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Shore Excursions
Sherrill Alexander

Age: 60

Occupation: Director

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Veendam

Sailing Date: 2011-05-1

Itinerary: Bermuda

The cruise itself was delayed one full day because the ship was still in dry dock, and Holland America offered each passenger $150 in onboard credit to offset the inconvenience. HA apparently did not reach everyone, as some passengers arrived on the original scheduled departure date. The computers were down prior to boarding, so the departure itself was hours late. Wrong luggage was delivered to our cabin. Four out of five of our shore excursions were cancelled, rebooked by me, and also cancelled. One of the cancellation notifications was never sent to our room. The ship needed more time in dry dock, as maintenance crews were laying new flooring on one of the decks throughout the trip, making the deck unavailable; plumbing (showers and toilets) in some of the staterooms was not working; dresser drawers were broken, and I had the arm of a chair in which I was sitting come off in my hand. I mention this, as the Veendam is supposed to be a "luxury" cruise ship. I was very impressed with the crew who were professionals in every sense, and who added some delight to a negative experience.

The food was excellent in every venue. The dining room service was so slow and inaccurate that we chose not to eat there again. Our table waited 40 minutes for food in the dining room that was not even half full, and those of us with the same orders noticed that there was inconsistency on the plates. We were scheduled to have an anniversary cake on our second night, but one never came, and no one seemed to know anything about it, even though I had confirmed with guest relations twice prior to leaving.

Our room was fine, and our cabin stewards were excellent: very thorough, friendly, helpful and with enjoyable senses of humor.

The Veendam is a small ship, and I was disappointed in the amount and kinds of activities that were offered. The entertainment was less than professional and bland at best. Not much humor in the comedy either.

The Famous Homes and Hideways cruise was the one excursion (out of five that I booked and four were cancelled) that we enjoyed. It was a lot of fun, very relaxing and informative. We ended up taking a cab to Horseshoe Beach, setting us back $65 plus tip, but our driver was full of information and took us to some nooks and crannies off the beaten path, so it was worth it.

If this had been my first cruise, I would have been dumbfounded by the lack of information aboard. There were no signs directing passengers for disembarkation at the elevators, only in the disembarkation area itself. For the first two days, the TV navigation channel was set for a course to Africa, not Bermuda, and the "ship time" was set to the wrong day and time. The very good (but unnecessary) idea of having mats in the elevators that stated the day (e.g., "Today is Wednesday") were often not changed, so the purpose was obfuscated. There were two banks of four elevators each, and three out of four elevators in one bank were not working throughout the trip. After a very long delay before dinner, the cruise director came to speak to the lines of folks backed up onto the staircases, presumably to inform us what was going on -- I would not know, as I could not hear him. When I mentioned to him that those of us twenty rows back had not heard what he said, he dismissed me with a wave. And I was surprised how infrequently (three times in six days?) we passengers heard from the captain. This was my first and last experience with Holland America.

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