7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
The selection of the cruise ship is critical because there are many different kinds. If you prefer old school elegance with a minimum of screaming rug rats, Holland America is the absolute best. If you cruise to Bermuda and if you really ... Read More
The selection of the cruise ship is critical because there are many different kinds. If you prefer old school elegance with a minimum of screaming rug rats, Holland America is the absolute best. If you cruise to Bermuda and if you really love Bermuda, the Veendam is the best for two important reasons. Number 1 is that Holland America offers the maximum amount of Bermuda time. The other cruise lines like to keep you and your money on their ship and stretch out the "to" and "from" time. Holland America is the only line that gets you there and back with a total of only 2 full days at sea. Number 2, they have the only major cruise ships small enough to tie up on Front street in Hamilton. This is the best location for those of us who know Bermuda well. The Dockyards are a great place for the average visitor but some of us prefer to step off the ship and immerse ourselves in the heart of Bermuda. The Veendam also offers a unique variety of cabins. I've been in 2 and loved both of them. One important factor is which side of the ship your cabin is on. For both of my cruises, starboard put you on Front street and port had you looking out into the bay. Both have their own specific appeal but personally I prefer the Front Street side. The relatively new Lanai cabins are reasonably priced and give you the rare front door and back door to your cabin. Your back door is a sliding glass door to a very nice open deck where you can visit with your neighbors while lounging on your deck furniture or take a nice walk around the ship. On this particular cruise I'm reviewing I sailed in a Neptune Suite. Not cheap but so worth it. This is not a ship for children, the Holland America Veendam is for folks who appreciate teak decks, sophistication and charm. This cruise is for people who want to step off their ship into the heart of Bermuda. As for the tours the line advertises to include in your package price. I advise you deal directly with the locals. My personal choice will always be Arthur Wade. He has a Facebook page Arhur's Bermuda. He can show you a Bermuda you never imagined. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Family included wife and 3 daughters. We chose this cruise because it left from NYC and stayed 3 days in Bermuda instead of hopping from place to place like the first cruise we took on Carnival. Highlights of the week include: - ... Read More
Family included wife and 3 daughters. We chose this cruise because it left from NYC and stayed 3 days in Bermuda instead of hopping from place to place like the first cruise we took on Carnival. Highlights of the week include: - Staff, especially room stewards were extremely helpful and always pleasant. - Rooms were kept immaculate. - Food was phenomenal. Especially the Pinnacle. - Wait staff was attentive and polished. - Activities were enjoyable. Good for all ages. - We did not do any cruise excursions. We ventured out on our own and in Bermuda this is very easy to do. - Went to Horseshoe Bay, Snorkel Park and John Smith beach. John Smith beach had less than a dozen people there and the grill truck was superb. It rained for 30 mins but there were caves that kept us dry. - My wife and kids loved the cappuccino bar on deck 8. The girl who worked this bar made great drinks. - My kids loved the shows. Especially the Bob Macke musical. - My wife and I had an interior room on deck 4 which was well appointed. My daughters had a verandah room on deck 9 with a private balcony which was real nice. - They do push the photos but we opted to for a photo session in the Black Label studio. They were some of the best photos we've ever had done. - My daughter loved the chocolate chip cookies,soft serve ice cream and fresh squeezed orange juice. Cons include: - Not enough deck chairs. You have to hang around until one frees up and they go fast. - The pool was tiny. - The first 48 hours you can not serve yourself. Even for ice water. This was done for health reasons which we understood but seemed overzealous. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
My family of four (kids aged 9 and 7) splurged on a deluxe verandah suite on the final Veendam voyage to Bermuda. The suite is fantastic, with plenty of room and a huge balcony. The perks are great as well - having a concierge handle ... Read More
My family of four (kids aged 9 and 7) splurged on a deluxe verandah suite on the final Veendam voyage to Bermuda. The suite is fantastic, with plenty of room and a huge balcony. The perks are great as well - having a concierge handle your reservations and answer your questions was great, we ordered hor dourves three days for the four of us which we enjoyed before dinner and enjoyed breakfast in the Pinnacle each morning. The room steward and concierge were all fantastic. No one made a stink when my daughter accidentally yanked a cabinet door out of its particleboard wall. The pessimist in me anticipated a hefty charge for the damage - instead they called in maintenance and fixed it! We ate in Rotterdam every night except for the "Bermuda" night in the Rotterdam when the selections did not excite us. Our early seating dinners lasted around 90 minutes each night, which worked fine for us. Overall the Rotterdam food was good, chicken, veal and steak dishes stood out above all fish dishes, which were sometimes dry. Service could be spotty - our waiter and his assistant seemed to have a lot to do, but they were very pleasant. The wine steward was also very helpful. Canelleto was fine - my daughter loved the meatballs. Our nine year old did not like the "tween" program - the counselors seemed worn out and often disinterested. Further they did not keep to their schedule, causing some problem when we tried to come and go for select activities. In contrast, the program for 3-7 year olds was run by a wonderful young lady. Our 7 year old is severely developmentally disabled and therefore could not participate in the 3-7 program, but we meet her when we signed our son up for the tweens the first day and she treated our daughter exceptionally well. For the rest of the cruise that counselor made it a point to interact with our daughter whenever she saw us and made our daughter feel special. Bermuda is a wonderful destination for a cruise. The people are great and we used taxis to the beaches (highly recommended even though you will spend $40 round trip from Hamilton to the South Shore beaches) and the zoo. We were disappointed that there was no carriage rides at night, which had been one of the highlights of our pre-kids cruise 10 years ago. Its too bad that HAL is leaving Hamilton. As the Veendam pulled out of the pier, a local man yelled a long and involved thank you and good bye which was really awesome, even the line to "bring money" when we return.The entertainment needed more variety. We knew that HAL caters to retirees, but all but one night was a show with singers. Most of the singers were good, though. The comedian was decent, but his show lasted just 45 minutes. The piano player in MIX was fantastic. Bingo was fun, especially when the DJ who runs it opened up the floor to questions in the final Bingo and had to field questions like "do I have to pay taxes if I win (the unwinnable) 100k bonus bingo?" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
This is my 3rd cruise trip and the experience with Hollad America is the least satisfactory among all. We went with my parents and they are both over seventy years old. Given their very pleasant experiences with Noreigean cruise they had ... Read More
This is my 3rd cruise trip and the experience with Hollad America is the least satisfactory among all. We went with my parents and they are both over seventy years old. Given their very pleasant experiences with Noreigean cruise they had high hopes coming in. But as soon as I entered the cruise terminal I sensed the differences. Cruise staff are not as enthusiastic and slow in responses. The whole check-in process took over an hour and a half. As soon as we arrived at the ship we checked out the Lido deck. It was crowded and unorganized. The ship has a 48-hr no self-serve policy so we had to wait in line for everything including drinks. Apparently they were short-staffed because you often found empty plates sitting on the table and no one would clean it. We later found out that we had to make dinner reservations for all our dinner meals, which is inconvenient. You are not allowed to make reservations all at once so you have to remember to call every few days. The only other free dinning option besides the main dinning room and Lido deck is the Italian restaurant, which was always completely booked. We expected late-night snacks at all times but they were available only for an hour usually between 11pm and 12, not flexible at all. Everything else you need you sill have to call room service and the line was so busy during the first day or two. Even for simple requests such as hot water you will have to call then every single time because they don't even have coffee machine in the stateroom. The entertainment at night was ok, but they only have a small group of entertainers so expect to see them every night. Compared to Noreigean, this boat is simply boring. I am glad we only got to spend two days at sea or otherwise it would be even worse. Overall I would not recommend Holland America to anyone who is looking for superior cruise experiences. If you are used to large cruise lines such as the Celebrity or Noreigean, well, stay away from HAL!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We chose this cruise for two main reasons: good friends had already booked and the cruise was leaving from our home city of NYC. So no airplanes and extra hotel nights. While we had been to Bermuda several times, we had not gone their via ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two main reasons: good friends had already booked and the cruise was leaving from our home city of NYC. So no airplanes and extra hotel nights. While we had been to Bermuda several times, we had not gone their via ship. Things began well. Check in was smooth and our verandah stateroom (with a sitting area) was ready early. The first negative thing we notices was the odors. First, there was an overwhelming smell of diesel fuel. Second, we notices a musty or mildewy odor in the hallways. Lastly, the smell of stale cigarette smell was evident. Even though smoking is restricted to certain areas, it was impossible to escape. The weather in NYC and Bermuda was hot and humid. It was frustrating that the air conditioning system was spotty. Our room was quite comfortable, but areas in the Lido and Pinnacle restaurants were seemingly without air conditioning. Some vents weren't working. I had complained that water was dripping on tables in one part of the Lido. The response was that it is hot out and that causes condensation. the food and service were really poor. We showed up at the main restaurant for inner one night and the line was about 50 people long. The maitre'd was giving out buzzers like the ones they have a the Cheesecake Factory! Once finally seated, we struggled to get a server's attention. Dinner took forever! When my wife complained about the bread being stale, the waiter said "all the bread is the same", and made no effort to help. Even the the cabin was stayed in is in a newly built area (apparently only 4 years old), there were signs of wear and tear. Paint needed retouching, the carpet was dirty and the bathroom a little smelly (not us!). There was a whirlpool tub, but entry into the tub was so difficult I don't know how anyone could use the service. We felt the spa services were okay, but there was always a good deal of pressure to buy additional services and products. the acupuncturist on board made a pitch indicating his service was a cure all. Not only untrue and misleading, but dangerous for some people. We ate in the Canaletto section two nights. while the food was good, the service was fair. And it was another example of the air conditioning not working. One part of the section was cool and another was quite uncomfortable. Overall, we felt the staff was not trained or supervised well and perhaps this cruise was under-staffed. Things can go awry on any cruise, but our experiences on other ships have been much better and when things did go wrong, there were immediate attempts to rectify the problem. Not so here. But there were some good things. Our cabin steward, Feri, was very good. the embarkation and disembarkation went well. Dan, the cruise director was always upbeat and pleasant. Sadly these high points were few and far between and I doubt we'll be taking another HAL cruise anytime soon Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Just returned from a seven day Bermuda cruise. It was wonderful. The ship, while not new was in good shape and the staff was top notch. Many passengers were disappointed that HAL is not returning to Hamilton Bermuda Again. They said that ... Read More
Just returned from a seven day Bermuda cruise. It was wonderful. The ship, while not new was in good shape and the staff was top notch. Many passengers were disappointed that HAL is not returning to Hamilton Bermuda Again. They said that they took this cruise annually. No doubt docking in Hamilton is much preferable to Dockyard. The whole experience was one of enjoyment, relaxation and pampering. Were there any problems- YES- THE BAD -While our late dining experience was perfect, anytime dining is not appropriate for this ship as it has a dining room designed for fixed seating. Actually, many people had dinner at 8PM as they waited an hour for seating in anytime dining. They would have been better off at fixed time. The advantage of getting to know your wait staff and they you is always rewarding.The Lido was not a great experience for us. Plates were in short supply and located behind the counter so you had to beg for them.We couldn't understand why. THE GOOD- Entertainment was top notch! The best talent we have seen in years. The dining room food was good to excellent and the choices were extensive. THE INDONESIAN AND FILIPINO STAFF_ absolutely the BEST in the Industry! All of the other nations represented did as well. All in all HAL delivers a fine , refined, low key product designed for most people (even the young people were having a great time). Do consider them for other cruises. Farewell from NY to HAL. We'll miss you. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Just returned from another Bermuda cruise on HAL, Aug 5-12. The last time we went to Bermuda was in 2010 on the Veendam, in a lanai stateroom, and spent the extra dollars this year to again reserve a lanai stateroom. LOVED it again. ... Read More
Just returned from another Bermuda cruise on HAL, Aug 5-12. The last time we went to Bermuda was in 2010 on the Veendam, in a lanai stateroom, and spent the extra dollars this year to again reserve a lanai stateroom. LOVED it again. We traveled from Boston to NYC on the Fung Wah bus lines ($30 pp for round trip!!) and then a $20 taxi ride to the port at Manhattan. Got rid of our baggage at the sidewalk and proceeded to check in. Mentioned to the HAL employee doing our check in procedure that although we'd been married 8 yrs, this was really our long-overdue honeymoon as it is the first vacation, let along cruise, that my parents haven't accompanied us. We then were surprised to find ourselves ushered into the VIP waiting lounge and we boarded the ship within minutes. Thanks HAL for that unexpected little bonus at the start!! As soon as we were on board, we went upstairs to the Lido and made reservations for 6 nights at the Canaletto. We'd heard that while the food was good in the main dining room, that service was slow and we didn't want to take 3 hours a night for dinner. This turned out to be a great decision. We ate the first night at Pinnacle Grill and thereafter at Canaletto. The food and the service were great at both locations. One night, we asked to bring another couple with us to dinner at the Canaletto and this request was honored without problem. Another night (last dinner, boohoo!) I felt a little seasick and my husband cancelled our reservation and ate alone at the Lido (lamb chops, he said, which were delicious). The manager very graciously offered to have my dinner sent to my stateroom. Now that's service. I believe that early reservations for dining in the Canaletto (which immediately booked solid) should be something reserved for cruisers who reserve their fares early. A nice little bonus for those of us who make early reservations and perhaps pay more for our fares. Why shouldn't we get first crack at the Canaletto reservations? Having written a review of this exact same cruise in 2010, I feel I can compare the HAL experience with some credibility. Let me start with the perhaps off-putting belief: If you are TRULY a "foodie," you don't go on cruises. Cruise dining halls simply can never really compete with a three star Michelin restaurant. The produce and veggies on a ship can at times be a week old by necessity, and of course, all the meats are frozen. So, my belief? People that claim to be foodies and then complain about the quality of the meals on board cruise ships are PSEUDOSNOBS. Again, if you really want high-quality meals, why go on a ship which you know is going to have to produce 4200 meals a day (1400 passengers, three meals a day equals 4200 meals) in a VERY limited time and with limited personnel??? So my review of the meals begins with this premise: I like eating on cruise ships because I get to eat a lot of meals that I would never prepare at home, I don't have to do the cooking, and I don't have to do any of the clean-up. I am aware that the meals will tend to appeal to the average, and within that range, I find HAL to be consistently good. Point in case, their guacamole. Coming from Maine, avocados are expensive and rarely ripe. For lunch, whenever I was on board, I ate ONLY the guacamole and chips. The guacamole was FABULOUS! Rich, creamy and spicy enough to leave a zing that required liquid refreshment(the MOJITOS were PERFECT for this!!) Another case in point, the balsamic vinaigrette in the Canaletto was a meal unto itself with the bread and olive oil served before the meal. Again, absolutely DELICIOUS!! On the other hand, the minestrone soup was a little bland. Would my homemade minestrone have had more spice? Sure, but then, I didn't have to simmer stock for three hours in the kitchen. Instead, I snorkeled all day! We ate the first night at the Pinnacle Grill. Had my regular order, steak Diane, which was delicious. Also, the lemongrass chicken soup is NOT to be missed!! My only regret about food on the Veendam? They don't have a Tamarind Restaurant. We cruised in April on the Eurodam, and would have loved to have eaten at the Tamarind if there was one on the Veendam. Would have happily paid extra for this. However, the Pinnacle Grill remains an excellent restaurant with great service for people who like a delicious, tender steak. STATEROOMS: Our stateroom and our cabin stewards were great. I love the lanai-class of stateroom, each of which comes with reserved teak loungers. Only had one group of persons who groused about being asked to relocated out of our loungers when we came out of our stateroom to eat lunch watching the Atlantic roll past. The lanai staterooms are shaded by the lifeboats, and as it was hot, the shade and ocean breeze were perfect. Our stewards kept our room clean, stocked with ice and wineglasses and champagne glasses and were completely unobtrusive. The only problem was the air conditioning struggled at times to keep up with the hot Bermuda nights. ENTERTAINMENT: I return to my point about PSEUDOSNOBS here. Entertainers on board cruise ships sleep in bunk beds two to a cabin. So, ask yourselves, honestly, if the best entertainers in the business are beating a path to the cruise lines to perform on rolling stages for cruisers. I think not. Again, once you accept that you will get good, but not necessarily the top quality, performers, you come to appreciate the job they do for us on these ships. Having said that, we went to only one show as the Bermuda heat, and our swimming and snorkeling really tired us out. It was a group of four men singing a bunch of golden oldies. They were very good and I enjoyed the show. Our other entertainment was David Anthony in the MIX bar. He had quite the engaging patter and ended up with a bar full of regulars (including us) for the entire cruise. He was excellent. I recommend you take in his show if you see him on a cruise. We will look for him again. By the way, the MIX was a great bar, we got to know all the people there and the waiters, especially Edward, were fabulous. Bermuda itself remains timeless. The buses run on time as do the ferries. Everything is clean and pretty. Nobody hassles you to buy cheap trinkets. The beaches are breathtakingly beautiful and the water is perfectly blue and ALWAYS the perfect temperature. On the last morning in Bermuda we took the 7:20 bus to Horseshoe Bay and were two of only five people on the entire beach. We body surfed for two hours without stopping and finally grabbed a bus back at 10 am to be back on board the ship for 12 pm departure. We watched from the top deck in disbelief as people leisurely made their way back to the boat as late as 12:40 pm. I understand 10 people were stranded on Bermuda the previous week. There were at least that many who should have been stranded this time, but a nice Captain apparently held the boat for them. KIDS on the boat: I read on Facebook that an experienced HAL cruiser complained about the 300 kids on this same cruise that we were on. I must say I saw the kids around and they were never a problem. There ARE cruise lines that don't permit children. Of course, you have to pay for that privilege. DISEMBARKMENT: We independently disembarked with our luggage to catch the bus back to Boston. Effortlessly. FINAL THOUGHTS: My only regret about this trip was that it was over too soon and that word has it that HAL will not be returning to Bermuda next summer. Alas. Not sure if we will go back to Bermuda on NCL or not. Did that twice, and while each cruise is what you make of it, we definitely feel HAL was a better experience than NCL. Overall, I did not see or experience any of the cutbacks in services or qualities on HAL that other cruisers have mentioned. I suggest that discontented cruisers go to page 82 of Helene Hanff's "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" (Moyer Bell edition, published 1995) as you might find her observations of the dissatisfied diners at the elite Hilton dining room quite apropos. I continue as always to come back from my cruise saying "this was the BEST time ever!" Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
The embarkation was efficient and speedy and we were in our cabin within 30 minutes. However the lunch on the Lido deck was truly sub-par. Roast Beef that so tough that it could not be cut and dinner that evening was not much better. ... Read More
The embarkation was efficient and speedy and we were in our cabin within 30 minutes. However the lunch on the Lido deck was truly sub-par. Roast Beef that so tough that it could not be cut and dinner that evening was not much better. Overall the food was way bellow the standards that we have come to expect from Holland America The ship was over crowded and from what I was told had at 100 more passengers than is listed as its capacity. Often the Lido dining room was so crowded that there were no napkins of silverware available. Some of the dinners were excellent but several lacked any real creativity and the deserts were just plain boring This is amazing since one evening the was an incredible desert buffet set up at about 10:30 long after everyone had eaten. It would have made a lot more sense to put the effort into every dinner instead. The staff did as best as they could under the circumstances but they are not the ones who plan the menus or supervise the cooking. Even with this we decided to book a future cruise believing that a longer cruise would be similar to what had experienced in the past on Holland America but when we received the paper work at 11:00 PM the night of departure we found that some the information we were given was incorrect. We have tried to get this corrected but HAL seems not to care amazing when you think that it is over $80.00 on a cruise that costs about $5000.00 Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was a really nice cruise. Embarkation was the fastest I've ever experienced. We got dropped off at the NYC Cruise Terminal at 11:30 am and we were on the ship by Noon, and our cabin was ready when we got on! That was ... Read More
This was a really nice cruise. Embarkation was the fastest I've ever experienced. We got dropped off at the NYC Cruise Terminal at 11:30 am and we were on the ship by Noon, and our cabin was ready when we got on! That was amazing! The ship is a little older and smaller than other ships we've gone on, but it is beautiful, well maintained, easy to navigate, and wonderfully appointed. We loved it. The food was the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. Every night in the main dining room there are specials designed by celebrity chefs, and we made it a point to order this each night. We were not disappointed. Most notable was Chef Burke's selection on Monday night. Don't miss it!! The wait staff was pleasant and efficient, but not as personable and friendly as on other cruises we've been on such as RCI and NCL. The entertainment was great. They had some incredibly talented singers and dancers who did a few different style shows. No Cirque de Soleil like Celebrity, but very nice and appropriate for the space. We went to the specialty restaurant one night (Pinnacle) for something they called "An Evening at LeCirque" which was featured a menu designed by the chef at LeCirque in NYC. It was pricey ($39) but worth it. The rack of lamb was just spectacular, and the lobster salad was just incredible. The room stewards were exceptionally friendly and accommodating. Those guys do incredible work under difficult circumstances, and are always welcoming, warm and friendly any time they see you in the halls. I can't say enough about them.....every time we saw them they brightened our day, and they took such great care of our room....they really added to our vacation. It's great docking in Hamilton. It's closer to Horseshoe Bay, and it's kind of like being in a 5 star hotel downtown. The only problem is that most of the shops close at 500 pm when we're getting back from the beach. Also, I never felt overwhelmed by announcements, bingo, or constant promotions by the cruise line to squeeze revenue out of me. There were things to buy to be sure, but I never felt put upon or pressured, which I really appreciated. Finally, we had a really cool thing happen while on board. At the end of the show on Friday night, all of a sudden all of the officers and entertainers on the ship took over the show and started leaving roses on the table of this woman who had just been picked as a volunteer in the juggler's act.Then all the ship's entertainers marched in, and we all knew that something big was up. Then the captain took the woman by the arm and led her up to the stage where the cruise director proposed to her. It was a very touching thing to witness and be a part of....really special. This cruise was really, really nice in all respects. I have been on a lot of cruises and this one ranks up there with the best of them. Too bad they're not going to Bermuda anymore and too bad Holland America has given up on New York as a home port. I hope they change their mind on both fronts, I'd go back in an instant. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This was our 10th cruise and we usually choose our ship for the itinerary. The last cruise was on Celebrity, 6 years ago. We chose HAL this time because we were traveling with friends who had never been to Bermuda and we liked the fact ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and we usually choose our ship for the itinerary. The last cruise was on Celebrity, 6 years ago. We chose HAL this time because we were traveling with friends who had never been to Bermuda and we liked the fact that we had an extra day there, although in the end, all aboard was for 12 noon on the last day so unless you are going on a ship excursion, there was not much time for more than walking around Hamilton. Had celebrity been there the same amount of time, it would have been our first choice. Docking in Hamilton, we felt, was another plus. Our friends had traveled strictly on HAL cruises for their first 4 with another group who were firm HAL believers. The 4 of us together have been on 2 RCI cruises more recently. Our only other experience with Holland America was the Eurodam last summer in the Baltic and all around the ship and itinerary were wonderful, probably our most favorite cruise overall, so we felt the Veendam was a good choice. We had a wonderful time, despite the "bumps in the road". Embarkation was a breeze, along with disembarkation. Being our first time out of a NY port, we did not know what to expect. We arrived to the terminal and we had group #32 and were on board by 12:15 and our cabins were ready. Luggage arrived very quickly. The usual Muster Drill was held at 4:15 and it seemed more disorganized than most. There must be a better way than calling out cabin numbers...checking cruise cards?? Our cabin was an obstructed view on Deck 6, but for the same price as an inside, so it was nice to have the window for daylight. Cabin was very clean, roomy and our cabin steward did a great job all week. We like to walk so it made it nice that 6 is the deck for walking (4 laps around is one mile). Being an older ship, it was beautiful yet the A/C in our cabin was inconsistent. At night, it felt much too warm, however, for some of the public rooms, I carried a sweater because it was so cool. The entertainment was diverse and there truly was something for everyone. The Piano Man was terrific and the lounge where he played was a huge draw at night. The showroom entertainers were very talented, but for us, 3 nights of revue type shows were a little too much. The comedian was very funny and we missed the magician due to our dinner in the Pinnacle Grill being the longest time spent at a meal...not complaining, it was worth every minute of it. There was a bit of confusion with our Pinnacle reservation, having booked it prior to departure. When we got to our cabin, we had a different day noted for our dinner, and our friends who we were dining with had totally different day, but after speaking to Sal? , the manager, it was all cleared up to our liking. The Lido Buffet was adequate but we were there early on most days for breakfast so we did not have too much problem getting what we wanted. There was plenty of variety, although it seemed as though it was short-staffed at times, to handle the larger crowds. We have been choosing My Time Dining for the past few cruises as it is better if you need the flexibility, especially when you are in ports where you don't know what you might be doing ashore each day. We have to wonder, though, if you miss out on the more personal service having the same waiter each night. The food in the Rotterdam was very good, although the menu was very different.Our one friend ordered the steak, "always available", 2 nights because he did not like the other choices. Of course, we always managed to find something to our liking and never went hungry! Apparently, as well, smart casual means jeans and a T-shirt. My husband had a nice, dressy pair of shorts on with a golf shirt one night and he was reminded of the "dress code"...only long pants in the DR. The two most disappointing things were as follows: Service in the Rotterdam was inconsistent. One evening, we went there early so we could go off the ship to Harbor Nights (Wed). We did not see the wine steward, who had a bottle we wanted from another evening...and after the waiter took our order, it seemed although he forgot about us. Very, very slow! So on the next evening, we spoke up to let the waiter know we had an excursion and that we needed to be in the terminal and gave him the time. Again, we felt we were in the dining room in plenty of time...but his response was..." I have 7 other tables". He was very efficient and we were finished in plenty of time. The other negative was the evening of the Dessert Extravaganza. It was held in the Atrium and to quote someone who I was following..."it's like salmon trying to swim upstream". No real organization as to how cruisers should go around the areas and they were serving themselves which made it even more difficult. On the Eurodam last summer, it was done poolside, with 2 lines on either side and it flowed much better. Be prepared if you go to see/ partake of this. We love Bermuda (4th time there). We kayaked, and rode a Segway; two things we had never done there, as well as enjoyed the beautiful beaches and ocean. A cruise is truly a great way to go.Your ship is your hotel, you have the benefit of your meals and entertainment. (Lunch in the Dockyard area for 2 with no alcohol, just one soda and two lunch entrees was $50.) For the previous 2 cruises, we took our children when they were 10 & 11; then, again, with our children and their spouses in 2006. One day, we hope to go, once again, with our grandchildren added in to the mix. Sorry to say that we would be reluctant to travel on Holland America the next time, be it Bermuda or elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
I know that Holland America will no longer sail to Bermuda, but if I'd had a more positive experience on this. one of its last cruises, I would consider a cruise to another destination. Here's what was good: 1. ... Read More
I know that Holland America will no longer sail to Bermuda, but if I'd had a more positive experience on this. one of its last cruises, I would consider a cruise to another destination. Here's what was good: 1. Entertainment - professional performers, not too loud, lots of classical music, etc. 2. Staff members who went out of their way to please guests. 3. Eight level upgrade at no additional cost. Here's what was not good: 1.One small pool and six hot tubs - weather was hot; pool was closed for two days because a diaper was found floating in it and the pool could not be emptied while in port. It was much too hot for six hot tubs. Every ship should have a small kiddie pool. Every ship should have an "adults only" deck and pool area. Even when the pool was open, there was no way older adults could use it safely. Princess offers this, and I will sail with them in the future. 2. The food was good, but not great. The dining room was not open for lunch for the four days that the ship was in port. Buffet selections were "Mall Food Court" quality. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Just returned from a lovely vacation on the Veendam. Much of what we experienced has been written about before by others, so I'll summarize the highlights. Holland America -- I know that everyone who has found this board already ... Read More
Just returned from a lovely vacation on the Veendam. Much of what we experienced has been written about before by others, so I'll summarize the highlights. Holland America -- I know that everyone who has found this board already knows this, but I'll say it anyway .... Holland America caters to an 'older crowd'. Say 50's and up. They have a kids club, so parents with younger children should be fine. However, this is NOT a party ship. I mention this because I did run into several younger first-time cruisers who were disappointed with the demographic. Apparently, their travel agent did not see fit to mention this to them. Holland America is what it is but it's important to be forewarned. (We're in our early 50's so the demographic was fine!!!) Veendam -- This is a smaller ship. There are advantages and disadvantages. We found it to be intimate and liked it a lot. Also, for going to Bermuda, you get to dock directly in Hamilton, a major plus. However, there is less going on than on some of the mega ships, and the shows were scaled down. (In fact, I liked it a lot that the shows were smaller and played to the strengths of the performers. But no major Vegas-y type show.) We did find that the events we did attend were not super crowded. Bottom line, we liked it, but the experience is what it is. Some may prefer mega-ships. Lanai Cabins -- We opted for one of the Lanai Cabins. I have seen several threads saying these are not worth it. I disagree. Strongly. First, there's the question of how much you pay. Admittedly, we didn't pay that much extra ($79 pp upsale from a HH obstructed view, friends upgraded for $150 pp from the lowest category inside cabin). The Lanai Cabins are on the Promenade Deck, and have sliding glass doors that open up directly onto the deck (and provide you with floor to ceiling ocean views). Each cabin has two lounge chairs that are 'reserved' for that cabin. There is a sign on wall that says so as well as plaques on many of the chairs saying they are reserved. We never had anyone sit in our chairs, and didn't hear of any problems with people taking the chairs. Because you're on the Promenade Deck, you see people walking by. Someone may decide to look at the ocean in front of your cabin. Well, it's not a balcony. It's not billed as a balcony. You don't have the privacy you would on a Balcony. If this is a problem for you, don't book it. We found the Lanai Cabins great for socializing. We got to know the people next to us, and when we wanted pre-dinner drinks with frends on the cruise, we had plenty of deck space. The sliding doors are 'one way mirrors' meaning that people can't look into your room -- however, I hear that at night if it's dark and you have your lights on the people can see in, so ... draw the drapes if you don't want to put on a show. I would definately book a Lanai again if it could be had for a reasonable price. Bermuda -- we loved the island. We were docked for three + days, so could explore at our leisure without worrying about what time we got back to she ship. Many public beaches, some practically empty. Very easy to get to by public bus. We bought a bus pass -- two days for $20 and it got us everywhere. Pretty much any excursion can be found on shore for less money. Our activities -- Beach (Stone Hole and Jobson's Cove); Snorkelling, Crystal Caves, Island Tour (public bus to the "Dockyards) to see the sights), Wednesday Street Fair in Hamilton and a horse and buggy ride. Unfortunately, this is the last season for the Veendam in Bermuda. All other ships dock in the dock-yard (the Hamilton Harbor is not deep enough for the mega-ships) which is ok, and has all the tourist shops. But not as nice as Hamilton. The Dock yard is at the far western edge of the island and is a 20 minute boat ride (or about an hour by bus) to Hamilton. Longer to St. George. Biggest complaint -- Dining room service is VERY SLOW, we had an 8:00 set seating and could not count on getting out for the 10:00 show (unlesswe told the waiter we were trying to do so). People who went to the non-reserved dining said that they had a long wait to be seated. The cruise director admitted to us that the dining room could only accomodate 90% of the passengersand this was a problem. However -- if we told our waiter we were trying to make the show, he got us out on time. Another alternative was dining on the lido deck (where we had most lunches and a couple of dinners). The food is fine, but more limited that the main dining. Biggest Pleasant Surprise -- Cabin Stewards were the best we've had. Although I think they have 30 cabins for two, they did their job flawlessly and were never underfoot. The main steward always greeted us by name (tough to do when there's a complete turnover every week. Other things -- (1) On this cruise there was evening entertainment in three lounges. One had a small band playing 'standards'. A second had a guitar player. The third had a string quartet. All were very nice for hanging and relaxing for half an hour. (2) We did try Pinnacle and were mildly disappointed. It was ok, but the steaks were not as good as at a top Steak House. Good for a romantic dinner, and it is what it is. Overall -- a very nice, relaxing trip. We loved it. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
The previous reviews pretty much described the over-all conditions of the ship. Yes, it is 16 years old but fairly well maintained. After a nervous experience leaving Ft. Laud. on the morning of the cruise-the original plane returned to ... Read More
The previous reviews pretty much described the over-all conditions of the ship. Yes, it is 16 years old but fairly well maintained. After a nervous experience leaving Ft. Laud. on the morning of the cruise-the original plane returned to the gate with a serious mechanical problem-we were able to board another and arrive at Laguardia about 2 hours later than scheduled. Taxi to the pier was efficient-30 minute ride- and we were on-board by 1:30. Cabin was quite adequate and the steward was accommodating. The location at Front St. is excellent, very convenient. Harbour Night on Wednesday is a big nothing but good for people-watching. Did open seating, normally arriving around 8pm and never had more than a 20 minute wait. Found the service overall quite good and the food also, more "gourmet" type dishes than on previous trips. The only touring we did was taking the ferry to the Dockyard and back which was fun. Since we live in Florida the beaches don't excite us too much. Took the HAL transfer bus back to LGA. The ride through NYC was interesting-a busy place, even on Sunday morning. Upon approaching the Main Terminal our driver told us that the bus was too high to fit under the terminal overhang. We were dropped off approx. 75 yds from the terminal and on our own to get up the hill to checkin with our respective airlines, carrying our own luggage. Not good HAL service!! Overall, good memories and we will sail on another DAM ship in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
My wife found that HAL was discontinuing this itinerary and thought it would be a great 25th anniversary trip for us. The embarkation was fast and easy. We arrived at 11:30am, parked (at the terminal)and we were on the ship in less than 40 ... Read More
My wife found that HAL was discontinuing this itinerary and thought it would be a great 25th anniversary trip for us. The embarkation was fast and easy. We arrived at 11:30am, parked (at the terminal)and we were on the ship in less than 40 minutes Our cabin was ready before we arrived. The flowers and vodka I had ordered were waiting in our room. We dropped off our carry on luggage (had a drink) and headed right out to explore the ship. The day was overcast and as the drill started, the rain started too. As soon as the drill ended, we headed right up to the crows nest lounge for drinks and watched as NYC and the Statue of Liberty faded behind us. By the time we returned to our cabin, our bags had arrived and we unpacked. There was more than enough space for everything. Since we didn't fly, we over packed quite a bit. There was drawer and hanger space left over. We left the lights and TV off when we left the cabin. The room is small and even a light bulb will warm the room up. There is no fan in the bathroom, so it stays hot all the time. The ice bucket is real small and the ice itself wasn't cold enough to stay frozen very long. Dinner in the main dining room was fine. The food was interesting and tasty. Nothing was over salted to cover the taste. The coffee/espresso/cappuccino was terrible. We arrived at 8pm and were usually the last table to leave. This was more because the other 3 couple we had dinner with were just as relaxed as we were. No rushing, no speed eating and no running to see the show. The waiters saw this and paced us accordingly. Breakfast in the main dining room was slow. After the first day, we opted to have breakfast in the lido dining room. The staff was very friendly and soon learned what you liked and how you wanted it prepared. Since this is the end of the Veendam to Bermuda itinerary, I'll keep it to being about the ship. But Bermuda is great. I need a vacation, now to relax after my vacation. The last 2 days, my wife and I went for breakfast then stayed by the pool till 4pm. Not a lot of kids running around and no real disturbances from the lido band. The aft pool area is unusual. There are 2 hot tubs and 2 small pools. The small pools fit 5-6 and feel as if they were designed by someone that has never been in a pool. There's a lot of wasted space and one large pool would have been a better use of it. The lido pool had two, person shaped lounges that were also a space waster and there is a sculpture in the pool that takes up and area that looks like it may have been a hot tub at one time. I had a burger from the burger stand that was passable. We didn't try the pizza. The coffee at the coffee bar was good (the coffee everywhere else was awful). The only 2 shows we saw were the comics. It can't be easy to do your set with children in the audience. The other shows held no interest for us. Also the entertainment in the various bars was a bit to cheesy, so our time in those was short. We found the library to be a great room. Huge, filled with books, games, puzzles and anything else you could want. It's definitely worth checking out for a few minutes early on. Disembarkation was OK. Having to queue up through the elevator bank is a bit troublesome. It can be congested and people getting off the elevator tend to just stand there. In closing, the ship is nice (but showing wear and poor design). The netting over the dining room is only noticeable if you look for it, there are sconces missing in the lido area and a few other minor issues. Nothing that will detract from a nice time. They are very careful about hand sanitizing and at the Mariners brunch (and boarding in Bermuda) there was an attendant with sanitizer standing by. We had a great time and are happy we got to take this cruise before HAL discontinued it. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
6 family members were traveling to celebrate my parents 62 anniversary. We were very excited and expected a very pleasurable experience. Naturally, a lot of planning went into coordinating the trip since we all live in different parts of ... Read More
6 family members were traveling to celebrate my parents 62 anniversary. We were very excited and expected a very pleasurable experience. Naturally, a lot of planning went into coordinating the trip since we all live in different parts of the USA. The Veendam was chosen for its size and the destination of Bermuda seemed perfect. Embarkation was easy, however once we arrived on the Lido for lunch thing broke down. Yes, we got lunch but the lines were long and there was little organization to things. Tables were left with dirty dishes and everyone was scrambling for something to eat. Our bags arrived in our room shortly and we unpacked. We had plenty of room for our clothes. We enjoyed touring the ship and the scenery as we left NY. Dinner was disappointing. When we arrived at the dining room for the early seating we chatted with other guests who were as surprised as we were that the time has been moved to earlier than we had been told. All of sudden the doors opened and one of the staff yelled "Odds over on this side and evens over here." Everyone was left to find their own table that had been indicated on their ship card. No one showed you to your table. On the rest of the evenings we were to find our own way as well unless you failed to check in with the guy at the podium with your room number. In that case he yelled after you or chased you down. In general the food was OK, not great. The service was OK but few of the waitstaff spoke English very well and they had 6-8 tables to wait on. Rarely was the food delivered to the table at once. There was usually a 1/2 hour between some of us getting our meal and others getting it. When we ordered champagne one evening the cold bottle was placed on the table and it was at least 20 minutes before it was put on ice by our waiter who repeatedly told us it was not his job (It wasn't!). When we asked for more cream for the coffee we were told that some still remained in the pitcher. We commented that we felt we always had to fight to get what we needed. One night we ate at the Pinnacle Grill for the upcharge and it was nice but not great either because the waitstaff were again spread way too thin. There were limited activities on the ship and you had to pay for them all so be sure to budget for this. There is very little to do that doesn't cost extra. We enjoyed the entertainment in the lounges and the waitstaff in the Ocean Grille were excellent. The one pool was crowded and they were often trying to sell you upgraded drinks, bottles of wine, or take your picture. The shows were enjoyable but we often had to rush to get to them because dinner took so long. Our rooms were what you would expect and our room steward was quite helpful. He too seemed overworked an often our room would not be made up until 2-3 in the afternoon. He had something like 36 rooms to handle. We found several bottles of water under our bed and there was a used container of milk on our table when we first entered the room-YUK! We had planned 3 shore excursions. The Island tour was great. We were informed that our glass bottom boat ride was canceled because they did not have 20 people so they rebooked us at the same time we were scheduled for another activity. I canceled that and tried to find a private tour when we got off the ship. At the pier I was told at the Visitor's Desk that I had to go through our ship's tour people. After a bit of conversation I was directed down the street to another Visitor's Information Desk at the ferry. The woman was great and for $20 less a person we showed up the next day and took the same boat ride we would have had through the ship. There were 9 of us and we enjoyed it a lot. My Dad (who paid for this trip) had to cancel and stay on the boat because he was having trouble walking up and down the steep ramps set up to get on and off the boat. We asked if we could borrow the wheelchair that was sitting there and return it once he was delivered to flat ground. We were told we could not. The only thing we could do was rent a wheelchair for $140. Since it was our last day in port this seemed excessive. Bermuda was lovely but unfortunately Front St.is not as I remembered it from a previous trip. Many of the lovely shops have closed but you can get all the tee shirts you want. My parents, who have taken somewhere around 50 cruises, were very disappointed with the whole experience and won't book on Holland again. They had hoped for all of us to be inspired to enjoy cruising as much as they have. They wanted us to be excited about future cruises. This certainly did not happen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
-Embarkation was a breeze. You fill out health questionnaires, and begin the cattle-herding process. Suites had no wait. We were number 25 and we were on board by I think 11:30. -When you walk on to the Veendam in NYC you are on the 5th ... Read More
-Embarkation was a breeze. You fill out health questionnaires, and begin the cattle-herding process. Suites had no wait. We were number 25 and we were on board by I think 11:30. -When you walk on to the Veendam in NYC you are on the 5th deck. There is no fancy atrium or lobby so there is no "wow factor". - We were on deck 5 and our room was ready. - Aft location was convenient to back deck, nice aft view and very private. Also convenient to stairs to deck 6, for outdoor experiences. - The room was clean enough. Nothing stood out as dirty or unacceptable. - We ordered the HAL teddy bear for our daughter and the Veendam model for our son. Both items were in the room waiting, gift-wrapped with gift cards, which was a nice touch. - The beds were great. No backaches, and soft sheets with lots of pillows. - Plenty of closet space for 4, the closets can be configured in many different ways thanks to moveable shelves and bars. Don't miss the drawers under the beds! - The bunk hung over one side of the queen but it wasn't a big a deal since the room was a decent size. The sofabed was kept as a bed all week, so no sofa for us. - They delivered children's life jackets to us before we left port. - There were 2 robes which were very soft, as were the towels. - Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and soap provided. The shower gel had a minty feel and scent which we all liked and thought felt good on a tired body at the end of the day. - Room stewards were very nice and provided excellent service with a smile. They used our names and made sure we had everything we needed. Ice bucket always had ice, turn-down service always done. Towel animals and chocolates nightly. - We had no real plumbing or A/C issues, but some did on the 5th and 6th deck as we heard them talking and saw the tell-tale drying fans out. Our toilet did not flush only once, the button did nothing. We called maintenance but it flushed on it's own before they arrived so we cancelled. - A bathroom in the Lido Buffet was closed around the 3rd day, and had a fan for drying it out, which seemed gross so close to the food area. - We noticed a sewage-like smell here and there in the halls, and in our bathroom as well. Turns out if they cleaned under the rim of the toilet, I think that smell, at least in our cabin, would be gone. I'll spare you the details. - Lido embarkation lunch buffet was very good. Something for everyone, with nice views of NYC. - Lido lines can be confusing. No obvious beginning of line or direction. Never had trouble finding a seat. - Hand gel dispensers everywhere, hand washing machines fun and convenient. No pressure from staff to use either, but we did. We even saw the captain using the hand washing machine one day. - Formal night in the Lido was non-existent. I felt overdressed in a simple maxi dress and my husband in a collared shirt. People were there in tank tops and flip flops and we actually saw that some kids were barefoot, so don't get too worried if formal night isn't your thing. - The pool is freshwater, which was nice on the eyes instead of saltwater. - The kids programs were only ok. We were told there were 300 kids on board for our cruise. My son is 13 so he could come and go without much structure. My daughter is almost 11 and had more fun in Club Hal, but the photo on line is deceiving; it's very small. The Oasis is for teens only but was always empty. The design was more for 'tweens, and they all wanted to go there which would have been great for them. -The casino is small but fun. I played $20 in poker machines and slots, and won enough to give me hours of playing time. There were poker tournaments here and there and blackjack specials. - The shopping on board is limited but it serves it's purpose if that is what you like. The usual perfumes, jewelry, alcohol, and limited other wares. -Movie was fun in the theater. Free popcorn! -Entertainment was average. That said, we are the NYC theater crowd so our standards are probably higher than most, so please take my opinions here with a grain of salt. -The Bob Mackie show was too cheesy for me and I left. Sorry! -We thought the comedian was average-funny. He made a joke about the Costa Concordia which we felt in poor taste. -The magician was cute for the whole family. Adult jokes went over the kids heads. -The piano bar singer was amazing. Worth checking him out one night. -The string quartet was beautiful if you enjoy classical music (we do). -The digital workshops are for novices, so we did not go but they had a lot to offer, especially if you want to learn about manipulating photos. -The ship is small enough that you can find your way around, and it never felt crowded. Lines were small, hot tubs and chairs usually available. -Food was very good to excellent all over the ship. Pizza was edible but not fabulous. Deck BBQ was great. Dessert Extravaganza fun but crowded. -The elevators were fast and furious! There was not a lot of waiting around for them which was a pleasant surprise. -The bow! You could go on the bow of the ship during sail-away. Go to deck 6 forward and there is an enclosed stairway to deck 7 that puts you in the area of the bow. If the doors are open, you are welcome on the bow. -There was a narration upon leaving NYC and entering Bermuda. Both were enjoyable and different. -Disembarkation was also a breeze -We chose the later checkout 9:00-9:30, so had some Lido breakfast and made our way to our room for our last minute gathering of items. - Room stewards, not ours, wanted to get in the room to strip the beds before our color/number was called, which was a bit inconvenient for us, as they left the bunk mattress on the queen bed, and the sofabed was taken apart so there was no place to sit. - Our color/number was called. We were able to promptly leave, found our luggage and got through customs. Here are the few things we did NOT like, most really are minor. -Lido lines were confusing. Sometimes only one side was open, sometimes both sides. -The aft deck big screen TV did not work, which was a big disappointment. -The Lido had no bar, so you had to find a server for a bar drink. -The aft pool deck bar had a problem with their cash register, so the drink cards would not work there. -We had to see the nurse for a large band-aid for my son, and she wasn't very friendly, nor did she care why. I was not impressed. -The Lido closed down by 8 pm, and no food really available other than room service from 8-11 pm, which seemed to be the time when my kids wanted to snack before bed. -Room service was prompt (except during 8-11 pm, it took an hour for a plate of cookies and milk one night) with food good, but every time there was something wrong or missing from the order, not a big deal so we did not address it. -2 of the 5 Microsoft Surface games in Mix were not working. -The ship did rock and roll quite a bit more than the larger ships. It was only a problem for me though, since I am the only one who gets seasick. Medication was necessary for me on sea days. I found the mid-ship embarkation spot on 5 had couches and the atrium on 6 was a good spot too. -The Oasis waterfall pool did not work. -The HAL cats, the main band on the ship, sounded like a cheesy wedding band to us, and the music they played was for a much older crowd (we are 45 BTW). -The basketball hoops/nets need replacing. -The basketball and tennis courts were over the Lido Buffet and LOUD banging was constantly heard during meals, which we found especially annoying at dinner. -There was a smell of varnish constantly during our stay, in different areas of the ship. Not sure what that was about. -WiFi did not work in our room, or many other spots throughout the ship. -The temperature was very inconsistent throughout the ship. As you walked through, one space freezing cold the next space very warm. -Everything on the ship shuts down about 5-10 minutes prior to when they say it will. If the BBQ was from 5-7, expect it to be taken down by 6:55. If the pools close at 9:30, expect the nets out at 9:20. The dessert extravaganza was being put away at 9:55 as people were still trying to get a piece of whatever cakes they had, etc. -The elevators do not make it clear what floor you are on. They are called names, but also have numbers, but the cabin numbers do not correspond. We kept having to look at the floor, then the map on the elevator wall. -There is only one small pool so if you cruise in the summer months expect it to be filled with kids (300 kids on our cruise). Most kids, including mine, barely left it. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We are a small family of two adults and one teen and we find cruising a wonderful way to spend a vacation that allows our son freedom (whilst on the ship thanks to the teen center) but also provides for shared experiences on land. This is ... Read More
We are a small family of two adults and one teen and we find cruising a wonderful way to spend a vacation that allows our son freedom (whilst on the ship thanks to the teen center) but also provides for shared experiences on land. This is our third cruise in the last three years and we had a great time. Sadly, the Veendam is not returning to Bermuda next summer. First, New York (Manhattan) Cruise Terminal is adequate once one is inside but access by automobile/taxi is difficult especially when three ships are at dock and one of those ships is rather large. Check in went quickly and painlessly and after a relatively short wait we were on Veendam. The Veendam is an older and smaller ship that is perfectly nice but is showing its age and size. Compared to the Celebrity Solstice and the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, public space on the ship was tight and dining options were more sparse. The air conditioning seemed to struggle on sunny, hot days. Whilst our stateroom was never overly hot, despite setting the thermostat to its coldest setting and closing the drapes, our room would warm to about 72 Fahrenheit when it was in the afternoon sun. As it is an older ship, the grind of maintenance seems almost continuous on the Veendam. The day before we boarded they had varnished the wooden handrail on our verandah, which meant it still smelled of the varnish for the first day. The seating area by the pool bar was unavailable for two days as its wooden handrails was stripped and varnished. But despite these minor inconveniences, the ship overall was very nice. The cruise to Bermuda (and back) was painless despite some stormy seas (mostly in the distance). The biggest issue, as usual on an American cruise, was deck chairs. Because HAL had created "Lanai" cabins on the Verandah Deck (each with two "reserved" deck chairs on that deck), there were fewer chairs than normal. Unfortunately, each morning I would watch as people came by and left a towel and a book on multiple (in one instance ten) chairs and then went off to breakfast. I never saw any member of crew enforce HAL's policy on deck chairs, so whilst virtually every available chair was claimed by 9 am, most spent the majority of the day unoccupied. The cruise had two formal nights and most people were reasonably well dressed for the first night (a handful of dinner jackets and formal dresses, most males in jackets and women in dresses) but standards fell somewhat on the second night. I realize this is a touchy subject but why do Americans refuse to maintain even the most basic dress standards? That said, overall the people on this cruise were far better dressed than those on our Celebrity Caribbean cruise. We ate in the main ding room, the Lido deck, Slice and the Pinnacle Grill on Le Cirque night. Most of the meals in the main dining room were perfectly acceptable, the equivalent of the dining room of an upper mid-market hotel, and occasionally the meals were really quite good (some of the the featured chefs' creations were fantastic). The Lido was something of a disappointment, the food was for the most part adequate but selections were thin and often only one side was open so waits could be long. Overall, I found the dishes a little less imaginative that those on the Nieuw Amsterdam's Lido deck. The meal at the Pinnacle Grill was quite nice (and the plates were fun) but we would likely return on a regular (non Le Cirque) night in the future. There are two caveats to our main dining room experience. The first seems, sadly, increasingly common, ordering anything other than a bottle of wine at dinner can be difficult once the meal has begun. As the regular waiter takes non-wine steward drink orders, it can be difficult to add another glass of wine or another drink. The other is that the Veendam is clearly struggling with open dining at dinner. Although we had booked the second dinner, we did notice that those who did not often had a long wait. I had not noticed this on our previous ships (both of which were launched after the more flexible dining arrangements came into being). The biggest advantage that Veendam has over most of its competitors is that it docks in central Hamilton and not out at the Royal Dockyards. Quite literally. one can be strolling Front Street ten minutes after finishing dinner. We took buses to two beaches and took the ferry to the Royal Dockyards complex during our stay and shopped everyday. Back on the ship, the Veendam had an adequate supply of bars but lively entertainment was in somewhat short supply. Everyone from the piano player to the Halcats were quite skilled but the choice of music was a bit on the mellow side. In fact, despite enjoyable moments at each venue the cruise would have been something of a snooze without Harvey of the Neptunes. He was quite the entertainer and realized putting on a show involves more than just playing music at a highly skilled level. Overall, a great destination, very good food, acceptable entertainment on a nice but older ship. If the Veendam cruises again to Bermuda, I would take it. All three of us had a perfectly good time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
Background Information: We booked this cruise only 3 weeks before departure, when other vacation plans fell through. We had a group of six, which included four adult nieces and nephew, and two friends. We booked it because we could ... Read More
Background Information: We booked this cruise only 3 weeks before departure, when other vacation plans fell through. We had a group of six, which included four adult nieces and nephew, and two friends. We booked it because we could drive from Ontario, Canada to NYC in less than 9 hours, and therefore didn't need to book a last minute flight. Hotel Info (if any): We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Parsippany, New Jersey. We love Hampton Inn, and it was only 40 minutes from the cruise ship terminal. Ship Info: I loved that the ship was small, and easy to get around. It seemed to have everything that the larger HAL ships have, but just on a smaller scale. The decor in the stateroom hallways really could use some updating. The pictures on the wall and the decor are cheap looking. I wish they hadn't taken out the second pool at the back of the ship. The hot tubs are OK, but they take up a lot of space, and it would have been much nicer to be able to enjoy a pool in the warm weather. Activities: - We really enjoyed the nightly Name That Tune competition in the Crow's Nest. Lots of good competitors and it was nice to win free drinks. - Tried Bingo in the showroom one day, and left with nothing. - Enjoyed the kitchen tour on the first day at sea. - Casino was small, but big enough. Won some money, but of course I lost it again. - Loved the massage and pedicure pool side. The prices were amazingly low. - Enjoyed the towel folding show. - Didn't have time to watch a movie at the theater, but did enjoy the popcorn. - Cupcake tea in the Main Dining Room was fun. Service: Room stewards were amazing, as usual. I can't say enough great things about them. They magically appear and look after all your needs. Service in the Main Dining Room was very slow. It took about two hours for dinner. We're used to eating in about one hour on other HAL ships. There didn't seem to be as many people working in the Lido dining area either. Port & Shore Excursions: We didn't book any excursions through HAL. We booked a five hour tour with David Fox (who was great), and took us all over the island and gave us a great overview. Travel To Port of Embarkation: It was a very easy drive from the hotel in New Jersey, especially on a Sunday. We parked right at the cruise ship terminal ($245 for the week). Stateroom: We paid about $1,300 for a veranda, which seemed high to me. We only paid slightly more in June 2012 for a veranda on the Zuiderdam to Alaska. But the room was very nice. It seemed larger than other verandas that we've had. The couch was a full size couch, and not just a love seat. The balcony was quite deep, but had metal instead of glass facing the ocean. Which meant the view while sitting/lying down wasn't as good. But the balcony did have a lounger plus chair. Hard to control the temperature in the stateroom. The thermostat seemed to have no control over the temperature. Dining: a) Main Dining Room: Delicious, as usual. Lots of good options. But slow service, which made me visit the Lido more often. One of our group arrived late one night, but they wouldn't let her in, and move us to a larger table, which was not a good overall experience. b) Canaletto: A nice change from the Lido. But I missed the cotton candy that we had on other ships. It was good, but just not as good as other ships. c) Pinnacle Grill: Absolutely fabulous food. Not as fancy decor as on other ships. And the service was pretty slow. We waited 45 minutes for a dessert that was supposed to take 15 minutes. Still, I would HIGHLY recommend it. d) Room Service: We had breakfast once, and dinner once (surf and turf on formal night). It was delivered promptly, and still hot. e) Lido Buffet: Smaller than other ships, which is to be expected since the entire ship is smaller. Confusing because it looks like one long line, but is actually many shorter lines, since there is a rope separating the stations. Food was always good, and enough variety. f) Dessert Extravaganza: Yummy! Confusing though, since there were no signs on any of the desserts to indicate what they were, and the servers didn't know. Children's Clubs: N/A Entertainment: We went to one of the shows in the Showroom, but left 1/2 way through, since we didn't know most of the songs. Really enjoyed the Indonesian show that was put on by the crew - it was very entertaining. Disembarkation: Very smooth. Just wait in your room until your ticket number and colour are called. We had to wait in a line to get through Customs, since we aren't Americans. They really could use more people in the Customs area. There were only two people, to look after a long line of cruisers. Summary: It's too bad that this ship won't be sailing to Bermuda after this year. I would definitely had done this cruise again. It was GREAT to be docked in Hamilton ... much better than out at the Dockyard with the huge ships, where everything is a taxi or bus ride away. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Having just returned from a seven-night cruise to Bermuda on the Holland America Veendam from Manhattan, I can summarize the experience in one word -- unique. The ship provided several positive unique offerings: - The Ocean view ... Read More
Having just returned from a seven-night cruise to Bermuda on the Holland America Veendam from Manhattan, I can summarize the experience in one word -- unique. The ship provided several positive unique offerings: - The Ocean view stateroom was one of the largest I have had on any cruise ship. It even included a full-sized bath tub. - The nightly entertainment in the Showroom had an air of elegance and sophistication with truly exceptional talent. - The culinary arts center, in which cooking demonstrations are offered daily, was something that should not be missed. - While I feel that I am very tech savvy I am grateful that I chose to partake in the Digital Learning Lab where I spent an hour learning to enhance all of my vacation pictures. Thus leaving with a useful skill that I did not have upon arrival. - Live entertainment in nearly every bar area, including a solo pianist, guitar player, a live band and even a string quartet. - A retractable roof over the pool area so that it could be used in the case of bad weather. - While the dining experience was a disaster (see below), the offerings of steak, lobster, lamb shank, etc. in the general buffet were unique and classy offerings I've not seen on other cruise lines. - A 5K walk around the ship for the Susan G. Komen foundation is a worthwhile offering. On the other hand the negatives far outweighed the positives and would keep me from ever cruising with Holland America again: - The muster drill really does set the tone for the vacation, and this one was truly unique and should have indicated what the rest of my Holland America experience would be like. On this ship, roll is called on a barely audible bullhorn and your name is checked off (as if you are back in your elementary school classroom). It was long and laborious. I wondered why they didn't check your room card as you arrived to your muster station as every other cruise line has done. - Unique and curious maintenance schedule -- Sea Days, in which every person was on the ship, were used to paint and varnish passenger areas; overwhelming staterooms and dining rooms with toxic fumes, closing seating areas which were needed by guests, and required you to avoid ladders and maintenance men that were out in passenger areas. I wonder why they did not do this while at port for three days when most of the passengers were enjoying the beach. - At 4:30 one evening guests were asked to vacate the pool deck so that set up could begin for a party that was to begin at 9:30. While I watched them set up and decorate eight round tables and four umbrellas, I wondered what party planner would need five hours for such a set-up. - On the final sea day, the pool was drained at 5:30. It seemed overall that on that final sea day, the current passengers were forgotten in order to prepare for the new passengers arriving the next day. - The pool, spa, and fitness center closed at 9:00 PM. While most cruise ships are known for their food, this ship was severely lacking. Overall, the Lido buffet experience was one of the most dreadful parts of my day. o There was a 48 hour grace period in which all food was served to you in order to prevent disease, which I can understand and for which I am grateful. After which the buffet was to be opened for self-service. Unfortunately, the buffets never did open for self service; instead long lines prevailed while two servers were in charge of manning approximately 15 feet of buffet space. Furthermore, there were no distinct lines, often people just jumped in. The two servers were unable to multi-task and keep track of so much going on at once and therefore only focused on one guest at a time. By the end of the week people were just asking for enough plates to feed the entire family, rather than making each family member stand in the long line. Out of curiosity, one morning for breakfast, I timed my time in line; it took me 20 minutes to get my breakfast. o I felt as I was on a diet cruise of which I did not sign up. The portion sizes were extremely small. Without exaggeration, one night I was served 1 ½ baby carrots, ½ cookie, ½ of strip steak, and a teaspoon of sour cream on my baked potato. By the end of the week all the passengers were getting more aggressive and demanding larger portion sizes. Yes, we could get in line for all we could eat, but it meant another 20 minute wait. It is also the first cruise I've been on in which food was not available for 24 hours. o Two nights were BBQ nights in which there were only two main dishes for dinner, fish or steak (or ribs). And only one or two vegetable selections. If you did not like those choices, it was room service for you! o The ship is truly run by a skeleton crew. Most meals I had to bus my own tables -- cleaning tables before I sat at them and cleaning up after myself. One day by the pool, a bar server came by and took my drink glasses, but no one returned to take the rest of my lunch dishes. Moreover, the casino was never fully staffed, the pool side service was lacking, and the inside bars did not have enough servers. o While the ship seemed remarkably understaffed, I found it curious that the crew was often standing in line with me at meals, and that entire sides of the dining room were reserved for crew only. While I understand the crew must eat, I do not think it is appropriate that they eat when clearly the crew that is on duty need so much help meeting the needs of the passengers. There are some side notes which need to serve as warning. First, do not pay extra money for a "lanai" room. These rooms appear to be balcony rooms, when in actuality they open up to the main deck in which all passengers are allowed walk past your room/window/slider, talk, congregate and smoke at all hours of the day and night. Thus you have no privacy. You are "reserved" lounge chairs on the deck in front of your room, but if you are not using them, any passenger can sit in the deck chair for which you paid. Speaking of deck chairs, there are literally only 30 around the pool area, most of which are staked out by 7AM. If you plan on lounging by the pool, make sure you are an early riser. While we did not have any issue with our a/c, some people did complain that their rooms were hot. We were awoken at 5 AM every day at sea by what sounded like rivets being driven into the side of the ship. I do not know if this occurred all over the ship, but it was not the way I anticipated being awoken each day. I do want to end with a few more positives. Most importantly our cabin stewards were remarkable in their speed and service. Self-service laundry facilities were a welcome and inexpensive option to be able to return home with clean clothes and no worries. Check-in and check-out were quick and efficient, and our luggage arrived to our room on the first night in record time. Overall, while the pink sandy beaches, blue water and cool ocean breezes of Bermuda were remarkable to enjoy, I would only do so again on another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This was the first time we drove instead of flying to a port of embarkation, and want to say it was the easiest way to go. We drove to the Toms River bus terminal Sunday morning and parked our car for $2/day, versus $35 day in NYC. The ... Read More
This was the first time we drove instead of flying to a port of embarkation, and want to say it was the easiest way to go. We drove to the Toms River bus terminal Sunday morning and parked our car for $2/day, versus $35 day in NYC. The senior bus fare to NY Port Authority was only $8 and two hrs later we arrived in the city. Grabbed a cab $10 to take us the short ride to the pier and when we got there, we were greeted immediately and given "S" tags which allowed us immediate entry to our cabins, because of our cabin category. We booked the deluxe verandah suite, and it was so worth every cent. The cabin was spacious, plenty of storage, closets, dressing rm, king sz bed, sitting area, and large verandah with two padded lounges and table with 4 chairs. The dressing rm had a separate sink and vanity with makeup mirror. Complimentary Champagne and fresh fruit bowl on the bar. Two robes with nice slippers were supplied. The rm also had a safe, flat screen tv, vcr, dvd for free movies. Personalized stationary and postcards. Rm was bright, roomy and tastefully decorated. King sz bed had nice white comfortor and many soft pillows. Cozy and comfy. Our two rm stewards were Indonesian. Polite and efficient, but hard to understand at times. Rooms were spotless. This category also had the benefit of a Concierge located a few doors away at The Neptune Lounge, which we frequented for cold and hot drinks, hor d'oeuvres, and meeting other guests. We met the captain and officers there for complimentary cocktails. We signed up for the wk at the spa's thermal suite which had hot tile lounges, a private whirlpool, and 2 steam rooms. I also had a massage and used the gym several times. The food in the dining rm was average. The best meals were the lamb chops and the surf and turf on formal nights. My husband's fish entree contained bones and was returned to the kitchen as it was inedible. Disappointed there was no music to accompany dining on formal nights. The shows were good and we enjoyed the comedian and the musicals. We docked right on Front St. in Hamilton and it was a great convenient location. Since it was a two day Bermudian holiday when we arrived, they closed off the st to traffic for the parade and local vendors put up tables. We took a cab to Horseshoe Bay beach and it was very crowded as 2 other cruise ships were in. Rented 2 beach chairs, $11 each and an umbrella for $11. Everything was cash, so bring money as they also require a deposit. You can buy a cold drink and a snack here, but try to stay away from the bathrooms, they are toxic. One last word of advice. Bring your own Kaopectate. The last day of the cruise my husband went down to sick bay to buy some and he was quarantined and unable to leave the cabin. Fortunately it was the last evening and we were escorted off the ship first thing Sunday morning for fear of contamination. He wasn't really sick, just ate too much fruit, but they were being very careful. Good for Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We got home a little bit ago, unpacked, and thought I'd write a bit about our trip. Sunday's departure went very smoothly. Embarkation started promptly at 11:30 AM. After a quick picture, we were on the ship. We went to our ... Read More
We got home a little bit ago, unpacked, and thought I'd write a bit about our trip. Sunday's departure went very smoothly. Embarkation started promptly at 11:30 AM. After a quick picture, we were on the ship. We went to our stateroom, an inside on deck 5, mid ship. We dropped off our carry ons, had lunch in the Lido, and spent the afternoon exploring the ship. The ship, the staff and the atmosphere aboard was great. Our sail away down the Hudson and out to sea was spectacular. Monday was a sea day, and it was a bit rough. Lots of wind and 8-10 foot seas. The Veendam is a smaller ship, and does get bounced around a bit. Very relaxing day, all in all. Tuesday we arrived in Hamilton, and were off the ship by 11:00am. We went directly to the bus station to buy a 3 day transit pass. This is probably the best value in Bermuda. Unlimited use of the busses and ferries that transport you from place to place. I recommend that anyone who wants a transit pass make the buss terminal your first stop. We were about 5th in line. By the time we got on the bus to St George, the line looked literally a few hours long. We explored St George most of the afternoon, and returned to the ship for dinner. Wednesday we took the ferry to the Royal Dockyards. From there we took a 15 minute bus ride to Somerset Bridge Watersports for a jet ski tour. HIGHLY RECCOMENDED!!! We had a blast. This is a guided tour with lots of stops along the way, and lots of riding as well. Our group was one consisting of fairly experienced riders, so our guide did not waste any time getting from one stop to another. Nothing like riding a jet ski through the Bermuda Triangle!! Back to the ship for dinner and another night of great fun. Thursday we went to Elbow beach for the day. Very beautiful beach. Get there early if you would like to rent an umbrella and some loungers. They were sold out by 11. Back to Hamilton for some window shopping, then back on the ship. On Friday we departed around 12:45. All aboard was 12 noon, not 2:00 PM. Smooth sailing...... for most of the day. Saturday morning we woke to a gale and pretty heavy seas. The highest wind speed I noted on the ship's TV channel was 64 MPH. Not a lot of people out and about. The crew also closed the outside decks for most of the day due to the weather. The weather did improve as the evening went on. Sunday we arrived back into NY. Disembarkation was smooth, no problems. After a 3 1/2hr car ride, we're home. Now, for the advice........ There were plumbing problems on the ship, and they did affect us. On the first evening, we were greeted by the maintenance staff in the hallway. They had the ceiling open, and were snaking the pipe trying to remove a clog. From what I heard, this was a fairly common occurrence around the ship. People, of course, blamed this on the ship. What people did not seem to understand is that a marine toilet IS NOT the same as a household toilet. It is a fairly unforgiving system. If you flush anything other than number 1, number 2 and toilet paper IT WILL LIKELY CLOG. There is a placard above the toilet informing you of this fact. I recommend that you read it and heed it. You see, some people "upstream" of us did not, and it affected us... so much so, that after 3 days of unclogging pipes, the front office staff offered us another cabin on deck 6. We took it, and had no other issues. Front Office Staff The air conditioning in the cabin was a bit warmer than we would have liked. I went to the front office and ASKED for a fan, which I did receive about an hour later. There were many people DEMANDING that something be done about this or that, rather than simply asking for a resolution to an issue. I actually heard one woman blaming the crew for the rough seas!! Another was complaining that the drain in the shower drained too slowly. Because of this, she demanded another cabin. Not sure how that one turned out. The people working the front office have the patience of saints. I found that if you treated them like human beings, they were very accommodating. Dining Staff We ate at the main dining room for the first formal night. The service and the food was great, but it was a bit slow. We decided that the Lido met all our needs, so that's were we had all of our meals. I've seen reviews that they seem understaffed, but we did not see this. The food lines moved well, the food was great, bar service was prompt, the tables were bussed quickly, and the staff was VERY FRIENDLY. One final thought. Please remember that you are on vacation. There seemed to be ALOT of "finger snappers" on this voyage. Try to relax, ASK for what it is you want, and realize that there are 1400 other people on the boat, so it might take 5 minutes for your request to be acted upon. All I can say is that we booked the lowest cabin class, and we were treated like gold by EVERYONE we had contact with. We will definitely sail with HAL in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
When you sign up for a cruise, you'd think that there would be enough crew members on board to service the ship. This was not the case on this cruise. The number of crew members were cut to the bare minimum -- not our concept of a ... Read More
When you sign up for a cruise, you'd think that there would be enough crew members on board to service the ship. This was not the case on this cruise. The number of crew members were cut to the bare minimum -- not our concept of a "premium cruise experience". To eat dinner in the main dining room on Deck 7 or 8 took anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 hours -- every night. One night on Deck 8, there must have been 400 people in the upper dining room, and we only saw a couple wait staff for the entire room. We couldn't even order wine, there were no wine stewards anywhere. And, there's this big black net underneath the ceiling to protect the passengers from falling debris. Because of the long delays waiting for dinner, we never had time to make the shows. We couldn't get refills on bread, butter, ice tea or coffee. When anyone at our table ask for anything, the waiter just said "no". He had other people who were waiting for food. Some nights he'd serve hot tea with no cups or saucers. Another night we went up to the self-serve Lido deck, and the empty tables were full of dirty dishes. I cleaned off a table, then another passenger wanted to sit there. They only had 1 bus boy for the entire floor. (As an aside, dining out in Hamilton was really not an option. We ordered lunch at one of the hotels, and it was $64 for 1 cheeseburger & fries, 2 small bowls of fish chowder and 2 iced teas.) The cut backs were not limited to the dining rooms. The Pinnacle Grill was also understaffed, and our cabin steward had 21 cabins to clean -- twice a day! We were repulsed by the lack of service, and with every HAL cruise, it's getting worse. This ship is neglected, and the crew is overworked -- not a good combination at all. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
I was nervous based on everyone elses reviews. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, then this is the cruise for you. If you are looking for a party, or are single, pick a different cruise line. We had no problems with plumbing, air ... Read More
I was nervous based on everyone elses reviews. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, then this is the cruise for you. If you are looking for a party, or are single, pick a different cruise line. We had no problems with plumbing, air conditioning, etc... We had an inside cabin with 3 people and we were not tripping over each other. It was plenty big, had 3 closets, large drawers, big bathroom and the beds were comfy. We cruised Celebrity last year and I much preferred this ship and being in Hamilton with the extra day. It was so much better than the dockyard. If you are on this cruise, pick a seating for dinner. You will benefit from better service and have a designated waiter that will get to know you. The open seating does NOT work. There was a large group that had 400 seats in the dining room for 8 PM and that virtually held every table hostage past 6 pm, because they wouldn't seat anyone for fear the table wouldn't clear by 8. It was annoying and we just decided to accept the fact that we would be waiting over an hour to be seated... they do give buzzers though (one person commented if they wanted a buzzer, they would be eating at Chiles-it made us laugh). Once seated, settle in for a leisurly dinner! The food is really good, the menu is funkier than I'm used to but there is always something you can enjoy. I tried many new things. Desserts were not what I expected, but they were good too and honestly, by the time they came, we were all full anyway. I like that you can roll on with 9 bottles of wine. Bring your own glasses and you can carry those into the dining room and no one will stop you. If you bring the bottle, it will cost you 18 dollars, still cheaper depending on your wine selection. Overall... if you are going to Bermuda, this is the best itinerary out there, the ship is FINE, the shows were actually decent, the musicians throughout the ship are good too... The comedian they had (from Boston) was the funniest improv show ever! Don't expect a "night life" on the ship, if you want that, go to the bars across the street. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
Great family vacation from NYC to beautiful Bermuda on the classic Veendam with impeccable food and service! BACKGROUND * DH, DW, 2 DS (13 & 9) from South Jersey * lots of previous cruise experience EMBARKATION Pier 90 at ... Read More
Great family vacation from NYC to beautiful Bermuda on the classic Veendam with impeccable food and service! BACKGROUND * DH, DW, 2 DS (13 & 9) from South Jersey * lots of previous cruise experience EMBARKATION Pier 90 at Manhattan Cruise Terminal (55th St & 12th Ave entrance) * drove 2 hrs from South Jersey arrived ~11:30am * parked @ Pier 90 rooftop for $245/week (Visa & MC accepted) + easy luggage drop off with porters at roof parking lot + NO wait at x-rays or check-in + seated waiting area with water & lemonade offered + waited only ~15min. until boarding #27 called & onboard by noon ~ be prepared to complete the medical statement prior to entering x-ray/check-in area CABIN Oceanview 694 (cat. E) -- Main Deck (5) Aft Portside + cabin was ready immediately upon boarding + luggage was in our cabin right after lunch ~2pm + great location 2nd from end with access to aft open area + portside cabin with beautiful view of harbor while docked in Hamilton + lots of storage with 6 drawers and 2 large closets + additional 2 large, deep drawers under bed + 2 night stands with 2 drawers each also + 2 twin beds (may be pushed together), 1 sofa bed, and 1 trundle bunk above twin + small round stool seating with storage inside + lots of fluffy pillows & comfortable bedding + bath tub with shower in bathroom + in-cabin full-sized hair dryer with 220V plug + desk-top cosmetic mirror with hinged arm pull-out + ordered ahead refrigerator plugged in under counter with additional 220V power strip + AC worked very well after we learned how to use the thermostat :) ~ turn thermostat clockwise=warmer and counter-clockwise=cooler even though the dial numbers seem counter-intuitive to that ~ only 2 outlets on counter: one European-style 220V outlet & 1 American-style 110V outlet RESTAURANTS MARINERS EMBARKATION LUNCH + 12-1:30pm Rotterdam Dining Room -- deck 7 aft + no wait to be seated and food served promptly ~ very limited menu ROTTERDAM MAIN DINING ROOM + 5:15pm & 8pm Fixed Seating -- deck 8 aft + 5pm-9pm Open Seating -- deck 7 aft + open seating reservations could be made up to 3 days in advance + rotating menu choices were pretty good + all food was excellent quality and presented very well + requests for multiple dishes and even entrees as apps were graciously accommodated + formal nights Monday Captain's Gala Dinner & Friday Farewell Dinner Surf-n-Turf + our walk-in wait averaged 20-30 min. + given pager and flute of champagne for your wait + complimentary cappuccino and espresso with dinner but sometimes very weak and flavorless ~ open seating reservations are for 5:15, 5:30, 8:00 times only ~ must make open seating reservations by 4pm ~ open seating walk-in long lines between 6:30-8pm ~ much longer wait if requesting table to yourselves ~ pager had no reception in cabins and other parts of ship ~ slow getting food at peak times LIDO BUFFET + food was adequate + lots of ice cream/sorbet flavors with toppings too + also had soft-serve in addition to hard ice cream + Eggs Benedict station had numerous options ~ options differed slightly on both sides ~ required cover-up and footwear ~ check daily menu as food not always presented well and/or could not be seen easily ~ food served for first few days then became self-serve ~ beginning/end of lines were not always apparent so many people came from both directions TERRACE GRILL + great location for access while at mid-ship pool + self-serve taco and condiments bar on many days during lunch ~ sometimes long lines waiting MARINERS BRUNCH + invitation-only to 2 possible times at 11:00am or 1:30pm on last sea day + Rotterdam Dining Room -- deck 7 aft + free champagne and gift tile ~ very limited menu ~ food service very slow ENTERTAINMENT SHOWROOM AT SEA + Sunday - Listen to the Music (9:30pm) + Monday - Bob Mackie's Broadway (7:30pm and 10pm) + Tuesday - Comedian John Joseph (7:30pm and 10pm) ... funny + Wednesday - Indonesian Crew Show (11pm) + Thursday - Street Corner Symphony (7:30pm and 10pm) + Friday - Encore Musical Classics (7:30pm and 10pm) + Saturday - Comedian Kevin Jordan (7:30pm and 10pm) ... funny ~ children should not seated in first few rows ~ cabaret-style table and chair seating in front of stage OCEAN BAR + Cocktails and Dancing with The Neptunes (6:30 -11:30pm) ~ spacious lounge area with small dance floor near Atrium EXPLORER'S LOUNGE + Classical with Adagio Strings (7-11:30pm) ~ intimate lounge next to Pinnacle Grill MIX + Solo Guitarist Darrel (5-9pm) + Piano Man Wil Key (9pm-close) ~ separated into 2 spaces as a piano bar and a pub-like bar CROW'S NEST + various entertainment and dancing ~ very large with almost 3 distinct areas: quiet portside, nice TV-viewing starboard, and DJ dance floor aft ~ DJ/music ended usually ~1am OTHER + various times for BINGO + Pub Trivia every night @ 6pm Mixx pub + Name That Tune trivia on various nights @ 8:30pm Crows Nest + Big Screen Movie everyday Wajang Theater with free popcorn + Wine Tastings ($7.50-15.00) and Mixology ($12.50) classes + lots of great technology classes in hi-tech Digital Workshop + daily Tai Chi (8am & 5pm) ACTIVITIES LIDO POOL + cushioned loungers around pool area were very comfortable + shaded tables around perimeter with easy access to Lido Buffet and Terrace Grill + Lido Bar with sofa-type seating under umbrellas ~ very limited seating esp. shaded loungers ~ pool is very small and sometimes full of kids ~ sometimes a little smoky with BBQ THE RETREAT (for all ages) + aft of ship behind the Lido Buffet + lots of loungers and some tables in shade + jacuzzi spas in raised area in the middle + pizza available here ~ could get windy on sea days ~ no real pool HAL KIDS CLUB + easy sign-up on embarkation day + nice outdoor Oasis and indoor Loft for Teens + smaller indoor area for younger Kids(3-7) and Tweens(8-12) + sea days: 9-11:30am, 1-4pm, 7-10pm + port days: 8-4pm, 7-10pm + great Xbox game room and FREE Xbox game rental ~ activities for Teens over 13 were more unstructured and come-as-you-please ~ Tweens could sign themselves out (if parents allowed) FITNESS CENTER + small but plenty of equipment with TVs too + daily FREE Sunrise Stretch (30min) @ 7am + daily FREE Abs, Conditioning, Aerobics, Boxercise classes (30min) @ 7:30am & 5pm + Spinning (8am MTWRS), Yoga (9am MW, 4pm S) & Pilates (9am RS, 4pm M) $12/class or $50 for 5 + cold washcloths were available and refreshing ~ spinning bikes were antiquated and limited to 6 participants SPORTS COURTS + small-sized tennis court on deck 12 aft portside + small-sized basketball court on deck 12 aft starboard + entrances near Club HAL at deck 12 aft ~ only half of basketball court usable since other hoop hung down ~ netting around courts did not always keep balls in ~ bouncing could be heard as bangs in Lido Buffet below OTHER ACTIVITIES + chess/crossword tables in Explorations Cafe + extensive self check-out book library in Exploration's Cafe + daily Sudoku, Trivia and Crosswords in Exploration's Cafe + 2 ping pong tables near Lido pool deck 11 portside + large deck-sized chess/checkers near Lido pool deck 11 portside CRUISE DIRECTOR & EXPLORATIONS STAFF + CD Gene Young was very personable and was always seen everywhere doing a lot of the activities himself + DJ Styles, Lifestylist Thomas, Party Planner Sydney, Travel Guide Monique, Techspert Trevor, and Librarian Erika were all friendly and wonderful BERMUDA * purchased a 3-day bus/ferry pass for $28 adult - $14 children HORSESHOE BAY + 40min. ride from Hamilton on #7 bus + beautiful wide beach with lots of space + water was spectacular and crystal clear + nice walk along beaches + restrooms and showers were available ~ $11 rental beach chairs/umbrellas each with additional $5 deposit ~ long walk down/uphill to/from beach from bus stop ~ food and drinks were very expensive but available ST. GEORGE'S -- TOBACCO BAY + 1 hr ride from Hamilton on #1, 3, 10 or 11 bus + or take ferry from Hamilton to Dockyard then to St. George's + Wench Ducking MTWRS @ noon at King's Square + 15min. walk from St. George's to Tobacco Bay + walk up Duke of Kent St. passing Unfinished Church along the way + very large shallow swimming area great for snorkeling + restrooms were available ~ very small beach area ~ very rocky in water with lots of sharp coral ~ rent snorkeling equipment for $10 with additional deposit ~ rent 2 loungers & umbrella for $20 with additional deposit ~ umbrellas were limited and ran out quickly ~ food and drinks were very expensive but available HARBOR NIGHTS FESTIVAL + Wednesday night 7-10pm on Front Street + great location just in front of ship + ongoing music and dancing started at 7pm near stage area + lots of food and souvenir vendors everywhere + activities for kids also available for a fee ~ crowded near stage so get there early to get close for kids DISEMBARKATION Easy Walk-Off + woke up late & had a late buffet breakfast without feeling rushed + final statement delivered overnight and was fine + deck 5 forward starboard gangway + walk-off passengers called first without delay + waited in our cabin for our disembarkation color/# group + lines disembarking ship moved quickly + luggage was easily found in terminal ~ never received information for disembarkation breakfast times ~ disembarkation started late awaiting luggage setup in terminal ~ only 2 sets of 2 customs agents in terminal upon exiting ~ look for the other set of customs agents at the far side of terminal TIPS * daily program Explorer was delivered outside door on previous day in the late afternoon before dinner * bring unlimited wine & champagne onboard for in-cabin consumption * or even purchase wine/champagne in Bermuda to bring back onboard * no thru-access on deck 7 forward to aft * check out the Explorer for daily Happy Hour specials in many locations for buy-1-get-2nd-for $1 * get FREE movies to play in cabin DVD player from front desk (only 1 per cabin at a time) * some promenade deck loungers for general public available near doors * self-laundry facilities available on decks 5, 6 and 9 for $2 wash & $1 dry * aft "OSCAR" STAIRWAY (not on deck plans) runs from deck 11 down to deck 5 * large open area on deck 5 aft (not on deck plans) is great for wake watching but no seating * low starboard aft cabins had view blocked by pink Bermuda building at pier and others on lower decks may also have had a view of the concrete wall while docked in Hamilton port * please do the MANDATORY lifeboat drill @ 4:15pm embarkation day or else Captain calls your name while making EVERYONE wait on deck for your arrival * Digital Workshop is in the Queen's Room deck 8 aft portside * MIX had a few interactive touch-screen game table tops that were entertaining * don't sit in the front few rows during Comedian shows unless you want to be part of the show * Rum Swizzles were tasty and found best-priced 50oz for $18 across the ship on Front St. * go check out Cairo Nightclub (no cover) across from ship on Front St. after shipboard lounges close * ship time set forward then back 1 hour on the first and last sea days to match local Bermuda time * 30min. FREE computer internet access at Bermuda National Library on Queen Street * public bus/ferry transportation gets you everywhere and pick up the bus/ferry schedule with maps * MDR dinner menu items could be found in the Lido Buffet as well * use the hand sanitizer liquid or even the mechanical hand washers found near the Lido Buffet Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I have been on 31 cruises, but this was our first time on HAL. I have to say I was a little disappointed. The food was great. My only complaint on the food was the creme brulee. It was terrible. No crisp top and ice cold. The #1 ... Read More
I have been on 31 cruises, but this was our first time on HAL. I have to say I was a little disappointed. The food was great. My only complaint on the food was the creme brulee. It was terrible. No crisp top and ice cold. The #1 complaint was our dining service was extremely slow. Our waiter was trying his best and was very apologetic. It wasn't his fault. He was way over-worked. He had too many tables with the open-dining seating. We had reserved late seating and with 2 little ones, we quickly realized that was not the way to go. They were asleep most of the nights before the entree arrived. I would think that if you have done reserved seating when you booked your cruise that you should have been priority over the people that took the open seating option. But that's just my opinion. Was I mistaken or was there only one pool on the whole ship? There should have been a family pool and an adult pool. You couldn't ever find any pool chairs. What happened to the 30-minute-empty chair rule? I find it so rude when people place a towel on a chair and leave it there all day. As for the shows, we couldn't see a single whole show. Since one was at 7:30pm and one at 10:00pm - and dinner is at 8:15pm (and service being slow) was a disappointment as well. The ship had extremes of hot and cold. Air conditioners were at an uneven temperature. Just another sign that the ship is older. I thought that the Dessert Extravanza was awesome. Three decks of wonderful and delicious desserts. Club HAL was awesome as well. The children's activities were very good and my grandson really enjoyed them. As for the Lido Deck - the breakfast buffet was crazy. The servers were so slow. I waited sometimes as long as 15 minutes just to get a bagel toasted because the server was busy making waffles/eggs benedicts for the person ahead of me. The bread/toast area should be a separate area. It's not fair to make people wait for a piece of toast while a waffle/eggs benedict is being cooked. Bermuda is wonderful. The locals were so friendly. I never felt afraid to be alone. Harbour Nights was great. We enjoyed Bermuda very much. Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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