We sailed on the Veendam to beautiful Bermuda, and this was the best vacation we've taken in a long time. This ship is just so special because she's big enough to offer all the exciting features about cruising, but she's small enough to walk around easily and effortlessly.
The ship offered extraordinary room service. Every morning I'd have coffee and danish sent to the room, and every morning this wonderful gentleman from room service would call me to make sure everything was all right. This was such a special touch!
Also, their entertainment in the lounges was spectacular. Don the Piano Man was a tremendous performer as well as a talented pianist, and the man on the electric guitar was very entertaining as well. However, the production shows were very mediocre -- too loud, too canned and came across as being amateurish.
The food on the ship was very good -- not exactly gourmet, but very good. The big problem is the main dining room at night. It took us 2 1/2 hours to eat there. The service was extremely slow because Holland America has cut back on the wait staff, and these overworked people just had too many tables. Finally, I just asked the waiter to bring everything at once. I couldn't take the half hour waits between courses. Toward the end of the cruise, we ate dinner up on the Lido deck because it was convenient and much more private. Everyone on the ship was talking about these cut backs on staff, but it was most noticeable in the dining areas.
Another problem was the lack of attention given to Mariner guests. We were supposed to get a pin -- never happened, and the recognition lunch was a poorly planned event with no special awards given out. The Mariners were generally neglected - something Holland America has never done before. I don't think cutting costs on recognizing your best customers is a good idea.
Holland America also destroyed the aft pool area by ripping out the most gorgeous pool to make room for more cabins. They added hot tubs and big thick walls that look right out of Carnival. Needless to say, like most guests, we never went back there. What a shame!
Also, a note about the port of Hamilton. Our cabin was on the starboard side of the ship which faced Front Street while docked. At night, all night long, we were awakened by loud rock music coming from the nightclubs. If you want a peaceful night's sleep, book a cabin on the port side of the ship.
Despite the few problems, we really liked this cruise because of the ship and also that Bermuda is paradise on Earth! I'd go again in a New York minute!