2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise due to its itinerary. However, it appears to us that HAL is relying on its past reputation with older cruise passengers and not putting much effort into providing a new shipboard experience. For example, the Canaletto and Pinnacle restaurant menus have not changed in at least 10 years. Boarding in Fort Lauderdale was quick and easy. A dedicated ‘Mariner 4 and 5 Star’ line combined with a priority boarding card meant we were on board by midday. Our verandah suite towards the rear of deck 9 was not quite ready but we were able to leave our carry-on luggage in it while we went for lunch. At 12.45 pm they conducted a 3, 4 & 5 star Mariners welcome drinks in the Crows Nest. The compulsory lifeboat drill was on the open deck 6 at 3.15 pm on time for our departure at 4.15 pm. The young captain was very visible throughout the ship and was very approachable, spending time talking to passengers. He and the officers ate mainly in the Lido. The captain was also compassionate – he had no hesitation in turning the ship around and heading full-speed for Rio as a passenger required immediate medical attention not available on the ship. Well done. Two of the four front elevators were out-of-action for most of the 50 days, which meant a slow ride when the gangway and tender platforms were forward. On the second day of the cruise we noticed that HAL had garnashied (a “credit hold”) our Mastercard to the amount of US3k (=$30 each x 50 days). The front desk explained that the “may” in the fine print actually meant “will”. This was an unnecessary intrusion. The ship’s internet was fast and reliable. We purchased it for the second half of the trip, at $199.99 for 21 days. On this trip, talks in the auditorium mainly centred around World War II sea battles, which were irrelevant. However, an excellent idea was a “Beginner’s Guide to Portuguese” (the language of Brazil) session in the showroom on the day after Devils Island. The HAL shops are a waste of space. They need to visit Princess and Royal Caribbean to learn how to sell goods to cruise ship passengers. The only ones we saw liberally using the perfumes were the staff as they came into work each day. Yves St Laurent men’s eau de toilette was $122 on the ship, $79 at Key West. My wife went to the poorly advertised “Shops Farewell Party” on the last night – 12 people turned up and they had to draw the raffle 8 times before a winner was found. The prize consisted of two t-shirts from a previous cruise to places we had not been plus a hat (11 people were glad they hadn’t won!). Daily ‘Trivia’ on the ship was basically a mess. Initially they concentrated on American sports and after complaints decided that “trivia” actually meant “obscure” (like ‘how many stomachs does a cockroach have’) and their fact sheets were out-of-date, to the extent that some of their answers were categorically wrong. Daily ‘Trivia’ was really a frustrating and annoying waste of time, which was a pity as we have enjoyed it on every one of our previous cruises. After leaving Key West, the last American port, they announced there would be no currency exchange with Brazilian Real on board and suggested trying to exchange at upcoming Ports’ banks. They also stated that all currency exchanges in Rio would be closed during carnival. This should have been advised well prior to the cruise starting. After some complaints, they later announced that on board currency exchange would be available in Salvador, our third Brazilian port. The ‘Captain’s Toast’ on the evening of the third day was held in the auditorium on decks 7 and 8, but drinks to toast by were only available on Deck 7. The Port talks by the “Exc” person and Port expert were excellent – well worth attending. Also excellent were the constant reminders in the ‘Where & When’ daily newssheet to be very careful when in port in regard to personal safety. We learned from taking to tourists on shore that other cruise ships did not provide this advice. There were warnings about not to wear any jewellery whatsoever, keep cameras and phones hidden and only to take off cash or cards you would need for the day. As it was, we heard of one fellow losing, from a Velcro flapped pants pocket, his credit card, drivers licence and $200 cash (in Rio), a lady and a man who each had a necklace ripped off from around their necks (in Recife) and a lady on a walker who was pushed over and her purse stolen (in Manaus). No doubt there were others. Food on the ship was “the usual”, except for the very good Pizza Bar manned by James and Ronald. They remembered our order from the first night, even though we did not eat there very often. At Port-of-Spain the captain announced he was cancelling Vitoria and replacing it with Buzios, due to a low bridge and tides. As it happened this was an excellent decision! We had one fellow on the first half of the trip who only wore his HAL-logoed bathrobe and flip-flops – on the ship, to meals, walking around the ports and into the towns. HAL said they could not prevent it as how he dressed was his decision. This should save me a lot of packing for our next cruise! Passports and Brazil visas were collected a few days out from Brazil and were returned after we had left Brazil. At Recife, our first major Brazil port, passengers from 3 cabins were not allowed off the ship due to not having correct documentation (presumable the Brazilian Visa). There were rumours that the laundry service would be cut in the Amazon due to the brown muddy water but a response by the passengers to the captain’s plea to save water meant that this did not eventuate and the service continued as normal. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was quick and efficient, although we were glad we were not in the “US citizens” line which snaked around like waiting for a ride at Disneyland. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected this Authentic Cuba cruise in order to visit Cuba and have an “authentic” experience. If you wish to have that I suggest you visit Havana, not Cienfuegos. The men in our group were hoping to see the 50’s cars that have ... Read More
We selected this Authentic Cuba cruise in order to visit Cuba and have an “authentic” experience. If you wish to have that I suggest you visit Havana, not Cienfuegos. The men in our group were hoping to see the 50’s cars that have been maintained, none in Cienfuegos! The Botanical Garden tour was also disappointing, the motor coach was in very good condition and the guide was excellent. However, this was NOT a Botanical Garden, more of a arboretum in poor condition. This portion of the tour was too long including the drive there and back; this left very little time to walk around the city. On a positive note, the chamber music type concert was excellent as was the lunch, although the hotelmwas not ready for us and this 15 minute delay took away even more time from city exploration. The Veendam is in dire need of refurbishment, it is scheduled for April. The suite was shabby and the tub was extremely slow to drain; only one electrical outlet in the entire suite. The crew is excellent, friendly and helpful. Food quality overall was very good but inconsistent. The Lido cafe is understaffed considering they serve all of the food, it is not an open buffet. Although this was a disappointing first experience with Holland America, overall we had a fun trip. The entertaiment ramged from very good to a excellents. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is ... Read More
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is showing her age. Several of the elevators didn't work on a regular basis resulting in long waits or lots of stair climbing. The machines in the passenger laundromat on our deck were out of order after the first day. BUT on the plus side:....the staff was extraordinarly helpful and accommodating. The cabins, even our inside, were good sized and had LOTS of storage. The food in both the main dining room and the buffets was tasty, well prepared, visually attractive, and had good portion sizes. So many food choices....so little time. The variety of foods was amazing. The made to order crepes, omelets, and salads on the Lido were so good! And for really good fries, check out the "Dive-In" near the "indoor" pool. Their hot dogs and hamburgers are huge and tasty as well. The only food items that I found less than top quality were the breads and rolls. Those on Princess and Royal Caribbean are better. The stops on this particular eastern Caribbean cruise were interesting and all but one were at docks which we prefer over having to take tenders. We took a water taxi to the shopping area on St. Maarten but otherwise were able to walk to what we wanted to see from the ship at the other ports. We had to skip Half Moon Cay because of large waves-couldn't launch the tenders safely. The ship sponsored tours tend to be quite expensive for what you get, but it depends on what a person wants. We're not into beaches or shopping. We were able to walk around the cities at the stops and see quite a bit. The information for each town could use updating. For example, the map and information for St. John's Antigua, were not accurate at all and we ended up walking long distances to places that weren't where they were supposed to be and were in really bad condition. On the other hand, Castries on St. Lucia and Fort-De-France on Martinique were very enjoyably walkable, and we saw a lot. As is true for every cruise we've ever been on, drinks are very expensive and the pricing isn't always clear. We were charged almost $12 for souvenir drink glasses from the sail-away departure "party" - glasses that we weren't able to keep. They came around and collected them! We will sail on Holland American again, and if the itinerary were the right one, we would go on the Veendam again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise specifically for the stop in Cienfuegos and the dates worked with our kids winter breaks. Embarking on the cruise was very easy, our cabin steward was great. We signed the kids up for club HAL but they never ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically for the stop in Cienfuegos and the dates worked with our kids winter breaks. Embarking on the cruise was very easy, our cabin steward was great. We signed the kids up for club HAL but they never went. I guess they have outgrown it (ages 10, 12 and 13). Everything seemed well maintained and we didn't have any plumbing issues although I met a woman who did. We spent a good bit of time relaxing at the lido pool playing ping pong or in the exploration lounge playing board games. I found the lights in the main dining to be too bright. They seemed much brighter than the lights on the Rotterdam or Zaandam. We did not see any of the shows. One complaint I have is the timing of the shows/movies. The movies tended to start at 7pm and the shows were at 8 or 10pm. We had the late seating for main room dining so unless we wanted to stay up super late it wasn't practical to catch the entertainment and with 4 ports stops most mornings we needed to be up for a shore excursion. On other cruise lines they've had an early show that you could see and then do dinner after. I also there had been more educational talks about Cuba. We did the South America/Antarctica cruise a couple years ago and I loved all the various talks about Wildlife, exploration, etc. Overall a great and relaxing cruise, but the only stop that we really enjoyed was Cienfuegos. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour ... Read More
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour which I had arranged via Shago tours. They assigned a tour guide, Yoley, and we were assigned a driver with a 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan for our trip to the Nicho Waterfalls. The Waterfalls were worth the trip. We also asked to see the botanical garden. That was disappointing. Only trees to see, no plants…not like in the US. The trip up the mountain was however quite eye-opening. There were more horse drawn carriages and tractors than cars. The way of life was fascinating…makes you really appreciate our country. We had a lot of good conversation with the tour guide and a very nice lunch at the waterfalls. . I was told that we saw much more than those people who took the cruise bus excursions. They didn’t seem as satisfied. We were a little nervous when we left the ship and saw all the big buses but no private drivers with signs. It seems you have to leave the area to another small park outside to meet them. I believe there also were taxis there for those without tours. The ship was well maintained, loved the food by the pool, custom made pizza, caprices salad, hamburgers, Nathan’s hotdogs, and taco bar. Took part in many of the offerings on the days at sea…i.e. Americans Test Kitchen. Entertainment was good for a small ship, casino quite small…no craps table. Overall…a great experience. Hope that helps others as I have been helped in the past through other people’s experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We choose this cruise for the itinerary and to see cuba. there was a lot of ports and nice warm weather. we had a nice balcony room and was so nice to have coffee in the morning with the warm ocean breeze outside. We brought our own ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary and to see cuba. there was a lot of ports and nice warm weather. we had a nice balcony room and was so nice to have coffee in the morning with the warm ocean breeze outside. We brought our own snorkel equipment and saw some nice caribbean ocean life. In my opinion the port talks and information on cuba were not clear and confusing. The person to person tours that were required were a selling gimmick and not very culturally interesting. We did not even get off the ship in cienfuegos for these reasons and after hearing people talk about the port , we made the right choice. We lucked out in havana cuba as there was a nice ocean breeze blowing out the hot humidity. Plus they had a lot more people working at the port area to get you thru customs and money exchange. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
I booked this cruise to see Cuba. The ship spends time in Havana and Cienfuegos. Travelers should be aware that they are required get a visa and to take a US required travel information tour in order to explore the Island. ... Read More
I booked this cruise to see Cuba. The ship spends time in Havana and Cienfuegos. Travelers should be aware that they are required get a visa and to take a US required travel information tour in order to explore the Island. Holland America assists with acquiring the visa and the "People to People" tour. The Venndam is a small ship holding around 1800 passengers. I found the size of the ship comfortably pleasant. It was my first time in a "laini" room, and I liked the access to the main walking deck from my room. While older, the ship is very well maintained. As with other Holland America ships, the food is excellent the service is always a good experience. The staff is exceptionally pleasant and accommodating. They go out of the way to please guests. Holland America entertainment consists of quality music programs, the Food Kitchen, BBC films and some traditional activities. They know how to please the older generation. I've been on a number of Holland America ships and I sometimes wish for some additional lively entertainment. Sea days on longer journey's could use some additional upbeat activities. This cruise went a;s far south as Belize and stopped at a number of ports. I' disabled and use a scooter. Some tender ports (including Belize) would not accommodate my small, very light scooter. I was disappointed to miss seeing this island. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away from their "middle American food" just a little more spice perhaps more curry? Still it was passible. The underpaid crew was as usual excellent no problems. Since HAL is a "senior" line we were pleased at the help of the wait staff and others towards those seniors with mobility problems. Cabin was fine, on deck 6, promenade first time for this … large one way window (at least during daylight hours). Entertainment in the theatre good, bars and other areas not to our taste, Kudos to the two young gentlemen know as Adagio … well done. The tours where interesting. We rarely book Excu tours, too expansive but considering where we wanted to go we decided to splurge and try. The results were OK but not stellar. Guides could stand a bit more training. Juan our guide to Chichen Itza World Heritage Site was a wealth of knowledge. Had a degree in history and was a Mayan. sometime too much information is not a good idea, just a little less talk. It was a very long trip over 3 hours on the bus and 80 minutes on a tender, 40 minutes either way to disembark for the tour. Would have been OK except for the rough sea. Several people were seasick. Tours like this should not be cancelled but would be good if we were warned to be ready for motion sickness. Other tours were acceptable although all had an issue with not enough time to look around and perhaps do a bit of shopping. Cuba was as expected the highlight. We visited Trinidad de Cuba on the first day good tour to a very interesting area. Then of course Havana ... great place. The tours are probably not worth it, there is a hop on hop off bus service that got a good review from some on board friens. Then of course there is the "classic car" tours. We did not take one but the look very "pretty" ... All in all a good cruise no serious issues perhaps too many sea days. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks ... Read More
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks like the staff did not want to be there. Some were downright rude. The desert young lady was outright rude when I asked if they had more sauce for the bread pudding. "Just get some ice cream" she yelled at me. No, lady, just get some more sauce since you just put out a new pan of dessert. Talked to the chef and he took care of the problem so other guests were not inconvenienced.. Laundry ruined one of my shirts. Just get a new one I was told by the young lady at the front desk.Justin made sure the shirt was fixed. Food in DR was excellent and Oscar and his staff were super. Entertainment in the show room was outstanding. The HAL singers and dancers were broadway caliber. Really. Embarkation and disembarkation was excellent. Ship was well kept and clean. Just some retraining is needed for Lido staff. Justin at guest services was very helpful for any problems we had. The Cuban excursions were excellent. Oh and the America's Test Kitchen lady is NOT ready for prime time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Our 3rd cruise to the maritime provinces, we booked this on a last minute fare. HAL clearly appeals to a senior clientele and we now meet that criterion. The Veendam is a small ship (1300 pass) but it just felt nice. This was one of our ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise to the maritime provinces, we booked this on a last minute fare. HAL clearly appeals to a senior clientele and we now meet that criterion. The Veendam is a small ship (1300 pass) but it just felt nice. This was one of our favorites in 20 + cruises. The senior vibe means quieter and more relaxed (no constant calypso music), but for a small ship the food was excellent and the entertainment surprisingly good. Crew excellent all around. The Lido cafeteria had an excellent selection and the Pinnacle Grille ($$) was also very good but I'd skip the ($) Italian specialty restaurant if I go on HAL again. Regular dining was surprisingly good, particularly after out recent disappointments on RCCL and Norwegian. The thing that to us makes this special is that the ports are all are all nice, clean and visitor friendly, with mostly nice fall weather (not much color, though,) . A trip to Peggy's Cove (out of Halifax) was unique and a must for those who don't live near the ocean, and Quebec City is a nice bit of Europe unmatched by any port in the US. Not much in Sydney,; Bar Harbor feels nice. Had to skip Charlottetown due to weather, but have been there before and it too is special. Next to Alaska - which has similar unique ports,- these are just great. Highly recommended for those looking for something different in the fall. , Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

Find a Veendam Cruise

Email me when prices drop