October 2015 - Veendam to Canada, New England, New York
Sometimes the stars and planets align in your favor. That was the case for us on this HAL Canada/New England 12 day cruise. Peak color everywhere! At every port of call in Canada we would head out in our rental car to see the sights on the coasts and then drive back through an inland route where the hardwoods showed off the best they had to offer. My wife and I are energetic, very mobile people in our early 60s. We have seen most of the world via air. Though we have cruised 4+ times before this was our first HAL cruise. We highly recommend a late September or early October HAL, 7 or 10 day Canada/New England cruise to leaf color lovers! Be aware that early October is when the season ends in Canada and many of the best restaurants and some attractions are closed after Canadian Thanksgiving.
Things to see and do : do Green Gables and take the time to see the coastal vistas on Prince Edward Island; at Sydney, do the Coal Miner's Museum experience in Glace Bay/Cape Breton for a look at the other side of life. Take the tour in the mine, it was a phenomenal experience; at Halifax, the coastal drive to Peggy's Cove and the cove village visit coupled with touring the Halifax Citadel (tour guides were dressed in period British uniforms); at Bar Harbor, seeing the leaf colors in Acadia Nat'l Park and going out on Lulu's Lobster Boat were must dos. There were other wonderful experiences too numerous to note.
We recommend asking the locals for places to eat while on shore. We found reasonably priced and wonderful lobster rolls (Chip Shack on PEI), homemade goulash with hand-cut poutine covered fries at Colette's in Glace Bay, Maine blueberry pie at The West Street Cafe in Bar Harbor and THE BEST Clam Chowder in the world at Legal Sea Food in Boston.
Concerning the Veendam - The Veendam is a very comfortable yet older ship. We liked that this smaller ship accomodates 1200 cruisers and 600 crew comfortably. We did not feel crowded in any area at any time. The crew and attendants are wonderful and very attentive. Meals in the Rotterdam, Canaletto and Pinnacle Grill dining rooms were delicious and always enjoyable. Use the Lido for made to order egg dishes, fresh fruit and juices at breakfast and for good late night snacks. For outstanding burgers try The Grill by the pool on the Lido deck. 4-5 PM, 2 for 1, happy hours at the Ocean Bar and the Crow's Nest (also has a 9-10 PM happy hour) are excellent bargains. The Crow's Nest is the place to be for relaxed ocean viewing and stunning sunsets.
Entertainment choices are limited but we found that making new friends was easy to do and a much nicer diversion. Everyone is on vacation and in very good moods. Daily movie choices were interesting and the DVD library has lots of classic and recent releases to choose from. Frankly, we had trouble making time to go to the theater or view DVDs with all the other diversions available.
DO NOTs : 1) Do not order room service breakfast! We saw the previous passenger excellent reviews and suffered through two terrible, over cooked egg experiences early on. 2) Do not waste your money on the wifi service. It is very expensive, slow and unreliable. 3) Do not use the laundry service and expect that small oil stains will be cleaned. $8 for an uncleaned shirt is ridiculous. 4) Do not forget your motion sick medications. This smaller boat is very responsive to any tossing and rolling on the open sea. The behind the ear patch I wore solved the issue for me.