Veendam Cruise Review by dave5608: South America on the Veendam
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South America on the Veendam
This cruise had to be delayed a year for medical reasons, and we even had to switch to Holland America's Veendam. We booked a veranda cabin, which proved a prudent move because it enabled us to listen to the commentary on our TV, but step out on the veranda to take photos during the day cruising Glacier Alley.
The ship and our cabin were spotlessly clean, and all the furnishings, carpets, etc., were in excellent condition. Arrivals and departures, with one exception, were on time. Cabin stewards were most helpful and accommodating.
Dining room staff seemed to be a bit harried at times. Dining room meals were good, although not exceptional. The extra-fee dining room, which we visited once, was very good. The Lido restaurant was very busy at breakfast and lunch times, and on some occasions they ran out of some items.
One of the highlights on Holland America is the Microsoft computer classes. The young woman doing these was absolutely phenomenal. She didn't More talk over anyone's head, neither did she make anyone feel foolish. Some sessions were called "Techspert Time" where you could ask questions about computers, or cameras, and she really knew her stuff. One man said the classes were worth the price of the cruise on their own. Just get there early because seating is limited to about 20 people.
All of the shore excursions we took were booked through the cruise line, except one from our Buenos Aires hotel to the ship. This took us through the city and into the Tigre area, and included a cruise on the Tigre river and connecting waterways. Dozens of islands, but no roads or bridges - everything, including the grocery stores, goes by boat.
Montevideo, Uruguay appears to be a lovely city, and the locals love their beaches. There are some superb parks.
Arrival in the Falkland Islands port of Stanley gives you the impression you are somewhere in England, and the locals all have West Country English accents. No wonder they didn't want any part of the Argentines during the 1982 unpleasantness. Most of their food and other needs are imported from Britain and the wool from their sheep (thousands of them) is shipped to England. We visited a penguin colony, via 4 wheel drive vehicle over bogs and rough terrain, and saw two types of penguins, including one pair with a late hatched chick.
Ushuaia, Argentina, is a busy, modern city, with a very large port, and ship repairing facilities. We toured out into the countryside, then spent some time shopping in some excellent stores.
Cape Horn has a reputation for some of the worst storms Mother Nature can devise, and the Veendam plowed through one in December. Waves broke over the bridge roof and the windows of the Crows Nest Lounge on Deck 12. The day we sailed around, it was almost as calm as a river.
Punta Arenas, Chile, and Puerto Montt are both remote cities, but touring with a guide was most informative. At Puerto Montt we had gorgeous weather - one of only about 50 good days a year, according to the guide, a transplanted American.
In between, we sailed to the Amalia Glacier, through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, and past a series of glaciers. Initially we went to the Crows Nest Lounge to view the glaciers, but there were so many people, most drinking and talking loudly so we could not hear what the commentator was saying. So, we went to our cabin, turned on the TV to listen, and took photos from our balcony, which happened to be on the correct side of the ship.
The cruise finished in Valparaiso, and our transfer to Santiago to catch our flight home included a stop at the Concha y Toro winery, one of the largest producers of wine in the world.
This cruise covers a lot of territory. Shore excursions booked through the cruise line take up most of the buses available in remote ports, and we found them good value, with excellent guides who spoke good English. If you want to see penguins, there are some excellent tours. In the Falklands, the drivers of the 4x4 vehicles were local farmers who gave a good account of life on the islands.
The one exception to punctuality I mentioned was caused by a tardy passenger who forgot that ship's time was different from local time, and came ambling down the wharf with her purchases an hour after we should have sailed. We were surprised the ship waited so long.
Entertainment in the big theatre was good, although they always crank up the volume far too loud. Less
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Cabin review: BQ
Cabin B165 This cabin is pretty close to midship, and was quiet and comfortable. The veranda was large enough for two people to sit out and watch the world go by. The sitting area in the cabin is beside the sliding door, so you can see out, although the steel panel below the balcony railing does block the view unless you are standing. Stairs nearby to go down one deck to dining room, and up two decks to Lido restaurant.