We booked this cruise for three reasons. We favor HAL, the departure port, Tampa, is less than two hours from our home and the cost was so reasonable we upgraded to a deluxe suite for the first time. Veendam had been rehabbed in April 2004 and it was apparent. Newly painted, carpets throughout, furniture etc. made the ship newer than her nine years would normaly allow. The suite was very spacious and comfortable and the veranda big enough for a party. Suite perks included concierge service in the newly added Neptune Lounge, exotic flowers, and the highlight of the cruise a special suite/penthouse guests dinner with the Captain and his wife. Excellent. As usual the Philippine/Indonesian crew service was superb.
HAL does not measure up to other cruise lines in its evening shows. Extravagant they are not but okay for those not looking for big Broadway productions. Despite some engine problems, windy and slightly rough weather, tour cancellations (no fault of HAL), some intestinal flu picked up in St. Thomas the cruise was quite enjoyable. We were impressed with the attempts to prevent the spreading of possible contagious ailments with the placing of hand sanitizing stations about the ship and the use of disposable gloves by the servers.