ms. Veendam Ship Tour & Lunch by glomarroneSail date: / Traveled as: Large Group
Ship: Veendam / Destination: Canada, New England, New York
This Saturday I was invited to a Ship Tour & Lunch for Travel Agents aboard Holland America's ms. Veendam. The ship holds 1,350 passengers. Before the tour, I read the many reviews on this Website. They were quite mixed so I wasn't sure what to expect.
We arrived at the port at 9:30 am and were directed to the day parking lot 5. We never did find it. How strange since the three of us in our car are all locals who use the port frequently. We finally parked in Lot 6, also complimentary for day visitors and employees only. It was not easy walking to the terminal from there as there aren't many sidewalks or a direct route. The entrance to the terminal is not easily recognizable, either.
On arrival, we filled out a health form, received our badges and went through security. Our tour began as soon as everyone checked in. Lori Taylor, Business Development Manager for Holland America, addressed our group of 40; I was with a smaller group of seven. Since we were all such a large group, Lori suggested that we do our own tour and meet for lunch in the MDR upper level at 11:45 AM. We received deck plans and a overview of the ship for background information.
First, we headed up to the Lido Deck to see the outdoor pool area with it's two whirlpools, giant chess set, Dive In Eatery, Lido Bar and inside self-serve buffet restaurant. This ship does not have a water park. How wonderful that it does have a retractable roof that closes for windy or rainy weather! Those few passengers not on shore excursions were enjoying the pool & spas.
From the there, we walked up to Deck 12, the Sports Deck. There were shuffleboard, basketball, & volleyball courts & an outside walking promenade. Since there was a safety drill for the crew about to start in a few minutes, we were only able to look into several cabins as they were being cleaned. They all looked basically the same, with pleasing contemporary decors. We were able to spend some time in the one of the two Pinnacle Suites on deck 7 (Navigation Deck) Suite, PS7001. It was quite lovely and I took several photos of the interior. Since I know that I will never stay in such a luxurious suite, it was fun to explore this one. A champagne bottle sat chilling in a bucket and on the huge dining room table were several covered snack plates, fresh fruit and a floral centerpiece.
Later, we visited the Neptune Lounge opened only for passengers in Pinnacle & Neptune Suites. We did see the newer balcony cabins added on the back of the ship in 2009 as well as the new Lanai cabins with their sliding-glass doors that open to the teak Promenade Deck. The new Spa Cabin have a slightly different - more muted color scheme than other staterooms.
We had time to see just about every public area on the ship including the two-level classy Showroom at Sea, the three-level central Atrium with it's glittery glass Jacob's Ladder sculpture, the expansive Explorer's Lounge, Explorations (coffee shop,) Library with Internet Stations, Digital Workshop, Martini Bar, Spirits & Ale Bar and the Champagne Bar, (Mix Bar ) the new Canaletto Italian Restaurant, $15 extra charge, The Pinnacle Grill Specialty Restaurants and the Casino. Before lunch, we also visited the Photo Gallery, Art Gallery, Wine Shop area, Wajang Theater (Culinary Arts Demonstrations,) Hudson Room and the Ocean Bar with Dance Floor. The shops were closed since the ship was in port but we did peek into them through the glass exteriors. Although small, the lovely Merabella Shop is the perfect size for one-on-one consultations when purchasing expensive jewelry.
The highlight of our day, of course, was our lunch in the comfortable two-deck Rotterdam Main Dining Room. We had a special menu. For my appetizer, I made the excellent choice of Poached Salmon. It was by far, truly, the best Salmon that I have ever tasted. Only one member of our group chose an alternate of Pea Soup and thought that it was excellent, too. For my main course, I had Sea Scallops, served with lobster sauce, creamy rice and asparagus. The entree was as delicious as the Salmon . Other members of our group chose the Beef entree which was quite tender. We had a chocolate mousse type mini cake with whipped cream on top - again, so delicious. Petite Fours were also brought to the table along with coffee. Wine flowed freely and service was attentive and well timed. Chef Jeremy and Annette from America's Test Kitchens addressed our group and we were given a sample copy of Cook's Magazine printed just for Holland America passenger with a deep discounted subscription offer. Lori also told us about future cruises.
After lunch, we visited the beautiful Crow's Nest with it's terrific views of the port. Then it was off to The Retreat, adults-only area, aft on the Lido Deck with its whirlpools and shallow pools, giant LED Screen, bar & New York Pizza eatery. Later, we stopped on Deck 11 to visit the Greenhouse Spa with its thermal suite, whirlpool and ceramic chairs, steam room and sauna. The Fitness Room and the Salon are also here. All too soon it was time to leave.
My overall impressions were that although this in an older ship - 21 years old, in fact, she is well maintained and upgraded. I did not see any frayed materials, stained or worn rugs, chipped or cracked furniture or other signs of wear. Everywhere we went it was clean, polished and shined. There is no neon anywhere. Her decor is contemporary, classic and subdued. Even the public bathrooms were well maintained. Crew members that we encountered were helpful and courteous. We had a wonderful experience and I would not hesitate to take a cruise on this ship in the future. The Veendam departed from Fort Lauderdale and was heading up the East Coast into Canada. From our balcony back home, we watched her depart the port on her northbound journey.