Veendam Sept. 8-15, 2018 Montreal to Boston
My experience is about a dozen+ cruises on HAL, Princess, RC, Carnival, Disney. I've done this route 4 times now, previous 3 on the Maasdam. I am 62 and was with my 27 year old ... Read More
Veendam Sept. 8-15, 2018 Montreal to Boston
My experience is about a dozen+ cruises on HAL, Princess, RC, Carnival, Disney. I've done this route 4 times now, previous 3 on the Maasdam. I am 62 and was with my 27 year old daughter.
Embarkation: quick and easy. Go visit the old Notre Dame church while you are in that part of Montreal.
Room: We had an inside room. It was very quiet, clean, plenty of storage for two people, my rather fat rolling suitcase is 11" thick, and when tucked under the bed probably had an inch to spare overhead. There are lots of drawers, and a 4 digit code safe. On the St. Lawrence the ship is so stable and quiet, the first two nights I couldn't tell I was on a moving ship. No vibration or noise, and our room was low in the bow. We did hear the anchor drop the one time they use it in Bar Harbor, but what do you expect?
Only one electrical outlet over the desk (and one for a shaver in the bathroom in the light fixture over the mirror). I use a cpap and of course have phone, camera chargers so I bring a multi-outlet adapter with usb outputs and a small extension cord for the cpap. So plan on the one outlet in the room. (There must be another behind the tv?).
Lots of lights, a digital thermostat that worked fine, although response is slow. Two wall hooks for hanging your bags, etc. and curtains to separate the room for dressing.
The shower was pretty good really, bathroom fixtures spotless. Our stewards were as always eager to please and helpful. I tip more than the standard, they work hard. Probably should do that the first day and not the last huh?
Food: Awesome. Might be the best part of the trip for me.
In Quebec City we went to Montmorency Waterfall, there is a direct bus that leaves from up across from the Frontenac nearly hourly. About 15" trip. Huge waterfall. We got wet.
Charlottetown: We did the HAL "Fun with Falcons" excursion. A unique experience, really interesting and I can now say I've held, fed, tossed a falcon. The proprietor is a great guy, loves his work.
Sydney: This town gets dissed, but while there is not a lot to visit by walking off the ship, there are several reasons I like this port too. The sail in and out is pretty neat, they have to back the ship in! Big harbor, large ferries that travel to Newfoundland are in view. In the past we did the excursion to the historic Fortress of Louisbourg, it is enormous and the history fascinating. That is a good day all by itself. Another visit we did the Coal Miner Museum, again real interesting. Once you go underground and see what it was like to be a turn of the century coal miner, you'll never complain about your job again. And your tour guide is a retired, colorful coal miner. This visit we did the HAL bus "Baddeck On Your Own", and spent our time at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Again, really surprising and interesting. You know him for inventing the telephone but he was really involved in early flight, hydrofoils (there are some immense hydrofoils on display, the size of airliners), other means of flight like tetrahedral wings and kites (wtf?), means of communication for the deaf, you need more than a day there. And the drive there is really high and scenic in spots.
Halifax: we went to the beautiful public gardens, about a mile walk from the pier. But past visits I'd recommend the Maritime Museum, you can walk that one too. There are quite a few choices in Halifax and area.
Bar Harbor: you can do a whale watch tour, or kayak tour, or a bus ride through Arcadia park and see the view from the top of the mountain. HAL handled this tender port well.
Boston: disembarkation was quick, easy. We used Uber to take us to the rental car place. Do what you want there, it's freakin Boston! I like the Science Museum, the MIT museum, Faneuil Hall, the Aquarium, the Constitution, whatever your interest is.
Entertainment: most evenings we went and listened to either the jazz trio, or the violin/piano duo. Both low key, pleasant. Then we'd run out to catch the sunset (it was a really good week for sunsets), then dinner, then most nights the main show. That was enough for me. My daughter would go to the dancing for a little while some nights.
Crew: no complaints, all good. In fact, very good.
Ship: I think it's in great shape. You'd never know it was old. I've got a car, bicycle and a lawn mower older than the Veendam for that matter. I did have one complaint, a lot of overhead lights were out, and I mentioned it a couple of times to crew, but only the last night did one explain to me about the power surge they had a week or two before, that blew out a lot of circuits and they were still fixing them. I probably would have put a little note in the daily flyer or something because I was thinking it a poor reflection that there were burned out lights all over the place. Made me wonder if other things were being neglected. But now I know it was a recent problem still being worked.
I didn't use their paid wifi or app, except to use the free wifi will let you read the NY Times, that was a nice freeby they didn't have before.
Best parts? The food. The singers were really good this cruise too. Our room was super quiet. I really like a ship this size. Oh, I like going on the bow. These HAL ships are the only ones I've been on where you can do that. It's usually not windy up there, try it!
I like the older crowd, most were from all over but especially Australia and NZ this cruise. The older folks are polite, interesting, good neighbors. I like the traffic and twists and turns of the St Lawrence, way more interesting than out in the ocean. Going under the bridges and power lines always gets your attention. I like being in port nearly every day. Or stay on board and treat it like a sea day.
Critique?: Last time there was a solo guitar player each evening too, not this cruise. Also, some past times there has been a pop tunes band in the Crow's Nest and poolside at times, they were also absent. Maybe September is a slower month and they cut back on entertainment or maybe just this cruise.
There was a problem on our HAL shore excursion to Baddeck. The driver kept hitting the rumble strips, finally even went into the oncoming lane, so a wise and decisive fellow passenger (not the tour guide) made him pull over and we all got off and requested another driver be sent. An ambulance did come and check him out and he left with them. He was not in any obvious distress, but he was not able to drive safely. Hopefully he's ok. It really is the wild west when you book excursions, even through the cruise line. They are all local operators and there is enough legal jargon in your cruise contract that don't think for a second your excursion is with HAL, it's between little 'ol you and someone with a bus.
They did send another driver after an hour and we were on our way and on time for the ship.
We live an hour drive from Montreal so this has become my default vacation. Read Less