1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This was our first Holland America cruise. It was an 11-night Caribbean cruise departing on November 19th with stops at Cozumel, Belize City, Mahogany Bay, Grand Cayman, Cienfuegos, and Havana that we booked primarily for the Cuban ports. ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise. It was an 11-night Caribbean cruise departing on November 19th with stops at Cozumel, Belize City, Mahogany Bay, Grand Cayman, Cienfuegos, and Havana that we booked primarily for the Cuban ports. This was our 26th cruise – most of our previous cruises have been on Carnival & Princess. We arrived the evening before the cruise and rode in what is probably the dirtiest cab in Fort Lauderdale to our Hotel – The Marriott Renaissance which is directly across the street from the entrance to the cruise terminal. This is a full service hotel and arriving late in the evening were thankful it offered room service which was very good. The next morning I took a walk to the bridge East of the hotel which offered a view of the cruise ships and saw the new Celebrity Edge arriving in port. If we return to Fort Lauderdale we will stay at this hotel again. I believe HAL books many cruisers into this hotel. Our check-in time was 1pm but we spoke with the shuttle driver and he recommended we go earlier because he said the HAL terminal wasn’t crowded. The shuttle charges $6 per person for a ride from the Hotel to the Terminal. We also arranged for the shuttle (Quick & Safe I believe) to pick us up post-cruise at the terminal and take us to the airport. The charge was $10 per person. We arrived at the terminal about 12:15pm and the embarkation process went quickly - the HAL employees were pleasant and personable – we were on the ship in maybe 30 minutes. All 3 pieces of our luggage arrived shortly after boarding. We were very pleased with our cabin – it was a Vista Suite located around the corner from the AFT elevators on the verandah deck (Deck 9). It was very quiet, everything worked, the balcony had lots of room, and our cabin stewards (Gus & Teddi) were great. This cabin was conveniently located to nearly everything – our dining room on the 8th floor was one stair flight below and the Lido was two stair flights above. We used the stairs extensively except for when we returned from tours. As noted in other reviews, one of the four elevators was inoperative the entire cruise. The metal finish on the balcony exterior could have used some refinishing. The food and service in the main dining room, Lido, and room service was very good. The Lido staff are clearly overworked/understaffed and work very hard to clean tables, do set-ups, and provide drinks. We were always able to find a table – like other cruisers – sometimes we resorted to self-service for beverages. I believe the ice cream person is one of the busiest persons on the ship. The Lido closes for breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2pm, and dinner at 8pm. The burger place takes your order and then gives you a buzzer to alert you when your order is ready – very efficient. At Cozumel, we booked the tour to Chichen-Itza which lasted nearly nine hours. We spent an hour and twenty minutes at the actual site. The rest of the time consisted of ferry rides to and from Carmen De Playa and then a long bus ride to and from Chichen-Itza. The site itself is magnificent and it would have been great to have more time there but we have been trying to schedule this tour for 15 years and for one reason or another it was always cancelled – so we were thankful to finally make it there. Our tour guide was Jorge and he was very good. There was a very long line to enter the site so one of the benefits to a HAL tour is bypassing lines. At Belize City, we booked the tour to the Lamanai ruins with riverboat ride. This is one of our all-time favorite tours . . . Bernie, the tour guide was wonderful and kept everyone informed and taken care of. The ruins are in the jungle and require a walk of one and one-half to two miles but there are three large temples to see. Following the tour of the ruins, we were served a good lunch at the Ecco-Park on the river. A shipboard talk about the Chichen-Itza and Lamanai sites prior to the tours would have been helpful. We took no tours at Mahogany Bay or Grand Cayman. We booked the Santa Clara & Los Abuelos De Fiesta tour at Cienfuegos. This was an all day tour that featured an hour and one-half drive from Cienfuegos to Santa Clara which gave us a glimpse of rural Cuba and many small villages. When we arrived at Santa Clara we learned the museums we were scheduled to visit were closed on Monday. HAL refunded everyone 30% of the tour price. This was a good tour with an excellent lunch. We booked the Best of Havana tour. We met in the theater at 8am and sat there until 10am before leaving because only five buses at a time were allowed to come into the terminal. So this made an eight hour tour a ten hour tour. Our favorites were the fort overlooking Havana, El Malecon, the Revolution Plaza, and the four Plazas. If I were to do this over, I would hire one of the classic car taxi-cabs to show me Havana seeing the same things in less time. As it was, we enjoyed the tour and were served an excellent lunch. All these tours were long/all-day tours and it was very hot (except for Havana) so we used the sea days to rest and recuperate. I would recommend anyone taking this cruise rise early for the entrance into Havana – the only harbor entrance/departure more scenic that I can think of is Venice. Rather than leaving at 2am, we overnighted in Havana – leaving at 830am Thursday morning so we were able to view it once again. Arriving, the best view is from the starboard side. When converting your currency into CUC’s (Cuban Pesos for Tourists) remember to ask for “mas pequenos, por favor” because you will need smaller denominations and 1 CUC coins for tips – everyone wants a tip – even the dogs. We did not attend any of the shows in the theater - they were scheduled for 8pm while we were at dinner and if they had two shows the second show would be at 10pm which was our bedtime. We did enjoy the musical entertainment in the bars and Crow's nest which we attended every night before dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and purchased future cruise certificates while on board. It was nearly perfect. I have read many reviews critical of the ship’s appearance and condition but I thought the interior of the ship looked great – and the promenade deck which I walked on about two hours every day, the teak looked great. Our next cruise is a 10 Day Mexican Riviera cruise on the Grand Princess from San Francisco next October. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The worst cruise I’ve ever been on. The ship is very old. We had no air conditioning in our state room the first two nights. They thought they could solve the problem by rigging up a noisy fan, which did nothing. No compensation was ... Read More
The worst cruise I’ve ever been on. The ship is very old. We had no air conditioning in our state room the first two nights. They thought they could solve the problem by rigging up a noisy fan, which did nothing. No compensation was given for this, even though we did not sleep the first two nights. Food was mediocre, at best. Public toilets had buckets when there were leaks, which were frequent. Toilets smelled aweful. The ships decor was vintage 1960’s. Entertainment was just ok. Hot tubs were luke warm. The stewards and food staff were excellent, but they were working with antiquated tools. The one very bright spot in this cruise was the spa staff, particularly the acupuncturist and ionithermie therapist. When you approached this ship for boarding you couldn’t help but see substantial rust. Pricing of spa and activities were difficult to understand, and I am still reviewing our bill for inaccuracies. Cabin has only one outlet, so bring an extension cord. Internet very expensive and unreliable. Balcony furniture extremely old and dated. Sofa had paint droppings from when it was last painted, probably 30 years ago. Do not take this cruise. It was terrible. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This was our 16th cruise; most of our cruising has been to interesting/exotic ports. We chose this 10 day cruise because of the 2 Cuban ports, Cienfuegos and Havana. The itinerary is otherwise mundane. We took private tours in both ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise; most of our cruising has been to interesting/exotic ports. We chose this 10 day cruise because of the 2 Cuban ports, Cienfuegos and Havana. The itinerary is otherwise mundane. We took private tours in both Cuban ports. In Cienfuegos, we toured with Hector Hernandez (we read about him in CC) to Trinidad then back to Cienfuegos. Great tour and guide, with a courteous driver using a reasonably up to date car with AC. In Havana, we used Cubaoutings.com (see review in Trip Advisor) and our guide Abel was fabulous. Part of it was in a classic 50's convertible. The other ports of Half Moon Cay, Cayman Islands and Cozumel were forgettable. In Half Moon Cay, the beach is private and all the employees work for Holland America. Still, we had a property theft on the beach and the ship washed their hands of any responsibility so please watch your belongings carefully and leave anything valuable on the ship. The service on the ship was up to the Holland America high standard. I liked the food. My girlfriend was less enthusiastic about it. We did the Pinnacle grill 1 night and were both a bit disappointed. Although the service was great, out steaks were not grilled well and the side dishes were bland. We used a discount for the meals that did not appear on the ship account. We needed to have it corrected later so do check your account regularly. The entertainment was geared to a smaller ship and an older demographic. The shows were OK. There was no classical music played except occasionally by the piano/violin duo, and the violinist was well below par for a ship and hard to listen to. Now for the ship itself. There were multiple annoyances related to the aging physical plant. The toilet barked and howled when flushed (we called it Fido). Once water backed up from the floor drain and left a puddle.The AC ran full tilt and was not controllable, leaving the cabin cold when the balcony door was closed. We eventually complained and they sent a front desk person up to measure the temp at about 64 deg before sending the maintenance guy. The balcony was being painted and on 1 occasion they left a mess when they were done. We had large puddles of water on the balcony just outside the cabin. They laid towels down to try to absorb them. We later found out the water was likely from washing the Lido deck above us, but initially they appeared puzzled by it. There were 2 elevator banks, 4 elevators each. 1 elevator was out in each bank the entire cruise. The others worked slowly, the doors closing like molasses and the cars often skipping the floor we were waiting on. So, the cruise was great for the Cuban ports and the service but was otherwise well below average for a contemporary cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
That's what the staff keep telling us when the A/C did not work for 10 days. They claim it takes 3 days to investigate the problem then they discovered it was an old ship Then you get the flu They are right the tv in the cabin was ... Read More
That's what the staff keep telling us when the A/C did not work for 10 days. They claim it takes 3 days to investigate the problem then they discovered it was an old ship Then you get the flu They are right the tv in the cabin was like 20 inches had a DVD player screwed to bottom that never worked 2 movies channels that lope 2 movies all day, had Amazon on another but the picture was so bad you could not watch The carpeting the room was just nasty The shows were so so at best, the singers were awful No vent in the bathroom so it smelled all the time If you like to sweat in your cabin book here But they give you a small desk fan to make up for the problem If you get sick which we did no the last day the demand to stay in your room, OK I understand that but they charge you $6 for 3 pills and $3 for a can of Sprite Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
It included a taste of Cuba It was our first cruise with Holland America previously with Princess Celebrity Seabourne and Silverseas Having read the reviews with cruise critic we were a bit reluctant to book but it was only cruise in the ... Read More
It included a taste of Cuba It was our first cruise with Holland America previously with Princess Celebrity Seabourne and Silverseas Having read the reviews with cruise critic we were a bit reluctant to book but it was only cruise in the time frame that included Cuba To start checking was easy no lines or wait Our Neptune cabin was ready on boarding Veendam is an old ship showing some signs of wear but quiet charming in a traditional manner. There is definitely a problem with the elevators going from being readily available some times to not at all. Dining well again a little mixed Lido and main restaurant pretty average but we found the Pinnacle grill outstanding great food choices and excellent staff. Well worth the $35 charge We dined in the Thomas Keller restaurant on Seabourne last year and put Pinnacle way ahead. Entertainment while lots of choices throughout the ship not outstanding but very acceptable Our biggest problem on the cruise was our Neptune Suite The suite itself outstanding but the antiquated air conditioning a total disaster I did note a number of cruise critic reviews about this but if you are a light sleeper do not book a Neptune suite.. To be fair to Hollan America they offered me the use of a quieter suite to sleep in Still not the ideal situation after paying so much money I could find no problem at all with staff in any part of the ship all very helpful and professional. Tours we on were fine some of the buses quiet old but expect that in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We have had Cuba on our wish list for some time and were looking to get away after my recent surgery. It was great to get away and have time to relax. The Veendam is an older ship and smaller than we are used to. We have sailed with many ... Read More
We have had Cuba on our wish list for some time and were looking to get away after my recent surgery. It was great to get away and have time to relax. The Veendam is an older ship and smaller than we are used to. We have sailed with many different cruise lines over the last twenty years and have never experienced a more friendly and helpful crew throughout the ship. Yes there are signs of wear and we had elevator problems, but the crew more than made up for that. Even the captain was very friendly and accessible. He set the tone for his ship. We were fortunate to have happened on a wonderful wait staff on anytime dining and we booked them for every night of our 11 day cruise. Kiki and Andrew made our dinners fun and something we looked forward to each evening. Even the people at the check in counter remembered our names and welcomed us every night. Even though there were fewer evening shows than on the big ships the evening shows were very good. This was our first cruise with Holland America, but it will not be our last. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away from ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We would visit three countries for the first time. Mexico, Belize, and Cuba. This smaller HAL ship was good no issues or problems. Wish o their "American' cruises they could get away from their "middle American food" just a little more spice perhaps more curry? Still it was passible. The underpaid crew was as usual excellent no problems. Since HAL is a "senior" line we were pleased at the help of the wait staff and others towards those seniors with mobility problems. Cabin was fine, on deck 6, promenade first time for this … large one way window (at least during daylight hours). Entertainment in the theatre good, bars and other areas not to our taste, Kudos to the two young gentlemen know as Adagio … well done. The tours where interesting. We rarely book Excu tours, too expansive but considering where we wanted to go we decided to splurge and try. The results were OK but not stellar. Guides could stand a bit more training. Juan our guide to Chichen Itza World Heritage Site was a wealth of knowledge. Had a degree in history and was a Mayan. sometime too much information is not a good idea, just a little less talk. It was a very long trip over 3 hours on the bus and 80 minutes on a tender, 40 minutes either way to disembark for the tour. Would have been OK except for the rough sea. Several people were seasick. Tours like this should not be cancelled but would be good if we were warned to be ready for motion sickness. Other tours were acceptable although all had an issue with not enough time to look around and perhaps do a bit of shopping. Cuba was as expected the highlight. We visited Trinidad de Cuba on the first day good tour to a very interesting area. Then of course Havana ... great place. The tours are probably not worth it, there is a hop on hop off bus service that got a good review from some on board friens. Then of course there is the "classic car" tours. We did not take one but the look very "pretty" ... All in all a good cruise no serious issues perhaps too many sea days. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
So my wife and I were super excited to get this 11 cruise that included 2 ports in Cuba and had an ADA room available at a decent price. Little did we know it would be the cruise from Hell. Background - My wife has MS and is in a ... Read More
So my wife and I were super excited to get this 11 cruise that included 2 ports in Cuba and had an ADA room available at a decent price. Little did we know it would be the cruise from Hell. Background - My wife has MS and is in a wheelchair full time. We are 4 star Holland America members and have cruised for the last 30 years. We had five ports on this cruise: Cozumel, Belize, Cuba (2 ports) and the private island. We were denied access in Belize and Cienfuegos in Cuba because there were stairs to the tender and the CAPTAIN (yes - the CAPTAIN - not a staff member) refused to allow personnel to assist me in getting my wife down the 16 steps to the tender. NEVER have we had ship personnel not help us. Note: They helped the 91 year old lady down the steps but because my wife can not lift her feet they wouldn't help us. Note: We have been the China, South America, Europe, etc. so having to use steps is not a new experience for us. It just takes awhile. We need someone to move her feet to each step. Its really not that hard. Our daughter normally does it but she was at school. When we went to book shore excursions in Cuba we were initially told that there were no ADA tours available. So Holland sold a cruise with an ADA room and you have no ADA tours????? After much discussions (hours) with the Hotel Manager and the Shore Excursion supervisor we were able to get a tour in Havana for a reasonable price. I asked Holland America for a refund based on only having 2 ports out of 5. Initial response was NO! My response was that was not satisfactory and after more time and effort (cause that is what you always want to do on a cruise) we got 350 dollars and dinner at the Pinnacle Grill one night. I will give credit to the Hotel Director and the Shore Excursion Supervisor for getting us a tour in Havana but I had to make it happen. If I had been passive we would of gotten nothing. These 2 ladies were the only ones that were helpful and without them we would of not been able to see Cuba. Note: As a USA citizen we had to take a tour not explore on our own. So in summary - Don't expect Holland America to help you. Don't expect Holland America to try to make you whole if you have problems (I don't consider the compensation received to be even close to fair for the money, time and effort spent on what was suppose to be a vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the Cuba visits. We traveled with another couple. Our cabins were next to each other. From the beginning it was a great experience. The ship is smaller. Floor six was great for walking each day. 4Xs ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Cuba visits. We traveled with another couple. Our cabins were next to each other. From the beginning it was a great experience. The ship is smaller. Floor six was great for walking each day. 4Xs around was a mile. Nothing seemed rushed or crowded anywhere. The cabin, the buffet breakfasts, the dining room experience were all top notch. The entertainment was superb! The best we've experienced in 25 years of cruising. We enjoyed our visits at each stop. We didn't book any excursions from the cruise line. We selected a tour guide upon disembarkation at Belize. He was great and made our trip so memorable. In Cienfuegos we walked to the square. It was Sunday and all activity was there. We visited with people who took larger tours from the cruise line and they felt herded and had impersonal experiences. We booked a tour online for Havana. Havana Journeys was the company. We provided a credit card number about a month before we left the US. It included a guide, a 57 Chevy with air conditioning and about a 6 hour tour. Most importantly it provided us with a fabulous guide, Ada, whose English was perfect. She met us just a short walk to the Square from the ship. This tour qualified for the "People to People" experience required in Cuba. All in all the Veendam was a great experience for the four of us. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba, and because, after visiting Cuba, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a selection of beaches. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Rodeway Inn Airport/Cruise Port. A free shuttle picked us ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba, and because, after visiting Cuba, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a selection of beaches. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Rodeway Inn Airport/Cruise Port. A free shuttle picked us up from the airport. The next morning the hotel provided a low-cost shuttle to the cruise port. I think we paid $2 each (maybe $3) for the 9 a.m. shuttle. There is a sports bar attached to the hotel where we ate dinner. It was good. A gift shop on the premises sells beach stuff, souvenirs and wine. They have a garden area and a pool. The room was clean and comfortable. I cruised with my husband. This was our 16th cruise, 14th with Holland America. We just made 4-Star Mariner status on our last cruise, mostly sailing in the Caribbean. My first impression of the Veendam was its cleanliness. I was impressed. The artwork is interesting, especially after I took a ship's tour of some of the art during one of the sea days and learned more about it. The elevators were not working so well. That's the only thing I noticed that was sub-par. Of the eight elevators (4 aft, 4 bow), six were working. The rest were very slow. I did a lot of walking up and down the staircases. Luckily Veendam is a small ship. Embarkation was smooth. Since we were new 4-Star's on this cruise, it was our first experience of being in the first group to board, definitely a plus! Disembarkation was equally smooth. As 4-Star's, we were given the option of getting off the ship whenever we wanted - up until 9:30 a.m. when everyone had to leave. When you get off that late, it's easy to find your bags. There aren't that many left to claim. We had open seating and ate in the dining room every night except one, when we were too tired and hungry to wait and went to the Lido. Everyone looks forward to Surf & Turf and Crab Legs on special dining room nights, but the best meal I had was beef stroganoff. Try it! Entertainment was mediocre. The Veendam singers and dancers are talented, I just don't enjoy those shows as much as the guest entertainers. There were only three guest entertainers. One I really liked, Tony Pace. He's a Vegas performer and does singing and comedy. Another comedian I don't remember very well and the third was a harp player. She was very talented, but I was bored. Just not my thing. Service was excellent everywhere on board, except for one bartender. Maybe he was having a bad couple of weeks. We came on this cruise for the Cuba ports. Before we left on the cruise, we were informed that any excursions had to be booked through Holland America because we had booked the cruise after June 2017. On board, we discovered that we could have also booked through third party excursion companies as long as they offered the People-To-People experience. However, some of our fellow cruisers did not book any excursions, they just went off on their own. And they seemed to have more People-To-People interactions than we did on our 8-hour (mostly) walking tour. Be aware, when you visit Cuba, that public restrooms are few and far between. And you are expected to tip the attendant. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We walked around various town squares, saw lots of statues, went to a fort, and - the highlight - ate at an interesting restaurant, La Bodeguita Del Medio. The food was very good. Also went to a cultural center and saw a group of rappers (music). They were so entertaining, and they were all women aged in their 80s and 90s. I don't know what they were rapping, but they were certainly enjoying giving us a show. You will not be disappointed in seeing Cuba. The people were all very nice, they smile a lot, if you tell street performers and vendors "Gracious, no" they will leave you alone. The literacy rate in all of Cuba is 98%. They are intelligent people and talented. Every school child gets education in singing, dancing and music in addition to academics. And yes, there are a lot of classic American cars in use. Everywhere. The stop in Cienfuegos was a shorter day, and the excursions were only about 4-5 hours long. If you want to book a ship's excursion in Cienfuegos, book early before you leave home. HAL didn't have enough excursions for everyone on the ship to take one. We saw a lot on the island, and I am so glad I got to visit Cuba. We were in stateroom 648 on Main Deck, one deck below the walk-around deck. It is just off the aft elevators/staircase. It was very quiet except for every morning around 5 a.m. that I was awake, I could hear deck hands rinsing off the walk-around deck. If I wasn't awake, the sound didn't wake me, but if you're a light sleeper just be aware of that. Service was excellent throughout the ship. We loved Becca, the cruise director, and were really impressed with Captain Steve MacBeath. He's only 36 but has 20 years experience on the sea. The other ports: Georgetown, Grand Cayman: we walked to and from Seven-Mile Beach. Love the beach, but the walk seemed longer than last time we walked there. I guess we're older. Water was great! Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We took an excursion to Bamboo Beach Club. The water was more choppy here than at Grand Cayman with more shells and coral along the shore. Made it harder to enter and exit the water. Unlimited drinks and lots of appetizers were served. Grand Turk: went to the beach right next to the dock. Beautiful water, low waves, perfect! Amber Cove, Dominican Republic: A manufactured town with lots of amenities including free wi-fi. We took an excursion to Coconut Cove Beach. To get there its a 45-minute open-air bumpy ride on dusty dirt roads. But the beach is nice. Waves are strong, water not as clear as Grand Turk. Unlimited rum drinks and beer, very good lunch. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas: sheer perfection. 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 4.2
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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