by Lee Wurschmidt
May 24, 2009
My favorite vacation is a cruise. Sometimes I take a grandchild, sometimes alone or with a friend. This time I brought my daughter. I have taken over 40 cruises; some on very old beat up tubs and some on deluxe luxury liners. I have always had a good time although sometimes it took an effort to ignore poor service or other problems. I think that the attitude of the cruiser is the primary determinant of the success of the cruise.
Pros: Nicely appointed cabin with large veranda. Generally friendly and efficient service throughout the ship. Long stays in most ports. Room service breakfast was on time and arrived hot every day.
Cons: Pool closed at 7:00 and hot tubs were only warm, closing at 10:00 PM. There was no craps table in the casino and very smoky air the night I was in there. The Daily Program was not in chronological order and quite difficult to see what is happening at the present time. There was an unpleasant odor in some areas of the ship.
We were on the ship about 6:00 PM. It was announced that the normal 8:00 PM dinner would be served at 8:30 after the emergency drill. Since it had been 16 hours since breakfast and we had eaten very little while traveling, we opted to pay the $20 premium to eat NOW in the Pinnacle Grill. The dinner was nice with very attentive service. It might have been worth the extra cost for big steak eaters; but we did not find the food to be enough better than the regular dining room fare to warrant the extra charge. We did; however, appreciate the quieter atmosphere and excellent service.
Since Anne normally works nights she is a day sleeper. We seldom left the cabin before noon. The steward was very good at working around our schedule; the cabin was usually made up by the time we came back.
We ate only one meal in the Lido restaurant as there were no trays to carry the food, relatively poor selection, and a long line.
Meals in the dining room were adequate, but of variable quality, with ample variety in the choices. The company at our assigned 8:00 PM table was very pleasant. The servers were stretched much too thin. Our waiter served five tables with 24 guests. That is too many to do a good job with formal dinner service, but he really tried. Anne likes her coffee with her meal, but it was always served after dessert even though she asked for it earlier. We found the soups and starters to be the best part of the meal. Desserts were quite ordinary.
The grill in the pool area had plenty of tasty snack type foods available during the day: Hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, nachos, etc. Unfortunately none of these items were available after 6:00 PM. The pizza in the pizza shop was fairly good.
Most ships hold a cocktail party for their repeat cruisers. The Veendam had a very nice lunch for us.
The lounges were nicely decorated with extensive artwork and fresh flowers. The Explorer lounge was my favorite place. It included many comfortable chairs, the well stocked library, the computers, a coffee bar, the jigsaw puzzle table, a DVD collection, games for checking out, and friendly staff. Anne spent her late evening hours in the Crows Nest where there was dancing and karaoke. Unfortunately there was often a bad, sewage type, odor in parts of the ship at various times. It was especially noticeable in the Crows Nest and on the lower decks. On most cruises my favorite activity is the trivia games. Although the Veendam's version of the game had a nice mix of trivia questions, the attitude of the cruise director, Jimmy, made playing unpleasant for a few of us.
The self service laundry was convenient and clean. It cost $2 to wash a standard load and $1 to dry it.
During dry-dock the craps table was removed from the casino. It was replaced with a poker table. This was a major disappointment for me as playing craps is one of my favorite evening cruise activities. The water in the swimming pool was a bit too cold the first day and the hot tubs were definitely not hot any day.
The movie theater was comfortable, and popcorn was served during the afternoon showing that I attended.
Overall it was a very nice cruise, and we had a good time. On my next cruise to Alaska I will choose a ship with a craps table in the casino just because I like to play.