Year Started: 1873
Ships in Fleet: 15
Summary: A high quality upper mainstream cruise line with smaller ships and value prices. A cruise line for people who want to step up from mainstream at great value prices.
Regions:Alaska, Central America, Transpacific, West Coast, Erope
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Eastern Seaboard, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Eastern Seaboard, South America
Good for: Teens. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Value for Money. Teens. Seniors.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, West Coast
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Africa, Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western, Scandinavia, The Orient
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Seniors.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Eastern Seaboard, Hawaii, Mexico, South America
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Oceania, The Orient, West Coast
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Central America, Hawaii, West Coast
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Alaska, Central America, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, West Coast
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Foodies.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern, Caribbean Western, Central America, West Coast
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
This was our first cruise with HAL, and possibly our last (I’ll explain in the summary). We had a GREAT cruise, I just don't think HAL is the right line for us.
Cabin Review and Embarkation: I found our inside cabin (6065) to be wonderfully spacious. For a ship that is only 2.5 years old, I found the bathroom to be really run down (cracks in the shower base, stained sink etc). The cabin stewards were just okay. We boarded the ship just afternoon. It looks like the first group (of which we were part of) had just been given the all clear. Due to HAL’s new policy we had early access to our room. I’m not sure how great this policy is as I think the staff is rushing to get all the rooms ready; that cleaning may be sacrificed. There was a few mounds of sand on the carpet. These didn't disappear for a few days. Having just boarded, we didn’t bring the sand; it was there from the previous passenger. DH stuck the bar of soap in one of the bathroom drinking glasses. I later pulled itout. The glass was merely rinsed and put back (there were still chunks of soap stuck to it). ewwww ~ I assumed we got freshly machine-washed glasses every day. I hope we had new glasses for our sailing, and not a quick rinse after the previous passengers left. There was also a silver earring back on the counter that was there when we got there and never left. In short, the cleaning practices were not up to par, but we didn't complain. Other than that, the room stewards were friendly and courteous. Any requests, were promptly attended to.
Mariner Lunch & Brunch We really enjoyed the welcome aboard lunch. It wasn’t our best meal on the ship; but it was nice not to eat in the LIDO. This was our first cruise with HAL but we had Mariner status from having sailed with Princess and/or Carnival. We also, by accident and not by invitation, attended the Mariner Brunch. We were given a nice coaster set. Not sure that I will ever use it, but I like free stuff! There were also a few events were complimentary champagne (sparkling wine) was given out. Not the best sparkling wine I’ve heard, but I like free booze!
Dining We only used the MDR and the Lido. Our dining steward (Yunis) was AMAZING. My kids loved him and especially the origami animals he folded for them each day. He was the best dining steward we've ever had. I wasn't impressed with the lido, but I haven't been on any ship other than Carnival dream. In fact, all the dining stewards were amazing (except for one grump we found on the last day). But Yunis was superb, it only took Yunis one night to learn our dining preferences (ex. that we liked our beef cooked to medium rare, or that my daughter liked her food without sauce (or the little ketchup pots that came with fries). After we told him how much we loved fresh berries, every night when we got to our table, was a silver goblet filled with mixed berries.
Club HAL I know many of you here don't have need for club HAL - but this is seriously the best kid's club at sea, albeit we have not yet sailed on Disney. The head counsellor Cassandra was amazing and clearly loves kids and her job. Let it be known that the Royal Family of Oakville won the Family Scavenger Hunt (okay, we were the only family that participated). We sailed Carnival last year and my son hated Camp Carnival and refused to go. I don't blame him because the counsellors were terrible. Granted, he is older now and is now used to going to pre-school, but he really enjoyed Club Hal.
This is mostly due to the counsellors who are amazing. We mostly engaged with Cassandra and Amanda who were AWESOME and energetic. The kids loved them.
The club itself is small but adequate. There were 140 kids on our sailing, with 40 in the 3-7 age group. I'd say about 12 to 15 regularly attended club hal.
They have great activities like spy night and alien night, and a pj party at the end. One night they met in the Queen's lounge and made chocolate chip cookies, and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
They do a lot of arts and crafts.
They also have about 1 family activity scheduled each day, usually at 4PM. I thought this was great because most ships don't cater to the family. Our sailing had a WII tournament, Karaoke, Scavenger Hunt, and a few other activities.
Other than Club Hal, there isn't a lot do to do on this ship for kids. My kids missed the waterslide and mini-golf which they enjoyed on Dream.
Overall, they really enjoyed Club Hal, and often (on sea days) opted to go to Club HAl than go to the pool. Club Hal on HMC was just okay. My son opted to stay with us, while my daughter opted to stay with Club Hal, until she started crying when someone poured water down her back! They did have waterslides at the beach, unfortunately there was not enough moving water to propel the kids down the slide. But HMC itself was beautiful; so who could complain!
Service IMPECCABLE! On Grandeur of the Seas in the MDR, DH asked if he could get a sandwich without cheese, and he was asked to scrape it off. On Carnival Dream, when my daughter asked for apple slices for dessert, we were told it was not on the menu. On Eurodam, there was not a single service request that was denied. We were VERY IMPRESSED with this.
Smoking We didn't have a problem in the rooms (i.e. smell of smoke) ... the only place it really bothered me was in the Casino. There was not a single non-smoking table to be found. I would have left a lot more money behind in the casino, if I didn't have to leave a table every time someone sat down beside me with cigarettes in hand. So perhaps thanks to HAL smoking policy, I left the ship with some money in my pockets.
Ports of Call: Grand Turk – we used the local beach right off the dock. We also used the pool (for anyone who's been to Costa Maya - it is a similar set-up.
St. Thomas - we went to Magen's Bay. The waves were a bit rough for this time of year, and the beach was a bit crowded. We were in port with Allure (or was it Oasis?). Early in the day a wave stole my daughter's sunglasses and then the ocean stole them. She was upset and still laments about "the worst beach EVER". We visited this beach on our honeymoon and it is not as I remember; mostly due to calmer water and the lack of crowds. On our next visit, I might try and find a more secluded beach.
San Juan - we just walked around but it was scattered showers so we quickly returned to ship. The roof over the pool was closed but the water was also too cool.
HMC - was beautiful! My kids just love to search for shells (not too many were to be found!) and build sand castles. They also have these nice floating beds which the kids loved.
Return to Everglades and flying out of FLL: You might want to tell the ship you have an earlier departing flight than you actually have!
We had a SW flight departing at noon. We were Grey 1.
We were done breakfast, and ready to leave the ship by 8:45. We had to wait another 20 minutes or so before we were called to depart. The security line at the port was pretty long. Nevertheless, we fought our way to the cabs, and made it to the airport just before 10. We tried to stand in front of the skycap; only to be told that the back of the line was - over there! It was a huge line; and we decided to take our chances on the inside. Another huge line; but it moved pretty quickly. We were told that we were among the last 15 to check in; so we had to get boarding passes at the gate. All was good until we got security around 10:30 or so. THE LINE WAS HUGE. There was the basic line, and then a reserve area, and then a line that circled all the way back around the car rental area. I've never seen such a ridiculously long line. We were worried we would not get our boarding passes in time. We did know they would call us from the line if our flight was due; but still, it was too close for comfort.
Oh, and then my 3 year old got randomly selected for a detailed security inspection.
Next time, we'll try not to fly out of FLL on a Saturday; or make sure we can clear the ship in time to brace the security lines.
The Ship and The High Seas I don't know if it was the rough waters, high winds, or the captain sailing 20 nauts, but that boat was moving. Eurodam is the second smallest ship I've sailed and for the first time in 7 cruises, I was sea sick. Towards the end of the week, the Captain slowed down to 12 nauts, and it was a much smoother ride. We spent most of the week in a bonnine stupor.
Summary We are in our early 40s, and found the ship a little too tame for us but we also were not particularly social as we were travelling with our kids and were not at our best because of the sea sickness. We found a lot of passengers were not particularly tolerant of children. We were actually refused seating at one table during the cupcake tea (the people sitting there did not want us!). Other than that, I found most passengers either looked lovingly at my children and tried to engage them in conversation or were looking at them with disgust as if kids did not belong on a cruise ship. When cruising with our kids, we might seek out a more family friendly ship the next time. However, the main reason we probably won't sail with HAL again is that we found the ship too small (with respect to feeling the movement). I know HAL is not headed in the direction of larger ships, which is too bad for us, because the service levels are excellent and HAL should be very proud of their crew. Even the guys cleaning or servicing the ships were well spoken and helpful; unlike on other lines where the behind-the-scenes crew don't want to engage with passengers.
Our cruise on the Eurodam was wonderful. The food, accomodations, service,etc. could not have been better. However, disembarkation was a nightmare for us. My wife is in a wheelchair and needs assistance. I asked for an early departure because of our situation and was "reluctantly" given a departure from the ship 15 minutes earlier. Big deal.
No provisions were made for a designated area for handicapped, no attendants to help with departure. From the beginning of ship's disembarkation process to our getting to rental car just outside of Ft. Lauderdale terminal took 3 hours, part of it sitting in the rain waiting for a shuttle bus to stop because so many other ships were also disembarking at the same time.
I complained to HAL in writing. Their response was to use Express Departure (carry own bags). How they expected a 75 year old man with his own medical issues to carry two suitcases, a carryon bag and a woman in a wheelchair off the ship by himself boggles the mind. I wrote two letters back to HAL refuting their suggestion. Never heard back from them either time. For a cruise line that supposedlycaters to a more mature clientele, they have a lot to learn. Two years earlier embarking on the Norrdham in NYC there was a major problem with registering handicapped people that almost amounted to chaos because of the total confusion with registration.
I am writing to report my experience in booking with Holland America Line.
I haven't taken the cruise yet but just discovered that a hold of $60 per day and per person will be placed on our credit card accounts "for our convenience" during the cruise. Nobody told us anything about this at the time of the booking, and apparently we had no other choices but to authorize this in order to get our boarding documents ("the Express Docs"). Either this or we would have to prepay cash in advance. Granted, Holland America claims that it is only a "hold" and that our balance would be settled at the end (unspent monies returned to us) but to me this sounds like very bad business practices.
I will certainly look at the other cruise lines in the future...
On the whole, our 28 days aboard the Statendam were enjoyable. However, those considering cruising on this ship, particularly those with respiratory problems, should be alerted to the recurring problem, especially in cabins located near the bow, of periodic venting of noxious marine fuel vapor / fumes into passenger cabins via the air conditioning system.
We also found the service in the Rotterdam Dining Room to be impossibly slow before the food is served, then hurried and unpleasant thereafter. Dining in the Lido Restaurant, while not as "elegant," is a much better experience, with highly professional and friendly service. Food choice, quality, and menu variety in the Statendam's Lido are not up to the high standard set on the larger HAL ships, but dining there is still good.
I just returned from a seven night sailing on the Eurodam and it's definitely not your parents cruise line.
Embarkation was a little chaotic but because I was booked last minute, I could print out any of my shipboard documents so it was very delayed for me. They boarded us on the ship by numbers. We checked in at 1130 am and practically walked onto the ship. The staff knew there was a tropical disturbance out in the Atlantic at the time and kept us up to date by the minute. Also, a presentation was constantly running on channel 26 called "Storm Watch."
Food was amazing. Presentation, service and selection was enough to satisfy everyone on board. A true level of perfection, esp. in the main dining room. We dined at a couple of the speciality restaurants. The Pinnacle Grill was great. I went with the Steak with Lobster, French onion soup, ceaser salad and creme brulee. Reserve in advance.
Tamarind was another dining option on board. It's more so an Asian fusion type dining. I went with the Sechuan Shrimp with Thai Basil. You can tell them how hot or mildyou would like it. The appetizer sampler I had rocked too: Spiced lamb, beef and chicken with dipping sauces was to die for! Book early though. We tried to book again the third day and it was booked up for the cruise, as was the Tamarind. My only bad experience was the Lido deck dining was always super cramped. Never any elbow room and the lines were always 20 people deep, it seemed no matter what time you went it was still super crowded.
Staterooms: We were in room 5056, a Veranda stateroom. There was one queen bed in there that made two double beds, a sitting area, a decent sized balcony along with a tub in the bathroom which was really enjoyable. This was my first cruise that had a full sized tub and not just a shower area. The in room ship flicks was a great feature. They have over 1000 movies for you to choose from and they will bring it to your room.
Entertainment: Jason the Cruise Director, Matt the DJ and Joel one of the entertainers really made the sailing. Jason knew just when to make his announcements and it never was at a time that made it inconvenient or wanted to say shut up!
Disembarkation: It seemed very long but that's because we had the Green zone luggage tag. Our zone wasn't scheduled to be called until 9:40 am, in reality it was called at 10:00 am, next time I will just roll my luggage off. There was about a thirty minute wait in the customs line. Room service on the last morning is the way to go!
Over all I was very pleased with my stay. An misconception I had of Holland America is now out the window. I was always hesitant to go on Holland because of all the older folks, but that was not true at all. I just turned 30 this year and there was plenty of people my age and younger on the sailing. I'm sure the Caribbean sailings draw a younger crowd though and the attractive rates can't hurt!
Very poor customer service. Bathroom pipes overflowed. Gives new meaning to "poop deck". Toilets in cabins and common areas would not flush. There was overflow in cabins. Friends had floating material flood their cabin and were offered nothing in compensation. Our cabin did not flood, but toilet would not flush for over 1/2 day. We complained during the cruise and wrote a letter afterward and not even offered a small inconvenience discount for a future cruise. This is an older ship and not as nice as others in the fleet. I won't cruise Holland any longer. Absolutely disgusted with the company and lack of communication and concern for customers and our health and safety. Even after I was specifically requested to write a letter by an agent of Holland, nothing was done to keep me as a customer. Additionally, after requesting to be taken off of all of Holland's emails...I still get them. Good food, but no regard for customer satisfaction. Spend your money elsewhere.
This was our 22nd cruise and our eighth Holland American Line (HAL) cruise since 1995, with each cruise on a different ship, except that this is our second cruise on the Westerdam. Our cabin was a super verandah suite (Category SY) on the Upper Verandah Deck mid-ship. We sailed on a 12-day eastern Mediterranean cruise from Greece, to three ports in Turkey, to two ports in Israel, to one port in Egypt, and back to a different port in Turkey again, before returning back to Greece. Plus, there were three days at sea when going between two Turkey distant ports, from Israel to Egypt, and Egypt to Turkey. Every port was most interesting. In addition, we enjoyed a three-day pre-cruise in Athens staying at the Holland America approved hotel - the Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel.
FLIGHTS We selected Delta Airlines for the flights from Los Angeles to Athens with a change of aircraft in both directions in New York City. These flights were long (over 16 hours going and 17 returning). Because the flights were long, we upgraded to business class.
SHIP The Westerdam is one of the larger-sized ships of HALVista class. It has 11 decks with 11 elevators, four of which are glass-enclosed and located on the outside mid-ship. The ship has 972 cabins and carries 1,848 passengers with a crew of 800.
CABIN Our cabin was larger (384 square feet) than on our previous 2004 Westerdam cabin (254 square feet) when we sailed the western Mediterranean. Plus, we were on one deck higher. And like on the previous cruise, we had a nice large verandah. Our cabin had air conditioning, bottled water, comfortable king-size bed with four pillows (actually two single beds placed together, with room to place your suitcases under) with two night stands, safe, bathroom amenities, bathrobes, hair dryer, three chairs, small coffee table, two desks with eight drawers, three closets, toilet, bath and shower, a separate shower, two sinks, fresh fruit, etc. Both 110 and 220 volts electrical outlets. HAL previously provided a special luggage tags containing our cabin number and our luggage arrived in our cabins before we did.
VERANDAH The large verandah (130 square feet) had three chairs with separate footrests, and one table.
IN-CABIN TV AND SOUND SYSTEM A color TV with 18 channels including CNN, BCC, ESPN, several movie channels, views of the ship’s bow and aft, etc. A DVD player with a choice of over 900 DVDs to choose from the ship’s library (action, comedy, drama, family, horror, romance, sci-fi, and television).
DINING ROOMS The main one is the Vista (decks 2 and 3), and the others are the Pinnacle Grill (deck 2), Canaletto and Lido (deck 9), and Exploations Café (deck 10). In the Vista dining room, at our assigned table, the overall and service food was good. For some unknown reason, HAL’s famous Baked Alaska dessert was not offered anytime. The Pinnacle Grill is only available by making a reservation. Service was very good and the food was much better than the main dinning room. There is a $20 per person surcharge.
BARS There are seven bars = Piano, Pinnacle, and Sports (deck 2), Ocean (deck 3), Sea View and Terrace (deck 9), and Crow’s Nest (deck 10). We always enjoy the Crow’s Nest, especially when leaving a port before dinner, as the room overlooks the ship’s bow and the direction in which the ship is sailing. There is a minor problem with the Crow’s Nest as it is so popular, you often find all of the tables being used by non-drinking passengers either reading books or even just sleeping. HAL should correct this problem.
TIPS There's an automatic assessment of $11 per day per guest and 15% is added to all drinks.
CHECK-IN Faster than usual, during check-in before initial boarding, digital camera takes your photograph. Each time you board the ship, your cabin card is scanned and your photograph is displayed to the ship's security personnel; eliminating the need to carry a second form of ID with your photograph (driver's license, etc.). Also, every time you re-board the ship, all carry-on items (purses, cameras, etc.) will be scanned.
TOURS There are ten ports and here is the most interesting thing in each port. Greece: Athens - Acropolis and the changing of the guards at the palace. Turkey: Istanbul - Blue Mosque, Antalya - ancient Roman city, Iskenderun - the cave church of St. Peter and the Roman mosaics, and Kusadasi - the house of the Virgin Mary. Israel: Ashdod - the tomb of the Virgin Mary and the Sea of Galilee, and Jerusalem - a museum to the Jews who died in World War II. Egypt: Cairo - the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Every port was most interesting. Many of the tours were long - some lasting up to 12 hours. Because of these long tours, we didn’t visit the spa, library, Movie Theater, evening entertainment, etc. However, the meals on the tours were very good; frequently served in the dining rooms of five-star hotels. There is a problem when the shipboard personnel are assigning the passengers to various tour buses, etc. The problem is that they gather all the passengers into the ship’s auditorium at the same time and then call them to leave by their tour name. HAL should assign the passengers to sit in designated sections of the auditorium at specified times to avoid the mass confusion and large groups of passengers attempting to leave all at once, etc.
ON SHIP ILLINESS About halfway thru the cruise, a serious illness problem aboard affecting both a small group of passengers and crewmembers was reported. The problem was Norwalk virus causing those affected to have stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The ship personnel immediately sanitized the ship, closed popular common areas - the library, some dinning areas, etc., and we were given frequently and lots of special hand cleaner. After about two days, the problem was eliminated. Westerdam did a good job on this. And we were never medically affect in any way.
OVERALL OPINION I'm impressed with the Westerdam since it was remodeled a couple of years ago. And the tours were very interesting.
Holland America Line Zaandam by Vicki Alaska September 10, 2010
Loved the ship, the food, and the service. Highly recommend the ship. Do not recommend shore excursion Fly out Fly fishing Juneau very expensive all hike no fishing
I will never recommend somebody this ship. It was the worth experience in my life. Food in “ all you can eat” buffet is like food in High School Cafeteria. The shore excursions are TURIST TRAP.
At Palma de Majorca they took us to pearl factory trying to sell. We did not come from NYC to visit pearl factory. Then we spent 40 minutes across the street on bullring, witch is place for public urinate. Nice. We spent 1hour and 20 minutes in cathedral where other people spend 20 minuets and cost for public ticket only 4 euro.
Out of 4 h we spent 1 ½ h in the bus and did not see Palma de Majorka. Shame!!!It was insult and abuse. And when you complain, they ignore you. It was like robbery. They spoiled our vacation.
Our experience and such. Age group 60 and 55, started cruising 1984, do minimum two cruise a year often three, this year four. We stopped really counting at 50 cruises and we cruise any and all lines. Generally ship is our interest not itinerary but Bermuda is exception. I will not really comment on Bermuda itself other than great island like no other! Always enjoy our time there, have sailed there many times in past years though not in recent years except as one day stop on reposition sailings.
Hurricane Daniel, Earl, and Fiona, what us worry? No problem going though didn't tender atSt. George's went direct to Hamilton better anyway in our opinion. Some rocking on way home but nothing really bad, Captain left early on Friday and fell in behind Earl.
EMBARKATION - Through the years we have sailed numerous times from Manhattan Piers, always electing to use Long Term Pier Parking. NY Parking is never inexpensive at $30 a day, paid in advance at lot arrival, it is almost reasonable but only by NY City standards.
This year construction activity is evident and continuing. I found that the parking and departureareas were reversed from what I have come to know through the years. Now upon driving up the initial ramps you are greeted with two signs and options. Parking up ramp to right and Arrival/Departure Drop off to left. The parking ramp used to be at end of drop off area. This confused me, would there be luggage handling in parking or should I drop off first then will there be another ramp to access parking? I elected to drop off luggage first. technically this is the wrong choice but in reality this particular trip proved advantageous. I say this because when we did park it was about as far away from the ship as you could and still be on upper pier. That made getting luggage to your ship's pier a bit hard as porters were few and far between in Pier 88 parking area and Veendam was on pier at opposite end. Although we will be sailing from Manhattan once again on October 6th and will go directly to parking and hopefully find an the luggage handling better. This because if you drop luggage first you must then drop back to street and head back to pier entrance from 12th Ave. Easy enough to do but traffic only allows 3 cars at a time to make left into piers for most part. Therefore returning to pier could take 15 minutes or could take an hour and a half depending on traffic situation. In this case it took about 30 minutes to make one City block or so loop around.
After all that actual embarkation on Veendam was a breeze. Desk lines moved quickly and there were more than enough staff handling all. All pier staff were pleasant and helpful. We were onboard within 20 minutes of actually getting on a line.
CABIN - We had been assigned an aft verandah suite 085 having booked this cruise late and having to take a BC Suite Guarantee. This cabin is one of the cabins added in the last retrofit of the Veendam when aft pool was removed. It is located on Deck 10, Navigator deck, the same deck as the "real" suites. Though being labeled a veranda "suite "I would consider it really a veranda Cabin. The S suites or Deluxe Verandah Suites on Deck 10 are the "real "suites. As on most ships this "suite "category does not receive the benefits offered the Deluxe Suites such as private concierge lounge, or those lovely chocolate covered strawberries they were placing in those S Suites. We peeked inside and they are vey large and nicely appointed suites. We can't really complain though since we could have booked one of those but at DOUBLE the price we elected to take our chances especially since this was really a pre-cruise cruise we threw onto our cruising year. This is an "older "ship by today's standards though not all that old by ship standards, having a verandah was reward enough. The Veendam does not have almost all verandah cabins like the later mega ships now do.
The cabin itself, design, space, and verandah, no complaints in any of those areas, Cabin was clean and well appointed featuring Queen bed, plenty of closet and drawer space, hair dryer and moveable cosmetic mirror. Bed and bedding were comfortable, cabin steward Roke ( you can call me Ralphie ) did great job. Cabin bathroom features a Jacuzzi tub but note it is one of those deep ones you almost need a step stool to get into. Water pressure and hot water were excellent no complaints from wife. I know this is important to the ladies for rinsing the soap from the hair. Also, for the ladies, the hairdryer located in a drawer at the desk was 1600 watt with a concentrator nozzle. Linda said it was fine although she had brought her own anyway just in case. She could have lived with using this one.
The veranda was good sized and had two chairs and a lounge, there was room for all. A nice touch was that chairs had comfortable cushions on them. A touch you no longer see on most ships.
In fact the cabin was exceptional in many ways with one, sadly MAJOR, exception. No not AC as some reviewers have noted in their commentaries, our AC worked flawless, had to keep it set low was that cold. The problem was plumbing! As I said water was great. It was drainage that proved a problem. The sink almost constantly GURGLED, blub, blub, blub. Initially some water also could be seen pushing back out of tub drain. Do not write this off as a minor issue. Ship noise does not bother me, that creaking and groaning you sometimes get is welcomed I love it. The retreat area above us 6:30 am setting out the deck chairs sliding above no problem. This BLUB, BLUB, BLUB, loud and annoying as well as almost constant. It was noted almost immediately while still at NY pier and my first call, fearing sewer blockage and seeing gunk coming from bathtub, was met with sympathy and assurances. That said, so were all the calls about the issue during the week. I even spoke to a ships plumber who assured me he was making a part and would repair it finally in the morning, that was third day. As we left the cabin the morning of our arrival back in NY the sink wished us a fond farewell, BLUB, BLUB, BLUB. I do not know if any other cabins have a similar problem but I believe at least in this cabin it is a probably unfixable plumbing design problem. All the attention we were given was probably an every week response to a problem they can do nothing about.
Location, very aft, not great in rough seas but very convenient to dining and buffet and pool area.
DINING - HA has acceded to the anytime, freestyle, As YOU Wish, whatever dining. It does not work well in my humble opinion but I do admit we like are traditional dining. Since we booked only a month or two before sailing we were bound to accept anytime dining and be wait listed for traditional. First night we elected to not do dinner having had afternoon buffet and hoping that we would better fit into formal night attire excluding one meal. The next day I spoke to the Restaurant Manager and requested traditional dining. He told me it was very full and that I shouldn't expect it. I thanked him and went on my way. By dinner time we had received dining change to main seating table 32. So second night we had a table for six, we were alone, empty spaces everywhere. They have the tables for traditional but not the staff! Second night we were joined by a couple and a single gentleman who all reported they had been at other tables, the couple had no one at their table, the single was an add on he felt at another table. These were our table mates for the rest of the cruise. There were two empty seats. There were half empty tables all around us. Table 32 location was great right by aft windows. Service was fair at best though I am sure that the waiter and his assistant did their best. They seemed to be covering a large section with ever changing numbers. I do not think it was their problem or work ethic but never the less service, slow and uneven. NOT their fault.
Despite what lines would try to make you believe, that anytime dining is a benefit for us, in reality it allows them to use less staff. So you are left with hard pressed traditional dining waiters, and anytime dining which is anytime you want to eat if you have a reservation and if you eat early. Otherwise please take this beeper and it will be thirty minutes to an hour and a half until we can seat you. I admit some still rave about it but we just don't get it.
FOOD - In general very good and we had no complaints. We don't normally sail HA, having done so only once before on the Noordam. Then we found the food bland and desserts tasteless. On Veendam we found the food to be well spiced, presented and tasty for most part. I won't dwell on food simply because it is truly a matter of personal taste. Let's leave it that no one should have a problem finding something they enjoy to eat.
The buffet area I felt was very good. It is set up somewhat different in that each section, Asian, Salad, and such is really run as a separate little line. Initially this makes you feel like you are butting in line going around people but once everyone gets the way it works it isn't that bad except when really busy. Then all these people waiting in line in little service sections block the main aisle. First two days staff serve you at buffet which slows everything down a lot, once they are sure we are not going to have a Noro problem self serve becomes the standard.
Slices, the pizza area aft, I had read that pizza was not good. Okay NY pizza is best in country so NY passengers are never going to be happy with ship pizza. I have found really good pizza on ships, Celebrity comes to mind but long ago, I don't know about now. The Veendam pizza is passable, not as bad as reported in my opinion but it will not satisfy your pizza cravings while at sea. Makes for a quick acceptable snack while lounging in retreat area.
While we didn't bother, a couple of our table mates did finally get seated one evening at the Canaletto Italian dining area for dinner. This is a section of the Lido buffet that is turned into a small Italian dining room each evening. While no extra charge reservations are needed to get seated for most part. After waiting all week to get in our tables mates were not happy with the food finding it the same as Italian dishes offered in regular dining. However I do think it is more for the small Italian restaurant atmosphere it mimicks than the food that makes it popular.
We never go to pay additional dining as we firmly believe that this detracts from the normal dining experience provided on ships. Simply we are believers that eventually if the lines find it possible, virtually all dining will become ala-carte added cost restaurants, at least this is their dream from the accounts point of view. We will have no one to blame but ourselves if this ever happens. So I cannot speak to it.
ENTERTAINMENT - As we expected on a smaller ship, it was not the gala major shows but was good none the less. It was not the showroom that struck me but the small lounges, intimate and comfortable. I found myself sitting and enjoying a string quartet nightly at the Explorers Lounge. This being remarkable in that I normally do not listen to any music. I found their playing remarkable and enjoyed having a cocktail there awaiting dinner time. The only annoyance was those When You Wish dining beepers announcing your table is ready now making you suddenly feel like you were at the Outback in the mall.
I heard the doo wop show and the crew show were excellent, we did not attend either and apparently we should have.
ODDS & ENDS
Having giving up cigarette smoking for over two years now I do still enjoy one cigar a week most weeks. I Still try pay attention for the current smokers and I found the Veendam about as friendly to smokers as you can expect now a days. An ashtray was available in cabin if needed. Smoking is allowed on verandah and cabin.
The aft retreat area starboard side I believe had ashtrays prominent on most all the tables you didn't have to hunt for them. Smoking was allowed in the casino. The Casino is open to a couple lounge areas. NOTE smokers, a separate questionaire was incorporated in the end of cruise survey. They asked one if you were currently a smoker, NO. They asked if HA banned smoking in the cabin and the veranda would I still sail HA, NO. If smoking was banned completely on ship would I still sail HA, NO. My answers are simply because some friends are smokers and we group cruise and they will not sail on any ship that bans smoking hence neither will I despite no longer smoking myself. Second although I can do without it I do enjoy a couple cigars during a cruise as do several of my friends that I sail with many times. Finally despite giving it up myself I still feel that smokers have been unfairly set upon with using many made up excuses. But maybe now that obese people and perfume wearers are targeted more and more with taxes and nose wrinkling the righteous wrath will be spread out more.
We chose Veendam to sail to Bermuda because it was smaller and more intimate than the latest offerings. Also because she docked in Hamilton and we wanted to enjoy that again having sailed many times to Bermuda years ago on smaller ships like Celebrity Zenith. We experienced what we wanted in the Veendam, more intimacy with passengers and crew, nicer small gatherings in lounges. With the exception of dining room experience all was far more intimate and enjoyable than todays large ships, which we also love for most part. Larger offers better amenities usually, smaller offers more of a previous years cruise experience.
Ice cream lovers will rejoice that it is available in the Lido most hours of the day by dessert section and features cone or dish, soft or hard, fixings help yourself all at no extra charge. I am not a big ice cream eater but had a soft serve cone and it was very good.
Coffee lovers will rejoice that capucchino and such is still offered at dinner and at no extra charge. It is also available at the Explorations coffee bar where it is charged for. It also takes some waiting while each cup is made. They offer a coffee card for I think they said $26 but while I normally take it when ship charges at dinner for brewed real coffees it didn't make sense here. I simply paid for it as ordered. They also have a small selection of cookies and baby sandwiches at coffee bar. I saw a gentlemen ask for one as he passed by and the coffee guy said sorry only with coffee purchase. Of course same are available and free upstairs in Lido. But come on give the guy the cookie, they are free after all no matter. Coffee bar on quota for how many he can bring down or what? Was poor call on his part in my opinion. And not reflective of the fine service we found elsewhere.
Room Service, always early by 15 minutes of night before ordered times but always good and accurate. Often a followup call to inquire if order was correct and okay. Also larger menu than most ships now have including omelette's and such available from room service. Do not know if in all cabins or if because of purported "suite. “
Service exceptional staff throughout. One obviously having a bad day guy handling beverages only notable staff problem. He was approaching level of actually being nasty to passengers. This as very far from normal service with a smile we found for most part.
Passenger mix, older than usual and to be expected on end of season time frame and HA. There were certainly some kids on board and some young family members. Most probably traveling with grand parents. As one lady at pool area announced to me, my husband is 91, but I am only 80. Must have been trophy wife ha ha. I am 60 and I will admit I felt a lot younger than my years by the second day. It was like being a kid again. This is not a bad thing. Still as I said we booked Veendam knowing smaller ship and often a tad older cruisers. We enjoy their perspective and conversation for most part. My motto has been lately, every 100 years new people. Knowing my replacement is on order, I can enjoy all ages now for most part.
Also more foreign passengers than I expected, Europe and Latin America I suspect from languages heard. Americans many from Long Island and Manhattan.
Bermuda still our favorite island and we still do it via moped. Taxi's expensive as always but bus ferry reasonable and not a problem. People still great but they have their share of drug crime and such now as do we all. Not something you really see however as a tourist there. It is very safe to go out and about on your own but as anywhere you should pay attention to your environment.
Expensive island, but always has been. We noted little things like Bermuda Chowder still maybe $6.50 but bowl much smaller. We enjoy a small lunch or two on island but check prices, you may be shocked at a $4.95 iced tea. Gratuity added on bill even for couple at lunch so look at bill before you add tip. Bermuda is a place to just go and see forget paid excursions for most part unless looking to go fishing.
DISEMBARKATION: Here again its the little things. Something few lines offer but that all should! Day of disembarkation in cabin morning room service, total room service menu. No running to Lido or dining room while trying to get ready to be thrown off! Also no bums rush out of cabin....enjoy cabin until your color code is called.
Veendam is in early docked by 7am and I would bet everyone pretty much off by 9:30 am or close to it. But disembark was smooth and they do offer that 7:30 walk off with your own luggage if you have it all with you and can carry it yourself. We put ours out and took late disembark having our own transportation at pier. Still we were off by 9:30 found luggage and got into porter line which wasn't long. I apologized up front to porter but advised him we had a long walk ahead. I felt bad since these guys obviously make their real money in tips and the more runs they get in the more they make. Still not my fault pier operation parked me two piers away. He was very pleasant and gracious about it. He did get an extra tip because of his nice demeanor. Still I wish they would be able to park you closer and I do hope this is a temporary thing because of continued construction. Still better than flying now a days!
So disembark early and smooth enough!
I am sure their are many things I didn't answer about ship and you can feel free to email at email@example.com please note Veendam in subject area. I dump a lot of mail, this way I won't think you are spam.
George in NY