801 Holland America Veendam Cruise Reviews

Holland America has some great ships and cruises. Unfortunately the Veendam cruise from Boston to Montreal is NOT one of them. The ship is scheduled to be decommissioned soon so it is in its lasts throws as a working Holland America cruise ... Read More
Holland America has some great ships and cruises. Unfortunately the Veendam cruise from Boston to Montreal is NOT one of them. The ship is scheduled to be decommissioned soon so it is in its lasts throws as a working Holland America cruise ship. Problems began on embarkation. Our fellow travelers were assigned to a Veranda deck state room next to ours and upon arrival found industrial strength air blowers trying to dry out their room(A178) which had been flooded by an overflowing tub being sanitized. Room A176 was also flooded as well as the hall way. The smell (like a wet dog) and damp carpets were present for the remainder of the seven day trip. Guest services said nothing more than trying to dry out the carpet could be done since all the cabins were full. When we first went down to Guest Services to complain, there was a long, long line of people trying to change rooms for various problems. Dining in the main dinging room was also a negative aspect of the cruise. On all of our previous cruises with Holland America, dining in one of the main dinging rooms was always special. The menus and meals on this particular cruise were so mundane that it seemed like a majority of dinners left of the Lido Market after two days of disappointment. The Veendam is old and pretty worn out and it shows in every room that we visited. Most of the crew tried to make up for the ships many faults with their service but there was just too much to overcome. The most dangerous moment occurred when we were tendering back from a day in Bar Harbor. Lack of seamanship left the tender too far from the Veendam's dock and a choppy sea resulted in the tender slamming violently into the side of the Veendam. A number of returning passengers were thrown into the floor of the tender and one woman appeared to be seriously injured. I have always praised Holland America but after this cruise, I would be more careful about reading current reviews. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We had high expectations when we booked this cruise! Unfortunately, the cruise was a huge disappointment due to extremely poor management primarily from Guest Services on the ship. First, let me inform you about the positive aspects on ... Read More
We had high expectations when we booked this cruise! Unfortunately, the cruise was a huge disappointment due to extremely poor management primarily from Guest Services on the ship. First, let me inform you about the positive aspects on the cruise! Virtually all of the ship's staff that we encountered went above and beyond attempting to make the cruise enjoyable! In particular, our cabin attendants were excellent in attending to our needs the entire cruise! The staff in all the of the eating and dining areas of the ship were very good and all were very helpful and seemingly always had a smile on their face! Food was OK with the food in the dining area lacking but made up in the Lido Market by having a tasty variety of dishes and desserts. The on board entertainment was good with a couple of shows that were fun. We went on four shore excursions with the highlights being the Quebec and Charlottetown tours. We were thoroughly impressed with Charlottetown as it very much reminded us of Ireland! Absolutely the most enjoyable aspect of the entire cruise were the great people we met! We traveled with friends and we participated in a couple of events (Music Trivia and Team Pictionary) in the evening that turned out to be great fun! Also met a couple from Oregon that were lots of fun! Unfortunately, all of the above positive aspects of the cruise were negated by the following debacle! Upon boarding the ship at 4:00 PM on Sept 21, we proceeded to our cabin. As soon as we entered the hallway we observed some type of machine down the hallway which was making quite a noise. As we approached our cabin, we realized this was a large blower that was right outside of our cabin door. Opening the door we were greeted by another of these large blowers in the entryway of the cabin. I quickly recognized the blower as a large industrial type used to dry out wet areas. The room was configured with two twins pushed together to make a queen size bed. On either side of the bed was suppose to be a night stand but the right side nightstand was removed and placed in front of the dresser on the other side of the room. This was necessary because the first 10 to 12 feet of cabin carpet was soaked in water. As we entered the room, water pushed up around our shoes. I immediately went to Guest Services and was greeted by a long line of guests. Eventually, I was helped by a Guest Services individual named Caesar. As soon as I told him what the problem was he stated he was aware of the state of the carpet in the room and said it should be dried out quickly. I was informed that the bathtub had been allowed to overrun when it was being sanitized between cruises. It overflowed so badly that it soaked the carpet in the our cabin, the hallway outside the cabin, as well as the cabin next to us. I asked about moving to another cabin and was told the cruise was 100% booked and there was nowhere they could move us. I asked twice for clarification about cabins and was given the same answer again. He stated that they were extremely busy right then but would contact us after 6:00 PM. About 7:30, I again went to Guest Services and was told that they would send someone to check on the cabin. Approximately an hour later an individual from the ship's staff knocked on the door and checked the floor. He stated the machines would have to be left on to dry the carpet and left. The blower was so loud that we left the room and wandered around the ship just to escape the noise. After we returned I turned off the blower in the cabin so we could get some sleep. I turned it back on when we woke up the next morning. Upon returning from breakfast, we were greeted with a second machine which was a very large suction machine which made it impossible to get around the bed. We left very soon for a shore excursion and did not return until mid afternoon. Upon returning we noted someone had come in and moved both pieces of equipment to another spot. I went back to Guest Services and was again told they were working on the room and that we would receive compensation for our inconvenience. The representative stated she could not tell what this amount would be as management would decided the amount. Again was told there were no spare cabins. That night I again turned the machine off when we went to bed that evening. Carpet was drier but I could still mash water out of it. During the night a pillow fell off the bed and was dripping water when we picked it up in the morning. I turned the machine on again when we left for breakfast. We again went on and a shore excursion and returned to the machines. When we returned from dinner, the machines were finally gone. The smell in the room was terrible and reminded us of a wet dog. It stayed that way the entire cruise duration. Mind you this was day three of the cruise when the machines were removed. Consequently, the first three days of a seven day cruise was a disaster to us. On the night before the cruise ended, we returned from dinner and found a final bill statement on our door. After three days of putting up with a mess, Holland America offered us $300 in compensation. I went to Guest Services as was told by the rep that "this is the maximum compensation we can offer". After I stated that we put up with this mess for three days, I was told we were "only inconvenienced for two days" because the machines were taken out after two days. He quickly realized that was not true as my wife produced cell phone photos of our room with the equipment present. It was dated 17:02 23 Sept 2019 which was the evening of the third cruise day. He realized we were right and gave us no further argument about the fact. He went to the back and when he returned to the front desk he stated "they raised to compensation to $400". I was still unhappy about the offer but asked the rep if he could give me an updated statement. He again went to the back and upon returning he stated that the compensation was increased to $450. He offered no explanation for the increase. Realizing this was going no further, we left to pack for disembarkation the next morning. As I stated initially, this cruise was a total letdown for us because of extremely poor management by Guest Services. We were given compensation (which I had to negotiate) that amounted to less than 10% of the amount we paid for the cruise. Probably more important was the fact that no one really seemed to care about our situation other than to state "we are working on it". My wife has a severely compromised immune system and we were very concerned about the possibility of mold or some other type of contamination being present in the room. I mentioned this to every single contact I had with Guest Services and not one person even acknowledged the fact I had brought it to their attention. We felt they did not care about our concerns. This entire situation could have been avoided if we could have been moved into another cabin. To not have any available spare cabins is poor management at best. Actually, I find the fact they have no spare cabins very difficult to believe! When I brought up the issue of no spare cabins to the Guest Services gentlemen the last evening of the cruise he stated " Of course we had spare rooms but they were not of the size and comfort level of the cabin you were occupying".We had repeatedly been told that the ship was 100% booked and were now told they had spare rooms but not like ours! No one questioned us as to whether we would stay in a smaller room for a few days! Throughout this entire episode, we had to actively pursue resolution of our situation with Guest Services and they absolutely showed no concern for the condition of the cabin, our discomfort and inconvenience! We absolutely were not treated as valued customers! Additionally, we felt we were given the "run around" the entire cruise by Guest Services! We certainly plan more cruises but it will not be with Holland America! Needless to say, our experience was unforgettable for the wrong reasons! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This cruise was a last minute decision and the most delightful surprise. A 1400 passenger ship now qualifies for a small ship experience.The Veendam was renovated in April and its classic charm updated into a modern version of the ... Read More
This cruise was a last minute decision and the most delightful surprise. A 1400 passenger ship now qualifies for a small ship experience.The Veendam was renovated in April and its classic charm updated into a modern version of the same.Beautiful antiques throughout, easy to get to any place on the ship, absolute fine dining in the main dining room and in specialty restaurants.Chef Guru handled all dining venues from Rudi's Seafood, Canalettti,Pinnacle Grill and buffet to perfection.Classical entertainment by Marian on violin,and beautiful shows especially the Planet of the Stars in main theatre. Other musical performances happy and fun.Service impeccable in all dining areas.Even have a happy hour in 2 bars twice a day!!Many more ports than the usual Canada/New England cruise. Officers friendly and kudos especially to Chief Engineer Paul Jacobs and Hotel director Leonie Henry who were visible and so engaging. Can't wait to book this ship again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We flown in the day before and spent the night in Boston. The embarkation was rather smooth as we didn’t rush with the masses to get to the pier. We were offered an upgrade to the Neptune Suites and we jumped on it as apparently some ... Read More
We flown in the day before and spent the night in Boston. The embarkation was rather smooth as we didn’t rush with the masses to get to the pier. We were offered an upgrade to the Neptune Suites and we jumped on it as apparently some travelers canceled due to hurricane Dorian. We figured that the storm would have been ahead of our travels so there shouldn’t have been any excursion disruptions. Upon settling into our cabin and waiting for our luggage to arrive, we stepped into the Neptune Lounge to find snacks waiting for us. The fruit tarts are delish and look for them each day. After attending muster, we were informed the Captain decided to delay our departure from Boston an hour to give the storm a chance to go further north. Our main dining room experience was fine, we sat with 2 other couples. Going forward, we decided to get a table for two for the remainder of the cruise. Bar Harbor Sept. 8th We ate breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill as that is exclusive perk for Neptune Suite guests. Very good service and food is perfect. After arriving ashore via tender, we looked around for signs and possibly someone to tell us where the Lulu lobster boat ride is located but no one seemed to know. After waiting for 5 minutes, someone did show up and lead us to the area where the boat is tied up. We waited until the designated time and boarded. We opted for forward seats with unobstructed view of where the lobster traps were to be hauled up. The female guide was very knowledgeable about the lobster industry and about lobsters. We learned quite a bit, now we know a female has sweeter tail meat, while the male have bigger claw meat. We got dressed for formal night as we are scheduled to do the Cruise Critic meet & greet. We received acknowledgements from about 18 folks but in the end, only 6 showed up. Very disappointing but we had good conversation nonetheless. Beverages and cookies were provided so at least it was not a total disaster. Formal night was good as the dining room has special meals to select from. Of course the photographer was making his round be we forgo the photos as we weren’t going to purchase any of the photos. Halifax, Nova Scotia Sept 9th After getting off the ship, we boarded the Horse Trolley ride through the city. We did see debris from Dorian, uprooted trees, and even a crane that fell from top of a building. Overall, nice ride through the city but the seats were not that comfortable. After returning to the pier, we stopped in to one of the shops to try out the so called famous “Lobster” roll. We opted to just by the mini one to split. It was ok, nothing to write home about. We went back to our same table for two for dinner now that the maître d knows us. Sydney, Nova Scotia Sept 10th After arriving by tender, we were ushered into a small room with tables and a small stage in the front for Spirits of the Fiddle. There were drinks and biscuits which were ok, hard and tasteless. The music was ok and they had a clog dancer for one of the songs. After getting back to the ship, we decided to see what is up at the lido deck. After looking around, we decided on getting a made to order pizza. After waiting for about 30 minutes, the buzzer rang to tell us it was ready. It was nice and hot. Thin crust just like the way we liked it, very tasty. DH got his shirt stained so we decided to get the laundry done. The laundry is complimentary with the Neptune Suites so we were able to get our clothes washed as often as we liked. We went to the dining room and to my surprise the waiter gave me organami elephant. So I took the elephant to try our luck at the casino with blackjack. As it turned out, not so lucky, lost $200. Charlottetown, PEI Sept 11th The rain finally caught up with us so after getting off the tender, we walked into a chaotic building wondering where we needed to go. After a bit of looking we finally found the kiosk where the gal took our tickets. We waited until a guy showed up and took us out to the Chinese Junk boat. We walked quite a bit but after we got settled in, all twelve of us, we traveled out into the bay. It is a family operation as the wife and daughter came from mainland China. He is Caucasian and told us how he got the boat. The wife served snacks and tea to everyone. The daughter did dancing and singing in Chinese. We did try to head out to the lighthouse but the water was getting choppy and the older travelers were starting to look a bit green so we headed back to the pier. We went to the dining room and found an organami dog this time. Cruising the St. Lawrence River Sept 12th Tried the casino again and didn’t have any better luck so switched to slots. At least didn’t lose as much. Dressed for our Pinnacle Grill Dinner and we ate so much but the filet mignon was cooked to perfection. Quebec City Sept 13th After leaving the ship, we waited for our winery and Ste Anne falls tour. We drove outside the city and stopped at the winery. The guide provided us with wine samples which were all pretty good. We then drove to the Ste Anne falls. We decided to take the golf cart instead of walking the trail as DH knees would not be able to handle it. We took pictures and video from two vantage points but we opted out of trying out the zip lining. Our last meal at the dining room and the waiting gave me an organami butterfly. Montreal Sept 14th Our last breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill. We lounged in our cabin since there was no hurry as we couldn’t check into our hotel room in Montreal until noon. We disembarked with a slew of other passengers and into cab for Hotel Zero 1. We left our luggage with the reception desk person and headed into Chinatown across the street. We walked to find the dim sum restaurant and after many attempts, found it on the second floor inside a mini mall. The restaurant did not have dim sum carts but rather a list for us to order. The food was so so, as the ones back home is better in our opinion. We returned to the hotel and found out our room was ready. The room as nice, although the couch could have been better. We rested up and then we made our way out for dinner. Again the food was so so. We went to the bakery and picked up breakfast items for the morning. Montreal Sept 15th We ate breakfast and received text message our tour guide is waiting downstairs. Ruby is our guide for Montreal. We traveled through the city stopping in a meat restaurant to sample their brisket. Very tasty. Then stopped in the fresh bagel shop and picked up out of the oven bagels. Also very good. Then off to the fresh market, we walked around to see all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Amazing sight, we sampled sweet corn and it was so good. Stopped into a wine and cheese store. We sampled the meat and cheeses along with apple cider wine. After being dropped back at the hotel, we later went for Pho and bought some souvenirs. Next day our early transport to the airport and flight home. Overall, pleasant vacation, ship staff is nice and cabin roomy. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Pelican 17 We love Holland America! We love to cruise on the smaller ships. We are 3 star members. We regularly recommend Holland America to friends. We booked this cruise for the ports. Unfortunately we had a horrible cabin ... Read More
Pelican 17 We love Holland America! We love to cruise on the smaller ships. We are 3 star members. We regularly recommend Holland America to friends. We booked this cruise for the ports. Unfortunately we had a horrible cabin (739) for 5 days/nights out of our 12 night transatlantic cruise. It was dirty, had torn furniture, extreme noise all day and night, and only lukewarm water in the sink and shower. After my husband complained for 5 days, guest services offered us stateroom 782 which was 99% better. The new cabin was very quiet, clean, and had plenty of hot water for the remainder of our cruise. The only complaint with this cabin is that we were woken up each morning by the pilot. The entrance door creaked open, then closed in the early morning, which was right below our cabin. I will take that noise anytime over what we experienced in cabin 739. The food was served lukewarm not hot in the main dinning room which we tried 3 times for dinner. The food in the lido was excellent! Entertainment was average. The presentations by the chef on sea days was excellent! Movies were lacking. You need to replace the stateroom televisions! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it ... Read More
This was a 12-day Transatlantic Cruise from Lisbon to Boston. I was a little ambivalent about going on this smaller and older ship. I knew it had recently been in dry dock for some sprucing up, so I was curious what we would find. Well, it was wonderful. It looked as though all the carpet and furniture in all the public areas had been replaced. The furniture was comfortable and inviting. And, like all Holland America ships, they absorb people well - I never felt like I was in the middle of a huge crowd. It's a relaxing and very pleasant environment. The food, as with our every other HAL cruise, was really excellent. We had two occasions that were a disappointment, though. One evening in the Main Dining Room, I ordered lamb kabobs. They were terrible - cold, hard, dry. I immediately told our server that I wasn't happy with the dish and he very rapidly brought me something else I chose. So, it really was no problem at all. The replacement was paella, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The other less-than-lovely experience was in the Pinnacle Grill, which is HAL's premium added-cost dining venue. We usually go twice during a cruise because we really enjoy it. This time, however, we cancelled our second reservation. We waited 20 minutes for our appetizer, and about two-thirds of the way through my appetizer I found a 10" hair. The manager was mortified. Then we waited over and hour for our main dish. I was ready to walk out, but it was too late to go to the Main Dining Room. The manager was extremely apologetic, and confessed that they had been having difficulties in the kitchen. Needless to say, despite the excellent food, it was an unpleasant experience. The manager called our room a couple days later to apologize again and to say that he hoped we would come back so he could show us a better time. We didn't return. None of this should be taken as a review of all the Pinnacle Grills fleet-wide. Each restaurant is it's own, sort of like a franchise. Every other experience we've had in the Pinnacle Grill on other ships was top-notch. The embarkation in Lisbon wasn't what we expected. We stay in a Neptune Suite, and on every other cruise, as soon as we check in we're told "feel free to board any time". This didn't happen this time. It was a decent length wait. I don't mean this as a complaint, but as an observation that if they say priority boarding is one of the benefits of having a suite, then they should make sure that happens. One notable enrichment activity: on the sea days, they have America's Test Kitchen, which is a cooking instruction - just like there might be on t.v. Each of them were excellent. As a side note: we are a same-sex couple. We have never had one second of a negative encounter/service because of it. (In fact, for the cruise we took for our 25th anniversary, they decorated our door with balloons and streamer and a huge sign. They also brought a decorated cake to our table.) Our 12 days on Veendam were simply great. I would readily choose this ship to sail on again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Civitavecchia to Lisbon, sunset cabin deck 9 cabin 219 Vista suite. Veendam is in very good condition overall given her age. The crew were always polite and helpful, no matter how busy they were. Our cabin steward SAN was always ... Read More
Civitavecchia to Lisbon, sunset cabin deck 9 cabin 219 Vista suite. Veendam is in very good condition overall given her age. The crew were always polite and helpful, no matter how busy they were. Our cabin steward SAN was always smiling and ready to assist. HAL appears to have an austerity drive in place. The quality and variety of the food was not up to the standard we experienced on Nkordam in 2014. The same dishes kept appearing day after day. The roast meats were always served rare (still bleeding), With no option for those who prefer meat to be cooked through. The tableware (plastic drinking cups) were all grungy and looked unclean as did the cutlery. The table service crew were obviously distressed by this, searching for the cleanest they could find on the trays, but it was out of their control. Meal portions were also seemingly on the "money saving" hit list, with very small portions served up. This made the guest feel obliged to always ask for more. This should not be the case on a 7 day cruise which cost over AUD 6000 for two people. Another big bear was the imposition of a 15% surcharge on all die ks and onboard shopping and services when the prices were not cheap in the first place. How do HAL justify this charge? A bottle of Evian still water, in cabin was charged at USD 5.00 plus the 15 percent surcharge. The same bottle ashore was € 2.00. I only had 2 alcoholic drinks in 7 days because we refused to pay the high costs being charged. HAL has gone from being one of our favourite cruise lines to "Never again". So sad that the bean counters have forced this decline on a once proud cruise line. The HAL shore excursions were also mega expensive, the same, or better could be had ashore for one third of the price. In Gibraltar, the HAL tour buses could not even negotiate the narrow roads to the top of the Rock. The participants did not even get to see the Barbary Apes. How sad. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back ... Read More
Our cruise on the VeenDam was not a pleasant one. The food was terrible and the ship was dirty. We had dinner at our assigned table only 3-4 times. We just could not tolerate the food. After finding a hair in my salad we didn’t go back to the dinning room. Janet almost threw up when I found the hair. One morning we were having an omelets and I discovered a hair in my omelet. (picture attached) Another morning I grabbed a fruit cup and was eating the fruit when I looked down and saw a filthy glass the fruit was in. I took my finger nail and scratched the crud. This was disgusting. I took the cup to the front desk and heard crickets. (picture attached) After this incident we lived on scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit, salad and pizza for the majority of the cruise. Anything that was prepacked or would be killed in high heat. The fruit juices were watered down just like their cocktail drinks. We went one evening to the Crow’s Nest for happy hour. The Holland America app said happy hour was from 4:00-4:30. This crated a lot of confusion with the bartender. The guy in front of me had a discussion with the bartender about the time. I showed the bartender the H.A. app which clearly said 4:00, but the bartender insisted it was 4:30 as printed in the daily ships guide. The bartender eventually gave the guy his drinks at first one at regular price and the 2nd for $2.00. When it came my turn, he said I had to pay full price or wait until 4:30. I told him this was discrimination and the people behind me agreed. It is obvious some of the ships personnel need to be retrained. It gets more interesting. Every evening at happy hour there was trivia. The cruise director Tom Webber was great as was Eileya who did the trivia in the evening. One evening we ordered Mojitos. The bartender never mulled the lime and mint together, so on this evening I discovered a bug in my drink. (picture attached) There was dust everywhere. No one ever dusted the bases of the fixed table.(picture attached) I called for a meeting and Mr. Bashir met with me in the lobby, outside of the customer service desk. I went through my list of issues and was told “there are 1,350 on board the ship. “We are trying to make everyone happy”. You are the only complaint”, which is a lie. We did excursion with many people who complained about the services and quality aboard the ship. I showed Mr. Bashir my pictures and he didn’t believe me. I told him “I bet you that spinach is still on the wall”. He said “they clean every day”. I took Mr. Bashir up to the Lido deck and showed him the spinach on the wall. He too was unhappy about the quality of the food. I was at breakfast one morning, before I met him, and he was complaining about how his food was cooked. We did a lot of excursion. One had only one excursion that was not good and that was the trip to Corfu. The WORST excursion we EVER had. I complained about this excursion, as did others. We did not get a refund, only crickets. As for Holland America, I will not cruise with them. This was our 3rd cruise. This was our gift to each other for our 45th anniversary. Not a glass of wine, not a glass of Champaign nothing! Holland America’s was all about separating you from you money and if you didn’t like what you got, well that was just too bad. See you later sucker, they just didn’t care because they had their money. We paid high dollar for a low budget, low quality return. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Chose this cruise for one major reason: its itinerary. We visited nearly 5-6 countries in the span of 12 days, and every city was more magical than the last. Major pros of this cruise include: quick and simple disembarkation/embarkation at ... Read More
Chose this cruise for one major reason: its itinerary. We visited nearly 5-6 countries in the span of 12 days, and every city was more magical than the last. Major pros of this cruise include: quick and simple disembarkation/embarkation at every port of call, small ship so almost no feeling of being overcrowded at any point, absolutely delicious food that was ever-changing and never repeated itself in the main dining room (I'm pretty sure), and finally, a wonderful fitness room that was large and equipped with tons of modern equipment. However, there were also some pretty big cons: the age of the ship is clearly showing in the quality of its sofa beds and windows as well as in public areas, the entertainment was also pretty subpar (although the movie theatre was pretty neat) and short of the 2-3 acts, wasn't really worth going through the trouble of attending. All in all, very pleased with this cruise, although it would work better even with a more modern ship. Nevertheless, the itinerary was tremendous and that is where HAL makes this a memorable cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
My wife, her sister and husband and I spent 12 days on the Veendam stopping at 10 ports in route from Venice to Barcelona. This was our second cruise on the Veendam, and our 13th cruise across five different cruise lines. We had an ocean ... Read More
My wife, her sister and husband and I spent 12 days on the Veendam stopping at 10 ports in route from Venice to Barcelona. This was our second cruise on the Veendam, and our 13th cruise across five different cruise lines. We had an ocean view cabin on deck six. This deck had the walk around encircling the boat, and our cabin was the last cabin at the aft end with a door to the outside deck just around the corner. Great for walking and lunging right outside our cabin. Our window was exposed to the deck outside, however the reflective glass prevented anyone from looking in. Things we enjoyed: the Lido buffet now has about eight hand washing stations. Stick your hands in and about 15 seconds later they’re washed! Outstanding library. Great gym. Pastries and breads were always wonderful. The main dining room consistently had very tasty meals, especially the fish. Things that were a bit disappointing: ice tea and lemonade were no longer dispensed from machines. Instead they were served from pitchers, a little different but we got used to it. Seems that the fresh squeezed OJ machine is a thing of the past. OJ was inconsistent from overly sweet to diluted. No fridge in the cabin. The HA website states that the Veendam is one of three HA ships to have self serve laundry. But the washers/dryers were removed some time ago. So our plan to bring limited changes of clothing resulted in numerous hand washing in the sink. Ports: three lousy ports - Sarende, Toulon and Sete. Great ports were Venice, Dubrovnik, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Entertainment: was so so. Wonderful pianist (Naomi Edemariam) and Irish flutist. Ok illusionist. No comedians! Very odd. Veendam singers and dancers were OK. Still a five star cruise it’s the positives far outweighing the negatives. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because we had never cruised on Holland America before and wanted to try it. We loved the itinerary so we booked it. The ship was very easy to get around, but all in all it didn't meet my expectations. The one ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never cruised on Holland America before and wanted to try it. We loved the itinerary so we booked it. The ship was very easy to get around, but all in all it didn't meet my expectations. The one thing that really was the worst was the dirty windows. We have cruised many times and like eating while looking out at the scenery. The windows were so disgusting that you couldn't even see out them. The food and menu choices for the first 3 days were excellent. After that, the choices went downhill. We had problems picking out what to eat for dinner. The Veendam didn't have Rudi's restaurant so they pick one night to have that menu in the Pinnacle Restaurant. We were very disappointed. The food did not live up to the menu. The menu said lobster, only to find out it was just a tail. The Pinnacle Grill was great and highly recommended. We did the wine masters dinner which was, of course, scheduled for the 2nd formal night. We paid extra for almost the same dinner as in the main dining room. Room service was great and always on time. The entertainment was very lacking. The activities overlapped the dinner so it was impossible to do dinner and anything else. There were very few activities during the day. Our excusions almost always ended by 2 and there was no activities on the ship scheduled before 4:30 PM. The service staff was not attentive at all. Excusions were very good. I will not cruise with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our second cruise on the Veendam. Our last one was two years ago, and the decor was looking old and worn out. I was pleasantly surprised when we boarded this time and everything was shiny and new. Holland America has really ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Veendam. Our last one was two years ago, and the decor was looking old and worn out. I was pleasantly surprised when we boarded this time and everything was shiny and new. Holland America has really stepped up their evening entertainment. Their in-house singers, dancers and band were fantastic. The music and choreography was beautiful, very professionally done, and at times breath-taking. The performers actually looked like they enjoyed what they were doing (unusual for cruise ship entertainers). One evening the show was a BBC Earth presentation with live music - also wonderful. Other favorite activities of ours were trivia and the piano bar. Majority Rules trivia-type game is one you don't want to miss - very funny. Barry from Boston in the piano bar is amazing. I also liked the flower arranging demonstration by the on-board flower guy. We loved the food in both the lido deck buffet and the dining room. Holland America never disappoints there. Our cabin was good, except the toilet had a nasty outhouse smell every time you flushed it. The only other thing I did not like on the cruise was the spa - they tried to pressure me to buy more and made me feel guilty that I only wanted one treatment. As for excursions, we never buy the cruise excursions. We always research and reserve our own ahead of time. We loved the S-Bikes downhill bike tour in Corfu, and the Montenegro Plus kayaking tour of the blue caves from Kotor. Overall, it was a great cruise, and it exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I’ve sailed on the Veendam before and really like the cruise line and the ship. The itinerary appealed to me since it provided five countries and only one day at sea. It maximized the time we had to spend. I read that the ship had ... Read More
I’ve sailed on the Veendam before and really like the cruise line and the ship. The itinerary appealed to me since it provided five countries and only one day at sea. It maximized the time we had to spend. I read that the ship had recently been refreshed, and it showed. I really liked the size: much smaller than the mega-ships (I didn’t want 5,000 people descended upon small Greek islands) but large enough to provide many amenities. So far, Holland America is my favorite cruise line, and this cruise cemented its lead. I like the passengers and the itineraries. The crew is top notch and the food is very good. I’m in my 50s and enjoy seeing the world from a cruise ship. The nightly port talks add a wonderful intellectual dimension to travel, which is my top priority. I’ve read that entertainment is the weak aspect of Holland America, and I have to agree. The few shows I saw (magician, comedian, and a few musical reviews) were decent, but not great. My 21 year old niece made some friends and went dancing several times, and she tells me it was great. I’m glad there was something for everyone, but the entertainment just wasn’t my thing. One surprise which delighted me was the attention the staff paid to my gluten-free niece. Our waiters remembered to bring her gluten-free bread every night, and they allowed her to order her dinner the night before, ensuring that she had plenty of options. The Buffet on the Lido Deck for breakfast and lunch always had several, well-marks options for her, and they also assured her that they used a special toaster for bread to avoid cross-contamination. There was even Gluten-free pizza every day! No one fee made her feel like she was burden for requesting anything, and she told me that she’s never been treated so well. She has take many cruise lines previously and is now convert to Holland America. There were about 1,300 people on board, but the ship never felt crowded. I spent much of my ship time relaxing or walking on the Promenade Deck, and my niece spent time at the pool, hot tub or running track. The track is much smaller than the Promenade Deck, but we understand why jogging is not allowed on the Promenade Deck (there are cabins and deck chairs there, and several people who enjoy a leisurely stroll.). We enjoyed the library and game room a few times. However, with this very busy itinerary, we were rarely on the ship. There were three tender ports, but mainly we were able to get off the ship right into the dock, and often we returned for lunch, only to get off again for more exploring in the port. Check-in on the ship was quick and easy, and we were able to board at about noon, before our 6 pm departure. By the time we finished eating lunch, our luggage had been delivered. My niece and I really appreciated the free ship App. We were able to message one another while on board, and see the schedule of activities. I even used it to purchase a last minute excursion the morning we went to Athens. It was convenient and easy to use. There was a great port guide in the cabin, but unfortunately, I didn’t see it until halfway through the cruise. (Tip: always read the materials provided by the hotel or cruise line!). I did, however, attend all of the port lectures in the evening. I was afraid it would be a big sales pitch for excursions, but it was informative and interesting and they really helped me maximize my time in port. We didn’t use the casino or shops on board. Most of the daily movies in the theater had some tie to one of the losers, which was fun, and I was happy to learn that each movie shown in the theater was shown on the stateroom TVs continuously the next day. I saw one movie in the theater and one on the stateroom TV. PORTS: Rome: The Cruise started in Civitavecchia, which is 45 minutes from Rome. We flew from the US four days early to see Rome and adjust to European time. Cabs from the airport to downtown are a set rate of about 48 Euro. Once we arrived at our hotel, we ended up walking everywhere, except for the city bus that we took to the Vatican City. It’s a very walkable city, with plenty of water fountains to refill water bottles. I almost bought the Roma Pass, which provides discounts and skip-the-line privileges, as well as unlimited bus and subway rides, but in the end, we just decided to walk. I considered taking the train to the ship, but it would have required a long walk to the train, a local bus and a shuttle to finally get to the ship, so we opted for a private car for 130 Euros. Salerno: While we initially had planned to go to Pompeii, we ended up simply walking around in Salerno. We took a free shuttle into town (5 minutes) and explored this charming, scenic Italian town. We bought gelato (delicious) in order to use the ice cream shop’s free WiFi. We didn’t purchase the ship’s WiFi, which was probably a good choice, since so many other passengers complained about the speed. We wanted to use FaceTime and needed fast internet, so we relied on finding cafes in port. We were moderately successful as some places advertised free internet when it either was slow or completely inaccessible. At Sea: This was our one and only day at sea. I was happy to attend a Meet and Greet for Cruise Critic reviewers. Although I read reviews often, I had never joined a Message Board prior to this cruise. I met a few people that I had been communicating with ahead of time, and enjoyed hearing about others’ plans. I was especially happy to hear about so many other young people for my niece to meet. My sense of Holland America is that it’s an older clientele, and while that’s true, she found a group of 20 or so in her age group, starting with this Meet and Greet. The main thing that the Message Board participants did was arrange for independent excursions with one another. We didn’t do that, but I will probably join in on the next cruise. Santorini: From the port lecture, I learned about the fast boat from Fira to Oia. Fira is fine, but Oia is the town featured in all the gorgeous photography of Santorini. Getting off the tender, it was a short walk to the ticket booth for the fast boat. For 15 Euro each, we took a boat for 15 minutes, then were bussed to the town of Oia, up the hill. We spent a few hours soaking up the unbelievable views, and then with the same ticket, caught a bus back to Fira. From there, we explored for a while, and had to make our own way back to the tender. You can walk down, take a donkey or take a cable car (7 or 8 Euros), which we opted for. It was easy to do all of this without an excursion. Kusadasi/Ephesus: We read recommendations that this port requires an excursion, so I booked a 60 Euro tour of Ephesus. It was one of the highlights of the trip, and my niece’s favorite activity. I decided the basic tour (bus ride and guided tour) was adequate (we skipped the Virgin Mary’s house and the Terrace Houses). The tour lasted less than four hours and was excellent. Our guide was very knowledgeable and interesting, and having headsets really helped. I had visited here before, but I learned a lot of new things. I was happy to return to the ship for lunch and some shopping in town. With long days in every port, I didn’t want to overdo it, so the half day tour was perfect for us. This was the only excursion I booked prior to the cruise, although I ended up adding an excursion in Athens at the last minute. Crete: Again, we decided to simply walk around town on our own. There was a port shuttle bus for security reasons at the dock, but it was convenient and quick. We enjoyed looking around town, and came back to the ship for lunch. Piraeus/Athens: I had researched Athens and felt that I could manage seeing the Parthenon and the Acropolis on our own, but attending the port lecture changed my mind. I learned about the long lines and the weather forecast of temps in excess of 100 degrees. Combine that with the convenience of an air-conditioned bus and skipping the ticket line, and I made a quick decision at 6 am the day we arrived to purchase a ship excursion for $100 each. It was the best decision of the trip, and I was grateful for the ship App that made the purchase so easy. Our guide was outstanding and I really enjoyed our day. We met at 7:15 am and had a quick drive through the city. We drove by many major sites, which were pointed out by our guide. While I would have enjoyed a few photos at some of the sites, I really came to Athens for the Acropolis, so I didn’t feel we missed out. Arriving so early allowed us to miss the midday sun, and we later learned that they stopped allowing visitors in during the afternoon due to heat. If we had taken a city bus in our own, I’m certain we would have missed our opportunity to see it. We did wait in a long line to enter, but we already had our tickets, since they were included in the price. It was extremely crowded and hot walking to the top, but it was worth it. I highly recommend this excursion. Nafplion: This port requires a tender, but it was easy and convenient. We walked around on our own. This may have been my favorite Greek town due to its charm. It was easy to walk around and explore. Argostoli, Cephalonia: We chose this as a beach day and shared a cab for 10 Euro with a few friends. We went to Lassi Beach, and rented two lounge chairs and a grass hut shelter for 12 Euro. It was crowded, but lovely. We learned about the beach and details on how to get there from the port lecture the night before. Corfu: Another charming town that we walked around on our own. Kotor, Montenegro: This area was the biggest surprise because it was so unexpectedly beautiful. It took 90 minutes for the ship to make its way into the harbor, gliding past gorgeous scenery and quaint towns. Once docked, we walked across the street to the old town and spent hours exploring and shopping. It was a short day in port (we left at 2 pm), but were treated to an excellent narration in the Crow’s Nest Bar about the area as we made our way back to the open sea. Rijeka, Croatia: This was a busy, port town, and we had our first rain of the entire trip. We walked for a short time into town, but turned back when the rain increased. This was the only place we visited that had a currency different from Euros. Venice: Sailing into Venice at dawn was a treat I won’t forget. Because the ship is so tall, we had a rare, bird’s eye view of Venice. It’s easy to take a vaporetto (water bus) to the major sites, or to our hotel, as we did. We bought a 48 hour vaporetto pass and rode up and down the canals. It’s easier than walking because you never know when you’ll come to a dead end or a canal with no bridge. We stayed two nights at a hotel on our own, and then took an Alilaguna boat straight to the airport. It cost 15 Euro each, and it included luggage. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people ... Read More
We picked this cruise completely for the Itinerary. It had the stops that we wanted. I didn't even look at ship reviews. The room was very nice and pretty good sized with a great bathroom. We had the Vista Suite I believe. The people working the ship were very good and professional. The ship is old and dated. Poorly layed out and not designed for the older passengers that go on this trip. Lots of space used for shopping stuff and recreational stuff. Not very many good outside quiet spots to enjoy the view. The one pool is worthless! It was dominated by kids and screaming. We went there once and never went back. There should be an adult pool. (Dont ask me why kids were on this cruise, not a kids ship or intenerary). Lots of things were broke on the ship. You could never get the water and ice machine to work properly in the Lido Market. Many times a sign was up that it was broke. The Lido market had decent food but was only open until 8pm. There was viryually no casual dinner after 8. The many restaurant was open until 9:30 but you should be dress appropriately for that. The Pinnicle Grill was very good and we ate there 3 times but that is an extra charge. None of the bars had the same beer and wine. One bar would say they were out of a beer and another had the same beer. Frustrating when you have a beverage package. I would say go for the itenerary not for the ship. The ship was only a means to get us where we wanted to go! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Had never been to this area before and wanted to see it. Lovely views, scenery was great. Dropped our car in Boston and flew to Montreal to catch ship. Boarding was straight forward and done in no time. We rented a car for the day and the ... Read More
Had never been to this area before and wanted to see it. Lovely views, scenery was great. Dropped our car in Boston and flew to Montreal to catch ship. Boarding was straight forward and done in no time. We rented a car for the day and the process was easy. Pickup at airport, returned downtown; Enterprise took us to cruise port. Ship was smallest that we have ever sailed on. We liked it. Room 1844 was nice size with plenty of storage. Perfect location for getting on and off ship at ports. Food was good at all restaraunts, but selection did not appeal to all of us. Entire staff that we dealt with were friendly and helpful. We love HAL and were not dissapointed at all on this cruise. Entertainment was just a tad off, we blame content not cast. Disembarking was the easiest ever experienced. Right off and out. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed in any way. The refurbished ship is beautiful, clean, and everything looks brand new. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the food in the MDR was very good. We ate in the Pinnacle once; it was OK but we enjoyed the MDR more. Entertainment was good if not excellent; there were some but not many activities during the day, but most everyone was off the ship anyway, as we only had one day at sea, and on that day there were many activities at all times. Embarkation was easy, as was disembarkation at the end of the trip. The Veendam is a small ship, so the staff/guest ration is much better than on the larger ships. It is comfortable, and we much prefer the smaller ships for this reason. Sailing up the Adriatic into Venice was an amazing and beautiful ending to our voyage. Read Less
Sail Date June 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
Sail Date May 2019
Moderate to smaller ship and that was a positive. Rome as embark Location and itinerary were reasons for our selection and price seemed fair. Reputation of Holland America was good per friends but cruise turned out to be boring. AARP had ... Read More
Moderate to smaller ship and that was a positive. Rome as embark Location and itinerary were reasons for our selection and price seemed fair. Reputation of Holland America was good per friends but cruise turned out to be boring. AARP had written a favorable review about this particular cruise. Excursions were good, car rentals on two occasions went smoothly but onboard no beverages beyond tea and lemonade and water - so this got very old. Corking fee if you brought back wine or beer. No WiFi either. We ended up paying so we could post pics and updates with family. Ship was dated in its decor but very clean. Just wasn’t thrilled with anything onboard. Majority of cruisers were over fifty with little diversity. In the future I would seek more educational and hands on programs onboard. That came only on the excursions which are add ons and not Holland America run. Most had similar backgrounds and truthfully a more broad range of travelers would have made the cruise better. Maybe two children onboard. Will try another cruise line. Read Less
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
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
Sail Date May 2019
We looked forward to this trip to the Martimes, Quebec and Montreal. Having found on previous cruises that HAL was more than careful with their passengers comfort and the quality of offerings, we had no worries about the weather in the ... Read More
We looked forward to this trip to the Martimes, Quebec and Montreal. Having found on previous cruises that HAL was more than careful with their passengers comfort and the quality of offerings, we had no worries about the weather in the spring. We were disillusioned quickly. The meals in the main dining room were forgettable including tough steaks, compounded by slow service, cold hot dishes on the Lido, inadequate preparation for specialities on the Lido (people waited in line for more than 20 minutes on New England Dinner night only to receive a skimpy plain skinny lobster piece on a cool bun.) And then there was no heat. Speaking to the crew resulted in a " we'll look into it ". Our cabin thermostat was turned up full, and we froze. Passengers wore their parkas and coats to read in the Explorations Lounge. Finally, on day 3 or 4, there was central heat, and we were comfortable indoors! The entire tenor of life on board felt like this was an exercise to train new crew or retire departing crew. Not even close to our expectations, but for one or two crew members who could not make up for what appeared to be management level indifference. We have a December booking. If HAL performs this way again, we will go back to Celebrity or move on ... Read Less
Sail Date April 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
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
Sail Date March 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
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
Sail Date February 2019
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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