Veendam holds true to Holland America's maritime past and cruising traditions with an emphasis on being on the water -- there are lots of beautiful water views and a large pool on the Lido Deck -- and social gatherings, with several inviting lounge spaces that inspire casual conversations with new friends.
Capable of holding 1,350-passengers, Veendam may be smaller than modern-day mega-ships but there is ample room onboard to accommodate a full ship without feeling overwhelmed by crowds. And, there are plenty of cabin for passengers to choose from.
Veendam maintains an air of sophistication with a multimillion-dollar art and antiques collection displayed tastefully throughout the ship and a stunning glass atrium spanning three decks. Warmly decorated common spaces attract cruisers to nooks and crannies where relaxing is a truly a pleasure, and airy bar areas invite passengers to sit, sip and sing along to favorite tunes or even hit the dance floor.
Active cruisers should note: Veendam is not a party-hearty type of ship. Instead, it attracts a more seasoned demographic looking to avoid loud music and hot tubs overflowing with kids. But, make no mistake: There are plenty of entertainment options aboard, from performances by Broadway-caliber singers and dancers, to the casino to the Ocean Bar with its live evening music and dance floor.
Foodies can work on their culinary skills at an America's Test Kitchen event (cooking show or workshop) and check out upscale culinary creations in Veendam's fine dining specialty restaurants. The tech challenged -- or curious -- can learn valuable tech tips at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows session.
Pool-lovers will quickly note the ship has only one pool, but it's lovely and is flanked by twin hot tubs. The best part? Without a strong presence of younger children onboard, there's always be plenty of room.
Veendam draws primarily North Americans, but most sailings also have a nice international mix of Asian, Latin American and European travelers as well. Look for couples, many of which are retired, and a handful of younger cruisers that are often with larger family groups. On European sailings, you'll notice a change in passengers with more Europeans, but still an overall older demographic, with most people over 60 and a fair amount in the 70+ range. Summer, spring break and holidays bring a few more families with children aboard, so plan accordingly.
Daytime: Casual is the norm with shorts and T-shirt most common inside the ship, and bathing suits being popular poolside. Don some flip-flops or sandals and a for dining inside during the day.
Evening: Most nights resort casual -- includes collared shirts and slacks for men; dresses, skirts or slacks for women -- is acceptable in all fine dining restaurants and the main dining room. Dark suit, tuxedo or jacket and tie for men cocktail dress, gown or dressy pantsuit for women on gala nights. Prepare for two gala nights per seven-day cruise.
Not permitted: Swimsuits and other pool wear, men's tank tops and shorts are not allowed in any restaurants during the evening hours. Jeans (except distressed) are acceptable ,except for gala nights when they are restricted to the buffet. Should you not wish to change out of your yoga pants, you'll need to choose the casual buffet option or order room service.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Holland America.
The 1,432-passenger Volendam has had a couple of refurbishments since its 1999 debut, one in 2006 and one in 2011, which saw a ship-wide spruce up.
As cruise lines add a dizzying array of features, Zuiderdam maintains Holland America's satisfying and enjoyable, although not particularly surprising, experience at sea.
Oosterdam, launched in 2003, carries 1,916 passengers and offers a more modern twist on a classic ship.
Although it's not a new ship, Holland America's Westerdam continues to do what the line does best -- balance the traditional cruising experience with updated, contemporary amenities.
Holland America Line aims to strike a balance between classic and contemporary, and the intimate, 2,000-passenger Noordam, christened in 2006, manages this well.
Traditional and upscale; emphasizes music and gourmet dining; features Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Onstage, B.B. King's Blues Club; holds about 3,000.
Traditional emphasis on gourmet dining, live music and an impressive art collection; highlights are the Culinary Arts Center and B.B. King's Blues Club; holds fewer than 3,000.
Upscale; emphasis on music and gourmet dining; highlights are the Culinary Arts Center, Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage and B.B. King's All-Stars Band; holds about 3,500.
Holland America welcomes a second ship to its Pinnacle Class in 2018. Nieuw Statendam will follow in the footsteps of Koningsdam, the line's largest ship.