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Veendam August 17 - August 24, 2013 - Some Random Comments- Alert - It's Long!


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We boarded Veendam August 17 with another couple that we have traveled with in the past.


We had some uneasiness about the condition we would find the ship, how badly not having Navigation Pool would disturb us and in what condition we would find the general mechanicals on the ship. We had read so many negative threads and comments, time and time again.


However, Veendam was doing this one week itinerary, Boston to Boston, that we love and have missed seeing HAL has not offered it for several years.


I was inclined to find fault all over the place.

It didn't happen.


What we found is a well cared for, lovely ship we remembered with fondness from having sailed her a number of times years ago.


It really pleased me greatly to find Veendam looking so well. Her housekeeping department is doing a wonderful job and it reflects well on those 'in charge'. We had a chance to chat with Executive Housekeeper, Peter Janssen, (used to be Chief but, alas, title was changed when Chief Officer became Staff Captain........ whatever!) and aside from him being so personable and fun to chat with, it is obvious why Veendam looks so well. It is his very well run Department keeping her that way.

She, of course, is sister to our much loved Maasdam and did herself and her Maasdam proud all last week, IMO


Veendam has a very professional, able, friendly crew who never once even hinted at something that sounded like "No". There were a few occassions we needed a bit of assistance and it was quickly and politely offered and accomplished.


Embarkation was prompt, easy and well managed.

We were in our cabin about 11:40 if I remember correctly. Our cabin was spotless, everything in good condition, no stains, cracks, missing tiles or anything of the sort. Our toilet never failed to flush, our a/c kept us comfortable, our verandah was so enjoyable with NO SMOKERS on either side of us.


We had one of the best cabin stewards ever named Kadek and his assistant, Iswan. Certainly they worked very hard but never once let us pass without a pleasant word, a nice smile and kept our cabin beautifully maintained. We were most appreciative for all they did for us.


Our principal Neptune Concierge is Katz and she's terrific. Did a great job with a few requests we had.


We had a private, personal reason for wanting to meet Captain Bos. We have hoped for 11 years to meet him but never had the opportunity until this week. He is one of the most gracious, lovely gentleman and went out of his way to be sure we had a chance to chat. Making his acquaintance was well worth the wait. :)

When the fog horn sounded and we could not see mere meters off our verandah, we felt very safe and unconcerned knowing this most able Captain was on the bridge seeing to the safely of crew, ship and guests. He even found the sun for us the next morning. :)


Six of our seven days were the most beautiful New England/ Maritime Canada weather one could hope for. It was glorious, day after day and the seas were so calm it was like a lake.


Our request for our usual table was honored and we and our friends enjoyed some truly lovely dinners in MDR. In recent years, I've been less than thrilled with the menus and food quality we have encountered some of the time on some of the ships. No ships were 'bad' but they all had a few less than stellar menus IMO and more than once I had a disappointing dinner but not so on Veendam. I have depended upon 'always available' side of the dinner menu and default to grilled salmon night after night when not able to find anything else that appeals. Not so this cruise. I had trouble deciding which entree sounded better to me and often was choosing between two. That has not been the case for me on some of our last cruises.


We had prebooked two nights in Pinnacle and ended up going a third in order to dine with a friend we were delighted to find aboard much to our surprise. He and his lady joined us for a wonderful evening. Food was very good in Pinnacle but I think the steaks may be not exactly as they were in the recent past. We had nice service and enjoyed our dinners.


Lido lunches were a tiny bit lacking to my taste but others seemed well pleased. There certainly was plenty offered but Code Orange makes for a less than perfect Lido experience. It is what it is and we all know to expect it but doesn't mean I have to like it. :D I didn't find many of the hot offerings to appeal but did enjoy a plate of spaghetti bolognese one day. :)


There has been lots of comment about wine here lately, with good reason, and I paid attention to liquor/wine service in MDR. Our Wine Steward was Ruby and she took the best care of us. I admit I never actually read the wine menu as DH does the wine ordering. He knows what I like, he consulted with our friends before ordering and he sure managed to find plenty of wines for us to enjoy. My glass was never empty and all who wanted wine at our table were well pleased with what we were sipping.


I KNOW not everyone likes the wine list but I make my comments only for those who are 'learning' from us that there truly are some very long time HAL cruisers, some very well traveled wined and dined HAL cruisers who are fully enjoying lovely wines at dinner and likely you can find a choice or two you can enjoy. Too much negativity can drown out the smaller voice that is still satisified with what is available. We are not wine snobs but we have sipped many a fine bottle and do know what we like. We order the $34 bottle sometimes and other times a bottle for lots more but we always find something to order. Ruby made our wine service most enjoyable.


We didn't attend any shows and usually don't.

We didn't do any ships tours and usually don't.

We did go to the casino briefly and enjoyed a little slot play..... didn't win but had some fun.


Our friends did some active fun excursions and came back raving about paddleboarding in (?) Bar Harbor, I think it was. They did a hike in Sydney and a Kennebunk/Kennebunkport tour and boat ride they said was interesting and enjoyable. They reported Former President Bush #41 and Barbara along with Former President Bush #43 along with Laura were all in residence. Apparently their flags are flown according to who is there at a given time. Laura was seen in town and we heard it said she was charming. Please no politics..... you have no idea mine. I just comment out of respect to the fact these are two former Presidents and their wives. I found it interesting when I learned about them flying flags by who is in residence.


I hate the Retreat area on Veendam. It is ugly, it is hardly used, it blocks the view and people cannot sit and enjoy the way they can on Veendam's sisters and all other HAL ships with an aft pool. Pizza was offered there at area called 'Slice'. It was the worst pizza I've ever tasted. One bite and that was the end of any pizza for us. :)


On the other hand, burgers at Burger Bar/Taco Bar were delicious. We had two and I don't usually allow myself two burgers in a month of more. Delicious. It still irks me they do not offer the tacos etc for the two days of Code Orange. If they don't want self-service, fine....... put someone there to serve but don't just eliminate it for two days out of seven. IMO


Ocean Bar was our usual place to have a cocktail before dinner and I looked forward to it each evening. We saw some exquisite sunsets sitting there. A few bright red suns that were brilliant to look at. The first night I asked if there were hot hors d'ouerves and every night thereafter we were served whatever were that evening's selection.


Someone should push my 'off button' as I could/would continue but I am sure many are saying 'enough is enough'. Sorry for those who hate long reviews/posts but, of course, one is free to not read or stop reading whenever they wish. :)


Any questions, I'm happy to help if I am able.


Summing up: Much to our delight, we totally enjoyed Veendam and especially her crew and would recommend and sail her again happily.

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We are also very fond of the "Vendam" and enjoyed several cruises on her. One thing I particularly agree with you on (and so do just about everyone familiar with it) The "Retreat" where the aft open air pool used to be is the dopiest thing HAL ever came up with!!!!!!!

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Nice review! Thanks!

Do they still put out chocolates in the Explorer Lounge in the evening?



As for the Retreat.....I believe they did that in order to add the addtional cabins to the Veendam. I don't think they could have kept the original aft pool and still have added those cabins.......

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