My husband and I decided to take a cruise in late August 2003
because for the first time in 19 years, we're going to be kid-less
for an entire week. My son was going to a weeklong school field
trip and my daughter started school in mid August. With a kid at
private college and another teenager at home, needless to say, we
were rather tight with money, but we decided to splurge since we
both desperately needed a vacation
This was my second cruise (Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Sea
to the Mexican Reviera July 2002) and my husband's first cruise. We
are a couple in our forties. Our family has traveled quite a few
places, mostly in Hawaii and Mexico. I am picky in terms of where
we stay. I don't need to stay at 5 star hotels but it better be
spacious, nice and clean. For this I was rather surprised how
comfortable I was last year when my daughter and I stayed in a
small inside cabin during our cruise to Mexico. I knew I was hooked
this cruise. We are both not party people and would be the last
people you would see in a Congo line. Holland America seemed to be
perfect for us. I wanted a cruise with plenty of quiet corners
where I can read, cool weather, some pampering and of course a week
without cooking and cleaning. We picked the Veendam even though
one-way airfare to Anchorage from San Diego was quite high. We
booked our flight and cruise online through Expedia and received
excellent service from them. I had to call Expedia after booking
the cruise to book transportation from Anchorage to Seward and
arrange seating for our flights. Both times I received prompt and
After an uneventful flight to Anchorage, we boarded a Holland
America bus .to Seward. The scenery during this trip was
spectacular. The bus driver even gave us an audio tour along the
way. Boarding the ship was also pretty easy. It took us about 10
minutes from the time we got off the bus until we were shown to our
cabin. We were assigned a category A inside cabin (that was all we
could afford). Our cabin was larger than what I had with RCCL in
the previous year. Two twin beds pushed together to become a queen
size bed for us, two night stands, a love seat, a small table, a
makeup table, spacious closet space and a bathroom with a shower.
It also had a strange looking hair blow dryer attached to the
bathroom wall. I had to use this thing a couple of times. It worked
but not really well. The plastic cord seemed to get warm fairly
quickly and I had to use a hand towel to wrap around the plastic
holder while blow drying my hair.
We ate dinner at the Lido buffet on the first night (too tired
to go to the formal dinning room). The second night, we encountered
a fairly large storm and my stomach just could not handle it very
well. We ordered room service and the food was delivered nice and
hot. We thought it was amusing that they even have a special menu
for seasick people. The next morning the Captain announced that the
swells we encountered the previous night were as high as 50
We then spent the next five nights receiving excellent food and
service from the dinning room staff. The food was so good and the
portions were more than generous. The lobsters were succulent, the
prime-rib and steak was nice and tender and cooked to perfection.
We dined with two wonderful couples, Kent and Judy, and Maureen and
Vince. I could tell we were all having a good time because we were
the last ones to leave the dinning room each evening. We ate each
breakfast and lunch in the Lido buffet, try the bread pudding; it's
We were happy with the entertainment. We did not expect much
since but were pleasantly surprised by some of the performances. We
especially loved Edge the juggler; he was funny and talented. My
husband and I agree that we would pay "real" money to see him again
if he happened to be performing in San Diego or Vegas. Our favorite
stop was Juneau. The sun made a rare appearance that day. We took
the tram up to Mount Robert and saw a storyteller give a wonderful
performance. That afternoon, I found myself back on the cruise,
floating in the pool looking up at the sunny sky and I remember
telling myself, what a wonderful I am having. It rained a little in
Ketchikan but we went on our favorite tour here. We had the best
tour guide. Unfortunately we forgot the name of the tour, however
we still remember the name of our Scottish bus-driver/tour guide,
his name was Carn. He was one funny and knowledgeable guide.
We spend the whole week being pampered, relaxing, and sleeping.
My blood pressure must have dropped at least twenty points. We met
some wonderful people. I think cruisers are the friendliest people.
I spend lots of my time in the library reading, watching couple of
movies, listening to some wonderful music, swimming in the pool and
of course lot of eating.
To be able access our emails, we purchased an Internet package.
The Veendam no longer offers the unlimited usage package. People
were buying the unlimited package and then rented it out to other
passengers. We spent $40 to purchase 100 minutes usage. It was
quite expensive but well worth it.
I can't say enough good things about the Veendam crew. They are
hardworking, polite and obviously like to please the passengers.
They are warm and friendly and always have a big smile on their
Yes I will surely cruise again. As a matter fact, I already
found myself dreaming about my next cruise. Where? When? How? Asia?
Mediterranean? Carribean? Mexico? Too many cruises to choose from
and to little time and money left.