We have been cruiseing for a while and decided to return to one of our favorite places, Bermuda. Since it was our 20th wedding anniversary, we decided to go with HAL on the Veendam. We had never been on HAL before, bu since the ship is smaller than most of the new liners, she could dock in Hamilton.
We are fortunate that we live in NJ and are within easy driving distance to both Bayonne and Manhattan for cruise departures. Flying has become too much of a hassle, and we enjoy the ease and security of parking our car right at the dock.
Embarkation went smoothly. we were aboard the ship and having lunch by 12:30.
The ship,though older, is well maintained. Her teak decks and brass were glistening. The Norwegian Dawn, which we have cruised on before and enjoyed was docked beside her. It really emphasized the difference. No neon or dazzle paint on the Veendam, she is decorated with classic pieces of art,cut glass and such. You definitely know you are on a ship, not a vegas hotel.
We received our luggage very quickly and met our room stewards Tony and Irma. They were very friendly and asked us if there was anything we may need. It may seem unimportant, but the bigger the ships, the more impersonal cruising gets to be. On a cruise in January 2010 on one of the typical big ships, we never even met our steward.
The ship though small had a number of great features. The thermal spa which we signe up for a week for 2 was a treat. Also the library was the most impressive I've seen on any ship. The theater, and culinary arts center were a pleasant surprise, as was the intimate casino and lounges. though a smaller ship, the Veendam never felt crowded
As for food, the ship has only one specialty restaurant, the Pinnacle. To some this may be a drawback. While the veendam may not have 15 specialty restaurants, what it lacks in venues it makes up in quality. I would rate the food in the buffet as superior to most ships specialty fare.
Also refreshing were the variety of activities, lectures, classes available.
a friend of ours took an art class and I brushed up on my photo shop skills.
About Bermuda I'm not going to comment too much. We have been there many times before, and will definitely return. The difference is that with the Veendam in Hamilton we were centrally located, right on front street.day we went by bus to Visit St. Georges and the beaches. The next day was shopping in Hamilton, a visit to the aquariam zoo and lunch in Hamilton. The next day we went to the dockyard and stopped at the somerset squire pub on the way back. We use the unlimited day passes which you can purchase for $12 and have unlimited use of ferries and buses.
On friday night after leaving Bermuda, we participated in a renewal of vow ceremony with another couple in the crows nest which was conducted by Captain Peter Harris. The captain was very friendly and down to earth. He made our anniversary very memorable and Rashida the party planner was wonderful. We had a photographer,wedding cake,champagne and appetizer reception with friends.
This cruise was our first with Holland America, but we hope to have many more.