This is my 11th cruise; 4th on a HAL ship. I traveled with a group of 6, ranging in age from mid-50's to 93. The hotel and travel arrangements and embarkation went smoothly. We stayed at the Doubletree in Tampa the night before the cruise. Our stateroom had a nice balcony and was very spacious. We had plenty of room for all our clothes and other items. The bathroom had a tub/shower which was really nice. Our attendant was excellent. The SHIP: This Veendam ship needs repairs badly. Our toilet did not ever work properly, and overflowed on the last day. Our friends next door to us had no A/C the entire trip. The phone never worked properly, and no one got their wake-up calls. We even had the smoke alarm start beeping in the night when the battery was low. Many of the public toilets were also out of order. On our first formal night the temp in the dining room was about 100 until the salad course. The stairwells were tight and very crowded during all our disembarkations, which was a big problem for a man in our group who is 93 and others on the ship who were elderly or disabled. DINING: We had early dining, at 5:45. Food was good, not excellent. Presentation was always nice. We had requested a window table for 6, and it was even printed on my contract, but we did not get one, and the manager refused to move us to one when I spoke to him right after embarkation. Our table was the worst one in the dining room, right between 2 serving stations, with all the clanging of dishes and silverware. Our waiter and assistant were good, but seemed overworked. We had to repeatedly ask for coffee with desert, for instance. Luckily, the itinerary was wonderful, and we had some fabulous excursions. Expect heat and humidity, of course! In Key West we went to Hemmingway's house and the Truman house. In Belize we did a private jungle tour to see birds and monkeys, followed by the snorkel and beach break ship's tour to Barrister Cay - wonderful! I would return to Belize in a minute. In Guatemala we did the "Go with Gus" private tour up the Rio Dulce which was also fabulous. Our Atlantis submarine in Cozumel was just OK, since the water was not very clear and they did not use enough light to see any of the colorful fish and corals. We really enjoyed the poolside BBQ after Cozumel, complete with local mariachis and a gorgeous sunset. They served "endless pina coladas" and good margaritas - nice. We enjoyed walking or reading out on the teak deck, the spa service, the pools and the gym. The shows were just OK, not fabulous. Disembarkation was a mess. We had pre-purchased a voucher to have our boarding passes and luggage tags delivered to our stateroom ($15) and so not have to worry about our luggage after we got off. My passes and tags never arrived, so I had to call numerous times and get cut off by our phone which still did not work. When our time came to get off the ship, the stairs and hallway were crammed with people trying to leave. We stood around for at least 30 minutes after we were supposed to leave. In spite of the good HAL service and good food, it was hard to relax when there were so many plumbing, A/C and other troubles on board.The best part of any cruise is the friends, and so in spite of all the technical problems, we 6 had a lot of fun and took home happy memories of our trip. As I wrote on my comment card, I will probably do another HAL cruise someday, just not on this Veendam ship.

Not up to HAL standards

Veendam Cruise Review by georgie

Trip Details
This is my 11th cruise; 4th on a HAL ship. I traveled with a group of 6, ranging in age from mid-50's to 93.
The hotel and travel arrangements and embarkation went smoothly. We stayed at the Doubletree in Tampa the night before the cruise.
Our stateroom had a nice balcony and was very spacious. We had plenty of room for all our clothes and other items. The bathroom had a tub/shower which was really nice. Our attendant was excellent.
The SHIP: This Veendam ship needs repairs badly. Our toilet did not ever work properly, and overflowed on the last day. Our friends next door to us had no A/C the entire trip. The phone never worked properly, and no one got their wake-up calls. We even had the smoke alarm start beeping in the night when the battery was low. Many of the public toilets were also out of order. On our first formal night the temp in the dining room was about 100 until the salad course. The stairwells were tight and very crowded during all our disembarkations, which was a big problem for a man in our group who is 93 and others on the ship who were elderly or disabled.
DINING: We had early dining, at 5:45. Food was good, not excellent. Presentation was always nice. We had requested a window table for 6, and it was even printed on my contract, but we did not get one, and the manager refused to move us to one when I spoke to him right after embarkation. Our table was the worst one in the dining room, right between 2 serving stations, with all the clanging of dishes and silverware. Our waiter and assistant were good, but seemed overworked. We had to repeatedly ask for coffee with desert, for instance.
Luckily, the itinerary was wonderful, and we had some fabulous excursions. Expect heat and humidity, of course! In Key West we went to Hemmingway's house and the Truman house. In Belize we did a private jungle tour to see birds and monkeys, followed by the snorkel and beach break ship's tour to Barrister Cay - wonderful! I would return to Belize in a minute. In Guatemala we did the "Go with Gus" private tour up the Rio Dulce which was also fabulous. Our Atlantis submarine in Cozumel was just OK, since the water was not very clear and they did not use enough light to see any of the colorful fish and corals.
We really enjoyed the poolside BBQ after Cozumel, complete with local mariachis and a gorgeous sunset. They served "endless pina coladas" and good margaritas - nice.
We enjoyed walking or reading out on the teak deck, the spa service, the pools and the gym. The shows were just OK, not fabulous.
Disembarkation was a mess. We had pre-purchased a voucher to have our boarding passes and luggage tags delivered to our stateroom ($15) and so not have to worry about our luggage after we got off. My passes and tags never arrived, so I had to call numerous times and get cut off by our phone which still did not work. When our time came to get off the ship, the stairs and hallway were crammed with people trying to leave. We stood around for at least 30 minutes after we were supposed to leave.
In spite of the good HAL service and good food, it was hard to relax when there were so many plumbing, A/C and other troubles on board.The best part of any cruise is the friends, and so in spite of all the technical problems, we 6 had a lot of fun and took home happy memories of our trip. As I wrote on my comment card, I will probably do another HAL cruise someday, just not on this Veendam ship.
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