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HAL4NOW

Observations from our Western Caribbean cruise on Veendam – January 8-15

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OVERVIEW: Like any 7-day cruise, this cruise went by way too fast. When you are being spoiled by great food, good service, sunshine, and friendly new acquaintances, TIME FLIES.

Meanwhile, while we were gone, our home town experienced a winter storm with high-winds. They received over five feet of new snow, lost power, water, and sewer services, and had to help provide for hundreds of stranded travelers because the roads were closed on both ends of the town. Skykomish only has a population of about 200, so this was quite an event.

Oblivious, to all that was transpiring at home, we

·      relaxed during a sea day,

·      floated down the Martha Brea river near Ocho Rios,

·      swam with dolphins in Georgetown, Grand Cayman,

·      toured some Mayan ruins on Cozumel Island,

·      and went snorkeling from a catamaran in Key West.

Being on this cruise was a good break from winter for us.

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THE SHIP:  This was our first time on the Veendam and our first time with an inside stateroom. The ship was comfortable and relaxed, as were the passengers onboard. We were pleased with all of the dining venues we tried, especially the complimentary night in the Pinnacle Grill. The full wrap-around promenade deck provides a great way to get steps and enjoy being on the water. The track on the sports deck is another alternative. The captain was hilarious at the ‘ask the captain’ show (which was one of the best attended showroom talks). The ship appeared to be well-maintained, but it is getting older. The lower part of the atrium seemed like dead space and wasn’t being utilized for anything. The couple of times we found ourselves at the Front Desk we got excellent service with good follow-up.

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THE SEAS gave us a pretty good side-to-side rolling motion for much of the time. While sitting in the MDR you could see alternating views: only sky and then only sea. Merchandise fell from the shelves in the shops during the night motion, and plates were falling off some counters in the Lido at times. Because of the rocking motion of the ship, the dancers were cancelled two nights. It wouldn’t have been safe for them to attempt to do their show.

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STATEROOM: Our cabin stewards provided service with a smile and always greeted us by name (as they did the other numerous passengers under their care). The towel animals are a lot more difficult to identify without the little eyes. The fresh fruit brought to the room each day continues to be a nice touch. My wife missed the tubs we have had in our balcony and vista suite cabins.

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ENTERTAINMENT: Cisco was our Travel and Cruise Director. He gave a few short talks about ports and about Caribbean history and he seemed to be visible around the ship. The main showroom was a bit dark because of the rougher seas, but they did have the BBC show with musicians one night, a ventriloquist another night, and a combination show with a comedian and a ventriloquist. The HAL singers and dancers were able to perform one night and one show another night. Barry from Boston played a few times in the Mix. There was a quartet in the Ocean Bar. Adagio played a lot in the Explorations lounge. All of the musicians were proficient, but none of them were over-the-top great. The passengers seemed to be looking for more because all of the venues were pretty full every time there was music. The chocolate surprise event was well received.

 

 

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Thanks very much for this review.  I hope our cruise next week is filled with grateful, laid back folks like you.  

Edited by Hobbsey

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Thanks for your review! We're boarding the Veendam next week and are hoping for a nice, relaxing cruise. I might bring my Dramamine, though, after reading about the rolling motion on your cruise! Thanks for the reminder!

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3 hours ago, cat shepard said:

Glad you had a great cruise & avoided your snow event back home!

Our power is back on and water in town is working again (although it hasn't been cleared for drinking without boiling yet). 

All the post-cruise snow shoveling helped me quickly get down below pre-cruise weight.

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Thanks for your review.  I'm hearing a lot about the "rolling" seas...a friend missed their stop in Grand Cayman yesterday.  I hope the seas are calm mid February!  

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1 minute ago, ktbraun said:

Thanks for your review.  I'm hearing a lot about the "rolling" seas...a friend missed their stop in Grand Cayman yesterday.  I hope the seas are calm mid February!  

In Grand Cayman we had no problem with tendering, but the tenders were the larger ones from the port and not the ship's tenders.

We had intended to swim with the stingrays as well as the dolphins, but that portion of the excursion was cancelled because of the rolling seas.

I hope you have a smooth and fun cruise in February.

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Thank you for your review.

 

Sorry about your weather at home.  Seems much of the USA has been getting hammered by bad weather.

 

Glad to hear that HAL is finally using Grand Cayman's tenders instead of their own.  That is a shame you didn't get to swim with the sting rays.

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1 hour ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

Glad to hear that HAL is finally using Grand Cayman's tenders instead of their own.  

I am not certain who makes the decision regarding which tenders are used. Is it the port authority, the cruise line, or the captain?

By the way, our captain was Marek Zoll. We found him to be extremely entertaining, as was mentioned earlier.

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Thank you for the pleasant review; we booked a cruise (similar itinerary to yours) on the Veendam sailing from Tampa in December. Looking forward to our first cruise on one of HAL’s smallest ships!

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1 hour ago, HAL4NOW said:

I am not certain who makes the decision regarding which tenders are used. Is it the port authority, the cruise line, or the captain?

By the way, our captain was Marek Zoll. We found him to be extremely entertaining, as was mentioned earlier.

The port usually decides.  And when the number of ships at anchor exceeds the capacity of the tenders, someone has to use their own.  And that usually falls to the smaller ship since they have a smaller passenger load to deal with.

 

BTW, thanks for the great review!  We’re on Veendam in less than two weeks!

Edited by ShipsAreTheBest

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Thanks for your review as DH and I are sailing on the Veendam on Feb. 5th. We  have a guaranteed Vista Suite and eagerly awaiting our cabin assignment. Good to hear there were actual singers and dancers, a comedian, and a ventriloquist. We sailed on the Koningsdam a few weeks ago and evening entertainment was sparse except for the very loud (too loud) music venues. Looking forward to our Veendam cruise.

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45 minutes ago, Djptcp said:

Thanks for your review as DH and I are sailing on the Veendam on Feb. 5th. We  have a guaranteed Vista Suite and eagerly awaiting our cabin assignment. Good to hear there were actual singers and dancers, a comedian, and a ventriloquist. We sailed on the Koningsdam a few weeks ago and evening entertainment was sparse except for the very loud (too loud) music venues. Looking forward to our Veendam cruise.

One nice feature of the Veendam, that I didn't mention previously, is that the Pinnacle Grill is right next to the Explorer's Lounge where Adagio played. The door to Pinnacle Grill was opened during our dinner hours and you could hear the live classical music as a backdrop to the meal.

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Also thanking you for your comments -- we & 5 of our friends board on 2/5 also. 

Only 2 of the group have never been on Veendam......the rest of us all met on a Veendam cruise in 2013!!   

Happy hour locations? 

Trivia? 

I saw a recent picture of the Explorations Cafe area since last dry dock.  It appeared there were fewer computer terminals.   Did you find that to be true?

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35 minutes ago, Cruisin Kay D said:

Also thanking you for your comments -- we & 5 of our friends board on 2/5 also. 

Only 2 of the group have never been on Veendam......the rest of us all met on a Veendam cruise in 2013!!   

Happy hour locations? 

Trivia? 

I saw a recent picture of the Explorations Cafe area since last dry dock.  It appeared there were fewer computer terminals.   Did you find that to be true?

  • Happy hour happened a couple times a day. At 4:00PM it was in the Crow's Nest, the Ocean Bar, and MIX. At 9:00PM happy hour was in the Crow's Nest.
  • Trivia also happened a couple times a day with the type of competition and location moving around to various different venues.
  • I cannot comment on whether there were fewer computer terminals in the Explorations Café area because this was our first time on the Veendam. The Microsoft Studio did have a lot of terminals and it was opened for more than just a class. Some people were able to do projects in there in addition to the classroom time.

 

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5 hours ago, Cruisin Kay D said:

What version of Microsoft do they use in that studio for classes?   What sort of classes?

Microsoft 10. Classes were mostly about OneNote, OneDrive, Video sharing, 3D enhancement, etc.

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I’d appreciate it if you could provide some information about the area near the stern where the pool used to be. Am not sure what exactly they have done but am aware was removed to accommodate additional cabins underneath the deck. 

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10 hours ago, jimmy2x said:

I’d appreciate it if you could provide some information about the area near the stern where the pool used to be. Am not sure what exactly they have done but am aware was removed to accommodate additional cabins underneath the deck. 

There are four hot tubs in the aft area now. Two round and two rectangular. It was fun to watch the water pour out of them as the ship's deck leaned back and forth. I rarely saw them used on our cruise.

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1 hour ago, HAL4NOW said:

There are four hot tubs in the aft area now. Two round and two rectangular. It was fun to watch the water pour out of them as the ship's deck leaned back and forth. I rarely saw them used on our cruise.

Thank you for the info. It really is a shame. Back to the Koningsdam 

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At Key West, where did Veendam dock? 

We will be at the farthest one away from Mallory Square, the Mole dock.  If you were there, did you notice if there were any shuttles to main part of Key West?

Trying to figure out if we will book activities on ship or off ship....

 

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