We sailed the Veendam from Seward to Vancouver in August and had a wonderful cruise. The deck space on this vessel and her sister ships is really fantastic. There's nothing like relaxing on a padded teak chaise on a wraparound promenade deck! We also love that the ship is not packed with people, especially not the chair hog crowd.
Captain James Russell-Dunford is a delightful man, and I hope he will be at the helm for your cruise. We had very good service in the dining room and average service in our cabin. As for the food, we felt most of it was very good, but that the salads were boring. On the other hand, we got our best escargot of three cruises taken this year on the Veendam. (The other two ships we sailed so far this year were the Star Princess and the Celebrity Mercury.) I agree about the cruise staff. We didn't care for, and don't even remember the name of, the Cruise Director. He was very young and not well-suited to the job, in our opinion. On the other hand, the photographers were the best of the three cruises we took and the most personable, too. The onboard prices for developing our own film on the Veendam was quite reasonable and we made good use of it, unlike the higher-priced film developing on the Mercury, which we wanted to use, but didn't due to their prices. We had a wonderful waiter on the Veendam, but the best overall dining room service was definitely on the Mercury.
We absolutely hate these art auctions that were on every ship we sailed. What a waste of time and space! None of the ships has quality material from what we saw. We actually laughed out loud at some of the stuff we saw on the Star Princess, a ship where you could not avoid running into it at every turn. At least it was more off-to-the-side on the Veendam and out of our eyesight, for the most part. I would much rather pay a little more in the way of a cruise price than have this junk on the ships. I wonder how much actual profit the ships make on this stuff, real figures, not guesstimates.
Although we enjoyed our Veendam cruise, the sewage smell that "oldstuff" mentioned was present several times in public areas, and I expect HAL to take care of this problem. We noticed it was especially bad one evening after leaving the dining room. Disgusting. And I don't believe the excuse that a passenger had thrown a diaper down the toilet. It wasn't a one-time thing. It must be fixed.
Does anyone know when the Veendam will be going into drydock?