My wife and I are in our 50's and have Cruised together 23 times prior to this Cruise on the Veendam. We have sailed with pretty much all of the major lines and this was only our second Cruise with HAL having booked while on the Noordam last November. This was our third Cruise to Bermuda, sailing the first two times on Celebrity Horizon; first time was in 2000 out of NYC and the second was in 2004 out of Philly. Horizon being a little smaller was able to dock in St George and in Hamilton.
We stayed two nights prior at the Crown Plaza at Times Square. This gave us easy access to restaurants, etc and Subway stations. We went to Ground Zero on Saturday and toured Central Park and some other areas of New York. Pier was only a very short taxi ride away from our hotel.
We picked this Cruise over the other lines because it did dock in Hamilton instead of out at the Dockyard and wanted the more centrally located 'Homeport' for the three days we were there. Downside was the tendering into St George which took about three hours out of your day for the round trip. Nice to hear they are doing away with that next year and docking the whole time in Hamilton. They should change, and I hope they do.
We originally had booked a Lanaii Cabin to try something new, but a few months before the Cruise HAL offered the Verandah Suites for less than our Lanaii so we jumped on it and made the switch. Only issue with this is each time you change your cabin, etc. HAL gives you a new Booking number which cancels any Excursions or Specialty Restaurant Reservations and you have to re-book them again. We changed to a Balcony on the Starboard side so that we faced the downtown main street while docked in Hamilton.
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived about Noon and were in our cabin inside half an hour. Bags showed up before three o'clock and we were ready for our Cruise. Ship is rather small but with only one sea day at each end it was ok. I like to walk around the ship a lot and this did not take long on the Veendam. Most everything is either on Deck Eleven or Deck Eight so our Cabin on Nine made getting around pretty easy. One forward elevator is still broken, but other seven functioned ok so not a huge deal.
Much has been made of AC and Toilet problems on the Veendam . Our Cabin ( 203) was a little cool at times and any attempted adjustments of the thermostat proved futile so we just rolled with it and opened door for a few minutes now and then. It did make sleeping wonderful as we both like to use covers of some kind at night. Only toilet issue was on last Sea Day when someone in our section caused a problem and it was shut down for about an hour, not a big deal. MDR was a little warm but only was an issue on Formal Nights so I just took off my jacket during dinner and was fine.
Food and service was excellent all week and wife's Gluten (Wheat only) allergy was handled by the Waiter and Maitre D without any issues. We ate one night at Pinnacle Grill and it was as good as we remembered from the Noordam. They had a Chocolate Extravaganza on Friday night by the Lido pool, very well done and enjoyed lots of good treats ' maybe too many.
Entertainment was a mix of the usual and some better than average. Did not stay for production shows, been there, done that so moved on. Jeff Peterson, the comedic magician was very good and also did an afternoon show on the last sea day. Decent Piano Man in the Mix every night and an excellent Guitar/Singer there pre-dinner, as well as a very good String Quartet in the Oceans Bar so they provided sufficient entertainment for a one week cruise.
Bermuda is wonderful! One of our favorite places we have been. Very friendly people who are really happy you are visiting their beautiful island. We took an excursion ( Devil's Island Cruise and Beach Break) one day and just did the Beach two other days. First was to Tobacco Bay while in St George and the other to Horseshoe Beach ' one of our favorites- on the other day. Had planned on hitting a beach Friday morning as we were scheduled to depart at two but found out late Thursday that they had moved it up to One? Not sure if that was due to a storm coming our way or if it was planned prior, but that made trip to Beach a little harder so we just browsed around town. We did go out to the Dockyard after Horseshoe on Thursday as I had to re-visit the Frog and Onion Pub again ( good Brew Pub now also). We took the Ferry back to Hamilton for $4 pp.
Disembarkation was also a breeze. Since our flights were not till after two we stayed onboard and were scheduled to be called off between nine thirty and nine forty five. Only issue was after you got off the ship as there were three other Ships in Port that morning and lines for a Taxi were HUGE. We latched on to a Limo which cost more, but was worth not standing in those lines. Best option would have been HAL Transfer maybe but not a huge fan of that either.
Overall I was very satisfied with the Ship and more than happy with the Crew and Service. None of the little issues caused us any real problems and would sail on her again. Would not want to be on her for a very long Cruise as she is just too small for how I like to spend my Sea Days. Heard a rumor that Maasdam was taking over this Itinerary, but Website still shows Veendam for next summer.
We have three Celebrity Cruises scheduled for next year, but I did purchase a Future Credit for an Open Ended HAL Cruise for down the road.