Holland America Veendam

cruise ship at the dock

Holland America Veendam

Holland America ships are easily recognizable on the horizon by the dark blue color of their hulls, which sets them apart from other mostly white cruise ships.  They also tend toward smaller size.  While some cruise lines build bigger and bigger ships, Holland America’s niche falls into the mid-size ship category, with all ships built to fit through the Panama Canal.  Veendam is one of Holland America’s smaller ships, with just two sets of passenger stairs and elevators fore and aft and none central other than the atrium stairs which span only the atrium’s three levels.

cruise ship decor

Crystal Sculpture in the Atrium

This makes the lowest level of the atrium at the center of the ship a quiet place most of the time.  It has a crystal sculpture snaking up 3 decks at the center.  The lowest level of the atrium has some tabletop shuffleboard games and space for the entertainment crew to hold games or other events at times as well.  The front office customer service and shore excursions counters sit on the edges of the atrium’s second level.  Shops and the Ocean Bar surround the top level.

towel elephant

Every night the stateroom steward makes a towel animal.  One night we had this elephant.

When boarding the Veendam at embarkation on the first day, crew stand at the elevators and stairways ready to direct confused passengers to their cabins.  Why are the passengers confused?  On most ships if the room number starts with 1, you’re on deck 1.  If it starts with 6 you’re on deck 6.  So passengers who have not consulted the deck plans for the location of their stateroom tend to head to the wrong deck because on the Veendam numbering starts with the Pinnacle Suite at 001 and it is on deck 10.  The Neptune suites have the next lower numbers starting from 002, and working their way to higher numbers as they approach the vista suites at the other end of deck 10.  As you work your way down to lower decks of the ship the numbers get higher with the lowest passenger floor having rooms in the 700-800 range.  Only on deck 5 are there cabins that start with the deck number as the cabins at the front of deck 5 are in the 500 range.

The decks can get confusing as well since the lowest passenger deck is labeled as deck 4 rather than deck 1.  Deck 4 is also the A deck.  Newer ships have decks A, B, and C going down toward toward the water and then start the deck above A as deck 1, which is usually the lowest deck where passengers regularly go.

crew on stage

The hard-working Veendam crew on the stage in the showroom at sea

The Veendam was updated fairly recently.  It was the first ship renovated with Holland America’s Signature of Excellence upgrades, the line’s latest features and amenities which include a $2 million art and antique collection.  The Veendam has teak decks and spacious staterooms, most with bathtubs. Stateroom categories include interior, ocean-view, lanai, spa, vista suites, neptune suites and one pinnacle suite.  Neptune and Pinnacle suite guests have the private Neptune lounge available for their use.

oversized cruise ship balcony

Vista Suite Balcony

The Veendam has no balcony cabins other than spa or suites, but the even vista suites have larger than average cruise ship balconies.  It has some lanai cabins, which are cabins with sliding glass doors to the outside walkway on the promenade deck, and deck chairs outside the room for the use of passengers booked in that cabin.  The sliding doors of lanai cabins and windows of ocean-view cabins on the promenade deck are made of one-way glass so occupants can see out without being seen from the outside, though at night with the lights on in the room people may see in so it’s a good idea to shut the curtains at night in those rooms.

cruise ship bar

One of the Mix Bars

Veendam has a number of bars including the Crow’s Nest, Explorer’s Lounge and Ocean bars, as well as Mix, a three part bar with separate sections serving martinis, champagne, or spirits and ales, and an outside bar at the Retreat on the back of the Lido deck.  Dining venues include the upscale Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian, the Lido Buffet and the Rotterdam main dining room.

cruise ship swimming pool

Lido Pool

The Vendam has plenty for passengers to do. Pamper yourself in the Greenhouse Spa or keep fit in the gym or sports courts. Attend a variety of lectures or presentations including cooking demonstrations and digital workshops. Relax on deck or in a hot tub or enjoy a dip in the pool.  Take in an evening show at the Showroom at Sea. The ship also has shops, art auctions, and for young guests Club HAL or the Loft for teens.

wash, dry, or iron your clothes on this ship

Veendam deck 6 biggest self serve launderette

When sailing on the Veendam, passengers can pack light because the ship has 3 self-serve launderettes where people can wash their own clothes if they have quarters. ($3 will wash and dry a load.)  Each of the launderettes has an iron and ironing board.  The one on deck 6 has about twice as many washers and dryers as the ones on decks 5 and 9.

Ship Facts

Ship Class: S
Ship’s Registry: The Netherlands
Passenger capacity: 1,350
Crew members: 580
Gross Tonnage: 57,092 grt.
Length: 719 feet
Beam: 101 feet
Maximum speed: 22 knots
Dedicated: January 1996, by actress Debbie Reynolds

cruise ship dining room

Rotterdam Dining Room on the Veendam

Dining Room Dress Code:

Dress Code Per Holland America’s Website:

Evening dress falls into two distinct categories: Formal or Smart Casual. Smart Casual can be defined as slacks and sports shirts or sweater for men and skirt or trousers and sweater or blouse for women. Printed T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are not allowed in the restaurants or public areas during the evening hours.  On festive Formal evenings, ladies wear a cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen wear a suit and tie or tuxedo.

What People Actually Wear:

In these days of baggage charges on airplanes people tend to pack lighter for cruises than in the past and formal clothes take up a lot of suitcase space.  People dressed nicely for formal nights, but I did not see a single tux or gown.  I’m not the most observant person about other people’s clothes so it’s possible they were there and I didn’t see them, but then again they would probably stand out and get noticed.  Most of the men wore suits and the women skirts or dresses.  Lots of women wear sparkly clothes for cruise ship formal nights, but sparkles are not a requirement.

Though the dress code actually appears to include all public areas of the ship, people wore jeans (which the dress code did not ban) to the lido buffet and some changed out of their dinner clothes to attend the shows.  We asked one of the crew working at Canaletto if it was OK to wear jeans there and they said yes.  (Canaletto is an area on the Lido that serves Italian food in the evenings for a small surcharge.)

playing giant chess

Giant Chess Game on the Lido Deck

Other Random Stuff

A couple years ago I went on the Westerdam with a large family group.  On that trip I roomed with my aunt and sister and on embarkation day we took the spa tour and since there were 3 of us they gave us an even better deal for the thermal suite than their couples deal.  This trip it was just my aunt and I in the room, but we still found a way to get a great deal.  If you wait a couple days to sign up for the thermal package it gets a bit cheaper each day, so assuming it doesn’t fill up before you join you can use it for most of the trip and still save money.

heated ceramic chairs

Veendam thermal suite

Walking down the hallway to our room on the first day, we passed a room where someone had posted a big sign on their door proclaiming “WE ARE KITTENS!”  Kittens?  I did a double take on that one, and upon going back and reading the sign carefully and not just in passing it actually said we are knitters.  Sometimes various groups get a number of rooms on a ship and then people interested in that activity book through that group and participate in their activities.  I’ve done it in on poker cruise, and seen other groups such as quilters or scrapbookers on various cruises.  Above the “kittens” sign they had a small square sign about their group, which appeared on a number of other doors as well.

what are kittens doing on a cruise ship

Walking past with a peripheral glance I saw this sign as kittens

Speaking of doors, on the Veendam the cabin doors are magnetic, but the walls are not.  I thought all cruise ships had magnetic walls, but I guess you learn something new every day.  I learned something else on this cruise too.  On embarkation day the whole area around the port had a power outage, including the port buildings.  Often ships in port plug into shore power so they don’t have to run their diesel engines at the dock, but I never knew it could work in reverse.  On that day the tech crew ran power lines out from the ship to power the security equipment needed on shore for boarding and it ran some lights as well.  Though not as efficient as a normal boarding day, it is amazing that the ship could do that at all.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2015

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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15 Responses to Holland America Veendam

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Thanks for the tour!

  2. aFrankAngle says:

    Nice tour. We haven’t been on Holland America … well, we’ve only traveled Royal Caribbean and Celebrity … so I know we are missing a lot … but it is interesting to see the similarities and differences.

    • Interesting that the two cruise lines you have used I’ve never been on. I have a Panama Canal cruise booked on Celebrity though. I really want to try out one of Royal’s giant ships, but there’s always something else that costs less and I’m a budget traveler for the most part. One of these days…

      • aFrankAngle says:

        Interesting. Royal and Celebrity are sister divisions of the same company, but they are different. I imagine your P-Canal cruise will be on a Millennium class because the Solstice class ships are probably too large. They had a smaller class, but sold the ships (Galaxy, Mercury, & Century). … We like the Millennium class!

  3. Lyn says:

    The weight of suitcase flying out of Australia is always a main consideration which makes packing of formal evening wear difficult. Of course cruises out of Australia makes it easier. We are getting more cruises departing Aus which is great.

    • Interestingly enough when we flew to Australia recently the luggage bag weight allowed was 70lbs rather than the usual 40 or 50. I’m not sure if that was a Hawaiian Airlines thing or if it was because we were going international, but whatever the reason it was nice since we were there a month visiting our daughter & family. Our bags weren’t nearly that heavy, but it did save my husband from having to frantically re-pack at the airport because he had a bag a few pounds over 50.

      We took a cruise on Carnival Legend round trip Sydney to Tasmania while we were there. It was really awesome that the ship docked at Circular Quay and the train stopped within sight of the ship so no worries about transportation to the dock.

      • Lyn says:

        Sydney Harbour. Spectacular.
        Yes I flew Hawaiian Airlines recently and the allowed 2 pieces of luggage and 32 kilos. Normally we are only allowed 23 kilos and 1 luggage when we fly out of Australia. Glad you enjoyed circular quay.

  4. gwynnrogers says:

    Your cruise ships absolutely amaze me. Interesting tour. I’d be in trouble though… formal??? NO WAY!! I haven’t done formal in many years. Heck, I haven’t even worn a dress since my son’s wedding three years ago. They just hang in my closet gathering dust. You would never believe that I used to wear suits and heels to work all of the time.

    • People who don’t want to dress up for dinner can go to the buffet on the Lido deck or choose a cruise line that doesn’t require it like Norwegian. Even on formal nights their freestyle policy is formal….or not.

  5. chris says:

    70 pound bags? That must just be Hawaiian because I have flown a lot of other airlines international and they were all the regular 50 pound limit. They used to not be so picky about a bag being a pound or two over but they are getting more strict now. The last time I flew the scale just said OVER if you bag was any more then 50 pounds. My wife flew Singapore and they even charged for carry on.

    • I liked the old way better when you just bought your ticket and checking a bag or two and the meals were included. Plus they used to load the airplane from the back first instead of charging people more to get on sooner, which now clogs up the aisles with people stopping to put stuff in the overhead bins all the time. I’d rather pay a bit more for the ticket to include stuff than have everything cost extra.

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