Originally published in 2009, our Veendam review has been updated with new information and photos for 2018.
This class of four handsome 1,350-passenger vessels built in the mid 1990s has the sharp look of a classic ocean liner, with a sweeping foredeck and lovely tired decks at the stern. The Veendam is spacious, yet intimate in size and has a lovely traditional feel without being stuffy. Like the rest of the fleet, Holland America Line’s Signature of Excellence enhancements in recent years have kept the Veendam and her sisters looking fresh and modern, with a substantial refit in 2009 adding an extra deck of staterooms, new balcony staterooms, and brand-new Lanai Staterooms situated on the Promenade Deck.
Public spaces include the popular Explorations Café, a combo Internet center, coffee shop and well-stocked library. A row of comfy chaise loungers connected with CD players and headphone stations face the sea through floor-to-ceiling windows, while other clusters of couches and chairs invite reading and resting.
Evenings, options include the dimly lit and atmospheric piano bar; a new lounge called Mix for a great martini, glass of bubbly or anything else that tickles your taste buds. Dancers head to the Ocean Bar for its live band, while the Crow’s Nest nightclub up top becomes the ship’s disco at night.
The ship’s two-story showrooms have cozy groupings of banquettes and movable chairs on the first level, a rare set up these days. A casino and small movie theater, that doubles as the new America’s Test Kitcthen demonstration space, round out the entertainment venues.
Kids are entertained too in a bright, windowed playroom decorated like a giant paint box. For older kids there are video games and a karaoke machine, while teens are privy to Oasis, a secluded patch of deck with a wading pool with a waterfall, deck chairs and hammocks.
Exercisers will appreciate the roomy ocean view gyms and large aerobics area, plus the combo basketball/tennis/volleyball courts up on the Sports Deck. The redesigned Greenhouse Spas each sport thermal suites with a hydrotherapy whirlpool and heated tile loungers. There are two pools, one with a sliding glass roof when cruising in cool climes like Alaska, and a series of smaller plunge pools and hot tubs aft, adjacent to the new Slice pizzeria and pool bar. The aft-facing LED movie screen, added in 2009, has been removed in recent years.
When it comes to eating, choices include the elegant, two-story Rotterdam Dining Room at the stern, with a pair of curved staircases sweeping down to the lower level for grand entrances. The Pinnacle Grill is the place to be for Pacific Northwest-inspired steaks and seafood is much smaller and more intimate, but comes at an additional charge. Veendam also has Holland America’s new Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant that overtakes the Pinnacle Grill for one evening per cruise, with a $49 per person surcharge. Designed by Holland America’s master chef Rudi Sodamin, it is one of the most exciting new dining options the line has unleashed in recent years.
Casual diners can always head for the indoor/outdoor Lido Marketplace buffet restaurant, complete with a taco station and burger grill; and evenings, the Italian section called Canaletto. A recent refit also added Holland America’s popular Dive-In Burger stand, located on the starboard side of the pool deck.
Roomy standard cabins are at least 185 square feet and feature super comfy bedding, plus a flatscreen TV and DVD player, makeup mirror, massage shower head and bathrobes. Outside cabins on the Lower Promenade Deck face the wraparound promenade deck, where walkers have great views of the sea (special reflective glass prevents outsiders from spying in).
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