Theater The Showroom at Sea, Veendam's main stage for song-and-dance revues and variety shows, is located on Deck 8. A small cast headlines the theater's main events with shows such as "Atlantic Crossing," "Listen to the Music" and "Droom." The performances are peppy with music spanning the decades and including multiple genres.
Holland America has also partnered with BBC Earth to offer mainstage screenings of "Planet Earth" featuring stunning footage of landscapes and wildlife, backed by a sensational music score.
During the day, the theater hosts passenger favorites such as bingo, as well as shore excursion and disembarkation talks.
Daily Fun A day on Veendam offers a wide array of activities from trivia, Ping-Pong tournaments and mixology classes to meditation sessions and wellness lectures, offered in partnership with "O, The Oprah Magazine."
Head over to the Microsoft Studio on Deck 8 with your laptop or tablet for small-group courses on how to create photo albums and movies or be safe online. After you get started, you can venture back in for Creative Studio Time every day (during scheduled times) to continue honing your skills.
Don't miss daily movies (sometimes two or three a day) in the state-of-the-art, 210-seat Wajang Theater. Check your When & Where daily program for times, grab some popcorn (no, really) and enjoy.
America's Test Kitchen on Deck 7 offers several opportunities per sailing for events such as cooking classes, wine tasting and other food-related demonstrations.
Don't miss the chances for the kiddos to get involved, too, with kid's cooking workshops that promote culinary growth.
At Night Veendam has several intimate lounges scattered throughout that are perfect for music and lively conversation. Many also offer dance floors for those looking to cut the rug. And, keep an eye open for special parties, such as the Orange Party, a celebration of HAL's Dutch heritage.
The casino is another Deck 8 hot spot where the energy is high and everyone wants to leave a millionaire. It has ample slot machines and table games, including roulette, and hosts various tournaments. Keep your eye on the daily happenings because at least one night per cruise, the casino will be smoke-free.
Mix (Deck 8): Mix is a large space divided into three separate bars: Spirits and Ales, serving microbrews and single malts; Martini Bar, serving cocktails and, of course, martinis; and the Champagne Bar, which is a novelty in and of itself, being a self-serve-type kiosk. Mix is open from 10 a.m. until late in the evening. Sports fans often gather around Spirits and Ales for the latest sporting events on the big screen television.
Ocean Bar (Deck 8): Passengers can enjoy live music and social dancing at Ocean Bar -- the ship's top spot for pre- and post-dinner cocktails.
Lido Bar (Deck 11): The Lido Bar is close to all the action at the Lido Pool and offers beer and fruity concoctions along with all kinds of mixed drinks, soft drinks and juice.
The Retreat Bar (Deck 11): The Retreat Bar services the adults-only area onboard Veendam known as the Retreat. Pick up favorite cocktails, beer (or a bucket), wine or soda and make your way over to the hot tubs and beautiful ocean views.
Crow's Nest (Deck 12): With daily happy hours and fun drinks, Crow's Nest bartenders will stir up your preferred cocktail or help you find a brand-new favorite. Located indoors with comfy seating and stunning views through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, Crow's Nest is perfect for after-dinner drinks and occasional karaoke.
Pools The Lido Deck (Deck 11) is where you'll find the one and only pool aboard Veendam. It is a gorgeous rectangular swimming pool with a sweet dolphin statue at one end of it, flanked by two hot tubs. There are plenty of lounge chairs surrounding the pool. The pool is covered by a retractable roof making rainy days a nonfactor.
Recreation Veendam's Sports Deck (Deck 12) features two sports courts -- one for pickleball and the other for basketball. There is also Ping-Pong on the Lido Deck and sometimes you can even catch a tournament happening.
Sun Decks The top three decks on Veendam feature nylon lounge chairs, while the Promenade (Deck 6) has the more traditional wooden-style ones. Whether you choose a spot at the top of the ship or on the Promenade Deck, all are perfect for reading, sunning or just relaxing.
On the other side of the Lido Deck behind New York Pizza, you'll find the open-air Retreat adults-only area with four oversized hot tubs and lots of comfortable loungers. This was our favorite place to get in the hot tub for a bit and then hop out to grab a drink at The Retreat Bar just a few steps away, ultimately ending up catching some rays on a lounger facing the open sea.
Veendam's guest services desk is located on Deck 7, as is the shore excursions desk. You'll also find a couple of meeting rooms, the photo gallery and an art gallery on Deck 7. Shopping is all on Deck 8 and includes ship merchandise, as well as high-end jewelry, perfume, clothing and miscellaneous items.
Rainy days on Veendam needn't get you down thanks to Explorations Cafe on Deck 8, where you can check out books, board games or help with the community puzzle. There is comfortable (and beautiful) seating and tables with chairs. The Internet Cafe is also in the vicinity.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship and HAL offers several internet plans to meet the needs of all passengers. Choose from a Social Plan for $14.99/day, which allows access to Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media. The $24.99/day Surf Plan grants a little more access including email, news, sports and such. The Premium Plan goes for $29.99/day and supports audio/video calls and streaming as well as the previously mentioned sites. Purchase a seven-day package and you'll save some money over per day purchases.
Spa Albeit small, the Greenhouse Spa & Salon (Deck 11) is an oasis of pampering that offers treatments including hair and nail services, such as manicures and pedicures, plus Swedish and hot stone massages and a variety of facials. Always keep an eye open for specials. We waited patiently and were rewarded with a 50-minute Swedish massage for $99 -- a $50 savings!
The minimum age for passengers to use HAL's spa facilities is 18 years old, unless participating in one of the kid or teen spa programs.
You'll also find a thermal suite in the spa with heated ceramic loungers, saunas, steam rooms, aromatherapy showers and a small hydro pool (similar to a hot tub). It can get pretty crowded in there, so may not be worth the cost ($40/per day, per person or $199/per cruise, per person with specials on the first day) if you can't even get a seat.
The Greenhouse Spa offers free talks on everything from how to reduce swollen ankles to body detoxes, but keep in mind, most of these are just glorified sales pitches. Check your When & Where daily program to see when they are available.
Fitness Sporting all new equipment including the latest in cardio and weight-training machines, the Fitness Center on Deck 11 provides passengers with a way to keep up their exercise routines while away from home. Doors open early at 6 a.m. and you must be 16 years old, unless accompanied by an adult.
There are many classes available at the Fitness Center and while some are free (abs, stretch), most (yoga, Pilates) have fees of around $15 per session. Pick up a class schedule in the gym.
Deck 6 offers a wide, quarter-mile walking deck, largely embraced by walkers and runners for exercise.
Veendam offers a family-friendly atmosphere and the robust Club HAL kids' club. (Children must be at least 6 months old to sail on the day you depart, and pregnant women may not cruise after they enter week 24 of their pregnancy.)
For a fee, passengers can arrange in advance for items such as baby food and diapers. Don't be shy about asking for a kid's menu at dinner each night. There are fantastic meals in smaller, kid-size portions available just for the asking. Cribs and highchairs must be reserved in advance of your sailing (when you make your reservation), but there is no charge for these items.
To join the Club HAL program, for kids age 3 to 12, children must be potty-trained -- No pull-ups or diapers are permitted. And, don't forget to check out HAL Kids Culinary Workshops, where kids will learn some basic kitchen skills and safety. It's designed for kids in two age groups: 3 to 7 and 8 and up, with teens welcome to join adult classes.
For children under 3, the children's facilities sometimes offers special hours for parents to come in with their little ones to play. Check with your ship on embarkation to see if it will be available on your sailing.
If your child has special needs, mention it when booking. The HAL Youth Program sometimes has specially-trained crew onboard, so it's worth letting the line know in advance. Also, if your child is celebrating a birthday during the cruise, you can often arrange a birthday party ahead of time.
Babysitting for kids 3 to 12 is typically available onboard Veendam, though only on sea days. You'll need to contact the Front Office to find out the availability of a babysitter. This service is at the discretion of volunteer staffers and is not always available. The cost is $7.50 per hour, per child.
There is also a late-night group babysitting option in Club HAL, with a per hour, per child fee of $5. (Please note that babysitting fees are subject to change at any time.)
Kids While Holland America doesn't carry as many kids as some of the other cruise lines, its ships can see significant numbers in the summer months and are prepared with trained counselors, kid-appropriate schedules and a whole lot of fun in Club HAL.
Kiddos are divided into three age groups: 3 to 7, 8 to 12 (tweens) and 13 to 17 (teens); you'll need to visit Club HAL on the first day of your cruise to get your kids signed up for the right group. Younger children, 3 to 7, must be personally dropped off and picked up by a parent/guardian each time.
Structured activities for these little ones will include everything from storytelling to arts and crafts and bingo to pizza and ice-cream parties.
Tweens, ages 8 to 12, have their own activities to look forward to, including popular events such as dodgeball, swimming, disco parties, scavenger hunts and playing video games.
Typical sea days offer Club HAL in morning and afternoon sessions with a break for lunch. Port days are generally 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for ages 3 to 12 with a pre-reserved lunch program available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Note that available activities and meeting times may vary depending on age group, number of children onboard and staffing.
Aside from Club HAL, kids can swim in the Lido Deck pool, though they must be fully toilet trained; swim diapers are not permitted.
Teens Teenagers from 13 to17 years old can enjoy spending time in areas just for them, such as The Loft (indoors) and The Oasis (outdoors). Activities offered include teen disco, karaoke, video games, sporting events, card games, movies, swimming and sometimes a talent show.