Holland America: Not the Star it Once Was ---The CEO and his Arrogance and the LGBT treatment

Veendam Cruise Review to Cuba

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 6

Overall rating:

3.4 out of 5

12 Night Cuban Explorer Holiday (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip)

Sail date: December 22, 2017

Ship: Veendam

Cabin type: Oceanview

Cabin number: 630

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

Why I will not travel Holland America again: (a) the CEO's treatment of the 1%; (b) lack of response to our concerns that are as follows: (a) the spa's lack of privicay in both the men's and women's dressing rooms. Female staff walk through the men's dressing rooms, leave doors open and in my case, opened the sauna door and said "just checking the temperature!" A lady friend of ours experienced the same walk-though of men through the women's dressing area. (c) a new policy that we were told about the LGBT community announcements: Meeting times would only be stated at the beginning of the cruise and not repeated. In our case, the gatherings were scheduled on the first two days in the crows nest at a conflicting time when seating for dinner was either begining or in the middle of the seating. It appeared that the ship's philosophy was not welcoming, but excluding. After asking Guest Relations to add additional times and locations and chatting with Becca, the cruise director, we were successfull in having another meeting at 4:00 in the Ocean Bar. Over seventeen attended and expressed concerns about the lack of announcements and times that have been expereinced on this ship and others. A feeling that Holland America is no longer inclusive was disucssed. If this is a concern for future travelers, go to the Guest Relations desk during the first day of your cruise and voice your concern.


4 out of 5
Smooth as always. Arrive early to avoid those who do not fill out the required documents and hold the boarding line up.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
No problem. The staff are always stellar, the food generally good and tasty.

Onboard Activities

1 out of 5
Repetitive, bland, not worth getting our of bed. We spent much of our time in the casino just to listen to the machines make noises. Parc West appears to run the ship with their obnoxious continual false identifying of art all while taking advantage of people hoping to get that one good deal. This is your primary onboard activity? A continual flow of shilled auctions! I would rather show up in my underpants to an insurance seminar.


2 out of 5
The ship's show was fair; however, the other performers made up for the mundane.

Children's Programs

1 out of 5
I give you this! The kids sure did learn how to play chess, ping pong, and take over all bodies of water as to not allow any other bodies to be able to soak up some of that time. I understand they have a place on the ship too (and were even more bored than we were).

Service and Staff

3 out of 5
Staff was wonderful; however, the greatest disappointment was when the CEO boarded the ship in Key West. It was to be a secret; however, secrets are not kept. He was to be on board when we arrived in Cuba. He claimed he was on vacation, but when you represent the cruise line he has a responsibility to his paying passengers. Briefly, we knew of two people who approached him with concerns and both were reminded by him that he was on vacation. We had a major complaint and to respect his "vacation" wrote a three page letter to him and had it delivered to his cabin. (Never received a response and it has been a week since we have been home.) His final comment to the assembled Mariners lunch was what made us decide to NEVER travel on a Holland America ship again. He said, "I want to thank the 99% of you who understood that I was on vacation, it was the 1% who didn't." It was a rude, brash, arrogant and unnecessary comment to make to the assembled masses. That comment was not well received by a number of passengers especially the 1% that amounted to approximately 200 people who represented the voice of many and will spread the word. Shame on Orlando, the CEO. If he wants a vacation, go on another line, take your son to a theme park, spend time with him away from your job. PAY for your vacation, like the rest of us. You made the choice and those 1% deserved a polite ear from you as they are paying your way, your salary and keeping Holland America in business.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
I would have given it five stars; however, public toilets and especially the toilet in the spa area had constant problems. The staff, however, were responsive and the cleanliness was stellar. It is an old ship, but has been refurbished.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Well kept, Well maintained. Everything that would be needed was supplied: storage, working bathroom, comfortable bed and friendly cabin staff. The center of the ship on the lower level is always were we select as it is more comfortable during high seas, it is cheaper and centerally located especially for the different ports and the masses who use the elevators and stairs. Only complaint about the room was our bathtub drain did not allow for the holding of water.

Ship tip

See above comment about a cabin's location. We had several on our deck who no longer take the large suites and more spacious cabins on the upper decks due to bad experiences during high seas. The higher you are up, the more the ship tosses and bounces you and everything about. AND, the cost warrants spending the extra you save on other things instead of the larger cabin.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

4 out of 5
Lots to see and do. Visit the Bonner House, take the city tour, the Jungle Queen to see were the rich and famous live, and...and....and.

Cozumel, Mexico

5 out of 5
We normally do not take ship's excrsions due to cost; however, we research before going and find something that is more cost effective. We went to a private resort, sat on the beach, had all the food and drink we wanted and were treated like royality all for the price for two ($90.00).

Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico

5 out of 5
We did the same for this port; however, we did spend time in the "Port Mall" that is beautiful and expansive, but pricy. We took a taxi and went to another private resort and repeated what we did in Cozumel.

Key West, Florida

5 out of 5
We took the $30.00 per person hop on - hop off 12 stop around the island tour. Wonderful. Did two stops, toured, and got on the next bus. We would do it again.


5 out of 5
Great experience. Took the 8 hour city tour with highlights of Havana. It was truly a people to people tour with a great guide, interesting stops. Suggestion: take Euros or Canadian money to change as the American Dollar is charged a 10% plus fee when changing money the other currency 'no'. We changed $140 dollars. Ask for at least $40. in Cucs and the rest in smaller bills. Rum and Cigars are pushed along with tourist trinkets. You can buy the rum and cigars at the lunch stop and the trinkets at the last stop.

CIENFUEGOS, CUBA Did not visit port

Everything was sold out and we were informed many were cancelling their excursions (for reasons we do not know)

Montego Bay, Jamaica

2 out of 5
Not a well thought out port stop: crime, filth, poverty vs. corruption. We were told " we can't stop here as it is too dangerous". The rum that is pushed can be purchased in the US for 1/2 the cost; the trinkets are baudy and ordinary. Take the city tour if you want to get a feel for the island or take the falls tour for an inner island experience. Wayne our driver was outstanding and made you feel like a local as much as you could. There were misunderstandings in the beginning as far as cost of the two hour journey and that caused some of the older tourists to be edgy and well "American". One fella went so far as to say to the tour staff on the bus that he didn't trust them...He stayed on none the less.

George Town, Grand Cayman

2 out of 5
The island of the rich and hidden money. 58,000 people live on this island along with over 610 banks! The island is owned by three families who control almost everything from immigration, laws and building codes. If you are super rich, buy there as the stores are everywhere. The plus of island is that it is clean, beautiful, pristine ocean and beaches. I gave it an Okay because the concept that it is an island that is used by the rich to hide their money offends me. "Cash Money", our driver, was spot on and full of information.


3 out of 5
Holland America slipped on this too, but I cannot fully blame them. We were told we had a specific disembarkation time and that passed...About 45 minutes later we were given the go ahead to exit and being we had a long layover took a city tour. It was the best deal as we saw more of Fort Lauderdale and our bags were taken along. Instead of paying for a cab or airport fees, the tour was only $25 more and included the bags!
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