watch for free but to participate you needed to pay more money. And if you have any interest in being outdoors, think again. The Veendam has "explorations" like Digital Computer classes, Culinary Workshops and Travel Discussions. Those are all well and good, except you're on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Where are poolside games, silly cruise contests and outdoor music?
4. Regarding the pool, if you want to swim... unlikely to happen on this ship. One of the crew informed us that when the ship underwent one of the two refurbishments since it was built, they eliminated the outdoor pool to make more veranda rooms. That only left the indoor pool, which doubles as an outdoor pool via retractable glass roof, and the new "retreat" which has one foot deep water. Nice to cool your feet, not great when the sun is beating down. 5. So now you've rolled around in the 1 foot deep pool water to cool off and you want to get ready for dinner. If you are looking for a hot shower, I'd suggest you do so around 4pm before the crowds or you're back to the days of cold showers in college dormitories. After I called the front desk 4 times to ask about getting a hot shower in my stateroom, they first had me contact my room steward to check the water. Is his interpretation of hot different than mine? After he confirmed that I did not have cold water, they sent a plumber. The plumber came 15 minutes before dinner, so clearly I took a cold shower to be ready in time. Rinse and repeat, this cold water thing happened night after night. When I went to the front desk to personally address this issue, they put on their serious faces, apologized and as soon as I walked away, started laughing.
6. After dinner, you think, okay show time! While the singers themselves were gifted and fantastic, if you are any younger than 65, don't bother. There was nothing contemporary about the Showroom at Sea. We did attend the shows with outside talent, like the comedian and juggler-type, which were entertaining. Note to Holland America, if you're featuring a late-night comedian, you might want to insist on an 18+ crowd.
If I had to sum up the whole experience, it just seemed like it was a dress rehearsal - you saw all the behind the scenes nonsense that guests should think works like clockwork. This cruise compared to the others I have been on seemed amateur.