189 Holland America Veendam Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
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
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
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
Sail Date January 2019
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
Sail Date December 2018
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour ... Read More
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour which I had arranged via Shago tours. They assigned a tour guide, Yoley, and we were assigned a driver with a 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan for our trip to the Nicho Waterfalls. The Waterfalls were worth the trip. We also asked to see the botanical garden. That was disappointing. Only trees to see, no plants…not like in the US. The trip up the mountain was however quite eye-opening. There were more horse drawn carriages and tractors than cars. The way of life was fascinating…makes you really appreciate our country. We had a lot of good conversation with the tour guide and a very nice lunch at the waterfalls. . I was told that we saw much more than those people who took the cruise bus excursions. They didn’t seem as satisfied. We were a little nervous when we left the ship and saw all the big buses but no private drivers with signs. It seems you have to leave the area to another small park outside to meet them. I believe there also were taxis there for those without tours. The ship was well maintained, loved the food by the pool, custom made pizza, caprices salad, hamburgers, Nathan’s hotdogs, and taco bar. Took part in many of the offerings on the days at sea…i.e. Americans Test Kitchen. Entertainment was good for a small ship, casino quite small…no craps table. Overall…a great experience. Hope that helps others as I have been helped in the past through other people’s experiences. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
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
Sail Date November 2018
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away from their "middle American food" just a little more spice perhaps more curry? Still it was passible. The underpaid crew was as usual excellent no problems. Since HAL is a "senior" line we were pleased at the help of the wait staff and others towards those seniors with mobility problems. Cabin was fine, on deck 6, promenade first time for this … large one way window (at least during daylight hours). Entertainment in the theatre good, bars and other areas not to our taste, Kudos to the two young gentlemen know as Adagio … well done. The tours where interesting. We rarely book Excu tours, too expansive but considering where we wanted to go we decided to splurge and try. The results were OK but not stellar. Guides could stand a bit more training. Juan our guide to Chichen Itza World Heritage Site was a wealth of knowledge. Had a degree in history and was a Mayan. sometime too much information is not a good idea, just a little less talk. It was a very long trip over 3 hours on the bus and 80 minutes on a tender, 40 minutes either way to disembark for the tour. Would have been OK except for the rough sea. Several people were seasick. Tours like this should not be cancelled but would be good if we were warned to be ready for motion sickness. Other tours were acceptable although all had an issue with not enough time to look around and perhaps do a bit of shopping. Cuba was as expected the highlight. We visited Trinidad de Cuba on the first day good tour to a very interesting area. Then of course Havana ... great place. The tours are probably not worth it, there is a hop on hop off bus service that got a good review from some on board friens. Then of course there is the "classic car" tours. We did not take one but the look very "pretty" ... All in all a good cruise no serious issues perhaps too many sea days. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks ... Read More
Cruise was to Cuba and other islands. Went primarily for Cuba. HAL had some great excursions. We took the Havana and Trinidad tours. Well done. HAL needs to retrain their staff in the Lido. No one offered drinks or even water. Looks like the staff did not want to be there. Some were downright rude. The desert young lady was outright rude when I asked if they had more sauce for the bread pudding. "Just get some ice cream" she yelled at me. No, lady, just get some more sauce since you just put out a new pan of dessert. Talked to the chef and he took care of the problem so other guests were not inconvenienced.. Laundry ruined one of my shirts. Just get a new one I was told by the young lady at the front desk.Justin made sure the shirt was fixed. Food in DR was excellent and Oscar and his staff were super. Entertainment in the show room was outstanding. The HAL singers and dancers were broadway caliber. Really. Embarkation and disembarkation was excellent. Ship was well kept and clean. Just some retraining is needed for Lido staff. Justin at guest services was very helpful for any problems we had. The Cuban excursions were excellent. Oh and the America's Test Kitchen lady is NOT ready for prime time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
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
Sail Date September 2018
Last minute get away to Canada. We didn't have a lot of choices but really enjoyed this ship. We had good meals. One night in Pinnacle Grill but wasn't that impressed to repeat the experience. Food was consistently good every ... Read More
Last minute get away to Canada. We didn't have a lot of choices but really enjoyed this ship. We had good meals. One night in Pinnacle Grill but wasn't that impressed to repeat the experience. Food was consistently good every meal. We could always fin something w liked. desserts an appetizers were really good. Our cabin was great in terms of size and storage. Didn't care for the bathtub. The TV was very small and not a clear picture. We like to watch movies at night {and they do have over 1000 videos to choose from} but the screen was super small! They need to update with larger flat screens. Some rusty hardware and chipped paint in cabin but it didn't interfere with our overall cruise experience. Loved the low key feeling of the ship. Felt like a vacation. Much nicer than the hype and hustle of a mega ship. Entertainment was enjoyable. Great singers for the classical night. They had lots of variety in their programs. Fabulous service. Always took great care in every detail and was consistent. Ports were great, but would have liked to skip Sydney and spend more time in Halifax, NS. We didn't attend very many activities on board because we went to a port everyday except one. We went to a test kitchen demonstration and got some good cooking ideas. Never felt crowded on the ship, had lovely conversations with a variety of people in anytime dining. Overall, this is a very nice cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked four weeks before embarkation. We were looking for a week away without having to fly and we were attracted by the last minute price. First time on Holland America after about 20 cruises. As we live not far from Albany, NY, we ... Read More
We booked four weeks before embarkation. We were looking for a week away without having to fly and we were attracted by the last minute price. First time on Holland America after about 20 cruises. As we live not far from Albany, NY, we parked our car there the morning of the cruise and took a bus to Boston and then an Uber to the pier. We arrived around 12:30 and were safely aboard and checking out our room fifteen minutes later. We booked a 10th deck large interior cabin amidships and were very impressed with its size and layout. Our stewards greeted us and took very good care of us the whole week. Fresh fruit and ice cubes were a constant. Shoes were shined the first day. Towels refreshed twice a day. Room was made up within a half hour of our putting out the please service sign. The only problem was a delay in the toilet flush on a couple of occasions and only one outlet at the desk so bring an extension cord. We tend to eat all our meals in the dining room, including breakfast and dinner. Lunch was not available in the dining room, but we were ashore most lunch times anyway. The menus were extensive. We especially liked the duck and prime rib offerings which were offered twice each. Then there was a filet minion and lobster tail on the last formal night. On the one night the menu had nothing interesting, there was always the salmon, steak and Caesar salad on the anytime menu. We bought the 4 wine option the day we boarded and were able to store the bottle for a second night if we didn't finish. Our wine steward Antonio took great care of us, The entertainment was good, not great. Not much different than what we have experienced on much larger ships. The comedian and illusionist did a nice job and the stage shows were accompanied by the on board musicians, not the canned theme stuff you get used to on cruise ships. The show room layout was very annoying. Instead of a theater type arrangement, there were sofas and soft chairs arranged around tables,, wasting a lot of room. The early show was always packed with latecomers not being able to find seats. And there was not enough tilt from back to front so from half way back you couldn't see the front of the stage or had to look between the heads in front of you. The balcony had the same problem so you couldn't see the front of the stage. The lounge entertainment wasn't much. The piano player did a nice job with his theme nights. The ship itself was clean although a little dated. The entertainment and the dining were clustered on one deck and one bar drifted into the other. Small fitness room but it was never crowded. The Crow's nest on the top deck was a circular shaped entertainment venue where half of the seats couldn't see what was going on in the other half of the room. The pool areas were never crowded, the best spot being the hot tubs on the stern. We had surprisingly good weather for Canada in September. The ports were quite enjoyable. We had done this itinerary twice before so other than Halifax and Sydney, we stayed around the port, gorging on chowders, lobster, mussels and oysters along with the local brew at most ports. We did the ship's excursion in Halifax to Peggy's cove, Lunenberg and Mahone Bay, a very relaxing day. We got an hour in each place, the only rush being to get lunch in Luneneberg. We did a private tour in Sydney to Baddeck and the Alexander Graham Bell museum, the only criticism being our tour guide rushed us a little to make sure we got back to the ship an hour and a half before all aboard. We could have taken a little extra time to enjoy lunch in Baddeck. We disembarked in Monteal at 8 am and were at the train station to board our 10 am Amtrak departure in plenty of time. The train ride back was about 8 hours but it was not crowded and we could spread out and relax, taking in the beautiful scenery. All in all, a very relaxing 7 days. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The highlights of this cruise are absolutely the ports. Plan on lots of walking or touring. Each of the ports, Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, NS, Sydney, NS, Charlottestown, NS and Quebec, QC are amazing. When in Sydney, definitely do ... Read More
The highlights of this cruise are absolutely the ports. Plan on lots of walking or touring. Each of the ports, Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, NS, Sydney, NS, Charlottestown, NS and Quebec, QC are amazing. When in Sydney, definitely do Louisbourg Fort. The Fort employs people to reprise the jobs people had in the 1700's. We talked to a Cannonneer, a baker, a blacksmith, a musician and some household maids. Each was a unique and amazing experience. Bring a jacket. It is cold out there, no matter how warm it is in Sydney. When in Charlottestown, definitely look up Experience PEI and do their Heritage Quest. They give you an old style GPS (that tells you kind of where you are going), clues to PEI Heritage and a crossword puzzle to fill out after you find the clues. We love walking tours. This one was just amazing. We spent 4.5 hours doing an in-depth tour of the city and its long history. We got to see some amazing buildings, some little known sights and had amazing fun doing it. Best self-guided (kind of) walking tour ever. The crew on Veendam are wonderful. I added tips to our room stewards, our waiters, our wine steward and our Assistant Matre' De. Everyone working on the ship that we talked to was wonderful and genuinely interested as us as people (we reciprocated). The only downside to the cruise was a lack of live entertainment in the evenings. More bands would be nice. There was a great jazz trio, a piano bar guy and a violinist and pianist. Just not enough music. The DJ for the "Disco" was not skilled. We loved all of the bars - The staff were great and super friendly. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of ... Read More
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of paperwork. The first and easiest ifs the Cuba tourist card. Cruise lines charge $75 for this, most if not all of which goes to Cuba. They give you the blank form at cruise check-in. You fill it out. Cuba checks it once. The second, more intimidating, piece of paper work is compliments of the US Government. It’s an affidavit that states why you’re going to Cuba. It’s an exercise in futility and keeping some bureaucrats’ job in DC. Because our government says we can’t go to Cuba for tourism, you have to indicate why you’re going. You have to select one of 12 reasons. NOBODY LOOKS. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY ENFORCES IT. Go and have a good time. The form is collected at check in for the cruise. You’ll never see or hear about the affidavit again. Most people select option 1 or 8 on the affidavit. But again, it’s a US Government waste of paper. Cuba and Cubans are glad that you’re there spending money. Ditto for the cruise line. Please complete this form but don’t think twice about it. You CAN go out and about in Cuba on your own without any limitations. You DO NOT need to book tours through the cruise line or any other company. These are huge myths that seem to stem from the lengthy, verboten affidavit. A sample copy of the affidavit is here, but you’ll probably want to get one with your cruise line’s logo: https://www.carnival.com/~/media/CCLUS/PDFs/OnlineCheckIn/Guest-Affidavit-0413%20pdf The Cuban Arrival Process Cuba is like any other Caribbean port with ONE exception: they check and stamp your passport. You can get off and wander around as you please. Cuban authorities check your passport and want to see that you paid the $75 for a visitor pass…but there are NO LIMITS as to getting off the ship without prepaid or prearranged tours. It’s like any other port. Don’t let anyone tell you have to book long, expensive tours through the cruise line, sanctioned company or government. It’s not true. We booked our Cuba tours online (but didn’t pay for them until after the tour). Our car, driver and guide were waiting for us as promised and were thrilled to see us. Some passengers had their Cuban tourist cards collected by the Cuban authorities. Others did not. This caused concern among those who wanted to get off again and didn’t have the visitor card. Again, it was a non-issue. They check to see that your passport was stamped and you’re free to go. The Money Changing money is Cuba is a necessary evil. The currency the tourists use is the CUC (pronounced “kook”). It is pegged to the US dollar, so the exchange rate is 1 to 1. All currencies have a 3% charge. US dollars have an additional 10% charge. Bring Canadian, British or European coins if you can to exchange to avoid the 10% charge. There are currency exchanges in the terminal. The line can be long but it moves quickly. You can also exchange money at banks or other currency exchanges. There is another currency used primarily by the Cubans for their personal needs. This is the CUP and the exchange rate is 25 CUPs to $1. There was no need for this currency, but make sure you don’t get change in CUPs when you’re paying with CUCs. The CUC bills have pictures of monuments of them. The CUP bills have pictures of people on them. If you end up with extra CUCs at the end of your trip, be sure to exchange them back while in Cuba, or save them for friends going to Cuba. And unlike many Caribbean ports, it’s difficult (perhaps illegal) to use US dollars in Cuba. Some vendors say you can pay in either US$ or CUCs. But all seem to prefer CUCs. Medical Insurance Another non-issue is the required Cuban medical insurance. Cruise lines include this insurance in their port taxes, which is very convenient. I don’t know how effective this insurance is, but it satisfies the requirement. If you search the cruise line’s FAQs, there’s usually a question addressing it Here is NCL’s Cuba page and their response (HAL’s is similar): https://www.ncl.com/cruise-faq/cuba-travel “Is medical insurance required? All travelers to Cuba must show proof of Cuba approved medical insurance. This medical insurance will be included in the price of your cruise fare.” Docking in Havana The approach into forbidden Cuba is scenic and very emotional for many. You’ll drift by many forts, the malecón, El Christo de la Havana and dock conveniently in Old Havana at the Sierra Maestra terminal. There are three terminals: two are falling apart, the one you dock at is in good shape. Walking out of the terminal and across the busy street is San Francisco square. An easy and fun walk through Old Havana takes you to the capital building that is under constant non-renovation. You’ll have a sense of déjà vu looking at it. If you’re looking for a vintage car tour, there are many waiting by the Russian church close by the terminal. The major shopping market in Havana is also close by the Russian church. It was closed when we were there because of an electrical fire, but it was supposed to re open quickly. Others seem to think nothing happens quickly in Cuba. Out and about in Cuba Out and about in Cuba is a lot of fun. Those that took the long “approved” cruises from this ship felt that they were not good value. We booked a vintage car, driver, and guide for $80 for two hours. It was PERFECT. We then wandered around old-town on our own, stopping frequently in the historic squares for drinks. We found the Cubans a very proud people who almost always spoke very highly of their country, especially those working in the tourist trade. But some we met on the streets were not so complimentary. The art of the networking payoff is alive, well and open in Cuba. Tour guides and people you meet on the street are happy to show you places for food, drink, cigars and rum. They expect and get a cut from these establishments. Most Cubans don’t have much; so there is a fair amount of begging in the streets, but none, thankfully, is too aggressive. Cuba is very safe; as there are severe penalties for messing with tourists. US Customs In coming back to the US from Cuba, it’s like any other cruise. Customs and Border Patrol DON’T CARE why or that you went to Cuba. They don’t care what you bought. You can bring back 100 cigars and a liter of alcohol—just like other ports. If you’re carrying a keg of rum off the ship they might question you, but otherwise it’s like any other cruise inspection: a non issue! The Ship It's older and smaller, but space is used wisely and comfortably on the public decks. Holland America has a sophisticated and wonderful daily activity program. The partnerships with America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth and Microsoft make for a lot of fun and educational activities during the day. Their port talks are also good in that they don't just steer you to places to shop. Holland America's happy hours, where the second drink is only $2. add unusual value in the bar department. This is NOT a high-tech ship. The $160-$200 14 day internet option was fairly priced, but I was constantly disconnected. Many cruise lines offer their daily news letters and account information online complimentary through the ships wi-fi. Holland America's Explorer was the first that actually worked beautifully. There is also a free chat feature where you can text others on board (that actually worked). There's no setting I could find for an audio signal that I message was received though. Dining Dining was better than I remembered on Holland America in both the dining room and buffet. The quality AND variety was a notch above other mainline cruises. The salad bar and the Asian sections were my favorites in the buffet. The dining room menu was always varied and interesting. The wait staff was attentive. Most nights, the buffet menu was similar to the dining room menu. I found the wines too expensive for my taste. The two for-fee restaurants were only fair. The Italian restaurant is a partitioned off part of the buffet area. There wasn't much special about it. The steak house offered a good steak but little else. Service was good but not fabulous. The wine list was crazy expensive, and I got some attitude from the wine steward when I requested a wine not on the restaurant's wine list. The steak house turns into a seafood place occasionally, which I would have loved to try. Entertainment This is where Holland America sorely lacked. A couple of OK comedians. The ship's production numbers were just okay as well. The performers worked hard and did a decent job, but they weren't given a lot to work with. The ships orchestra was outstanding. The South American electric harpist was excellent, but I had already seen her on other cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks 9.50 and under. We also received a night in Pinnacle Grill. We arrived in Boston on Saturday and used the HAL ground transportation to get to the port. Everything was smooth and we waited perhaps 30 minutes before being allowed to board. Our cabin was ready and we explored the ship. I had read many negative reviews regarding Veendam and I was worried about the ship not being maintained well. It is obviously an older ship, but everything in our cabin (349) was in perfect working order. A lanai cabin is much smaller than a suite, obviously. But we did not miss the extra room much and we also did not miss the private balcony much. We had plenty of room for 7 days worth of clothing. We were ok with the very tiny pools at the retreat as we mostly are in our chairs and just dip our toes in periodically. Neither of us have ever used the hot tubs on a cruise ship. I do wish that the Lido pool was for children and the Retreat pool was adults only. There were more kids than normal when compared to our previous HAL cruises, but I realized that would be the case by taking a cruise in June. I did not find the children on the ship to be an issue after the first day. The first day, there were many children in the bars, dining room, pools, etc. But after that, they must have been utitilizing Club HAL. My biggest complaint though were the few kids that were almost always at the Retreat pool. Two of them belonged to a mom who would simply deposit them at the pool area and then move to another area to relax, not even leaving them in her site. I would guess they were 3 and 6. It was annoying and I feel, dangerous. But I have seen that on other cruises as well. We ate in the dining room twice and we have not been doing assigned seating lately. The service was excellent and the food was good. The Pinnacle service was excellent and the food not quite as good as previous visits, but it was fine. We felt the Lido offered a good variety and we received good service there. We ordered room service late a couple of nights and that was delicious and quick. We knew we would miss BB King and we did, but we managed to have fun by going to the Piano Bar. Barry from Boston was excellent as usual. We are 58 and there were many that age that were there each night and many much older. The crowd seemed to enjoy more of the show tune, older music. We know those songs, but it is not our cup of tea each night. He did do a Beatles night and some other themes we enjoyed. But the crowd that frequented the Piano Bar was just a bit old for our tastes. I am referring more to their attitudes than their actual ages. Again, Barry was excellent. We saw a magician one evening and he was pretty good and this was our only show. We loved Bermuda. The weather was around 80 each day and almost always sunny. We jogged each morning for an hour when we were docked and then went on long walks. On sea days we walked on deck 6 as no running is allowed. That is always a disappointment to us on HAL ships we have been on. We visited the park nearby, which was beautiful. We had drinks at two bars and met some great locals and also someone that was working on an RC ship. We shopped for maybe a half hour and purchased very reasonably priced t shirts. We also went to a pharmacy and picked up extra sunscreen and water. We visited Horseshoe Bay and found it beautiful. We rode the bus there and found it very easy and enjoyable. We also spent a day at Clearwater Beach and that was breathtaking. The bus home was a bit irritating as we had to transfer as we had on the way there, but due to some bus issues we had to wait over an hour. We did not make it to Crystal Caves, although we desperately wanted to go. Once we had our suits on and were on a beautiful beach with perfect weather, we could not tear ourselves away! We left the ship on our last day at 9:45 am. We handle all of our own luggage, so don’t have to worry about finding our luggage. All went smoothly and the lines were almost non existent to get off the ship. We found this to be one of our favorite cruises, even though it was only 7 days and even though we had a Lani cabin. It was an excellent value when we factored in the beverage packages. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our ninth Holland America cruise but the first one where we overnighted in the same port. That, and the chance to sail on another S-Class (Statendam Class) HAL ship, are what attracted us to this particular sailing. As always, ... Read More
This was our ninth Holland America cruise but the first one where we overnighted in the same port. That, and the chance to sail on another S-Class (Statendam Class) HAL ship, are what attracted us to this particular sailing. As always, the crew was more than accommodating. For example, on the first morning I stopped at the Front Desk to check on the newspapers. On all subsequent days the gentleman at the Front Desk had the English-language papers ready for me to pick up. In addition, with special dietary requirements, the dining stewards brought out menus for the following day so that accomotative dinners could be pre-ordered. Souvenir shopping on the Veendam (and on the former Ryndam) is quite limited compared to HAL's Vista class and larger ships that we have sailed on. Most people do this ashore so it is not a major concern. On the other hand, with only 1300 or so on board we developed some commeraderie with other passengers that is sometimes lacking on ships with 2000 or more passengers. We did discover that Bermuda is only marginally handicap accessible. Shopping venues, restuarants and bars in Hamilton often had steps that could not be navigated by a wheelchair or walker. Cars were also often parked in such a way as to block the sidewalk. Accessibility at the Royal Naval Dockyard where the larger ships are located was even worse. In our case it was possible to get out of the wheelchair while it was lifted over curbs. For those who are unable to stand or people with power chairs it would be a difficult outing in either location. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Being from Boston, we chose this particular cruise for we didn't have to fly to get to the departure point. Also booked at last minute and got a real quality vacation value for our 7 days. Met so many interesting people and were ... Read More
Being from Boston, we chose this particular cruise for we didn't have to fly to get to the departure point. Also booked at last minute and got a real quality vacation value for our 7 days. Met so many interesting people and were able to share other travel experiences and fun stories with them. Departing from Boston is now what we look for in cruise planning. Holland America is one of our favorite cruise lines and the Veendam cruises to Bermuda only a few times a year during the summer months. The ship could use a little maintenance, especially the elevators. It's overlooked by the exceptional service by the staff and quality of product received by HAL. We even had an unofficial Meet & Greet in the Crow's Nest on Day 2. Nice to meet other cruisers and share valuable info. We were so fortunate to be invited by a couple we met on Day 1 to their Vow Renewal Ceremony. It was done up so beautiful and the Captain and Cruise Director couldn't have been nicer to us all. Even the rain and showers didn't get us down, for we were in beautiful Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare too. Having never really wanted to go on a cruise, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I'd feel cooped up on the ship and in the room, but didn't feel that way at all. ... Read More
This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare too. Having never really wanted to go on a cruise, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I'd feel cooped up on the ship and in the room, but didn't feel that way at all. There were 4 of us. All women, ages 58 to 78. We cruised from Montreal to Boston, but the ship continued on to Bermuda. Here are some of my thoughts. The ship, I'm told, is smaller than the new mega ships. I found it easy to get around once I got my directions straight. We did still walk a lot while on board, but I understand you walk a lot more on the mega ships. I enjoyed going to the top outside deck (12th floor) to take sunset pictures. I thought the decor of the ship was a little dated, but that might appeal to most of the older crowd. However, even if dated it was well kept. There was one elevator that acted up the entire trip. I didn't worry about getting stuck in it. The biggest problem was it wouldn't go anywhere. It became a big joke among the passengers and caused a lot of laughter among strangers. Our cabins were 794 and 796 situated roughly mid ship on Deck 4. They have a window with a full view. They were relativity quiet. No noise from other areas, except the occasional noise of closing doors of the staffs work room across the hall from us. Very minor! No noise from below or above. Our room staff was awesome. Very friendly. Eddie even called us by our names. If we need anything we got it within 10 minutes of asking. Our rooms were straightened up by the cabin staff twice a day. Service: The onboard Wifi was spotty and while there is an app (free) that you can use on-board to 'chat' with each other, we found the chat function somewhat useless because of the Wifi connection. As far as paying for Wifi, we cancelled the package because if was so spotty and slow. Room service was excellent. We ordered hot water every evening for the next morning and it was always there on time. Dining: We ate dinner in the Rottendam most evening. Our wait staff was excellent. The food was great, especially the desserts. We had dinner one night in the Pinnacle. It was excellent. Highly recommend eating there at least once. The Lido was good at all times and had an excellent selection. The burgers near the pool were excellent as well. The only thing I ate that I thought wasn't great was the pizza from the pizza bar. Entertainment: We went to a show most night. The entertainment was good. The is a We didn't do many of the other activities like the casino or America's test kitchen. Did enjoy the 'ask Captain questions'. The on-board shops had Cuban themed shops which I thought was strange for a Canada to Bermuda trip. I'm guessing the ship had gone to Cuba over the winter and they just hadn't changed out the shop yet. Excursions: We did shore excursions most days (didn't do Sidney). Some were though HAL and some though other companies. The HAL excursions were good. The scenery was beautiful! I highly recommend getting out and seeing Quebec, Halifax, Prince Edward Island, and Bar Harbor! I heard Sidney excursions were beautiful as well. General: There were very few children on board. Most people were in our age range. Disembarkation and Embarkment: Both went very smoothly and quickly each time. I enjoyed the cruise and would definitely take another one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports ... Read More
Last minute choice, good value, we have lots of good experience with Holland America. I don't know why someone would say beware this ship. She is not new, for sure, but well maintained. Staff was friendly and helpful. Ports were great, for a typical caribbean 7 day cruise. The only issue we had was an excess of young children, often poorly supervised (BY THE PARENTS!!!) but that is the risk you take during spring break periods. I had a much worse spring break experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise a number of years ago. (Read: 13 year olds pushing ALL the elevator buttons every time, exiting after one floor, thinking that was very funny). Food was very good, typical Holland fare. Had a nice first day dinner at canaletto, which avoids the first day dining room hassles. We use the main dining room for all breakfasts, and had a lot of great table mates and interesting discussions. All in all a pretty good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took. ... Read More
Booked after final deposit deadlines on a reach out from Holland America on a Casino offer. Accepted the offer for a Verandah Suite, and then several weeks later received an upgrade offer for the Neptune Suite, which we took. Embarkation: The Veendam arrived later than expected from the prior cruise, so when we arrived at 11:30am, most of the passengers were waiting in the hall, as boarding did not proceed until approx. noon or just after. It was not a long wait, but we had never experienced a wait in boarding in our 10 HAL cruises, so this was an exception. Cabin: SA009 on Navigation Deck (Deck 10). A standard Neptune Suite on HALs smaller ships with 575 sq ft of space including a pull out sofa, dressing room, and large deck with table/4 chairs, and two loungers. The new "suite" look for HAL had not been completed, and instead of having two sinks in the bathroom, there was one and an additional in the dressing area. Unlike Vista class ships, there was not a separate shower and tub, but instead a combined shower/tub combo. The decor was from the last revision (I believe 2009, I think) with the Hawaiian style prints in orange and browns and leather brown couch. My wife and I surmised that Veendam may be utilized soon for another Carnival brand line, such as P&O soon, which is why the Suite changes had not taken place yet. However, for being a 22 year old ship, everything was in fine working order and we especially liked the artwork in our cabin of large watercolors. The flat screen appeared to be the same size as my IPAD Pro (about 12-14 inches) was was what I would call - minimalist. Dining: We absolutely adore the Pinnacle, so we had pre-reserved every evening, except one in Canaletto for the Pinnacle. We dined at 7pm each evening and loved getting to know the staff, not only from breakfast each day in the Pinnacle, but also the same team in the evening. Ordering a la carte each evening, we worked our way almost through the menu by the end of the cruise. Service was impeccable and we appreciated getting to know most of our wait team. Lin was exceptional as the wine steward (now on to Nieuw Amsterdam) as we had brought a week's worth of wine on board, but she was eager to make recommendations based on what we had brought and shared. Entertainment: We were surprised that on Veendam, even with the venues similar to the Vista class - the branding of experiences was completely different. No Billboard, Lincoln Center or BBKings here, but the much more traditional entertainment at each venue. Also, we walked into several of the dance/singing shows and found the quality significantly below our expectations in pitch, movement and energy. While we had a great cruise, we found the main showroom entertainment not to our taste, and missed the branded experiences that HAL has moved to on other ships. A distinct exception was the America's Test Kitchen and EXC services, which were superb. Service: It is what HAL is known for, and we found that standards were maintained and exceeded. The Neptune attendants in Tyson and team were SUPERB and very ready to accommodate any need. Ports and Shore Excursions: Most of the ports on this cruise were the HAL or Carnival produced variety, with shopping centers, pools and bars in the port area (HMC, Amber Cove and Grand Turk) These were functional, but we especially enjoyed the cabana in HMC, and the "Tours with a purpose" to the Women's Cooperative Chocolate Factory in the Domincan Republic. Old San Juan on Easter Sunday was a highlight as well with many shops open as well as churches. The ship overall looks fantastic and has constant upkeep. We noticed this especially in the Thermal Suite, which looked like the day it was new and was FABULOUS. Great cruise to get away on a smaller ship with HAL, where we got to know our neighbors and saw people onboard multiple times to catch up. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was our 5th Holland America cruise. We wanted to visit Cuba and selected this itinerary because it made two stops on Cuba. As is typical of HAL, the ship was fine and we prefer the smaller size. Our cabin was a 'lanai' ... Read More
This was our 5th Holland America cruise. We wanted to visit Cuba and selected this itinerary because it made two stops on Cuba. As is typical of HAL, the ship was fine and we prefer the smaller size. Our cabin was a 'lanai' which opened on the promenade deck. While the cabin wasn't huge, having the deck helped. Food was plentiful and good with many options. The entertainment was fine-we enjoyed the classical duo almost every night along with the solo piano player. Our biggest disappointment was the cancellation of the 2nd port in Cuba. Due to winds/tides and a very narrow channel the captain tried twice but decided it was not safe to make any more tries. He explained in detail and with maps/slides during another presentation and clearly he made the correct choice. A major disappointment but necessary to avoid grounding the ship. HAL was quick to refund all costs of their shore excursions. They also changed everyone's "CUC"s back to US dollars which was a huge plus. Most people had exchanged dollars (or other currencies) in Havana when we got off the ship; we expected to use them again in Cienfuegos and exchange any remaining so most people had CUCs leftover and the currency is useless except as a tourist. We did use any other HAL shore excursions-we had a private guide for Havana (Tours by Locals-HIGHLY recommend). We did Key West and Grand Caymans ourselves. If you like water sports and shopping, then this is the cruise for you. Aside from Havana, that's what there was to do. We would take another HAL cruise but not to the Caribbean. The sea days were a bit boring although there were activities-America's Test Kitchen, digital classes, etc. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Embarkation/disembarkation - both very smooth, arrived 1130 and onboard and eating at 1230 with bags dropped off in cabin. Did self-walkoff with luggage, have global entry so was at curbside at 0800. Ship - small, dated, old but ... Read More
Embarkation/disembarkation - both very smooth, arrived 1130 and onboard and eating at 1230 with bags dropped off in cabin. Did self-walkoff with luggage, have global entry so was at curbside at 0800. Ship - small, dated, old but well maintained. Easy to navigate. Cabin- Lanai 344, loved it - quiet, central, would get it again. Dining - early seating in MDR which worked out well for us, shared a window table with another couple and enjoyed their company. Did not do the buffet but offerings looked good. Did the Dive-in by the pool several times, good burgers and fries! Food is subjective, but for myself and hubby, found some meals lacking in the MDR [food served too cold for my taste, steaks not great], just very average compared to other cruises. But I did love! their duck dishes. Entertainment - smaller ship so less activities and entertainment options but we picked this cruise for the itinerary knowing this was a vacation to explore and relax. Went to a few shows in the evening [good for small ensemble], enjoyed the America's Kitchen offerings on sea days, and the Band in the Crow's Nest in the evenings [after 9 pm]. And we loved happy hour in the Crow's nest too! Skipped the art auctions, bingo, and casino. Service- Very good, have never had issues with service on board, great crew. Ports - Key West, did our own thing as very walkable. Used the Duval Loop free bus to get around to see the sights and do a little shopping and hubby got his stone crab fix. Havana - did a private excursion through Blexie Havana tours, WOW, he was great! Used to be an English teacher and became a guide to make more money. Met him in the square across from the cruise terminal and walked through all of old Havana for 2.5 hours and learned so much! Then met up with his driver who drove us around Havana to see more sights for the next 5 hours in a blue and white 57 Ford hardtop, plus lunch in a private home. Don't let the cruise lines intimidate you into taking only ship excursions, do your research here, and plan it out and enjoy Havana! Cienfuegos - Only let down on this cruise, were unable to get into Cienfuegos through the very small channel due to winds. After attending the captains' talk later in the day after the port was cancelled, I think this port is "marginal" for a ship this size unless the weather/tides are perfect. So a little upset after picking this cruise mostly for the 2 Cuba ports to have one cancelled, I don't fault the captains decision for safety, I fault HAL's choice as a port stop, will be interesting how many times it gets cancelled. Grand Cayman - Did the Atlantis sub and enjoyed that, saw a lot of fish, then did some shopping, then back to the ship early for some relaxing. Summary - the good - got to see Havana, weather was fantastic, very good service on board, a fun vacation. The not so good - having Cienfuegos cancelled, food was just "ok" for us, and painting that the crew did on the promenade deck on and off the whole week and paint fumes made it difficult at times to enjoy that space. The good far out weighed the bad!. Would I sail on Veendam again? Yes, but it really boils down to itinerary for us. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
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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