July 4-11 Southbound Veendam Review

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#1
Delaware
803 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
First off, thanks to the folks on these boards, without your help and information, we would not have had such a wonderful trip.

Background on us: We completed an 8 day land tour (see separate review on Alaska Board) before my son and I boarded the Veendam. This was our 5th cruise, but first on HAL.

Transfer: Upgraded to Kenai Fjord tour – Awesome tour. Boarded the boat about 11:30 after bus ride from Anchorage. Boat was nice and plenty of room to move around. We were served lunch (fish or chicken) shortly after boarding. It was a bit overcast, but the scenery and wildlife sightings were fantastic. Our captain had tons of good info about the area. The tour ended with a viewing of a pod of Orcas – very cool.

Embarkation: We arrived at about 6:00pm to board the boat, this is the busiest time and since it was July 4, they had some people who called in sick with the Independence Day flu. If you can control when you arrive, try to avoid 5:30-6:30. Besides the wait, the check in was smooth and we were in our room at 7:40pm.

Ship Décor and Layout: We found the ship very easy to get around. Take the time to look at some of the art on board, all quite nice. We liked being able to go out on the front of the ship to view the glaciers and scenery

Cabin: Deck 9 Cabin B166 – Great location. Our cabin steward Warman was very nice. He knew our names immediately and greeted us whenever he saw us. He did a great job all week with our room. I liked the fruit and fresh flowers that were in the room throughout the week. We had new beds and pillows as well. I cannot imagine more than two people in the room, but it was good for us. I have longer hair and did not find the hair dryer worked well for me, so you may think about bringing your own. We also found only one plug that was easier accessible. There is another behind the TV if you unplug the VCR. Next time I would bring a plug extender.

Food
Dining Room Early Main Seating (8:00), Table 33 which was at the rear windows. We loved the location. We sat at a table for six and I think we sat with two of the nicest couples on the ship. Some evenings when we were tired, we talked about going to the Lido, but decided we would then miss talking with our tablemates. The menu selection was always quite varied and for most nights the food was very good. There were a few nights were I did not think the food was very good. The desserts were excellent. We enjoyed the Baked Alaska parade, but on other ships, we had seem similar fanfare on more than just one night and missed that. Our sever, Eko, was okay. Our asst server, Yadi, was great and entertained us with his jokes. Our wine steward, Angie, was really outstanding. She was very attentive, talked with us throughout dinner and also came up and talked with us whenever she say us on the ship. She had my son’s soda waiting for him every evening and always brought him a refill promptly. She also made good recommendations on the wine.
Room Service: We only ordered room service for breakfast and it was on time, hot and very good. On the Glacier Bay morning, we heard a few people talking about how their food was late due to the large volume of room service orders that morning, but we did not experience this.
Lido: We ate in the Lido for breakfast and lunch on several days. There was a lot of variety in what was served and most of it was pretty good. The breakfast was better than the lunch. They also had a pizza section, the piece I had was good, but my son did not like it because they rarely served plain pizza (or even just pepporoni). They also had hot chocolate availalbe.
Grill: We ate once at the grill (my son ate there several times). The burgers were good, but were served on onion rolls which we didn’t like too much. On Saturday, they ran out of onion rolls so we got regular. The taco bar was good, but when it was empty, there was confusion about whose job it was to fill it, so the first day at sea, we waited 30 minutes and when they still didn’t fill it we went elsewhere.
Other food: My son did not like the fact that there was no where to go at 10 or 11(or even later) at night to get some good junk food. On other ships, there was always a place to get a grilled cheese, burger, or something at any time.

Bars/Clubs: Favorite was the Crow’s Nest. Angel was the server who greeted me as I came in and knew what type of drinks I liked. While this did not bother me, my son indicated that the ship pretty much shuts down by 1am. The casino might be the exception, but neither of us went into the casino so I cannot comment.

Entertainment:
Comedian Scott Wood – We thoroughly enjoyed his show both times.
Julie Ann Grace – did not care for the show – she can sing okay, but was not for us
DV8 – Magician – They had a few good tricks, especially the last trick, but the show dragged. My son went to their afternoon show later in the week where they did slight of hand tricks and he said it was pretty good.
Pianist Chris Contillo – Excellent, would recommend
Indonesian Crew show – this was a fun show to watch, the crew was enjoying themselves.
Ship Company – Really liked the Party Gras show, costumes and music/dancing was very good. The two lead singers really have wonderful voices. We did not care for the Ultimate Broadway show on Monday.
Fritzie – Piano bar. We heard great things about her and tried to go, but you could not get in the door of the piano bar.

One thing that we found about the evening activities was except for the main show all the other evening activities/entertainment were planned around those who had the early seating for dinner so we could not always attend.

Cruising
College Fjord Beautiful. In addition to the Glaciers, we saw different wildlife. It was a bit cloudy this day so we had to dress warm. We cruised 6:00am – 9:00am in College Fjord so plan for an early morning.
Glacier Bay It was rainy/cloudy leading into Glacier Bay, but then became very sunny and warm. I think I was out on the deck in the front of the boat for 6 hours this day enjoying the park. Majorie Glacier had very active, large calving; it was awesome. There were two park rangers and a native American that came on board in Glacier Bay, they were interesting to listen to and talk with about the park and the area. Bring the map with you on deck to help orient you as you move through the park. On the way out of the park, late in the afternoon, I spent about 2 hours on my balcony scanning the coast line and was finally rewarded with two bear sightings. One on the shore eating, the other was a mother with two cubs moving along one of the crevices. Wear sunscreen – there were a lot of sunburn people that evening at dinner.
Inside Passage Along the inside passage, there were many opportunities to see wildlife. The naturalist was excellent at letting us know when there were whales near the boat so that all had a chance to view them.

Debarkation in Vancouver: This was a bit chaotic for us. We were one of the last groups called as we were going on the city tour and then to the airport. We got through customs and got our bags and stuff no problem, but there was not a lot of order to getting folks on the bus. As it turned out, there was not enough room for everyone on the bus so we were in a group of 15 who had to wait about 30 minutes for another bus to come. Once we got situated, we went on a short tour (about 2 hours) and then off to the airport. The tour was okay – I wish we had rented a car for the day. Once we were at the airport, we had no problems getting through security and to our flight.

Captain Frans Consen – Entertaining and seemed to really enjoy telling us about our voyage each day.
Cruise Director Scott Rideout – Great job. We met him several times in the evening and always seemed to have a few minutes to chat which was nice. Also very entertaining during the debarkation talk. His top ten questions were hilarious.
Chef Bill Mc Grath – He was another person who seemed to love his job and didn’t mind answering questions at the start of the Kitchen tour.

Summary: After two weeks, we were sorry to come home because we had an awesome time. I had thought this would be a once in a lifetime trip, but now that I have been there, I want to go back as there was so much we did not see. My first HAL cruise was very positive and I would cruise with them again.

Favorite part on the cruise: Dog Sledding, Formal Night and Glacier Bay
Things we were glad we had: Binoculars, Gloves and Hats, Sunscreen, Soda Cards
If you have any questions, let me know.
Happy Cruising.
Mary
#3
Simpsonville, South Carolina
9,238 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Mary - Your posts have been very informative to me, for my trip next month!
Thank you .

Marie
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Marie
Upcoming cruises:
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Jan 7, 2018 - Crown Princess
June 3, 2018 - HAL Noordam(ALASKA and DIY land)
#5
Colorful Colorado
7,035 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Thanks for posting your review of the Veendam. It sounds like you had a great time. We are glad to hear she is still in good shape - she is my DH's favorite!
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#6
Delaware
803 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
Ekerr19,

In talking with some of the crew, she had some Signature changes (Mattresses, pillow, mirrors, etc). She also had some of the carpets changed out.

At some point a few weeks ago, someone asked if there is still an outside deck in front of the gym and there is, so I am not sure if they expanded the gym or not, but it was a nice gym and some of the equipment looked new.

We noticed that they were always cleaning the ship in ports. This was nice as that meant we had clean windows every night to look through during dinner.

One thing that I did not know was that when ships are in dry dock, the crew helps with the improvements. In the Veendam's case, they carried old mattresses out, new ones in, carried the carpets to the room. I am not sure how they select who helps, but I had always thought that a crew gets vacation during the dry dock time. - Learn something new everyday I guess.

Mary
#7
Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
708 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Thanks ever so much for this post. Will be sailing southbound on the Veendam on Aug 29 and, thanks to you, will bring extra gloves and hats.

Hope we,ll enjoy our cruise as much as you enjoyed yours.
#8
724 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Hi!
The dry dock is kind of like a vacation...they ONLY have to work 8 hrs. a day. Except for the nights they have duty serving booze to the workers...but only one bar is open & they take turns.
I don't know how they keep their smiles working that hard for a year. I sure do admire them!
rocks
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#9
794 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
Mary, what a wonderful, and helpful, review.

One question: How large is the balcony on this cabin? Is there room there for two people to have breakfast?

Many thanks...
#10
PA
213 Posts
Joined May 2004
What kind of band do they have at the pool. All of my other cruises have been on lines other than HAL and have all been in the Caribbean and bands playing that type of music. Since we will be on the Veendam to Hawaii, I was curious as to what type of band/music they had.
#11
Delaware
803 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
Pincus - The balcony is large enough for two to have breakfast. It comes with a chair, small table and lounge chair. I really enjoyed having the balconey.

At night, it is so peaceful out there with just the ocean going by. One note, I noticed when we were in Glacier Bay that it was fairly warm while entering and exiting the park while I was on the front deck in the sun, but I decided to go back and sit on my balconey for a while, there was not any sun and it got quite cold. Not a problem, just got the blanket from the closet to cover.

Tejmar - The music around the pool is what I would call festive pool music. Some if has a Caribbean flare, but the best pool music does in my opinion. I can't remember any detailed songs, but I do remember talking about how we liked them and we clapped for them after their songs.

Hope this helps.

Mary
#12
New Jersey
1,563 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Thanks for the review of the Veendam. We are going to be on her August 17 after a 5 day inland tour. We have already booked a glacier helicopter tour for Juneau. Can you think of anything you wish you had taken along and didn't? I would appreciate any info you can give me. We did a HAL cruise so many years ago that this seems like our first.

NJ GAL
#13
Delaware
803 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
NJ Gal,
You will have a great time. I sure wish that I was going back this season, but it will probably a few years until I go back. If you are interested, I also posted a review of our land portion over on the Alaska board - it is in two parts. I also put a port review somewhere here on the HAL board. I don't know how to insert a link to it here - sorry.

To answer your question, I spent a lot of time here reading tips from others so we were pretty well prepared. The one thing I can think of is an additional type of camera. We had a digital camera, a video camera and several disposable cameras. We are basic picture takers so we did not have real fancy cameras. With the digital camera, you could turn off the flash, but all the disposables that I bought had a flash which always goes off. SInce some of the pictures were taken in a train, plane or helicopter, we did not want the flash as then all you get is reflection. I got around this by covering the flash and for the most part it worked out, but there are a few pictures that have my finger in them. So I wish that I had brought some disposable cameras with no flash.

On the other hand, we wre not going to bring the video camera and at the last minute decided to take it. We did not use it for every trip, but I was very glad that we had it. It allowed me to capture things like my son's dip in the Artic Ocean to become a member of the Polar Bear Club!!

I hope you have a great time on the Glacier trek, we very much enjoyed our dog sled ride on the Glacier and the scenery to and from was awesome. Definitely a highlight for us.

I hope that you have a great time.
Mary
#17
2 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Thanks for the detailed review. We took the return cruise on the 11th from Vancouver to Seward and had almost the same table (34) along the back windows in the center - great view location.

Our waiter and wine stewards were ok but Angie McGrath helped us one morning with a late breakfast just at the Lido to get our hungry 3 year old a special order of pancakes from the Rotterdam galley! She's terrific.

Originally posted by Plut0
First off, thanks to the folks on these boards, without your help and information, we would not have had such a wonderful trip.
Food
Dining Room Early Main Seating (8:00), Table 33 which was at the rear windows. We loved the location. We sat at a table for six and I think we sat with two of the nicest couples on the ship. Some evenings when we were tired, we talked about going to the Lido, but decided we would then miss talking with our tablemates. The menu selection was always quite varied and for most nights the food was very good. There were a few nights were I did not think the food was very good. The desserts were excellent. We enjoyed the Baked Alaska parade, but on other ships, we had seem similar fanfare on more than just one night and missed that. Our sever, Eko, was okay. Our asst server, Yadi, was great and entertained us with his jokes. Our wine steward, Angie, was really outstanding. She was very attentive, talked with us throughout dinner and also came up and talked with us whenever she say us on the ship. She had my son’s soda waiting for him every evening and always brought him a refill promptly. She also made good recommendations on the wine.
...

Captain Frans Consen – Entertaining and seemed to really enjoy telling us about our voyage each day.
Cruise Director Scott Rideout – Great job. We met him several times in the evening and always seemed to have a few minutes to chat which was nice. Also very entertaining during the debarkation talk. His top ten questions were hilarious.
Chef Bill Mc Grath – He was another person who seemed to love his job and didn’t mind answering questions at the start of the Kitchen tour.
...
Happy Cruising.
Mary