We just returned from a Norwegian Dream cruise to Alaska and it was okay.......Sitka had been cancelled, no credit for that lost port........
BUT, we are REALLY looking forward to returning to Holland America (Veendam)in November!
Just checking to make sure they sstill have shampoo, conditioner, lotion and robes in the cabins...........and refrigerators. We had all of these on the Oosterdam but learned the hard way that not all lines have such ammenities in the cabins!
Any advice regarding the Veendam? This will be a smaller ship for us; we are looking forward to learning the differences.........and hoping to do "tours" on our own this time since we mostly want to swim in the warm seas (14 day southern Caribbean cruise).
I was on the Veendam for the Alaska cruise from September 4-11. This was my 2nd cruise - first was a Royal Caribbean cruise. No comparison as far as food and customer service. Holland America is inferior.
The cabin steward was almost impossible to locate. Never asked if there was anything that we needed. One day, I asked someone who looked like a cabin steward for a breakfast room service card. The reply was "It's not my job. You'll have to find your steward."
Towels were so worn out that they were rough and scratchy. Toward the end of the cruise there was a distinct sewage odor in the stateroom corridors.
The food was inferior. Basic middle America cuisine, but with 3 types of Salmon every evening. Not much variety - pretty much the same thing every lunch & dinner. A few good meals.
The passenger make-up was pretty much the retired crowd and almost all couples. I was traveling with a cousin (2 women), and we were pretty much ignored. Also, it was a dressy crowd & they dressed formally and semi-formally for dinner even when it was not required.
The tour was expensive and we did not get all of the things specified by HAL.
Alaska is awesome but I would never sail HAL again under any circumstances.
We have sailed twice with Holland and have enjoyed it very much. We are booked on the Veendam in April for that reason. Holland gave us VIP status, which means we'll have a bottle of Champagne, flowers and an invitation to a cocktail party waiting for us. We love their suites which give you plenty of room to move about. We've invited our adult daughter to cruise with us in April, since she will be on Spring Break at the time. The Zuiderdam is our favorite Holland ship so far, but we're hoping the Veendam, which is scheduled for maintenance in January, will be just as nice.
It's been quite some time since my last post, in fact with hours ticking on the countdown clock, "way back" on Sept 11.
We have, of course, been and returned from our cruise and I was interested to (finally) get a response to my Veendam review question; after the fact, which makes it more interesting as I now have something to relate the comments to.
I won't give a full rundown (poor choice of words!!) now but would agree in part to some of the points made by Bab Z.
Most aspects of the cruise were wonderful, particularly since this was our first one, so I was kind of like a kid about a lot of things that are probably old hat to most of you: the sail away, the gangway manouevers, the casting off of ropes, the grinning everpresent stewards. All of this was a real delight.
I have to agree that the food left a lot to be desired. The first meal in the Lido made a great impression, but as the week wore on, what seemed spectacular at first became sort of boring. If it's any indication, I didn't gain even a pound. (partly due, I'm sure, to pushing mom around in the wheelchair and multiple trips back and forth to the cabin...those corridors are really LONG)
The ice cream bar consisted of plopping a scoop or two of (mostly uninteresting flavors) I.C. into a soupbowl. You could also have it in a cone. I didn't have any problem resisting it. Same with most of the desserts. The end of cruise late nite extraveganza consisted of a dazzling display of confections but at close range, few looked like I just had to have some. The vast majority were cakes of some sort. I'd have to say the fare at virtually any of the Sunday Brunch's I've been to was more appealing.
Anyway, to get back to the point, the food was at times great (fabulous beef) but regrettably inconsistent and at times, something I wouldn't even serve at home (Sat nite was instant mashed potatoes and a really bad pot pie with a mystery filling - you had the feeling they were just trying to use up some really weary leftovers)
We only ate once in the dining room - the story is for another time - so all our experiences relate to the Lido. We had Room service once, Surf & Turf nite and mom not feeling up to dressing formal so we ordered in. Meal was FANTASTIC, perfectly prepared and presented. Mom also had room service every day for breakfast (late so could only order from the 24 hr menu which includes an omelet so that was what she had every day. Some days it came gorgeous, some days so-so. Just depended on who was prepping the tray.
Our cabin ("A" deck outside) was really lovely, definitely more that I had expected. BTW, I will attest to the comfort of the beds. Like nothing I have ever slept on. I even tried to track down the supplier when we got home (they're made by Sealy, but specially designed for the ships so not available to the public, too bad!!)
Our steward also very satisfactory, although we did have the thing of having another steward tell us we must ask our own if we needed anything. Never rude or unfriendly though, yet towards the end of the cruise, there was a certain detachment towards the passengerers. I guess they get tired too!! Some of them seemed to be all smiled out....
I was utterly amazed at how they remember you -- and your names -- after only one meeting. And not just assigned crew, the guys on the gangway would rush up to help with mom's wheelchair and greet us by name. Unlike them it took me about half the cruise to learn who was who, as I hate to say it, but the stewards all looked kind of alike at first. Yet they were able to sort us all out. I'd love to know their secret!!
ALASKA, is also for another post but just to say, I was in tears of awe at times over the beauty of the place. I had read other superlatives but had thought they were written by someone who perhaps lived on the prairies; as a resident of (the very beautiful) Vancouver Island I thought I had pretty much seen it. Not so .... what a place!! There really are no adequate words.....
To wrap up, it seems there is a certain amount of luck involved in how you experience your cruise. I would not refuse to sail HAL again, in fact I'm looking at the Oosterdam in January out of San Diego (do I dare ask it ... does anyone have experiences to share???...)
Mom was thoroughly delighted by the whole thing and at almost 88 yrs. and having had a mild heart attack last week, is keen to go again. I think I'd take a second helper next time as my smile was also wearing a little thin after 24/7 care-giving
Ah well, life is great and cruising makes it even greater.
Short and sweet somehow became long and probably tedious. I'll say bye for now.
September '05 Veendam to Alaska
January '06 Volendam to S. Caribbean
May '06 Volendam to Alaska
July '06 Tahitian Princess Honolulu to Papeete