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Veendam
Canada/New England Repositioning Cruise
October 9-21 2007

by Hugh F. Barbour

This is my 16th cruise.

EMBARKATION: Embarkation was at the Port of Montreal, Canada. For a normal Embarkation: Once you passed Port Security at the Terminal entrance, you have to line up to check in. Have your passport out with your passport for the check in personnel.

Our Embarkation: We arrived at the Ship at 4:00 PM on the last bus from the airport. Sailing time had been moved up 2 hours because of tide times. HAL had notified some passengers and we were among the non-notified. After we cleared Port Security at the Terminal entrance, we were raced up the terminal ramp system to the ship’s gang way. We were directed past the Lifeboat Drill, already in progress, where we then proceeded to the Purser’s Desk to check in.

CABIN & AMENITIES: We had an Inside Cabin (562-K), a Triple (2 lower beds, 1 sofa bed) and it was a let down after having Ocean View cabins in the past. I had forgotten what a cabin was like without a porthole! Layout wasn’t bad and size was 182 sq. feet. Good storage space (3 closets, lots of drawers). The cabin was equipped with a small safe, Radio, and Television. The television got 6 satellite stations (CNN, ESPN, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, TNT, TLC, and ANINAL PLANET, Channel 4 is the Bow Cam), 2 movie channels, and 3 ship originated channels. The radio had 5 or 6 stations and had all the PA announcements.

The bathroom is very well equipped, with molded counter top, a wall-mount hairdryer, and a 110 VAC and 220 VDC sockets were provided for electric razors.

The onboard newsletter "Daily Program" was delivered every night with announcements and schedules for the next day. Times Digest, a condensed version of the New York Times, was delivered to your cabin every day.

ON BOARD: Your door key (these serve as ID, and credit card while on the ship) will be in the Welcome Packet you get at check in. You will also find your Dining Assignment, and Ship‘s Map in the packet. You do not need to register your credit card right away to use your card to buy a drink or anything else on ship. Wait a day and then register your credit card to avoid the long lines. Oh, and do know that you will have to pay a 20% port surcharge on drinks bought while in port.

Holland America was good about getting our luggage to our rooms within a few hours of our arrival, and we unpacked and had adequate storage space. Even large suitcases will slide under the beds!

The first night was all about learning where things are on the ship. This ship is quite large with several different lounges, a disco, casino, shops, a phenomenal gym and spa, 2 adult pool, 2 hot tubs, etc. Walk around with the little color coded map they give you and get comfortable - there is a lot to see.

PORTS OF CALL: Same tours as every other cruise line. Consider not booking on ship - make your own arrangements in port or check and see if your travel agency or wholesaler can recommend a local tour company if you don’t want to use the ship’s tours.

  • Quebec - This is an interesting City, with an interesting History. Make sure you see Le Château Frontenac.
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia - Acts as a major industrial hub for the rest of Atlantic Canada and is Nova Scotia’s 3rd largest City. Sydney Harbor, Sydney is a popular stopover point for cruise ships on the Atlantic Shore. Make sure you visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, located a short drive from downtown Sydney.
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia - the capital of Nova Scotia and the largest municipality in Atlantic Canada, lies on a peninsula alongside one of the world's largest deep water harbors. Make sure you visit Peggy's Cove, a picturesque fishing village located a short drive from downtown Halifax.
  • Bar Harbor, Maine - Arcadia National Park is beautiful, and the view from Mount Cadillac is fantastic. A lot of shops and restaurants around the water front.
  • Newport, Rhode Island - Newport's history is remarkable in many ways, but perhaps the most unique aspect is that so much of its history is still visible on the landscape in an unparalleled concentration of preserved architecture.
  • Charleston, South Carolina - A city rich in history, tradition, and Southern culture. Be sure to see the Historic Downtown District.

Club HAL® for Kids 3-12: Holland America Line has reinvented its popular Club HAL with new supervised play areas and age - appropriate activities for kids ages 3 to 12. Creativity and fun are everywhere with art tables, board games, toys, video games and much more. The enhanced Youth Program also features separate, age - appropriate areas with a variety of activities for every interest. Supervised by permanent, full-time staff, children can meet friends and enjoy a variety of safe and entertaining choices. Some of the features include; a colorful, expanded playroom for kids 3 to 7 with art tables, big-screen TV, puzzles and games (children must be potty-trained in this area - no pull-ups); a separate area for ages 8-12 featuring arcade games, foosball, karaoke, Sony Playstations, DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), miniature golf, ping pong and much more; Family Game Time, Family Olympics and Family Karaoke; Club HAL After Hours so parents can enjoy an evening alone (extra charge) 10 p.m. to midnight

SUPERVISION: You can feel at ease knowing that your child's onboard experience is safe and managed. All activities are supervised by permanent, full-time youth staff who hold degrees in education, childhood development, recreation, leisure studies or related fields.

ADDITIONAL FAMILY SERVICES: Holland America Line is dedicated to making your family's cruise vacation memorable and happy for each member of your family. It is for this reason that additional youth services include: a wide variety of kid-pleasing food, including special sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza; Baby food, high chairs and booster seats (please notify in advance of boarding); baby-sitting services for a small surcharge; Special kid friendly birthday parties (please notify in advance of boarding).

The Loft & The Oasis for Teens: The Loft and The Oasis provide teens ages 13-17 with the a getaway from family and siblings. As an exclusive hideaway for teens only, The Loft and The Oasis gives teen guests plenty of space to relax and socialize with people their own age.

THE LOFT: Was designed to resemble a New York artist's loft, The Loft has a contemporary, open feel with cool places to just hang out. It's a place teens can call their own, with no children or adults, exciting features include a modern environment with music, videos and a video karaoke system, as well as a state-of-the-art sound and laser light systems for dancing; a big-screen television to watch the latest music videos and movies; Teen club nights; and activities until midnight.

THE OASIS: Follow a special passageway upstairs from the Loft to find the private entrance to The Oasis, a secluded teens-only sun deck. Additional features include plenty of space to relax and socialize, as well as comfortable lounge chairs and hammocks; a nine-foot high water fall, cave and wade pool to cool off from the sun; and a state-of-the-art sound system .

CREW: The crew is multinational and all speak English. They go out of their way to try to accommodate your every request, if it is possible for them to do it.

DINING OPTIONS: Holland America has long been one of the more traditional cruise lines when it comes to main-restaurant dining. On every ship but the Prinsendam, HAL has offered four seating: 5:45 p.m. (first upper); 6:15 p.m. (first lower); 8 p.m. (main upper); and 8:30 p.m. (main lower). But that's changing as the line begins to incorporate As You Wish dining onto its ships. Via As You Wish, passengers can opt for pre-set seating and dining time, or take advantage of a new, flexible option at dinner (breakfast and lunch are already open seating).

Rotterdam Dining Room offers fine dining at its best. This beautifully appointed, formal in setting, the 2 story main dining room features Rosenthal china, starched linens, silver service and fresh flowers.

Pinnacle Grill is a beautifully appointed alternative-dining venue, featuring Bvlgari china, Frette linens, and Riedel stemware. The menu features Pacific Northwest specialties. Open for dinner only by reservation, guests pay a surcharge of $30.00 per person for dinner, and $15.00 for lunch.

Lido Buffet Restaurant is an upscale casual alternative-dining venue. This is a unique spin on trend of buffet food stations. The Lido offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Midnight Buffet is served in the Lido at 11:00PM.

Terrace Grill is an outdoor buffet dining venue by the pool. Buffet Stations feature pizza, nachos, tacos, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

FOOD: I can honestly say - the best I’ve had on a Holland America. When I was on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 1992, all the food had an Indonesian flavor, which did not sit well with most of the passengers.

Buffet Area - Well done. Most passengers spent breakfast and lunch here so I assume the food here was not bad. No soda machines - juice, tea, and coffee only. At Dinner time this area became the specialty restaurant (reservation only).

ENTERTAINMENT: Your standard Broadway/Las Vegas type entertainment that we are accustomed too. The dancer troupe was excellent. The crew talent show was well done. Singing, dancing, etc - a real blast. All crew nationalities were represented.

PHOTOGRAPHERS: They do a great quality job. Photos were displayed on the Port side, between the Shops and the theater entrance. Prices were about average for the pictures.

INTERNET CAFÉ: I didn’t use it. Located between the Main Dining room and the Coffee Bar and the Library. About 12 computer terminals and WIFI at select locations around he ship. The attendant was always available at his posted hours. I believe the cost was $100.00 for the week.

LIBRARY: One of the best I have seen on a ship! It is one step below a public Library. Books are due back the day before you disembark. They have current, hard cover and paper backs, and Magazines. Board games are also available.

DISEMBARKATION: You can wait in your room but there is no room service for breakfast. Breakfast starts at 6:30 AM. Because everyone is eating at once, there are long lines at the buffet. Go to the main restaurant and have breakfast there - it is tasty, hot, and they have a good selection.

After breakfast you go to your color coded assigned waiting areas. The system works very well, but you do still get some foreign nationals who can’t follow directions and hold up the disembarkation because they didn’t report to Customs and Immigration. When your color is called, you go down to the gangway and use your Holland America Card one last time to check out of the ship.

Once on shore, you proceed to the color coded area to claim your luggage, then you go thru Customs. After claiming your luggage, you hand in your customs declaration to the Agent at the Door and leave the terminal to Historic Ybor City in downtown Tampa.

OVERALL: I think this was a great ship with good food and service. The Inside rooms are very comfortable and kept tidy. I disliked that we had too little time in most ports to do an excursion and see the port. However, if you like to stay on board most of the time, you'll love it.

  • The music is excellent and if you like to dance, you'll have a great time.
  • They have healthy food choices including sugar free desserts everyday.
  • There were many non-smoking areas that I appreciated and really I saw few people smoking anyway.
  • The shopping on board was good according to the people I spoke with.
  • Check out some of the onboard games and dances with the cruise staff, they are goofy but very entertaining.
  • They have a good variety of food and never complain if you want to send something back. Seconds are brought with a smile.

BEFORE YOU GO:

Ship Statistics

Ship's Registry: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Passenger capacity: 1,258
Crew members: 560
Gross tonnage: 55,758 grt. (One registered ton equals 100 cubic feet)
Length: 720 feet
Beam: 101 feet
Maximum speed: 22 knots
Dedicated: January, 1996 by actress Debbie Reynolds

Refurbished: 2006

Total Number of Staterooms 629 (6 wheelchair accessible)

CASINO: 4 Blackjack Tables, 1 Texas Hold’em Table, 1 Roulette Table, 1 Craps Table, 1 Caribbean Poker Table, 3 Card Poker Tables, 81 Slot Machines, 17 Video Poker Games, 1 High Roller Game.

Spa Facilities: Fitness Center, Dual Saunas, Dual Steam Rooms, Massage Rooms, Beauty Salon/Barber Shop, Thermal Suite, Relaxation Rooms, Volley Ball/Tennis Court, Basketball Court.

MISCELLANEOUS

8 Elevators
3 Launderettes (Self-service Laundromats)
1 Escalator
2 Swimming Pools
2 Hot Tubs

INFIRMARY (HOSPITAL): An on board infirmary is staffed by a licensed physician and three registered nurses. The infirmary is equipped with emergency medical facilities and a well-stocked pharmacy capable of handling a majority of medical conditions at sea.


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