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85 Holland America Cuba Cruise Reviews

This was our 16th cruise; most of our cruising has been to interesting/exotic ports. We chose this 10 day cruise because of the 2 Cuban ports, Cienfuegos and Havana. The itinerary is otherwise mundane. We took private tours in both ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise; most of our cruising has been to interesting/exotic ports. We chose this 10 day cruise because of the 2 Cuban ports, Cienfuegos and Havana. The itinerary is otherwise mundane. We took private tours in both Cuban ports. In Cienfuegos, we toured with Hector Hernandez (we read about him in CC) to Trinidad then back to Cienfuegos. Great tour and guide, with a courteous driver using a reasonably up to date car with AC. In Havana, we used Cubaoutings.com (see review in Trip Advisor) and our guide Abel was fabulous. Part of it was in a classic 50's convertible. The other ports of Half Moon Cay, Cayman Islands and Cozumel were forgettable. In Half Moon Cay, the beach is private and all the employees work for Holland America. Still, we had a property theft on the beach and the ship washed their hands of any responsibility so please watch your belongings carefully and leave anything valuable on the ship. The service on the ship was up to the Holland America high standard. I liked the food. My girlfriend was less enthusiastic about it. We did the Pinnacle grill 1 night and were both a bit disappointed. Although the service was great, out steaks were not grilled well and the side dishes were bland. We used a discount for the meals that did not appear on the ship account. We needed to have it corrected later so do check your account regularly. The entertainment was geared to a smaller ship and an older demographic. The shows were OK. There was no classical music played except occasionally by the piano/violin duo, and the violinist was well below par for a ship and hard to listen to. Now for the ship itself. There were multiple annoyances related to the aging physical plant. The toilet barked and howled when flushed (we called it Fido). Once water backed up from the floor drain and left a puddle.The AC ran full tilt and was not controllable, leaving the cabin cold when the balcony door was closed. We eventually complained and they sent a front desk person up to measure the temp at about 64 deg before sending the maintenance guy. The balcony was being painted and on 1 occasion they left a mess when they were done. We had large puddles of water on the balcony just outside the cabin. They laid towels down to try to absorb them. We later found out the water was likely from washing the Lido deck above us, but initially they appeared puzzled by it. There were 2 elevator banks, 4 elevators each. 1 elevator was out in each bank the entire cruise. The others worked slowly, the doors closing like molasses and the cars often skipping the floor we were waiting on. So, the cruise was great for the Cuban ports and the service but was otherwise well below average for a contemporary cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
So my wife and I were super excited to get this 11 cruise that included 2 ports in Cuba and had an ADA room available at a decent price. Little did we know it would be the cruise from Hell. Background - My wife has MS and is in a ... Read More
So my wife and I were super excited to get this 11 cruise that included 2 ports in Cuba and had an ADA room available at a decent price. Little did we know it would be the cruise from Hell. Background - My wife has MS and is in a wheelchair full time. We are 4 star Holland America members and have cruised for the last 30 years. We had five ports on this cruise: Cozumel, Belize, Cuba (2 ports) and the private island. We were denied access in Belize and Cienfuegos in Cuba because there were stairs to the tender and the CAPTAIN (yes - the CAPTAIN - not a staff member) refused to allow personnel to assist me in getting my wife down the 16 steps to the tender. NEVER have we had ship personnel not help us. Note: They helped the 91 year old lady down the steps but because my wife can not lift her feet they wouldn't help us. Note: We have been the China, South America, Europe, etc. so having to use steps is not a new experience for us. It just takes awhile. We need someone to move her feet to each step. Its really not that hard. Our daughter normally does it but she was at school. When we went to book shore excursions in Cuba we were initially told that there were no ADA tours available. So Holland sold a cruise with an ADA room and you have no ADA tours????? After much discussions (hours) with the Hotel Manager and the Shore Excursion supervisor we were able to get a tour in Havana for a reasonable price. I asked Holland America for a refund based on only having 2 ports out of 5. Initial response was NO! My response was that was not satisfactory and after more time and effort (cause that is what you always want to do on a cruise) we got 350 dollars and dinner at the Pinnacle Grill one night. I will give credit to the Hotel Director and the Shore Excursion Supervisor for getting us a tour in Havana but I had to make it happen. If I had been passive we would of gotten nothing. These 2 ladies were the only ones that were helpful and without them we would of not been able to see Cuba. Note: As a USA citizen we had to take a tour not explore on our own. So in summary - Don't expect Holland America to help you. Don't expect Holland America to try to make you whole if you have problems (I don't consider the compensation received to be even close to fair for the money, time and effort spent on what was suppose to be a vacation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It included a taste of Cuba It was our first cruise with Holland America previously with Princess Celebrity Seabourne and Silverseas Having read the reviews with cruise critic we were a bit reluctant to book but it was only cruise in the ... Read More
It included a taste of Cuba It was our first cruise with Holland America previously with Princess Celebrity Seabourne and Silverseas Having read the reviews with cruise critic we were a bit reluctant to book but it was only cruise in the time frame that included Cuba To start checking was easy no lines or wait Our Neptune cabin was ready on boarding Veendam is an old ship showing some signs of wear but quiet charming in a traditional manner. There is definitely a problem with the elevators going from being readily available some times to not at all. Dining well again a little mixed Lido and main restaurant pretty average but we found the Pinnacle grill outstanding great food choices and excellent staff. Well worth the $35 charge We dined in the Thomas Keller restaurant on Seabourne last year and put Pinnacle way ahead. Entertainment while lots of choices throughout the ship not outstanding but very acceptable Our biggest problem on the cruise was our Neptune Suite The suite itself outstanding but the antiquated air conditioning a total disaster I did note a number of cruise critic reviews about this but if you are a light sleeper do not book a Neptune suite.. To be fair to Hollan America they offered me the use of a quieter suite to sleep in Still not the ideal situation after paying so much money I could find no problem at all with staff in any part of the ship all very helpful and professional. Tours we on were fine some of the buses quiet old but expect that in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away from their "middle American food" just a little more spice perhaps more curry? Still it was passible. The underpaid crew was as usual excellent no problems. Since HAL is a "senior" line we were pleased at the help of the wait staff and others towards those seniors with mobility problems. Cabin was fine, on deck 6, promenade first time for this … large one way window (at least during daylight hours). Entertainment in the theatre good, bars and other areas not to our taste, Kudos to the two young gentlemen know as Adagio … well done. The tours where interesting. We rarely book Excu tours, too expansive but considering where we wanted to go we decided to splurge and try. The results were OK but not stellar. Guides could stand a bit more training. Juan our guide to Chichen Itza World Heritage Site was a wealth of knowledge. Had a degree in history and was a Mayan. sometime too much information is not a good idea, just a little less talk. It was a very long trip over 3 hours on the bus and 80 minutes on a tender, 40 minutes either way to disembark for the tour. Would have been OK except for the rough sea. Several people were seasick. Tours like this should not be cancelled but would be good if we were warned to be ready for motion sickness. Other tours were acceptable although all had an issue with not enough time to look around and perhaps do a bit of shopping. Cuba was as expected the highlight. We visited Trinidad de Cuba on the first day good tour to a very interesting area. Then of course Havana ... great place. The tours are probably not worth it, there is a hop on hop off bus service that got a good review from some on board friens. Then of course there is the "classic car" tours. We did not take one but the look very "pretty" ... All in all a good cruise no serious issues perhaps too many sea days. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the Cuba visits. We traveled with another couple. Our cabins were next to each other. From the beginning it was a great experience. The ship is smaller. Floor six was great for walking each day. 4Xs ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Cuba visits. We traveled with another couple. Our cabins were next to each other. From the beginning it was a great experience. The ship is smaller. Floor six was great for walking each day. 4Xs around was a mile. Nothing seemed rushed or crowded anywhere. The cabin, the buffet breakfasts, the dining room experience were all top notch. The entertainment was superb! The best we've experienced in 25 years of cruising. We enjoyed our visits at each stop. We didn't book any excursions from the cruise line. We selected a tour guide upon disembarkation at Belize. He was great and made our trip so memorable. In Cienfuegos we walked to the square. It was Sunday and all activity was there. We visited with people who took larger tours from the cruise line and they felt herded and had impersonal experiences. We booked a tour online for Havana. Havana Journeys was the company. We provided a credit card number about a month before we left the US. It included a guide, a 57 Chevy with air conditioning and about a 6 hour tour. Most importantly it provided us with a fabulous guide, Ada, whose English was perfect. She met us just a short walk to the Square from the ship. This tour qualified for the "People to People" experience required in Cuba. All in all the Veendam was a great experience for the four of us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We have had Cuba on our wish list for some time and were looking to get away after my recent surgery. It was great to get away and have time to relax. The Veendam is an older ship and smaller than we are used to. We have sailed with many ... Read More
We have had Cuba on our wish list for some time and were looking to get away after my recent surgery. It was great to get away and have time to relax. The Veendam is an older ship and smaller than we are used to. We have sailed with many different cruise lines over the last twenty years and have never experienced a more friendly and helpful crew throughout the ship. Yes there are signs of wear and we had elevator problems, but the crew more than made up for that. Even the captain was very friendly and accessible. He set the tone for his ship. We were fortunate to have happened on a wonderful wait staff on anytime dining and we booked them for every night of our 11 day cruise. Kiki and Andrew made our dinners fun and something we looked forward to each evening. Even the people at the check in counter remembered our names and welcomed us every night. Even though there were fewer evening shows than on the big ships the evening shows were very good. This was our first cruise with Holland America, but it will not be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks ... Read More
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks like the staff did not want to be there. Some were downright rude. The desert young lady was outright rude when I asked if they had more sauce for the bread pudding. "Just get some ice cream" she yelled at me. No, lady, just get some more sauce since you just put out a new pan of dessert. Talked to the chef and he took care of the problem so other guests were not inconvenienced.. Laundry ruined one of my shirts. Just get a new one I was told by the young lady at the front desk.Justin made sure the shirt was fixed. Food in DR was excellent and Oscar and his staff were super. Entertainment in the show room was outstanding. The HAL singers and dancers were broadway caliber. Really. Embarkation and disembarkation was excellent. Ship was well kept and clean. Just some retraining is needed for Lido staff. Justin at guest services was very helpful for any problems we had. The Cuban excursions were excellent. Oh and the America's Test Kitchen lady is NOT ready for prime time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba, and because, after visiting Cuba, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a selection of beaches. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Rodeway Inn Airport/Cruise Port. A free shuttle picked us ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba, and because, after visiting Cuba, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a selection of beaches. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Rodeway Inn Airport/Cruise Port. A free shuttle picked us up from the airport. The next morning the hotel provided a low-cost shuttle to the cruise port. I think we paid $2 each (maybe $3) for the 9 a.m. shuttle. There is a sports bar attached to the hotel where we ate dinner. It was good. A gift shop on the premises sells beach stuff, souvenirs and wine. They have a garden area and a pool. The room was clean and comfortable. I cruised with my husband. This was our 16th cruise, 14th with Holland America. We just made 4-Star Mariner status on our last cruise, mostly sailing in the Caribbean. My first impression of the Veendam was its cleanliness. I was impressed. The artwork is interesting, especially after I took a ship's tour of some of the art during one of the sea days and learned more about it. The elevators were not working so well. That's the only thing I noticed that was sub-par. Of the eight elevators (4 aft, 4 bow), six were working. The rest were very slow. I did a lot of walking up and down the staircases. Luckily Veendam is a small ship. Embarkation was smooth. Since we were new 4-Star's on this cruise, it was our first experience of being in the first group to board, definitely a plus! Disembarkation was equally smooth. As 4-Star's, we were given the option of getting off the ship whenever we wanted - up until 9:30 a.m. when everyone had to leave. When you get off that late, it's easy to find your bags. There aren't that many left to claim. We had open seating and ate in the dining room every night except one, when we were too tired and hungry to wait and went to the Lido. Everyone looks forward to Surf & Turf and Crab Legs on special dining room nights, but the best meal I had was beef stroganoff. Try it! Entertainment was mediocre. The Veendam singers and dancers are talented, I just don't enjoy those shows as much as the guest entertainers. There were only three guest entertainers. One I really liked, Tony Pace. He's a Vegas performer and does singing and comedy. Another comedian I don't remember very well and the third was a harp player. She was very talented, but I was bored. Just not my thing. Service was excellent everywhere on board, except for one bartender. Maybe he was having a bad couple of weeks. We came on this cruise for the Cuba ports. Before we left on the cruise, we were informed that any excursions had to be booked through Holland America because we had booked the cruise after June 2017. On board, we discovered that we could have also booked through third party excursion companies as long as they offered the People-To-People experience. However, some of our fellow cruisers did not book any excursions, they just went off on their own. And they seemed to have more People-To-People interactions than we did on our 8-hour (mostly) walking tour. Be aware, when you visit Cuba, that public restrooms are few and far between. And you are expected to tip the attendant. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We walked around various town squares, saw lots of statues, went to a fort, and - the highlight - ate at an interesting restaurant, La Bodeguita Del Medio. The food was very good. Also went to a cultural center and saw a group of rappers (music). They were so entertaining, and they were all women aged in their 80s and 90s. I don't know what they were rapping, but they were certainly enjoying giving us a show. You will not be disappointed in seeing Cuba. The people were all very nice, they smile a lot, if you tell street performers and vendors "Gracious, no" they will leave you alone. The literacy rate in all of Cuba is 98%. They are intelligent people and talented. Every school child gets education in singing, dancing and music in addition to academics. And yes, there are a lot of classic American cars in use. Everywhere. The stop in Cienfuegos was a shorter day, and the excursions were only about 4-5 hours long. If you want to book a ship's excursion in Cienfuegos, book early before you leave home. HAL didn't have enough excursions for everyone on the ship to take one. We saw a lot on the island, and I am so glad I got to visit Cuba. We were in stateroom 648 on Main Deck, one deck below the walk-around deck. It is just off the aft elevators/staircase. It was very quiet except for every morning around 5 a.m. that I was awake, I could hear deck hands rinsing off the walk-around deck. If I wasn't awake, the sound didn't wake me, but if you're a light sleeper just be aware of that. Service was excellent throughout the ship. We loved Becca, the cruise director, and were really impressed with Captain Steve MacBeath. He's only 36 but has 20 years experience on the sea. The other ports: Georgetown, Grand Cayman: we walked to and from Seven-Mile Beach. Love the beach, but the walk seemed longer than last time we walked there. I guess we're older. Water was great! Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We took an excursion to Bamboo Beach Club. The water was more choppy here than at Grand Cayman with more shells and coral along the shore. Made it harder to enter and exit the water. Unlimited drinks and lots of appetizers were served. Grand Turk: went to the beach right next to the dock. Beautiful water, low waves, perfect! Amber Cove, Dominican Republic: A manufactured town with lots of amenities including free wi-fi. We took an excursion to Coconut Cove Beach. To get there its a 45-minute open-air bumpy ride on dusty dirt roads. But the beach is nice. Waves are strong, water not as clear as Grand Turk. Unlimited rum drinks and beer, very good lunch. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas: sheer perfection. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because it involved two ports in Cuba-Havana and Cietrefugo. The ship is very small and had almost no entertainment until the trumped up Happy hour, which charged a very high charge for every drink and for only $2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it involved two ports in Cuba-Havana and Cietrefugo. The ship is very small and had almost no entertainment until the trumped up Happy hour, which charged a very high charge for every drink and for only $2 more for the second drink. Music was a piano player for and hour. The food was just fair and the beef quality got worse as the cruise went along. So we stopped ordering all beef dishes. The evening entertainment was a trio playing Frank Sinatra era music. The main show was supported by a quartet which was inadequate for decent musical backup for visiting performers. Basically nothing going on all day long. The service was ok . Ports other than Cuba were not very good-- Grand Camen on a Sunday is useless as it is closed for business. We will never travel on Holland American again!!!!!!!!!! No entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose the 2-week cruise from Boston to the Caribbean and back in August because the summer was when we could take vacation and we liked the days at sea from Boston before arriving in the Caribbean and afterward. We were excited ... Read More
We chose the 2-week cruise from Boston to the Caribbean and back in August because the summer was when we could take vacation and we liked the days at sea from Boston before arriving in the Caribbean and afterward. We were excited especially to see Cuba. What we learned from this cruise: 1) Do not vacation in the tropics in summer unless you enjoy walking around in what feels like someone's mouth, with sweat dripping down your face every second you're outside; 2) The excursions were boring at best, sometimes very disorganized, and downright terrible at worst. The excursion to Havana should be criminalized, it was that depressing. The Havana they presented was a complete dump, with buildings falling down, most others that looked like they should be torn down, and garbage and poverty everywhere. No real sights to see except Christ of Havana Bay! It also reeked like a sewer; 3) The ship dining room food was FABULOUS, while the in-room dining was just OK; 4) The staff are AWESOME, so patient, kind, and upbeat; 5) Ship was clean and comfortable even though it's definitely showing signs of age / need of updating, especially in the suites. The TV was pretty pathetic. 5) We're sorry that we didn't take time to spend a few days in Boston to sightsee. I'd say definitely give this cruise a pass. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary to Cuba, Key West, and Grand Cayman. Unfortunately, the Veendam is in terrible shape. The air conditioning does not work. There are parts of the ship that are blazing hot while other parts ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary to Cuba, Key West, and Grand Cayman. Unfortunately, the Veendam is in terrible shape. The air conditioning does not work. There are parts of the ship that are blazing hot while other parts are freezing. Plus, in our cabin, there was rust on the shower ceiling, dings in the walls, stains on the duvet, and a strong urine smell in the bathroom at all times. We had friends who had to change cabins three times during the cruise due to problems (including flooding) in their cabin. In addition, there were very few activities on the ship, especially on sea days. It felt like the ship shut down by 8:00 p.m. For example, there were no guest lecturers, no house band or DJ, or no local groups brought on for musical performances. While we enjoyed the ports, the overall Holland America experience was awful. We are avid cruisers, and this was our first and last experience with this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Be VERY leary. DO NOT GO. I have the CDC Vessel Sanitazion Program (CDC) on this one. Disgusting, filthy toilets and “sanitation”. I walked into my cabin when it was announced that cabins were clean and ready, and I went into my ... Read More
Be VERY leary. DO NOT GO. I have the CDC Vessel Sanitazion Program (CDC) on this one. Disgusting, filthy toilets and “sanitation”. I walked into my cabin when it was announced that cabins were clean and ready, and I went into my bathroom and the toilet was over flooded with filthy water and human fecal matter! The public bathrooms were almost always filthy; I never saw anyone clean a public toilet all the days. The HVAC (heating and cooling) was constantly not working.....everyone complaining....even “Guest Relations” told me to be glad my room wasn’t almost 80 degrees like others and that I had SOME air. I couldn’t believe that! When the air was on, there was an exhaust smelll (others complaining as well)and a strong odor that I have never smelled but it smelled like rotting fruit. Several times thru out the cruise, toilets backed up, and there was no running water....one day I had no hot water for 20 hours and guest relations did nothing and I finally approached a navigation officer, who handled it. Communication was almost non existent between Departments was very poor...., for example, it was in their daily program that card players meet in a certain room each a.m., and the room was not set up 1/2 the time, and passengers were getting and setting up tables and chairs. We were promised water and coffee in that room, and only received one day, even after repeated calls. Customer Service was so poor it was almost comical.....but it wasn’t, but I could see why. I was so upset and frustrated one night when I had to WALK TO GUEST RELATIONS IN MY PJs, as no one would answer the phone, and I was crying and the Hotel Director was by my elevator and I implored him for help and he actually said “Not my job” and left we standing there! Employee relations was very inconsistent; some crew (like my cabin attendant in 598) actually walked away while I was talking! The Ship is very very run down, stains, boards missing or damaged under floors, for example I reported repeatedly that on the floor adjacent to Table 63, main dining, had some serious problems with the floor, as everytime a wait staff would walk by, the floor would sink in and bother my back. I was told they could do nothing until next dry dock!! Although the food was quite good, I did have a health issue. I have serious celiac disease and must be gluetin free, and in the buffet, the room service, and only once in main dining....they tried to serve me food with gluten. I stopped using room service as almost daily, it was not on time, missing items, coffee cold, etc. The promenade deck had hard wooden loungers with slats and NO COVERS....unusable! Photo below. I had to RENT a refrigerator for my medicines and special diet food and it was delivered in filthy condition! When I arrived in my cabin, it was not properly cleaned....hair everywhere, sticky remote control, dirty clothes in the drawers, badly stained and ripped sheets! The bathroom floors had the same shoe stain for two days. The charges for HALs excursions were 50% to 1400% (YES! 1400%] higher than one could find outside. The 4th of July party and BarBQue promised on their private island was not done because “thunderstorms were predicted”.....we checked the weather on line and we saw no such prediction and it was a beautiful day. The furniture in the showroom was uncomfortable and the onboard singers and dancers and their shows were so bad....people were calling it “dancing by numbers”. The outside entertainers were just okay, not bad. Often, it would take so long for someone at the front desk to answer phone, I waited up to an hour and walked down in my PJs. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of ... Read More
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of paperwork. The first and easiest ifs the Cuba tourist card. Cruise lines charge $75 for this, most if not all of which goes to Cuba. They give you the blank form at cruise check-in. You fill it out. Cuba checks it once. The second, more intimidating, piece of paper work is compliments of the US Government. It’s an affidavit that states why you’re going to Cuba. It’s an exercise in futility and keeping some bureaucrats’ job in DC. Because our government says we can’t go to Cuba for tourism, you have to indicate why you’re going. You have to select one of 12 reasons. NOBODY LOOKS. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY ENFORCES IT. Go and have a good time. The form is collected at check in for the cruise. You’ll never see or hear about the affidavit again. Most people select option 1 or 8 on the affidavit. But again, it’s a US Government waste of paper. Cuba and Cubans are glad that you’re there spending money. Ditto for the cruise line. Please complete this form but don’t think twice about it. You CAN go out and about in Cuba on your own without any limitations. You DO NOT need to book tours through the cruise line or any other company. These are huge myths that seem to stem from the lengthy, verboten affidavit. A sample copy of the affidavit is here, but you’ll probably want to get one with your cruise line’s logo: https://www.carnival.com/~/media/CCLUS/PDFs/OnlineCheckIn/Guest-Affidavit-0413%20pdf The Cuban Arrival Process Cuba is like any other Caribbean port with ONE exception: they check and stamp your passport. You can get off and wander around as you please. Cuban authorities check your passport and want to see that you paid the $75 for a visitor pass…but there are NO LIMITS as to getting off the ship without prepaid or prearranged tours. It’s like any other port. Don’t let anyone tell you have to book long, expensive tours through the cruise line, sanctioned company or government. It’s not true. We booked our Cuba tours online (but didn’t pay for them until after the tour). Our car, driver and guide were waiting for us as promised and were thrilled to see us. Some passengers had their Cuban tourist cards collected by the Cuban authorities. Others did not. This caused concern among those who wanted to get off again and didn’t have the visitor card. Again, it was a non-issue. They check to see that your passport was stamped and you’re free to go. The Money Changing money is Cuba is a necessary evil. The currency the tourists use is the CUC (pronounced “kook”). It is pegged to the US dollar, so the exchange rate is 1 to 1. All currencies have a 3% charge. US dollars have an additional 10% charge. Bring Canadian, British or European coins if you can to exchange to avoid the 10% charge. There are currency exchanges in the terminal. The line can be long but it moves quickly. You can also exchange money at banks or other currency exchanges. There is another currency used primarily by the Cubans for their personal needs. This is the CUP and the exchange rate is 25 CUPs to $1. There was no need for this currency, but make sure you don’t get change in CUPs when you’re paying with CUCs. The CUC bills have pictures of monuments of them. The CUP bills have pictures of people on them. If you end up with extra CUCs at the end of your trip, be sure to exchange them back while in Cuba, or save them for friends going to Cuba. And unlike many Caribbean ports, it’s difficult (perhaps illegal) to use US dollars in Cuba. Some vendors say you can pay in either US$ or CUCs. But all seem to prefer CUCs. Medical Insurance Another non-issue is the required Cuban medical insurance. Cruise lines include this insurance in their port taxes, which is very convenient. I don’t know how effective this insurance is, but it satisfies the requirement. If you search the cruise line’s FAQs, there’s usually a question addressing it Here is NCL’s Cuba page and their response (HAL’s is similar): https://www.ncl.com/cruise-faq/cuba-travel “Is medical insurance required? All travelers to Cuba must show proof of Cuba approved medical insurance. This medical insurance will be included in the price of your cruise fare.” Docking in Havana The approach into forbidden Cuba is scenic and very emotional for many. You’ll drift by many forts, the malecón, El Christo de la Havana and dock conveniently in Old Havana at the Sierra Maestra terminal. There are three terminals: two are falling apart, the one you dock at is in good shape. Walking out of the terminal and across the busy street is San Francisco square. An easy and fun walk through Old Havana takes you to the capital building that is under constant non-renovation. You’ll have a sense of déjà vu looking at it. If you’re looking for a vintage car tour, there are many waiting by the Russian church close by the terminal. The major shopping market in Havana is also close by the Russian church. It was closed when we were there because of an electrical fire, but it was supposed to re open quickly. Others seem to think nothing happens quickly in Cuba. Out and about in Cuba Out and about in Cuba is a lot of fun. Those that took the long “approved” cruises from this ship felt that they were not good value. We booked a vintage car, driver, and guide for $80 for two hours. It was PERFECT. We then wandered around old-town on our own, stopping frequently in the historic squares for drinks. We found the Cubans a very proud people who almost always spoke very highly of their country, especially those working in the tourist trade. But some we met on the streets were not so complimentary. The art of the networking payoff is alive, well and open in Cuba. Tour guides and people you meet on the street are happy to show you places for food, drink, cigars and rum. They expect and get a cut from these establishments. Most Cubans don’t have much; so there is a fair amount of begging in the streets, but none, thankfully, is too aggressive. Cuba is very safe; as there are severe penalties for messing with tourists. US Customs In coming back to the US from Cuba, it’s like any other cruise. Customs and Border Patrol DON’T CARE why or that you went to Cuba. They don’t care what you bought. You can bring back 100 cigars and a liter of alcohol—just like other ports. If you’re carrying a keg of rum off the ship they might question you, but otherwise it’s like any other cruise inspection: a non issue! The Ship It's older and smaller, but space is used wisely and comfortably on the public decks. Holland America has a sophisticated and wonderful daily activity program. The partnerships with America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth and Microsoft make for a lot of fun and educational activities during the day. Their port talks are also good in that they don't just steer you to places to shop. Holland America's happy hours, where the second drink is only $2. add unusual value in the bar department. This is NOT a high-tech ship. The $160-$200 14 day internet option was fairly priced, but I was constantly disconnected. Many cruise lines offer their daily news letters and account information online complimentary through the ships wi-fi. Holland America's Explorer was the first that actually worked beautifully. There is also a free chat feature where you can text others on board (that actually worked). There's no setting I could find for an audio signal that I message was received though. Dining Dining was better than I remembered on Holland America in both the dining room and buffet. The quality AND variety was a notch above other mainline cruises. The salad bar and the Asian sections were my favorites in the buffet. The dining room menu was always varied and interesting. The wait staff was attentive. Most nights, the buffet menu was similar to the dining room menu. I found the wines too expensive for my taste. The two for-fee restaurants were only fair. The Italian restaurant is a partitioned off part of the buffet area. There wasn't much special about it. The steak house offered a good steak but little else. Service was good but not fabulous. The wine list was crazy expensive, and I got some attitude from the wine steward when I requested a wine not on the restaurant's wine list. The steak house turns into a seafood place occasionally, which I would have loved to try. Entertainment This is where Holland America sorely lacked. A couple of OK comedians. The ship's production numbers were just okay as well. The performers worked hard and did a decent job, but they weren't given a lot to work with. The ships orchestra was outstanding. The South American electric harpist was excellent, but I had already seen her on other cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Great round-trip cruise from Boston to Cuba on the HAL Veendam. A lovely ship carrying around 1200 passengers for these two weeks on a relaxing itinerary with a number of sea days. The food was great and started off the first night with ... Read More
Great round-trip cruise from Boston to Cuba on the HAL Veendam. A lovely ship carrying around 1200 passengers for these two weeks on a relaxing itinerary with a number of sea days. The food was great and started off the first night with fresh haddock as a choice at dinner. We chose the early fixed seating as its great way to get to know to people and also the dining room stewards who took great care of us. HAL carries a Catholic priest chaplain on all its cruises so we had the option of Sunday and weekday Mass. We were scheduled for two Cuba stops, but the second one was cancelled by the port of Cienfuegos due to an fuel leak from another ship which blocked the pier there. So we had two full days in Havanna and a very interesting 8 hour HAL excursion named 'Best of Havanna ' visiting the major sites, mostly in the colonial part of the city. A wonderful meal in a local restaurant was included and surprisingly for me, an air conditioned coach took us around. We had the chance to interact with the locals who were most friendly and proud to show us their island. The other stops we had were Key West, Ocho Rios, Georgetown, and Half Moon Cay. As I work in Miami and know a number of Cuban foks there, I was glad to have this opportunity to experience some of their culture and history. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks 9.50 and under. We also received a night in Pinnacle Grill. We arrived in Boston on Saturday and used the HAL ground transportation to get to the port. Everything was smooth and we waited perhaps 30 minutes before being allowed to board. Our cabin was ready and we explored the ship. I had read many negative reviews regarding Veendam and I was worried about the ship not being maintained well. It is obviously an older ship, but everything in our cabin (349) was in perfect working order. A lanai cabin is much smaller than a suite, obviously. But we did not miss the extra room much and we also did not miss the private balcony much. We had plenty of room for 7 days worth of clothing. We were ok with the very tiny pools at the retreat as we mostly are in our chairs and just dip our toes in periodically. Neither of us have ever used the hot tubs on a cruise ship. I do wish that the Lido pool was for children and the Retreat pool was adults only. There were more kids than normal when compared to our previous HAL cruises, but I realized that would be the case by taking a cruise in June. I did not find the children on the ship to be an issue after the first day. The first day, there were many children in the bars, dining room, pools, etc. But after that, they must have been utitilizing Club HAL. My biggest complaint though were the few kids that were almost always at the Retreat pool. Two of them belonged to a mom who would simply deposit them at the pool area and then move to another area to relax, not even leaving them in her site. I would guess they were 3 and 6. It was annoying and I feel, dangerous. But I have seen that on other cruises as well. We ate in the dining room twice and we have not been doing assigned seating lately. The service was excellent and the food was good. The Pinnacle service was excellent and the food not quite as good as previous visits, but it was fine. We felt the Lido offered a good variety and we received good service there. We ordered room service late a couple of nights and that was delicious and quick. We knew we would miss BB King and we did, but we managed to have fun by going to the Piano Bar. Barry from Boston was excellent as usual. We are 58 and there were many that age that were there each night and many much older. The crowd seemed to enjoy more of the show tune, older music. We know those songs, but it is not our cup of tea each night. He did do a Beatles night and some other themes we enjoyed. But the crowd that frequented the Piano Bar was just a bit old for our tastes. I am referring more to their attitudes than their actual ages. Again, Barry was excellent. We saw a magician one evening and he was pretty good and this was our only show. We loved Bermuda. The weather was around 80 each day and almost always sunny. We jogged each morning for an hour when we were docked and then went on long walks. On sea days we walked on deck 6 as no running is allowed. That is always a disappointment to us on HAL ships we have been on. We visited the park nearby, which was beautiful. We had drinks at two bars and met some great locals and also someone that was working on an RC ship. We shopped for maybe a half hour and purchased very reasonably priced t shirts. We also went to a pharmacy and picked up extra sunscreen and water. We visited Horseshoe Bay and found it beautiful. We rode the bus there and found it very easy and enjoyable. We also spent a day at Clearwater Beach and that was breathtaking. The bus home was a bit irritating as we had to transfer as we had on the way there, but due to some bus issues we had to wait over an hour. We did not make it to Crystal Caves, although we desperately wanted to go. Once we had our suits on and were on a beautiful beach with perfect weather, we could not tear ourselves away! We left the ship on our last day at 9:45 am. We handle all of our own luggage, so don’t have to worry about finding our luggage. All went smoothly and the lines were almost non existent to get off the ship. We found this to be one of our favorite cruises, even though it was only 7 days and even though we had a Lani cabin. It was an excellent value when we factored in the beverage packages. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We selected the Veendam because of it's smaller size and lower key atmosphere. This was our first trip on the Veendam (but not our first cruise) and the ship was fabulous. She is well maintained. The staff ratio is excellent and ... Read More
We selected the Veendam because of it's smaller size and lower key atmosphere. This was our first trip on the Veendam (but not our first cruise) and the ship was fabulous. She is well maintained. The staff ratio is excellent and the food is the best we have experienced. Our children enjoyed the activities geared toward them. The shows were well produced. The room was well sized, the decor of the ship is tasteful. The main dining room food was extraordinary! The afternoon tea daily was something fun for mother/daughter/grandmother to do. We played tennis and enjoyed the pool. Several of the staff went above and beyond. The spa services were well priced and well done. The library was a good resource for family time. Overall, this was our best cruise out of the 4 we have taken. The island time was lovely, and disembarkation was well handled. We would do this one again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because of its Havana port of call. We booked via Holland America reservations and received a complimentary upgrade from a a BC Vista Suite to a A category Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (10). We arrived at ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its Havana port of call. We booked via Holland America reservations and received a complimentary upgrade from a a BC Vista Suite to a A category Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (10). We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:15am and went swiftly thru security and the various Cuban Visa desks, we waited in the waiting room for approximately 30 minutes. At 11:30 we were allowed to board and we were settled in our cabin with 5 minutes of our group being called in the terminal. We unpacked our bags and explored the ship. Our cabin (A051) had ample space to hang our items, and pack in the drawers. The cabin was in need to new wall-paper, etc, but it was very clean. There was also space under the bed to store two 22" rollaboards as well as one large 42 or 44" bag. The cabin comes with a small tub and there was plenty of space to store items in the bathroom on the shelves as well as your own shampoo and soap in the shower. The ship was launched in 1996 and it is on the older side however we very much enjoyed the small size and ease of travel. We make a rule to never ever use the elevator on the cruise ship in at attempt to combat delicious food. I used the gym on five occasions to run on the treadmill since Veendam does not have an official running track and running on the Promenade deck is prohibited. The equipment was fine however the temperature in the fitness center was very warm and the air was stuffy. I only waited once for a treadmill and that was only about 3-4 minutes. For dinner, we had standing reservations at 8pm each night and dined on the upper level of the MDR at a table for 2 (requested). Our waiter was fantastic and worked hard in his full section, but always delivered impeccable service. The food was very good, from the appetizers to the desserts. The coffee on the ship was some of the best I ever drank- though I am not a coffee snob in the least. We purchased the Elite Beverage Package and our sommelier always had two glasses of our wine ready for us within 5 minutes of being seated. It was fun to see tuxes and gowns on the Gala Nights and we enjoy dressing up on all nights. Our evenings were spent at the piano bar or in the casino and found we would spend the evenings with the same cruisers listening to music. Our before dinner drinks were taken at the Ocean Bar listening to the Ocean Trio. We very much enjoyed our excursions. We booked all 3 with HAL. We visited the Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya, we took a Fury Catamaran Cruise with snorkeling in Cozumel, and we did the Hemingway Hangouts and Hideaways in Havana. All three were great. Our cabin steward was fantastic and did a phenomenal job making towel animals for us to enjoy in the evenings. My only two complaints regarding this cruise were: 1) The temperature in the public spas was very warm. Our cabin AC was mediocre to non-existent. Most nights I slept without a sheet and getting ready in the cabin after a shower was awful. 2) I understand most if not all cruise lines allow smoking in the casinos, but it would be lovely if this practice is ended. I love that HAL does not allow smoking on any balconies and the smoking is contained to a small area on the starboard side of the ship in the back. We are already looking to book our next HAL cruise to the Panama Canal in spring of 2019. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
As 3 star mariners, we have enjoyed many previous HAL cruises. On April 7th we made a quick decision to take the Veendam leaving FLL 4 days later. This last minute booking was to be our escape from the dismal grey of a never ending ... Read More
As 3 star mariners, we have enjoyed many previous HAL cruises. On April 7th we made a quick decision to take the Veendam leaving FLL 4 days later. This last minute booking was to be our escape from the dismal grey of a never ending Toronto winter. The beautiful stops in the Caribbean fulfilled our desire for warm days and nights and the peaceful feeling that the colours of the islands brings. The cruise aboard the Veendam left us deciding to look to other cruise lines in the future. Embarkation in FLL was very smooth, allowing us to our Verandah cabin on deck 6 prior to noon, make our way to a quick lunch, followed by unpacking at 2pm. Our 1st night offered us very little sleep, as there was constant rolling and banging heard above us. Early the following morning we were informed by the front desk that the noise was from the galley above us on deck 7, as they prepared food for the following day. I voiced my upset that this information was not offered to us at the time of booking this room. I was then given the requisite line "sorry .... there are no other cabins available in your category or better" Holding my ground and my temper, and advising this front line HAL employee that I needed a manager to confirm that we would have no choice but to spend the next 6 nights in a sleepless stupor; we were miraculously shown to a lovely aft cabin and assisted in our move to said cabin. Life here was lovely..... blissful . Until the air conditioning died. Maintenance measured the room temperature at 26 C !! Assurances that the AC would be promptly repaired were blatantly false. I called no less than 5 times over the course of a day ( Our day. Our vacation day. A day we were paying HAL for) No air conditioning resulted. Yet .... we were assured the AC problem was solved. Finally at midnight, still waiting for AC to kick in, I approached the front desk in a somewhat less than amused state. At 30 minutes past midnight we were given a room for sleeping above the engines that had AC but was so noisy we slept little. LESSON .... On this cruise we were offered either comfortable temperature in an inferior room OR quiet in the category we paid for ..... but apparently the two could not coincide. Oh and the two final at sea days,( those days when lounging at the pool is the activity most coveted on board), offered a dry swimming pool. ( only one pool on this ship) Yes apparently someone unfortunately lost their lunch in the pool on day 5. The pool was drained and left dry until 3 pm on the day before disembarking. Dining at the Pinnacle was pleasant. Then we disembarked. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Do not book a cruise with Holland America!! This was my 36th cruise and I have never before had a complaint. Air conditioning did not work in our cabin and customer service was full of lies about it. Lots of aft cabins had air ... Read More
Do not book a cruise with Holland America!! This was my 36th cruise and I have never before had a complaint. Air conditioning did not work in our cabin and customer service was full of lies about it. Lots of aft cabins had air conditioning problems and dealing with Holland America was a nightmare! For 3 days they kept telling us they were working on adjusting the airflow while we sweltered and were unable to sleep at night. Finally on the 4th day we were offered a box fan which did help a little. After that we had a nice suite that we could not use without stepping over cord to the only outlet in the cabin and maneuvering around the fan. SAFETY HAZARD!! Veendam is way overdue for a refurbish. Things are very tired, dirty, and nasty. I enjoy the smaller ships but this was not cruise worthy. Have no complaints about the service except for the front desk. Lies, lies, and more lies!! We heard from other passengers that they had the same problems on the previous cruise. Holland America knew there was a problem and we feel that we should have been notified at the beginning of the cruise. My daughter traipsed down to the front desk every day to negotiate with them to no avail. She finally got them to admit that on the last day that it could not be fixed and we were given a 25% refund. We don't feel that was sufficient but would have been given nothing without her efforts. Dining room service was very good. Waiters were attentive and fun. Staff on board was always friendly and helpful. Cuba was wonderful!! The shore excursion was great, our tour guide Guillermo was excellent and the Cuban people were very friendly and welcoming. You should definitely book a cruise or trip to Cuba but not through Holland America!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I took this cruise with the sole purpose of going to Cuba. Embarkation was easy and well organized. We got to the port rather early and after we filled out the all the paper work for Cuba, we were able to check in and board within 45 ... Read More
I took this cruise with the sole purpose of going to Cuba. Embarkation was easy and well organized. We got to the port rather early and after we filled out the all the paper work for Cuba, we were able to check in and board within 45 minutes. Once onboard, we noticed that the ship was extremely dated, that many of the plaques that were on the staircases were either missing or broken. The rugs were worn and the public furniture looked like it was from a different era. The pool area, although very clean, showed its age. there were numerous broken tiles in the main pool. And the pool was "policed" by a few passengers who made it their mission to complain if anyone was trying to have a good time, however it was ok when they broke the pool rules. The main dining room desing was atrosious! It was this mauve/purple gold that went out of style in the 80's. They still seat you with other passangers, however will do their best to seat you at your own table, if available. The back of the upper deck held two hot tub with large beds for tanning, along with 50+ lounge chairs..We loved it back here as it was nice an relaxing. However, a little music would have been appreciated. The staff was amazing. the bartender knew our names and our preferred beverages we were always being catered to. Our cabin steward Leo was exceptional! he made sure we were taken care of . He noticed on day 2 that we were only eating the bananas in the fruit basket, he made sure we had extra banana's and ice everyday. The food was very good and we liked the fact that they still served lobster tail on gala night in the main dining room! My sister and I, whom are in out late 30's, mid 40's felt like we were the youngest persons on the ship. The average age had to be late 60's and the ship catered solely to that age group. There were limited activities during the day, the free exercises classes were more like "sit and be fit" and the shows were the old review shows. We went to the nightclub at 10pm and there was only 10 people there!!! We were bored out of our mind! All in all we had a relaxing time but I will not go back on the ship again as it was very outdated and very limited activities during the day. This ship needs to be sent to pasture and needs to be replaced with a new ship with updated features Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Cuba cruise. Group of 6, family and friends. One Neptune Suit, one Vista Suite and one interior cabin. Embarcation went ok, usually they load the wheel chairs first. One of our party was disabled and used wheelchari assist. We were ... Read More
Cuba cruise. Group of 6, family and friends. One Neptune Suit, one Vista Suite and one interior cabin. Embarcation went ok, usually they load the wheel chairs first. One of our party was disabled and used wheelchari assist. We were the last to go on the ship. The ship was clean. One of my highlights on Holland is the Culenary Arts and the Microsoft classes. Both so interesting. Dinning was the best I have had on any of my 6 cruises. 3 on Holland, 2 on princess and one on Norweigan. Presentation and taste above the average for sure. Service the best!! The entertainment was average from what I have seen. Two entertainers other then the ship signers and dancers. Majic and comedy, Both great! And the ship singers and dancers were good just not memerable. As I already mentioned the Culenary Arts and Microsoft classes are the best. Seems drinks have gone up a bit, did not get a beverage package. And did not appear that the prices were the same everywhere . Ports were good, although our one disabled person booked a shore excurtion and it was a tender that we did not see on the cruise site prior to the cruise. She wanted to try but was just not going to make it. They would not refund, we understood somewhat. The service was an A+ in every aspect! Every employee always made eye contact and has a friendly Hello. All services were kind and friendly. Best service by all . Just out of their control to fix air conditioning on an aging ship! I do not think we will be do Holland again, for sure not on the Veendam! On my other Holldand cruise, Amsterdam cruise, in a Neptune Suite , also had problems with air conditioning. Very disappointed ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We thought we'd done all the right research prior to booking our cruise, obviously not. The only thing that didn't make this a completely miserable experience was the Ports and the company we traveled with. We ar grieved a little ... Read More
We thought we'd done all the right research prior to booking our cruise, obviously not. The only thing that didn't make this a completely miserable experience was the Ports and the company we traveled with. We ar grieved a little early on embarking day, no big deal to sit and wait but we waited and waited and waited...the ship wasn't ready so we waited ... 4 hours. Once onboard we made our way to the Lido deck because our lunch this far had been from vending machines at the port. I don't mind being served food, I find it safer than a bunch of people reaching in a buffet, but you had to ask 2-3 times for "more" than 10 pieces of lettuce, etc. The. To the room, it was as expected as an overview if only you could see the ocean given the dirty window! I'm not talking about some salt water, it was completely filthy. The room itself was clean, old and one power outlet (we asked for a power strip) but bed was comfortable and room stewards were great- they were the ONLY great thing about this cruise!! We were detoured prior to departure to Amber Cove vs. Cap Cana...that was fine as well, because we were getting such a late start. Amber Cove was very nice and a lot of fun actually, just no beach or any excursions to be offered. Have a drink and sit by the pool. Now, back to the ship...nothing to do, NOTHING...unless you enjoy playing chess in the library or reading a book in the corner this is not for you. There were six of us, all early Fortys and we literally went to bed at nine every night because of boredom. You can only go to the casino so many times and heaven forbid you'd want to eat past seven....they shut food stations down early every single day. So off to the room to order room service and wait an hour. Oh, and pay for food from the Dive In because it's after their hours. Can't get a drink at any of the ship bars because there's no one working. Literally NOONE WORKING during daytime hours! So be prepared to go to the crows nest in the front of the ship after four for drinks, otherwise good luck! I'm not a fan of Holland as you can tell. This was our third cruise and I've never been more disappointed. First and last time sailing with Holland! Wish I had something good to say, but I don't. If you don't want activities and like to sit in your room, book on this ship. The people and ship are all miserable. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports ... Read More
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports were great, for a typical caribbean 7 day cruise. The only issue we had was an excess of young children, often poorly supervised (BY THE PARENTS!!!) but that is the risk you take during spring break periods. I had a much worse spring break experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise a number of years ago. (Read: 13 year olds pushing ALL the elevator buttons every time, exiting after one floor, thinking that was very funny). Food was very good, typical Holland fare. Had a nice first day dinner at canaletto, which avoids the first day dining room hassles. We use the main dining room for all breakfasts, and had a lot of great table mates and interesting discussions. All in all a pretty good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I chose this cruise specifically to be on board the Veendam. We cruised Alaska last year on the Zaandam, which is a sister ship to the Veendam. We enjoyed it much more than our Mexico cruise the year before on a much larger Carnival ... Read More
I chose this cruise specifically to be on board the Veendam. We cruised Alaska last year on the Zaandam, which is a sister ship to the Veendam. We enjoyed it much more than our Mexico cruise the year before on a much larger Carnival ship. There was nothing wrong with the Carnival cruise but it was very much a party ship compared to the last time we had cruised on Carnival about 12 years before. The Zaandam was our first HAL cruise and we very much enjoyed the more sedate attitude of the cruise. No obnoxious drunks or poorly supervised kids. The Veendam was great and I would absolutely cruise aboard her again. We had our 13 year old daughter aboard and it was her first experience with the teen program on the ship, and being over Easter there was a large number of kids on board (160). She made a couple of friends and enjoyed herself, but I think she is still young enough she would have liked the more structured atmosphere in the 9-12 age group but she wasn't allowed to go there anymore. It would be nice if HAL allowed an overlap between the age groups. Being 13 is very different from being 16-17, and she would have had more fun hanging out with 11 & 12 year olds. Not a big deal...in a year or two she will much prefer the teen Loft. I originally booked an inside cabin but eventually upgraded to a balcony vista suite. It was quite roomy and we very much enjoyed having a balcony. I know next time we cruise without a balcony we will miss it. We are from a small town so we are always impressed with the dining options on cruise ships. Everything was delicious, and the proportions were adequate without feeling like I was stuffed after every meal. Embarkation was the fastest we have experienced. Less than 45 minutes total. We had two sea days and we enjoyed the activities offered. Entertainment was not as good as on the Zaandam. Some of it was targeting an audience a couple decades older than us, but the singing and dancing was good. Sound could have been better. We played tennis for on board exercise. Plenty of time service opportunities on the Veendam. Service was excellent, although occasionally a little slow in the dining room. We had open seating so I think sometimes it was slow depending on which wait team we were seated with. We won this cruise so we only paid for the upgrade to a vista suite. Obviously great value for our money, but before we embarked I saw that inside cabins were down to $469pp so for 7 nights that's a great value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The other couple we went with like the Holland America Line very much. We are Celebrity Cruises but we said we would go since we wanted to go to Cuba. Check in was the easiest I have every had. The ship is very, very old and we were ... Read More
The other couple we went with like the Holland America Line very much. We are Celebrity Cruises but we said we would go since we wanted to go to Cuba. Check in was the easiest I have every had. The ship is very, very old and we were told it was going in for refurbishing in 2019 or it was being sold. We were late to two port by a couple of hours. I have never been late to a port before in all my cruising. Very disappointing. The staff was great and the food was good. The dancers were excellent and the shows were good and all entertaiment was very good. We were more than two hours late to our disembarkation port and it was very stressful since we had a plane to catch (but we just did make it). All the ports were great and enjoyed visiting on the islands we visited. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
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