M.S. VEENDAM - Ship Review

By Marvin Perton

Seven days aboard HAL's Veendam is seven days of pure nautical bliss. Take it from a cruiser with some 30 different cruises under his belt - many of them aboard other vessels of Holland America Line (at last count, they credit me with some 77 days of HAL cruising). What made this particular cruise ship a standout? Pretty much everything you read in Holland America's ads: personal and caring service; varied entertainment; large cabins (mine was #791, outside, with shower and tub on A Deck, about 187 square feet and very roomy). But there's one element passengers remember long after the cruise is over - the cuisine. Whether you dine in the two-tiered Rotterdam Dining room or at the Lido (Deck 11) buffet, the fare rates the highest marks on the seven seas. This writer prefers the Lido for breakfast and lunch where you can find practically anything you like - enough smoked salmon to stock your favorite deli; mountains of jumbo shrimp, pizza on demand, irresistible pastries definitely not on your diet. A leisurely dinner in the Rotterdam is, of course, a delightful way to cap your day. With so many choices in appetizers, soups, and main courses, you run the risk of "pigging out" morning, noon and night. But that's okay - you only live once. Note: there are low-cal and vegetarian items on every menu, so if you must hold back, there are delicious options available.

But probably the most important benefit, particularly today: diligent security. Although it was never intrusive, you always had the comforting feeling that they were there, alert and ever-watchful.

Some other plusses you don't find listed in HAL's ads, but very important for cruise aficionados, like complimentary cappuccino in the dining room. Many ships charge for this frothy and delectable concoction. Not on the Veendam. Their Java Café on Promenade Deck (seven) serves coffee, espresso or cappuccino and chocolate chip cookies absolutely free. A hearty pick-me-up anytime from 8:00 am till 6:00 pm.

For many cruisers, curling up with a good book in a comfy deck chair is a number one priority and activity. Nice to know that the Veendam has a well-stocked library, including many current best-sellers in their collection. Sure, bring your own reading matter if you like, but the Veendam library is there as a reliable back-up.

Although the ship is a big one (four times around is a mile), even at full capacitry (1,266 passengers), you never get the feeling of being overcrowded. There's ample room to hide out - just do a little exploring and you can find a quiet corner to claim as your very own (I liked to chill out at the Crow's Next at the very top of the ship on deck 12). The ship is also very passenger-friendly in that the layout makes it easy to find your way around from the very first day. All you have to do is remember the three-deck atrium (decks six, seven and eight), the core of the ship where you dine, shop, enjoy cocktails, take in a movie, enjoy night club entertainment, even try your luck at the casino. The well-equipped spa is on the Lido Deck.

Specs of the Veendam (and its sister ships, Maasdam, Statendam and Ryndam)

Gross Tonnage:55,451

Length:720 feet

Beam:101 feet

Maximum Speed:22 knots

Ship's Registry:Bahamas

Passenger capacity:1,266 (lower berth)

Crew:602

Total Number of Staterooms:633