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jerfl

Veendam -5/22-6/5/05 - A Few Notes

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Single traveler who took advantage of an email offer received in Jan 2005 and did 14 Days round trip Vancouver. Booked Cat M, received Cat J-402-Lower Promenade Deck. Good Location to be anywhere in the vessel quickly, particularly outside. I found the ship to be very clean and well maintained. I think service levels for the cabins and the dining room were pretty high considering it is obvious that there have been staff cuts in these departments. The dining room team did a fine job but there was very little time to chat with them as they NEVER STOPPED moving. Attitude was always upbeat with big warm and gracious smiles. Cabin Steward was also very good. Everything worked in the cabin very well. Had no plumbing trouble or passing aromas. The new SOE beds are onboard and boy did I sleep well. Had to be the best bed I have ever slept in on a ship. Maintenance had to fix a hot water leak in the companionway on day 3 but no other problems I experienced. The soda sticker was $28 per week and the wine voucher package was 10 for $42. I bought a soda sticker for both weeks and one wine voucher pack. Vouchers valid for a House Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet which were pretty good. Chardonnay was young, probably 2003 or 2004 with a fine light balance and mild after taste. Not for those that like the aged oak flavor with a heavy spice after taste. Merlot and Cabernet were very also very balanced and just under medium dry. I used the vouchers in both the Rotterdam Dining Room and the Lido. Very convenient for me. Wine vouchers and soda stickers CANNOT be used for room service orders. There is an attitude problem from some, tho not all, of the servers when you ask for a Coke. It could be a long time arriving if at all. I always used the Lido or Ocean Bars and avoided the servers. Dining Room food was good to very good with nothing bad but nothing really gourmand or over the top. I found the food both in the Lido and Rotterdam Dining Room to be of equal quality. It was very typically tasty Holland America Middle America Cuisine which I certainly had my share of. There was Lamb on the menu almost every night but then there were ALOT of great pax from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, UK, and Japan as well. There were Aussies at my table (#65 FOR 10 PEOPLE) and they were just so warm and friendly and fun! Great ambassadors for their Country. Room Service has a limited 24 hour menu and a more expanded menu from 10AM to Midnight with a full breakfast menu. Breakfast was always on time, warm and tasty. Decent Coffee. High Dutch Tea is worth missing lunch for or have a late breakfast. I never made the shows or the gym so can't comment. Avoided the Spa as I personally think anything Steiner of London has their claws in is a RIPOFF ! Casino was OK though the staff was mostly the typical bored and snotty UK types. There was a guy from the Phillipines and one from Slovania who really worked very hard keeping the slots full of coins and tokens and they were very friendly and always wished you good luck. The tables were hardly ever is use which really PO'ED the Brits even more. Typical assortment of slots and alot of time wasted with the continual need to fill the hoppers. TITO is overdue for cruise ships. There were 6 penny machines that paid in nickels only but they were quite fun and more loose than most. Denver Duck and the Magic Frog Prince (whatever) were next to impossible to get too but over 14 nites I managed to pay off my ship's account. The machines seem to pay the best on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th nites BUT definetly not on the last nites of each 7 day segment. The Musicians on board I found to be very, very good. A great lite jazz trio in the Ocean Bar which is a really pleasant mid-ship bar. There was a dedicated string quarter that was also very good. Both of these ensembles were way above the normal ship standard. Never made the sing-a-long bar or the DJ/Disco scene in the Crow's Nest which is also a GREAT place to see the world go by from if the weather is inclement. The weather ranged from cold and drippy to the warm and sunny. It was Alaska in May, you know that up front going in and pack accordingly. This was my 7th journey to Alaska and therfore I took no ship trips and just went on about my slow and putzy way. Other than being up early for the visits to Glacier Bay and College Fjord. I tended to sleep in, have a cabin breakfast, and be meandering off the vessel just as the first wave was returning for lunch. Saw all the sunsets, lots of eagles in Ketchikan, whales actually breeching for a change, stellar sea lions but not many sea otters. Having been so often, I have my favorite haunts, shops, and spots. The automatic tipping is $10 per day per person which can be adjusted accordingly with a quick visit to the Front Office. The shops were very much your standard cruise ship type with no real bargains I saw at all unless very much on SALE ! I just had a really great time and think that for US$1466 (including R/T Transfers from/to SeaTac) I certainly received an onboard product of very good quality and value. I quote the price only to emphasize my personal impression of good value for the dollars spent. I was on the Mercury in Jan 2005 for a 10 night Mexican Riveria cruise, and this 14 night cruise was, in my opinion, over all a superior experience, geography notwithstanding. The Veendam IS NOT for high maintenance, upscale, and demanding travelers-I am not knocking that but simply saying that your expectations WILL NOT be met on the Veendam or probably any other main stream cruise line, no matter what hype they throw at you or how many butlers your has (you pretty much get what you pay for) You need to be on Crystal, Regatta, or the upscale small ships. I would sail this again in a heart beat as Alaska can really get into your spirit and soul !! Happy Sails

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Thanks for your well balanced report. We will be cruising on the Veendam and it's nice to hear reports of good maintenance, dining etc. :D

 

Just curious as to how the weather was. Last summer was very warm for those parts, 80-85 degrees in July, folks in bathing suits tanning by the pool on the Ryndam. I was hoping you had more moderate Alaska-like weather. We don't want all those glaciers melting tooooo soon!:eek:

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That was a great review and you touched on everything we are interested in. We do love the S class ships because they are not all glitz and neon. We are equal opportunity cruisers and cruise many lines but we always feel that HAL is our favorite. We are also sailing the Veendam in Nov and looking forward to two relaxing weeks.:D

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I'll be sailing solo on the Veendam this coming December, so I appreciate the time you took to give us your impressions and observations. Thanks for the balanced review.

 

On my last trip to Alaska on the Maasdam, I had an outside cabin on the Lower Prom and enjoyed it immensely. Seems like people have definite opinions on that deck...either love it or hate it. I treated it like you did; it was my own personal balcony and gateway to the outside of the ship.

 

Roz

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