Our cruise on the Veendam May 2 - 8, 2011. We were in a Deluxe Veranda Suite on Navigation Deck.
I had gone through great pains to find a ship that would give us the most time in Bermuda, however the one day departure delay from Sunday to Monday took that extra day away and diminished what was to be a happy celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. Then it got worse.
In New York we were denied access to the waiting room for Deluxe Veranda Suite and Penthouse guests for several hours until someone actually listened and realized we belonged there. When the ship docked we waited over an hour to begin registration while the laptops were synced with the ship, but these laptops had just been on the ship. Seriously?
Elevators were terrible throughout the cruise, they stalled, one car would rattle in a frightening way and another would repeatedly open and close on the same floor, for days on end. Many elderly who should not have taken the stairs were forced to.
The air conditioning did not work in our suite from Monday until Thursday night, despite many complaints to several people. It was only when we had the concierge come and take a temperature reading, "it's 76 degrees and rising", she said, that it was finally repaired. That earned us a free bottle of wine, for sweating for 4 days and being ignored. The dining room was warm most nights, we found it better to go to the Pinnacle Grill a few nights rather than put up with sweating on the formal nights.
Arrival in Bermuda delayed our 5 hour St. George excursion from 8 am until 10:30 am, that eliminated the possibility of our doing anything else that day; but then the ferry back to the boat was very late and we waited in the hot sun for more than thirty minutes. We received chocolate dipped strawberries for that inconvenience.
The internet has always been slow on cruises but Veendam set a new bar for slowness;
I think we actually were connected less than half the time we paid for. Luckily, Tony, the internet manager, credited our account for some time and was generally very helpful.
To be completely fair the staff and food in the dining room and pinnacle grill were nothing less than excellent, the lido was not bad either. The cabin steward and room service was excellent. The person that was most helpful in correcting inadequacies and errors was the concierge(s) in the Neptune lounge. Anna and April were excellent and cannot be commended enough.
Until now our HAL experiences on the Rotterdam and Noordam were among the best cruise experiences we have ever had; and we have cruised several times a year for many, many years. However, this cruise was the most aggravating, disappointing and arrogant ever. To take another cruise with HAL would make us feel like fools who had not learned from our experience. A 25% cruise credit is inadequate, a more sincere gesture would be to offer a 25% cash refund.
So, we lost a day in Bermuda, our accommodations in cabin were mostly uncomfortable and some services were absolutely substandard for a "Premier Line." Should a ship just out of dry dock have such basic malfunctions? Does a bottle of wine or some strawberries really help? No.
There was only one cabin more expensive than ours, the penthouse, yet we felt at times like we were in steerage.