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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
The ship was chosen because the price and date fit our needs. The problem was that the cruise director and her staff di nothing at all at the pool on the two days at sea. No music, no games, and not even a sail away party. When ... Read More
The ship was chosen because the price and date fit our needs. The problem was that the cruise director and her staff di nothing at all at the pool on the two days at sea. No music, no games, and not even a sail away party. When questioned by me, she stated that these were orders from the home office. Poor decision. The Lido buffet was good for Breakfast and Lunch except for the poor substitute for Orange Juice. It was just orange colored water. The entertainment needs to be looked at in two venues. The Piano Bar had a very poor talent in Barry from Boston. The worst was Adagio, a pianist and violinist who were lacking any personality and there music was difficult to stay awake with. The shows and guest entertainers were excellent as well as the trio playing in the lounge and the band in the Crows Nest. We will be on the Konnigsdam in July ad I hope that these situations are improved upon. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We love the Canada New England cruise and we do it on a regular basis. The ports are easy yet interesting and it is a very relaxing cruise. We were on the May 20th cruise and we experienced a full ship. The staff was excellent as ... Read More
We love the Canada New England cruise and we do it on a regular basis. The ports are easy yet interesting and it is a very relaxing cruise. We were on the May 20th cruise and we experienced a full ship. The staff was excellent as usual, the food was surprisingly good and varied. The cruise lasted 14 days and also took us to Bermuda. Luckily we visited on Bermuda Day which allowed us to participate in the big Bermuda annual parade. However, the ship is really showing her age and an extensive dry dock would should be done much before next year (as planned !) The Veendam in its current state is not the best ship of HAL. It is old and quite tired. Many carpets need replacement, the upholstery is worn out, the stateroom plumbing and equipment is unreliable etc. The Pinacle was delicious and we went to Le cirque special dinner. It was really a great meal. We also enjoyed the Canelleto however the service there was surprisingly slow because it was not busy. A good cruise but again, the ship has many issues. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I had never cruised to Bermuda and at the last minute decided to do this trip. I have done several HA cruises including the one that is the Canada/New England cruise. I enjoy HA. Their ships are cozy and much prettier than some of the ... Read More
I had never cruised to Bermuda and at the last minute decided to do this trip. I have done several HA cruises including the one that is the Canada/New England cruise. I enjoy HA. Their ships are cozy and much prettier than some of the Carnival's I've been on. I enjoyed the entertainment and the variety shows. I was particular pleased in that I didn't need ear plugs to enjoy the music. The sound levels was perfect. I wish that HA would do what Celebrity cruises do and that is have a smoke free interior. There is no smoking in the casinos on a Celebrity ship. It does help that the casino is only on the port side and you are not forced to walk through it every time you head to the stage show. The Microsoft workshop was a plus and worth attending. The instructor knew her stuff and made the class enjoyable. Too bad the ship's internet is expensive and slow. They could learn from the Carnival ships. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We are 5 Star Mariners with HAL and have traveled with them over 600 days. Read many negative reviews and my expectation level was reduced. We booked the Boston/Bermuda and Boston/New England segments. Boston is a great port city with ... Read More
We are 5 Star Mariners with HAL and have traveled with them over 600 days. Read many negative reviews and my expectation level was reduced. We booked the Boston/Bermuda and Boston/New England segments. Boston is a great port city with lots to see and do. We a lanai room for the first time, which was a great choice. Was interesting seeing people walking by through the darkened window. The Veendam had the best berth in the center of Hamilton. Wonderful being small enough to go in. The larger ships are miles away in a remote section of the Island. Bermuda is very expensive, so going by ship is smart. For example, wine at the Fairmont Princess costs $17/glass. We have anytime dining, so try to go on the early side to avoid waiting. The food in the MDR was fine. A good idea is to ask your waiter his recommendation. It is hard to believe that people complained about the food. The presentation was lovely and the food tasty. The Lido food was also good. They had two excellent salad areas, an Asian section, an Italian section, plus the normal offerings. My only suggestion would be to have signage indicating where the line should start. The pizza restaurant on Lido aft was extremely popular as was the Dive In. Our Captain, Noel O'Driscoll was the youngest in the fleet. He kept us informed as how to handle rough seas with ease. Our cruise director Keri Noble was always smiling and approachable. My negatives are few. We had two elevators sporadically working. The ship did show a little age in places and the lifeboats were showing some age. Most passengers were pleased with the Veendam's size. It was easy to navigate anywhere quickly. The showroom was very nice with good views from 95% of the seats. We both enjoyed having two comedians in 14 days. Thought the singers and dancers were the best ever. However, the production shows were weird in nature. Wish they could tailor the music to best feature the strength of the cast. The Casino was large with a friendly staff. Would we sail the Veendam again? Most certainly. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We enjoyed this cruise. As first-time cruisers, we chose one that originated and ended in Boston, which is within easy driving distance of our home. Sailing to Bermuda, staying in Hamilton for three nights, and returning to Boston seemed ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise. As first-time cruisers, we chose one that originated and ended in Boston, which is within easy driving distance of our home. Sailing to Bermuda, staying in Hamilton for three nights, and returning to Boston seemed ideal. We are familiar with Bermuda. Staying in Hamilton was perfect. It is an exceptionally good location for Bermuda. Embarkation: We arrived about half an hour before our scheduled embarkation time. Baggage drop off went well. We took our place in line and moved along smoothly. Check-in was quick and efficient. We were onboard and in our room right on time. This was a great start to the cruise. The age of the Veendam seems immaterial to a discussion of the cruise. It was comfortable, clean, and our plumbing worked. We were most impressed by the numerous hand washing stations, each of which had a sixteen-second cycle. There were numerous sanitizer stations as well. We also enjoyed the décor and ambiance. Dining: We enjoyed having breakfast in our room. It seemed a good way to start the day. Being early risers, we got breakfast a little later than we would like but an hour before the Lido opened. Fair enough trade off. Before breakfast, I would actually get up and walk around the ship, grabbing a cup of coffee in the Lido. There was always coffee available. Once, we did have breakfast in the Lido. It was fine. We often lunched in the Lido. It was quick and easy. The longest line was for Asian, which really didn’t interest either of us. We did notice that the staff made a salad for you the entire cruise. This is a good move. Sanitation trumps convenience. The oatmeal served in the Lido was very good. We did have lunch in the main dining room once, and now wonder why we didn’t do so more often. The service was good and the food enjoyable. The Dive-In had a very good Taco bar. One could make a meal to taste. The one disappointment was the pizza vendor, called The Slice. First, you could not buy by the slice. You had to purchase a whole pizza. Second, they claimed it was “New York Style” pizza. Even New Yorkers might take offense at that designation. We passed. We had all our dinners in the main dining room. After the first meal, we ruled out going to either specialty restaurant simply because we enjoyed our table, company, staff, and food. One of us has a food allergy. The staff knew this. At the end of each meal, they brought the next evening’s menu and allowed the person to choose the selections for the next evening. This was a very good way to deal with the allergy. Kudos to Holland America. The portions seemed to be appropriate for the average person. We certainly left the table content. Had we wanted more of anything, we could have asked. The wine steward seemed a bit slow, but dinners were, overall, quite good. Each evening the table service was sparkling clean. Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar was quite nice. We only went once and now realize we should have gone more often. Entertainment: We are early risers and early to bed. We can’t comment on most entertainment. We did go see the Gombey Dance troop. We had seen one perform on a previous visit to Bermuda and wanted to see another one. They were quite good. We enjoyed the show tremendously. We consider Casinos a form of entertainment but could not bring ourselves to participate. Even walking through was difficult, given the volume of smoke. The pall of smoke hung in the air even when the casino was not open. To allow fair access to everyone, the Casino should be smoke-free. Smokers may always go to a designated smoking area to satisfy their cravings and then return. Those of us who react negatively to smoke had no choice but to avoid the area. Our guess is the vendor is losing money with the current smoking policy. We certainly didn’t spend any money there. Shore excursions: Having been to Bermuda before, most excursions didn’t interest us. We did do the snorkel at the reef with two shipwrecks. Given the waves, water got in the snorkel tubes, making the experience less than ideal. It was enjoyable, but in retrospect, snorkeling in a protected cove would have been a much better experience. Also, the handicapped need to be more realistic about what they can and cannot do. Our excursion was delayed by a person who had extreme difficulty accessing the boat. That should have been handled much better than it was. A lot of help was in order, but it was not forthcoming from the Veendam staff. The person took a long time getting down the narrow stairs. Bermuda Day: We chose the dates of this cruise to participate in Bermuda Day. It is The Bermuda National Holiday. The parade was an experience. It passed by on Front Street, right below our Verandah. Overall, we enjoyed it. However, it did disappoint in some ways. It was too long, there were too many gaps between parade participants, and there was only one Gombey Dance Troupe. The streets along the parade route were packed with onlookers. As someone said, either you were in the parade or watching the parade. Family’s have their favorite viewing locations and set-up their tents. They have lunch. They share with anyone who comes by. It reminded me of one huge, family picnic held along the parade route. Other Thoughts: We were last in Bermuda in December 2015. We went to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens then. We walked from the Veendam to the gardens the morning of the parade, hoping to see the plants blooming and at full glory. We were greatly disappointed. The gardens are a neglected wasteland. Debarkation: Debarkation was delayed, apparently by customs issues and inattentive passengers. Once called, we went smoothly off the ship, got our baggage in good order, and waited at the curb for our ride. However, discourteous people pulled up and parked, waiting for passengers who had not yet left the ship. The police let this happen. So, we had to go to extraordinary lengths to get our luggage in our vehicle and then proceed away from the traffic mess. Debarkation procedures onboard and on the street need to be improved. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We really enjoyed this cruise the staff were very accommodating. The food is fantastic. We liked the fact that they still offer a a Gala night which include lobster tails, something other cruise lines have eliminated. Having been on more ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise the staff were very accommodating. The food is fantastic. We liked the fact that they still offer a a Gala night which include lobster tails, something other cruise lines have eliminated. Having been on more than 40 cruises we can say HAL does a exceptional job in catering to the customer. The cabins are huge compared to NCL and we liked the size of the ship. Easy to get around.The entertainment was very good, loved John Joseph comedian. We enjoyed the no charge America test kitchen Amanda was great in showing the science of preparing a great meal. Also we loved the fact that the pool area has a sliding dome so you can enjoy the pool while cruising from cooler climates. Since we left out of Boston we were pleased with how easy the embarkation was when you compare to NYC departures its was less hectic. Will definitely sail her again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The perfect cruise of 7 days between Boston and Bermuda. We were on the East Coast visiting relatives. We have cruised over 3 times, mainly with Celebrity. The Veendam sailed out of Boston and back so it was good schedule and we ... Read More
The perfect cruise of 7 days between Boston and Bermuda. We were on the East Coast visiting relatives. We have cruised over 3 times, mainly with Celebrity. The Veendam sailed out of Boston and back so it was good schedule and we wanted Bermuda for 3+ days. The ship was small-1400 passengers. It is over 20 years old but well maintained, with an excellent mostly Indonesian crew. The service and attitude of cabin and food staff was excellent!!! The window cabin was fine and the bathroom tub/shower was fine. Food and entertainment were not as good as Celebrity, but still very good. The captain and his info (capt Noel) was excellent in keeping people advised of weather and route. The advantage of being docked on Front Street, right in Hamilton town was great. The staff were not pushy or overly vocal with announcements. Criticism I read about cabin smells, noise, etc were not at all applicable. We cared about the seas and had only one rough day on the way back and lucky to have two out of 3 sunny May days in Bermuda. If weather was bad, that would have been bad. Overall value was excellent. We had only taken one other HAL cruise, which was a bunch of ol' people only. This was a better mix of ages and also about 30 families with kids. Was my opinion of HAL changed-Yes-good job Veendam!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We chose the Veendam for the itinerary. Boston to Bermuda with approximately 3 days in Bermuda and that it docked in Hamilton. For this primary purpose the Veendam did it's job. To begin .. The cruiseport in Boston was easy to get ... Read More
We chose the Veendam for the itinerary. Boston to Bermuda with approximately 3 days in Bermuda and that it docked in Hamilton. For this primary purpose the Veendam did it's job. To begin .. The cruiseport in Boston was easy to get to and embarkation went smoothly. Our cabin was ready and we had fantastic room stewards. We had a Neptune suite and it had one of the best floor plans of any ship we have been on. We were satisfied with our room, the service and the concierge lounge and the service there. The Veendam is an older ship and yes it does show it's age. But, the various areas were, overall, in good condition. We did not have plumbing or A/C problems and found every public bathroom we used to be in working order. The casino was a good size and had newer machines. The casino manager was excellent and attentive. The lounges were all very nice, with Barry of Boston having the biggest crowd. It was nice to see that the ship did seem to have a lounge for various interests.. one for dancing, the piano bar, and a lounge with classical music and the Crows Nest for livelier entertainment. The biggest disappointment for us was the food. The servings in the main diningroom were incredibly small. I ordered scallops for my appetizer as did others at our table. We were ALL amazed when our plates arrived with only .. 2 .. SMALL scallops on each. After our initial amazement we all broke out in laughter at the ridiculousness of it. I ordered the chicken breast for my main entree... I had a piece of rolled chicken breast that was about 2 inches long. It seems they must be really cutting back their food budget. We ate one night at the Canaletto and it was definitely not worth the extra money. First, it is just an area cut off from the Lido buffet area.. and it was never very busy. The food was not very interesting. Pasta was as good in the Lido. We also went to The Pinnacle dining room another night. The room is lovely, the staff is good, but my husband's porterhouse was way overcooked. It was tough. My NY strip steak was also overcooked, but not as bad as his. We wanted the risotto for our side and it caused quite a stir because it was listed as an entree and they were going to charge us an extra $15.oo for it. But, the manager decided that it could be served (in a small portion) as a 'side'.. at no extra cost. We did discover that she was new to HAL and had come from another cruise line that knew how to handle these things, gracefully. We also found the Lido to be very unorganized. Very understaffed, long lines with workers cooking and serving, which really slowed the process down. All the food areas had long lines and seemed disorganized. We did not gain weight on this cruise. I would say, the main diningroom had the best food, tho very small portions. (We did hear that some men were asking for 2 or 3 servings at one time). We found some of the staff to be disinterested while others were extremely nice and attentive. We found the entertainment to be uninteresting. The stage is small, the productions.. small. The singers were very good tho. Bermuda is BEAUTIFUL. We golfed at The Port Royal golf course. The back nine is gorgeous. We were lucky to have perfect weather for a fun day. One tip, we took the ferry from Hamilton to St. George's. We did not realize that there is an hour and a half wait in The Dockyards for the ferry to St. George's. That kind of messed up our schedule, but the view sailing into St. George's was fantastic. We went on one shore excursion, it was the Sunset Champagne Catamaran. We really enjoyed this ride. We also went to the Crystal Caves, but we did this on our own. There is a bit of waiting and walking when doing this by public bus. We were lucky, we ended up getting there for the last tour (we got there just before 4 pm).. We had a very small group. From what we heard from others, this was a good thing. I think if I were using the ship as a way to get to Bermuda and stay relatively inexpensively, yes, I would do it. There were many pro's and con's for us. I'm glad I did the trip, would I go again ? No. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
TRANSFERS Our flight left Toronto a little after 10:00, and we arrived in Boston (Logan) Airport around 11:30. The airport—ship—airport transfers (all booked through HAL) were well-co-ordinated and very fast. HAL ... Read More
TRANSFERS Our flight left Toronto a little after 10:00, and we arrived in Boston (Logan) Airport around 11:30. The airport—ship—airport transfers (all booked through HAL) were well-co-ordinated and very fast. HAL personnel met us at the Baggage Reclaim and organised our easy transfer to the Langham Hotel. The transfer 2 days later to the cruise port was also fast and efficient. EMBARKATION This part of the process was very efficient and stress-free. It took about half an hour to complete the formalities and we were welcomed on board with a glass of champagne at noon! TIP: if you have travelled recently with HAL, they keep a copy of your picture on file, so you don’t need to have your picture re-taken for inclusion on your sea-pass card – very efficient! SMOKING HAL has revised its smoking policy, but smokers are still allowed to poison themselves (and others) on the starboard side of the Lido deck aft, and at certain locations in the casino. You can avoid the cancer fumes in the casino and on the Lido deck by simply not going into these areas. Smokers are in a minority now, so it is encouraging to see HAL joining other cruise lines in outlawing this habit. TIP: on this trip the atmosphere in the casino was not as heavily polluted with cigarette smoke, but you can still detect the noxious fumes. DINING We usually ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market Café and we enjoyed every meal. The food was always good and the staff always helpful and polite. Perhaps because of the fairly large British contingent on this cruise, many UK favourites appeared occasionally (curry at lunch and dinner). The freshly made pizza is always good! We usually dined in the Rotterdam Dining Room and our experience there was also consistently good. We were assigned a variety of table arrangements; sometimes a table for two, sometimes for more. Speed of service varied from day to day, but always takes much longer if you are sitting with 6 other passengers. We had two dinner in dinners the Pinnacle Grill. One was from the once-weekly Cirque menu, and it offered almost the SAME menu as we had seen on the Niew Amsterdam last year! This is NOT a criticism; in fact we were pleased to re-sample some of the excellent dishes we’d enjoyed on the other ship. It shows consistency of menu planning, preparation and delivery. We enjoyed a regular Pinnacle Grill dinner from an equally familiar menu that ended with a delicious surprise – an anniversary Chocolate Gateau, organised by Simona Lux (maitre d’ at the P.G). Special thanks to Ms. Lux and all her Pinnacle colleagues for this unexpected treat. ENTERTAINMENTS We’re not interested in shopping, nor in casinos so we avoid these areas for the most part. Musicals don’t appeal to one of us either, but HAL seems to recruit better calibre of performers than other lines do, and we have to recognize the skill and dedication of the performers who delivered 2 distinctly different shows during our 7 day trip. One show featured singers only for safety reasons during the Force 8, but the singers delivered remarkable performances. We attended most of the shows and enjoyed the speciality acts as well. The singers and the backing group all performed extremely well. HAL also seems able to attract some excellent speciality acts. Magician Devlin (a Brazilian-Sicilian, with an Irish stage name who lives in New York!) gave two excellent shows and a ‘magic workshop’ one afternoon in which he explained how to perform a few illusions. Gombey Drummers and Dancers from Bermuda came on board and gave a very enjoyable performance one evening. The Filipino crew members put on an excellent show of the culture and traditional dances, but were given and 11:00 p.m. time slot! Their show was well attended, but we think even more people would attend if it was scheduled at an earlier time. HAL has partnered with the BBC to present excerpts of popular programs such as ‘The Living Planet’ and ‘Frozen Planet’ in the Showroom at Sea. These presentations explain the work undertaken by the intrepid film crews who endure some very harsh environments in order to bring such fascinating stories to life. These presentations included a natural history quiz which was very lively. The recent partnership between HAL and the American Test Kitchen provides an opportunity for culinary enthusiasts to gather some useful tips from a professional chef. Chef Eva is a gold mine of useful hints and tips and she has a knack for guiding you through a procedure with clear explanations. There were regular Trivia games, and a flower arranging demonstration, but there were no crafts and the Digital Workshop had no programs. The pools and hot tubs at the Retreat were painted while we were docked in Bermuda, so were out of service the remainder of the cruise. With this job done, they should be available for use for the rest of the Bermuda season. PORTS OF CALL & SIDE TRIPS BERMUDA was the only port of call, and the excellent public transport system here made excursions redundant for us. We purchased a 2-day bus/ferry pass (US $33 each) and used it to travel to the Royal Naval Dockyard (excellent museum) and to Horseshoe Bay. Hamilton itself is very compact, and fairly easy walking to most of the interesting sights. TIP: you need to climb a fairly steep hill up from Front Street to the Bus Depot just off Church Street. You can take Parliament Street or Burnaby Street to climb up to the Cathedral. If walking uphill to reach the bus is too much effort, you can take a ferry from Front Street to the RN Dockyard. The bus journey takes about an hour, while the ferry takes about 15 minutes. TIP: make the best use of your transit pass by getting an early start and not booking an early dinner. DISEMBARKATION Leaving the ship in Boston was easy, but the process of US Customs Clearance was VERY disorganised. Non-US passengers were required to assemble in the Showroom at Sea and wait until the US Customs Officers boarded the ship. The one junior officer and some people from Guest Relations seemed unable to control the crowd and the process soon descended into chaos, with anxious passengers getting angry in case they missed their flights, while other inconsiderate and selfish people cut into lines and generally being objectionable. The HAL staff were not able to keep the line moving quickly and efficiently, and only intervention by an official who came on board with the US Customs team restored order. It was a display of ineptitude, so for these reasons we deducted one star from this review. Having no time to eat breakfast is NOT an ideal way to start disembarkation day! CRUISE TERMINAL TO BOSTON (LOGAN) AIRPORT In contrast to the chaos in the Showroom at Sea, our trip to Boston Airport was handled very efficiently. WOULD WE TAKE THIS TRIP AGAIN? Definitely! We didn’t see all we wanted to see at either destination, and we enjoyed sailing on a different HAL ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was our 8th cruise on Holland America going back to 1982. These include (ironically) the SS Veendam to Hamilton and the fabulous SS Rotterdam to Alaska. Embarkation was as usual was very quick and smooth. The Veendam was in very ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise on Holland America going back to 1982. These include (ironically) the SS Veendam to Hamilton and the fabulous SS Rotterdam to Alaska. Embarkation was as usual was very quick and smooth. The Veendam was in very good condition. Except for the spa pools on the tail which were being renovated, everything worked perfectly. Our Veranda cabin (starboard side aft) was in excellent condition. Tip- Holland America always docks on the starboard side in Hamilton. If you want the knockout view for three days, you must be there. Also, the views from the coveted aft Verandas are limited. Dining was good to excellent as usual. Remember, everybody wants to go the the Lido around 9 AM. You can always go to the main dining room for breakfast of lunch. If you are looking for rock climbing, amusement rides, or big casinos, don't come here. The Veendam was built to cruise- lots of open deck space, even on lower levels, including the "secret hatch" right to the bow. Here you can stand on the nose (in good weather) like the scene from the 'Titanic." Service was excellent as usual. We took the option of "taking care" of the crew (don't forget the maintenance staff) ourselves. Very much appreciated. We highly recommend HA's "S" class ships. Read Less
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