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Veendam Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
815 Reviews

Cuba Cruise

Veendam Cruise Review by thereisonlyone

0 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Dec 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Verandah Suite

We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds.

We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on this ship has windows so you can have ocean-side dining.

The restaurant was also good. My only comment would be that we have gone from formal night to gala night to come as you are. Old t-shirts and flip flops should not be part of gala night.

Room service breakfast was excellent, always on time.

Holland offered water color classes but they cancelled them as the person was transferred to Rotterdam. My understanding is that she will offer them there and if they concept takes off, it will go to other ships.

I am told that the Ocean Trio is going away from this ship come mid-year.

Adagio was also quite good.

Stewards did a great keeping our cabin up, they are assigned around 30 to keep up with.

Gym opened at 6 AM every day and they kept the music down, much appreciated.

Captain was excellent and dealt with a couple of weather systems very professionally.

Cuba Form - If you say you are going ashore Holland gives you a Cuban visa (tourist card) when you get on to fill out. It costs $75. Don't lose it or you will be charged $75 to replace it.

Cienfuegos - I found the information provided in the Cuba orientations and lectures on board to be very biased. The usual phrases such as "100% literacy" without telling you that Cubans do not have free access to information or "free health care" without telling you that they don't even have Advil. Very disappointing.

Sailing In - The approach is interesting, try to be out on deck to catch it. This is a tender port for Holland. It is a 15 minute ride in, two Holland tenders and one Cuban boat.

Brochure time for the visit is 8 AM to 5 PM. We got there at 8 AM. People were able to go ashore without a tour. Holland typically was giving tender tickets when we cleared. For this port they did not give out tickets until 9 AM (this did not apply to the 4 and 5 star mariners.) The last tender for independent travelers was at 3:30 PM.

I thought I could take a shorter tour and then have time to wander around. The ship's shorter tours left later in the morning (around 10 AM.) Irrespective of the ship tour, most did not have time to wander around outside of the tour. They might have some time to shop in Jose Marti Square in Cienfuegos at the end of the tour, but that was it. Our tour (Santa Clara) returned straight to the dock at which point where we were strongly urged to return to the ship.

In my view there are a number of constraints that limit one's time here. The Cuban government says the ship can only clear the narrow part of the channel in day light. In mid-December that about 5:30 PM. The ship can't afford to be running late.

The dock is a choke point as everyone has to go through Cuban immigration and customs coming and going. The officials were friendly and efficient, money-changing was quick, too, but they can only handle so many people at a time. They did not take our picture.

Money - Change some and get some change. This is one of those places in which some of the rest rooms have an attendant you need to tip. Also some small bills for tipping guide and driver.

Shopping - I am not much of one, but some folks were quite pleased with some of the hand crafted items they bought. Leather purses, wood domino sets, etc. But I also saw a lot of folks changing money back at the end of the day.

Tours - The Cubans had new buses. Good ride, a/c, had bathroom inside. The guide spoke good English. The driver was good and careful. Roads are ok, not much traffic.

Santa Clara Tour - The order may be reversed and if time is limited one won't do everything on the tour. Between the ride in and out of Cienfuegos, we saw the main square and the Passo del Prado. We did not drive through Punta Gorda.

We stopped in the main square of Santa Clara and walked about a block to a new restroom facility they have built. They on about another block to "Grandparents Party."

A senior center with folks who danced and shared their stories. They also had crafts for sale. I chose to go out on the street and look around.

Next to the Armored Train, an event from the Cuban Revolution. More time to take in the street scene.

Then a buffet-lunch at a hotel outside town. Not bad, like the Lido honestly. The last stop was Che Guevara's mausoleum. It wasn't listed, but it was worth seeing. The tour listed seeing a monument to John Paul II, but we didn't see that. Then back to the ship. Santa Clara is about an hour a way.

thereisonlyone's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Verandah Suite
Cabin A 180

Nice, good location, far enough from the elevator to not hear it, but steps away. Two floors up or down for food, one for entertainment.

Nice sized cabin.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Went with Arturo of Duerte Tours. He is not a professional birder, but he knows where the birds are and is an excellent spotter. Good driver as well and very friendly.

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Winds were too high, ship could not dock, sea day.

Grand Cayman (Georgetown)

Took the public bus to the Botanical Garden. From the terminal it cost $5.50 US. When you are ready to return, the Garden will call the bus and they will come for you. It can be about an hour's ride one-way, but you get a great island tour.

Botanical Garden is great to see and a good birding spot, too.

Half Moon Cay

Nice place but they have let stray cats and chickens come on this island in the ten years I have been coming here. That will have a negative impact on the wild birds.

Did a birding tour with Bahamas Outdoors. Great tour, Carolyn really knows her birds and knew where some real gems were located.

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Belize City

Took a cab to the zoo. $80 US got a round-trip ride for two. Driver waited three hours while we toured the zoo and birded.

Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Embarkation was fine with the exception of the baggage handlers on the dock who demanded a tip to roll my bag 20 feet. No way! I give my tip to the Holland guys who actually manhandled my bags through the ship and down the hall.

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