Wednesday, February 10, 2016

HAL Veendam - 2/7/16

Holland America Cruise Line
Leaving: Port Of Tampa
February 7, 2016

Having to be at the Port of Tampa at 10AM, we arrived at 9:45AM so that we could find parking. Since we were told that Terminal 6 was free parking, we decided to park there and walk over to Terminal 3 as it was only a short distance from the Terminal. However, upon our arrival, we noticed that the Veendam was not at Terminal 3, Norwegian Star was docked there. Since we were not informed prior to arrival that the Port of Tampa changed their schedule, the Veendam was now at Terminal 2 permanently. With that said, we walked about 15 minutes to get to Terminal 2. Port of Tampa is a very small Port for cruise ships. Port of Tampa now homeports five vessels from four cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line. There are only 3 Terminals (Terminal 2, 3, and 6) and there are no cruise line that is own or upkeep any specific terminal like Norwegian Cruise Line has in New York City. The cruise ships are constantly interchanging terminals.

When we arrived at Terminal 2, we were greeted by friendly Port staff and escorted to a line of other travel agents waiting to get their guest pass to board the ship. Of course, you needed to fill out the health questionnaire just like if you were going on the cruise yourself. Boarding was on schedule at 10:30AM and we were given a list of cabins we could view. Ideally, ship visits (aka: Ship Inspections) would be guided by Inside Sales Representatives or Business Development Managers leading small groups of twenty agents or less. However, since there were well over 50 agents on this visit, this was a self-guided tour which gave us plenty of time to do our own exploring. They only gave us an hour to see just the staterooms which was plenty of time since the ship is pretty small. Usually when you attend these ship visits, you start from the bottom deck and work your way up. However, since we boarded on Deck 5 and lunch was in the Rotterndam Dining Room on Deck 7, we decided to start from the top and work our way down. There are only 5 decks that have cabins on them. The other 5 decks were public rooms which we would be visiting after lunch. 

Starting on Deck 10 “Navigation Deck”, visiting Cabin PS001 – Pinnacle Suite, the top of the line accommodation for guests. This is the only suite of its kind and there is only one of them onboard this ship. It was very roomy as you would expect any suite to be and featured a very large balcony, dining room, living room, master bedroom with separate vanity, binoculars with a stand, huge bathroom with two separate sinks and spa bathtub, plush robes, walk in closets and even it’s own little food preparation kitchen! That is something you don’t see on a cruise ship attached to a suite. Below are pictures of the entire cabin, including the dining area, living room, master bedroom, bathroom and food preparation area.


Across the hall on the same deck is Cabin SB004 – Neptune Suite, the half-sister of the Pinnacle suite, with only 28 of these suites on the entire ship. Smaller cabin than the Pinnacle suite but has a large area with master bed and living area, vanity and walk in closet are in one room with the bathroom attached. It is medium sized and does not have a bathtub. It also has the large balcony with sitting area.  Pictures are below:


Down to Deck 8 “Verandah Deck” we go to Cabin BA122 – Vista Suite. I really would not consider this a suite at all. If you try to compare this to the Norwegian Escape Balcony cabins, this is exactly the same but smaller. As you can see from the pictures, the bathroom is small, balcony is small and to walk from the entrance to the sitting area is very narrow. Not a lot of storage capacity or amenities that you would see in a balcony cabin.


Now since it only took us 30 minutes to see those three cabins, we decided to go to Deck 6 “Lower Promenade Deck” to see two more. Cabin CA329 – Lanai Stateroom. Now this is not your standard Oceanview/Balcony cabin as some might think. Usually Oceanviews have just the big window and Balcony cabins have a balcony, however this one offers sliding glass doors leading onto the walk-around Lower Promenade deck, so no balcony or just a window, and was actually much roomier than the Vista Suite! I was quite surprised as you can see from the pictures.


Right next door was Cabin E327 – Oceanview Stateroom. This is your standard oceanview stateroom with a small sitting area. Bathroom is the standard size but has both a bathtub and shower.


After seeing these staterooms, we headed to the Rotterdam Dining Room for lunch, however you can only access it from Deck 8 as the kitchen is on Deck 7. 


Rotterdam Menu
Beautiful dining room and the service was great. However, since I am allergic to seafood, the menu was filled with seafood delight. There was not much to choose from except for one beef and one vegetarian meal, so I tried the rack of lamb and got a plain green salad. The rack of lamb was undercooked and most people sent it back for it to be more cooked. The food was not to my liking and the response I got from other agents on this visit were not on the favorable side either. However, the menu changes daily and the cruise line is very accommodating when it comes to meals.  (From Left To Right: Appetizer, Green Salad, Berry Soup (Cold), Rack Of Lamb, Dessert)



After lunch, we headed to Deck 8 to explore some of the public rooms. With not a lot of time under our belt as we had to disembark the ship by 1pm, let me just highlight a few public venues so that you get the basic idea of what this ship has to offer, as there are many to list. We went thru the casino, which was quite small, then onward to check out the Specialty Restaurant Pinnacle Grill. Obviously, we could not sample the food but the décor was nothing to write home about. However, one of the two highlights I really liked were The Retreat (aka: The Oasis) on the "Sun Deck" and the Lido Pool. The Lido Pool features a Sliding dome cover and The Retreat features a big screen to watch movies on. It was quite cool! The sliding dome cover comes in handy when there is bad weather or high winds as it blocks the wind, rain, etc. when covered so that you can swim anytime and still get some sun.

(From Left to Right: Pinnacle Grill, Entrance to Pinnacle Grill, The Retreat, Lido Pool with Sliding Dome Cover)


They always say "A Picture Says A Thousand Words", so here are some other pictures I took of some of the public areas.  (From Left to Right: Front Office & Shore Excursions Desk, Casino, Martini Bar, Explorations Cafe, Lido Restaurant, Queen's Room Digital Workshop (Microsoft), Ocean Bar, Future Cruises Desk, Explorer's Lounge.


Some of their amenities, such as Spa & Salon Services, Wine Tasting & Beverage Events, and a copy of the Daily Itinerary are all here for you to look at as well, just click on the link:
Overall Review: The ship is midsized and designed for more of an intimate, enriching cruise. This cruise is not designed with kids in mind. It is more for the seasoned cruiser who enjoys learning about the destination, the culture and history of the destination, and quite time. There were some passengers that either liked to sit out on the pool or just read a good book. There is not a lot of loud excitement or food options and the ship needs to be refurbished as the décor is quite outdated.

I hope you all enjoyed our visit on HAL Veendam and stay tuned for more visits with Maraloha Travel!

Please feel free to comment as I would love to hear from you.

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