Since so many people have written very positive reviews on Veendam, I think I need to show you our own experience. We took the trip to Los Angeles in October 1999. It was more than one year ago so our memory might be a litte blurred. But I can assure you that we try to give you an unbiased review due to our genuine memory.Before we took that trip, we cruised with HAL before (Statendam to Alaska) and we had a fantastic time, so our expectation on this ship was high. The embarkation was smooth, very much like other HAL ships. The ship was beautiful, though not as classy as Statendam. We had an outside cabin with an obstructed view, and we always saw people jogging and congregating outside our window, so we had to pull down the curtains all the time. Our cabin steward was doing an average job, he was waiting for our return on the last night to get his tips. We had a full ship. The crew didn't seem to be ready to handle so many people. The dining room service was really slow. It took us more than 1 1/2 hours to finish our meal, even though we were always the first couple or second coming for dinner. The food was delicious, but the portion was small. I could barely have enough food while my husband often left the dining room hungry. Of course there was Lido, the alternate restaurant that opened during the day, but the line-up was incredibly long. Contrary to what people normally think, food was not always available on this ship, and the passengers are always hungry. One day in the afternoon, I saw a long line-up for ice-cream (because people didn't have enough food during lunch, and ice-cream was the only stuff available at that time) but for some reason only known to the ship itself, even ice-cream had run out. At that evening my husband asked if he could have a second entree because he was so hungry at night that he could not sleep, and was told that the chef had already stopped making entrees, my husband could order dessert if he wanted some more food. One more thing, the waiter seldom smiled if he did. Regarding the entertainment, it was another big disappointment. The first night was meeting the cruise director, with 10 minutes of singing and dancing. The second night was a comedian. His show put the gentleman next to us to sleep. The third night was a young man playing banjo. The after 15 minutes of performance, most of the audience felt that it was not wise to waste more of their precious cruise time with that guy so they chose to leave.I know it sounds ridiculous, but cruising experience is really individual. I have cruised with other cruiselines, and I still believe that HAL has done a better overall job than others. This December we will be cruising with HAL again, on their Rotterdam, and I hope that it will give me another great time, just like what Statendam did.
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