Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this cruise for ports of call and schedule. Except for the quality of the food, the cruise was a disappointment. The ship was worn and tired. Booked a Neptune suite and there was wallpaper falling off the wall and rusty areas on the ... Read More
Chose this cruise for ports of call and schedule. Except for the quality of the food, the cruise was a disappointment. The ship was worn and tired. Booked a Neptune suite and there was wallpaper falling off the wall and rusty areas on the balcony. The carpets are stained throughout. Many small things added up: missing bathroom fixtures, a towel hangar that was replaced with a simple screw in the wall. The Neptune/Pinnacle suites are supposedly the nicest aboard -- if that is true, then I feel badly for those in lesser cabins. The service was also poor, but I consider this a reflection of how the crew is treated by their employer. Most crew members seemed disinterested in being helpful, and some where downright rude. More often than not, I was getting my own drinks in the Lido restaurant. In the dining room, we gave our order and the waiter confirmed it, only to bring the wrong thing. I would describe most of the crew as aloof. HAL supposedly provides a premium experience, but this was far from it. Would recommend you cruise with someone else. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour ... Read More
Just returned from the Veendam Christmas cruise. I am happy to report that all was wonderful contrary to some of the previous reviews I had read prior to the trip. The highlight was the stop in Cienfuentes where we had a private tour which I had arranged via Shago tours. They assigned a tour guide, Yoley, and we were assigned a driver with a 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan for our trip to the Nicho Waterfalls. The Waterfalls were worth the trip. We also asked to see the botanical garden. That was disappointing. Only trees to see, no plants…not like in the US. The trip up the mountain was however quite eye-opening. There were more horse drawn carriages and tractors than cars. The way of life was fascinating…makes you really appreciate our country. We had a lot of good conversation with the tour guide and a very nice lunch at the waterfalls. . I was told that we saw much more than those people who took the cruise bus excursions. They didn’t seem as satisfied. We were a little nervous when we left the ship and saw all the big buses but no private drivers with signs. It seems you have to leave the area to another small park outside to meet them. I believe there also were taxis there for those without tours. The ship was well maintained, loved the food by the pool, custom made pizza, caprices salad, hamburgers, Nathan’s hotdogs, and taco bar. Took part in many of the offerings on the days at sea…i.e. Americans Test Kitchen. Entertainment was good for a small ship, casino quite small…no craps table. Overall…a great experience. Hope that helps others as I have been helped in the past through other people’s experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife Carol and I were very interested in learning more about Cuba so we chose the cruise called: "The Cuban Explorer." There were supposed to be two cuban ports. The other destinations on the cruise did not interest us much. ... Read More
My wife Carol and I were very interested in learning more about Cuba so we chose the cruise called: "The Cuban Explorer." There were supposed to be two cuban ports. The other destinations on the cruise did not interest us much. We went to Key West, Florida. I would describe this as a once nice little town that has become an empty tourist trap. Next, we went to Havana after a day at sea. Having sailed mostly the North Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, we found the days at sea rather dull since there was nothing that was very interesting to do on board nor was the sea anything special. (I have been in two spectacular storms on other ships.) My wife who is Canadian Chinese, a seasoned traveller experienced two incidents of nasty behaviour by co travellers who felt they had a right to scream at fellow passengers to move aside. Described in the past as the "ugly American". In fact being an American I was shocked maybe at their attitude and outright prejudice. We complained to the front desk there should be a code of behaviour for passengers. A total put off given the number of diverse tourists traveling today. Shame on their backward rude behaviour- and the fact they thought they could get away with it. Carol is recovering from cancer and this trip was a rest for us both. However, compared to John Cleese on the Queen Mary, the speakers we heard on the Veendam were informative but little else. We watched a couple of movies on the tv in our cabin and attended two talks/demos by an America's Test Kitchen chef. Carol, who is really at a chef level herself (she was a judge in the International Chocolate Competition in Toronto), though not professionally, enjoyed these demonstration/talks quite a bit. The ship, though old (built 1993), is superbly maintained by an excellent and conscientious crew. But the quality of the maintenance apparently did not extend to the mechanicals of the ship which I believe was the reason we could not stop at Cienfuegos. Missing this port is the main reason I have downgraded the cruise. The captain got on the PA a couple of time and told us that we couldn't go to Cienfuegos but he kept saying that there was no safety issue. If there was not a safety issue, why couldn't we go? If there was a safety issue, why were we cruising in this ship and why did it take on new passengers when we got back to Fort Lauderdale? As a very poor substitute for missing a key destination we were offered an afternoon of free booze. Again, of little interest to us. And it did not make up for not visiting one of the destinations we thought would be a highlight. The main plus for the cruise was the dining.The food was wonderful. Meat, vegetarian and non-gluten dishes were available. Brilliantly cooked and served. Dinner in the dining room was always a pleasure. For breakfast and lunch we went to the cafeteria style "Lido" deck. We were both surprised by the very high level of culinary artistry the staff exhibited. The one tour we took in Havana was abysmal. It was supposed to be a culinary tour. The guide certainly knew her stuff and was professional but the offerings were not worth the time or money. "Culinary" turned out to be going to a large hotel salon with a view in downtown Havana and being given a pretty lousy four hour meal with lots of booze served. The Cuban musicians were local and good.( I am a classically trained musician.) From there we were dragged off to some run down night club where we had loud Cuban music played at us while we were given rum, cigars and coffee to sample with no comments, explanations or any attempt to instruct. Neither my wife nor I smoke and there was no alternative of any kind offered. Our windowed cabin had no balcony but was adequate. The bathroom was nice because it was larger than the one on the Queen Mary 2. It had a full tiled bath. The gym was well equipped. I love my work out and this was important to me. The service in all respects was uniformly excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise. We missed Roatan due to high winds. We ate in the Pinnacle one time on opening night when they offered a 25% discount. They combined it with our 15% discount we get for being 3 start mariners. Pinnacle on this ship has windows so you can have ocean-side dining. The restaurant was also good. My only comment would be that we have gone from formal night to gala night to come as you are. Old t-shirts and flip flops should not be part of gala night. Room service breakfast was excellent, always on time. Holland offered water color classes but they cancelled them as the person was transferred to Rotterdam. My understanding is that she will offer them there and if they concept takes off, it will go to other ships. I am told that the Ocean Trio is going away from this ship come mid-year. Adagio was also quite good. Stewards did a great keeping our cabin up, they are assigned around 30 to keep up with. Gym opened at 6 AM every day and they kept the music down, much appreciated. Captain was excellent and dealt with a couple of weather systems very professionally. Cuba Form - If you say you are going ashore Holland gives you a Cuban visa (tourist card) when you get on to fill out. It costs $75. Don't lose it or you will be charged $75 to replace it. Cienfuegos - I found the information provided in the Cuba orientations and lectures on board to be very biased. The usual phrases such as "100% literacy" without telling you that Cubans do not have free access to information or "free health care" without telling you that they don't even have Advil. Very disappointing. Sailing In - The approach is interesting, try to be out on deck to catch it. This is a tender port for Holland. It is a 15 minute ride in, two Holland tenders and one Cuban boat. Brochure time for the visit is 8 AM to 5 PM. We got there at 8 AM. People were able to go ashore without a tour. Holland typically was giving tender tickets when we cleared. For this port they did not give out tickets until 9 AM (this did not apply to the 4 and 5 star mariners.) The last tender for independent travelers was at 3:30 PM. I thought I could take a shorter tour and then have time to wander around. The ship's shorter tours left later in the morning (around 10 AM.) Irrespective of the ship tour, most did not have time to wander around outside of the tour. They might have some time to shop in Jose Marti Square in Cienfuegos at the end of the tour, but that was it. Our tour (Santa Clara) returned straight to the dock at which point where we were strongly urged to return to the ship. In my view there are a number of constraints that limit one's time here. The Cuban government says the ship can only clear the narrow part of the channel in day light. In mid-December that about 5:30 PM. The ship can't afford to be running late. The dock is a choke point as everyone has to go through Cuban immigration and customs coming and going. The officials were friendly and efficient, money-changing was quick, too, but they can only handle so many people at a time. They did not take our picture. Money - Change some and get some change. This is one of those places in which some of the rest rooms have an attendant you need to tip. Also some small bills for tipping guide and driver. Shopping - I am not much of one, but some folks were quite pleased with some of the hand crafted items they bought. Leather purses, wood domino sets, etc. But I also saw a lot of folks changing money back at the end of the day. Tours - The Cubans had new buses. Good ride, a/c, had bathroom inside. The guide spoke good English. The driver was good and careful. Roads are ok, not much traffic. Santa Clara Tour - The order may be reversed and if time is limited one won't do everything on the tour. Between the ride in and out of Cienfuegos, we saw the main square and the Passo del Prado. We did not drive through Punta Gorda. We stopped in the main square of Santa Clara and walked about a block to a new restroom facility they have built. They on about another block to "Grandparents Party." A senior center with folks who danced and shared their stories. They also had crafts for sale. I chose to go out on the street and look around. Next to the Armored Train, an event from the Cuban Revolution. More time to take in the street scene. Then a buffet-lunch at a hotel outside town. Not bad, like the Lido honestly. The last stop was Che Guevara's mausoleum. It wasn't listed, but it was worth seeing. The tour listed seeing a monument to John Paul II, but we didn't see that. Then back to the ship. Santa Clara is about an hour a way. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise to not only visit Havana ( I had been there before)) but mainly Cienfuegos. There was an announcement the night before that due to irregularities with one of the 5 generators, we would not be stopping at Cienfuegos. I ... Read More
I chose this cruise to not only visit Havana ( I had been there before)) but mainly Cienfuegos. There was an announcement the night before that due to irregularities with one of the 5 generators, we would not be stopping at Cienfuegos. I had persuaded 7 other family members to go with me. Amazingly, Holland America did not substitute a port or extend our stay at one of the scheduled ports. Instead we had to endure anther day at sea. Their compensation was a $100 room credit and free drinks one of the afternoons. We were kept in the dark about details of the cancellation for about 2 days until the Capt gave his explanation over the public address system. The ship is very much in need of an overhaul. Our room phone quit working 3 times, the elevators are extremely slow (5 to 10 minute waits). One elevator was permanently out of service. Our room was showing signs of wear. There was only one electrical outlet for the entire room. There was not any outlet in the bathroom. We had to purchase extension cords in Key West. The internet plan we purchased went out for about 9 hours. I asked staff members if there would be any credit given towards a future cruise and the answer was No. That behind said, the dining room and house keeping staff were wonderful. My wife and I have cruised almost 30 times and the last show performance with the dancers and singers was the best we had ever heard on a ship. The Cruise Director was also excellent. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This itinerary offered a day in Cienfuegos, Cuba and Belize, both of which were of interest to us. Other ports were Nassau (never got off the ship), Half Moon Cay (very pleasant), Grand Cayman (fine if you're looking to buy Tanzanite, I ... Read More
This itinerary offered a day in Cienfuegos, Cuba and Belize, both of which were of interest to us. Other ports were Nassau (never got off the ship), Half Moon Cay (very pleasant), Grand Cayman (fine if you're looking to buy Tanzanite, I suppose), Roatan (too windy to make port), and Cozumel (read on). First the ship itself. This is an older, or as HAL likes to put it, "vintage" ship. It has been cosmetically well-maintained for the most part, but 3 of the 8 elevators were not functioning during our cruise ("we're waiting for parts" says HAL) so getting around during busy times was somewhat more difficult. And we had plumbing problems in our stateroom that had to be reported three different times before they were fixed. "You can't expect the shower to drain when the ship is moving" was what one guest relations person told me. Um, no. But then, I've learned to expect poor guest relations service from HAL. The people in the room down the hall from us couldn't get the heating/air conditioning to work and as far as I know, that problem never got resolved. Service from the room stewards and food service staff was excellent - always pleasant and helpful. The guest lecturer was very interesting and his hour long lectures flew by. As for ports, Half Moon Cay is always a pleasant stop, very clean and well organized. Nassau we've been to before and saw no reason this time to get off the ship. Cienfuegos was interesting and the excursion we took there well done, as was Belize. Grand Cayman was just not for me. In Cozumel, our excursion did not follow what was in the description, but HAL shore excursion staff refunded 1/2 the excursion cost. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Avoid accepting cabins 131 & 133. Located over Ocean Bar. Music from Ocean Bar heard in room from 9:30 pm to 11:45 pm most nights. (We could hear every note, every thump and even the voice of the singer!) This is a known problem on ... Read More
Avoid accepting cabins 131 & 133. Located over Ocean Bar. Music from Ocean Bar heard in room from 9:30 pm to 11:45 pm most nights. (We could hear every note, every thump and even the voice of the singer!) This is a known problem on this ship. They moved occupants of both cabins to another suite the following day and gave a $70 credit. It took both cabins' occupants going down to complain to get moved. (They initially tried to play it off like saying some occupants are just "more sensitive" than others to the music when they are well aware they have had this problem for many cruises with these cabins!) Holland America operates smaller ships, less crowd, no drunk and rowdy passengers. The staff is always pleasant and smiling. The room stewards remember your names and are eager to please. They take care of 29 or so rooms. They work very hard and deserve a personal tip at the end of the cruise. The time in port could be longer. Most ports had to be back on ship 3:30 pm. Only one small swimming pool that was too cold to go in for our taste. The Lido Restaurant was good with a variety of foods each day. The salad bar was nice. However, was closed for several hours between meal change overs. Desserts were good. Pizza required placing an order. Pizza was not what I call pizza. Preferred previous arrangement to request a slice. Hamburger, hot dog and fries were excellent, required placing an order. Taco bar very good. All three close at 5:30 pm. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This is an old ship and should be retired. A generator broke causing us to miss one of the two Cuban cities of this Cuban cruise. Three public mens room were also broken. No service at the back adult pool area. You can only get warm soda ... Read More
This is an old ship and should be retired. A generator broke causing us to miss one of the two Cuban cities of this Cuban cruise. Three public mens room were also broken. No service at the back adult pool area. You can only get warm soda with a glass of ice and you have to pay 15% gratuity for that. I heard from other passengers that missing the Second City of Cuba has happened before. This all ship is not capable of getting to that Port easily. If going to Cuba is why you're taking this Cruise book another ship. The dining room staff or definitely overworked. It was beginning to feel like I was more at at an Olive Garden then on a cruise ship. The housekeeping staff is very friendly. Embarking and disembarking was very smooth. We always enjoyed High Tea. Breakfast buffet is awesome. They will make you fresh eggs, pancakes and waffles no need to go to the dining room. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise solely because of the Cuba stops. It was advertised and sold as the 10 Day Cuban Explorer. After a wonderful day and evening in Havana we were advised our second Cuba stop in Cienfuegos was being cancelled because of ... Read More
We chose this cruise solely because of the Cuba stops. It was advertised and sold as the 10 Day Cuban Explorer. After a wonderful day and evening in Havana we were advised our second Cuba stop in Cienfuegos was being cancelled because of ship mechanical problems. In addition we we told the remaining ports were being moved up a day which totally disrupted advance plans we had made in those stops. We were given an insulting $100 ship credi for our “inconvenience” The Captain was unapologetic and admonished us not to feel the cruise had been ruined. We found out from the crew this was not the first time the Veendam had cancelled Cienfuegos. We regret booking this cruise with Holland America. On a positive note the crew was wonderful. Food was average and actually poor one of the two nights we ate in the Pinnicle Grill. Food and service in the Canaletto restaurant was very good. Ship interiors were very well done considering the age of the ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Friends were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They were a few cabins away from us. The ship is old and there were many, many problems. Clogged drains and toilets, the air conditioners were hit and miss, older decor and a layout ... Read More
Friends were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They were a few cabins away from us. The ship is old and there were many, many problems. Clogged drains and toilets, the air conditioners were hit and miss, older decor and a layout that lead to dead ends for the first couple of days were some of the problems. My wife wanted to use the Fitness area but the staff sprays the equipment, carpets and air with a scent that she was quite allergic to. One engine broke down and we were forced to miss the second Cuba port, for which we received $50 and $40 port taxes each. When the name of the cruise is "Cuban Experience", I don't feel that is a fair compensation. The staff tried their best to put a good spin on the problems but there was a sense of unrest with the passengers. On this ship the "Anytime" dining seemed to mean just that whereas on Princess it seems to mean you can come to either the first or second searing each night. All in all - disappointing Read Less
Veendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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