We were initially booked on the Eurodam for our annual New Year's cruise but my husband was scheduled for a medical procedure at the same time. So, I searched for a cruise to replace the New Year's cruise. We have wanted to see Cuba and I noted that the Veendam had a February 7th sailing. HAL allowed me to transfer the cruise without penalty (we are 3 Star Mariners and we booked the New Year's cruise only days before). I initially booked a Lanai verandah guarantee but hoped that either a Verandah or Vista Suite would be offered at a discount. Sure enough, about 3-weeks prior to sailing, I received a great offer on a Vista Suite for only $300 per person and I snatched it up immediately. Embarkation was fairly easy. We arrived to the port around 12:15 p.m. and there were a lot of passengers in line. HAL collected the Cuba Visa applications from everyone prior to getting into line to check in. We then proceeded to check-in. All in all, we were through the check-in process in less than :30 minutes and our room was ready. We went to the MDR for lunch to avoid the crowds at the Lido buffet. Regarding meals, we pre-booked at the Pinnacle for every dinner. We love the Pinnacle and enjoy the fine dininig options and great service there. The Veendam did not disappoint. We had fabulous meals there with great service and the Cellar Master, Neil, and our wine steward, Jason were always accommodating. Regarding the ship itself, the Veendam is the smallest HAL ship that we sailed but we like it very much. The main decks with the things that we needed were all from the 7th - 11th floors and our cabin 156 was on Deck 9 so we simply used the stairs for everything with no need to wait for elevator service. I loved that convenience. The ship is in decent shape. I do like the larger HAL ships and the décor on the newer ships is more attractive, but this ship was very comfortable and clean. Also, our Vista Suite was very comfortable and quiet. Our room stewards did an amazing job and left us some of the best towel animals I've ever seen on a cruise. The ports were great ones. Havana was a "Must See". We took an 8-hour land tour throughout both Old and New Havana and it was fascinating. I must say that Cuba's infrastructure has not been touched since 1959 and it shows, but it was also evident that Havana it its heyday must have been fabulous. With that being said, the buildings looked like they were in complete disrepair and paint must not be available. Roads have potholes galore. It was easy and fast to get through the streets of Havana because there aren't many cars there so we were able to see almost all of it. The classic cars there are used as private taxis. Some of them are in incredible shape and it's a large part of the culture. The restaurants are actually in people's homes. We had a meal at one in Havana and the food was very good. Our guide also brought us to a good cigar store so that the guys were able to purchase their Cuban cigars. You are allowed 100 cigars per person per U.S. Customs laws now. You are able to change American money to Cuba "CUCs" right at the terminal when you get off of the ship. It was quick and easy. You also can change the money back in the terminal before you re-board if you wish. Cienguegos is located on the southern central part of the island and it has much natural beauty. It's truly a shame that the country is so poor because this part of Cuba could be a stunning resort area with proper development. The bay in Cienfuegos is beautiful as is the countryside. It was a lovely port to visit. We've been to Montego Bay and Grand Cayman many times in the past and love those two ports. We climbed Dunn River Falls in Ocho Rios and we went on a great private boat tour of Stingray City, snorkeling and a small beach with many starfish in Grand Cayman. All were fun and the weather was great throughout our cruise. I would recommend both the Veendam and the Cuban itinerary to travelers. This was truly a memorable vacation for us and we met a couple who became great friends of ours that we plan on traveling with again soon.

Great Introduction to Cuba on the Veendam

Veendam Cruise Review by cmaygar

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
We were initially booked on the Eurodam for our annual New Year's cruise but my husband was scheduled for a medical procedure at the same time. So, I searched for a cruise to replace the New Year's cruise. We have wanted to see Cuba and I noted that the Veendam had a February 7th sailing. HAL allowed me to transfer the cruise without penalty (we are 3 Star Mariners and we booked the New Year's cruise only days before). I initially booked a Lanai verandah guarantee but hoped that either a Verandah or Vista Suite would be offered at a discount. Sure enough, about 3-weeks prior to sailing, I received a great offer on a Vista Suite for only $300 per person and I snatched it up immediately.

Embarkation was fairly easy. We arrived to the port around 12:15 p.m. and there were a lot of passengers in line. HAL collected the Cuba Visa applications from everyone prior to getting into line to check in. We then proceeded to check-in. All in all, we were through the check-in process in less than :30 minutes and our room was ready.

We went to the MDR for lunch to avoid the crowds at the Lido buffet. Regarding meals, we pre-booked at the Pinnacle for every dinner. We love the Pinnacle and enjoy the fine dininig options and great service there. The Veendam did not disappoint. We had fabulous meals there with great service and the Cellar Master, Neil, and our wine steward, Jason were always accommodating.

Regarding the ship itself, the Veendam is the smallest HAL ship that we sailed but we like it very much. The main decks with the things that we needed were all from the 7th - 11th floors and our cabin 156 was on Deck 9 so we simply used the stairs for everything with no need to wait for elevator service. I loved that convenience. The ship is in decent shape. I do like the larger HAL ships and the décor on the newer ships is more attractive, but this ship was very comfortable and clean. Also, our Vista Suite was very comfortable and quiet. Our room stewards did an amazing job and left us some of the best towel animals I've ever seen on a cruise.

The ports were great ones. Havana was a "Must See". We took an 8-hour land tour throughout both Old and New Havana and it was fascinating. I must say that Cuba's infrastructure has not been touched since 1959 and it shows, but it was also evident that Havana it its heyday must have been fabulous. With that being said, the buildings looked like they were in complete disrepair and paint must not be available. Roads have potholes galore. It was easy and fast to get through the streets of Havana because there aren't many cars there so we were able to see almost all of it.

The classic cars there are used as private taxis. Some of them are in incredible shape and it's a large part of the culture. The restaurants are actually in people's homes. We had a meal at one in Havana and the food was very good. Our guide also brought us to a good cigar store so that the guys were able to purchase their Cuban cigars. You are allowed 100 cigars per person per U.S. Customs laws now.

You are able to change American money to Cuba "CUCs" right at the terminal when you get off of the ship. It was quick and easy. You also can change the money back in the terminal before you re-board if you wish.

Cienguegos is located on the southern central part of the island and it has much natural beauty. It's truly a shame that the country is so poor because this part of Cuba could be a stunning resort area with proper development. The bay in Cienfuegos is beautiful as is the countryside. It was a lovely port to visit.

We've been to Montego Bay and Grand Cayman many times in the past and love those two ports. We climbed Dunn River Falls in Ocho Rios and we went on a great private boat tour of Stingray City, snorkeling and a small beach with many starfish in Grand Cayman. All were fun and the weather was great throughout our cruise.

I would recommend both the Veendam and the Cuban itinerary to travelers. This was truly a memorable vacation for us and we met a couple who became great friends of ours that we plan on traveling with again soon.
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin A 156
Spacious cabin with private balcony. Excellent bedding materials, very comfortable mattress and abundant pillows. Full shower with jacuzzi tub. Excellent room, convenient to tairways, elevators and a quick walk to all main deck levels.Room was very quiet also.
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