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Chuck

JUST BACK FROM CUBA ON THE VEENDAM

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We just got back from a 10 day cruise on the Veendam. The stops were Havana, Cienfuegos, Belize, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman.   Now I would like to give you a completely "Unbiased Opinion" of the whole kit and kaboodle.  Iam 68 and my wife 67 and we have been on atleast 15 cruises thru out our lifetime.  The Veendam is an old ship and its starting to show just a little.  Generally speaking we had a nice time but I would start by saying for us CUBA is a ONCE IN A LIFETIME STOP.   Now granted thats just us but after taking a 8 Hour Tour of Havana and a 5 Hour Tour of the other city on the southside of the Island I would not go back again.  You probably know that Cuba is extremely poor and it showed.  The old classic cars in Havana were interesting but you can only look at just so many 1956 Chevys.  LOL.  We did not find the other stops all that interesting.  Now onto the ship itself.   Breakfast and lunch were always good and we really enjoyed that.  The sit down more formal meals in the evening were quite dissapointing.  We had taken a Holland America cruise about 4 years ago and lots have changed since then.   Here are my biggest complaints in no particular order.  Evening meals were very dissapointing.  Didn't care for most of the offerings and the servings were very small.  The internet was "INCREDIBLY SLOW" or sometimes just plain didn't work at all.   The TV in the room was like a computer screen about 23" screen.  We were on the Verandah Deck #9.  It was sold to us as their version of a "Mini Suite".  Ha, now thats a real laugher.  It was 225 square feet and like being in a "SARDINE CAN" for 10 days.  My wife was extremely dissapointed in the room itself.  Just no room for your "stuff" if you know what I mean.  Back to the TV.  I think they got about 7 channels in total and you could watch a movie or you could watch MSNBC  (for the Democrats) or you could watch FOX NEWS (for the Republicans).  Not trying to be funny but the TV channel selections were absolutely HORRIBLE.  We spent alot of money for this cruise and I don't know if Iam allowed to give the amount but with the so called mini suite, airfare, insurance, taxes, extra expense for their "Built in Tips Program", drinks, shore excursions, etc etc etc I truly spent alot of $$$$$$$.    If Iam allowed to post it I will gladly do so.   Was the whole enchilada worth it??????   Definitely NOT.  We are going to be much more picky on our next cruise/vacation that I can assure you.   THANK YOU.  

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Sorry you were so disappointed with the ship and any unrealistic expectations you had upfront - it sound like the same ship, as expected, that was okay by me when I took the same cruise.  Those are not "mini-suites" - they are simply renamed verandah cabins and quite nice at that. And you do get double cruise credits under their new nomenclature.  

 

Thanks for taking the time to be specific about your experience. No problem mentioning costs - we all pretty much know the range of cabin prices on HAL ships.  HAL is obviously not a good match for what you need. Sorry you had to learn the hard way - booking upfront and learning afterwards. The Veendam worked perfectly for me, so it goes.  You need a much newer ship - and there are other choices for Cuba.  Royal Caribbean is a better place to start next time, MSC, Oceania......

Edited by OlsSalt

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Hello my Friend OlsSalt.  Thank You for enlightening me about the "Double Credits".  I just literally got off the phone with a nice gal from the Holland America Mariners Club and she did indeed tell me that Iam going to get the double credits.  Plus bonus points for the Onboard Ship Spending that we did.  Our shipboard spending came to $850.00.   The beer was $7 and the wine was $9.  A bit over priced but we all know thats a real moneymaker for them.    Just for the record, we did book another cruise with H A.   It goes in Sept. of 2019 and its a 13 day cruise that leaves out of Quebec City and the last stop is N Y City.   It does all the Canadian stops.  We are trying to do things that we haven't already done a thousand times if you know what I mean.    Let me ask you a quick question OlsSalt---Is there one cruise line in particular that has a really great "Rewards Program"????   While on board the Veendam one of the nice cruise people gave me a book on how their Mariner Club works and after reading it very carefully it really doesn't amount to a "Hill of Beans".  What Iam trying to say in oh so many words is by the time you get to the 4 Star and 5 Star Club with HAL you have more than paid for many times over the benefits you get in the club itself.  Hopefully everyone understands what I mean. 

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We just got off as well and had one disaster after another!!! We were on deck 6. Cabin was on as far as size but air conditioning was not!! It took over 2 hours for embarkation in a hot terminal with no drinks available. We got on and had a Orr outage shortly thereafter in our cabin for about 2 hours ... no bathrooms.. tenders at times took 45 minute wait in the heT to return midday .. again no water available.. dinner in dining room was over 2 hours.   Elevators only half worked and therefore you waited quite awhile for one.. people carried walkers up the stairs...I could go on and on!!!

    I did Havana the n my own with a private guide and that was nice!!!

    I have cruised over 40 cruises , over 100 days, 3 star mariner on holland and never experienced such a disaster before!!!

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26 minutes ago, ent704 said:

We just got off as well and had one disaster after another!!! We were on deck 6. Cabin was on as far as size but air conditioning was not!! It took over 2 hours for embarkation in a hot terminal with no drinks available. We got on and had a Orr outage shortly thereafter in our cabin for about 2 hours ... no bathrooms.. tenders at times took 45 minute wait in the heT to return midday .. again no water available.. dinner in dining room was over 2 hours.   Elevators only half worked and therefore you waited quite awhile for one.. people carried walkers up the stairs...I could go on and on!!!

    I did Havana the n my own with a private guide and that was nice!!!

    I have cruised over 40 cruises , over 100 days, 3 star mariner on holland and never experienced such a disaster before!!!

Well heck brother you had a worse time than we did.  Maybe you should have written this post instead of me.  LOL

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1 hour ago, Chuck said:

Hello my Friend OlsSalt.  Thank You for enlightening me about the "Double Credits".  I just literally got off the phone with a nice gal from the Holland America Mariners Club and she did indeed tell me that Iam going to get the double credits.  Plus bonus points for the Onboard Ship Spending that we did.  Our shipboard spending came to $850.00.   The beer was $7 and the wine was $9.  A bit over priced but we all know thats a real moneymaker for them.    Just for the record, we did book another cruise with H A.   It goes in Sept. of 2019 and its a 13 day cruise that leaves out of Quebec City and the last stop is N Y City.   It does all the Canadian stops.  We are trying to do things that we haven't already done a thousand times if you know what I mean.    Let me ask you a quick question OlsSalt---Is there one cruise line in particular that has a really great "Rewards Program"????   While on board the Veendam one of the nice cruise people gave me a book on how their Mariner Club works and after reading it very carefully it really doesn't amount to a "Hill of Beans".  What Iam trying to say in oh so many words is by the time you get to the 4 Star and 5 Star Club with HAL you have more than paid for many times over the benefits you get in the club itself.  Hopefully everyone understands what I mean. 

 

You picked another great itinerary on HAL. Problem with HAL Mariner high awards is the cruise line has so many loyal fans that often the numbers on board overwhelm the ability of the ship to deliver anything unique.

 

The biggest loyalty  payoff we all seem to like in the "free" laundry after reaching four star status.  The specialty restaurant and alcohol discounts are nice but not something we routinely us that much anyway. HAL wins us over by what they offer in terms on onboard, small ship experience, price, value, its crew and its always intriguing itineraries.  The rest of the fluff is just window dressing. 

 

The real price perks seem to come for those who gamble on board - the Club 21 crowd.

Edited by OlsSalt

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The RCCL/Celebrity/Azamara gets you more and better perks earlier, e.g., 90 minutes internet, free laundry, etc.  Unlike CCL, your level transfers between brand.  The points, however, do not.  So if you are Elite on Celebrity, then you receive the equivalent level benefits on RCCL or Az.  

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Ever think that cruise lines who give away more free stuff to induce loyalty in their customers, need to in order to get them to come back? :classic_biggrin:

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1 hour ago, ent704 said:

We just got off as well and had one disaster after another!!! We were on deck 6. Cabin was on as far as size but air conditioning was not!! It took over 2 hours for embarkation in a hot terminal with no drinks available. We got on and had a Orr outage shortly thereafter in our cabin for about 2 hours ... no bathrooms.. tenders at times took 45 minute wait in the heT to return midday .. again no water available.. dinner in dining room was over 2 hours.   Elevators only half worked and therefore you waited quite awhile for one.. people carried walkers up the stairs...I could go on and on!!!

    I did Havana the n my own with a private guide and that was nice!!!

    I have cruised over 40 cruises , over 100 days, 3 star mariner on holland and never experienced such a disaster before!!!

 

The Veendam is an older two elevator bank ship - this can be impacted heavily particularly, when people are leaving the showroom all at once. This then requires walking to the other end of the ship to get on the less impacted ones- luckily this is a small ship.   The later ships now have three elevator banks.  The crew sometimes needs to use some elevators which can take  some of those in the bank out of commission for passengers. 

 

Were you given an embarkation time? There has been discussion here about passengers choosing to ignore their embarkation times and show up any time they want - that can lead to delays for those who did show up at the right time. Not a good practice but sometimes there are delays due to extra cleaning demands between cruises, spot inspections or other onboard issues.

 

Yes, tenders can take time again when everyone arrives late in the afternoon at the same time - this has happened at any number of ports around the world. HAL is usually very good about cold towels, water and lemonade in those hot waiting tender ports. Sorry they did not offer this on your cruise. 

 

A 2 hour A/C outage that got fixed, yes ship happens from time to time.  2hour dinners - we now find fixed dining in all our HAL ships dinners to be under one hour, but we also only have three courses; not four.   Anytime dining was too chaotic for me. 

 

You could go on and on, but I think we have heard all of these details before so that they can be an expected part of the normal onboard cruise experience on this older ship. Now you know.  

 

Veendam is not a good ship for you - try the newer, more modern ones.  If you are three star HAL, I am surprised you did not already know the different expectations you will face with each ship.  There are compromises on the Veendam, but benefits also.  Sorry your cruise was so miserable. 

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I don’t want to debate this with you... but... the elevators have been broken for weeks we were told at both ends of the ship... the tender Robles was midday not the end of the dAy and we we were told “ they ran out of water... unacceptable...

    the embarkment had no time... dining room we went to dinner early.. 5:30-6m and it wasn’t crowded, lots of empty tables.. 

     there was not enough crew and the crew was not well trained  in my opinion. And yes, I’ve been on older ships including it’s sister ship the maasdam..

    It just was a disaster cruise!! 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, ent704 said:

I don’t want to debate this with you... but... the elevators have been broken for weeks we were told at both ends of the ship... the tender Robles was midday not the end of the dAy and we we were told “ they ran out of water... unacceptable...

    the embarkment had no time... dining room we went to dinner early.. 5:30-6m and it wasn’t crowded, lots of empty tables.. 

     there was not enough crew and the crew was not well trained  in my opinion. And yes, I’ve been on older ships including it’s sister ship the maasdam..

    It just was a disaster cruise!! 

 

 

 

Yes, you do describe a disaster for yourself. A disaster cruise, not so sure about that. But you did have a string of very unfortunate experiences.  Which always reminds me, hey I had similar experiences from time to time too. 

Edited by OlsSalt

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This is not what I wanted to hear right now. Thinking of booking a Cuba cruise next year on Veendam since we have "been there/done that" to all the HAL cruises offered during January in the Caribbean.

 

Now having serious second thoughts...yikes.

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Geez. I've just put down a deposit for a 14 day cruise to Cuba/Eastern Caribbean in December, 2019.

You've now got me thinking!!

 

Rick

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Sorry to hear that you did not enjoy Cuba nor your cruise.

 

@Rickster50 - lots of people in Canada happily go to Cuba every year and enjoy it.

 

For others (like me), once is enough.  My friends did this cruise twice and enjoyed it very much.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t repeat it again 😉 

 

So, everyone’s experiences can be different.  Ship experience can change from cruise to cruise.

 

OP, always wise to check your cabin description and measurements no matter what line you are sailing.

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My sympathies to the OP.  .  Sadly, you can read cruise critic back at least ten years and find similiar reports about Veendam.  

Cuba is not the destination for creature comforts so a nice cruise ship is essential.  Veendam is not.

There are nicer cruise lines with better itineraries doing Cuba, look around.  

We thought Cuba was fascinating and we would go again. 

 

I laughed out loud at the OP’s instant analysis of the mariner loyalty program.  Totally agree.  A free bag of laundry after a couple hundred days will not entice me to do anything. 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, BSinPNS said:

The RCCL/Celebrity/Azamara gets you more and better perks earlier, e.g., 90 minutes internet, free laundry, etc.  Unlike CCL, your level transfers between brand.  The points, however, do not.  So if you are Elite on Celebrity, then you receive the equivalent level benefits on RCCL or Az.  

OK, you are making this way toooooo difficult for this old boy.  You mentioned 3 Cruise Lines.  Which one of the 3 has the best rewards programs and possibly even the best ships?????     As I mentioned previously the rewards program with H A really doesn't amount to a Hill of Beans if you look at it really carefully.  And I have!!!!!!!    Probably the best thing they offer is the 3/4 guests travel at a 50% discount or even free when you get to the 4 Star Mariner Club.  BUT I ASK YOU ALL WHO WANTS ANOTHER 2 PEOPLE IN YOUR ROOM?!?!?!?!?!????????????

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I want to add just another thing after reading the posts.  The elevators were absolutely NO PROBLEM for myself or my wife.   Let me tell you WHY.   We never even once used the elevators.  My wife is 67 and Iam 68 and we both know that exercise is crucial to your good health.  We both work out vigorously 5 and even 6 days a week.  Treadmillers, and weight lifting.  We both agreed to take the step literally EVERYWHERE WE GO.   So going from the 9th floor up to the feeding trough on the 11th floor was NO BIG DEAL.  Even getting on and off the ship from deck 3 or 5 again NO BIG DEAL.   Yes, the steps can be a problem for some people but we look at it as a form of great exercise.  But thats just us.  

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15 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

 

You picked another great itinerary on HAL. Problem with HAL Mariner high awards is the cruise line has so many loyal fans that often the numbers on board overwhelm the ability of the ship to deliver anything unique.

 

The biggest loyalty  payoff we all seem to like in the "free" laundry after reaching four star status.  The specialty restaurant and alcohol discounts are nice but not something we routinely us that much anyway. HAL wins us over by what they offer in terms on onboard, small ship experience, price, value, its crew and its always intriguing itineraries.  The rest of the fluff is just window dressing. 

 

The real price perks seem to come for those who gamble on board - the Club 21 crowd.

Hello my favorite poster "OlsSalt".  There is no doubt that you are "EXTREMELY KNOWLEDGEABLE"  on cruising.  Can you give me your humble opinion of who is the "Best Cruise Line" to use in the future.  That would be taking into account the following criteria in no particular order:   Rewards Program,  Pricing,  Ships Age & Condition, Staff & Crew, and last but certainly not least their itineraries.   That last one ranks quite high on my list because without that you really have nothing.  HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU.   THANK YOU.

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Oh I need to add just one more item to this entire post.  My wife thought of this one.  We took a cruise with H A 4 years ago on the Eurodam and we found the quality of the food to be "QUITE OUTSTANDING".  Now on this cruise we found the breakfasts and lunches in the LIDO DECK to again be "QUITE OUTSTANDING".  BUT, we found the evening meal in the formal dining room to be very "SUB PAR".  Not picking on H A in the slightest but the portions were "VERY SMALL" and the choices were not what we were hoping for.  Just somewhat dissapointing.  We ended up eating there I think 5 times out of the 10 nights as we just then relegated ourselves to go up to the LIDO and eat there or even go out on the rear of the ship and order the NEW YORK PIZZA which was "TRULY OUTSTANDING" in every way.  The pizza was really great.  We had it 3 different times. 

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I do not think that a ship with a solid history of malfunctioning elevators, AC, and plumbing is a good match for anyone.  Service issues aside.

 

That 'match' argument is nothing more than a major cop out.  The notion that HAL's loyalty program is at the very bottom of the mass market lines because HAL is such a great cruise line and has a line up to sell cabins is more than a little past the pale.   Time for a reality check?

 

The name of this site is cruise critic, not cruise line booster.

Edited by iancal

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19 minutes ago, iancal said:

I do not think that a ship with a solid history of malfunctioning elevators, AC, and plumbing is a good match for anyone.  Service issues aside.

 

That 'match' argument is nothing more than a major cop out.  The notion that HAL's loyalty program is at the very bottom of the mass market lines because HAL is such a great cruise line and has a line up to sell cabins is more than a little past the pale.   Time for a reality check?

 

The name of this site is cruise critic, not cruise line booster.

Hello "icancal";  Not sure I really understand your post???   Everything I said is 100% truthful in every way.  Perhaps you could elaborate a little. 

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chuck...my comments are not at all directed at you.

 

Rather they are directed to some posters who always seem to think that when there is an issue on a HAL ship it is the customers fault for selecting the wrong ship, that the difficulties did not happen or were exaggerated, or some other lame excuse to lay it on the poor customer instead of the cruise line.

 

I am one of those strange folks who believe that customers should get what they pay for and vendors should live up to the expectations that they set.  Regardless of cruise line.  Clearly yours did not.   Yet there will be those who would imply that this is your fault, ie the that the cruise line is faultless.

 

There is a reason that another poster called it the Veendoom.

Edited by iancal

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