2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this trip because of the itinerary. There was only one sea day and the port days were long so you didn’t feel rushed. It wasn’t a “relaxing” tour because we wanted to see everything, and we did. We figured we walked over ... Read More
We chose this trip because of the itinerary. There was only one sea day and the port days were long so you didn’t feel rushed. It wasn’t a “relaxing” tour because we wanted to see everything, and we did. We figured we walked over 100 miles all total, and many of our shipmates did more. Just lots to see! Embarkation was a little confusing if you were on your own getting to the port, but not bad at all. It was very quick. Of course, it was raining so the picture was taken looking like drowned rat! Disembarkation was a breeze. The Veendam is an older, small ship so the entertainment is lacking. We aren’t big at doing the shows and stuff, but if you are keep that in mind. We love trivia and it was there. The pool was never crowded. We didn’t eat in MDR, we did the Lido and the food was very good. The service was a little lacking everywhere, they seemed to need more servers everywhere. The people we encountered were all wonderful. Guest services was always helpful. The cruise director and the EXC director were great. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Chose the cruise for its interesting port intensive itinerary, reasonable price and wanted to try Holland America. There were lots of poor reviews of this ship so we were concerned but for no reason. We loved the ship. Cabins were very ... Read More
Chose the cruise for its interesting port intensive itinerary, reasonable price and wanted to try Holland America. There were lots of poor reviews of this ship so we were concerned but for no reason. We loved the ship. Cabins were very spacious, lots of storage, large bathrooms with tub. Beds really super comfy, nice quality bedding and bathrobes. Chocolates on pillow at night. Excellent attentive staff everywhere. Ambiance relaxed and elegant - old fashioned feel which we liked. Only 1350 passengers felt intimate and never crowded. Easy to get seated for dining room meals (we don't like to choose a time for dinner so went free style dining), lots of cosey spaces to sit and relax, beautiful sail away bar called the Crow's Nest which also had happy hour 2 for 1 drinks a few times a day which we enjoyed - $12 USD for 2 drinks. Rich wood interior spaces in public areas - so lovely - fresh flowers and nice art. Food very good overall, Pinnacle Restaurant excellent, Caneletto very disappointing- dining room meals were much better. Pizza and burgers poolside very good. Entertainment was ok - singers and dancers actually very good, one night no entertainment, one night a film, one magician, one comedian, one violinist - so it was ok not fabulous. But theatre intimate and never crowded. Liked the lecture on the next port every night. Most passengers in their late 50s-70s. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches ... Read More
We wanted to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and Holland America had two choices. We have always liked the Veendam because of its classic design and the quality of the service and the size of the Neptune Suites. There were no glitches on embarkation and disembarkation. The lectures were informative and pleasing; the Kitchen at Sea was great as was the entertainment. We were the first passengers to enjoy the new carpets and the new chairs and the number of renovations on this ship! There will always be a place for these smaller ships in the industry. (1200 Passengers, but about 1000 on our crossing) the captain was all around the ship, available for questions, and very informative about the nuts and bolts of the ship and the navigaion. He was from Scotland and had the sense of humor, understated, and excellent rapport with his staff and of course the passengers! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Love Holland America and wanted to experience an 11 day cruise with lots of stops. Embarkation went very well. Disembarkation could have been less crowded. Only three custom officers on duty. Love the Lanai Ocean view room. Walked ... Read More
Love Holland America and wanted to experience an 11 day cruise with lots of stops. Embarkation went very well. Disembarkation could have been less crowded. Only three custom officers on duty. Love the Lanai Ocean view room. Walked everyday around the ship and it was enjoyable. Sat in our reserved chairs, for relaxation time, that are provided for us just outside our sliding glass door. Dinning was very good. We did open seating and requested our favorite wait staff's table which was open to us several evenings. Food was well prepared and tasty, The service excellent and everyone was concerned with meeting our dinner expectations. Entertainment was very good with the energetic piano man Martin Kaye. The piano bar was hoping each night with Don at the keys. Veendam dancers were satisfactory. The service on Holland America was exceptional. We had positive interactions with Customer Service and Shore Excursions. The ship was going into dry dock after this cruise so the maintenance staff was very busy replacing carpeting and general up keep of the ship. The Captain's message each night regarding the sea and the next day's port was very informative. Seven ports in 11 days was nice. Did some excursions and sometimes just walked around the port stores. Did one private tour in Roatan named AJ's Monkeys and Sloth. Very fun. I would highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have cruised with HAL for 10 years and are 4 star mariners, did 2 cruises on Veendam starting March 3 to April 6th 2019. Embarkation long, tedious and very hot no assistance from HAL some very sick elderly people made to stand in heat ... Read More
We have cruised with HAL for 10 years and are 4 star mariners, did 2 cruises on Veendam starting March 3 to April 6th 2019. Embarkation long, tedious and very hot no assistance from HAL some very sick elderly people made to stand in heat for hours. Cabins poorly serviced, beds lumpy and hard. Advised of food allergy well in advance of cruise very poor choices, all meals and menu in Dining poor, meals served Luke warm to cold and not together with partner. Veendam Singers and Dancers excellent other entertainment poor to average. Ports good Shore Excursions ok. Disembarkation disgusting, had tour and airport booked, colour and number we were due to leave at 8.00 am, but kept telling us, no bus hasn’t arrived, 3-1/2 hours later we were all still waiting told tour was cancelled Staff member in charge returned to ship and left us all outside some sitting on limited seating the rest standing waiting for a bus to maybe come for us. Hoping HAL has the common decency to take care of airport transfer for all disappointed passengers looking forward to tour, we of FLL Everglades which we will now never see. Lastly emphasise Kitchen staff and Head Chef Orly, who should be responsible, all the time have let the Company down inexcusably Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I found this trip as a special in January and booked it true HAL, I'm so glad I did it was amazing. From the captain down the crew was outstanding, one of my best cruises yet. Fun facts of the day were my highlights, captain and ... Read More
I found this trip as a special in January and booked it true HAL, I'm so glad I did it was amazing. From the captain down the crew was outstanding, one of my best cruises yet. Fun facts of the day were my highlights, captain and staff captain very friendly and eat meals in the Lido. From the cabin stewards to the dinning room stewards it was excellent, off course on a long cruise you get to know the crew. Only the ports of call in Brazil I did not feel safe. The ship shows it age a bit with no HD tv or other fancy things but then I don't spend much time in the cabin. My reason to use Holland America is that I like the mature crowd and love the small ship feel. The next cruise is on another HAL ship the new Statendam. Look forward to a new ship even she is a lot bigger. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, the Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurant menus have not changed in at least 10 years. Boarding in Fort Lauderdale was quick and easy. A dedicated ‘Mariner 4 and 5 Star’ line combined with a priority boarding card meant we were on board by midday. Our verandah suite towards the rear of deck 9 was not quite ready but we were able to leave our carry-on luggage in it while we went for lunch. At 12.45 pm they conducted a 3, 4 & 5 star Mariners welcome drinks in the Crows Nest. The compulsory lifeboat drill was on the open deck 6 at 3.15 pm on time for our departure at 4.15 pm. The young captain was very visible throughout the ship and was very approachable, spending time talking to passengers. He and the officers ate mainly in the Lido. The captain was also compassionate – he had no hesitation in turning the ship around and heading full-speed for Rio as a passenger required immediate medical attention not available on the ship. Well done. Two of the four front elevators were out-of-action for most of the 50 days, which meant a slow ride when the gangway and tender platforms were forward. On the second day of the cruise we noticed that HAL had garnashied (a “credit hold”) our Mastercard to the amount of US3k (=$30 each x 50 days). The front desk explained that the “may” in the fine print actually meant “will”. This was an unnecessary intrusion. The ship’s internet was fast and reliable. We purchased it for the second half of the trip, at $199.99 for 21 days. On this trip, talks in the auditorium mainly centred around World War II sea battles, which were irrelevant. However, an excellent idea was a “Beginner’s Guide to Portuguese” (the language of Brazil) session in the showroom on the day after Devils Island. The HAL shops are a waste of space. They need to visit Princess and Royal Caribbean to learn how to sell goods to cruise ship passengers. The only ones we saw liberally using the perfumes were the staff as they came into work each day. Yves St Laurent men’s eau de toilette was $122 on the ship, $79 at Key West. My wife went to the poorly advertised “Shops Farewell Party” on the last night – 12 people turned up and they had to draw the raffle 8 times before a winner was found. The prize consisted of two t-shirts from a previous cruise to places we had not been plus a hat (11 people were glad they hadn’t won!). Daily ‘Trivia’ on the ship was basically a mess. Initially they concentrated on American sports and after complaints decided that “trivia” actually meant “obscure” (like ‘how many stomachs does a cockroach have’) and their fact sheets were out-of-date, to the extent that some of their answers were categorically wrong. Daily ‘Trivia’ was really a frustrating and annoying waste of time, which was a pity as we have enjoyed it on every one of our previous cruises. After leaving Key West, the last American port, they announced there would be no currency exchange with Brazilian Real on board and suggested trying to exchange at upcoming Ports’ banks. They also stated that all currency exchanges in Rio would be closed during carnival. This should have been advised well prior to the cruise starting. After some complaints, they later announced that on board currency exchange would be available in Salvador, our third Brazilian port. The ‘Captain’s Toast’ on the evening of the third day was held in the auditorium on decks 7 and 8, but drinks to toast by were only available on Deck 7. The Port talks by the “Exc” person and Port expert were excellent – well worth attending. Also excellent were the constant reminders in the ‘Where & When’ daily newssheet to be very careful when in port in regard to personal safety. We learned from taking to tourists on shore that other cruise ships did not provide this advice. There were warnings about not to wear any jewellery whatsoever, keep cameras and phones hidden and only to take off cash or cards you would need for the day. As it was, we heard of one fellow losing, from a Velcro flapped pants pocket, his credit card, drivers licence and $200 cash (in Rio), a lady and a man who each had a necklace ripped off from around their necks (in Recife) and a lady on a walker who was pushed over and her purse stolen (in Manaus). No doubt there were others. Food on the ship was “the usual”, except for the very good Pizza Bar manned by James and Ronald. They remembered our order from the first night, even though we did not eat there very often. At Port-of-Spain the captain announced he was cancelling Vitoria and replacing it with Buzios, due to a low bridge and tides. As it happened this was an excellent decision! We had one fellow on the first half of the trip who only wore his HAL-logoed bathrobe and flip-flops – on the ship, to meals, walking around the ports and into the towns. HAL said they could not prevent it as how he dressed was his decision. This should save me a lot of packing for our next cruise! Passports and Brazil visas were collected a few days out from Brazil and were returned after we had left Brazil. At Recife, our first major Brazil port, passengers from 3 cabins were not allowed off the ship due to not having correct documentation (presumable the Brazilian Visa). There were rumours that the laundry service would be cut in the Amazon due to the brown muddy water but a response by the passengers to the captain’s plea to save water meant that this did not eventuate and the service continued as normal. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was quick and efficient, although we were glad we were not in the “US citizens” line which snaked around like waiting for a ride at Disneyland. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected this Authentic Cuba cruise in order to visit Cuba and have an “authentic” experience. If you wish to have that I suggest you visit Havana, not Cienfuegos. The men in our group were hoping to see the 50’s cars that have ... Read More
We selected this Authentic Cuba cruise in order to visit Cuba and have an “authentic” experience. If you wish to have that I suggest you visit Havana, not Cienfuegos. The men in our group were hoping to see the 50’s cars that have been maintained, none in Cienfuegos! The Botanical Garden tour was also disappointing, the motor coach was in very good condition and the guide was excellent. However, this was NOT a Botanical Garden, more of a arboretum in poor condition. This portion of the tour was too long including the drive there and back; this left very little time to walk around the city. On a positive note, the chamber music type concert was excellent as was the lunch, although the hotelmwas not ready for us and this 15 minute delay took away even more time from city exploration. The Veendam is in dire need of refurbishment, it is scheduled for April. The suite was shabby and the tub was extremely slow to drain; only one electrical outlet in the entire suite. The crew is excellent, friendly and helpful. Food quality overall was very good but inconsistent. The Lido cafe is understaffed considering they serve all of the food, it is not an open buffet. Although this was a disappointing first experience with Holland America, overall we had a fun trip. The entertaiment ramged from very good to a excellents. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Excellent embarkation, and oddly, they seem to have dispensed with the silly health declaration. The nature of the muster drill has changed. One must not leave the cabin at the first alarm, but wait for the third or be told off by Miss ... Read More
Excellent embarkation, and oddly, they seem to have dispensed with the silly health declaration. The nature of the muster drill has changed. One must not leave the cabin at the first alarm, but wait for the third or be told off by Miss Trunchbull, who now works for HAL. Shades of Costa Concordia telling the English speakers to jolly well stay in their cabins as the ship went down is what this brought to mind for me, but ‘whatever’. We booked this one knowing that the lanais would mean very few non - reserved deck chairs on the walking deck. Initially we were pleased to see that there were plenty of deck chairs but then we noticed that they were almost all where the steel side went up to the railing, so no sea view. As the cruise went on, our fellow cruisers took to “reserving” the very few good loungers with towels. This is not the cruise for anyone who loves sitting on the boat deck. HAL also removed the cushions every night at 5:30! (Nobody on the cruise was quite THAT old.) We note that some passengers seem to have adopted a “Manifest Destiny” attitude on the walking deck, and will bark out “Coming through!” Or an imperative “Excuse me!” (As opposed to a polite one) and then expect you to clear the entire path for them instead of merely passing by. There were a few odd ducks on this cruise, but more on that later. Food in the MDR was disappointing compared to previous HAL cruises, as well as every other line, except MSC. The portions are beginning to be skimpy, even for a small adult. This is not really a problem, you just order more courses. The real problem was the menus. The regional menus were invariably Cuban. This cruise didn’t even have Cuba as a stop and Cuban food is famous, in Canada, at least, for not being very good. (My apologies to any genuine Cubans, who doubtless know where to get the good stuff.) The addition of paid menu items drastically reduced the variety offered without extra charge. Service in the MDR was spotty and slow until we finally met Agus and his sidekick Bonbon. The good news about food on this cruise is that the Lido had some much better food than the MDR. The salad bar was better than any salad ever seen in the MDR and by getting a slice of meat off the joint, you can get just what you want. The Asian is generally good, and the pizza and Dive In are good, too. Breakfast was always excellent, but you must specially ask, and wait three minutes, if you want a hot, crisp waffle. (You DO!!). The baked goods at breakfast were good except for the croissants. Drink service, at least for the non alcoholic choices, was spotty, but we found that staffers didn’t mind in the least if you just poured your own when they left their pitchers at their stations. Desserts were generally disappointing on Veendam, including, alas, the macaroons in the Library which we enjoyed vastly on Noordam last year. (A pitiful collection of books, as well. Definitely bring lots of your own reading material.) For all that, the Explorer’s Lounge in the library is your best chance for a decent, small, dessert. Watermelon was just slightly rotten from the start to the finish of the cruise. In a strange way, this is almost impressive. On a happier note, the milk was fresh right to the end, and milk is often not worth drinking after the first week or so. Others have complained about AC problems on Veendam; ours was fine. Plumbing, often HAL’s Achille’s heel, generally worked, though there were a few leaks in the atrium and once walking past a cabin with an open door, we heard a staffer say, “that is NOT normal!” .......So naturally we looked in ...... to see water pouring from the ceiling. As reviewers have reported for some months past, there were only five of eight elevators working, which was sometimes very inconvenient. Midway through the cruise a little miracle happened and a sixth elevator came back to life. This made for four at the rear and still just two at the front. Those who don’t like stairs might do well to choose the aft of the ship till this is fixed. There are some wonderful things about these old ships that old age doesn’t damage (and the Veendam is definitely due for either a massive refit or a transfer to a lesser line). The laundry rooms are a boon to those who travel light, even when all the machines don’t work. They even provide free detergent. The old fashioned walk around deck is a glorious way to get exercise. The cabins have massive amounts of storage. On HAL everyone gets a bath tub in outside, balcony and suites cabins, which is also wonderful. There is a vague sort of dignity to Veendam that is rather loveable. There are fundamentally no hard sells. The photographer was never once a pest, nor was the cruise director annoying. They didn’t seem desperate to close down dining venues on port days. They even offered a pretty decent tea (scones and jam were both blueberry for some reason, and cream was skimpy and not clotted). Nevertheless service was good in the MDR at tea time and they didn’t try to herd you into a tiny corner of the room as some ships do, even letting you choose your own table, which we appreciated. One lovely thing about this cruise was the utter and complete absence of terrible bands playing on the pool deck. Music of any sort was rare in public areas, though they did have a pianist in the bars sometimes, and some noisy music on the back deck of the Lido. They also don’t subject you to the choice of boiling under a duvet or freezing without one, opting for the old fashioned luxury of triple sheets. Very civilized. Possibly the walls are paper thin in the cabins, but I think it much more likely that the old dude travelling solo in the next cabin was either terribly inconsiderate blasting his tv for hours, or (let’s be more charitable) he may have been deaf. Another unusual cruiser was the fellow who turned down a table at a breakfast where tables were rare, pointing at the ceiling. Sure enough, there really was a camera up there, but I can’t imagine it mattering (what does one DO at breakfast in public that couldn’t be caught on camera? Perhaps I lack imagination.) More to the point, who the heck checks out their environment that carefully on vacation? Spies? Criminals on the run? The fellow who wore the Betty Boop bandana tied around his head for formal night (and a different bandana under a giant top hat with a very wide red sash on the second formal night) did rather catch the eye. Recovering from brain surgery? Winning a bet? Or just giving the rest of us a chuckle? May he recover fully, or win his bet as the case may be, and keep making formal nights fun. Some things about the Veendam itself are odd. The cabin numbering system on Veendam is chaotic, but this is more than made up for by the fact that the beds and pillows are both pretty comfortable, which is also a little odd for cruises in general. For some unknown reason, they sprinkle cinnamon on the cottage cheese in the Lido. This is merely an eccentricity, but I still wish they wouldn’t. The Crows’ Nest is strangely democratic. There are just a few recliners facing the front, and they are off to one side, but there is a padded bench all the way along the front windows. So everyone gets a window seat, though few get the view. We missed Half Moon Cay, nothing strange about that, we find that about half the time, the waves are “too high” to tender. (Makes you wonder how those lifeboat tenders would fare in a bad storm at sea, doesn’t it?) The part I liked about this time is that the captain actually added the real reason, which was that the supplies and staff hadn’t gotten there. On the second formal night, when they finally produced a first rate dinner in the MDR, one steak seemed to have been boiled, which is odd as steak is usually the last thing that Cruise dining rooms would ever go wrong on. Oh, well, the flourless chocolate cake was even better than what we make at home (many things on this cruise were not) and they had added berries, which idea we liked enough that we will copy it. There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with this cruise, but not a lot was terribly good. The ship itself and the service have both just come down far enough for us to think that we will definitely revert to Celebrity, our other favourite, for our next cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is ... Read More
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is showing her age. Several of the elevators didn't work on a regular basis resulting in long waits or lots of stair climbing. The machines in the passenger laundromat on our deck were out of order after the first day. BUT on the plus side:....the staff was extraordinarly helpful and accommodating. The cabins, even our inside, were good sized and had LOTS of storage. The food in both the main dining room and the buffets was tasty, well prepared, visually attractive, and had good portion sizes. So many food choices....so little time. The variety of foods was amazing. The made to order crepes, omelets, and salads on the Lido were so good! And for really good fries, check out the "Dive-In" near the "indoor" pool. Their hot dogs and hamburgers are huge and tasty as well. The only food items that I found less than top quality were the breads and rolls. Those on Princess and Royal Caribbean are better. The stops on this particular eastern Caribbean cruise were interesting and all but one were at docks which we prefer over having to take tenders. We took a water taxi to the shopping area on St. Maarten but otherwise were able to walk to what we wanted to see from the ship at the other ports. We had to skip Half Moon Cay because of large waves-couldn't launch the tenders safely. The ship sponsored tours tend to be quite expensive for what you get, but it depends on what a person wants. We're not into beaches or shopping. We were able to walk around the cities at the stops and see quite a bit. The information for each town could use updating. For example, the map and information for St. John's Antigua, were not accurate at all and we ended up walking long distances to places that weren't where they were supposed to be and were in really bad condition. On the other hand, Castries on St. Lucia and Fort-De-France on Martinique were very enjoyably walkable, and we saw a lot. As is true for every cruise we've ever been on, drinks are very expensive and the pricing isn't always clear. We were charged almost $12 for souvenir drink glasses from the sail-away departure "party" - glasses that we weren't able to keep. They came around and collected them! We will sail on Holland American again, and if the itinerary were the right one, we would go on the Veendam again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Attracted to cruise because it visited Cuba - first time on Holland America after approximately thirty prior cruises - Ship was in total disrepair - Booked four cabins near elevator bank to accommodate ninety year old birthday celebrant - ... Read More
Attracted to cruise because it visited Cuba - first time on Holland America after approximately thirty prior cruises - Ship was in total disrepair - Booked four cabins near elevator bank to accommodate ninety year old birthday celebrant - By end of ten days only one elevator cab was running for passengers resulting in extremely long waits to move around ships - Crew has to use one elevator as theirs were out of order - One day elevator opened and we saw crew member with carts of filthy linens! We were told they were waiting for parts - Public bathrooms on pool deck 11 were out of service from first day until last day - waiting for parts. We were directed to use facilities on same deck at rear of ship through buffet area - One stall only - filthy - no towels to wipe hands - Complained but to no avail - Leaking safety sprinkler valve on 12th deck down onto pool deck for entire length of cruise - Pool deck was always wet and slippery - Cone saying “caution wet floor” with no attempt to repair - Food was inedible with exception of breakfast - Too little personnel - family style trays of food were not refilled when empty - Italian specialty restaurant was disgusting at best - Entertainment crew shows would have been okay as high school productions - Cruise director wore same decrepit suit and dirty shoes nightly - Commented it was a uniform! Sent complaint letter to President and CEO of Holland America about all occurrences - Received response from customer service (not from Pres. or CEO) - Surprise! She claimed all issues were related to awaiting spare parts - Offered $100.00 discount per person on future cruise - Insulting at best - As repeat cruiser on Oceania they offer 10% discount on cabin which works out to hundreds of dollars and well worth every penny - Will never sail with Holland America ever again and neither should you Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this cruise for ports of call and schedule. Except for the quality of the food, the cruise was a disappointment. The ship was worn and tired. Booked a Neptune suite and there was wallpaper falling off the wall and rusty areas on the ... Read More
Chose this cruise for ports of call and schedule. Except for the quality of the food, the cruise was a disappointment. The ship was worn and tired. Booked a Neptune suite and there was wallpaper falling off the wall and rusty areas on the balcony. The carpets are stained throughout. Many small things added up: missing bathroom fixtures, a towel hangar that was replaced with a simple screw in the wall. The Neptune/Pinnacle suites are supposedly the nicest aboard -- if that is true, then I feel badly for those in lesser cabins. The service was also poor, but I consider this a reflection of how the crew is treated by their employer. Most crew members seemed disinterested in being helpful, and some where downright rude. More often than not, I was getting my own drinks in the Lido restaurant. In the dining room, we gave our order and the waiter confirmed it, only to bring the wrong thing. I would describe most of the crew as aloof. HAL supposedly provides a premium experience, but this was far from it. Would recommend you cruise with someone else. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a getaway for New Year's Eve. We were pleasantly surprised at the young ages on this sailing knowing Holland's reputation. However, Holland did not take this into consideration and maintained a "Senior" ... Read More
This was a getaway for New Year's Eve. We were pleasantly surprised at the young ages on this sailing knowing Holland's reputation. However, Holland did not take this into consideration and maintained a "Senior" environment with night symphonies, cooking demonstrations, etc. The shipped appeared dated, especially the exterior with cracked windows in several locations. The entertainment in the theater was awful using the staff which appeared more like a high school production. The headliner comedian canceled and New Year's Eve was held in the theater. 1,000 people crammed into a two tier theater having to watch the Cruise Director sing three or four songs. He was not Frank Sinatra! Champagne was limited and those of us on the upper tier just received our champagne at the strike of midnight. Now tell me why they did not take advantage of the pool area with the covered top and some energetic live music? Sea Days: Young ages throughout the ship, yet Carlos the Cruise Director did not make any adjustments for some fun on sea days at the pool and no live music. Food, overall was good with an imbalance of proportions. Some had a healthy plating while others had barely a portion for one person. God forbid you asked for extra sour cream. Seems the ship had a premium on that! Service was very good. Stateroom was nice size but never saw our attendant and we ended up with the same used glasses for four days in a row. Towel animals needed some work and the towels and wash clothes were grey and dingy looking. Excursions: Took one "Old and New San Juan". The driver gave no history of the city during the drive. Stopped at fort for a 45 minute walk. 23-acre fort! Not much time. Dropped us at a corner for shopping not giving any suggestions or time for a bite of food. The only saving grace on this cruise was "Martini Mike" with nightly martini tastings and the beautiful islands of Grand Turk and Half Moon Bay. Sorry, Holland but a huge disappointment for on board experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise specifically for the stop in Cienfuegos and the dates worked with our kids winter breaks. Embarking on the cruise was very easy, our cabin steward was great. We signed the kids up for club HAL but they never ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically for the stop in Cienfuegos and the dates worked with our kids winter breaks. Embarking on the cruise was very easy, our cabin steward was great. We signed the kids up for club HAL but they never went. I guess they have outgrown it (ages 10, 12 and 13). Everything seemed well maintained and we didn't have any plumbing issues although I met a woman who did. We spent a good bit of time relaxing at the lido pool playing ping pong or in the exploration lounge playing board games. I found the lights in the main dining to be too bright. They seemed much brighter than the lights on the Rotterdam or Zaandam. We did not see any of the shows. One complaint I have is the timing of the shows/movies. The movies tended to start at 7pm and the shows were at 8 or 10pm. We had the late seating for main room dining so unless we wanted to stay up super late it wasn't practical to catch the entertainment and with 4 ports stops most mornings we needed to be up for a shore excursion. On other cruise lines they've had an early show that you could see and then do dinner after. I also there had been more educational talks about Cuba. We did the South America/Antarctica cruise a couple years ago and I loved all the various talks about Wildlife, exploration, etc. Overall a great and relaxing cruise, but the only stop that we really enjoyed was Cienfuegos. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour ... Read More
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour which I had arranged via Shago tours. They assigned a tour guide, Yoley, and we were assigned a driver with a 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan for our trip to the Nicho Waterfalls. The Waterfalls were worth the trip. We also asked to see the botanical garden. That was disappointing. Only trees to see, no plants…not like in the US. The trip up the mountain was however quite eye-opening. There were more horse drawn carriages and tractors than cars. The way of life was fascinating…makes you really appreciate our country. We had a lot of good conversation with the tour guide and a very nice lunch at the waterfalls. . I was told that we saw much more than those people who took the cruise bus excursions. They didn’t seem as satisfied. We were a little nervous when we left the ship and saw all the big buses but no private drivers with signs. It seems you have to leave the area to another small park outside to meet them. I believe there also were taxis there for those without tours. The ship was well maintained, loved the food by the pool, custom made pizza, caprices salad, hamburgers, Nathan’s hotdogs, and taco bar. Took part in many of the offerings on the days at sea…i.e. Americans Test Kitchen. Entertainment was good for a small ship, casino quite small…no craps table. Overall…a great experience. Hope that helps others as I have been helped in the past through other people’s experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife Carol and I were very interested in learning more about Cuba so we chose the cruise called: "The Cuban Explorer." There were supposed to be two cuban ports. The other destinations on the cruise did not interest us much. ... Read More
My wife Carol and I were very interested in learning more about Cuba so we chose the cruise called: "The Cuban Explorer." There were supposed to be two cuban ports. The other destinations on the cruise did not interest us much. We went to Key West, Florida. I would describe this as a once nice little town that has become an empty tourist trap. Next, we went to Havana after a day at sea. Having sailed mostly the North Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, we found the days at sea rather dull since there was nothing that was very interesting to do on board nor was the sea anything special. (I have been in two spectacular storms on other ships.) My wife who is Canadian Chinese, a seasoned traveller experienced two incidents of nasty behaviour by co travellers who felt they had a right to scream at fellow passengers to move aside. Described in the past as the "ugly American". In fact being an American I was shocked maybe at their attitude and outright prejudice. We complained to the front desk there should be a code of behaviour for passengers. A total put off given the number of diverse tourists traveling today. Shame on their backward rude behaviour- and the fact they thought they could get away with it. Carol is recovering from cancer and this trip was a rest for us both. However, compared to John Cleese on the Queen Mary, the speakers we heard on the Veendam were informative but little else. We watched a couple of movies on the tv in our cabin and attended two talks/demos by an America's Test Kitchen chef. Carol, who is really at a chef level herself (she was a judge in the International Chocolate Competition in Toronto), though not professionally, enjoyed these demonstration/talks quite a bit. The ship, though old (built 1993), is superbly maintained by an excellent and conscientious crew. But the quality of the maintenance apparently did not extend to the mechanicals of the ship which I believe was the reason we could not stop at Cienfuegos. Missing this port is the main reason I have downgraded the cruise. The captain got on the PA a couple of time and told us that we couldn't go to Cienfuegos but he kept saying that there was no safety issue. If there was not a safety issue, why couldn't we go? If there was a safety issue, why were we cruising in this ship and why did it take on new passengers when we got back to Fort Lauderdale? As a very poor substitute for missing a key destination we were offered an afternoon of free booze. Again, of little interest to us. And it did not make up for not visiting one of the destinations we thought would be a highlight. The main plus for the cruise was the dining.The food was wonderful. Meat, vegetarian and non-gluten dishes were available. Brilliantly cooked and served. Dinner in the dining room was always a pleasure. For breakfast and lunch we went to the cafeteria style "Lido" deck. We were both surprised by the very high level of culinary artistry the staff exhibited. The one tour we took in Havana was abysmal. It was supposed to be a culinary tour. The guide certainly knew her stuff and was professional but the offerings were not worth the time or money. "Culinary" turned out to be going to a large hotel salon with a view in downtown Havana and being given a pretty lousy four hour meal with lots of booze served. The Cuban musicians were local and good.( I am a classically trained musician.) From there we were dragged off to some run down night club where we had loud Cuban music played at us while we were given rum, cigars and coffee to sample with no comments, explanations or any attempt to instruct. Neither my wife nor I smoke and there was no alternative of any kind offered. Our windowed cabin had no balcony but was adequate. The bathroom was nice because it was larger than the one on the Queen Mary 2. It had a full tiled bath. The gym was well equipped. I love my work out and this was important to me. The service in all respects was uniformly excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on this ship has windows so you can have ocean-side dining. The restaurant was also good. My only comment would be that we have gone from formal night to gala night to come as you are. Old t-shirts and flip flops should not be part of gala night. Room service breakfast was excellent, always on time. Holland offered water color classes but they cancelled them as the person was transferred to Rotterdam. My understanding is that she will offer them there and if they concept takes off, it will go to other ships. I am told that the Ocean Trio is going away from this ship come mid-year. Adagio was also quite good. Stewards did a great keeping our cabin up, they are assigned around 30 to keep up with. Gym opened at 6 AM every day and they kept the music down, much appreciated. Captain was excellent and dealt with a couple of weather systems very professionally. Cuba Form - If you say you are going ashore Holland gives you a Cuban visa (tourist card) when you get on to fill out. It costs $75. Don't lose it or you will be charged $75 to replace it. Cienfuegos - I found the information provided in the Cuba orientations and lectures on board to be very biased. The usual phrases such as "100% literacy" without telling you that Cubans do not have free access to information or "free health care" without telling you that they don't even have Advil. Very disappointing. Sailing In - The approach is interesting, try to be out on deck to catch it. This is a tender port for Holland. It is a 15 minute ride in, two Holland tenders and one Cuban boat. Brochure time for the visit is 8 AM to 5 PM. We got there at 8 AM. People were able to go ashore without a tour. Holland typically was giving tender tickets when we cleared. For this port they did not give out tickets until 9 AM (this did not apply to the 4 and 5 star mariners.) The last tender for independent travelers was at 3:30 PM. I thought I could take a shorter tour and then have time to wander around. The ship's shorter tours left later in the morning (around 10 AM.) Irrespective of the ship tour, most did not have time to wander around outside of the tour. They might have some time to shop in Jose Marti Square in Cienfuegos at the end of the tour, but that was it. Our tour (Santa Clara) returned straight to the dock at which point where we were strongly urged to return to the ship. In my view there are a number of constraints that limit one's time here. The Cuban government says the ship can only clear the narrow part of the channel in day light. In mid-December that about 5:30 PM. The ship can't afford to be running late. The dock is a choke point as everyone has to go through Cuban immigration and customs coming and going. The officials were friendly and efficient, money-changing was quick, too, but they can only handle so many people at a time. They did not take our picture. Money - Change some and get some change. This is one of those places in which some of the rest rooms have an attendant you need to tip. Also some small bills for tipping guide and driver. Shopping - I am not much of one, but some folks were quite pleased with some of the hand crafted items they bought. Leather purses, wood domino sets, etc. But I also saw a lot of folks changing money back at the end of the day. Tours - The Cubans had new buses. Good ride, a/c, had bathroom inside. The guide spoke good English. The driver was good and careful. Roads are ok, not much traffic. Santa Clara Tour - The order may be reversed and if time is limited one won't do everything on the tour. Between the ride in and out of Cienfuegos, we saw the main square and the Passo del Prado. We did not drive through Punta Gorda. We stopped in the main square of Santa Clara and walked about a block to a new restroom facility they have built. They on about another block to "Grandparents Party." A senior center with folks who danced and shared their stories. They also had crafts for sale. I chose to go out on the street and look around. Next to the Armored Train, an event from the Cuban Revolution. More time to take in the street scene. Then a buffet-lunch at a hotel outside town. Not bad, like the Lido honestly. The last stop was Che Guevara's mausoleum. It wasn't listed, but it was worth seeing. The tour listed seeing a monument to John Paul II, but we didn't see that. Then back to the ship. Santa Clara is about an hour a way. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise to not only visit Havana ( I had been there before)) but mainly Cienfuegos. There was an announcement the night before that due to irregularities with one of the 5 generators, we would not be stopping at Cienfuegos. I ... Read More
I chose this cruise to not only visit Havana ( I had been there before)) but mainly Cienfuegos. There was an announcement the night before that due to irregularities with one of the 5 generators, we would not be stopping at Cienfuegos. I had persuaded 7 other family members to go with me. Amazingly, Holland America did not substitute a port or extend our stay at one of the scheduled ports. Instead we had to endure anther day at sea. Their compensation was a $100 room credit and free drinks one of the afternoons. We were kept in the dark about details of the cancellation for about 2 days until the Capt gave his explanation over the public address system. The ship is very much in need of an overhaul. Our room phone quit working 3 times, the elevators are extremely slow (5 to 10 minute waits). One elevator was permanently out of service. Our room was showing signs of wear. There was only one electrical outlet for the entire room. There was not any outlet in the bathroom. We had to purchase extension cords in Key West. The internet plan we purchased went out for about 9 hours. I asked staff members if there would be any credit given towards a future cruise and the answer was No. That behind said, the dining room and house keeping staff were wonderful. My wife and I have cruised almost 30 times and the last show performance with the dancers and singers was the best we had ever heard on a ship. The Cruise Director was also excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This itinerary offered a day in Cienfuegos, Cuba and Belize, both of which were of interest to us. Other ports were Nassau (never got off the ship), Half Moon Cay (very pleasant), Grand Cayman (fine if you're looking to buy ... Read More
This itinerary offered a day in Cienfuegos, Cuba and Belize, both of which were of interest to us. Other ports were Nassau (never got off the ship), Half Moon Cay (very pleasant), Grand Cayman (fine if you're looking to buy Tanzanite, I suppose), Roatan (too windy to make port), and Cozumel (read on). First the ship itself. This is an older, or as HAL likes to put it, "vintage" ship. It has been cosmetically well-maintained for the most part, but 3 of the 8 elevators were not functioning during our cruise ("we're waiting for parts" says HAL) so getting around during busy times was somewhat more difficult. And we had plumbing problems in our stateroom that had to be reported three different times before they were fixed. "You can't expect the shower to drain when the ship is moving" was what one guest relations person told me. Um, no. But then, I've learned to expect poor guest relations service from HAL. The people in the room down the hall from us couldn't get the heating/air conditioning to work and as far as I know, that problem never got resolved. Service from the room stewards and food service staff was excellent - always pleasant and helpful. The guest lecturer was very interesting and his hour long lectures flew by. As for ports, Half Moon Cay is always a pleasant stop, very clean and well organized. Nassau we've been to before and saw no reason this time to get off the ship. Cienfuegos was interesting and the excursion we took there well done, as was Belize. Grand Cayman was just not for me. In Cozumel, our excursion did not follow what was in the description, but HAL shore excursion staff refunded 1/2 the excursion cost. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Avoid accepting cabins 131 & 133. Located over Ocean Bar. Music from Ocean Bar heard in room from 9:30 pm to 11:45 pm most nights. (We could hear every note, every thump and even the voice of the singer!) This is a known problem on ... Read More
Avoid accepting cabins 131 & 133. Located over Ocean Bar. Music from Ocean Bar heard in room from 9:30 pm to 11:45 pm most nights. (We could hear every note, every thump and even the voice of the singer!) This is a known problem on this ship. They moved occupants of both cabins to another suite the following day and gave a $70 credit. It took both cabins' occupants going down to complain to get moved. (They initially tried to play it off like saying some occupants are just "more sensitive" than others to the music when they are well aware they have had this problem for many cruises with these cabins!) Holland America operates smaller ships, less crowd, no drunk and rowdy passengers. The staff is always pleasant and smiling. The room stewards remember your names and are eager to please. They take care of 29 or so rooms. They work very hard and deserve a personal tip at the end of the cruise. The time in port could be longer. Most ports had to be back on ship 3:30 pm. Only one small swimming pool that was too cold to go in for our taste. The Lido Restaurant was good with a variety of foods each day. The salad bar was nice. However, was closed for several hours between meal change overs. Desserts were good. Pizza required placing an order. Pizza was not what I call pizza. Preferred previous arrangement to request a slice. Hamburger, hot dog and fries were excellent, required placing an order. Taco bar very good. All three close at 5:30 pm. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This is an old ship and should be retired. A generator broke causing us to miss one of the two Cuban cities of this Cuban cruise. Three public mens room were also broken. No service at the back adult pool area. You can only get warm soda ... Read More
This is an old ship and should be retired. A generator broke causing us to miss one of the two Cuban cities of this Cuban cruise. Three public mens room were also broken. No service at the back adult pool area. You can only get warm soda with a glass of ice and you have to pay 15% gratuity for that. I heard from other passengers that missing the Second City of Cuba has happened before. This all ship is not capable of getting to that Port easily. If going to Cuba is why you're taking this Cruise book another ship. The dining room staff or definitely overworked. It was beginning to feel like I was more at at an Olive Garden then on a cruise ship. The housekeeping staff is very friendly. Embarking and disembarking was very smooth. We always enjoyed High Tea. Breakfast buffet is awesome. They will make you fresh eggs, pancakes and waffles no need to go to the dining room. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise solely because of the Cuba stops. It was advertised and sold as the 10 Day Cuban Explorer. After a wonderful day and evening in Havana we were advised our second Cuba stop in Cienfuegos was being cancelled because of ... Read More
We chose this cruise solely because of the Cuba stops. It was advertised and sold as the 10 Day Cuban Explorer. After a wonderful day and evening in Havana we were advised our second Cuba stop in Cienfuegos was being cancelled because of ship mechanical problems. In addition we we told the remaining ports were being moved up a day which totally disrupted advance plans we had made in those stops. We were given an insulting $100 ship credi for our “inconvenience” The Captain was unapologetic and admonished us not to feel the cruise had been ruined. We found out from the crew this was not the first time the Veendam had cancelled Cienfuegos. We regret booking this cruise with Holland America. On a positive note the crew was wonderful. Food was average and actually poor one of the two nights we ate in the Pinnicle Grill. Food and service in the Canaletto restaurant was very good. Ship interiors were very well done considering the age of the ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Friends were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They were a few cabins away from us. The ship is old and there were many, many problems. Clogged drains and toilets, the air conditioners were hit and miss, older decor and a layout ... Read More
Friends were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They were a few cabins away from us. The ship is old and there were many, many problems. Clogged drains and toilets, the air conditioners were hit and miss, older decor and a layout that lead to dead ends for the first couple of days were some of the problems. My wife wanted to use the Fitness area but the staff sprays the equipment, carpets and air with a scent that she was quite allergic to. One engine broke down and we were forced to miss the second Cuba port, for which we received $50 and $40 port taxes each. When the name of the cruise is "Cuban Experience", I don't feel that is a fair compensation. The staff tried their best to put a good spin on the problems but there was a sense of unrest with the passengers. On this ship the "Anytime" dining seemed to mean just that whereas on Princess it seems to mean you can come to either the first or second searing each night. All in all - disappointing Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Veendam 1.) The Captain may not take you to all of the ports on the itinerary. Our second stop in Cuba (the main reason for the cruise), Cienfuegos, was cancelled. A $50.00 per passenger shipboard credit was the purported compensation ... Read More
Veendam 1.) The Captain may not take you to all of the ports on the itinerary. Our second stop in Cuba (the main reason for the cruise), Cienfuegos, was cancelled. A $50.00 per passenger shipboard credit was the purported compensation for the port cancellation. So many passengers complained that the Captain opened the Lido bar for 2.5 hours of free cocktails. There was no additional compensation for passengers that purchased a beverage package either before or during the cruise. Free cocktails means absolutely nothing to those who have already paid good money up front for a signature or elite beverage package. We were given a case number by our fabulous Neptune Lounge concierge. Case #364388. Waiting to hear back from corporate. 2.) The hot tub in the Greenhouse spa was either luke warm or not functioning for the entire cruise. Really annoying to buy a greenhouse pass and not be able to use/enjoy the hot tub at all. 3.) The Captains cocktail party for 3,4 and 5 star Mariners. I guess he was too embarrassed, nervous or just plain sick of listening to any more complaints because he only attended the event for 15 minutes. 4.) The plumbing on the ship leaves a lot to be desired. The toilets in the Spa and the gym were overflowing and inoperable on several occasions. The toilet in the men’s locker room was out of order for the entire cruise. Maintenance was constantly working on pipes around the ship. Promenade deck would be wet and slippery. Maintenance was working on the plumbing/pipes on the Navigation deck right outside of our Neptune suite for an entire afternoon while at sea. Tap, tap, tap, bang, bang, bang all afternoon. Then comes the telephone call that they need access to our suite. So much for resting and relaxing in our suite, let alone an afternoon nap. 5.) The internet is slow, which I understand but having hours of it being inoperable after you have paid to use it is annoying to say the least. 6.) One of the elevators was out of service for the entire cruise. 7.) The all day in room dining menu is a joke. There are a half dozen items and then sandwiches. The all day menu was not available at all on the 8th day of the cruise. 8.) Two points on the pool. Safety regulation are not enforced. They allow small children and not so small children to jump, dive, splash as long as they want to, which ended up being most of the day on several days. Obnoxious to say the least. When reported to the Officers, nothing was done. In fact, on one occasion two officers were present at the pool while the jumping, splashing and diving was happening and they looked the other way. Second point, the retractable dome was not opened on completely sunny days. This made the pool bar and dining area feel like Viet Nam in the summer. Not comfortable at all. 9.) The aft bar and the entire aft seating area on Lido was closed on 11/9 at 5pm for the remainder of the day. This is one of only 2 smoking areas available on the ship. The other area is the casino (on smoking days) where there is a table in the rear of the casino with 8 ashtrays on it and no chairs. No place to sit. Stand and smoke and get out. 10.) Fairly amusing is the fact that one very small, postcard sized critique card is handed out on the first day of the cruise. Gee, I wonder why????? The good part is that the crew are FABULOUS! The food in the Pinnacle (where we enjoyed dinner most of the time), dining room and Lido buffet is always extremely good and an interesting variety is offered. The crew and the food are the only reason to take a cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Although I have cruised over 20 times, this was my first one on Holland America. I chose this cruise because it was going to Cuba (2 stops). I have already been to the other ports/islands on the itinerary. I consider their private island ... Read More
Although I have cruised over 20 times, this was my first one on Holland America. I chose this cruise because it was going to Cuba (2 stops). I have already been to the other ports/islands on the itinerary. I consider their private island an at sea day. The ship is old. The food and service were very good. The captain skipped one of the Cuba ports and did a at sea day instead. They bumped up the rest of the ports 1 day. Not sure why we could not go to another port or back to Havana. An at sea day provides them more money. They said the problem had to do with the generator. Could go to the other ports and stay out to see but could not go into the Cuba port. Doesn't seem right to me. As I mentioned, food and service was very good. Activities and entertainment, not so much. They had an activities director but not much of a staff. Other than line dancing, and activities where they made money (foot analyzes, art auction, etc.), the other activities were not structured. The best activity they had was America's Test Kitchen. I highly recommend going to that, although I thought they would let you taste the food afterward. The cabin was old and worn. Stains on the walls and rust in the bathroom. The rooms and bathroom were pretty spacious for a cruise ship. We had a picture window level room that had a full bath with shower. I would not recommend Holland America. Because we were going to Cuba, we paid more for the cruise. The went to 4 ports on a 11 day cruise. Way too much money to miss a port. Too many at sea days. They only refunded us $50 plus $38 in port fees for missing the port. I spoke with customer service at Holland America when I returned and was told the decision on the refund amount was made and was not going to be changed regardless of how many people expressed their concerns. I will never go on a Holland America cruise again. Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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