If you are looking for a glitzy Las Vegas hotel on water, with countless shipboard activities, a booming disco, and an overactive cruise director shouting at you every 5 minutes - then this is NOT the cruise for you. We chose it because it was a well priced cruise on a smaller ship and we enjoyed the more mellow atmosphere and the feeling of actually being on a ship. The ship is older but the public areas are classy and the staterooms are spacious with comfortable beds, and bathtubs, but could use some styling. There was also a problem in our stateroom with a faint, stale smoke smell. They brought in a small machine 3 different times (while we were out) to freshen the air, and it helped a lot. We also appreciated the unexpected credit on our bill for the inconvenience of having to freshen up our room. The food on the ship varied from good to very good, the entertainment was surprisingly good considering the size of the ship (the dancers were better than many I have seen on larger ships) and there was a quartet performing live music in the Ocean Bar who were extraordinary. They were a jazz quartet with a talented, passionate singer and phenomenal pianist who were a joy to listen to and romantic to dance to. Unfortunately one of the passengers on the cruise complained because she wanted dance tunes that she and her girl friends could all get out and boogie to. So unfortunately, whoever was in charge asked the quartet to start doing pop tunes which was really a waste of their talent. Such a shame that the person in charge wanted to appease the complaining cruiser rather than allow the rest of us to enjoy the classy ambiance that this quartet was creating. And there was plenty of music to dance to after the quartet played - the entertainment staff would play whatever anyone requested over their sound system and you could dance as long as you wanted. Hope they figure out what a class act they have in Lila and her jazz quartet. The service on the ship was very good - personable, efficient, but not in your face. Holland America seems to attract an older crowd and I think there were only about 5 kids on this ship. Probably a little tame for the cruiser who wants to party, but lovely for those of us who don't really want to be at adult summer camp. The ports were typical Caribbean ports - gorgeous blue water, some lovely beaches, pretty good snorkeling. We felt a bit rushed with the time frame on some of them, but the itinerary was nice with all the active days at the beginning, so our 2 sea days at the end were a welcome relaxation time.

Classic small ship experience

Veendam Cruise Review by jannycam2

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
If you are looking for a glitzy Las Vegas hotel on water, with countless shipboard activities, a booming disco, and an overactive cruise director shouting at you every 5 minutes - then this is NOT the cruise for you. We chose it because it was a well priced cruise on a smaller ship and we enjoyed the more mellow atmosphere and the feeling of actually being on a ship. The ship is older but the public areas are classy and the staterooms are spacious with comfortable beds, and bathtubs, but could use some styling. There was also a problem in our stateroom with a faint, stale smoke smell. They brought in a small machine 3 different times (while we were out) to freshen the air, and it helped a lot. We also appreciated the unexpected credit on our bill for the inconvenience of having to freshen up our room.

The food on the ship varied from good to very good, the entertainment was surprisingly good considering the size of the ship (the dancers were better than many I have seen on larger ships) and there was a quartet performing live music in the Ocean Bar who were extraordinary. They were a jazz quartet with a talented, passionate singer and phenomenal pianist who were a joy to listen to and romantic to dance to. Unfortunately one of the passengers on the cruise complained because she wanted dance tunes that she and her girl friends could all get out and boogie to. So unfortunately, whoever was in charge asked the quartet to start doing pop tunes which was really a waste of their talent. Such a shame that the person in charge wanted to appease the complaining cruiser rather than allow the rest of us to enjoy the classy ambiance that this quartet was creating. And there was plenty of music to dance to after the quartet played - the entertainment staff would play whatever anyone requested over their sound system and you could dance as long as you wanted. Hope they figure out what a class act they have in Lila and her jazz quartet.

The service on the ship was very good - personable, efficient, but not in your face. Holland America seems to attract an older crowd and I think there were only about 5 kids on this ship. Probably a little tame for the cruiser who wants to party, but lovely for those of us who don't really want to be at adult summer camp.

The ports were typical Caribbean ports - gorgeous blue water, some lovely beaches, pretty good snorkeling. We felt a bit rushed with the time frame on some of them, but the itinerary was nice with all the active days at the beginning, so our 2 sea days at the end were a welcome relaxation time.
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin D
The cabin was spacious with excellent storage and even had a bathtub in the bathroom. However, it was not particularly attractive - the color scheme was dull - beige and brown, and nothing particularly stylish about it.
Lower Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    We booked a private snorkeling tour for the 6 of us in our group, and it was the same price as a tour with a crowd from the ship. The boat met us on the beach (1/2 hour late) then we were off to 2 snorkeling stops and a small island. The tour company provided snorkeling gear, wetsuits (for those who ordered ahead) and drinks. Our captain was mellow, but he knew the area well and got us to the island before other boats arrived so we had it all to ourselves for awhile. Unfortunately the reef is in rough shape due to warming waters and hurricanes. There were some pretty fish and the drop off at the edge of the reef was pretty spectacular to see. We also saw stingrays in the shallows off the little island and collected conch shells. It was a chilly ride over to the island so you should bring jackets if you're going in winter.
    Best to book an excursion at this stop because the beach is rather uninviting. There are a lot of beach chairs lined up on a narrow beach staring at the cruise ship, and lots of guys are hustling the tourists to pay for a chair for the day. Nicer to spend the afternoon out on the water.
    View All 197 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Snorkel
    This was an hour and a half snorkel at one stop with 3 different reefs. The reefs looked pretty healthy but were not spectacular; there were quite a few fish; the water was very clear.
    We only traveled a few minutes to get to the reef. There were a lot of people on the tour and the staff required us to wear swim vests so they could see us out in the water, but the swim vest was choking me.
    It was worth doing the snorkel because there is not much to do on the private island. But it is a lovely beach for relaxing, especially if you go toward the far end, away from the masses of people. There are still some beach chairs and there are hammocks at the far side.
    View All 28 Snorkel Reviews
  • San Juan
    There was a huge festival taking place in San Juan and people were everywhere. There seemed to be a band playing on every corner. It was festive and lively but if you aren't fond of crowds (as I am not) it was a bit much. San Juan has cobblestoned streets lined with colorful buildings so it is quite picturesque. There are forts at both ends that you can tour if you're into forts. We didn't see any shops that I found outstanding, but some fun places to wander through. If you have more time than jut an afternoon, I would take and excursion to the rain forest which we did on a previous trip.
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  • St. Thomas
    Whenever we go to St. Thomas we take a taxi across the island to Red Hook where we board the ferry for St John. 20 minutes and $10 for the taxi; 15 minutes and $8 to cross on the ferry. On the other side we get a taxi (plenty available) to Trunk Bay which is one of the prettiest beaches we have ever been on. Unfortunately on this trip the weather was windy and the sea was rough so they weren't allowing swimming at Trunk Bay. The taxi driver talked us into going to a more protected bay (Maho, I believe) but it wasn't nearly as pretty as Trunk Bay and it was very crowded. We have been to a lot of beaches in our travels and Trunk Bay is one of our favorites - so if the weather is nice, head over to St John and Trunk Bay - you'll enjoy a spectacular setting with lovely snorkeling right off the beach. Enjoy!
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