2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I chose this cruise because of the overnight in Havana. I would suggest that HAL drop one of the Mexican ports for additional time in Cuba. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before embarkation so as not to feel rushed. We had a very ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the overnight in Havana. I would suggest that HAL drop one of the Mexican ports for additional time in Cuba. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before embarkation so as not to feel rushed. We had a very pleasant overnight at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port. The taxi fare from the airport was very reasonable at only 15.00. We arrived before Noon, but were very pleased to find a room available. The location of the hotel is within walking distance of stores and restaurants. On the day of embarkation, there was some confusion regarding transportation to the port. We were able to get a refund and took a taxi for half the cost of the van. We arrived at the pier at 12:00PM where our luggage was taken immediately. Going through security was fairly quick, but the actual check-in took a while, because of forms that needed to be filled out because of the Cuban leg of the trip. Once we checked in, we were sent to a waiting area, before being allowed to board the ship. We were on level 10, Cabin 78 Aft. Our luggage was in the room when we arrived. Went to the dining room to check our table for 2, then headed for the Lido for lunch. I found the ambiance of a smaller ship to be perfect for this trip. Where ever we went on the ship, we were greeted by very polite crew members. The staff in the both the Lido and main dining room were exceptional. Always willing to offer extra service. Day 1, At Sea: A bit rough, I was glad that I was wearing Scapalomine patch. There were enough activities to keep me busy. Also a chance to just wind down. We were at 2nd seating for dinner. Food was very good, with extras available. Day 2, Cayman Islands: Tender Port. Had to be bused into town, though not a problem for me. Wandered around in the various shopping plazas and shops in the morning, Went back to the ship early for an uncrowded Lido lunch. After we set sail, there was an announcement that due to a medical emergency, we had to return to Grand Cayman to get a passenger to the hospital. Day3, Costa Maya: Because of the medical situation in Grand Cayman, we were about 2 hours late in arriving. Captain delayed our departure from Costa Maya by one hour. Very easy to get off the ship and wander around the shopping area. Some vendors can be a bit aggressive. Day4, Cozumel: The shopping area is almost identical to Costa Maya. Really don't need to have the same experience two days in a row. I would suggest that HAL add an additional stop in Cuba. I must say that the waters in the port area were very clear. Day 5, Havana, Cuba: Very exciting entrance into the port. We waited in the theatre to be released for our various tours. Passport control was actually fairly quick, compared to what I was expecting and with almost everyone getting off the ship. There were plenty of money exchange booths open. We were on the walking tour of Old Havana. I found the people to be very friendly and open. We saw many of the iconic sights that you always see in travelogues. I would certainly like to go back on my own and take more time. We were taken to Sloppy Joes for a Cuba Libre and a Cubano sandwich. Day 6, Havana: Since we were departing at Noon, we were able to leave the ship briefly on our own and wander about the port area. Havana Club rum is very inexpensive. We had no problem changing the Cuban money back to US. Now is the time to visit Cuba before it becomes too commercialized. Day 7, Fort Lauderdale: Because we had a late flight, we took an Everglades air boat tour. It certainly beats sitting in the airport all day. Because of the tour, we were in one of the first groups to disembark. This was the easiest disembarking I have ever experienced. Luggage was loaded onto a bus, we had our tour, then back to the pier for those who were in transit, then to the airport where the driver offloaded the luggage at the terminal. I am a fan of HAL and will certainly sail with them again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
I have always wanted to go to Cuba. I wish I had gone before all the restrictions now in place even if it meant going with another cruise line. I waited for HAL and I now regret it. The "required" shore excursions were too long ... Read More
I have always wanted to go to Cuba. I wish I had gone before all the restrictions now in place even if it meant going with another cruise line. I waited for HAL and I now regret it. The "required" shore excursions were too long with not enough time at the stops and way too much time riding a bus around and around the city. I was too exhausted once returned to the ship to go out on my own in the dark and explore. There were a lack of English speaking guides at the museum and botanical gardens in Cienfugos. The Veendam is old and showing her age in places. Broken seating between pool and bar, fire suppression systems held together with string along with dirt and crumbs in between cushions in the Crow's Nest. At least 2 if not 4 elevators were broken at all times. Service is great as always but there seems to be less crew. Entertainment is really cut back fleet wide. Kareoke is gone along with everything else except Trivia. Getting aboard was easy but upon return we were delivered to a dock far from where our cars were parked. A shuttle bus was provided but the whole point of paying outrageous port parking fees is the ease of exit. If I had wanted to shuttle I could have parked way cheaper off port. This may explain an unexpected refund of $20.51 on the last days room charges. Overall I would not take this ship again and I would not take any ship to Cuba right now. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We took care of the kids and grand kids over Thanksgiving We decided to "get out of Dodge" over Christmas and New Years. Also wanted to see Cuba. Only negative is you have to spend 8 hours in Havana on a people to people tour ... Read More
We took care of the kids and grand kids over Thanksgiving We decided to "get out of Dodge" over Christmas and New Years. Also wanted to see Cuba. Only negative is you have to spend 8 hours in Havana on a people to people tour which we did (USA regulations). That same night we went to the Tropicana show which was tooooooo much for one day. Didn't get back to the cabin until 1:00AM. I will tell you that we have been on over 20 cruises including some of the more expensive ones like Seabourn and Silver Seas the food and cabin service was the BEST on the Veendam. A little plus was a first class NY Pizza bar for lunch. The other ports such as Cancun, Costa Maya, Jamaica were "ho hum" for us...been there done them many times. The entertainment was OK for a mid sized ship. Nice 12 days...perfect weather. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Sailing date December 8, 2017 and December 22. Heard rumors of local authorities boarding the ship while docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico and searching some passengers cabins. I won't be going to San Juan anymore and will avoid cruises ... Read More
Sailing date December 8, 2017 and December 22. Heard rumors of local authorities boarding the ship while docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico and searching some passengers cabins. I won't be going to San Juan anymore and will avoid cruises that do. I would rate the Veendam as average. I seemed to be a smaller ship than others I have been on. was lacking in on board activities as compared to other ships I have been on. One time sailing for this one. Will still use Holland America to try other ships. Crew were friendly, dining room service was good as well as the food. But it really didn't measure up to some other ships I have been on. Entertainment in the showroom was varied and good. Embarkation was easy as there were only about 850 passengers on board out of about 1200, was told there were many cancellations because of the hurricane. Disembarkation was as usual, slow, as with other ships. But what really bothered me was the that some passengers had their cabins searched, I heard a ship security officer and two authorities with a dog were used. Forget about San Juan, wasn't much there anyway. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
My husband and I chose this ship because of the itinerary..... 14 days and 9 ports (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Granada, Guadeloupe, St. Johns Antiqua, and Puerto Rico) that we had not been to in the Caribbean and then ... Read More
My husband and I chose this ship because of the itinerary..... 14 days and 9 ports (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Granada, Guadeloupe, St. Johns Antiqua, and Puerto Rico) that we had not been to in the Caribbean and then their private island Half Moon Cay. This was a smaller ship than we were used to with HAL(Eurodam and the Norsdam), but because it was smaller and 300 rooms were cancelled due to the Hurricanes, we got excellent service. I might go as far as saying Impeccable service. The embarkation and disembarkation went so smooth and fast that it was unbelievable. There were no crowds at all, just smooth sailing on and off the ship. Very impressive. As I mentioned, this was a smaller ship and also an older ship. You could smell in some hallways mildew or mold in some spots which they tried to remedy with blowers and deodorizers. However, you can't fix ratted and torn carpets around the elevators and in the cabins and in some areas in the cabin it felt like buckled floors under the carpet. But the decor was very very nice and clean. The bathrooms were up to date and clean also. Dinning was exceptional in the MDR. The service and presentation was just IMPECCABLE...The only thing I would site would be how cold it was. Everyone was wearing coats or heavy sweaters to eat and of course we complained, but nothing was done until the very last night. Very dissappointing,...we tried going to the Lido deck a couple of times to eat but there wasn't a variety of food and it was too cold in there to. We also tried room service, the food was great as in the MDR and Lido deck, but it had limited selections. As a result of the coldness, many of the passengers came down with colds including my husband, which put a damper on our festivities because we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary!!! The shore excursions were too expensive from the ship so we took tours from the outside Van services. We enjoyed the tours and if you are in Barbados, be sure to ask for Carlos and his tours, and if in Guadeloupe try and get Max and his tours. Both of these were quite informative and interesting. I don't know if I would take the Veedam again, because it may be too small for my taste, but definitely cruise with HAL again!!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We have been looking forward to this cruise for some time. At two weeks, it was the longest cruise we've been on. We had been on the Veendam about 7 years ago and liked it. However, since then we have been on the larger ships of HAL ... Read More
We have been looking forward to this cruise for some time. At two weeks, it was the longest cruise we've been on. We had been on the Veendam about 7 years ago and liked it. However, since then we have been on the larger ships of HAL (Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Eurodam) and so the Veendam felt very small to us. But we quickly got used to the smallness of the ship. We picked this particular cruise because of the itinerary and the ports did not disappoint. We loved all of them. Things that we really liked: First, the food was great! Really very good. The only downside to that is that variety is not big in the Lido. Service was exceptional. I really have to give a shout out to the guys in the main dining room because they were just awesome. I enjoyed the entertainment very much and we did manage to go to most shows. Things that we didn't like: First, the variety in the daily activities was very limited. It was really just the same schedule of activities every day for two weeks. I found this very boring and disappointing. Thank goodness for my kindle! I also thought that the hot tubs could use a good scrubbing. Replacing the aft pool with hot tubs was not a smart move on HAL's part and even though there always seemed to be some sand in the tubs, we did not find them crowded and were able to enjoy them. Overall, this was a great cruise and the passengers were all so nice. Every day, folks would tell us that we look too young to be on this cruise--I guess because there was a lot of older folks and my husband and I are in our early 40s, but that what we liked about it. Everyone was kind, and calm and respectful. Loved it and love HAL Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
1st - No airports, no re-packing for 50 days, 13,000 miles roundtrip, transatlantic x 2, spanned the length of the Med, and included Casablanca and 3 Portugese islands. 2nd- Served the best tasting HAL food in Lido and main dining ... Read More
1st - No airports, no re-packing for 50 days, 13,000 miles roundtrip, transatlantic x 2, spanned the length of the Med, and included Casablanca and 3 Portugese islands. 2nd- Served the best tasting HAL food in Lido and main dining room compared to last 4 HAL cruises. No complaint about our Veranda deck Vista suite cabin. Brought a room thermometer which showed between 68 and 72 degrees daily. This voyage visited Mediterrean countries during the month of November when the temps dipped to the 50's at night. Some public rooms occasionally were cold. 3rd - The ports were fantastic and 95 percent of time we had the closest berth to town when other ships were present. When shuttles were arranged, some ports' buses were $6 + per person roundtrip from ship to town, be aware 4th - The captain, officers and crew were fantastic. 6 stars. 5th - Would love to cruise these ports again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
I choose this cruise because of the ports. I was on the Atlantic Adventure in 2011 and 2013 on the Maasdam. The Maasdam was much better. This cruise had no activities around the pool. No music,no BBQ S,boring. The cruise director was ... Read More
I choose this cruise because of the ports. I was on the Atlantic Adventure in 2011 and 2013 on the Maasdam. The Maasdam was much better. This cruise had no activities around the pool. No music,no BBQ S,boring. The cruise director was terrible. The shows were just ok. Nothing great. The singers and dancers only had a few shows do do in 49 days. They could have put on more shows then they did. They were also repeats. The pool water was freezing even though it was a heated pool. After repeated attempts at the front desk to turn the heater on I contacted head office in Seattle. Did it help? No. They sent me chocolate covered cherries and a bottle of wine. I just wanted a warm pool. Also we were charged for shuttles to take us out of the port to the town center. When we complained they told us it was the port that charged us, wrong. It shows up on our statement as excursion. We heard that this is the last cruise going to these ports. That is probably why they did not care if we liked it or not. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Enjoyed the destinations thoroughly but wished the ship was in better condition. The food was OK and once in a while excellent in the dining room. The food overall contained too much salt, but you could request a no sodium menu if you ... Read More
Enjoyed the destinations thoroughly but wished the ship was in better condition. The food was OK and once in a while excellent in the dining room. The food overall contained too much salt, but you could request a no sodium menu if you wanted. The best dining was in the Pinnacle Grill - the staff worked very hard to ensure we were satisfied. We dined there at least five times :D! Unfortunately, the norovirus affected our ship but at the height of its outbreak, there were just 24 or so passengers (including 2 crew members) who were stricken. Procedures over a ten day period (my estimate) to combat its spread included monitoring passengers' washing of hands & taking away access to the beverage & buffet station. Kudos to the Captain who was communicative, up front, informative and kept us in the loop with everything going on (good or bad!). The crew was great as well. We heard a lot of grumbling about the boring activities (or lack thereof) for a cruise of this duration with its amount of sea days (7 after embarkation and 7 sea days returning). Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
We were so looking forward to this trip, great itinerary. But Veendam's age issues was more than we want to ever put up with again. Cabin 754, Deck 4, OV midship/forward port side - has a short couch and an end-table; 6 drawers in ... Read More
We were so looking forward to this trip, great itinerary. But Veendam's age issues was more than we want to ever put up with again. Cabin 754, Deck 4, OV midship/forward port side - has a short couch and an end-table; 6 drawers in the vanity, shower/tub combo. Room temperature was not controllable, everything from 66 - 82F. We did have a fan, as requested, and it saved us a bit while trying to sleep in the overheated room. Front desk sent maintenance who reset the thermostat but it really was so slow recovering, about 1-2 days, that the real recovery occurred only when we were no longer in warm places or on the sunny side of the ship. Elevators are a constant frustration, especially when you live on deck 4; Veendam only has 2 elevator banks, forward and aft; each bank has 4 cars but in each bank only 3 worked throughout the cruise, 2 cars were totally out of commission throughout the cruise, waiting for parts to be fabricated. And oftentimes there were fewer than 6 operating cars, plus they'd get stuck occasionally. Living on deck 4 meant that many times the elevator wouldn't come to that level having filled up at higher decks. So the advantages of a small ship for getting around has to be balanced by where you are and where you usually want to go. Otherwise the ship was as expected, old but nice. The hot tubs didin't always work or were cold, but not uncommon on HAL. At least there were more hot tubs to choose from. Another disadvantage of this small ship was that we didin't have enough power to dock in Corfu with winds gusting to 40 knot, although a larger ship was able to dock that day as we were deciding to leave. Dining: As expected, good to very good with occasionally an excellent experience. There was prime rib on the menu every few nights, but only sometimes was it very good, other times it was too tough to bother with, so the variability led to disappointment. Lido breakfasts had a huge selection. MDR had a huge selection, but very slow. Lido lunch had a good selection and Lido dinner had a poor selection. We ate nearly all our dinners in the MDR and were satisfied, Had one Pinnacle dinner, always good if you like their menu offerings. New York Pizzas are too big for most people so there is a lot of waste there; they are good and made to order but they are not New York pizza. The Dive In burgers, dogs and fries are very good, but I only allowed myself one lunch there and loved every bite. The Taco Bar can be a good place to add to a lunch or snack, but it closed for about 2-3 weeks due to norovirus, so don't depend on it. There were several locale-themed Lido dinners which I checked out, but I found that the special desserts were the best part of those meals (I speculate from some of the local wrappers that they are brought on board from specialty shops on shore, a nice touch.) Room service menus are more streamlined than they used to be but wonderful to have and very prompt. Entertainment and Activities: As expected, mostly mediocre with a few highlights, more movies than there used to be, more BBC activities, fewer cruise director staff on board now so no more crafts, deck games, marriage game even Karaoke. We did have 2 lecturers on board at any given time, 2 eastbound, 2 others westbound. In my opinion for each leg we had one very goo lecturer and one lesser speaker. But kudos to HAL for having the enrichment opportunities. There were talks on the ports by both the shore excursion staff and then by the port guides. The port guides had desk hours for 2 hrs in the afternoon but sometimes one person would take a half hour so it was frustrating to have to go back and wait the next day... if there wasn't a conflict with a talk or other activity you wanted to go to. So it's much better to do your research ahead of time. There were 4 talks by ship officers including 2 Q&A sessions by Captain Noel O'Driscoll. Service was better than most HAL ships I've been on, maybe because the ship was not full at 1200 and 1250 passengers (eastbound/westbound legs). Ports: Great ports and wonderful to have 3 overnights in great places to visit - Lisbon, Barcelona and Valletta. One downside of the port visits was that we had to pay for many port shuttle, some very expensive such as Dubrovnik which was $16pp R/T. The hardest part of this trip for us was that we were sick for at least half the trip. We picked up mild colds in the first half, then noro, then my husband developed bacterial pneumonia, something he's never had and he is not a smoker... then m cold rebounded much worse. So having to combat illness and face the possibility of being put off the ship (Ship doctor who diagnosed the pneumonia prescribed antibiotics but said if they didin't work we'd have to go to a hospital) we hunkered down to survive and missed out on a lot of the second half of the itinerary. There were medical cases put off at nearly all of the 20+ ports of call, plus 2 extra stops. I'm wondering if HAL is being ultra conservative putting people off. I met at least 2 passengers who were put off but did return to the ship after several days and very convoluted and expensive travels to get back on board.... not what any of us want our vacation to include. Also, while struggling against colds we didn't use the stairs as much, so the elevator problems were even more frustrating. I will say that the most common conversation was, Are you feeling better? Oh your cough is much worse! We missed you at dinner/ shore trip/ trivia... etc. People all over the ship were struggling with colds, coughs, bronchitis and worse. Not the vacation I would want to repeat but I realize that catching colds is not uncommon, it's just that this time it scared us more. Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
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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