After a week of worrying about the hurricane and tropical storm not sure where we would end up I am thrilled to say we had a beautiful week in Bermuda. Sunny skies every day with temps in the high 80's /low 90's for it all. We live in NJ across the river and it was a breeze getting on the ship and getting off today was even easier. We arrived in NYC around 10am and everything was quick and painless. We were on the ship enjoying ourselves by 11:30 ish . The Veendam is a small ship which we love. You can get from the front to the back in no time , no need for a car ride as on the larger ships. We met a really great couple on the first day and we hung out with them the entire week. Bob and Janet from NY .. if you're reading this you guys are the best ! We had dinner every night except one and we had alot of laughs and shared so many stories. We all clicked and it was wonderfu.
Quick background. We're both in our (just) late 40's and love cruising to bermuda. It's our favorite place to cruise to. I've been on Princess and RCCL. Loved Princess !
We've been on NCL's Crown twice to BDA , the Dawn to BDA and now the Veendam. We've also been on Carnivals pride last fall and again will be on her this fall to Bahamas. The main dining room on the Carnival pride was EXCEPTIONAL ! The best to date.
They all have something about them that we loved and not much that we hated. Thats a strong word. We loved the small intimate feel the crown offered and had to sail on the Dawn when NCL sold the Crown to Fred Olsen and it's new name is the Balmoral. We really miss that ship. This was a plus to us when we booked the Veendam, the small size ship. While we loved the ship as it is very easy to navigate the only real disappointment to us was the food. We found the selections on the MDR menu's to be very limited and basic. We love appetizers and TO US it wasn't what we were used to . Nothing at all that WOWED us. While the food was good it wasn't great. It wouldn't stop us from sailing on the Veendam again but if NCL and the VEENDAM's price was the same we'd choose NCL as their specialty restaurants were fantastic. That would be the only reason for us. Honestly time will tell. The Veendam has alot more PRO"S to cruising to BDA than the Dawn did (for us) .
The Veendam does offer alot of special touches that we haven't seen on other ships. Freshly squeezed OJ in the mornings was such a treat.
Coming back on board the ship in Bermuda to have someone stand there handing you ice cold wash clothes on a hot hot day was so welcoming.
The first night at sea returning to your room to find a little gift with a card on your bed was really nice. *(I won't spoil for future cruisers and tell you)* It's nothing huge but just a nice touch.
Sailaway BBQ was FANTASTIC.. Not to be missed. Great food . Steaks, ribs, chicken, fish, baked potatoes , all kinds of salads etc...
On monday morning at 10am I was waiting for all the cruise critic members that said they'd be there. What a shame only 6 people showed up. It was great. Simon the cruise director came as did Firmin Van Walle the Hotel Manager and Michael and JoAnn (husband and wife) their in charge of booking you another cruise! They were all great people and alot of fun. We met Brent and Tauna from So.Dakota , Linda and Dan from Mass and Ralph and Avia .. Great great people. It was a pleasure meeting you all. Please stay in touch email@example.com
On tuesday morning we were standing at the front of the ship (John loved having his cigars up there as no one really came there and he didn't have to worry about offending anyone with the smoke) and were very luck to have been invited up on the Bridge. The Officer who invited me up was such a gentleman. I had a picture taken with him the night before as he looked so handsome in his uniform. I mentioned to him that I thought no one could do things like this since 9/11 and I also said I hope this didn't get him in trouble. He said "I'm in charge" and I said "You" .. He said "I'm the captain ".. I was shocked. I just figured he'd have been older.
(John was having his cigar and joined us up there when he was done.)
This man turned out to be our Captain. Captain Rik Krombeen . He's only 45 years old and from the Netherlands. We found him to be so down to earth and personable. We were up there for about 1 1/2 hours enjoying the conversation and sites from the bridge. We met the other officers up there and of course I had my camera handy and took LOTS of pictures. I did ask the Capt. permission if I may post them on CC and my facebook page and he said yes. The Capt. explained basically what goes on up there. He called me over as we were getting ready to dock in hamilton and told me to "press this button for 6 seconds". It was the ships horn. I told Capt Rik " you tell me when cause I'm gonna wake everyone up".. It was about 15 seconds LOL.. We also met The Environmental officer Cornelis Kant, his son and his girlfriend were on board this sailing too. Firmin the Hotel Manager is super friendly and just a nice man to be around. It's honestly the first time ever on any of our sailings that Officers were this down to earth and welcoming to all. They were not stuffy or standoffish by any means. This was my Christmas morning # 1.
On our first day in hamilton we really just walked around , did our shopping and enjoyed the ship. We basically had the pool to ourselves.
We came back on board and headed to our cabin, on our bed was a card that said on the front An Invitation on the back had our names inside was: Captain Rik Krombeen & Hotel Manager Firmin Van Walle cordially invite you for .... coctails or After dinner drinks in the crows nest.. Time etc... WOW... I was so excited.
They had Champagne, wine and a non alcoholic drink along with appetizers and little desserts. We went before dinner and joined our Friend Janet and Bob directly after.
We then went straight to the MDR for our dinner with our new friends.
We didn't see any of the shows but did alot of walking around the decks and enjoyed it all.
It was smooth sailing all the way to bermuda . On day two We enjoyed horseshoe beach which is always our favorite place to visit. First time seeing WAVES at horseshoe. The hurricane made for some beautiful pictures as Earl really stirred up some large waves there. Got knocked around a bit but no currents pulling you out. We also got lots of color there there day. Sun was out bright and hot. I actually ran into a couple walking the beach that I knew years ago. Funny running into someone like that.
Next day... We took the ferry over to St.Georges since we didn't tender there . It was better that way for us. We were amazed how many shops aren't opened any more since ships really don't get in there much at all. It seemed like a ghost town . We're used to lots of visitors and every store opened seeing people coming in and out of them. Even a popular restaurant on the water is now closed and building is vacant (can't remember the name of it , sorry)
We did our usual walk around the island. We walked to the unfinished church and from there headed over to tobaco bay, took some pictures and walked up the the empty lot that used to be the hill that the old club med sat on. Even though it said no trespassing we met an offical looking gentlemen who said "go ahead" and we did. It was so weired being up there trying to figure out what was where . Took lots of pictures of nothing Some things were left but we couldn't figure out what went to what .
We then came back down and continued on our long walk along the island with the seas to our left. We checked out alexandria battery an old fort. Stepped in the spot where the town crier would greet the cruise ships as they pass through the cut of St.Georges.
When we finally got back into town almost 2 hours later we were HOT and sweaty. The bus just pulled up and it was quicker taking the bus than the ferry. It was nice and air conditioned too !
BTW the A/C on the ship was fine. We never had a problem and didn't hear of any complaints either. WE stopped off at the Lido grill for a quick bite, we worked up an appetite and it was after 5:00 at this point.
The lido pool grill for burgers/hotdogs was great. Best burgers on any cruise lines we've been on. Hot off the grill ! They also have an area right in front of the grill that has tortilla chips with hot chili, cheese sauce, flour tortillas etc.. salsa to make your own tacos. I made chili cheese fries and loved em !
The pool on this ship wasn't a bad size at all for a small ship. People were getting swished around on the way home and they had to close the pool. Can't say I blame them.
The retreat area I have to say is nice , we did enjoy it a bit. Yes there are some tiles missing but it's not as bad as I've read here.
The Capt. did tell us that in april or about that time the retreat will be replaced with something else, maybe a pool for adults only would be nice ! Its in the THOUGHT process so nothing definite.
The wide screen above the retreat showed the same dolphin film over and over and over again . No complaints though.
What else ?? Hmmmm....
We didn't play bingo, didn't do any of their demonstrations so we can't comment there. Our friend Janet did take the Mixology classes and enjoyed that alot.
We left Hamilton a few hours earlier than originally scheduled to leave and for us we felt the Capt. made the right decision as we did hit 20 ft swells on the way back. Pool was closed early as too many people being swished around. We felt the choice was right as no one got hurt.
He (Capt.) slowed us down to 10 knots at night for sleeping comfort and picked up speed in the morning. He explained to us that when you go to fast as you go through one wave the next one hits you direct / head on and thats when all the major bumping around occurs. When you go slower you go through the waves easier.
This also was Formal night # 2 and 20 ft. swells. We chose to just eat dinner at the buffet.( I had fallen down some stairs that were slippery on day one of our cruise. No ones fault by my own . I wasn't holding on good enough but did manage to catch myself before getting badly hurt. ) Didn't want to put on heels or dress up this night They did have lobster available at the buffet but we were unlucky as some of them were undercooked and grey. We got something else and were happy with the steak off the grill. They closed early though so we rushed around a bit but left full !
Our last night at sea we just assumed it was casual dining in the MDR as all other lines we've been on relaxed the dress code as people packed etc.. We went in shorts and the Maitre D told John he couldn't wear shorts. I did say that people there were in Jeans coming in and out and he said that was allowed. John went up to change and they say Bob, Janet and Myself in the corner as you walk in. This did upset me and I asked why he couldn't have just snuck in if were were seated in the corner anyway. I was upset and he knew it. I didn't scream and yell but it was obvious I was mad.
John came back down and first thing he said was "they sat us in the corner and I had to change" ! Long story short.. they sent us over a bottle of champage which I thought was exceptionally nice . We understood 100% why they did what they did but simply were upset.
I commend HAL / Veendam for their efforts to make every customer happy. Big plus there. Funny thing is John doesn't drink so we enjoyed the champagne .
Pinnacle Grill. We ate there for lunch yesterday. Don't waste the $10.00 p/person. Not worth it.
Our friends had dinner there and she didn't enjoy her steak but they loved the dinner time appetizers and lobster bisque there.
We set the wake up call for 5:45am this morning as we wanted to be on deck sailing back into NYC . Captain Rik said we'd be by the Verrazano bridge by 6am. We dozed back off to sleep and I jumped up and looked out our window and said to John.. "There goes the bridge".. We just missed that . We quickly got up , dressed and brushed out teeth , ran up to the top deck before the bridge and enjoyed the views ahead of NJ on the left and NY on the right of us (the bridge behind us LOL ) It was quite chilly . I had own my sweat jacket and had the hood on. After maybe 10 minutes an officer came down and told us the Capt. had invited us back up the bridge and this was my Christmas day # 2.. Of course I had another picture taken , I said '" Janet wouldn't believe it until she saw the picture with the pink sweatjacket I was wearing". We thanked Capt. Rik a thousand times over again as he made this trip a very personal one for us.
We grabbed our last breakfast at the buffet (omelets are great) with that fresh squeezed OJ and then headed onto the lido deck Aft and watched the NCL Dawn as she docked next to us.
Sorry if I went all over with this but I'm trying to think of it all for you.
Once I get my pictures on discs (my camera won't pick up connection on computer) I'll put on Webshots and post the link for you to see some of our highlights...
Also... There were only 160 kids on board and I have to say most of the time they were great. I will say that some of them were left unattended but really were pretty good kids.
We did feel HAL catered to an elderly clientelle and that didn't bother us at all. We don't really like the party atmosphere and this was a nice relaxing cruise for us.
Our upcoming Carnival pride cruise we have an Aft balcony cabin to enjoy the peace and quiet from there !
Thanks to all on HAL's Cruise critic site for all the valuable info we learned from you before getting onboard the Veendam and if HAL is reading.. Thanks for a great cruise.
Hats off to Captain Rik and staff for some great memories.