This was our fourth Holland America cruise and we chose this cruise for it's itinerary - Montreal to Ft. Lauderdale, thirteen days. We were looking for rest, relaxation, decompressing, and to visit some new ports and some ports we had visited in the past. Flew into Montreal the day before and stayed at a very nice hotel in the Latin Quarter, Le Relais Lyonnais. If the Montreal authorities could possibly make the cab stand at Trudeau International more frustrating and confusing then I'm sure they would but it's bad enough as it is. However, clearing customs was a breeze and we spent a pleasant evening in the city before cabbing it to the terminal. Embarkation went smoothly. We were onboard shortly after 11, in our cabin rather quickly, and had a nice lunch in the Lido. Having read a lot of fairly negative reviews of the Veendam all I can say is that we found the ship to be in great shape. We didn't see any worn carpeting, scuffed walls, or any other signs of neglect. All the public rooms were impeccable. Our cabins, plural, were clean when we arrived and well maintained when we were there. The staff were all friendly and efficient. All in all I was very impressed with the ship. Dining was for the most part better than expected. We had a table for two in first sitting and took most of our meals in the main dining room. Again, service was great. Food was very good. I liked the fact that we could order a bottle of wine, enjoy half of it with dinner, and the wine steward would re-cork the bottle and save it for us for dinner the following evening. We went to the Lido for lunch and most breakfasts. I liked the fact that it was not an open buffet but was served instead - controlling the portions helped a lot. We were comped in the Canaletto for one meal and enjoyed it. We made reservations at the Pinnacle for the last night at sea and we didn't. The Pinnacle was the sole exception to impeccable service. Instead it was slow, it seemed like no single server was responsible for us, nobody asked us how we were enjoying our meal, and nobody filled our water glasses until after the mean when we were waiting for coffee and desert - then we were asked several times withing two or three minutes. In fairness, when we made our dissatisfaction known to the manager he refunded our money. I was willing to chalk it up to an off night. Entertainment was a mix. The few shows we saw in the theater were uninteresting at best and out-and-out bad at worst. Most evenings we went with movie or the music. Movie selection was good, though I wonder what they were thinking when they scheduled "Maudie", about Canadian folk artist Maude Lewis, the day after we left Halifax where there is a wonderful exhibition of her work. As for the music the jazz trio was pretty good, the piano guy left a bit to be desired, and the classical duet "Adagio" was fantastic. We listened to quite a few of their set and got to know them a bit. A truly lovely and very talented pair. Activities were there. My wife used the spa once. I went to the casino on a couple of occasions. What I noticed the most about that was how sparsely attended the casino was. Service, as I said, was impeccable. Cabin stewards Agus and Arif were efficient, receptive, friendly. I liked that the main dining room manager stopped by our table every night to ask how things were. Staff in all the dining rooms were unobtrusive and very good. And we wound up getting to know the hotel and front desk staff better than we had expected to Which brings me to cabin. Originally we had booked a window cabin but the week of departure I took advantage of an offered deal and upgraded to Vista Suite - Suite 150 on deck 9. We were happy with it and all was well until the third day of the cruise when we were in our cabin starting to get ready for dinner. All of a sudden a torrent of water comes pouring out of the ceiling right next to the bathroom door. We call housekeeping and someone was up in a shot and was soon spreading towels and putting down a bucket. Obviously we could not stay there, and in short order we were installed in Vista Suite 67 on deck 10. Everyone was very apologetic, it was a like-for-like switch on the cabin, things happen when your dealing with something as complex as a cruise ship, so I didn't think any more about it. It certainly didn't bother me at all. First night in the new cabin was fine, we were invited to dine at Canaletto the next evening, and everything seemed to be settled...until the second night. We were just getting ready for bed when out of nowhere it started. Some piece of machinery located across the hall from our cabin was started and the incredible vibration it created rapidly made our cabin uninhabitable. So it was back to the front desk again, hotel staff inspects the cabin again, and everyone agrees we can't stay there again. Problem being that there are no other Vista Suites. No Neptune Suites. Nothing really available except for an interior cabin down the hall next to the Neptune lounge. We're offered that until our original cabin is fixed. So for two days we were able to use our cabin only for quick showers and changes of clothes. Each night we would take what we needed and go down to cabin 29 to sleep. It took that long for cabin 150 to be fixed and dried out. When it was we were moved back and were there for the rest of the trip. And let me be clear that the Hotel staff were very apologetic. They did their best to handle each situation, worked very hard to fix the problems, and at no time acted like it was no big deal or an inconvenience. I mentioned the complementary dinner at Canaletto. When we were moved back to 150 there was a bottle of wine waiting for us. And they gave us a very nice credit to our shipboard account on the last night, again with their apologies. I have no complaints about how they dealt with things. Shore excursions were the one sore point. We had EXC excursions in Quebec City, Sydney, Bar Harbor, New York and Charleston. We would have had another in Prince Edward Island but that port call was cancelled due to weather. The Quebec City tour was very good - walking tour of the old city - even if the weather was terrible. Tours in Sydney and Cape Breton were excellent and well worth the money. The New York City tour had a significant part of it - water taxi tour around the harbor - cancelled for unknown reasons and we were given a partial refund. And the tour of Fort Sumter and Charleston was also excellent. Boston was another matter. Right after we had docked we were informed that all tours had been cancelled because the tour operator was on strike. Even though it didn't impact me as I didn't have a tour planned, the information was a flat out lie. There was no strike. I don't know if someone lied to the cruise ship staff or they chose to lie to the passengers - I hope it was the former - but I don't like being lied to. To sum it all up, we went on the cruse for rest and relaxation and decompression. Even with the issues with the cabin the cruise provided all of that and a big reason is because of the crew and staff of the Veendam. In big ways and small, they made sure that things went as smoothly and as pleasantly as possible. This was our fourth Holland America cruise and I doubt it will be our last.

Veendam - the Good and the Bad

Veendam Cruise Review by Don from KC

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our fourth Holland America cruise and we chose this cruise for it's itinerary - Montreal to Ft. Lauderdale, thirteen days. We were looking for rest, relaxation, decompressing, and to visit some new ports and some ports we had visited in the past.

Flew into Montreal the day before and stayed at a very nice hotel in the Latin Quarter, Le Relais Lyonnais. If the Montreal authorities could possibly make the cab stand at Trudeau International more frustrating and confusing then I'm sure they would but it's bad enough as it is. However, clearing customs was a breeze and we spent a pleasant evening in the city before cabbing it to the terminal.

Embarkation went smoothly. We were onboard shortly after 11, in our cabin rather quickly, and had a nice lunch in the Lido.

Having read a lot of fairly negative reviews of the Veendam all I can say is that we found the ship to be in great shape. We didn't see any worn carpeting, scuffed walls, or any other signs of neglect. All the public rooms were impeccable. Our cabins, plural, were clean when we arrived and well maintained when we were there. The staff were all friendly and efficient. All in all I was very impressed with the ship.

Dining was for the most part better than expected. We had a table for two in first sitting and took most of our meals in the main dining room. Again, service was great. Food was very good. I liked the fact that we could order a bottle of wine, enjoy half of it with dinner, and the wine steward would re-cork the bottle and save it for us for dinner the following evening. We went to the Lido for lunch and most breakfasts. I liked the fact that it was not an open buffet but was served instead - controlling the portions helped a lot. We were comped in the Canaletto for one meal and enjoyed it. We made reservations at the Pinnacle for the last night at sea and we didn't. The Pinnacle was the sole exception to impeccable service. Instead it was slow, it seemed like no single server was responsible for us, nobody asked us how we were enjoying our meal, and nobody filled our water glasses until after the mean when we were waiting for coffee and desert - then we were asked several times withing two or three minutes. In fairness, when we made our dissatisfaction known to the manager he refunded our money. I was willing to chalk it up to an off night.

Entertainment was a mix. The few shows we saw in the theater were uninteresting at best and out-and-out bad at worst. Most evenings we went with movie or the music. Movie selection was good, though I wonder what they were thinking when they scheduled "Maudie", about Canadian folk artist Maude Lewis, the day after we left Halifax where there is a wonderful exhibition of her work. As for the music the jazz trio was pretty good, the piano guy left a bit to be desired, and the classical duet "Adagio" was fantastic. We listened to quite a few of their set and got to know them a bit. A truly lovely and very talented pair. Activities were there. My wife used the spa once. I went to the casino on a couple of occasions. What I noticed the most about that was how sparsely attended the casino was.

Service, as I said, was impeccable. Cabin stewards Agus and Arif were efficient, receptive, friendly. I liked that the main dining room manager stopped by our table every night to ask how things were. Staff in all the dining rooms were unobtrusive and very good. And we wound up getting to know the hotel and front desk staff better than we had expected to

Which brings me to cabin. Originally we had booked a window cabin but the week of departure I took advantage of an offered deal and upgraded to Vista Suite - Suite 150 on deck 9. We were happy with it and all was well until the third day of the cruise when we were in our cabin starting to get ready for dinner. All of a sudden a torrent of water comes pouring out of the ceiling right next to the bathroom door. We call housekeeping and someone was up in a shot and was soon spreading towels and putting down a bucket. Obviously we could not stay there, and in short order we were installed in Vista Suite 67 on deck 10. Everyone was very apologetic, it was a like-for-like switch on the cabin, things happen when your dealing with something as complex as a cruise ship, so I didn't think any more about it. It certainly didn't bother me at all.

First night in the new cabin was fine, we were invited to dine at Canaletto the next evening, and everything seemed to be settled...until the second night. We were just getting ready for bed when out of nowhere it started. Some piece of machinery located across the hall from our cabin was started and the incredible vibration it created rapidly made our cabin uninhabitable. So it was back to the front desk again, hotel staff inspects the cabin again, and everyone agrees we can't stay there again. Problem being that there are no other Vista Suites. No Neptune Suites. Nothing really available except for an interior cabin down the hall next to the Neptune lounge. We're offered that until our original cabin is fixed.

So for two days we were able to use our cabin only for quick showers and changes of clothes. Each night we would take what we needed and go down to cabin 29 to sleep. It took that long for cabin 150 to be fixed and dried out. When it was we were moved back and were there for the rest of the trip.

And let me be clear that the Hotel staff were very apologetic. They did their best to handle each situation, worked very hard to fix the problems, and at no time acted like it was no big deal or an inconvenience. I mentioned the complementary dinner at Canaletto. When we were moved back to 150 there was a bottle of wine waiting for us. And they gave us a very nice credit to our shipboard account on the last night, again with their apologies. I have no complaints about how they dealt with things.

Shore excursions were the one sore point. We had EXC excursions in Quebec City, Sydney, Bar Harbor, New York and Charleston. We would have had another in Prince Edward Island but that port call was cancelled due to weather. The Quebec City tour was very good - walking tour of the old city - even if the weather was terrible. Tours in Sydney and Cape Breton were excellent and well worth the money. The New York City tour had a significant part of it - water taxi tour around the harbor - cancelled for unknown reasons and we were given a partial refund. And the tour of Fort Sumter and Charleston was also excellent. Boston was another matter. Right after we had docked we were informed that all tours had been cancelled because the tour operator was on strike. Even though it didn't impact me as I didn't have a tour planned, the information was a flat out lie. There was no strike. I don't know if someone lied to the cruise ship staff or they chose to lie to the passengers - I hope it was the former - but I don't like being lied to.

To sum it all up, we went on the cruse for rest and relaxation and decompression. Even with the issues with the cabin the cruise provided all of that and a big reason is because of the crew and staff of the Veendam. In big ways and small, they made sure that things went as smoothly and as pleasantly as possible. This was our fourth Holland America cruise and I doubt it will be our last.
Don from KC’s Full Rating Summary
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