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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.)
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.
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.
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.