Every cruise ship has its good features and its bad features. Holland America Veendam is no different. Even among ships of the same cruise line things vary, and of course likes and dislikes are a personal thing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine, though what I like best someone else might dislike most and vice versa.
HITS ON THE VEENDAM
Fresh eggs Benedict – one of my favorite cruise ship breakfasts is eggs Benedict. It’s really awesome that Holland America makes them fresh at the Lido Buffet. On their bigger ships there’s a buffet station just for that, which rarely has a line. On the Veendam the eggs Benedict station is at the center of a busy area in the buffet with a lot of other things. It’s a smaller ship and probably doesn’t have space for the individual eggs Benedict station. That’s a slight miss since it increases the possibility of having to wait in line, but having fresh eggs Benedict made to order is still a hit.
2 omlette stations – Anything that reduces the amount of time spent waiting in line is a hit with me. Having two omlette stations on the breakfast buffet means an option for anyone wishing to have an omlette for breakfast to find the shorter line. Also shorter wait times since people are not all waiting in the same line for their fresh made-to-order omlette.
Nice theater, lots of good seats – It’s always more fun to go to a show on a ship when you can find a good seat. Veendam’s theater is laid out so there is a good view from a lot of different seats there.
Self serve laundry – It’s always a bonus when a ship has self serve laundries available. Particularly for long cruises, but even on short cruises people sometimes need them. Some cruise lines have passenger laundries on all their ships, others on none. Holland America has them on some ships, but not all and Veendam is one of the ships that has one.
Jetted tub in the small suites as well as the large ones – Veendam is the only ship we ever booked a suite on and it was the smallest sort they had, the type that is often called a mini suite though on the Veendam they called them Vista suites. Having the jetted tub was a feature I quite appreciated.
Gluten free food on request – People used to have to make arrangements in advance of a cruise to have any gluten free food available to them. It’s nice that cruise lines now have gluten free things available without prior arrangement, and not just in the dining room. The Veendam had things like gluten free buns at the poolside grill and gluten free pizza crust at the pizzeria. They’re not on the menu, but you can get them if you ask.
Daily Movies and Cooking Demos – making more use of the space, the test kitchen theater doubled as a movie theater with movies a couple times a day when the theater wasn’t in use for cooking demos. The cooking demos were fun to watch too.
Public areas behind life boats – putting public areas behind the life boats instead of passenger cabins reduces the amount of ocean view cabins with obstructed views. Of course this is only a good thing if the ship has ocean view cabins available in other locations, which the Veendam does.
Salad Stations on the Buffet – The buffet had 2 salad stations with quite a variety of greens and salad toppers where people could customize meal-worthy salads.
MISSES ON THE VEENDAM
Rooms on promenade deck – Unfortunately the trade-off for not having rooms behind lifeboats on this ship was moving them to the promenade deck. It’s actually worse to put rooms in this area that normally has public spaces than it is having them behind life boats if the choice is one or the other. Best would be having public spaces on both those decks and the ocean view rooms elsewhere. Some of the ocean view cabins on that deck are obstructed by ship’s structure, and all the cabins there have people walking past them as they travel around the outside promenade. The promenade is normally a popular place for jogging as well as walking, but most likely due to the cabins jogging around the promenade was not allowed on the Veendam. So the people in the cabins have no privacy and everyone loses out on a good jogging spot. Makes those obstructed view cabins behind the lifeboats not look so bad after all.
Very Little self serve food on the buffet – in most areas of the Veendam’s buffet passengers have to wait for a crew person to serve them, which greatly slows the line down as each person has to wait for that one crew member to serve a whole area one person at a time rather than each person just getting what they want as they move down the line.
Smoking allowed at slot machines – You would think smoking policies would be uniform across a cruise line. Our last cruise prior to the Veendam was on Holland America’s Oosterdam, which had just one smoking area outside on the back deck of the Lido where it was easily avoided. Veendam on the other hand let active slot players smoke in the casino, which meant cigarette smoke drifting through the interior of the ship.
Very slow and unorganized getting shore excursions going – You would think a relatively small cruise ship wouldn’t have too much difficulty getting passengers organized for their shore excursions since the bigger ships all seem to manage it with more people. Not so on the Veendam, which was the slowest and least-organized ship we’ve ever seen when it came to getting excursions going. Also the most crowded in the waiting area where people sat wherever they could find a spot rather than with others on the same excursion.
Only one cabin outlet – While just one outlet in each stateroom used to be pretty much standard on all cruise ships, a lot of them now have been upgraded to at least adding in a couple USB ports, but the Veendam still has the old standard one outlet. A good reason to pack a power bar when cruising.
Not a lot of self entertainment options – While Holland America does offer a good amount of classes, demonstrations, lectures, and other entertainment options, there’s not much for people to go do on their own if they don’t want to attend an organized event. You would think a small ship would make use of all the space they had.
Empty deck and nothing in lowest atrium level – It’s not that they haven’t any space on the Veendam to put things for people to do. There’s a whole empty outside deck. Although there’s room there for one, waterslides aren’t Holland America’s thing, but some sort of outdoor games or mini golf or something would be far more useful than a bare deck. On the previous trip I took on the Veendam they had an indoor shuffleboard game in the lower atrium area, which had room enough they could have added some more indoor games and made it a useable space rather than just somewhere to walk through. Instead of adding more, on our last Veendam cruise the indoor shuffleboard was gone and there was nothing in that space at all.