Veendam has options aplenty when it comes to dining, with multiple options for every meal. If you love the relaxation of a sit-down dining room breakfast like we do, you'll love the main dining room in the morning. If you prefer the expansive selection of a buffet, that's available too. Need a fine dining venue to celebrate a special event? That's onboard as well.
Most of the dining on Veendam is free with less than a handful of upcharge specialty eateries. For the best free selections, hit up the main dining rooms for lunch or dinner, which feature a full three courses and dessert. But, don't forget the specialty restaurants, especially if you're looking for an opportunity to splurge or celebrate a special event.
Rotterdam Dining Room (Decks 7 and 8)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)
The Rotterdam's striking good looks impress from the moment you and present a bold prediction of the food to come. Breakfast (available in the dining room from 8 to 9:30 a.m. daily) is rarely crowded. You'll find all the usual options, but we particularly enjoyed the omelets, waffles and eggs Benedict. And the coffee (we suspect brewed in small pots) is better than what you'll find in the buffet (in huge dispensers).
Lunch is between noon and 1:30 p.m. on sea days; from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (express lunch; check the daily When & Where program for confirmation) on port days with later arrivals. Occasional afternoon tea happens between 3 and 3:45 p.m.
Traditional set seating allows passengers to preselect an early (5:45 p.m.) or late (8 p.m.) seating at the same table, with the same tablemates and waiters nightly. With HAL's As You Wish program, cruisers can show up between 5:15 and 9 p.m. or book a reservation every evening, which sounds amazing but lines can be long.
Dinner service is casual but good. Waiters offer recommendations and quickly get to know your preferences. Our server automatically had seafood appetizers and Caesar salads -- which we ordered regularly. Dishes were typically somewhat flavorful (beef dishes were the tastiest) but rarely reached our table above a slightly warm temperature.
Menus always include vegetarian and items, but there's a vegetarian-only menu. Those with other special dietary needs should speak with the maitre d' on your first day onboard.
The nightly menu has everyday entrees, including a seasoned chicken breast or steak. Also, kid's menus are available; adult meals can often be cut down to kid size, too.
Desserts were varied and excellent. However, wines and after-dinner coffees often took longer than reasonable.
Lido Market (Deck 11)
Meals: B, L, D
Don't overlook the Lido Market Restaurant for breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Every meal here is served via buffet, always hot and usually quite good. The lines move quickly, and you can often find a window seat, if you wish. All the typical breakfast items are available. Grab your coffee and juice from the drink station or have a seat and they'll come around and serve you.
Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has lots of choices from soups and salads to piping hot entrees (think roast beef, ham and fish). You can find American cuisine, as well as Italian and Asian, plus a sandwich bar and your choice of dessert. (Keep in mind, lunch is the busiest time for the Lido Market with the exception of the one evening when prime rib is on the buffet menu.)
If you just can't get enough of the Lido Market Restaurant, come back between 5:30 and 8 p.m. for a nice dinner that you don't have to dress up for. Enjoy anything from steak and baked potato with broccoli to pasta, chicken, fish or something from the carving station.
The Lido Market buffet also offers late night snacks, which run the gamut from All-American and Indonesian themes to Dutch and Italian. Check them out from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. nightly and don't forget the scrumptious hand-dipped ice cream at the Sweet Spot station to top off any meal (even breakfast).
Dive-In (Deck 11)
Meals: L, D
Dive-In is a poolside venue serving up scrumptious vittles you'd expect in an outdoor setting -- hamburgers and Nathan's Famous hotdogs with oh-so-good (grab some of their special sauce to dip those fries in). Don't like beef? Choose a grilled chicken breast or a portabella mushroom stack for the perfect treat. Dive-In is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New York Pizza (Deck 11)
Meals: L, D
Pizza doesn't get any better than a HAL signature pie, made-to-order and topped with fresh ingredients. You'll easily eat the whole 9-inch, thin-crust, delicious pie by yourself while enjoying time by the pool or gazing into the night sky. Named after New York's famed five boroughs, this joint is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. This was our go-to on a port day after skipping lunch and trying to ward off hunger pangs until dinner.
Enjoy breakfast in bed or dinner on your balcony with the touch of a button. Room service is available for any meal of the day or a snack in between. The menu's got sandwiches, salads, entrees, desserts, and it's included in your cruise fare unless otherwise noted (, upscale breakfast selections, such as steak and eggs, as well as select dinner options from specialty restaurants).
Pinnacle Grill (Deck 8); $39 for dinner, $15 for lunch
Meals: L, D
Hands down our favorite meal of the cruise came from the Pinnacle Grill, an elegant restaurant exuding more than enough charm to celebrate a special occasion or a random date night. A dinner of lobster bisque, succulent crab cakes and filet mignon paired nicely with potatoes and creamed spinach as well as a lovely boutique wine, making an evening to remember.
Other flavors of the Pacific Northwest (the restaurant's specialty) and sustainably raised beef from Washington State's Double R Ranch are available at Pinnacle Grill, where 12 and under eat for half price or free if they order from the menu.
Rudi's Sel de Mer (Deck 8); $49
Twice on our seven-day sailing, Pinnacle Grill was transformed into the delicious Rudi's Sel de Mer, which offers up an intimate seafood brasserie vibe with classic French dishes inspired by Master Rudi Sodamin. Start with an appetizer and work your way up to a grilled seafood platter or the broiled Maine lobster tail. Don't forget to make room for dessert. Again, kids 12 and under eat for half price or free if they order from the kids' menu. Reservations are highly encouraged, as Rudi's fill up quickly.
Canaletto (Deck 11); $19
Canaletto is an excellent and inexpensive Italian dinner option located within a small section (about 60 seats) of the Lido Market.
The menu is brimming with Italian classics you'll recognize like braised chicken cacciatore and garlic shrimp ravioli. The pasta is made fresh daily, so passengers are in for a real treat as well as impeccable service. And, don't forget to top off your meal with a helping of tiramisu.
Explorations Cafe (Deck 8); a la carte
While this spot is primarily a spot to grab an extra-fee specialty coffee, you can get fresh pastries free as well. Relax in the spacious, open-air library, check your email or just sit back and people-watch in this coffeehouse of sorts. We found this to be a great little spot for when we missed breakfast but still had time before lunch opened.