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43 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

We boarded this cruise in Ft. Lauderdale. Embarkation and debarkation were very smooth and efficient, as we used the Princess medallions, which we received prior to leaving home. We had an inside cabin B741 on Baja deck (11), near the ... Read More
We boarded this cruise in Ft. Lauderdale. Embarkation and debarkation were very smooth and efficient, as we used the Princess medallions, which we received prior to leaving home. We had an inside cabin B741 on Baja deck (11), near the rear of the ship. It was comfortable and quiet, with very little outside noise. Everything worked, and our cabin steward was efficient in cleaning and servicing our cabin. The bed was very comfortable, and my wife both slept very well throughout the cruise. The weather was almost perfect, with only a couple of rainy periods and high temperatures in the 80's during the day. The ports of call were interesting and welcoming. We visited Charleston, SC; New York City; Newport, RI, Boston; Bar Harbor, ME; Saint John, NB, Halifax, NS, Sydney, NS, and Quebec. All of these ports had lots to see and do with the exception of Sydney, NS, which nevertheless was a pleasant walk around town. Charleston has a number of well preserved homes, and we simply walked around, enjoying the relatively cool weather in the morning in Charleston. In NYC, we docked in Brooklyn (Red Hook). This was less convenient than docking in Manhattan, but there is a ferry stop at the cruise terminal which terminated at Wall Street in Manhattan. It was crowded due to the number of cruisers, but we got to Wall Street after about an hour of waiting to buy tickets and then boarding. We visited the 9/11 Memorial, which is very well done. After lunch, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and had a long wait (90 minutes) in the rain for a ferry back to Red Hook. Newport was a pleasant surprise. We walked the most accessible half of the Cliff Walk, and enjoyed seeing the estates there. The public transport was pretty good. We rode a hop-on, hop-off bus to enjoy the attractions in Boston. There is a stop relatively near the cruise terminal that is served by Old Town Trolleys. There is a cheaper hop-on hop-off service which we did not use since it does not serve the cruise terminal and would require a walk of almost two miles each way to access. Bar Harbor is the gateway to Acadia National Park, and we took a guided bus tour of the park (Oli's Trolleys) that including most of it's high points. It was well done, and a convenient way to see the park. Bar Harbor also has many restaurants and drinking establishments serving the tourist trade. We took a hop-on, hop-off at Saint John's NB. Highlights here were the Reversing Rapids, in which the river flow changed direction when the tides in the Bay of Fundy ebb and flow. We also enjoyed a flight of beers at the Moosehead small batch brewery, which was a treat since I last time I had Moosehead beer was in college in the 1970's. There is a lot to do in Halifax, NS. We visited the Museum of the Atlantic, which has a very good exhibit on the Titanic, and the Citadel. There was not much to do in Sydney, NS, but we had a nice walk about town, coffee and Timbits at Tim Horton's, and a beer at the Governor's pub. One of the best things Princess did at Quebec was to overnight there, which allowed more time for our visit. We stayed an extra night at the Hotel Chateau Bellevue. As a result, we had a good opportunity to see the sights in the old city, and take a day trip to the Isle d'Orleans, the St. Anne basilica, and Montmorency Falls. We had a great time in Quebec, with great places to eat and drink. The people of Quebec were friendly and welcoming. Taxis to the airport are a flat rate of C$35, which was cheaper than Uber. We were surprised that there were relatively few flights out of the Quebec airport and they are relatively expensive. A number of our fellow cruise passengers opted to either take a shuttle or the train to fly out of Montreal, which has much better flight availability. In summary, this was a pleasant, relaxing cruise. Service was excellent, and the ship was well maintained. Although Princess sometimes can be disorganized, such as the tendering to Newport, RI, it still has a good combination of quality and comfort. The biggest complaint I have with this cruise is the relative lack of enrichment activities. Entertainment was excellent, with very good production values, but a lot of people were turned away because the theater could not accommodate everyone.The food was uniformly good, but for the most part not exceptional. We did have an exceptionally good meal in the Crown Grill, which was worth the $29/pp upcharge. Our cruise was good value for the money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I took this cruise because of the itinerary. I have been on Princess cruises before but I doubt I will sail on Princess again. They have cut corners so it isn't the joy of cruising it use to be. The food is very low quality. ... Read More
I took this cruise because of the itinerary. I have been on Princess cruises before but I doubt I will sail on Princess again. They have cut corners so it isn't the joy of cruising it use to be. The food is very low quality. The steak knifes couldn't even cut the steak. The food selections were unappetizing. Dinner in the dining room took 2 hours very night and we would have to leave before dsssert to see the show. The waiters were working very hard but there were not enough waiters They had to many tables to cover. If you ordered a drink, you never got it before the food arrived. There was no music around the ship. There use to be music in the lounges for cocktail time. The port tendering was a joke. Waiting 1 1/2 hours to get to shore. You never knew where the gangway was to get off. Then you had to walk half a mile to get off. What happened to the on and off gangways?? The entertainment was good. BUT the most spectacular show broke down in the middle and we didn't see the whole thing. Said they would show it the next day but didn't. We got off the ship to take the hop on-hop off bus to find out that it was being charged to our ship. Which means we paid $40 more than just getting on the bus ourselves. The tour we wanted from the ship was filled before getting on the ship. Most everything that we enjoyed from cruising has changed. Now it is just move the people along. So many people were saying the same things. It would be nice to think these reviews would help, but I doubt they will. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise for the port itinerary and length of cruise. We've done a CNE twice before (7 and 14 days, in October) and wanted warmer weather, less rain this time. We've cruised w Princess before and DH was not ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the port itinerary and length of cruise. We've done a CNE twice before (7 and 14 days, in October) and wanted warmer weather, less rain this time. We've cruised w Princess before and DH was not impressed with the food, about 5 years ago. However on this cruise, dinner was delightful each evening. We had My Time Dining and made reservations each day, always requesting Table 210 for 4# in the Island MDR. We landed at this table on Day 1, and the server, Viktoria R, was the absolute best waiter we have experienced on the seas. Attention to detail, recommendations were spot on for each of us, friendly, professional - she didn't miss a beat. We had 2 nights when our reservation was moved to another MDR, when we showed up, we were instructed to go elsewhere - which was a pain and no explanation was provided by the HW or host in the Island and when we arrived upstairs, that dining room team was confused as to why tables were being sent to them. After 2 nights of chaos, the reservation returned to table 210# and all was right in the world, at least for dinner. Memorable food - the prime rib, early in the cruise was outstanding, honey mustard dressing was raved about at the table, and a chocolate dessert - with cookies and ice cream was the bomb, but each night dinner at table 210# was a treat and no complaints from our foodies. Now back to the review - after we booked, we learned about the new Medallions - registering online was difficult to take the photo, upload and the scan the passport, but we managed. A lot of passengers complained about the whole process. The biggest pain was poor communication about when to expect the Medallion to arrive. We completed all steps over 30 days prior to sail, and waited. No update. Finally about 10 days out the system indicated the Medallion was on the way, only to change the next morning online to unable to ship, not sufficient time to process and mail. I was terribly disappointed and resigned to picking it up at the port. Then one night, about 5 days before we departed, Fed Ex dropped off a small box, even though the status had no change. Packaging was nice, represented the company and new initiative well. It included a carry case and lanyard without any upcharge. We were set. Then 48 hours before we traveled, I got the email indicating the Medallion was on its way - by then it was already packed in my carry on. Port Everglades is a favorite for embarkation, I just find it easy. This day, Princess was working out of a different terminal because of a Navy ship being commissioned. Staff kept apologizing for slow internet speed to get us processed which was unnecessary. We got to the port about 10:30, after an overnight at the Courtyard FLL airport and comp cruise port shuttle. We sped through security and check in - then got to sit in a general waiting room until our group number (4) was called. We have no loyalty status (Gold) so we were with the masses, with the Elites pulled out to wait elsewhere. It wasn't crowded and after 30 minutes or so, it was time to board, a little after 11. We went straight to our cabin, which was ready, to drop luggage, then off to the buffet for lunch. The buffet are had plenty of room and we found a table. Food was typical buffet, which was expected. Afterward, we returned to our balcony for sail away, our checked luggage was there to unpack and then it was time for the muster talk/video/demonstration, for us in the casino. Cabin - Deck 14 309 Balcony. Our cabin steward, Pablo, was hard working and attentive. When the balcony divider door basically was falling off, he saw it before we did and had the maintenance team in there to fix it. If he was asked for something once, he remembered it each day, such as extra washcloths in the bathroom. I have only praise for him and appreciated his service. The cabin was a typical balcony cabin, average size, 2 chairs on the balcony, no footstool which was ridiculous, even though I requested it on their 'check in' status card sent to us about Day 3. King bed that was super comfortable, desk/chair and the famous barrel chair, but no sofa. There was an empty fridge, a former mini bar, that took 24 hours to cool bottled water, but it kept everything cool for the trip once it cooled down, and my expectation was lowered. We had a side/by/side balcony with our family and maintenance did open to divider early on Day 1. (but about Day 7, it was ready to fall off the hinge) . This divider is wonky and really in the way when opened. On other ships our experience has been the divider folds flat and secures, this one only opened about 45 degrees and required us to position a deck chair to keep it from slamming as we sailed. Our balcony had a cover which was nice for us. However, our neighbors in 14-311 had excessive noise from above - and at times we could hear it too - from sliding chairs on the pool deck to stomping feet, even though there was a cabin above us, the noise from the pool deck was awful. We will never do another cabin under the pool deck regardless if cabins are above. Imagine, the pool deck starts early, before 6 am with set up, and doesn't die out until at least midnight each evening. Ship itself is dated, limited entertainment, but the bands and production shows are good - but it is not the glory days of cruising. We didn't expect it to be, so we were not disappointed. This cruise is about the ports, and little evening activity occurs. We were ok with it, and enjoyed our balcony most evenings after dinner. Ports for us were intense - we walk a lot and did over 5 miles in NYC, Boston and Quebec, with 3 miles on average in other ports. Since we had been there before, we had a plan on what we wanted to do. Weather was perfect, mid to upper 80's in Charleston, NYC and Boston, others were upper 70s to low 80s, low humidity. Rain only briefly in NYC as we ferried to the ship and again on Day 1 in Quebec, but we had ponchos and it only lasted a couple of hours. This was our port focus: Charleston - easy, walkable port. We walked through the historic district and market area. There is a grocery about 4 blocks from the ship - so we stocked up on flavored coffee creamer. The shuttle around town is free - so we rode the loop twice and used it as a hop on/off without the cost. In the past we have visited the Aircraft Carrier and Medal of Honor Museum (awesome) and the Tea Plantation - another fun excursion. NYC - the ship docks in Brooklyn and the ferry terminal is less than a 1/2 block from the terminal. We took a ferry to lower Manhattan and transferred to another ferry to midtown. We visited Times Square, took the subway to lower Manhattan, and then ferried back to the ship. If the rain had not impacted, we had planned to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. The rain was actually a thunderstorm and we got back to the terminal before the major downpour. Tip - buy your ferry ticket in advance via the Red Hook app. It will save you line time. Cost is less than $3 each way, with free transfers. We've been to Manhattan numerous times - so we didn't go to the 9/11 Memorial/Museum or other must see stops on the island. Newport RI - a jewel. After an uneventful tender (we didn't try to get off with the masses, but waited about 45 minutes and had no wait; understand those who waited until 1030 or so, had a LONG wait for a tender), we walked a couple of blocks to the visitor's center, got a lay of the land, reviewed tour options (you can buy the mansion tix and other tours there) and decided to take the public bus for $2 out to the cliff walk and mansions. We had a delightful day there. The bus system was terrific. Boston - we wanted to see the USS Constitution, so we took a city bus out there and walked the Freedom Trail back through the North End to Quincy Market. The Holocaust Memorial is not to be missed. While we have been to Boston several times and don't always do the same things, we always walk through the Memorial. It right by Quincy Market. We took a public bus back to the port ($2, paid onboard) and then walked about 3 blocks to the ship. Bar Harbor ME - our favorite NE port. Another tender with no complaints. The ship team executed a new wait plan flawlessly - everyone into a MDR with a ticket - then called ticket numbers in bulk to move toward a tender. Everyone had a seat while we waited. This day we went to Acadia NP and took the Island Explorer to get there (free). This public bus is a 6 block walk up the hill from the tender port. You catch it at the Village Green. Their team is there, and readily helps to navigate the various bus routes - we did 3 separate routes inside the park (all free, donations accepted) to tour a large loop in hop on/off fashion - views are amazing. The buses run about every 15-20 mins and you catch the route desired. Google their website for details and map planning in advance. We had reservations for lunch at the Jordan Pond House - a delightful table on the lawn for popovers, blueberry lemonade and amazing views. A hike around the pond afterward made the afternoon. It was then back to Bar Harbor for souvenir shopping back down the hill to the tender. A great day. Halifax - it's been almost 10 years since we visited Halifax. The port area has grown with housing and retail / restaurants in a 10-12 block area. Wow! This port has an extensive dedicated inside craft/souvenir market. We rented a car with Hertz, their location is less that a block from the port. We drove out to Peggy's Cove - it was terribly crowded due to a national holiday, but we had no problem parking and walked around the community. A lovely spot on earth. Afterward we drove back a different route, with breathtaking lakes and quaint towns. We stopped at the Swiss Air Memorial - just beyond the Peggy's Cove turn off - and then stopped at Fairlawn Cemetery where a lot of Titanic victims are buried. We ended the day at the Citadel, then returned the car and walked back to the ship. A great day. St John - it was Sunday and a national holiday weekend - we arrived early morning, but limited retail was open. We've seen the reversing rapids in the past, so we walked to the Market - and waited for it to open at 11. Afterward we walk around town for a bit, then back to the terminal - with a smaller, tented vendor area and free WiFi with tables and chairs for comfort. The last time we were in SJNB - the wind was unbelievable, to the point we could barely walk. Thankfully, the wind was a breeze on this visit. Sydney - we walked around the town - it was a Tuesday, but other than the port vendors, it is a quiet town. We visited a lovely church and enjoyed a history lesson there. Free WiFi in the terminal - with big round tables of passengers sitting together, but everyone was looking at their phones. In Sydney, there is a coal mine museum and tour - and if you are lucky their chorus will have a concert - look for this tour. Quebec - another favorite - Day 1 we walked around the old city - upper and lower - visited Parliament Building - amazing! Then over to the Citadel and Park, then 600+ steps and 5 miles later we were down in the lower area again. Such a fun day, even with ponchos the first couple of hours. Day 2 were disembarked - a taxi up to the Hilton to pick up another rental car with Avis. They reimbursed for the taxi fare. Note - the port is extremely organized - although the tented taxi space is a long walk - there were only 15 people in front of me and it went quickly. It took me longer to walk through the tented areas. About 2/3rds of the way through it, there are passenger vans and greeters with clip boards where you can pick up a direct to Airport and other city location shared rides (a ride to the Hilton was quoted as $5 compared to an $8 taxi). The vans were all 15+ passenger Mercedes with room for luggage. As soon as one partially filled, the vans were leaving. I continued on for a taxi, which was a quick process, too. After returning to the port in the rental - signage is lacking in the port area where to enter - and a few missed turns - I picked up my fellow passengers and we were off for a day in the country. We went to the St Anne Basilica - about 20 miles east of the port - it was amazing - and truly the highlight of our trip. We have been there before - and would definitely go again. On the way back we stopped at the Falls for another visit. We enjoy it too. Then onto our hotel, the Comfortel Airport. A comfy place where I would stay again, about 10 minutes from the airport, even in rush hour with no overnight plane noise. The next morning, we flew out with a layover in Toronto. That said, Toronto required us to switch terminals, go thru security in the new terminal and US Customs. The US Customs team consisted of 2 agents checking credentials with no queue to the line. A 3rd agent would come out to relieve for breaks, but not stay open to work the line - which was completely through the cattle lines and backed out of the room. A lot of people missed flights because of poor management of the area. If folks were texting on cell phones, they were put to the back of the line - if other passengers offered to let folks ahead to catch flights - they were told no, everyone had to stay in their place. Ridiculous. US Customs can do better. I was embarrassed for them. If Air Canada had not held our flight - 1/2 of the passengers would have missed it. A young bride arrived on the plane in tears over the emotion of the ordeal. I'm sharing this in case you are like me and think a 1:45 layover should be sufficient to make a connection - we got to the gate with no time to spare - boarded - and then waited over 20 minutes for the rest of our party to join us on the plane. Plan accordingly. That said - the Princess Cruise was nice - good food - great ports with extra late evenings in several of the ports, including NYC and Boston. We enjoyed it - and encourage others to consider this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The title of this review is taken from my answer to the Princess post-cruise survey question asking me to summarize my experience with the Ocean Medallion in no more than ten words. Please also note that while I will endeavor to follow ... Read More
The title of this review is taken from my answer to the Princess post-cruise survey question asking me to summarize my experience with the Ocean Medallion in no more than ten words. Please also note that while I will endeavor to follow the Cruise Critic review format my text will likely contain asides regarding the Medallion and my being an Elite Captains Circle member that germinated in various threads on the Princess Cruises boards, which for reasons undisclosed I will no longer contribute to. Departure City/Embarkation: As a South Florida local I jumped on a late deal for this Ft Lauderdale to Quebec repo cruise as a pre-vacation to my visiting relatives in Western New York. I didn’t arrive at Port Everglades until after 1;30 and was asked repeatedly if I was a B2B returning from my day in Ft Lauderdale. No, sorry, I need to check in. Obviously no wait required--but they needed to re-take my security photo, which I anticipated as I had loaded a fairly poor scan of my passport pic into the Medallion. But it had to be done not once but twice--at the check-in desk and on the gangway. So immediately strike one of the repetitive redundancies that the Medallion was supposed to eliminate. Ship: Caribbean Princess has never had the rep of being one of Princess’ preferred ships but having recently spent a month out of service for propulsion repairs it was obvious that cosmetic improvements were made as well. The public restrooms were still immaculately shiny from their deep clean. No signs of age or disrepair on any hard or soft furnishings in the public rooms. The main complaint about her has always been congestion due to having the same amount of passenger space as the earlier Grand-class builds but an additional deck of cabins. More on that later… Cabin: Having booked an inside to get the lowest possible price (as I was paying double as a solo) I was subsequently offered an upsell to an oceanview cabin for a mere pittance more. Yes it was obstructed but very near the aft elevator bank, which to me is the most convenient location to base from on Princess ships. First thought: no complaints at all about the air conditioning; in fact I raised the control up a good five or six notches and was still comfortably cool. Bed was perpendicular to side wall rather than under the window (as some OV cabins on Princess are) and barrel chair was still inside. As far as I can tell all my Elite tchotchkes were furnished--and I discovered a new trick: the refrigerator door handle makes a good bottle opener for the beers in the mini-bar (Dos Equis does not twist off). And while the much-praised (by others) Princess Luxury Bed was perfectly fine, now that upgraded mattresses have gone fleetwide can Princess please get to work on the pillows; mine were absolute mush. Oh, and regarding the Medaillon as your room key: worked fine when buried deep in my shorts pockets, but not when I tucked the lanyard it hung from under my shirt. Quirky indeed. Dining: I chose Anytime Dining due to (1) plans to spring for Specialty Dining five or six of the 13 nights; and (2) the new dining times of 5:00 and 7:15 are frightfully inconvenient. Night one in the MDR service was abominable; was more than a half hour after the table was fully seated before our orders were taken. One night I turned up around 8 PM and found myself escorted to the Traditional Dining Room you must zigzag up and down to reach, where I was seated alone. Turns out that adjusting the dining times forward may allow more of those who prefer to dine quite early to do so without a long wait--but the corollary is that those who prefer to dine later than 7:15 (say, want to go to the early show then have dinner) are finding worse crowding at that hour than the earlybirds previously did. A compromise by definition satisfies no one--and look no further for proof than the MDR clusterflop that has resulted here. So twice when I saw something on the MDR menu I preferred, I just went shortly after the 5:00 ATD opening and called it a late lunch. Beyond that the saving grace on this ship is the upcharge options: Planks and Steamers were both surprisingly good. But the actual menu at Steamers varies a bit from the online menu--which the supervisor was mortified to learn when I showed her (she then happily offered to construct a meal from any combination of available dishes). Planks actually almost tastes like real BBQ, and while the menu states you can choose up to four of the six meats, they will happily bring you all six for no extra charge. I went to Sabatini’s twice as well. Third different menu in little more than a year and a half. But excellent preparation and impossible to not leave oversated. Even though I was solo they brought a full complement of the three different types of breads--enough for six people. Just be careful not to spoil the rest of your meal. And the massive chocolate dessert defies description. Entertainment and Activities: And back to the congestion issue. I saw only four shows--none of the production shows--in the Princess Theater as it was necessary most nights to arrive more than 30 minutes early to obtain a seat. Not something that should have to fit into anyone’s vacation days. And what I managed to see could have easily been skipped: a self-proclaimed Liberace protege whose target audience is obviously a full length mirror, and a comedian from a recent sitcom telling the same old cruise ship jokes about the first time you ever flushed the toilet et al that my parents wouldn’t even find funny anymore. Plus a solo show from the guest soprano featured in some of the production shows: she told us her story of growing up in a tiny one-traffic-light town in the deep south--then sang a number from ‘Porgy and Bess’. M’kaaay... I did not avail myself of the various cruise ship passenger participation activities. And given there were only three sea days there were no port talks or enrichment lectures at all. I did wander in to the Voice of the Ocean finals on the last sea day, as it was raining outside and I had an hour to kill before the wine tasting (which is free for Elite members, but barely worth the time even then). Turns out there were seven surprisingly good singers among my fellow passengers; was the most entertaining event I attended. Service: Clearly Princess’ intent is to transfer some service requests from human contact to your smartphone via the Medallion. The problem I repeatedly saw was at the receiving end of the request the crew lacked a sufficient number of functioning Medallion readers. And without a cruise card to flash in lieu of making an electronic transaction, the bar waiters et al required you to say your cabin number aloud, a security issue previously long eliminated. Wheelhouse Bar appeared to be completely offline from the Medallion system, and I’m sure it wasn’t the only venue. And which beverages were available for Medallion ordering varied widely by location. Some bars showed the option to request a refill of fountain soda for those with the Soda or PBP packages; some showed the ability to purchase a can of soda. But I saw none with both of those on the Medallion menu. Absolutely mind boggling. Not for a second do I wish to imply that face-to-face service was anything but the usual excellent. Despite many who had just started their contracts with this repo cruise, all were motivated and polite--and as organized as a newbie could be. Front desk fine as well, though the separate Elite/Suite line sure helps. And when I finally found the shop with the item I was looking for--personal sundries had been moved to the former Vines Shop on Deck 5 where you now also order your duty free liquor and smokes--the Medallion did work to check out. Ports and Excursions: Lots and lots of ports on this repo cruise. So a quick bullet point on each… Charleston: sure would have rather had an additional Canadian port rather than calling here mid-summer. Took the free city mini-bus to catch the ferry to Fort Sumter. Debated visiting the aquarium but it appeared overrun with summer campers. Went to Museum of Charleston right next to tourist info center instead. New York City: if you only pick up one tidbit from this tome of a review, make it this one--download the app for the ferry from Red Hook to Manhattan. Will save you from queueing up for the one ticket machine at the pier. I got to tick off one more item from my domestic (gawd I hate this term) bucket list: Ellis Island. Only issue was getting drenched walking in the rain from Battery Park to the terminal for the ferry back to the ship--but again, just flashing the app lets you walk right on. Newport: was planning to go to Tennis Hall of Fame, the only attraction of interest I had missed on previous visits. Chose to stay on the ship rather than deal with the unholy mess the tender service turned out to be. Lots of talk onboard of extreme verbal abuse of the staff from those waiting--hopefully exaggerated. Boston: ship’s tour to John Adams house and JFK Museum. The former truly a hidden gem, the latter a bit cold and static but deserved far more time than the barely an hour we had to walk through after the orientation film (which viewed the Kennedy family through rose-colored glasses IMHO). Bar Harbor: ship’s tour to the “other” side of Mount Desert island, Boothbay and Southwest Harbor. Scenic and relaxing, adequately killing two hours. Of course had some blueberry pie waiting for return tender. Saint John: walked to Jewish Museum of Saint John on my own. Interesting talk on the experiences of one mostly immigrant community (both then and now); artefacts familiar but in an interesting context. Well worth a CA$5 donation. Many shops and restaurants were closed for holiday weekend, though what was open looked inviting. But Princess is calling here next year same weekend…. Halifax: ship’s tour to Peggy’s Cove. Wanted to finally see what the fuss is all about. Big. Waste. Of. Time. Again mistake to call here holiday weekend, this time due to crowding. But nothing to write home about anyway. Thankfully guide gave excellent talk about what we were seeing on the drive back. Sydney: had prebooked ship’s tour to Fortress of Louisbourg but cancelled by the deadline due to being all walked out. Hung around the dock area for an hour or so. Food and souvenirs for sale there a bit much even taking exchange rate into consideration. Sure wish the cruise was still going to Saguenay rather than Sydney as it was when first open for booking. Quebec City: again cancelled whatever was the ship’s tour I had prebooked. Enjoyed hanging around the old city despite the rain, had a ham and cheese sandwich (on open faced French bread) and a glass of exceptionally dry red wine at a cave-like bistro. Disembarkation: we filled out Canadian Customs Declarations early in the cruise to be turned in at their first port. So no formalities at all in Quebec City. I was picking up a rental car at the airport and assigned (as requested) the first color tag of the second wave of airport transfers. A looong walk down the gangway and two escalators (an even longer walk to find the elevators if you need to) until reaching your bags on ground level. But as soon as you get out the door you are ushered onto the next departing bus. I was in my rental and on the road from YQB at 10:20 (thank you friend with Enterprise corporate account for sharing your codes, as the two people in line ahead of me were told their cars weren’t ready but I was immediately handed the keys). The GPS lady in the phone pegged it an 8.5 hour drive; turn out nearly two hours longer thanks to construction in Montreal. Would I go again? Princess Cruises has always fit me like a well broken in pair of sneakers (I’m from South Florida so ‘fits me like a glove’ does not compute). But I am pretty sure my next Princess cruise will be one last trip on Golden Princess or Star Princess. Because as they are leaving the fleet in 2020 and 2021 respectively they are not scheduled to be fitted with all the Medallion gobbledygook. My lack of preference for I have only scratched the surface with in this review (believe it or not). I consider myself still too young(-ish) to be called ‘Old Fashioned’ but in the case of Medallion Class Cruising, the old format is fine with me. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Choose this cruise because it was close to a two week cruise. Loved the ports of call, and had not been to a few. Great ending in Quebec where we choose to stay a few days and then take a train to Montreal! Had never been to theses ... Read More
Choose this cruise because it was close to a two week cruise. Loved the ports of call, and had not been to a few. Great ending in Quebec where we choose to stay a few days and then take a train to Montreal! Had never been to theses places in Canada. My favorite stop was Bar Harbor Maine, the Natonal park tour was very interesting! The medallion on the cruise ship was a fun experience which we had tried on other princess cruises. Throughout the ship there were places you could use your medallion to find out what the venue for the day was, and where the activities were being held. Our room was a premium balcony in the aft corner of the ship! Fantastic balcony and room! The whole cruise on the Caribbean Princess was exceptional! Our captain was very engaging and good at announcements and keeping us updated! Love princess cruises, this was our 30th cruise just with princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We arrived at Port Everglades, and check-in was only delayed because some of the local agents seemed to be still learning the whos, whats, wheres, whys, and hows of the Medallion system. Boarding had not quite started, but within 15 ... Read More
We arrived at Port Everglades, and check-in was only delayed because some of the local agents seemed to be still learning the whos, whats, wheres, whys, and hows of the Medallion system. Boarding had not quite started, but within 15 minutes or so, we were on the ship. Our cabin wasn't ready yet, but I dropped off our case of wine and carry-on bags before heading to the dining room for lunch. Our waiter strolled in about 10 minutes later....he had just returned to the ship after spending several months at home, and he wasn't in his groove yet. We were in vacation mode, and apparently, so was he, so we chuckled about it. We ended up eating in the main dining room only a couple of times, opting for the buffet, and specialty dining more often than not. Once at both Sabatini's and Planks BBQ, twice @ Steamers, and four times in the Crown Grill. Sabatini's: It's been at least 7 years since we've tried Sabatini's. The meal was excellent. Everthing was fresh, and tasty. My only complaint....it's a loud room, Lots of hard surfaces. They also sat 5 tables in our waiter's section within minutes of our arrival, including a party of 10, swamping the poor guy, but everyone stepped up to get things served as timely as possible. He thanked us for being patient. Hey, I'm on a boat, with my wife, and a killer bottle of Chianti. What's not to like!? Planks: Service was great, but the food was only so-so. But when it comes to BBQ, I'm a tough cookie, because I live in Georgia, and I'm surrounded by great BBQ. Steamers: We really enjoyed the view from the window while chowing down on great seafood. Add the crab legs and lobster! Not everyone likes certain things, so it was real easy to say, no clams, or no mussels. They gladly offered substitutions. The service was outstanding. Crown Grill: Excellent service. I'd always drop off my wine a few hours before our reservation, and it would be decanted, waiting for us when we'd arrive. I had the lamb chops twice , and they were cooked perfectly. My wife had with the filet each time. Only once, did she have to send it back for being under-cooked. It happens every once in a while, and they took care of it. The entire CG staff were kept busy all night. Princess would go broke if they had to pay these folks by the mile. Vines: We enjoyed 2 flights of wine, and the pricing was very reasonable. Service was perfect. MDR: We had dinner there once, and were seated in a section that didn't have a waiter. After a few minutes, the Maitre D' asked us who seated us there, and quickly found a waiter to serve us. He did a great job, even without the help of an assistant waiter, but we found ourselves missing the friendly faces of the servers on the Lido Deck. The Ship: They are keeping her up nicely, always busy working on something. They are dealing with a/c issues in both public areas and cabins. We needed someone to fix our a/c the first night at around 11:45pm. They adjusted everything, and it was ok for the most part, but not 100%. Fans were offered, we declined. Our cabin was R745, the very last inside on the starboard side, which we absolutely love due to it's location. Three steps up, and you're at the terrace pool. We liked to call it our own private balcony. We ate breakfast and lunch up there most of the time, and there's always someone willing to bring you a drink or take your plates away. Every member of the food & beverage team we encountered on the Lido Deck, were delightful. Service was excellent. The Crew: Everyone seemed to be in great spirits as they had just finished doing months of 7 day Caribbean sailings, and this was a big change for them. New ports, cooler temps, and a week off from dealing with a turnaround day. We rarely encountered any lines or delays going here or there, because we learned a long time ago, that the early bird gets the worm. We were usually off of the ship while most were just showing up for breakfast.We walked between 5-6 miles each day in port. In a stop like Charleston, it was nice to walk and see everything and be back on the ship before it was too hot. How do you avoid an hour long line to buy ferry tickets in NYC? You download their app, and buy your tickets on your phone. I realize that some folks were miserable on this cruise, while others, like us, hated to leave. It's all up to you how you want to spend your time. Do you spend the night complaining, or do you choose your battles wisely and roll with things. I'll give you an example, there's a special drink I like on the platinum/elite lounge menu, I'd order it every day, and it was consistently made wrong. Instead of sending it back each evening while my wife drank her cocktail, we'd joke about if they were going to make it correctly or not each time. They got it right only once. A miserable record, but great folly for us. Some people seemingly take comfort in berating the help, I witnessed some doozies on this sailing. I would never let folks talk to my employees that way. So....if you don't like standing in lines, go before or after everyone else does. Don't get angry at the Maitre D because it's your anniversary and you can't get a window table. If it's so important to you, make arrangements ahead of time. Plan ahead, so you can enjoy later. You're on a floating hotel in the middle of the ocean, if you can't somehow enjoy yourself, you deserve to be miserable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was an amazing cruise with 9 ports ... there was so much to see and do in every single port! We thoroughly enjoyed the smaller group excursions. The LuLu Lobster boat, in Bar Harbour, was one of our favourite excursions. We ... Read More
This was an amazing cruise with 9 ports ... there was so much to see and do in every single port! We thoroughly enjoyed the smaller group excursions. The LuLu Lobster boat, in Bar Harbour, was one of our favourite excursions. We wouldn’t recommend the whale watching as there were about 250 passengers on the boat; very crowded and the chances of seeing a whale is minimal (we didn’t see any because the fog rolled in). We did see numerous animals and birds randomly throughout the cruise. We were somewhat disappointed with the organization of disembarkation for a few of the shore excursions. Entertainment on the ship was exceptional! At a couple of the ports they had local groups come onboard to perform - ex. French Canadian group in Quebec and children’s Celtic dance group. We had issues with some wait times for the anytime dining however Moises in the Palm Dining room took good care of us once he realized there was an issue. Food choices and quality were great! Our room steward, Richard, was the absolute best! Our cabin was exceptionally clean and the Richard took very good care of us! All in all a fabulous cruise and experience! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Main attraction was an opportunity to visit ports on eastern shore of Canada and the United States. I chose Princess because my previous cruise experience was very good. This cruise is much different than expected. Upon landing in Fort ... Read More
Main attraction was an opportunity to visit ports on eastern shore of Canada and the United States. I chose Princess because my previous cruise experience was very good. This cruise is much different than expected. Upon landing in Fort Lauderdale Princess personnel provided little assistance other than yelling, herding, and selling transfer vouchers. The voucher for transportation between airport and pier required additional wait till me of more than forty minutes, another stop in the airport and holding any carry on luggage upon your lap due to the fact that metal rods were installed along the upper shelf to prevent anyone from using them. Upon arrival to the ship contradicting directions were provided passengers regarding what should be done with luggage. Crowding and screaming resumed throughout the boarding of the ship. No one assisted with direction to rooms, food, rest area, etc. As the trip continued the Captain made several long winded announcements that were misunderstood because he could not speak English well. On one occasion he announced "an investigation of a matter is underway." Many passengers were certain the crew was investigating. "MURDER!" The Cruise Director provided little introductory information regarding any port. No excursions were described. The threat that "you can miss the boat when your excursion is purchased directly. Princess also enjoyed price gouging, for example HOP ON HOP OFF in New York posted rate of $55 sold for $99. Exiting the ship became a hide and seek game at every port. No announcements were made to inform passengers at what level the gangway would be placed. Entertainment on this cruise was excellent, however the theatre is so small one must arrive at least thirty minutes early. The Princess has also implemented system in which a madallian Is given each passenger. The madallian are several colors depicting how many times you have been with Princess. Elite and Platnum levels were paraded by guests having a lower medallion status. The crew appeared unprepared for any medical emergency. A passenger who could not breathe required more than five minutes to receive medical assistance. His help appeared after the ship captain announced the need. The ship Doctor provided assistance two hours daily. Another passenger fell getting off the boat. He was not helped by any Princess staff. Upon his return to the ship after visited nag the hospital he found all of his belongings had been packed. He had to beg the doctor to return to the ship and his room. He was charged $250 for the packing and cleaning of his room. I share these stories due to the fact that more than fifteen percent of the passengers appeared to be ninety years old carrying canes, walkers, and wheelchairs.Elite and Platnum members will brag and boast of the wonderful time they enjoyed on this cruise. Good for them. I regret that I will be unable to reach this high social status. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
My spouse and I had wanted to do a New England / Canada Cruise for sometime. We were fortunate enough to have benefited from a last minute sale from Princess Cruises that allowed us to experience this wonderful itinerary. Our experience ... Read More
My spouse and I had wanted to do a New England / Canada Cruise for sometime. We were fortunate enough to have benefited from a last minute sale from Princess Cruises that allowed us to experience this wonderful itinerary. Our experience aboard the Caribbean Princess was generally very good but there are some minor issues that should be reviewed by Princess in order to improve their service onboard this ship. We booked an Oceanview Cabin that was partially obstructed but were pleasantly impressed with the size of he cabin and the storage space that was available for us during this cruise. The bathroom on the other hand was quite small that lacked storage space for toiletries and one needed the skills of a contortionist to benefit from the space provided in the shower. Our Stateroom attendant was excellent and our cabin was kept in immaculate condition. We participated in the Anytime Dinning and our overall experience was varied depending in which dinning room we were assigned for that evening. In the evening some of the Dinning Rooms were at capacity when we arrived and the Maitre D would often assign us to another Dinning Room in order for us not to have to wait for a long time for a table. This resulted in mixed results in regards to the service we were provided by the staff, Generally the service was very good but on occasion the server would get the order wrong and the wait times for service would vary from a few minutes to one one occasion twenty minutes. The quality of the food in the Dinning rooms also varied from being very good to poor, Over the years we have observed, as well as other long time Princess Passengers, that the quality of food in the Dinning Room has somewhat deteriorated although it"s still better than many other Cruise Lines. On the other hand the food in the Buffett was surprisingly very good and the selection of food was impressive. We attended two speciality restaurants onboard the ship including the Italian and the BBQ Restaurants and found the service and food to be excellent. The entertainment onboard the ship was very good. The production shows were off a very good quality although one of the production shows experienced some technical problems and it was cancelled half way through the performance. The Princess Band, performers and cast members of the production shows were of a very high calibre. Outside of the never ending Art Auction so called Enrichment Programs there was nothing in regards to guest speakers to discuss the Historical significance of the ports we were visiting. Outside of Halifax we booked our excursions through the Princess and we enjoyed all of them. Most of our excursions were of walking variety and did require a certain level of fitness. Clearly these excursions should not be booked for people with any mobility issues. The only issue regarding excursions was what occurred during this cruise was in the Port of Newport. This Port required tendering in order to get ashore and the process that took place regarding this experience can only described as a fiasco! It took up to two hours for some passengers to get ashore through the tendering process from the ship. Needless to say there were a number of unhappy passengers on that day. Overall we did enjoy this cruise and we definitely would book another cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We paid for a large suite and were extremely disappointed, as all advertising material said that in Club Class we would enjoy an upscale menu. All regular dinning venues had through the ship had the menu, but we were offered ONE additional ... Read More
We paid for a large suite and were extremely disappointed, as all advertising material said that in Club Class we would enjoy an upscale menu. All regular dinning venues had through the ship had the menu, but we were offered ONE additional appetizer & entree per night. Could not believe that when ever the ship was docked all dinning venues are closed with the exception of the buffet We did not take a large suite to go to the buffet I will say the food & service were fine We were only able to get seats to one show in 13 nights by cutting dinner short, everyone was complaining. The theater is too small Tendering was a joke, people were going crazy trying to get off We were supposed to spend a whole day in Quebec City, but one night received a notice that the water authority issued an order that everyone must go slower so we wouldn't arrive until 12PM. They must have gotten several hundred complaints as two days later the authority miraculously changed its mind so we could speed up and arrive at our 9AM scheduled time. But we didn't seem to be going any faster The crew were just not attentive or well trained Not the best cruise we have been on Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have sailed with Princess a number of times, but had a very bad experience two years ago. We decided to give them another chance as the itinerary appealed to us. We won’t travel with them again, and our fellow passengers that we spoke ... Read More
We have sailed with Princess a number of times, but had a very bad experience two years ago. We decided to give them another chance as the itinerary appealed to us. We won’t travel with them again, and our fellow passengers that we spoke with also felt very let down. Their cost cutting attempts affect all parts of the overall experience from having nothing to stir your coffee with, to reducing time in key ports at the last minute - just speed up and stop trying to save money on the fuel!!! Princess’ biggest issue is the fact they never accept responsibility for their actions, they lie, offer up pathetic excuses and blame the passengers. The reason it took 2 hours to disembark at Newport - because we all decided to get off the ship at the same time!!! The reason we had such a ridiculously long queue at Boston - that’s right, our fault for wanting to make the most of our short time there! We paid over £3k each for a mini suite but it took 36 hours and 3 phone calls to get our shower fixed. 24 hours to get water delivered that we had already paid for prior to the cruise. Vegetarians are not catered for (unless you want to live on salad), food labelling is dangerously bad and food is always cold. I’ve never seen food temperatures taken. General staff like room stewards are as nice as ever, but everyone else in what may be considered a more senior position are rude, unhelpful and critical of their guests referring to them as ‘idiots’. The entertainment is worse than 1960’s Butlins, but then the cruise director and ents team behave like that’s where they all came from. My advice - Celebrity or Royal Caribbean will value you much much more and understand the importance of good customer service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Coming from Florida, this cruise was a good choice for us. We have easy access to Port Everglades and had the opportunity to enjoy cooler summer weather in New England and Canada. We have sailed with Princess many times and are Platinum. ... Read More
Coming from Florida, this cruise was a good choice for us. We have easy access to Port Everglades and had the opportunity to enjoy cooler summer weather in New England and Canada. We have sailed with Princess many times and are Platinum. The ship is pretty, the food is good, and the ports enjoyable. A downfall for some might be the entertainment. The peculiarly designed showroom fills up fast, and one needs to claim a seat almost an hour before a performance. We didn't bother going. Too much trouble. Because this was a new itinerary for employees in the excursion department, they were inexperienced and caused some chaos with crowds leaving the ship at various ports. At some of the ports, the walkways from the ship to the terminals were very long...one example was Charleston which was 5 stories down..and then up. Our balcony cabin was attractive with new carpeting. However there was some mold in the bathroom and a dirty bed skirt which was quickly replaced. We did have a wonderful 13 days on the Caribbean Princess. Vacations are what you make of them. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have sailed twice with Princess , but never again, a good itinerary, on paper not matched by poor and expensive excursions, our last cruise around Japan for the summer festivals was magical , the dining ... Read More
We have sailed twice with Princess , but never again, a good itinerary, on paper not matched by poor and expensive excursions, our last cruise around Japan for the summer festivals was magical , the dining was top class, the excursions pricey but well done a good cruise experience ,although with poor and limited entertainment it had an old feel to it,however we booked the Canada and New England because of the itinerary lots of ports we hadn't visited looked good on first viewing, if only it had met our expectations, we had a balcony cabin as per previous cruises, good balcony and cabin tight shower!! , The zero entertainment supplied ( as standard), wears you down the cruise became a chore after dinner,which was of very high quality but con't make up for poor/no entertainment.this and extremely expensive ship's excursions,that left you with a feeling of having been milked for cash ,for very little. our night's usually ended in the starlite lounge.in search of some nightlife.The entire cruise had a really old feel, yes it had a large quota of 60+ passengers with disabilities,I,am 55 and disabled I walk using a stick but I'm not ready for horlick's and bed ,after dinner every night,The misery was completed by booking Princess own disembarkation package this supplies transport at disembarkation consisting of a coach from Quebec port to Montreal airport,which is booked prior to embarkation,months before, the coach journey took 3 hours,for which we were pre warned the fact that wwe wer taken to the airport 10 hours before our flight is damndable ,considering we were moved off the ship at 11.00 am to start our disembarkation, to get to Montreal airport for our 11.40 pm flight (10 hours in Montreal departures)come back new, I certainly didn't after that! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Overall: Good itinerary and good cruise… Overall staff was very polite and helpful. The ship was in good shape, looked nice and there were many places to relax on deck and inside. We often relaxed in the Skywalker Lounge which was ... Read More
Overall: Good itinerary and good cruise… Overall staff was very polite and helpful. The ship was in good shape, looked nice and there were many places to relax on deck and inside. We often relaxed in the Skywalker Lounge which was never crowded, comfortable, quite and has great views. It was a very busy port cruise so not much deck time and evenings were often occupied preparing for the next days port activity. But; overall - the Medallion process sucked. I got to a point that I realized I was waisting too much vacation time trying to figure out how to use the Medallion and the numerous icons. In the end, it was simply a glorified room key. Despite hype that the Medallion would speed up embarkation, the Medallion was ignored and not requested at embarkation. Luckily, I printed our boarding passes and had passports handy. Also, if there was a priority boarding line for Elite or Suites passengers, I missed it and was directed to a single long weaving line for embarkation processing. Onboard; Internet staff was pissy and provided poor service. They were obviously frustrated and overwhelmed by the number of people needing help to configure their phones and iPads for Medallion and internet service... “it’s not a simple process.” There are “several” icons necessary to use the Medallion network and VERY IMPORTANTLY, once you have the sign on page on your screen... send it to your home screen so you can access it independently because once you sign on, it often disappears and there is no way to sign off the internet. A big complaint among those that had complimentary minutes is that they lost all there minutes because they closed the program and assumed they were signed off, nope, you have to specifically sign off. I was one of those confused soles and lost 250 minutes within the first few days. The internet guy reinstated the minutes but found it necessary to scolded me and said he wouldn’t do it again. There was a Medallion orientation offered in the Princess Lounge which I attended, however; it was a general video overview and provided no instructional advice. Unfortunately, there was no general or specific educational information offered to help configure devices. Personally, I found the Medallion cruse concept disappointing, distracting and unfriendly. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Food market food was awful always looked like it had been out way too long No variety had regular ask for things to be refilled on breakfasts Sick last but one day and never ate outside ship or on their tours So little ... Read More
Food market food was awful always looked like it had been out way too long No variety had regular ask for things to be refilled on breakfasts Sick last but one day and never ate outside ship or on their tours So little information about how to use their medallion system All they want is you to do is spend money in their casino if you are a family don’t bother Never tell you what the movies are about Only good thing was the pizza place and the salty dog Cabin attended always missed things on room refresh Now we sit in an airport with no seats Watch out if they put you in Shula’s hotel wet and the food is extortionate Only good thing was the band static don’t get a drinks package unless you never leave the ship it’s cheaper to buy individual Shore excursion team where helpful but most things you can do on your own on this route I will never use Princess again unless absolutely desperate Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have cruised over 30 times, but this was our first on HA. I had wanted to try HA, but had heard several times that they were boring. I wish I had listened. Since HA has so many good itineraries, we decided to give it a try on this 10N ... Read More
We have cruised over 30 times, but this was our first on HA. I had wanted to try HA, but had heard several times that they were boring. I wish I had listened. Since HA has so many good itineraries, we decided to give it a try on this 10N to NE/Canada. We booked about 2 weeks ahead and got a good price. Embarkation in FLL was a breeze and the easiest we have ever experienced. We booked an interior guarantee and were not told our cabin number until we checked in at the pier(we always book guarantees and have always been told almost as soon as we book our cabin number). Our cabin was fine, bigger than most interiors. It was on level one, and it was a sideway cabin. These are not the best because it is difficult to get into the closet, but otherwise it was fine. The ship seems to be in good shape. It is the smallest ship we have ever sailed on. It was very quiet and we never had to wait for elevators and we never had problems finding seats in the theater. At the taste kitchen you had to go early or there were no seats, also at the computer classes there were never any seats. The entertainment, or lack of, was one thing we disliked. It was BORING!! A typical day looked like it was full of activities until you see it was just sales pitches for acupuncture, jewelry sales, etc. There really was nothing to do on sea days. There were usually two trivia's a day, sometimes 3. A few computer/photo workshops. But, nothing that involved any fun really. There was a morning trivia, which we attended (we attended every trivia because there was nothing else to do). They did not even give a cheap trinket(pen, cards, magnet) for the winners!! That was shocking. The assistant cruise director, Nick, worked hard to make it fun. Tino, the cruise director, not so much. The other entertainment on the ship was rest home type. A few live music groups, but it was very sedate and could easily put you to sleep. There was a piano player, Styker, who was very good and personable, his shows were filled everynight. He was the only thing to do in the evening after the shows. They had an orange party to celebrate King's day...it was to be the funniest party ever........it was the WORST party ever. Boring, boring boring. They should take lessons on how NCL does their white hot party. The main shows were good for the most part. The stage band only joined the cruise on the 7th day. One the first day, on the main stage was a movie! Also on the last day......what kind of entertainment is that? Casino, save your money!! I never saw anyone win. There was no sailaway party, no game shows(one toward the end, totally boring), no dance instructions, nothing. Literally nothing to do at all. We ended up watching TV!!! That is a first on the cruise. Even then, they had Jaws on!! Jaws, over 35 year old movie!! Come on! The other big problem was the buffet. There was very little variety. The worst was at dinner, there would be long lines and one side of the buffet would be closed (they had to use it for their specialty restaurant that had maybe 10 people in it and make the other 200 people wait in line). One night to get a main course the line was 40 people long with one server! I complained to the manager in the dining room, he said it couldn't be helped. If they are going to insist on serving people instead of passengers serving themselves, they need to get more people to serve. I waited 25 minutes to get a salad!! Another problem with the buffet was the hours. They closed at 2pm, right when people are returning to the ship from shore. Finally, after many complaints I am sure, they kept a few areas open later, maybe 2:30, but then the lines were very long. The dive in hamburger place was good, but it was 20-30 minute wait after ordering. The taco bar was good, but it always was messy and unappealing to want to eat the food and the food was never to temperature. I am surprised we didn't get sick eating there. Then the buffet closed at 8pm! 8pm, really? Right when the show let out. So, if for some reason you wanted to see the show at 7pm, but didn't eat before the show because of the very long lines, there were no other options. I could not believe this. I complained to the hotel director in the notes left in the atrium. I never heard a thing from him or his staff. Why have the notes if you aren't going to address the problem? HA must really not care about customer service at all. There was a fire on the ship the second night. The captain came on at 1am to tell us about it. I thought he did a good job keeping us informed. We were not able to sail to Montreal, our final destination due to high water in the River and the ship could not safely sail under it. It was announced on Thursday at 5pm when we were about to sail away that we would be transported to Montreal via bus. The following day was a sea day and since we did not have internet it was hard to adjust our travel plans. I can understand not being able to sail, but it seems like the staff at guest services gave out different information to every passenger. We even got 3 different answers to the same question. So, it was frustrating to us to not know for sure what was happening and more stressful to have to get up at 4am, and take a bus to Montreal from Quebec. The port fees from Montreal were not reimbursed, which was also a first for me when missing ports and ports being replaced we have always been reimbursed. Needless to say, first and last HA cruise for us. It was all true what everyone said about HA...........boring, no fun and no customer service. I wish I would have spent my cruise money else where and will do so in the the future. You missed out HA, we cruise a lot, are young and have the money and time to cruise. See ya! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We book the cruise from Ft Lauderdale Fl to Montreal with stops in Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Quebec City. The Ship is a smaller vessel the rooms are good and the stewards are friendly and did a good job. ... Read More
We book the cruise from Ft Lauderdale Fl to Montreal with stops in Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Quebec City. The Ship is a smaller vessel the rooms are good and the stewards are friendly and did a good job. The entertainment is also fairly good depending on your tastes. There was a couple comedians, a magician, movies as well as piano bar entertainer and Holland Americans regular entertainment events. The food was not up to the standards we expected. We experienced over cooked, undercooked, many variations on the menu. For example the menu would say polenta and we would be served white rice. The salad that was listed as beet and goat cheese had less than a teaspoon on goat cheese in it. The service in all food venues was lacking but especially in the Lido (buffet). Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to go all the way to Montreal via ship so we were disembarked in Quebec. This we understood and accepted however we were required to be off the ship at 6am to bus to Montreal for a 4:30 pm flight. This left us in the Montreal airport for 8 hours. They did not offer any later departures from the ship to get us to Montreal. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
My review is written from this perspective: During our forty-two married years together my wife and I have previously cruised twenty-four times. We’ve been on Holland America four times already, plus multiple cruises on Royal Caribbean, Windstar, Uniworld Europe River Cruises, and once on Oceania. We enjoy cruising, especially the at-sea days. We liked this itinerary for its two up-front at-sea northbound days from Fort Lauderdale as our opportunity to decompress from our everyday lives at home, plus the anticipated at-sea day towards the end of the cruise while watching the St. Lawrence shoreline glide past. Spoiler Alert: We had a really nice cruise! Embarkation & Disembarking: Getting on the ship in Fort Lauderdale was one of the most efficient and fast processes we’ve ever experienced. Even though we arrived a bit early for our posted boarding time, we were able to get right on the ship. A great start for our cruise. Disembarkation day was unusual. The St. Lawrence River was very high and overflowing its banks because of the combination of a late snow melt from the shoreline mountains together with recent heavy rains. That kept our ship from sailing from Quebec City to its final destination in Montreal because the ship couldn’t fit under a bridge between the two cities even at low tide. So we stayed moored in Quebec City overnight instead of moving on to Montreal. Holland America had to put all of us on coaches extra early on disembarkation day for the 3-hour ride to Montreal. We saw lots of flooding along the way to Montreal, but we arrived at the airport with minimal hassles. Good for Holland America, since they also had the nightmare of getting all of the incoming passengers transported from Montreal to meet the ship in Quebec City, too. The ship: ms Zaandam is looking terrific for being nineteen-years-old. I’m not sure when she had her last major refit/refurb, but there was hardly any rust anywhere on her exterior, and the interior and outside public spaces looked great. No worn-out seats, carpets, railings, decks, pools, etc. Well done Holland America. There was one surprise. On our first night, at 1:15 AM the ship’s emergency fire alarm blared loudly: “FIRE! Passengers remain in your cabins and await further instructions!”, which was given in that official loudspeaker voice we all heard at the mandatory lifeboats drill before we set sail. My wife and I could visualize all of the passengers and crew sitting bolt upright in their beds (like we did) waiting for the next announcement. Then there was a second announcement calling for the fire crew to report to a coded location. In another few minutes the captain came over the loudspeakers to announce the fire emergency was over. He said an unoccupied smoke-filled incinerator area had a detector that set off an alarm which was relayed to the ship’s bridge. The dispatched fire team discovered there was a fire in one of the incinerator’s “silos” (whatever that is), and the automatic steam fire extinguishers had quickly dealt with the problem. The captain apologized for the early morning “inconvenience”, said the crew had properly responded to the situation as they’d been trained, and then he said everyone could go back to sleep. He ended his speech by promising to give more information in his noon announcements later in the day (which he did). Passengers and crew had lots to talk about at breakfast, albeit sleepy-eyed. Our cabin: Excellent. We were fortunate to be able to book a Neptune suite on deck 7. It had lots of daylight from the wall-to-wall windows, with enough room for a sofa sitting area. There were plenty of closets and drawers, fresh/clean fabrics, carpets, and soft goods, a king bed, a vanity area, a fully-furnished mini bar, a big verandah with table/chairs and two lounge chairs, an efficient air conditioner/heater that we could set to our preference, and a nice bathroom with a brand-new-looking Jacuzzi-style tub and a toilet that flushed every single time. (Yay!). Our cabin stewards were excellent. We were never in need of anything for the whole cruise. The Neptune Lounge, reserved for Neptune and Pinnacle suites guests, was just down the corridor. It was a great place to get a snack, coffee, check email, read, socialize a bit with other passengers, have a drink from the honor bar before supper, or ask either one of the two excellent Concierges for assistance with anything simple or complex around the ship. We were definitely spoiled with our Neptune suite. Dining: Overall very good. The Pinnacle Grill (“PG”) was the single disappointment. Our incentive package included one PG supper which was to be scheduled at HAL’s discretion. At first we were surprised when we discovered our PG invitation/reservation was set for 7:00 PM on our departure/first day. After seeing “Pinnacle Grill 25% discount first night” coupons all over the ship when we boarded, though, we realized HAL must have a need to fill seats in the Pinnacle that first night, especially with those of us who had an incentive package visit. We’ve really enjoyed our Pinnacle Grill experiences as an upgrade/extra-cost treat on our prior HAL sailings, and that’s what we were anticipating this time, too. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. Although the room was nice, and the staff was friendly, the food wasn’t up to the “Wow!” quality we’d experienced before. Our filet mignon entrees were “okay”, but our side dishes weren’t served hot. That wouldn’t have been a problem if someone had come to check on us after our entrees were served, but nobody came back until our plates were being pulled at the end of our meal. It seemed as though the PG’s galley couldn’t keep up with what was required, which was surprising because the room was only half occupied when we were there. We politely thanked our servers as we left, but we never returned to the Pinnacle Grill for the remainder of our cruise for a supper (or for no-extra-charge breakfasts offered to suites guests). To be fair, the PG manager later heard of our experience that first night, and offered to comp us another supper to make up for it, but we chose not to return, mainly because we were more than happy with everything in the Main Dining Room. “Open seating” for supper in the Main Dining Room (“MDR”) initially seemed to be problematic when we first tried to phone in a 6:00 PM seating request for the night after our Pinnacle Grill supper. “Unavailable” we were told. When we showed up at the MDR check-in desk on deck 4 at 6:00 PM that evening, though, we were immediately seated at a 2-person table as requested. Our server, assistant, wine steward, floor manager, and food that evening were all excellent. On our way out of the MDR after this first supper we asked if we could be seated at the same table at approximately the same time every evening. “Absolutely” was the response. We enjoyed our suppers at the same table with the same staff every evening after that. What a terrific time we had. There seemed to be something on the changing daily menu for each of us, but even when there wasn’t, we always had the “available every day” alternatives. Our server, assistant, and wine steward were cordial, professional, conversational, and happy every single supper. They certainly made us feel special and welcome. Well done, MDR. The Lido Market was, well, a typical Lido. Always crowded, as anticipated on at-sea days, but even at breakfast and lunch on port days when we tried it. The food was good with a nice variety. There’s always the same passenger confusion on where to enter the buffet food service lines, but that’s to be expected. We enjoyed the made-to-order omelets and Belgian waffles at breakfast plus salads at lunch, and the soups and breads at lunch. The room seemed short-staffed for clearing tables and offering water/coffee/tea/lemonade/etc., but staff did their best. After a couple breakfasts here we decided to just awaken a bit earlier every morning, and we had really nice breakfasts served in the MDR. On this cruise we didn’t take advantage of any of the several other places around the ship to get food, or try around-the-clock in-cabin service. Maybe next time. Activities around the ship: We enjoyed most of the evening entertainment in the two-decks-high The Main Stage. Our MDR suppers were completed most nights in plenty of time for a leisurely stroll through the ship to the 8:00 PM shows. Get there before 7:30, though, if you want to easily find a pair of seats together. There was some of the usual, “These seats are saved” going on, with one person showing up to grab six or eight vacant seats together for their last-minute family/friends, but it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t make it to any of the well-attended lounges/clubs around the ship, although we did stop to enjoy the classical piano/violin duet one evening. Because we both brought our Kindles, after the evening entertainment in the main show room we instead read either in our cabin or in the Neptune lounge. The weather: We anticipated two seasons, a warm beginning at our embarkation in FL, and getting cooler as we sailed north. On our second at-sea day the huge sliding dome cover over the Lido pool was closed for the remainder of the cruise. Then it turned really cold, (upper 30s F to low 40s F) and windy (20-25 mph) beginning with our first port call in Boston, but every day had clear blue skies and full sun. At each port there was at least one local who told us it was the first time they’d seen the sun in weeks. Only our last port call in Quebec City was rainy. Our seas weren’t overly active, but the winds did blow pretty hard a couple of times, which gave the ship a gentle rocking motion which we enjoy. One overnight there was heavy fog, which meant the ship’s loud fog horn boomed every few minutes for hours on end, but only that one night. We were so lucky with the weather on this cruise. Ports and Shore Excursions: Holland America offered a good variety of (mostly-expensive) excursion choices in each port. We discovered beginning at our first port stop we were the very first cruise ship from any company sailing a US East Coast and Canada itinerary this “summer” season. That was both good and bad. The good: there were few crowds/tourists anywhere except for Boston, which is a busy city in any season, and in Bar Harbor it was really easy to find a warm jacket on winter clearance sale to wear on this cruise. The bad: everywhere other than Boston it was still “winter season”. That meant most store fronts and tourist/excursion sites were either still shuttered for the winter, were undergoing late-winter-delayed construction or just cleaning out the winter cobwebs and not ready for tourists, or they were significantly reduced to only a minimal operation compared to what was said to be available beginning in mid-May. For us, Boston was a fun day with lots to see and do on our own with hop-on-hop-off trolley tickets we’d purchased before the cruise. Our Bar Harbor excursion was cancelled by Holland America, but that was okay with us because we’d been there before, and we enjoyed just strolling around the Norman Rockwell-like streets while stopping in one of the local pubs for a delicious lobstah roll. Halifax was a very long day due to our choice of a 7-hour coach excursion to Peggy’s Cove (beautiful but mostly closed for our less-than-an-hour stop), Lunenberg (also a beautiful waterfront village but still mostly closed for the season during our hour-long stop), and Mahone Bay (beautiful, too, but really closed during our forty-minutes stop). In Sydney we went to the restored Louisbourg fortress which was historically interesting, but disappointing because only three of the many buildings were open, and only a small handful of reenactors were around. We absolutely loved the Charlottetown/Prince Edward Island excursion for its drive through rolling hills, expansive farmers’ fields, and the Anne of Green Gables House stop. Quebec City was interesting even in the rain. On our walking excursion around both the old and new parts of the city there was a constant drone of loud construction and traffic noise, along with competing noise from other early-season tourist groups. It was impossible to hear our excursion guide, but it was still an interesting port stop. Conclusion: If you’ve survived to the end of this too-long review, you’ve seen why overall we had another great cruise experience. Zaandam and her crew/staff were top notch, and this itinerary had interesting ports. Will we be more aware of the potential good and bad characteristics of a “shoulder season” cruise in the future? Yep. And we’ll certainly cruise with Holland America again. Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Let me preface this review by saying that I have been on most of the other Holland America ships - and that, until this cruise, Holland America has been my favorite cruise line. It was an extremely disappointing cruise. The quality of ... Read More
Let me preface this review by saying that I have been on most of the other Holland America ships - and that, until this cruise, Holland America has been my favorite cruise line. It was an extremely disappointing cruise. The quality of the cruise offered on the Veendam was substantially LOWER than any other Holland America cruise I have ever taken. I found it hard to believe that the Veendam was a Holland America ship. The ship was badly worn and in very poor condition. Our cruise started late because the ship was over five hours late in getting into port due to mechanical problems. We were late in leaving one of our ports again because of mechanical problems. Holland America prides itself in a "fine tradition" but on this ship they have gutted ALL of the things passengers like about Holland America. This is particularly evident when it comes to the cuisine. For some silly reason, the Administrators think Holland America passengers want "painfully trendy" menu items. We were served things like a garbanzo bean smoothie flavored with mint, and lentils with pink grapefuit. It was some of the WORST food I have been served on any cruise line. And, there were incredibly annoying little flourishes on the cruise --- like NO TRAYS in the buffet. Holland America passengers tend to be old and many of us have problems walking. Without trays to set our meals upon, everyone had to make several trips back and forth each and every meal. On our cruise we were asked to celebrate the birthday of the King of Holland. This was incredibly silly considering that Holland America is an AMERICAN company based in Seattle ... a part of the Carnival cruise Lines. And, after beiung specifically asked to celebrate this Birthday there was NO FOLLOW UP... The ship did absolutely nothing:festive" on this day. There are some serious issues with the Shore Excursion Department on this ship. There were OUTRAGEOUS mark ups on the shore excursions the ship offered. For example, in Quebec City a "Countryside Tour" cost $99.00 if you bought the tour on the ship. The exact same tour bought on shore was $34.00. Our Shore excursion "Tour of Boston and Cambridge" was held on a huge over sized BUS. This was insane. The historic areas of Boston are very cramped -- the historic streets will NOT accommodate an over sized bus. The tour of Boston depended on where the BUS could stop -- not where anything even remotely interesting could be seen. We spent over an our of our four hour tour standing outside in the rain in "Harvard Yard". We were not allowed to actually go into any of the buildings. Another 45 minutes was spend driving in circles around the MIT campus. Loyal Holland America passengers will be disappointed to find that many of the special things which Holland America offered are simply missing. There was no freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. The "Benedict Station" in the buffet was missing. In our fifteen day cruise there was no "Chocolate Buffet". This is one of the smallest ships still sailing for any major America Cruise lines. It took an exceptionally LONG time for disembarkation. We opted for a self disembarkation. The ship docked at 7:00 am. suite passengers and passengers who had bought a shore excursion of Montreal were given priority to leave the ship. We were schedule to leave at 8:00am. And, for whatever reason, there was a delay of an HOUR .. so we did not get off the hip until about NINE am. (Bear in mind, there were no customs formalities to deal with, it was a simple matter of picking up your suitcase and walking off the ship -- but it took until NINE am.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Veendam cruise 4-21-17 15 nights FLL – Montreal. Long and detailed. Skip to the conclusion if you only want the summary. Getting to Florida to day before the cruise proved to be full of adventure. Our Southwest flight left the ... Read More
Veendam cruise 4-21-17 15 nights FLL – Montreal. Long and detailed. Skip to the conclusion if you only want the summary. Getting to Florida to day before the cruise proved to be full of adventure. Our Southwest flight left the gate early, only to turn around on the taxiway due to an ill passenger. They ended up being removed from the plane by paramedics. By that time, the runways were backed up and we were #10 for departure. We ended up arriving in FLL an hour behind schedule. Good friends from a previous cruise picked us up at the airport and we enjoyed a wonderful German dinner at the Old Heidelberg Restaurant. After a great dinner they dropped us at our hotel, the Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale cruise port north. The hotel is right next to a shopping area so if we find we need anything in the morning it is convenient. When checking in they offered us a transfer to the cruise port for $6/pp. Even Uber would be more than that so we signed up for the 10:30 departure. Just before turning in for the night a text came in from Holland America telling us there would be a delayed embarkation due to a delayed arrival of the Veendam. I posted a note on cruise critic and it was quickly confirmed that the Veendam was well behind schedule. Friday April 20 – Embarkation day. First think is I spoke with the front desk at the Hampton. They already knew about the Veendam and had arranged a 2:30 shuttle to the port. They also offered us 2:00 late checkout. We enjoyed our breakfast and sat with another couple heading to Veendam who were not yet aware. We walked over to the strip mall next door and perused a few of the stores. We bought a few small items including a travel pack of cleaning wipes for the cabin. Walking back we noticed a McDonald’s right next door to the Hampton. We visited McDonalds for a dollar promo soft drink and two dollar promo iced coffee. We returned to the Hampton and considered using the pool but in the end decided not to. I used the time to catch up on e-mails and also to book airfare for next March’s cruise on Zaandam beginning in Santiago, Chile. While hanging out we also caught an X-men movie on HBO. The movie ended at 1:45 so timing worked well. We closed up the suitcases and headed down to the lobby. The 2:30 shuttle ended up full with 14 passengers heading to Veendam. There were still lines of disembarking passengers waiting for buses and shuttles. Veendam had arrived at 11:00. We were given boarding card number 15 and after a while were called to get our cabin cards. Boarding began at about 4:00 and we were on board at 4:30. With a 5:15 dinner we had little time before dinner but we did check out our cabin. Due to a late upgrade we are in Vista Suite #181. The cabin is clearly larger (longer) than our normal outside. The verandah is double the depth of the one we had on Koningsdam, with a full size lounger, two chairs, and a small table. The bathroom is the same except for a jetted tub, but it is a small tub so I doubt we will ever use it as a tub. I was pleased to see the old tube TV had been replaced with a small flat screen. We are assigned table 50, a 6-top in the dining room. We were joined by one other couple and we seem to get along fine. The other two seats remained vacant. Our wait staff is Rota and his assistant Putu Adi (Adi). Our wine steward is Ricardo. We know we have had Ricardo as wine steward before but it has been many years. Dinner was great with the traditional first night Prime Rib enjoyed by all four of us. Holland’s culinary team knows how to do Prime Rib right. It was hard to make a choice at dessert so we had to get two. The Banana crisp is always so good. We visited the Ocean Bar for “The Ocean Trio.” They also just boarded today and the drummer is ill. However the remaining two did a great job without the drums. When their set was over we joined the small group at the Piano Bar. We ended up staying over an hour and had a great time. Thinking it was unusual for us to stay up this late (10:45) we checked out the ‘late night snack’ in the Lido only to find grilled Shrimp as a selection. Needless to say a few Shrimp were eaten. It was 11:30 before we called it a night! Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Port Canaveral, FL Veendam docked at 7:10 in Port Canaveral joining Disney Magic, the Queen Victoria, and a large Carnival ship. Disney and Carnival was on a turnaround while the Queen was on a port call like we were. My Nephew lives 30 minutes from the port and he agreed to pick us up and spend the day with us. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast and at 9:15 my nephew and his girlfriend picked us up. We took a scenic ride along the various islands back to his house. He showed us some projects he is working on and we walked the block to his beach. Took some photos there and enjoyed the breeze. Walked back and then left to enjoy an “Art show” at the County Park. What a huge park this was! We walked a lot and by 12:45 made it back to the car. Next we headed back towards the port passing thru Cocoa Beach and the famous “Ron Jon’s surf shop.” Between port Canaveral terminals A & B there is a public area with a row of waterfront dining and marina establishments. We enjoyed lunch at “Grills at the Port.” The Mahi sandwich was terrific and the fish tacos (also made with local Mahi) were greatly enjoyed. After lunch we took in the Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral. Just the view from the observation deck is well worth the modest admission price. We also took in the exhibits on the development of the port and the space center’s history. But it was now 3:30 and with a 4:30 all aboard it was time to get back to Veendam. Ten minutes later we bade our nephew and GF farewell, we will see him again closer to home in four weeks. Back on Veendam I quickly changed and headed up to the pool while DW began to prepare for dinner. The pool was wonderful. Very clean and nice warm water. DW would love this! I stayed in the pool nearly an hour and enjoyed a conversation with another guest. I showered off using the pool showers and headed back to our cabin for a quick change into dinner clothes. With just enough time I went to the Ocean Bar to get Happy Hour wine. Then I stopped at the Pinnacle Grill to see about making lunch reservations for us and two cruise critic friends. The first ‘sea day’ opening is next week Saturday! I made the reservation. The dining room opened and we enjoyed dinner. Same couple from last night was at the table but the final two seats were again vacant. Halibut was the entrée we both enjoyed. The Mango-Blueberry Crisp sure made for a great dessert. Leaving the dining room at 7:00 we visited the Ocean Bar where the Trio (still without a drummer) was playing. We listened until their set was done and took care of some business at the front desk, and also checked to make sure all our expected on board credits were posted to our account (they were). As there is a single “Welcome aboard” show tonight at 9:30, and the Piano bar is not starting until 10:00, we retired to the cabin to enjoy the Verandah from where I am creating this log. We saw Hengky our room steward. I asked him about the white cloths on our carpet on both sides of the bed. He explained they say “Good night” and “Good morning,” and that is something left for guests in Neptune and Vista suites. No, they are not napkins! We talked a little bit and he said his last contract was on Prinsendam and he greatly prefers the smaller ships. He’s been with HAL six years. Hengky is most accommodating and I am sure we will have no issues with our cabin service this cruise! A few notes so far on Veendam. Veendam has a tarnished reputation on cruise critic. Indeed, there was some kind of mechanical issue that caused her to be late getting into Fort Lauderdale, and I am sure than tarnished the end of many guest’s Panama Canal cruise with missed flights and connections. On the other hand, the service so far has been stellar, even after Embarkation day obviously being a great extra strain on the crew. The Lido deck, poolside is terrific with more than ample tables as well as two full rows of loungers for any sun worshippers on board. The aft lido deck (“Retreat”) is certainly not as nice as an aft pool but what turned us off is more the smell of smoke back there (even on the non-smoking side) than the retreat redo. The Ocean bar is large, open, and had a ‘full house’ when we visited tonight. I sure wish that HAL president Orlando Ashford would visit a ship like Veendam and see how much the guests enjoy the ‘traditional’ HAL entertainment offerings. When we passed by Adagio they also had a full house listening to them at 7:00. At this time, we are greatly looking forward to the remainder of this cruise and the two sea days ahead of us until we reach Boston. Sunday, April 23 – At Sea: We did not order coffee & tea this morning. We woke on our own and were waiting at the dining room when they opened for breakfast at 8:00. We enjoyed breakfast at a six-top table and attended the 9:00 interdenominational worship. Afterwards we stopped in the lido for juice and coffee before heading to the cruise critic meet and greet in the Crow’s nest. This was very well attended and we met most of the folks we will be touring with. We changed into swimwear and enjoyed the still quite warm pool. I relaxed on the lido pool deck while DW changed out of the swimwear. When she returned we had lunch, salad from the lido and a burger and hot dog from the Dive-Inn. I attended the 2:00 destination talk on Boston and Bar Harbor and then went back to the pool. By now we have hit higher seas and the pool water action was fun. The captain announced a few water spouts around the ship (port side) and I left to pool to view these. Something neat to see that I’ve never seen before, but of course the camera was in the cabin. All too soon it was time to get ready for Gala night dinner. We caught the end of Happy hour but both the Crow’s Nest and Ocean Bar were out of the wine DW enjoys. Walking past the mix they enticed us to try the $4.00 ‘sip and savor’ pre-dinner glass. Dinner was quite nice with our table only set for four. Everything was enjoyable with lots of laughs. We caught the last three songs of the trio (still a duet without the drummer) in the Ocean Bar and went to the showroom for the Captain’s welcome aboard. It was nice that guests had a choice of beverages and I went with a diet Coke. What surprised us was that the Captain did not introduce his senior staff. The show tonight was the singers and dancers with “Classique.” While parts of the show were entertaining (mostly the live violinist) overall it was not our cup of tea. We went to listen to Barry from Boston at the Piano Bar. He had a full house, but tiredness overtook us by 9:30 so we called it a night. Monday, April 24 – At Sea Coffee & Tea were delivered early, 6:45 with a 7-7:30 time slot. We were up so no complaints. We sat out on the verandah a while until the wind got to us. Veendam is now sailing pretty much into the wind and it is coming in on our side, starboard. Breakfast was enjoyed in the DR but DW thought her eggs lacked something. She did order “No salt” so who knows? After breakfast she returned to the cabin to do her P.T. exercises and I walked the ship. I ran into our dinner tablemates and a few from the cruise critic gathering. At 10:00 we went to the lido pool deck for the HAL clothing sale but nothing was there. Yes, there was some rain outdoors but it was dry and pleasant on the pool deck. We found the sale outside the shops but it was the same things we already have. We ended up back in the cabin and dozed off for a while, this sea air sure helps us relax. Lunch was in the lido and dive-inn again. After lunch was pool time followed by the 3:00 talk on the pirate Blackbeard and his ship that was discovered off the North Carolina coast in 1996. We stopped by tea in the mix and had an appointment with the future cruise consultant where we bought two sets of future cruise deposits as well as one set for friends we are meeting after the cruise. Dinner was enjoyable and was followed by a special guest entertainer, the madman of music, David Meyer. His performance with an electronic xylophone was outstanding and at shows end he received a standing ovation. We next visited the Mix for “Barry from Boston” at the piano bar. Barry is the most interactive piano bar entertainer we have enjoyed. This evening he found a guest in the room from Scotland and then gave him the job of finding the “Two worst Scottish accents” in the room during a sing along of “500 Miles.” I ended up winning one of the awards, what fun! We hung in there until the end of his first set at 10:30 and called it a night. Tomorrow is Boston. Tuesday, April 25 – Boston Veendam docked right on time in Boston. I caught the (very) early sunrise through a small break in the clouds. That was the only time we saw the sun all day. We left the ship about 9:00 and found that one of the hop on / hop off companies was offering tours right from the port. After a short wait we were on our way to pier number 2 near Faneuil hall. Nearly everyone on the port shuttle went directly to take the main line hop on tour. As there was a break in the rain, we elected to walk around the area and got on the 10:30 Harbor cruise (included in the ticket). We enjoyed the harbor cruise although the ‘driver’ of the boat had great challenges docking at the Navy pier. After the harbor cruise we boarded a bus and did the entire loop. Towards the end of the tour the rain began again and after we left the bus it began to downpour. We made our way to market. We thought about having a slice of pizza to wait out the rain but at nearly $5.00 a slice thought we would just head back to the ship. As we approached the pick-up point the shuttle driver Bunker was just pulling away. Bunker recognized us from the morning and stopped so we could board. He truly earned his tip and we were very grateful! We were back on Veendam at 3:00 at had a late lunch of salad, pizza and a burger. We left our jackets out to dry. Dinner was again very enjoyable, although it took longer tonight. We were invited to a “3, 4, & 5 star cocktail party” in the crow’s nest at 7:00. No one made any announcements or welcome at the party. We met some very nice cruisers, but overall thought the gathering lacked a purpose. The show featured the music of the Beatles by Jesse Kazemek. Again the show was very good. We next went to the Mix where cruise director Jude told the gathered crowd that Barry was ill and could not perform. This gave us the excuse to make it an early evening and we turned in. Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Bar Harbor, Maine This was the first morning the coffee & tea delivery was not early. It was about 7:15. We went down to breakfast at about 8:15 and they began calling tender numbers shortly after. At about 9:00 they announced no wait for tenders but did say that they expected a rush between 9:30 and 10:00. Regretfully it is a rainy and foggy day. We did go ashore but our prebooked private group excursion on the Lulu lobster boat was canceled via e-mail the prior day. We walked around and saw most of the town. About half the shops remained closed but those open had some reasonable deals. DW obtained a fleece jacket and a hooded windbreaker at one shop. Most of the restaurants were closed. By 11:30 we were back at the tender pier and were soon on our way back to Veendam. We bobbed around in the water about 20 minutes while waiting for the tender dock shipside to clear. Once onboard we hung our jackets to dry and enjoyed a lido lunch. I spent quite a bit of time in the pool and hot tub. We attended the 3:00 movie, and it was a full house in the theater. Dinner was very good. Ricardo the wine steward is entertaining. I enjoyed a pork chop and scallops wrapped in bacon. A new dessert was on tonight’s menu, “Apple blossom.” It was very good. After dinner DW tried to find seats in the Ocean Bar while I distributed my tour reminders for Thursday. No seats were available. We went to the showroom early for the singers and dancers in “Heat.” By 7:40 the room was standing room only. The show was okay. The rocking of the ship surely gave the dancers some added challenges. By the time the show was over we were exhausted and called it a night. We ‘lose’ an hour tonight moving to Atlantic Time and have an 8:15 shore excursion meet time tomorrow in Saint John, New Brunswick. Thursday, April 27, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada – King’s Day Veendam arrived in Saint John just a few minutes late, apparently due to the challenges of docking with strong tidal currents. Our private tour group met at 8:15 and the ship was cleared at about 8:30. We were off the ship within five minutes and quickly met our guide for the day, Alexei of Go Fundy Tours. Alex took us to his van and off we went. It was still foggy and a bit rainy in the morning but the weather did improve as the day progressed. We first visited the reversing falls which were quite a torrent heading downstream as the tide was out, and hour after low tide. He also showed us his ‘secret’ passage under a bridge to another lookout. We visited the fort at the highest point on the city. While it looked historic it is a recreation built in the last 30 years. Alex told us that the best things to see are outside of town. The area is known for wonderful scenery and wildlife viewings, as well of course, for the world’s largest tidal changes. We headed to Saint Martin on the Bay of Fundy. Along the way we made several other stops for photo ops. At Saint Martin, we climbed the lighthouse for 360 degree views. The fog had lifted inland and had retreated to the harbor entrance. There are two covered bridges and several lobster boats in port. When the tide is out the lobster boats are aground, but by this time the tide was well towards high tide and one of the boats was preparing to leave as we watched. We next drove a mile or so down the road to see the Saint Martin sea caves. These large caves were bore into the sandstone cliffs by waves over many centuries. Alex parked the van a little past the caves and asked if we were up to a 30 minute walk ‘through the woods.’ Everyone was game. We basically walked above the sea caves to a few overlooks where we could see the sea action up close. We also had great views back toward the village (and watched the ship’s tour bus pull into to restaurant). Alex also showed us a 19th century family cemetery above the caves. We opted not to stop in the restaurant preferring to see more. The tour was to include the Fundy Trail parkway. Due to insurance complications (this is a private road) Alex could not obtain access this early in the year. We drove to the small town of Sussex and stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a rest break. Alex provided beverages and a snack. There were several banks nearby so I visited an RBC branch to obtain some Canadian currency from the ATM. We returned to Saint John via the expressway. Returning to the reversing falls the tide was right at high tide and the flow was still reversed. There were many more birds enjoying the high water and there were no ‘falls’ as the water covered the rocky river bottom by many meters. Alex took us to the beach where the fog greeted us once again. Afterwards we returned to town at about 2:45 and he left us at the city market. We settled up with Alex and he accompanied us into the market where he provided a sample of smoked sweet Salmon. Everyone enjoyed the sample; it was quite tasty and actually sweet. In the city market I purchased some cut tulips for cabin. The only other purchase was a can of diet coke. We stopped in the mall to use the restrooms and look in the ‘dollar souvenir shop.’ We walked back to the ship. Today is King’s day (The Netherlands King Alexander’s 50th birthday) and Veendam had scheduled several special events. The first being a “King’s day afternoon tea.” This was the first complete “Service failure” of the cruise. We went to the dining room and found there was still a line, so we returned our jackets and touring essentials to our cabin. Back to the dining room it still took us over 15 minutes in line to be seated. The poor dining room host was seating everyone by himself and he really needed help. We were seated with four others who were about done with their tea. Our cups will filled with hot water but no one came around with tea. Finally the tea appeared. No one came with any small sandwiches or desserts. Finally DW got so frustrated, she went and found a waiter and had him come over with desserts. The almond cookies are not what they once were. She left to clean up after our day ashore. I spoke with the dining room hose and shared with him how the service was not up to HAL standards. We went to dinner and much to our surprise another couple was at our table. After five nights it was rather awkward having a ‘new’ couple join us. They were rather quiet and are celebrating their 60th anniversary. Dinner was very good, especially the Dutch Apple Pie dessert. We attended the show, comedian Mike Robinson. I don’t generally like ventriloquist acts however Mike’s was rather enjoyable. As we were seated in the midst of a row, we could not make a quick escape to the 9:00 King’s Day party in the crow’s nest. Rather we enjoyed the trio and the Ocean Bar. When their set was complete we went to the crow’s nest and by that time some were leaving and seats were available. We enjoyed listening to the band and seeing the crowd. Many of the ship’s officers were present but I noticed they nearly exclusively stayed in the own little groups rather than mingling with the guests. Just before 10:00 we headed down to the Mix to listen to Barry at the Piano bar. We managed to stay until 10:50 and called it a night. Friday, April 28 – At Sea Today is the fifth foggy day in a row. This is getting to be a bit much. We slept in being woken by the coffee/tea delivery that came at 7:28. A bit later we began to stir and made our way to the dining room a little after 9:00. I attended the 10:00 “BBC Earth” presentation and most appreciated the middle section which was on the Rockhopper penguins of Cape Horn. I worked some on my log and then distributed the tour reminders for tomorrow’s tour in Halifax. We had Pinnacle reservations for noon with cruise critic friends. The food was all very good but they did mix up DW and my orders (wrong sides with wrong entrees) so they needed to take it back. Of course apologies came that the kitchen mixed things up. However they also had our dessert orders confused and it really appeared the servers were rather clueless. I enjoyed the pool (rather warm) and hot tubs (not as warm as they should be) for a while before getting ready for the gala evening. We stopped by the Ocean Bar for the end of Happy Hour on our way to dinner. Dinner was good and was followed by Vocalist & Impressionist Tricia Kelly. We have seen Tricia at least once, I think twice before. My opinion is she would do better singing her original material. We enjoyed Barry at the Piano Bar. His impression of the captain’s weather announcement was hysterical and I laughed so hard I cried. Quite a way to end the evening. Back in the cabin, I noticed we were moving at high speed towards Halifax and we ended up docking around midnight. Saturday, April 29, 2017 – Halifax, Nova Scotia We woke already docked in Halifax. Our meeting time for our tour with Paul McNeil of Halifax Titanic Historical Tours is 9:15 so there is no rush this morning. We enjoyed a dining room breakfast and I had the special order Gingerbread waffles. They were very good. They gave me four which was way more than I could eat so some were shared with others at our table. We met our tour group with everyone on time in the Ocean Bar. Paul was waiting for us immediately outside the terminal building and away we went on a very through tour of the historic and photo scenic sites around Halifax. We were at the Citadel for the firing of the noon gun, were able to tour inside the Citadel after the firing, saw the sites of the Halifax explosion of 1917 and the cannon that was shot 3 ½ miles into Dartmouth. We also stopped by the Titanic gravesite and many other places, including a number of the seven universities in Halifax. One think Paul pointed out on numerous occasions is how new construction is designed to match or blend in with older buildings in the downtown area. A booming ship building industry has made Halifax into a boom town and growth is evident, even though they average fifteen feet (nearly five meters) of snow per winter. Paul pointed out a snow pile still slowly melting in a parking lot, and the snow was still white. The weather improved during the day and by early afternoon it was becoming rather pleasant. We went to the nearby (30 minutes) authentic fishing village of Fisherman’s Cove. It was obvious they still caught fish here as you could smell the fish, but in a pleasant way. He showed us a five pound lobster. We had a great lunch at “Wharf Wraps” with some of the best Fish and Chips I recall. They make it from a ten ounce Haddock fillet lightly crusted and fried. Yummy. After lunch we returned to Halifax via the older bridge. Interestingly, they are ‘raising’ this bridge incrementally so that it gives an additional six feet of clearance to ships. This is being done while the bridge remains in use. Paul showed us the hydraulic jacks installed on the cables. Every night they bridge is raised a little bit. This is expected to extend the life of the bridge by 50 years. Returning to the port everyone agreed this was a great tour. We did some shopping at Pier 21 and I bought a couple of polo shirts. We were back on board just in time to get cleaned up for dinner. Dinner was very nice tonight despite an apparently lackluster menu. I went with our server’s suggestion of the “Clod tenderloin.” It reminded me of a good London Broil. The show tonight was local talent, a Celtic concert by the “MacDonald sisters.” After the show we enjoyed Barry at the Piano Bar. We’ve been staying up past 10:30 every night lately as Barry is a bad influence, but also so much fun. Sunday, April 30 – Sydney, Nova Scotia Coffee & Tea were brought a little early but I had previously been out just to catch an actual sunrise! Yes, no fog! Although we don’t dock until 11:00 in Sydney the dining room is on a port day scheduled so we went for breakfast at about 7:40. We enjoyed sharing travel tales with two couples we had not met before. I attended the Sunday non-denominational service and brought tea & coffee back to the room. The sail in to Sydney is quite pretty. It was extremely windy and about a half-hour after the pilot boarded the ship listed further than we have experienced in 27 prior cruises. Fortunately DW was seated at our desk and was able to catch the bottles as they began to fall. We ended up docking about 30 minutes late, and this is a brief call to begin with. We had a private tour set with Blackwood tours along with one other (unknown) couple. Despite our best efforts to be among the first group off the ship, we were the later ones to arrive. Still, we left long before the ship’s tour buses and were off on a very through tour of the area. Our driver/guide was Tom and the owner Bob also came along. We enjoyed a great ride down the St. Andrews channel to the Scottish highland village of Iona. We took a “Cable ferry” across a narrow point of St. Patrick’s channel and then drove to Baddeck. At Baddeck we were treated to some incredible views of the waterfront, a cute lighthouse, and the Bell mansion across the lake on a hillside. Next we had 45 minutes to explore the Bell museum, and we felt this was just the right amount of time to spend there. After leaving the building we saw two Bald Eagles soaring above us. We tracked them for some time and were able to get a few photos and video. Leaving Baddeck we stopped to see St Ann’s lake and bay. We tried to stop at Gaelic college but it was closed. We climbed the mountain, stopping at the viewpoints well worthwhile to stop. We got off the highway for some great views along the northern end of St. Andrew’s channel and returned to the port at 4:40 for our 5:30 all aboard. With very little time we did peruse the vendors at the port market and made a few purchases, including a photo of Veendam passing behind the Sydney lighthouse. Back on board we quickly changed clothes and made it to dinner. The elusive ‘third couple’ made an appearance tonight. The show was comedian Jim McCue. I did not think he was very funny, although some on board enjoyed his routine. We sat in the back for a quick exit to get good seats at the Piano bar. We stayed until Barry’s extended first set ended at 10:45. We were again in stitches over his interpretation of the captain’s announcement. Monday, May 1 – Charlottetown, PEI We were up early as we had a full day planned. Breakfast was in the lido and I waited a long time to get an Omelet made. Even though we reached the lido a little after 7:00, the starboard side was not yet opened. Of course, after waiting for an Omelet, then it was open. The two couples touring with us were ready and we disembarked promptly at 8:10 with no delays. We used “Tom’s port guide” and found our way to Founder’s Hall, where the Enterprise rent a car van picked me up. I was back 20 minutes later with our mini-van for the day. Our primary objective for the day was to have “Fun with Falcons.” We booked this through “Experience PEI” and made no mention of being cruise ship passengers. My phone application “Waze” got us there with time to spare for our 10:00 presentation. If I could give this outing ten stars on TripAdvisor I would, but their limit is five stars. This was the most personal & close up encounter with these magnificent birds that I have ever experienced. What a wonderful day learning about, holding on my hand, and seeing these incredible creatures in flight. This is a “Once in a lifetime” type of experience that I recommend without hesitation. Jaime and his family (including several very well behaved dogs) are a delight. Bring lots of empty memory card space on your camera for sure! After our two hours with Jaime we headed West the few additional kilometers to the Confederation Bridge village. This bridge connects PEI to New Brunswick and is the only fixed crossing. Many of the shops in the village had not yet opened. We enjoyed the welcome center where I obtained maps for the “Central Coastal Drive” tour that we would take along our return to Charlottetown. We purchased a few hats in the gift shop and stopped at a Tim Hortons for coffee and a small snack. The Central Coastal Drive was a great way to spend our afternoon returning towards Charlottetown. We enjoyed the lighthouse at Victoria Harbor and many wonderful views along the coast. We visited the Port-La-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site and saw two of the three lighthouses near there. We crossed the West River and soon found we were back on the main highway. We stopped at Cows Creamery, rated #1 in the world for Ice Cream by Tauck World Discovery. We also visited the “Anne of Green Gables Chocolates” for some chocolate covered potato chips. We filled up the van with fuel and I dropped everyone off at the ship at 3:35 to return the van. I was back on the ship at 4:00 for our 4:30 sail away. Dinner was fine but unexciting. I ordered a “Grilled flank steak” and received three small slices of what looked more like London Broil. The waiters knew I would want more so a second helping was ready. We skipped the singers and dancers show “Dance” in favor of watching the transit of Veendam under the Confederation Bridge. It was really cold on the deck over the Crow’s Nest and it reminded me of viewing in Antarctica, except I was not prepared for this cold. They how lowered the one antenna to ensure clearance but it looked to me like we had plenty of room as we sailed under. We went early to the Mix to get seats in the back area near where friends usually sit. Again we greatly enjoyed our time there and stayed until Barry took a break at 10:35. Tuesday, May 02, 2017 – At sea, up the St. Lawrence river. The fog is back. We gained back the hour last night and needed it. Coffee/tea was delivered at 7:30. We went to breakfast in the DR and for the first time this cruise ended up with four companions that we did not enjoy. When all four show up with their ‘newspapers’ and they are more interested in looking at the papers than having a conversation that is not a good sign. Finally today there is an “America’s test kitchen” presentation that DW attended at 10:00. I stayed behind to catch up my log and also look over e-mails while catching yesterday’s movie “Passengers” on the room TV. We joined our dinner tablemates for lunch at the Pinnacle. Today were the two Mariner’s lunches. The menu was particularly unappealing and the Pinnacle sounded like a better option. The food in the Pinnacle is very good, but the wait staff seems quite challenged. I heard they boarded just four weeks ago in San Diego, but would HAL put rookie servers in the Pinnacle? They seem to have trouble communicating with the guests… In the afternoon we attended the Q& A with the captain. The Q&A led our opinion of the Captain to improve. He clearly takes responsibility for the ship. I also found it interesting that he sailed with Veendam on the Amazon River cruise a few months back as a passenger as he wanted to experience the itinerary. Tonight is the last gala night of the cruise. The fog had kind of lifted during the day but came back with a vengeance at dinner time. Surf and Turf was the popular entrée tonight. Without asking, our waiters brought me two filets and two lobster tails. One of the filets was exceptional. The other was overcooked and I did not eat it. The Lobster was very good for frozen, no complaints. The show tonight was the “Skinny German Juggle Boy Hilby.” Realizing that people’s tastes in entertainment differ, I thought this was the single worst entertainer I’ve even seen on a cruise. When I was pretty sure he was occupied in a different direction I made an early escape. The Piano Bar was again the place to be and we stayed until Barry’s break at 10:35. Wednesday, May 3 – Saguenay, Quebec This is the Veendam’s only call this year at Saguenay, and that is a shame. I really don’t understand why HAL doesn’t change up the Canada/New England cruises a bit. Saguenay has a well-earned reputation as the friendliest cruise port in the world and we agree. Townsfolk were on the dock as the ship tied up. They were dressed in period costumes and did a number of dances. The Veendam tweeted its horn several times in reply. We were off early (8:15) for our planned 9:30 tour and enjoyed the pier area, where we were served complimentary Blueberry pie, Blueberry juice, got to cut a log like a lumberjack resulting in a nice souvenir, and took photos with a historic car and Native Americans. All this before passing off the pier! Saguenay also has a modern clean cruise port. About seven vendors were present (along with tourist information and a pleasant coffee shop). We ended up purchasing a wood carving of a lumberjack. I took a walk to an ATM at a bank a few blocks away. Regretfully the ATM was only accessible from behind locked doors and the bank did not open until 10:00. We were on time for our tour with “Tours adventure Fjord et Monde” and checked in quickly. It was not until after we left the port that the guide told us that due to lingering snow the National Park, the primary destination of our tour, was closed. They had alternatives to “Substitute.” It turned out that three of the six “Steps” of our tour could not be done. We could not view the nativity scenes in the village of Riviere-Eternite as the path was still buried in snow. We could not visit the Arse-de-Tabatiere National Park and see the “7th most beautiful view in Canada” as it was closed. Finally our visit to the Anse-Saith-Jean marina area became a one hour ‘lunch stop’ rather a brief coffee break as only one local craft shop was open and there was time to fill up. We did enjoy the visit to the unique covered bridge and the Pyramid in town. But as we generally do not take time for a full lunch on a port visit when time is so precious we felt we did not receive what we paid for. Getting back to the port at 2:00 we quickly prepared for the 2:15 meeting time to attend “La Fabuleuse” a show performed by over 100 local volunteers. This show was truly magnificent and the special effects were Broadway quality. Live animals, real antique vehicles, fire and paratroopers were all part of the performance. This is very highly recommended if you are lucky enough to have a port call in Saguenay. Returning to the ship we quickly prepared for dinner. After dinner the onboard show was Piano Virtuoso Hyperion Knight. He is superb. We made a quick exit at the end of his show for the Piano bar and enjoyed another evening until Barry’s break at 10:35. This is becoming habit-forming. What are we going to do Saturday night when we are off the ship??? Thursday, May 04, 2017 – Quebec City We went to the Lido the second day in a row for breakfast. Today they had waffles and I got them hot right out of the waffle iron. Before breakfast, we enjoyed sailing up the Isle de Orleans and with the morning sun effectively right behind us, the colors we great for photography from the balcony. Yes, sunshine – only the second sunny day since Florida! I had arranged a rental car for the day with Avis from the Hilton hotel. We met another couple who joined us for the day and took an Uber to the Hilton. Finding the rental car in the Hilton’s underground garage was quite an effort. While we were upgraded to a Grand Cherokee, this was by far the dirtiest rental vehicle I’ve ever seen, like it had not been washed for months. Regardless, it was a good deal and got us where we needed to go for the day. We found our way to Montmorency Falls and Ile d'Orleans Island. We spent about two hours at the falls including a ride on the cable car and a walk over the suspension bridge hanging over the falls. With the combination of snow melt and recent heavy rains the falls were roaring and kicking up a lot of mist. Next we drove over to the island. We enjoyed the tour of about 2/3 of the island and stopped for several photo ops. We found a great orchard where they make Apple ciders and Apple Ice Wine, along with other Apple products. Could not resist buying some to bring home. We stopped at a café for a light lunch. Nothing exceptional but it was a good chance to take a break. We left the café a little before two and all agreed to head to the Basilica of Saint Anne-de-Beaupre. This was worth the half-hour drive as it is an enormous Basilica and quite beautiful. After the Basilica we began to drive back stopping to fill the fuel as we approached Quebec City. A slow taxi ride returned us to Veendam at about 4:40 and we prepared for dinner. This is our last evening in the dining room as cruise critic friends invited us to the Pinnacle for the last dinner tomorrow. We said our farewells to Rota and Adi and thanked them for their service and taking care of our special requests. Same with Ricardo our wine steward. There is no 8:00 show tonight and by the time we left the dining room the “Trio” (which ended up being a duo nearly the entire journey) was just wrapping up their set in the Ocean Bar. We returned to our cabin and enjoyed being out on our verandah as the sun went down and the city lights came on. I brought my log up to date and caught up on e-mails. At 8:45 we went down to the Mix and secured prime seats for the piano bar. Tonight was exceptional and not crowded as many guests attended the 9:30 performance in the showroom but we stayed in the piano bar. When Barry took his short 10:35 break we went to the late night snack and had a light bite. We then returned to the piano bar and remained until after 11:30. The cruise is almost over and we are making the most of it! Friday, May 05, 2017 – Quebec City - day two After our late night we did not order in coffee & tea and we slept until 8:00. We went to breakfast in the dining room and enjoyed visiting with two couples from Canada. We returned to the cabin for a while and had an invite on our phone from our friends to join them for pre-dinner appetizers in their suite tonight. It is raining this morning but it appears a break is coming late morning / early afternoon. We also need to pack today. We left the ship around 11:00 and took a taxi to the farmer’s market. We enjoyed walking the market and ran into the friends we are having dinner with tonight. The orchard we visited yesterday had a stand at the market. A few different items were available which were sampled. We also bought a few single-serve bottles of non-alcoholic cider for immediate consumption. So good. With our friends we walked back to Veendam. We put our purchases in the room and had a light lunch at the lido. We left the ship again about 1:30 and walked to and through the lower part of the old town. We visited a few shops and at one they had a lot of blueberry products from the Saguenay region. We sampled a blueberry cider and it was unique and enjoyable so we obtained a bottle to bring home. We returned to Veendam at about 3:00 and began the packing process, which was essentially complete by 4:15. We called our dinner tablemates and asked if they would like to meet in the Ocean Bar for happy hour. They met us there and we were able to say a proper farewell. Our friends we are having dinner with are in a Neptune Suite and invited us for pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at 5:30. From their verandah we watched the sail under the Jacques Cartier bridge as we head towards Montreal. We went to the Pinnacle Grill at 6:00 for our reservation. We laughed as we were seated at the exact same table for our two lunches at the Pinnacle. Once again, the food at the Pinnacle was very good and the service below par. I ordered the King Crab legs and it had to be a full pound of them, so good. Our friends like the Cherry Garcia ice cream from the Baked Alaska but are not fans of the meringue. They prearranged for the ice cream to be available separately. Once again, the dessert order was confused. I ordered the Chocolate Volcano cake and only ate about half of it. They did bring extra Cherry Garcia ice cream so I had some of that. We enjoyed our meal with these new friends and bade our farewell at about 8:30. We returned to the cabin to find Hengky & Krikson as they took good care of our needs especially with our abundant use of the laundry service, so we had a little thank you for them. Afterwards we went to the Piano Bar one last time this cruise. Had a wonderful time there until Barry’s break at 10:35, when we headed back to call it a night. Saturday, May 06, 2017 – Disembarkation & summary The Veendam seems to be perpetually late, and again this morning was no exception. The distance from Quebec City to Montreal is not very great, and despite leaving Quebec City early, we were 45 minutes late to dock. Of course, this pushes back everyone’s disembarkation time. We went to the dining room for breakfast at 6:30, as we were passing parts of the very industrial port. It was nearly 8:00 by the time the gangway was in place and the door was open so luggage could be retrieved by shore side staff. Sure enough, our 8:00 departure became 9:00. Taxis were waiting and a $25.00 cab ride got us to our downtown Avis car rental. Summary: I hesitated to book Veendam based on cruise critic feedback and reviews. Some on board had issues with their cabins, especially with climate control. Fortunately we had no such troubles. The entertainment is way above what we experienced last fall on Koningsdam, and despite its age, I much prefer the smaller ship size. One of the aft elevators was out of order the entire cruise. I don’t know who is responsible for the entertainer’s schedules but it seems to me that a little tweaking, especially of the Ocean Bar trio would serve passengers well. Their first set is at 6:30. This is too early for first seating guests and also too early for late seating guests looking for pre-dinner cocktails and entertainment. I would think that bar revenue would increase with a tweaking to 7:00 for the first set, and it would entertain more guests. The Adagio duet had a large early audience but I often saw just two or three couples at the later sets. I would really like to know who determines these schedules, is this corporate dictate or is this managed on each ship? If on the ship, is it the cruise director, hotel manager, who? It is not the ship’s fault that the weather was so horrendous, but many on board were commenting that this cruise is ‘just too early.’ That may be why they had to reduce the price so much as sailing date approached. Perhaps the experts in Seattle should consider doing this one two weeks later as I think that would make a huge difference. Alternatively, do a Caribbean / Bermuda repositioning cruise, calling on Aruba to comply with the Jones act. “America’s test kitchen” was invisible on the first two-thirds of this sailing. We were told the presenter had a family emergency. Fair enough. Is there no chef on Veendam that with the CD could not do an entertaining kitchen demo? We’ve attended some wonderful cooking demos on various ships and no corporate tie in was needed to provide guests with a great sea day experience. What really ‘made’ our cruise was Barry from Boston in the Mix Piano Bar. He starts at 9:00 and takes one very short “Eight minute break” at about 10:30. Barry will be on our booked Maasdam New Zealand/Australia cruise over the holidays and it will be great to see him again. In summary, this was a pretty okay cruise so far as the on board experience. Certainly not four stars, but way better than our Koningsdam experience last fall. 3 ½ stars to the Veendam with hopes that things may improve as we would like these smaller ships to stay in the fleet. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
It was our first cruise. What we liked: - Staff were friendly - Balcony cabin was great - Days at sea, we could get loungers - Lots of activities - Soups in the dining room - Breakfast in the dining room - Amber ... Read More
It was our first cruise. What we liked: - Staff were friendly - Balcony cabin was great - Days at sea, we could get loungers - Lots of activities - Soups in the dining room - Breakfast in the dining room - Amber Cove - The Zip line and the pool - Amber Cover - The beach. Skip the package and take a taxi to the beach - early in the day. - Grand Turk - best port- Margaritaville Bar - a must - Nassau - Good port but a little disappointing... - Blues piano bar - Great - Evening show: Great efforts- Loved 70s/80s and 80s nights. Motown show was great but needed one stronger and robust male voice. What we didn't really like: - DIRTY, DIRTY Balcony glass and room windows. They hadn't been cleaned for some time. Once I cleaned them myself, I had a great view. However, I couldn't entirely reach down on the outside. Take anti-bacterial wipes - Lido deck buffet - Ample food but seemed boring - Dining room food - It was just warm enough.. never quite as warm as you would like - Quality of dining room food - Just good enough, but not as good as you would like - Gold member cruisers said that the food quality/variety has really slipped - First day in our cabin - a couple of drawers and cupboard doors were open and the bed seemed messy...Weren't quite entirely sure that it was okay.. next day we asked for it to be entirely redone. No problem after that -CASINO - Woman making the late night announcements is so loud that her announcements came through the floor - the last three nights... we could understand the words. Guest services wouldn't listen to the complaint unless we went down three decks and that would have involved getting dressed. SO DECK SIX.. check what you are over. -Amber Cove - Skip the package of the one hour tour of the city and the beach with those lovely day beds. -The one hour tour was an Amber Factory (3 guys and a very large gift shop) It is really lame. We did not see a park. We did not really see the city. -Beach - You get two hours and it is unlikely one of those beds will be available. However, you should get a lounger with an umbrella - Ship photographer (in front of ship rail). He had us stand in really contrived ways which were not complimentary and we looked horrible - even though it was formal night. we did not buy any pictures. Do not agree to stand in an unnatural pose. Recommendations: - Check out reviews of food and ports ahead of time - Book special dining room beforehand - Make sure your cabin is done before you move in - Make a complaint about noise early in the trip rather than later - Don't agree to unnatural poses for the photos - Relax.. my comments may seem extensive, but we had a good time. We will do it again, but we will do more research and of other cruise lines.. next time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because it was to sail out of Tampa but about a month after booking We read on CC that they changed it to FLL. All our return travel was booked back to Tampa and we had to make a number of changes and HAL only picked ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was to sail out of Tampa but about a month after booking We read on CC that they changed it to FLL. All our return travel was booked back to Tampa and we had to make a number of changes and HAL only picked up the airfare from TPA to FLL. The weather was quite cold and did not improve much during the cruise. We feel it was too early to start this itinerary. The ship came out of drydock but it seems that they only did mechanical improvements and it still had the old tvs and dvd players. My main complaint was that they stopped serving fresh OJ except for Neptune and Pinnacle rooms and I couldn't get a firm response from staff on why they are doing this. We did finally get it I think because I tipped the room service waiter. The overall food was good and the shows for the first sea days were minimum. We would like to do this again in warm weather as we were bundled up at each port. I think we could have seen more. I did get the best mussels ever in PEI. Fat, clean and tasty. The lobster was just ok, not what we expected. The tours were ok and all the guides spoke English. Not much scenery this time of the year and we stayed on board several days due to weather. If booking this cruise from Boston or Montreal you should not do it until mid sumer. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We were excited to see how the changes were handled on the Veendam since we last sailed in 1998. We had heard that she had been in Dry Dock for refurbishing. When we first stepped on we were pleasantly surprised that she was so ... Read More
We were excited to see how the changes were handled on the Veendam since we last sailed in 1998. We had heard that she had been in Dry Dock for refurbishing. When we first stepped on we were pleasantly surprised that she was so beautifully decorated. Everything was new and fresh, but still with beautiful fresh flowers and art everywhere. The lido was was wonderful for our first lunch and thereafter with many choices to choose from and new hand-washing stations. Alll was well until that eve when we noticed a strong diesel smell that progressed together with soot appearing all over our counters. To make a long story short, after many other mishaps with the Front Office staff we were moved to another cabin after a week and also had problems there. We were satisfied with everything else on the cruise (with the exception of the service in the Pinnacle) Service throughout the rest of the ship was top-notch plus!! The entertainment was very,very good and HAL has improved that in recent years. I was surprised with the movie on the last night and I think that was due to being in port, which is unusual, but still?! Even though the ship had some mechanical problems throughout, we still had a wonderful time because of the fantastic service, ports, and the wonderful people that we met. It was really a good group of people. HAL needs to instruct it's Front Office Staff to treat the passengers better and give us credit for something! When we are courteous and honest with them, we expect the same in return. We are a loyal group when we are treated with respect and honesty. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We picked this cruise because we love Holland America and its smaller ships and because we liked the length and destination and ports of call as we sailed. Overall it was an excellent cruise but there were enough small things that ... Read More
We picked this cruise because we love Holland America and its smaller ships and because we liked the length and destination and ports of call as we sailed. Overall it was an excellent cruise but there were enough small things that needed improvement to downgrade it to very good. Ship an older ship, She entered service and has had an refit in 2012 and has annual dry dock visits. HVAC and some issues in a number of cabins - best described as erratic control of cabin temperature as the ship sailed from Florida to Canada. Drains in baths in cabins were very slow and in the men's locker room the shower drains were barely draining water. Spa manager when told of observations seemed to blow them off - she was indifferent rather than being concerned. Tile in spa men's showers was starting to come up and needs to be re-grouted. Food was very good and excellent in the Pinnacle Grill. There were service issues with Cannelto. Some hot meals in Rotterdam main dining room in the morning took way too long to be delivered. The Dive IN grill on the LIdo deck by the pool has excellent hot dogs and hamburgers and a very tasty small buffet with a Mexican flair. Veendam dancers and singers were OK, but one of the women was a superb dancer. Special entertainers brought on board for one night could have done two shows easily and they were super. Service in dining room and cabin was over the top. We were the first ship going from Fort Lauderdale to Canada for the season so of course it was cool from Boston to Montreal. But since we were the only ship in the ports this made for a much more intimate experience and ability to interact with local residents. We are planning on the reverse itinerary on the Veendam in the Fall of 2017. So, in spite of the minor problems. We met a number of people that were on the roll call for this trip and wound up spending a bit of time with them. Combination of size of ship and length of voyage meant that we could get to know a number of people and share with them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016

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