The good the bad and the extremely ugly: Veendam Cruise Review by johnthefireman

Veendam 3
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

The good the bad and the extremely ugly

Sail Date: May 2009
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: San Diego
My wife and I are frequent cruisers.  Although this trip was only number 18 and very short to boot, we just starded cruising 2 1/2 years ago when we retired.  This was however, our first time with Holland America.  We had heared good things about the line and my wife is Dutch.  This voyage sounded like a perfect match for us.  OOOOPS!!

After waiting in the terminal in San Diego for a couple hours past embarkation time, we were handed a flyer as we were preparing to finaly board the ship.  It told us that there was an unusually high incidence of norovirus on board and they were taking extreme measures to prevent it from spreading, but if we wanted to change our minds about going, they would refund our money.  We decided to stay with our plans.

When we boarded and went to our room, we noticed a heavy odor in the passageways.  It was an irritating chemical smell which we attributed to disinfecting attempts and a heavy smell reminisant More of a backed up septic tank.  We entered our cabin and discovered proof positive in the toilet that the previous passenger had an intestinal problem.  When the DVD player showed no sign of having power, I looked behind the TV in an effort to plug it in.  Being a retired fire inspector I was less than thrilled to find an outlet with exposed wires hanging from a hole in the wall and a "power strip" outlet multiplier hanging from it.  I reported this to the front desk as a fire and safety hazard.

We went to the buffet for dinner that evening and the quality of the food was some of the best we have enjoyed on any cruise ship.  The food lines were blocked off with plastic wrap to help control sanitation.  This was a good idea for germ control, but the staff was so grossly undermanned that they were unable to keep up and the lines were formidable.  There were even long lines for a 4 ounce glass of water being handed out by a single staff person.

On the third (final) night, we put our luggage in the passageway and retired for the evening.  About 12:30 AM we were
awakened by a loud bang.  I looked out of our door to see large quantities of water flowing through the passageway.  The fire sprinkler main had blown out (for the second time).  I brought our bags back into the room befor the got TOO wet.  Now that we had identified fire hazards and no sprinkler system, we counted the hours until we were able to get off.  Having crossed the atlantic twice and the pacific several times, this was the first time I have ever been concerned for our safety while on a ship.

The WORST was after we got home.  My wife called Holland America in Seattle and was told that they had a week to 10 day back log and would get back to us later. Less

Published 05/26/09

Cabin review: 717

Large window with clear view.  1 deck above crew.  Noisey due to ongoing renovation (hammering, grinding, etc.)

Port and Shore Excursions

The port of San Diego has tighter security controls than most airports.  Security is provided by a contractor which does a generally good job.  My wife and I were traveling to Canada, so presented our inhanced IDs for entry to the port.  We were informed by a rent-a-cop that if we didn't produce passports (NOT required for US citizens going to Canada) we would not be allowed on the pier.  Having recently been to South America, we had them packed away with us.  If you don"t have a passport, ride onto the pier in a car (or taxi) and just say you are picking someone up.  They will wave you right through.  Oh My! I just compromised their first security perimeter.

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