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BamaFan

Just Returned from Veendam 6/20/04

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This is my first post on Cruise Critics but given the fact that I gained so much valuable information and helpful hints leading up to my Alaskan Cruise I wanted to try to repay by sharing my experience on the Veendam this past week (6/13 thru 6/20) NorthBound Inside Passage.

 

This trip was the celebration of my 30th Wedding Anniversary with my wonderful husband and had been planned and eagarly anticipated for 6 months. We were blessed with bright blue skies, sunshine and temperatures 60+ all 7 days. Incredible!!!

 

But on with the review and I will try to make it as easy to read as possible:

 

1. Overall Experience: Outstanding

Alaska via a row boat would have been a fabulous experience but cruising certainly is the best way to see this magnificent land. A must see for everyone at least once in a lifetime.

 

2. Vancouver and Embarkation: Excellent

Smooth, uneventful process. Just as had I learned from CC's...have Immigration Form and ID ready.

Luggage was properly taken care of and delivered to our stateroom before dinner.

 

3. Ports of Call and Excursions: Outstanding (All HAL Excursions)

Each stop and excursion provided unique aspects to Alaska, its history and sites.

 

Ketchikan: We(group of 5)went Salmon Fishing in Knudson Cove. We caught 3 (22+lb) King Salmon. These are being processed and shipped home to us this week. I actually caught one of the Salmon and the whole trip was absolutely a blast. Would highly recommend.

Juneau: We took the "Best of Juneau" trip. We were not disappointed. A 2-3 hour catarmaran trip brought us humpbacks, sea lions, eagles, and even Orca. This was followed by a delicious Salmon Bake. Would highly recommend.

Skagway: We did the "Best of Skagway". This 5 hour adventure took us via train into the mountains for an upclose look at the White Pass Summit and the history of the Klondike Gold Rush.

This was followed by visit to Liarsville, gold panning and visit to the Red Onion Saloon. Would highly recommend.

Glacier Bay National Park: No words available to describe these majestic sites. Certainly must be a glimpse of heaven.

 

4. Veendam Review: Excellent

Stateroom; We had a B Verandah minisuite and were not disappointed with any aspect of the stateroom service or amenities which included, highest quality linens, bathrobes, lighted makeup mirror and quite sufficient closet, drawers and storage space. Our room steward (Suhedi) was fabulous. Always available and attentive to detail. The balcony was well worth the extra cost for the constant access to the magnificent scenery.

 

Dining; Food Quality and Service;

Pinnacle Grill; Outstanding food and service. We ate in the Pinnacle twice but wish we had eaten their at least 4 times. Well worth the $20/person extra.

Lido; food/good service/excellent

Rotterdam Dining Room; food/fair at best service/good

**The food quality in the Main Dining Room was our only disappointment of our HAL cruise experience. The taste of many of the entrees was mediocre at best. Just did not measure up to the other food and services offered.

Room Service; food/good service/excellent

Lounges; cocktails/good service/excellent

 

Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows. Casino was adequate and dealers were fun and personable.

 

Cleanliness: All areas of ship spotless. Much attention being paid to the control of Norwalk virus with automatic hand sanitizers at many locations throughout ship.

 

5. Seward and Disembarkation: Excellent

Process was very organized and timely. Baggage appropriately transferred at all points. We took the Alaska Railroad from Seward to Anchorage. This was another highlight of the trip. Gave us another perspective of the beautiful Alaskan interior. Saw bear, moose and sheep en route. Would highly recommend.

 

6. Other Topics of Frequent Board Discussion:

Veendam Engine Problem; no problems from a passengers perspective. Right on time at each port of call. All other ship systems working appropriately.

 

Cellular Phone Service; was able to get Cingular phone service without any difficulty at each port of call and even out in the bays during shore excursions.

 

Internet Cafe; available 24 hours/day. Special packages available. Reasonably priced.

 

Dress Code; 2 formal, 1 informal, 4 casual. Dress code seemed to be followed by everyone that I saw. Some gentlemen had on tux and some dark suits. Ladies wore a variety of lovely dresses and pantsuits. Everyone looked wonderful and RELAXED!!!!

 

Auto Tipping; No problem for those I spoke with. Everyone seemed to understand process which was explained at the Disembarkation talk. I did ask Front Desk staff about giving additional gratuity to our room steward. Her response was that if the $10/person remained on our final statement that any additional monies given to a particular person could be kept by that individual and not pooled.

 

Age of Passengers; Having just turned 50 myself, I realize more and more age is just a state of mind. There was a nice variety of ages this past week and I never felt that any particular age group was dominating the scene. We did notice a lot of Southern drawls which made us feel right at home.

 

Hope this is helpful to someone.

Happy Cruising and God Bless!!!

Sandy

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Thanks for the great review! We are sailing on the Veendam next year and are really looking forward to it! Do you happen to know if the mattress' in your cabin had been the new upgraded pillow top style??

 

Carnival Legend 12/05/04

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Caribbean Princess 09/17/05

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Veendam 11/26/05

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Bamafan,

 

Thanks so much of your review. I am sailing Veendam southbound on 8/1. Did you notice the outside of the ship having rust and needing painting? Someone mentioned this on another board.

 

Thanks again and I'm glad you enjoyed your trip.

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In response to the questions posed regarding mattress and outside of ship rusting....

 

I am not sure if the new mattresses were in place but don't think the bedding could have been any more comfortable. Very soft, full and luxurious. I just didn't think to ask...too busy sleeping like a baby!!!

 

They were actually painting the outside of the ship just below our verandah when we boarded in Vancouver. It seemed that in every port of call they were doing some sort of maintenance. This was never a distraction or hinderance to us personally.

 

Sandy, BamaFan

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Thanks for a good, concise review. We have sailed the Veendam several times and really like this ship. Welcome home...jean

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EMPTYNESTER

 

I am told that passengers are given a form that states shorts are not permitted in the dining room or Pinnacle Grill at any time. On another thread there is much discussion what comprises shorts.

 

What were your observations regarding shorts, tanktops etc being permitted in the dining room?

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kruzeen,

If we rec'd anything that stated shorts were not allowed in Main Dining Room I failed to read it. Even though it was warm enough for shorts on many of the days we were in AK I did not see anyone with shorts on in the main dining room.

 

We wore jeans in the main dining room for breakfast and lunch as did others. I did not feel uncomfortable nor inappropriate. Dinner dress was always as requested in the Main Dining Room. Never did I see jeans nor anyone dressed innappropriately for dinner.

 

The Pinnacle Grill is a very upscale restaurant and everyone was dressed as you would find in an upscale restaurant anywhere.

 

BamaFan

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BamaFan,

Thanks so much for your review. Glad to hear that you had a great time with great weather. We leave on Saturday for our trip, land first and then Veendam on July 4. We are also in a B Cabin. Your review makes me very excited to go. A couple of quick questions for you.

 

Was there a naturalist on board?

 

Were there any (or many) college age kids on board? My son is prepared to be the only one as he enjoys the company of all ages, but I thought I would ask.

 

You mentioned that on formal nights there were tuxs and dark suits - do you know roughly what the ratio was?

 

How were the seas while sailing - any rough waters?

 

Thanks in advance for your answers and again, I am glad you had a great trip.

 

Regards.

Mary

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Bamafan....

 

Thanks so much for your great review. I enjoyed reading it and was especially to hear your nice comments about the condition of the ship as we just booked a cruise on her for January.

 

Welcome home. Happy you had such a wonderful Anniversary Celebration Cruise. Wishing you 30+ more years together in good health & happiness.

 

<img src=http://domania.us/DaveEdwards/HALlogo.gif>

 

 

 

 

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Did you make College Fjord on this sailing? That is what was dropped from prior trips in order for the Veendam to make up time. You mentioned they were painting the side of the ship. Did you notice pain fumes?

 

When we cruised on the ship last year there were sewage odors in some areas some of the time. Did you notice this?

 

Who was the Cruise Director, and who was the Captain?

 

Were the waiters in the Pinnacle Grill the same as in the dining room, meaning Indonesian and some Filipinos, or were they Eastern European?

 

Thanks for your review. Are you going to put some pictures of the newly refurbished ship us for us to see?

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Response to questions...

1. Naturalist on board? Yes. Did great job particularly at Glacier Bay.

 

2. Ratio Tux to Suits? Probably would say 40% Tux to 60% suits.

 

3. Rough Seas? Had 2 days (only in open sea) that were "rolling". Took medication prior to getting in open sea for the second time and did not get motion sickness as I did first time.

 

4. College Fjord? Yes. We spent almost an entire day there.

 

5. Sewage Odors? Not in any of the areas of ship that I was located.

 

6. Ship Capt? Frans Consen

 

7. Cruise Director? Craig DiRocco

 

8. Waiters in Pinnacle? All European

 

Thanks to all you of for your kind comments and anniversary congratulations.

 

Sandy, BamaFan

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Nice post! I was very interested since we will be on the Veendam in Sept. I was disappointed though to read what was said about the food in the main dining room.

 

"Rotterdam Dining Room; food/fair at best service/good

**The food quality in the Main Dining Room was our only disappointment of our HAL cruise experience. The taste of many of the entrees was mediocre at best. Just did not measure up to the other food and services offered."

 

Mediocre food in the main dining room on a cruise is unacceptable. It's usually one of the highlights of the cruise experience. I have been on several cruises before and the food was always the best in the main dining room. One doesn't have to wonder why the food is not as good now, you only have to read the review of the Pinnacle Grill.

 

"Pinnacle Grill; Outstanding food and service. We ate in the Pinnacle twice but wish we had eaten their at least 4 times. Well worth the $20/person extra."

 

Of course the food in the Lido isn't too bad.

 

"Lido; food/good service/excellent"

 

Why is the food any better in the Pinnacle than the Main Dining room? I can understand that it might be a bit fresher and hotter since they don't have to prepare as much in advance. But, it shouldn't be mediocre by comparison. The ships I have been on prior to this had more than double the occupancy and the food was always best in the dining room. What reason would HAL have for this? It would seem that there is a more insidious motive, slowly moving back to the class structure of the old days of ocean liners. Another attempt to separate the also-rands in low class sections and away from the high rollers in first class. Pretty soon there will be sections of the ship that are off limits to the lower class. Then the wealthier won't have to mingle with the common folk.

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Did the Veendam receive a hydro pool in it's drydock - I believe so....if so did you see or use it? Wondering how they are incorporating them into the s class ships

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Thank you so much for the review. We will be on the Veendam in Nov for our 1st cruise and you made me much more comfortable. I was getting very nervouse after reading about all the equipment problems.

 

Happy sailing

~Bryce

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Sandy,

 

Thank you for an excellent review of your Alaska Cruise on the Veendam! And welcome to the CC HAL Board! We have fun around here ... so pull up a chair and get comfy.

 

So ... after having a great first-experience, are you thinking about booking another HAL cruise???? ;)

 

Do two and you'll be addicted for sure! (I sound like a pusher!) :D

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