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Pauli Moss

Age: 48

Occupation:Consultant

Number of Cruises: 37

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Veendam

Sailing Date: September 28th, 2003

Itinerary: Vancouver to Los Angeles - Repositioning Cruise

EMBARKATION
The Canada Place Pier is adjacent to the Pan Pacific Hotel where it is far more relaxing to wait (while having lunch or drinks) for your boarding number to be called. There was a glitch at the port that required all passengers forms to be entered manually, causing an unusual delay. We opted to check in - then returned to the hotel where we relaxed for an hour before walking back to the cruise terminal. Boarding was swift once our number was called and we were personally escorted to our Verandah Suite # 171.

CABIN
The size of the cabin itself was 8 feet wide by 20 feet long. The closet and bathroom were about 8 by 5 and the verandah was another 8 x 5. So really -the entire square footage was only 240 square feet as opposed to the 285 square feet that it is supposed to be. The cabin was nicely appointed. We thought the bed was too hard and asked for an "egg crate" mattress to soften the one that gave me a back ache the first night. After that it was smooth sailing. Our attendant, Dino was great and was happy to "top sheet" our bed - leaving the bedspread off for the entire trip. The bedspreads are not attractive and the bed looks much more inviting with sheets on it - I think it is more sanitary as well. The balcony was great for having drinks before dinner and just stargazing at night. We left the door open the entire time and enjoyed the fresh sea air. No stale air in our cabin! We also brought on our own mineral water from Vancouver - and kept it along with our beer and soda in the refrigerator.

DINING TIPS
At dinner I brought my own wine (filled from a good French Bordeaux I had brought with me) in an airline wine screw top bottle - enough for a glass and was not charged a corkage fee. One night we brought in a good bottle of champagne and were charged a ten dollar corkage fee. (Much better than paying $159 for a bottle of Dom Perignon on board the ship!) The wine list onboard is quite basic and overpriced - so if any of you like a good glass of wine with your meal, either bring it yourself or pay exorbitantly for a mediocre bottle on ship. The Wine Steward was absolutely USELESS. The food was MUCH BETTER than I expected it to be. No one has complimented the Veendam in a while - and I think they should! The fact that we only had about 800 people on board for this short repositioning cruise may have had something to do with the quality of the food. The service and presentation was really five star - except for the salads - which were sort of airline clones. The salad dressing was not homemade (but it was ok). The prime rib came out very rare, just as we ordered and it was tender. As good as any land based restaurant. Food was always hot. Desserts to get: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, strawberry rhubarb cobbler, passion fruit sorbet, rum raisin ice cream. The smoked salmon at breakfast was excellent!! The breads were fresh and well textured. Butter was chilled. Fruit was of high quality and ample. The Lido was a glorified cafeteria, but you could do very well at the salad bar, taco bar, pasta bar and not feel like you were eating institutional food. The waiters were eager to please and pleasant in all venues. Cappuccinos were free at the Rotterdam Dining room and at the Java Cafe next to the movie theater!! Really, I can't fault the service or the food - except we did hear that it was difficult to get hot tea from Room Service - it came luke warm. Our coffee was hot, but not very good. Bacon was plentiful, but very thin and the texture was strange. Sausage was very tasty.

ENTERTAINMENT
Sean Shea did a fantastic job of imitating celebrity singers - and could give Danny Ganz a run for his money. The Rosario Strings were very good and all the lounges were lively. The mix of people onboard was good. 50% 75 + and 25% 35-50 25% 50-75 A few kids.

Formal night was interesting. People came in tuxes and in sports coats - very few formal evening gowns. It was nice to see everyone all cleaned up.

I highly recommend the Veendam - especially if you are tired of the mega ship situation. People truly enjoyed themselves. The ship was immaculate. No one got sick. And there was no "weird vibration" or "awful sewer smell" to battle. All in all, I would book the Veendam again - and hope they refurbish the spa - which was a bit archaic. The massage was great - but the table was rickety - and was covered in towels, not sheets. They need to add eucalyptus oil to the steam room. The onboard pools were heated and the hot tubs were hot - jets were strong.

Very pleasant experience - highly recommended.

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