Veendam---have you been on it within the last 6 months???? Cuba cruise...............

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#1
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
Hello to All; We have booked a 10 day cruise on the Veendam in early 2019. Going to Cuba, etc. I was just wondering if anyone has been on the VEENDAM within the last 6 months or so and if you were IMPRESSED with not only the SHIP but also the SERVICE of the staff. Would also like to know if you were impressed with the FOOD and amenities of the ship. We have sailed with Holland America before and had a very nice experience but it was on a different ship and it was 3 years ago. Also if anyone has sailed to HAVANA would love to hear about their experience there. THANK YOU.
#2
Western PA
1,453 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
We were aboard in April for the CNE repositioning cruise. We were very impressed with the food, service, condition of the ship, music venues. The only thing we found disappointing was the lack of deck chairs on Promenade Deck for non-lanai passengers. Each lanai cabin has two chairs, and they are reserved for those passengers. There were very few additional deck chairs.
#3
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by shipgeeks
We were aboard in April for the CNE repositioning cruise. We were very impressed with the food, service, condition of the ship, music venues. The only thing we found disappointing was the lack of deck chairs on Promenade Deck for non-lanai passengers. Each lanai cabin has two chairs, and they are reserved for those passengers. There were very few additional deck chairs.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your speedy reply. We booked a suite on the Verandah Deck which is deck #9. Slightly towards the front but still considered somewhat mid ship. Starboard side. We are very excited to visit HAVANA and see the sights. We signed up for their all day 8 hour tour to see the best of Havana. Also never been to Cozumel or Belize so excited to go there too. I just wish their "Beverage Card" was not so outlandishly expensive. I guess we'll do ala carte. We thought we would find another couple or two but traveling with other people is kinda interesting. Everybody had their built in "excuses"--LOL. Can't get off work, too expensive, I get sea sick, gotta watch the grand kids, etc etc etc. LOL. So its just the 2 of us!!!!!!
#4
7,037 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Did the inaugural Veendam Cuba Cruise Dec/Jan 2018 - 7 months ago - does that count? Let me know how you define IMPRESSED since that is so subjective. and maybe I can be more specific in my answers. It was a perfectly fine cruise and Cuba, esp Havana, not to be missed. Everything was up to typical HAL standards of care that we have long come to expect.
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#5
Massachusetts
934 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
We have been on the Veendam several times over the years and love the size of her. Our last trip was to Bermuda in May. The only thing we noticed was one of the elevators was out of service a good bit of the time. Our room stewards were excellent, learning our preferences and the usual schedule we kept in the day. We had Main Seat dining and the wait staff was good and the food for the most part very good to excellent (this being very subjective). We didn't use the Pinnacle Grill or other dining venues in the evening. Walking around the promenade for several turns is always a pleasure on this ship but, I agree, it is very disappointing to have so few deck chairs available for reading, quite enjoyment of the sea, etc. Every evening we would begin in the Ocean Bar where a great trio played a variety of music. The leader, Harvey is a very good entertainer and the place was packed every evening (we'd get there just before 7). We love the fresh flowers everywhere and we enjoy the decor and nooks and crannies--places to read, do crossword puzzles, etc. Lido has good salads and my DH loved the Dive In Bar for a hamburg. The pizza bar was just so-so. The library was in total disarray and a real disappointment. It was one of the things we loved about HAL and now they seem to be either eliminating them or downsizing and changing the focus. Our cabin was very comfortable (ocean view this time since we were in Bermuda for 3 full days) and the bathroom was small but adequate and with really good lighting. We have had suites before on Veendam and enjoyed these as well. We found, all in all, a well kept ship with superior staffing and we look forward to our next cruise on her.
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Hank and Lauri

Norway -- Eastern Caribbean 1990
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#6
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
I would like to give a "BIG THANK YOU" to Hank and Lauri. And also a "BIG THANK YOU" to OLSSALT. I want you to know that I really appreciate the feedback and it sounds like overall you had a pretty good time on the ship. Yes, I agree that the word "IMPRESSIVE" is very subjective. I think it depends upon who you are asking. I would venture a guess that you would get two different answers if you were asking Mark Zuckerberg or a bum off the street how they felt about the Veendam. LOL PS Now that my wife and I are both retired we plan on doing alot more crusing. I plan on doing most of it on Holland America. The one thing among many my friend has taught me is if you stick to one cruise line you will get all kinds of great offers in the mail that others do NOT always get. Now this is a guy who has been on well over 40 cruises.
#7
7,037 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by Chuck
I would like to give a "BIG THANK YOU" to Hank and Lauri. And also a "BIG THANK YOU" to OLSSALT. I want you to know that I really appreciate the feedback and it sounds like overall you had a pretty good time on the ship. Yes, I agree that the word "IMPRESSIVE" is very subjective. I think it depends upon who you are asking. I would venture a guess that you would get two different answers if you were asking Mark Zuckerberg or a bum off the street how they felt about the Veendam. LOL PS Now that my wife and I are both retired we plan on doing alot more crusing. I plan on doing most of it on Holland America. The one thing among many my friend has taught me is if you stick to one cruise line you will get all kinds of great offers in the mail that others do NOT always get. Now this is a guy who has been on well over 40 cruises.
We learned 10 years ago, HAL is a great way to stretch our retirement travel dollar. That is impressive enough for us. I think you will love both Cuba and HAL, with this travel value aspect in mind. Indeed, there is something very comforting and welcoming when we return again and again to the smaller and older HAL ships. These ships are now leaving the HAL fleet as they age out of the inventory so it is a good idea to enjoy the spacial places they can take you while they can. And be forgiving for what ever quirks and glitches they may throw at you when compared to new, large and glitzy.
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#8
Southern CA
1,708 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
We were on the Veendam 11 day Cuba cruise March 17th 2018. We had a Cat. A Verandah Suite and were very happy with it. No complaints about the ship in general. We had open seating in the MDR and kept the same table the entire cruise. Service was excellent as was the cuisine. maitre 'd at the check in podium new us by name on the second night, and continued to welcome is by name each night. Had a great dinner in the Pinnacle Grill...have had some bad experiences on other ships. Shops and shows were just "ok."


For Cuba, I would take a lot of dollar bills for tips, people seemed to accept them readily even though we were told not to do that. I took Ol Salt's suggestion and asked for small bills at the currency exchange booth and for my polite request got a wad of large bills. I took Euros to exchange and got a better rate that USD's.


We took the Best of Havana excursion, and were pleased with what we saw. In Cienfuegos we took the tour to Trinidad which as amazing. My tip: Old Havana is right outside the cruise pier and an easy walk. We walked back to the old city, cathedral, Plaza Armas lots of cafes..time to inhale the flavor of Havana. Turn right as you exit the ship. If you go straight ahead across the street form the pier there are more historical plazas. We enjoyed the city instead of going to the Tropicana Show. I wish we had more time in Havana.


Have a great cruise!
Karen
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#9
7,037 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by Loreto
We were on the Veendam 11 day Cuba cruise March 17th 2018. We had a Cat. A Verandah Suite and were very happy with it. No complaints about the ship in general. We had open seating in the MDR and kept the same table the entire cruise. Service was excellent as was the cuisine. maitre 'd at the check in podium new us by name on the second night, and continued to welcome is by name each night. Had a great dinner in the Pinnacle Grill...have had some bad experiences on other ships. Shops and shows were just "ok."


For Cuba, I would take a lot of dollar bills for tips, people seemed to accept them readily even though we were told not to do that. I took Ol Salt's suggestion and asked for small bills at the currency exchange booth and for my polite request got a wad of large bills. I took Euros to exchange and got a better rate that USD's.


We took the Best of Havana excursion, and were pleased with what we saw. In Cienfuegos we took the tour to Trinidad which as amazing. My tip: Old Havana is right outside the cruise pier and an easy walk. We walked back to the old city, cathedral, Plaza Armas lots of cafes..time to inhale the flavor of Havana. Turn right as you exit the ship. If you go straight ahead across the street form the pier there are more historical plazas. We enjoyed the city instead of going to the Tropicana Show. I wish we had more time in Havana.


Have a great cruise!
Karen
Strongly agree with this suggestion - arrange something on your own in the evening. I went to the other shore excursion "show" tour (Cafe de Paris) at the historic hotel where Frank Sinatra and Ricky Ricardo both performed during the Havana heydays. We did not get to see the inside of the hotel on that tour which was disappointing, but it was the first HAL ship to Havana, in so everything was trial and error for us.

We had done our 8 hour people to people tour during the day, so we were free to go out on our own - we just had no clue what to expect on that maiden voyage. I would far rather have spent my time touring in an old car to more local highlights or just walking around as just suggested. Wear good flat soled footwear and take a small flashlight - paving is in very poor condition if you want to wander on your own. The areas that have been cleaned up and cater more to tourism are lighted and stunningly gorgeous.
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#11
7,037 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
There is late evening service in the Lido - 11pm or so? Usually a lot of fun-sounding international items. Never up late enough or hungry enough to have tried it after many years on HAL ships - but the theme of them always sounds intriguing. I believe they make these items available because they have to feed the late shift crews on board too.

Hope you get a better answer than that. But there is no formal dining venue - sit down and order - open late at night (after late 8pm fixed seating or Specialty probably up to 9pm reservations), other than room service. Which is very good - lots of favorites still remain on that menu.
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#12
NH
1,895 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
We sailed to Bermuda in June on the Veendam. We had a lovely cruise and thought the ship was in great condition, but will agree with the poster above that mentioned the lack of deck chairs on the lower promenade deck. My one issue was that we were not able to keep our stateroom (EE418) cool enough to be comfortable, which made for restless nights. It was enough of an issue to have us choose a different ship for our next cruise, although we were very tempted by the Cuba itinerary. I hope you have a fabulous time!
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Chris in NH

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#13
1,674 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
We were on the Veendam to Cuba in April. We were thoroughly satisfied with the ship and happy with the service.

Loved our eight hour tour, loved learning how to enjoy a Cuban cigar!

Went out to dinner on our own, tour guide made reservations for us.

Would go again in a heartbeat.
#14
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
WOW, let me please say a "BIG THANK YOU" once again to ithaca gal, dznymom, olsSalt, aaaaa, and Loreto. I really appreciate any and all input that everyone gives me. I wish you all were going along as we could have a ton of fun. Thru out the decades my wife and myself have found that it is actually more fun if you can get several couples togethor to go on a cruise but I called a bunch of people we know and they all were busy or not interested. Thank You again.
#15
Toronto
738 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I was on the Veendam to Bermuda in 2017, and three weeks ago Montreal to Boston. I found the food, service to be just as excellent as it was last year. The ship may be older but it was spotless. I find the Veendam to be a great small ship - everything is conveniently located. If you are looking for exciting nightlife this may not be the ship for you - however - I think it may be a reflection of the passenger / itinerary demographics, Bermuda was much more livelier than Canada / New England.

I especially enjoy the salad bar in the Lido buffet. Contrary to one poster I enjoy the pizza - had it for lunch or a snack every day. The crust is closer to European crust and may not be to everyone’s liking. The burgers from the Dive-In - I miss them daily.

One outstanding incident from my cruise: I was in cabin 345 (yes easy to remember). My first time in an inside - so not my favourite . But it was conveniently located on Deck 6 - the walk around promenade. There were always empty chairs available. My cabin - although I disliked that it was interior was spotlessly clean. One morning I came down to grab a sweater because it was a little cool and I found the stewards vacuuming the ceiling, the corners, the vents - I was shocked - I rarely do that at home.

I do believe that the happy crew is a reflection of the Captain (same Captain as last year). The Veendam is a well run ship. I wish that I had stayed on for the return trip to Montreal. I enjoyed the Veendam so much that I am looking at the 12 day transatlantic from Lisbon to Boston next summer.

My only criticism is the Retreat Area - I think that HAL made a mistake by eliminating the second, aft pool. Did it take away from my enjoyment - not at all. They had a few oversized, oval loungers which were very nice to pass an afternoon in. However, the tile work, and wood work in this area needs some sprucing up. As well, there are some missing panels in the former loft area - they were missing last year as well. If HAL were willing to spend a few $$$$ to spruce up the Retreat, the Veendam would be a true jewel.

Apologies for the length of my post - but if you have anything specific I can help you with please ask. Cheers.
#16
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
To RD64; THANK YOU very much for your very valuable input and info. I do appreciate it. I think we will have alot of fun. It is interesting to me that "several" posters have mentioned the "Lack of Deck Chairs" available. I guess maybe my wife and myself will do our reading on our Balcony Chairs in our Suite on the Verandah Deck #9. On most cruises I have found that with a little effort and searching around usually there is a corner somewhere that a person can find and it is there where we will do our daily reading.
#17
120 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
My husband and I were on the Veendam in April, 2018 with one day/late evening in Havana. This was our first time on a smaller HAL ship. Havana is a wonderful port. I arranged a private tour with Blexie (you can find his contact information in the Cuba Ports of Call tab) and our guide was Lauren. We toured with Lauren all day (and for the second half we picked up a taxi and driver). The price was reasonable and it was just the two of us. Just an fyi, while touring old Havana we ran into the HAL ship tour/s. Very crowded compared to our 2 person tour. You may want to take that into consideration. For the evening, I arranged a private tour with Strawberry Tours (Nelson was our guide) to visit local bars in Havana. We had a great time on this tour as well. We brought euros with us and exchanged what we needed into CUCs at the Port. If you decide to do the private tour route in Havana, on your visa application check the box Support for the Cuban People (and not the People to People box).

We both enjoyed the ship. It was clean, the service was outstanding, and the food in the MDR was very good. We also ate at the Pinnacle (good), Rudi's Sel de Mer (disappointed), and Canaletto (good). We mainly had cocktails at the Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest bar. The bartenders in both venues were great. Breakfast was usually in the Lido (we are early risers) with a couple in the main dining room. I thought the quality of the food at breakfast was better in the Lido. There were no crowds because of the early hour. Lunch was usually in the Lido.

We had an ocean view cabin on the A Deck (723). Our first time without a balcony. On our Koningsdam trip last year we didn't use the balcony so we thought we would try an OV this trip. I enjoyed the large window at pretty much sea level. The cabin was spacious and well maintained. I travel with a fan and at the end of our cruise it stopped working. I called the Front Desk and a fan was provided promptly. I was not prepared for having only 1 electrical outlet in the cabin located at the desk area. If we cruise the Veendam again I will be sure to request a power strip from the Front Desk as soon as I board.

I hope you find this information helpful

BaltimoreCruise
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#18
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
Hi BaltimoreCruise; THANK YOU for the very valuable info. Especially about the "Power Strip". That would have never occured to me at all. Sounds like you had a very good time overall.
#19
1,674 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
We were in a lanai room and, as people have mentioned, almost all of the deck chairs are dedicated to those people with lanai rooms.

Most days, we would exit our room to find someone sitting in our chairs. We would politely tell them that the chairs were for our room and they would move to someone else’s chairs.

One day, a woman and her father were in our chairs. He was in a wheelchair. My friend told them it was fine to use our chairs if we were not there. Unfortunately, the next day, one of their friends showed up and not only sat in one of our chairs, but perched there all day long. I am assuming she went to lunch at some point but it was awkward to go out and ask her to allow us to use our chairs!
#20
Omaha, Nebraska
46 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by ithaca gal
We were in a lanai room and, as people have mentioned, almost all of the deck chairs are dedicated to those people with lanai rooms.

Most days, we would exit our room to find someone sitting in our chairs. We would politely tell them that the chairs were for our room and they would move to someone else’s chairs.

One day, a woman and her father were in our chairs. He was in a wheelchair. My friend told them it was fine to use our chairs if we were not there. Unfortunately, the next day, one of their friends showed up and not only sat in one of our chairs, but perched there all day long. I am assuming she went to lunch at some point but it was awkward to go out and ask her to allow us to use our chairs!
Now you really do have me "Scratching My Head". Maybe OlsSalt can chime in here. Let me say we are on the Veranadah Deck #9 and have a Vista Suite. I sure as heck nobody will be in our chairs because they would have to come thru our room to get to them!!!!!!! LOL But in all seriousness Iam a little Befuddled. If those chairs are "designated" for you then WHY is somebody else using them????? It sounds like this ship is a little screwed up to be honest with you all. I spent quite a bit of money to get a Vista Suite so hopefully it will all work out fine. Like I said Iam a little bit befuddled on the chair issue.