Our trip aboard the Veendam was nothing short of spectacular in every way. The entire crew, particularly the Captain and Cruise director made you feel welcome and even a little special. The Captain regularly addressed the ship and kept everyone informed about where we were, ice issues and whale sightings. The lectures on the ship and the scientists that boarded from the Palmer Ice Station really added to our enjoyment of the cruise and our understanding of the issues facing the Antarctic region. Our trip followed the harrowing storm in mid-December that made international headlines (140mph winds / 35 foot waves). There was some obvious damage to the ship when we boarded, but repairs went on throughout the cruise - largely invisibly, although the front deck had been smashed and many outside lights and doors were heavily damaged. We could not have had more perfect weather; which is well outside of HAL's control, but it was a spectacular trip. The natural beauty, the wildlife and the excellent opportunities to enjoy them on shore as well make this the perfect cruise for families & nature lovers. I had so much fun I never even started to read the books I brought along. I would also like to mention that my college age children enjoyed this trip enormously. Without the Internet, cell phones, friends, school and work we had more uninterrupted time together than we'd enjoyed since they were infants. There were not many other college age people aboard, but they did eventually find each other so that they could enjoy the dancing at night and some of the other activities on the ship.
If there was anything on the ship that was less that great it was the food. It was good, and there was certainly a lot of choice as to what to eat and where, but just a little inconsistent. A few dishes arrived very heavily salted or over cooked, but with over 50 meals on board, the vast majority was very enjoyable. I was impressed that on a 3 week cruise we were consistently served fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a wide variety of dishes.