12 Holland America Veendam Hawaii Cruise Reviews

Check in was slow, but due to our fellow passengers- elderly and infirm, more about them later. New HAL checkin of carry on wine was onerous, but brief. Once aboard had our first Mariner Lunch in Lido, which was fine, our cabin ready, ... Read More
Check in was slow, but due to our fellow passengers- elderly and infirm, more about them later. New HAL checkin of carry on wine was onerous, but brief. Once aboard had our first Mariner Lunch in Lido, which was fine, our cabin ready, and luggage arrived around 3pm. Our cabin was as advertised, snug, but comfortable- (we booked relatively late, verandahs were already sold out). Stewards were as always, excellent. We had an intermittent noise, apparently transmitted up a bulkhead from engine room, that took several tries to identify and fix. I can't fault ship, just like a noise your car makes, but you can't reproduce for mechanic. Guest relations, front desk, and an engineer persevered. It recurred, we reposted, and it stopped immediately. Dining and wine staff knowledgeable and excellent, tho wine steward was running entire time, an additional one 0r 2 in MDR needed to cover dinner. The MDR senior staff and officers, visible and hands, staff worked together seamlessly. Food in MDR a bit bland, but any/all special requests were cheerfully accommodated. Meat ordered rare, was served rare- thats often hard to achieve on shore. Wait staff seemed to work directly w/ cooks on individual requests, advantage perhaps of a smaller ship. There was fresh fish, and fruit locally sourced in Hawaii, something we wished for on a previous HAL trips in Europe and Central America, If only the food could be as good as the folks serving it..... HAL is pushy, and clearly pushes staff, w/ 3 and 5 bottle wine packages that do not stand up to arithmetic as bargain/discount, esp on a 17 day trip. If folks plan to share a bottle of wine at dinner, have a plan that works w/ them. Charge me up front when I book, hold my money, then treat me right. The waterfall/volcano excursion at Hilo was over the top good. The ground portion, including the cooked on the spot lunch was a great day. The Pearl Harbor/Arizona/ USS Missouri was v good, though long wait in line while scooters, wheelchairs, infirm were loaded. Tour of downton Honolulu- Palace, State Capital, all the original Hawaii 5-0 backdrop , thrown in as extra. W/ only a day on Oahu, I also took spouse to Royal Hawaiian beachfront for a maitai. As always enjoyed the classical music, down from quartet to duo. Violinist played from memory, they both seemed to genuinely enjoy performing. Their matinee' on stage was full, and great performance, must, and showmanship. Fellow passengers were polite and quiet while they played, a first- we have seen some previous rude behaviors. HAL please, at least a classical trio. Neptune trio had as much fun as they provided. We rarely do evening shows. Captain O'Driscoll did a fine job. I met him waiting for our eggs Benedict in Lido, and he subsequently spoke and was cordial every other time we crossed paths. A smaller ship, I guess he was more visible. WE briefly lost starboard engine to power surge, he addressed this w/ over the loudspeakers- The Pacific was a huge empty ocean, and it was good to feel personal confidence in the Capt. Safety is not just vital, but seen to be vital onboard, in everyone crew member and staff. Also virtual bride tour w/ 3rd officer and the charming Officer Cadet was informative. 9/11 made engine room, bridge tours problematic, but many- esp males- have curiosity and interest in the ship, and shipboard life. Disembark was easiest, best ever, except when Cunard had immigration travel onboard, you could clear paperwork at your leisure. CBP put about 20 people on board early Day of disembark, and the nicest group of folks imaginable. Overall, a good trip. That said, the demographic of fellow passengers were off putting. Not sure HAL will handle transition of generations, but the daily cabins and single cabins on new ship likely a good move. I am nearing retirement, and want to travel and keep traveling, but there was NO age diversity abroad. Maybe hire some young passengers? Discount you're folks? I have a medical background, and may folks seemed they should be in anything that moves only w seatbelt securely fastened, and not on ship in 15 foot seas. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were lucky to receive a good upgrade from an HH guarantee to a D category. Cabin 772 was on the fourth deck in the exact middle of the ship. We took a train and because of congestions on the tracks we were running about two hours ... Read More
We were lucky to receive a good upgrade from an HH guarantee to a D category. Cabin 772 was on the fourth deck in the exact middle of the ship. We took a train and because of congestions on the tracks we were running about two hours behind. I called HAL and they gave me a phone number for emergencies. I feel this was great to be assured that even though we would arrive with 1/2 hour of the gang plank being pulled we would still be allowed to board. They said they would call the Veendam and let them know we were on the way. This was a service I was not aware of but was glad to find. When we did arrive we were sent straight through to one of the fastest check ins we have ever had. We felt this was a good cruise and mostly had good things to say about it. I want to cover some of the good as well as some of the bad even though the bad was not enough to interfere with our enjoying the cruise. We organized the Cruise Critic meet and greet for both the Mexican portion and the Hawaii portion of the cruise. The crew was wonderful getting it set up, the refreshments and the area. The Beverage Manager, Omar went beyond what we expected to make sure we had all we wanted and even went so far as to organize a special wine and champagne party for our return sea days. I was a little disappointed that more officers misjudged an appearance. Two came an hour late, one came too early and some that had promised to come didn't show. But overall it was a very good M&G. We found the life boat drill was very drawn out and people were packed together so tight that there was a lot of rudeness among the passengers. We ate most meals in the dinning room and found the service good, sometimes really fast. There was a misunderstanding with our assigned table but the dinning room managers soon had that worked out. The food was good, not great, but many meals were remarkably well done. I think mostly the problem foods were things that are very much American but were cooked with a Dutch handle such as meat loaf and mac and cheese. The Lido was crowded but food was good and servers kept your plates cleared. Room service was quick and arrived warm and tasty. The Casino crew were friendly and gave many perks but we found that many passengers were using the slot chairs as a smoking lounge and were not even playing a machine. They would block two or three machines with their belongings and grumbled when you asked them to move so you could use the machines. Again, this was a passenger problem and the only complaint was that the crew should enforce the rules to allow more use by paying customers. The library was nice. The internet was normal until the last five days when it just shut down completely. We were unable to use the last of our minutes but felt that something should have been done to get everyone back on line. We were aware of the ship condition and here is some of what we observed. Everything was clean and freshly painted. One elevator was out the whole 25 days and some would act as though they had a mind of their own, going all the way up without stopping or stopping at every floor. We noticed some smells but they were generally not bad. The only location was on floor 4 around the kitchen dishwashing area across from cabins 798 to 810. I would never take cabin 798 as it had a horribly loud noise from a vent right above the entry door that seems to be present day and night. We enjoyed the cooking classes, the music all over the eighth floor, and most of the shows. One of the shows featured a woman who thought she was still a cute 20 year old but was actually 50 and should have learned to change her act to match her age. The comedians were good but we did not sit where we could become victims. We took no HAL shore excursions and one tender day it took over three hours to get on a tender. It was taking so long they started calling numbers over the ship speakers so you could get to lunch while you waited. I will go into our cabin more in the cabin section but for now I just want to say that while our stewards were very friendly and did a good job, they were a little loose with their key cards. While they were knocking they would have the door opening and caught us with towels and nothing else on coming out of the shower, and one time they interrupted our afternoon "nap". We took to locking the dead bolt which at least made them keep knocking until we opened the door on our own. During the Mexican part of the cruise there were many children, (one officer said 130) and parents would not keep control of their kids. Early in the mornings there were diaper races down the halls with screams of excitement after the parents put them in the hall so they could have some peace. At night kids would run down the hall and pound on the door while the parents slowly walked down to unlock it. On the Hawaii part there was six kids and it was much more quiet. Dress code improved in the dinning room for the Hawaii part of the cruise. Disembarking was almost too easy. No lines or searches, just stroll off and hand them a sheet for purchases made on the trip. These were the bad parts but nothing was bad enough to make it a bad trip. We enjoyed ourselves, were treated well by crew members and it was a good cruise over all. We are happy we went and will be cruising again as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
When we arrived in San Diego there was no line so we thought it would be easy getting on-board. How wrong we were - 40 minutes! It seems our cabin was booked to two different parties. After we were assured it was all straightened out ... Read More
When we arrived in San Diego there was no line so we thought it would be easy getting on-board. How wrong we were - 40 minutes! It seems our cabin was booked to two different parties. After we were assured it was all straightened out and we boarded, our first stop was at the Front Desk to tell them of our problems and ask for a different cabin. The staff wasn't exactly rude, but sure wasn't warm and welcoming. They told us that cabins are changed around all the time including the last few hours before a cruise - but they had no place for us to move to. We go to our stateroom and then outside for the sailaway. Mixed feelings now about even wanting to be on this cruise. When we returned to "our" stateroom there were three pieces of luggage, not ours, in it. Again a trip to the Front Desk where we were told that 'those people' shouldn't have put that cabin number on their luggage tags. My husband explained that they probably wouldn't have done it if they hadn't been told to! Long story short, the luggage was finally collected and we were told by the Front Desk that 'those people' were sorry they had messed up the cabin numbers. Never an apology from the Front Desk staff until a couple of days later when they offered us a cheap bottle of red wine. When I tried to use my room key and drink card the first time I was told they weren't activated and I needed to go to the Front Desk to have that done. Again, not treated very nicely - I was told it was my fault for carrying my cell phone near my cards. My cell phone had been locked up in our safe from the beginning. They didn't care about that - could have just said 'not a problem - can take care of that for you very easily' and reactivated the cards. It was just easier to blame me. On the next to last day of the cruise while sitting on the back deck near the pool, we were hit w/oil drops from the smokestacks. It was a mess: clothes, hair, towels - everything. Again my husband made a trip to the Front Desk to complain about a pair of shorts and a shirt that were a mess. They did offer to clean those clothes for him at no cost. But no apology - and it was just a mistake, easy to apologize for. The wait staff was not good about filling up water glasses, replenishing rolls and butter, just being there in the dining room. There were puddles on our balcony the first two days until finally someone must have tried to brush them off or mop them up. We are three star mariners so have done our fair share of cruising w/Holland America but probably won't be sailing w/them again for awhile. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I am a dedicated Princess cruiser with about 12 cruises. However, due to chikengunya epedemic in Tahiti raging and not wanting to spend a good part of my cruise worrying about getting a mosquito bite I switched at the last moment to this ... Read More
I am a dedicated Princess cruiser with about 12 cruises. However, due to chikengunya epedemic in Tahiti raging and not wanting to spend a good part of my cruise worrying about getting a mosquito bite I switched at the last moment to this Holland America cruise since Princess had nothing else which included Hawaii at this time. The 5 sea days, the 6 days around Hawaii, and the 5 sea days to return (with a stop in Ensanada) seemed rather disjointed. I love sea days so that was not the problem. It just seemed like we spent very little time reallly seeing the islands. The ship was old but the staff was great! The food was great and the terminal in San Diego very handy in the middle of downtown. I stayed directly across from the terminal at the Wyndam and walked the one block to the terminal - very handy. I was not prepared for the age and poor health of a majority of those on the cruise. At times I felt I was on a hospital ship----many, many walkers, wheelchairs, and sick people. I would say the average age was around 75-80 (I am 68), I am used to being among the older on a Princess ship but not on the Holland America Veendam. The cruise to Hawaii was a little rough but back smooth as silk. The Captain was outstanding and made annoncements once or twice a day which were very informative. We did have one event on about the 4th day of the cruise...at 6.15am there was a strange sound and the entire ship tilted 7.5% which doesn't sound like much but was enough to throw you from one side of the bed to the other and break glassware. It felt like we were going down. About 2 hours later the captain came on and said it was a problem with the automatic pilot and they had to use a backup. Fortunately most were still in bed so few injured. The other major problem was one tremendous delay in tendering on our first stop in Maui. I know that ship tours are tendered first so I didn't even go down for 2 hours after this started. I was surprised to find that no one had gotten off. There were 4 small tenders; one was out of service, one had to be used for medicial transport and thus even after I got my tender ticket (not on a ship tour) I waited 2 more hours. It would have been nice if someone (like the cruise director or Captain had explaied the problem at the time) They did that evening about 8 hours too late. The ports were great - not to be missed are the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and the Vol. National Park. Ohau has turned into LA.....nothing but highrises and cheap shops. Last time I was there was about 25 years ago.. It is hardly possible now to see the beach and the area is jammed with people and buildings,,,,great disappointmet. One major plus is that they have a Catholic priest on board who celebrates Mass twice on Sundays and everyday for those who wish. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We were on the Veendam’s 18-day cruise to Hawaii that sailed on January 20, 2015 from San Diego and returned there on February 7th. The trip included stops at Maui (Lahaina), Honolulu (an overnight), Kauai, Kona, and Hilo plus a brief ... Read More
We were on the Veendam’s 18-day cruise to Hawaii that sailed on January 20, 2015 from San Diego and returned there on February 7th. The trip included stops at Maui (Lahaina), Honolulu (an overnight), Kauai, Kona, and Hilo plus a brief stop in Ensenada, Mexico on the way back. Some pluses: The weather was mostly sunny, and that includes the at sea days, which account for roughly 2/3 of the cruise. There were some rough waves heading out to Hawaii, but nothing that seemed to cause the passengers or the crew any problems. And the Pacific Ocean was remarkably calm on the sail back from Hawaii. The daytime temperatures were in the 60’s during the two full days heading out from San Diego, and they were in the 60’s during the final two full days of the cruise. The rest of the time, they were in the 70’s and low 80’s – warm enough to sit comfortably in shorts on the open-air “Retreat,” which is in the aft section of the ship on Deck 11. We had a starboard-side stateroom with a veranda, which means that we got almost no direct sun heading southwest to Hawaii, but plenty of sun heading back (northeast) from Hawaii. The veranda in the Pinnacle Suites is larger than it is on newer HAL ships (such as the Noordam or Eurodam), and that was a pleasant surprise. I am puzzled by some of the Veendam reviews I've read that complain that the ship looks old or rundown. I found it remarkably clean and well-maintained. It is also one of the most attractive ships in the HAL fleet. Since we almost never eat in the Lido, I can’t comment on it, but meals in the Main Dining Room (the Rotterdam) were quite good. The selections range from appetizers and entrees that will please folks with conservative tastes (e.g., steak, roast chicken, salmon) as well as those whose tastes are more adventuresome and are happy to sample various international spices and flavors. The Canaletto Restaurant was a nice surprise. We ate there when we were on the Eurodam some years ago and were not impressed. Then, the menu was comprised mostly of stuff you’d order from your neighborhood Italian diner (meatballs, lasagna, veal parmigiana, etc.), and while there is nothing wrong with those dishes, they are not what you’d expect from a premium restaurant. Fortunately, the Veendam was trying out a new Canaletto menu, and for us, at least, it was an unqualified success. The food is served “family style, which allowed my wife and me to sample a range of appetizers and entrees. They reduced the number of items on the menu, but these choices are all dishes that are imaginatively conceived and very nicely presented. The sea bass was outstanding, as were the gnocchi with short ribs, the fish soup (which is loaded with shell fish in a delicious broth), and the tiramisu dessert. With the new menu it seems to have found its niche as an Italian restaurant with imaginative choices of food and clever presentations. We hope that this menu is adopted by other HAL ships. HAL has changed internet service providers, and while it is still not as speedy as most of us are used to at home, it is a huge improvement over the past, when it took forever just to get logged on. We were able to access our email and pull up websites even when we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I was also pleased to discover that while we were in port in Hawaii, our Verizon FTE service was excellent, even when we were in our stateroom on board ship. As is generally true of Holland America, the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff are outstanding, whether it was dining room attendants, wine stewards, bartenders, or room stewards. The one absolute jewel, however, was Mei Michelon, the Neptune Lounge concierge. She is a miracle of efficiency, attentiveness, good humor, and intelligence. What a treasure she is for HAL! The talks in the Showroom, which were conducted by a lecturer named Lisa, were excellent -- a good mix of practical information with some Hawaiian history and culture. Her love for the Islands was quite apparent. My only complaint is that I wish that there had been more talks during the at sea days on Polynesian history and culture and on such scientific topics as navigation and volcanology. While I liked the Adagio Duo, I sure miss the old Adagio String Quartet. I realize that the latter means paying two more musicians, but a string quartet can provide classical music lovers with a far more enriching experience. Since the nightly performances in the Explorers Lounge is virtually the only opportunity to experience classical music on board, I think that a string quartet is worth the extra investment. Disappointments: One major disappointment was the Greenhouse Spa. For obvious health reasons (norovirus), the ship's captain and officers do not shake hands when they are introduced to guests. I was shocked, therefore, to see Spa staff extending handshakes even during the promotional events on the day we boarded. That struck me as reckless. Shouldn't the spa staff be as concerned about people’s health as the ship’s officers? In addition, the men’s sauna was out-of-order the entire cruise, and my wife had a terrible experience with the nail stylist and a fitness “expert,” though to their credit, the spa manager did offer her a refund. Although it didn't affect us directly, another disappointment was that some of our fellow passengers experienced problems with their room’s air conditioning, and there was also a water leak that affected at least one of the staterooms. As other reviewers have noted, the rooms need more electrical outlets. Bringing a power strip is probably a good idea, especially if you have lots of electronic devices that need charging. Another disappointment is that HAL still permits smoking on verandas and in the casino. Since the casino is located in the middle of Deck 8 it is hard to avoid breathing some smoke as you pass nearby. *** All in all, though, this was a very good cruise. The Captain kept us very well informed. The rescue at sea of the airplane pilot was a dramatic moment (http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/01/27/holland-america-pilot-rescue/22395031/), but even more important is that it demonstrated the exceptional competency of the ship's crew. I was also impressed with how that crew handled an unannounced drill late in the cruise. It was a surprise to the crew, as well as the passengers. It occurred during the Filipino Crew Show in the Showroom, and when the alerts sounded, the crew on stage immediately stopped their dancing and left for their posts, while Mario, the Cruise Director came on the PA to urge the audience to stay put in their seats. It was handled with a reassuring amount of precision and professionalism. Very impressive! Finally, the port stops in Hawaii, including an overnight in Honolulu, meant an opportunity to be moved by the Arizona Memorial, to tour the Mighty Mo (also in Pearl Harbor), and to see some gorgeous scenery. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and ... Read More
We had done this itinerary a year ago on a different cruise line, and really enjoyed the number of sea days, so decided to repeat it on a Holland America ship. We live close enough to San Diego to be able to drive to the port easily, and avoid the hassle of air travel/hotel expense. The embarkation was very smooth, and we were accompanied all the way to our cabin (one of us needs wheelchair assistance). Our stateroom was one of the Lanai cabins, with a sliding glass door replacing the ocean view window, allowing direct access to the teak walk-around Lower Promenade deck. It also includes two reserved wooden deck chairs right outside the door. We had been on this particular ship in March 2014, so the layout was very familiar for us. We had requested and received early fixed dining at the same table for two as last March. We had stopped for brunch on the way, and weren't hungry for the Mariner embarkation luncheon. Luggage arrived quickly, and we found spots for everything in spite of my penchant for overpacking. The standard bathrooms on this ship class don't have much storage; the over-door shoe bag is a must. Our stateroom attendants introduced themselves & we were more than satisfied with their friendliness & service throughout the cruise. They made some unique towel animals that we had never seen. We asked for ice twice a day and they always delivered it. The disaster drill was on deck (no lifejackets), and took a little longer than we were accustomed to, the passengers were restless and had lost interest after about 30". After a short rest on our deck chairs, we adjourned to get to the MDR by 5:15. Very easy to remember the table frome the previous cruise, and we met our dining staff - so very nice throughout the remainder of the cruise. We signed up for a wine tasting & ordered a bottle of wine. The meals for the duration of the cruise were all very good to excellent, temperature perfect, seasoning good. We do like spicy food, but understand that they have to season the food for the majority. When we ordered medium rare beef, it was perfectly done. We do like to try things we have not had before, or unusual (for us) foods. Lobster was on the menu only once (not even on the Pinnacle Menu), which didn't disappoint us, but we heard some grumblng from other passengers. We dined in the specialty dining venues once each, and had equally fine experiences. We try to avoid the Lido just because it is usually crowded, difficult to get around the entire serving counters and to find a table. The couple of times we did end up there we were OK with the food, but my husband said his was not even warm. The best food outside the MDR was the "Dive In" burger/hot dog joint at the end of the pool area. The fries were hot, crispy, and seasoned well. the burgers were really good. There is also a Mexican buffet there each day. Entertainment was mediocre in the showroom - we missed the Broadway show which was probably good, but it was only offered at 9:30 one time, we are early-to-bed types. The best show was "Encore", which showcased a good male & female singer, the Hal Cats turned orchestra, the violin performer from Adagio, and 2 female dancers. Light opera, Broadway show songs, very nice costuming. We had seen it last March, but liked it equally as well this time. The best one of the entire cruise. Entertainment is like food, depends on the person. There was a change in the crew shows - the Filipino crew show was at 2:00 PM, standing room only. We enjoyed it a lot, have never been able to stay up for the usual 11:00 Indonesian one, missed it this time too. We really like the layout of this ship, small & easy to get to everything. Best library of any one we have been on. There were daily activities for absolutely everyone, if you couldn't find something to do it wasn't HAL's fault. We attended several of the lectures on the history and culture of Hawaii, learned a lot of new facts. We only got off at one port, didn't do any excursions since this was our 3rd visit and we had seen most of what interested us before. We did get off the ship to go to "Hilo Hattie's", had not been to any of these stores prior to this trip. The sea days after we left the islands were great for us, our side of the ship was now on the south (sunny) side, and we camped out in our deck chairs most every day. Seemed like lots of the passengers were tired of the sea days & couldn't wait to get back; we didn't feel that way at all, we like being lazy & waited on. The day did finally come though, and I have to say that the disembarkation was the worst we have experienced on any ship. As I mentioned, one of us requires wheelchair assistance which we signed up for, but many of the passengers who showed up for it had not reserved it. There were more than 50 passengers in the Sea View Bar when we arrived, and more coming all the time. Not enough wheelchairs, or pushers who could handle the ramps that they had to negotiate. Passengers demanding that they be let off immediately, ones who decided they didn't want to wait & left,(why were they there at all ?) The poor man who was trying to coordinate the process was overwhelmed. We were more than an hour past the time we should have been let off, lucky we weren't on an early air flight. Overall we tried not to let this part of the experience negatively color the rest. I keep a journal each day, so have looked it over to read all the good parts. When I asked the onboard future cruise consultant she let us know that HAL will not be scheduling this cruise, the Mexican Coastal itinerary, or any other shorter R/T itinerary from San Diego after 2015, only the 30 or so days ones. So sad to see them go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
As a faithfull cruiser on Holland America Line, I found the selection of food on this cruise was poor. You can always fall back upon the "staple" items on the left hand side of the menu, but they get a little boring after awhile! ... Read More
As a faithfull cruiser on Holland America Line, I found the selection of food on this cruise was poor. You can always fall back upon the "staple" items on the left hand side of the menu, but they get a little boring after awhile! I wrote to Holland and told them there must have been a sale on braised beef and small shrimp as they appeared regularly on the menu. I also found there tended to be more deep fried selections than there have ever been before. We selected a lanai cabin for the first time and were disappointed in that also. It tended to be small and the deck chairs we had outside our cabin seemed to constantly have a drip from the tender above. If this is a problem for this cabin, why were the chairs not moved over some or the cabin taken out of the lainai category? We were exactly centre ship. Those things aside, the staff continues to amaze me with their constant smiles and good attitudes. Some passengers are a nightmare for them to deal with, yet the smile and good relations continue. All in all, I still consider Holland America to be one of the best cruise lines for those over 55. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is ... Read More
The Ship: The ship is wonderful. The retrofit changed a few things, so i recommend you also try the Maasdam to get a feel for the smaller ships. The Atrium is wonderful and still all the decks and spaces are so wondrful. The artwork is also wonderful. They changed happy hour times, but that is okay, we still made a few of them. We danced in the crows nest late one night and had a blast. I recommend you check out the deck plans. We always to scour them before we sail. The crew:The crew was amazing. Arthur and Gabriel of the front desk! They need a raise. Cyn of the spa, she was great. Our room stewerts were also amazing. The Entertainment: The on location stuff by Kinoa was amazing. His knowledge , his humor, his open heart full of aloha was so refreshing. This guy is so informed, a true native that you simply cant stump him. Dont miss his presentations. I even took some of gradma's jewlery to him, and he knew all of the hawaiian origins. The show Airborn was hilarious and inspiring. the singing and costumes were really good. The movies were all latest realeases. They show them the next day on the TV or in the Gym, so we saw alot of them. There is so much going on, dont fall prey to sitting in a lounger all day. Walk the decks, go to the cooking presentations, take the galley tour, go the library and just do it. It is nice to see Officers and the Captain enjoying a show or two some times too. The Dining: Prior to this cruise we always booked late seating. This time, due to negative people at our table, we jumped ship and switched to open seating. We found others of like mind that love their surroundings and love cruising and are generally happy with themselves to be fun to hang out with and did what we would normally do with our tabelmates. We ate at Canaletto together, went offshore together and got time to have a bite and talk. The dining was wonderful. For an 18 night cruise food did not repeat itself and was always fabulous. The soups were killer and we got to meet the saucier or soup guy and tell him so. The dining staff on this ship is top notch and clearly they have fun at work. They laugh and joke with us and each other and one night after dinner (we usually shiut the dining room down) they were celebrating a coworkers birthday at the very end of the shift with a with a pie in the face and icewater on his head. we all laughed and clapped at this rare human moment from folks who work so very very hard. The Gym: There is a good deck on the gym floor in which to take pics as most do, but also give the gym a try. We wend there everyday. It is free and they have good equipement. Just bring headphones so that you can also catch that movie you missed the day before , because they have screens and plug ins. The Spa:This is limited to 20 couples on this size ship and is a must do with 12 sea days. I am expecially glad we did, as the mineral tub was so ralaxing with a sea view and the ceramic hot beds were our daily moment of zen. There are also showers, steam rooms, two of them, one cooler one hot. If you can possibly afford it, just do it, and you wont regret it. The pools and hot tubs: THE pool (only one) was refilled with nice warm water that just got colder and colder each sea day. Very motel 6 like. The hot tubs, never hot, the jets are on day and night no option to turn the jets off. The jets are just blasts of cold air the water bubbles six inches high. On the back deck at The Retreat , the wind takes the bubbling water to be shared by all on the deck, and in your face too. The rectangular hot tubs at the Retreat , when they were filled, which wasnt all the time, were oddly the hottest pools and hotter than the hot tubs. They also had motion and jets to them, but were simply hotter. they are shallow, but wonderful. They just simply dont travel well at sea, so they are netted and empty most of the time as most of the water sloshes out across the decks. poor planning. The Room: We booked a oceanview on the promenade deck next too an exit to our "veranda". Loved the fresh air that would blow in when doors on this deck would open and close with people going in and out. Stateroom 327, just steps away from the promanade, providing fresh air, a feeling like it was our own viranda at half the price of the lanai. close to elevators and the atrium, and the lovely atrium steps. The Excursions: We had these stops: Oahu, Maui, Kuai ,Kona and Hilo. On Oahu (this was our overnight stop) we got together with friends for dinner and drinks, but the next day we took the city bus to Hanauma Bay and went snrokeling. I recommend this very much. Clear warm waters and huge fish. We have been to Oahu before so, this was perfect for us. On Hilo we got a rental car and drove to Volcanoes National Park and spent a time there walking trails. On a prior cruise we took the crater hike and it was wonderful. This time we drove to key spots and then drove also to Akaka Falls. This is a very spectacular fall on a very very short walk. Do this is you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in one more side trip. It is worth it. on Kaui we took the Seafun Kauai Shore Snorkel excursion form the ship. This is the best trip! You start in a van with a very short ride to suit up in a short wet suit, which keeps you warm and bouyant enough, so that you dont need a vest as on other snorkel trips. Once at the shore, the guides help you get situated, so dont let the rocky shore worry you. If you are lucky you will get the guide named Paul. We have gotten him twice now. This guy lives in the ocean and knows it like the back of his hand. He always produces a good find. Last time it was a Nerf Shark and Turtles and too many fish to describe. He will even offer to dive with your camera and get a good pic for you. This time he found an Octopus and we took turns holding it with his guidance. He also points out everything so you want to follow him, and he is good at keeping you close if you stray. We saw eels, sea cucumbers, turtles and a million dish. The Octopus was the star this time. The Kona Sail & Snorkel was a Snorkel excursion form the ship. This was a tender port, so this wonderful sail snorkeling excurion starts with a short drive in a van to the Kaloko Honokohau Marina. Then you travel south by catamaran to a sheltered cove. This was a small and intimate catamaran. Good lunch and treats and beer if you want it. The fish were wonderful and we always see some species that we haven't seen before. This location had a beautiful view of a beach that only native hawaiians can go to, but it was also close to a nice drop off.The water is thirty feet deep where the boat ties off to an anchor point. The water is very clear visablity is 120 feet. Along the shore are blocks lava that are plentifull with marine life and unbelievable amounts of fish. This was one of the few locations that we saw schools of fish. This is not for first time snorkelers or weak swimmers. The guides are friendly and very knowledgable of this pristine spot. West Maui Snorkel Cruise snorkel excurion from the ship:This the second time we have taken this excursion and was just as great as the first time. The crew is fun and friendly, very helpful for first time snorkelers. The water is about 20 feet deep, coral heads rise off the bottom at least 15 feet. Marine life covers the coral heads that attract the fish and turtles. The water is very clear you can see for 60-80 feet, fish are very abundant swimming around the coral heads. This spot is south of the ship tender close to Olowala state reserve on shore the water is very calm.The sail back to port is mostly by motor, the crew tries to sail but the wind has other ideas, take lots of pictures going to and from this location. The good: We love cruising and love our surrounding both at home and on a ship. Not much can dampen our day. One sweet highlight was seeing a storm petral and an albatross on the water. The bad: People who think that they are royalty; one day a woman stuck her pronged cane in the elevator while it was closing. It clamped down on the end and she was stuck on the outside with the rest of her cane and i was stuck on the inside with the end of it. Naturally it shut down the elevators and i had to pry open the doors. It put the elvator out of commision for a day. This might work in a city, not so much on a cruise ship. The ugly: Buzz kill negative people who hate their surroundings should not cruise. This sucks the life out of those of us who do. If you run around and take bowls of cheese or all the almonds you are selfish. If you complain that the soup is cold when there is steam clearly rising from it, you are ignorant. Leave cruising to those of us who know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The ... Read More
We were on the Veendam cruise to Hawaii from San Diego that returned on Feb. 8, 2014. This is our 14th cruise (mostly Holland America and Celebrity, plus 1 Crystal - also 2 Royal Caribbean and a few Princess from our earliest cruises). The last cruise we took was 7 years ago, also on the Veendam (26 days Mediterranean/Baltic), so this review will include the changes I’ve observed since then. If you are considering this cruise, please note: our cruise ended up having just 4 ports of call, instead of 6 in Hawaii, plus a day in Ensenada. That meant 7 days at sea, 4 port days in Hawaii, followed by 6 days at sea and a day in Ensenada (and since we live in San Diego, we are not too impressed with Ensenada.) We would definitely not have booked this cruise if we knew this was going to happen. Here’s why we just 4 ports in Hawaii: After a day at sea, someone fell down and was injured bad enough that we had to turn around and cruise back to San Diego for 12 hours, until the ship was close enough to land for the coast guard to use a helicopter to take her to a hospital. That put us one day behind, so they had to cancel the 2nd day in Honolulu and rearrange all ports of call. Then, at our last port of call, Maui, the sea was too rough to tender in, so we had to just leave and head back to San Diego. I was glad that the captain wanted to consider the safety of all cruisers first, but was disappointed with only 4 days in Hawaii. HAL did offer all cruisers a 15% credit toward another cruise. Here is my review of this cruise: Embarkation and Disembarkation went quickly. The ship was clean and well maintained. I was very impressed with the crew – they were all hard workers, smiling, and seemed very happy. I could easily find our room attendant during the hours he was cleaning rooms on our floor. During his off hours, if I phoned the front desk, I would get quick results. Service for dinner in the main dining room was also very good – I did not think they seemed “stretched”. Any time I phoned the front desk, they would answer quickly and take care of the issue or request. If I’d go to the front desk, I never had to wait in line because there were always 3 people working. They would address me by name, and be very friendly and helpful. The food in the dining room, and Lido for breakfast and lunch was very good. The exception was the desserts – pretty bland. I felt like they had not added much sugar or butter. Many times I wished that I had brought some canned frosting, or powdered sugar with me, so I could mix it will butter and sugar from the Lido, and make some frosting, because cakes were dry with almost no icing. If the “almost flourless chocolate cake” is on the menu in the dining room, order it. It was the one really good dessert during the cruise. I liked all of the chilled fruit soups in the dining room, but not the hot soups. One thing I noticed that has changed since 7 years ago, is that many entrees were made with hot/spicy seasonings, like jalapenos and cilantro. I do not like hot/spicy food, so I didn’t try these, but hopefully they were prepared with just a little of these spices. Also, I noticed that the vegetables are now served el dente, which is the popular way to serve them in our local restaurants. However, I prefer them soft – easier to chew. This made me think they are trying to appeal to a younger clientele. My advice regarding “open seating”: We had “open seating”, for the first time ever. Thanks to reading cruise critic reviews before we left, I knew to phone the front desk for reservations. Since the dining room opened at 5:00 p.m., I made reservations for then because we did not want to wait in line, as many cruise critic reviews said they had to. I soon found out that you could make reservations for the next 3 days. Therefore, each morning, I would phone at 8:00 a.m., and make reservations for dinner for another day. When we got to the main dining room, we discovered there was a very short line on the left, for open dining if you had made a reservation, and a long line on the right for open dining for those who did not make a reservation. Not many people knew you could make reservations. We were seated immediately at a table for 2, which we had requested. My advice for open dining: On the first day, look around the room for your favorite table location, and get the table number, which is on a card. Then, when you phone each day for reservations, ask for that table. After a few days, you’ll automatically get it. We had the same table for the entire cruise (via reservations), therefore out waiter got to know our preferences. For 5:00 p.m. reservations, the soonest you will finish dinner if you order dessert is 6:30 p.m. By the time your table is cleared and ready for the next diners, it is probably 6:45 p.m. So, I don’t see how anyone going to the dining room at 6:00 p.m. expects to get seated immediately – I think it is impossible. They stagger reservations, so some people are seated at 5:00 p.m., and some at 5:15 p.m. For open dining, you’d better go at 5:00/5:15, or 6:45/7:00 p.m. Breakfast on the Lido had everything you could want. Service was fast. They now serve several different variations of eggs benedict – with ham, or salmon, spinach, mushrooms, etc. The fruit was always fresh. They have a juicer, so you can always get fresh-squeezed orange juice. I agree – the French fries on the Lido were great. I usually don’t eat them, but couldn’t resist these – like nothing I’d tasted before. The hamburgers by the pool were okay, and I didn’t really like their hot dogs. The pizza was not very good. The entrees for lunch on Lido were better than 7 years ago. Also, one side had Asian entrees as well (really great), and the other side had Italian ones. The sweet potato fries were good. I noticed a big difference in their desserts on Lido: 7 years ago, there was this counter with tiers of whole pies and cakes – really good carrot cakes with lots of frosting, etc. Now the desserts are on a long counter, with ice cream served on each end. They are all on individual plates, very small servings, and really bland and tasteless. They had a good selection of ice creams and sherbets, not very high quality but quick service, considering the lines. I don’t think many people ate the other desserts. Tip: Go to the Explorations Café and request the lemon pound cake – really good and moist. Each evening, we liked to fill out the room service card for breakfast, requesting just coffee, juice, and baked goods. We place it on our door, and the next morning they promptly delivered it. We enjoy it while we are getting dressed, and reading the 8-page Times newspaper – you can request that they deliver it to your room as well. However, some days, they forgot to deliver it. I did not smell diesel anywhere on the ship, as another reviewer from last year stated. The air conditioning and heating always worked just fine, but it was never really that hot outside, since Hawaii is around 75-80 degrees F this time of the year. There was some sort of “varnish” smell in a cabin down the hall, one evening. Our room was very quiet and our window was washed down each day. My husband has a bad back, and felt that the mattress wasn’t firm enough, and should have been replaced, which could not be done. They flipped his mattress over, and then brought a foam topping, which made his side of the bed 4” higher than mine. It was just adequate. I love their bathtubs they are short and very deep – great for a good soak. But the shower nozzle was the hand-held variety with not much water pressure. We always had enough hot water. One issue we had with the bathroom: By the 3rd day, when I filled the tub up, the water was really yellow and left a yellow crusty rim on the tub. The plumber could not fix it. He said that the bath water is from the same pipe as the faucet in the sink that we drank from. The front desk person was very nice, and said we could bathe in another cabin each morning. However, she showed us 2 cabins - one on another floor, one way down the hall from ours – and when we filled up the tub, the water was also yellow. That meant the problem was probably in the entire ship! Also, during those days, the tap water smelled bad and tasted bad, although the water was much less yellow the following days, and clear a few days. The front desk gladly gave us complimentary liters of bottled water to drink anytime we needed it, which was for many days. I am glad to report that the last morning of our cruise, the water was perfectly clear in the tub, and did not smell when we tasted it from the sink faucet. There were walkers and scooters on our cruise. However, I never felt that they were hard to maneuver around, or made me wait longer for an elevator. They said the average age on our cruise was 70. I did not mind this, and enjoyed hearing the life stories of many fellow cruisers. As far as Dry Docks, I heard that after the Panama Canal sailing (which started on Feb. 8), they were going into dry dock, but for just 10 days. We were on the Main Deck, Cabin 611. I am glad we picked a cabin right in the middle of the ship (we always do this), as the sea was rough most of the way to Hawaii. I think anyone who had a cabin too far forward or aft might have gotten a little seasick. I liked that we were midway between both elevators. There were a lot of people coughing on the ship, and we both ended up with colds after the cruise. The Show Lounge: We went the night they were doing a Broadway dance/singing program, but it wasn’t that great. The other evenings, the entertainment sounded mediocre so we didn’t go. I liked the Explorations Lounge in the evening. They had classical music – a pianist and violinist – very good. We enjoyed dancing in the Ocean Lounge – very romantic! The other lounges had very good musicians as well. It was hard to get one of those wonderful lounge chairs with ottomans, facing the ocean, in the Exploration Café, because people would sit there for so long, and if there was an empty one, someone left their stuff on it to reserve it until they returned. I like their movie theatre, but I don’t think the movie selection was that great this time. They have 1,000 DVD’s that you can reserve and take to your room, but no explanation of what the movie is about. The TV in our room wasn’t that great of quality, especially the sound. There was a good movie channel, and most days we were able to watch the “Closing Bell” on CNNBC, I believe. The two ESPN channels always were available. I used to look forward to high tea, but since it was at 3:00, and we ate dinner at 5:00 (since we had “open seating”), there was no point to it. I tried it one day and it was good. I was really looking forward to the Royal Dutch Tea, but the day it was served, there was no special announcement in their program – it was just listed under the time slot, and I neglected to read that part of the program that day. Compared to 7 years ago, this time, instead of books, many of the seniors were using Kindles, Nooks or IPads. Also, many brought their Macbooks and used them in Crows Nest and other “hot spots”. All the computer classes were for Windows users, and I think HAL should consider some Apple classes as well, perhaps for Ipad apps, and IPhoto or IMovie (note: I use a MacBook Pro). We had previously booked a 7-day Mexican Riviera round-trip cruise out of San Diego, but right before our money was due, I checked, and this Hawaiian cruise was available for $100 per day ($3800 for both of us total, for 18 days), so we changed it for this one – so it was a very good value for an outside cabin. One of the 4 elevators on the dining room side of the ship was out of order the entire cruise. The part needed was on order. We had to wait a little longer for an elevator, but it wasn’t too bad. In conclusion, I like the Veendam for it’s smaller size and have never been on a megaship. I like the size of this ship - it's so easy to get around without a lot of walking. No public rooms were huge - so they felt kind of intimate. My favorite cruise line is Holland America because: it is the only one with a wrap-around teakwood deck; I like their library and it has ocean views; and I like the Crow’s Next Lounge and Explorations Café. I think it is a good value. Their food is as good as Celebrity’s, and is better than the food on other cruise lines in their price category. I love Crystal, but can take two cruises on Holland America for the price of one Crystal cruise. We’ve never been on the luxury lines.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to ... Read More
We had an unfortunate situation when a passenger fell down some stairs & was seriously injured. The captain was kind & caring enough to turn the ship around & head back towards SanDiego to meet with a US Coast Guard chopper to remove injured passenger & all turned out well. Because of the lost time we had our time cut short in Honolulu , another port because of sea conditions we were unable to visit. Holland America chose to offer everyone a 15% discount on a future cruise . My problem with this is why not issue a credit on the cruise where the losses occurred ? Not happy with that arrangement !!!! Notable problems I had with ship 1 Smoking in casino was not acceptable 2 On pool deck lounge chairs were one on top of each other 3 Water in swimming pool was never heated ( freezing ) 4 Limited number of public washrooms on ship 5 Common areas on ship were constantly too cool 6 No food trays to carry your food on in Lido Dining room 7 Ice tea glasses were so small you had to carry 3 of them & 1/2 the time they didn't have Lemmon 8 Only once saw the hot tubs being tested,on other cruises they were tested hourly 9 Only 1 electrical plug in bedroom at desk 10 Absolute wast of time stoping at Ensenada,Mexico Jones act or not TFavorable features of cruise 1 All entertainment was fantastic 2 Smaller ship was enjoyably 3 Priest on board was nice 4 Captain was fantastic with all his daily updates 5 Trainers in gym were great 6 Port of SanDiego Wes extremely convenient 7 The entire crew were polite & courteous at all times To sum it all up I felt like they were cutting back at every corner they could & it showed it. It's NOT the same Holland America we once knew   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the ... Read More
Stayed overnight at Wyndham Bayside both coming and going due to schedule issues with Air Canada. Nice hotel. You can see the boat in the harbor if you have the right room. It is just across the road. Luggage being left and sorted in the parking lot beside the boat was a little disconcerting. Talked to some people on board who never got their luggage until we docked at the first port. Hula lessons, ukulele lessons, history lessons and bracelet making was available from native Hawaiians on board. Wonderful country/rock singer Cliff entertained every evening in The Mix. Some of the entertainment in the Showroom at Sea was good but I find the ships own dancers etc. are becoming somewhat dated. We went on Hilo excursion to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and Thurston Lava Tube.very good, lots to see. As expected the tour to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor was very well done. Atlantis Submarine tour in Maui was very entertaining. Our stop at Ensenada was forgettable,children begging on the side of the road. Disembarkation went very smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on ... Read More
I was not fond of the overall menu choices in the dining room. Different, not as familiar as on other Holland cruises. On a 17-day voyage you might expect to have some repeats of dessert choices, but only once did I see creme brûlée on the menu and I opted not to order it, saving that choice for another night. I never again saw that opportunity. On a Princess cruise in August, 2013, it was n thee dessert menu nightly. Some nights none of the main dishes appealed to me. One of those nights I chose the usually predictable rare steak. My knife would not -- repeat, would not cut through it. Server brought another knife but nota any better. I opted send it back, as the whole table would have had to wait for me to complete my meal before the server would take our dessert choices. Probably will not book the lanai cabin again. The sliding glass door was extremely heavy and hard to open. Because of the floor plan to have access to that door, the useable open space of the cabin was smaller than those non-lanai cabins on the lower prom deck we have been in several times. We also experienced annoying "tapping" noises at night in the area above the cabin. Our immediate neighbor, forward of us, complained enough that they were moved to another cabin. The casino in the Veendam was disappointing. Tables had very few people gaming. I asked if the minimum on the "normal" blacklack table (one table only) ever changed from $10, to $5 and was told NO, only the "fun" 21 table offers the $5 minimum bets. Most of the time there was not a dealer at the roulette wheel. The cruising itself was fine. Smooth sailing most of the time, and when the larger whitecaps were showing, it had very little effect on us. Ports were good to excellent. Be sure to go up to the volcano in Hilo, and if you really want a GREAT experience, take the helicopter ride in Kauai. Excellent! The entire flight is records, including views of the passengers inside, and for an additional fee you may elect to purchase it right after the flight is over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
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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