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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 23rd, 2003, 06:34 PM
Cruising Soon!
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Default Veendam Alaska

Has anyone sailed the Veendam to Alaska this season and have comments to share?

Also, is anyone sailing the Veendam to Alaska this season?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 31st, 2003, 02:39 AM
Mr. V
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

Yes, we just got back.

It was my first cruise, so I have no depth of experience to compare to, but here are my observations.

The crew was all Indonesian or the like, they barely spoke English. It was actually quite a hassle trying to communicate with them at times.

Their level of service was not remarkable, probably because they don't get tipped.

The casino was a morgue, the casino crew were Brits and Russians, many break ins.

There is a comedian on board who thinks he is an art auctioneer. My god, what a racket the on board auctions are. Entertaining, as in watching a house burn can be entertaining.

None of the towns we stopped at (Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka) are must see, though the Raptor center in Sitka was the high point.

Glacier Bay and College Fjord were great. Perfect weather then, thank heavens.

Took the tour to Denali. The mountain was out, but the kitschy hotel and environs were loathesome. Minimal access to the park. Waste of time and money, fuhgeddaboudit.

Gained a belt notch in a week of cruise line food, and that was with daily workouts in the modestly equipped gym.

Overall: I'd grade it "B."
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Old July 31st, 2003, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

The crew is not all Indonesian. The dining room staff and cabin steward are Indonesiam and the bar tenders/waiters are Filipino.

I am sorry you could not understand them, as we have never had any problem. Maybe they couldn't understand your requests.

We have always tipped on HAL ships, even though their policy states "Tipping Not Required", but that doesn't mean you can't tip. It just means that HAL will not tell you how much to tip, envelopes will not be waiting in your room with the names of the people they feel you should tip, nor will you be solicited for tips.

The Veendam is a beautiful, well run ship. I am sorry you did not enjoy it. We have been on it many times.

We enjoyed our last Alaska cruise so much that we are returning again this year. There is lots to do and see in all the ports. Just read over the Excursion brochure and I am sure you will find something. Last time we did an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier, went to a Salmon Bake, went whale watching, shopped around the towns. This year we are booked for the White Pass Railway excursion in Skagway (don't know if Veendam goes to Skagway) and we have been told it is not to be missed.

Go, enjoy and have a great time.
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Old July 31st, 2003, 02:42 PM
Mr. V
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Default Re: Re: Veendam Alaska

If I ever see another Diamonds International store, or another Alaska T-shirt, it will be too soon.

The destination cities are kitschy ticky tacky near the pire. Run, don't walk from them (I did).

My experience with the Veendam was not "bad;" I just expected "more." *sigh*

They had a lousy selection of movies, but the evening shows were alright.

As for faults: I put an empty coffee cup on a bench on the promenade deck, astern: it took 4 days for one of the crew to care enough to remove it. Sloppy, that.

What line offers better service?
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Old July 31st, 2003, 03:40 PM
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

I'm truly sorry your cruise did not live up to your expectations, Mr. V. However, with all your disappointments I'm surprised your overall grade was a 'B'. That seems high considering you seem to encounter so many things you didn't like. I have not cruised to Alaska or sailed on the Veendam, so I can't comment on what you have said. You might wish to try Crystal or Radisson. I wouldn't want you to give up after only one experience. Happy cruising in the future.
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Old July 31st, 2003, 07:17 PM
Mr. V
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Default Re: Re: Veendam Alaska

Thanks. I gave it a "B" because much of it was right, too.

The food was fine.

The duty free shops were decent, especially the sales on the final days.

The ship was well appointed, and the stateroom was very nice.

The officers were earnest and squared away.

Baggage service, embarkation and debarkation went well.

I enjoyed my cruise, but wonder which lines do it better. Thanks for mentioning the other two lines.
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Old August 1st, 2003, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

I sailed the Veendam to the Caribbean in April and will be taking the Sept. 21 Alaska cruise because I was impressed with the level of service (including the ability to speak English). They DO get tipped, just as on any other cruise line -- HAL just doesn't force you into it. I presume Mr. V chose to read HAL's policy as "Tipping Not Allowed". Saves a bunch of money I imagine.

The ports are pretty much the same for all the major cruise lines, so HAL can't be blamed for the "kitschy ticky tacky near the pire. [sic] Run, don't walk from them (I did)."

Cruising Soon! -- Dizy and Peaches are very experienced cruisers. Consult with them about the cruise before heeding Mr. V.

SFJ
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old August 1st, 2003, 10:20 AM
Mr. V
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Default Re: Re: Veendam Alaska

Oh they speak some English, but for many it is pidgin English.

On many occasions I had to repeat a request several times, or ask the crewman to repeat himself several times, until we could communicate.

My hearing is fine, as is my elocution.

I tipped the room steward, BTW.

A new low in cuisine: the version of Chinese food the Indonesian cooks made for a late night (11PM - midnight) buffet. Truly loathesome, gag me with a spoon. Much was inedible.

The taco bar was uninspired, and the dessert extravaganza was weak.

The prancing line of servers serving baked alaska at dinner was...odd.

Enjoyed my helicopter tour to Mendenhall glacier, thumbs up.

I just have to wonder why there are so many jewelry and trinket shops in the ports of call?

Are there really that many morons willing to pay high prices for shlocky goods, sold by foreigners (Indians, Chinese) who displaced locals from shoreside shop locations?

I talked to several locals about the invasion of foreign owned jewelry shops, and to a man, they are seething.

The jewelry shops bring in their own workers, house them separately, and give zero to the community.

Bad show.
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Old August 8th, 2003, 08:05 PM
debbieg
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

i just got off the veendam from alaska i'm sorry Mr. V did not have a good time i haver never had a problem in talking to a crew member or dealing with the casino dealers maybe Mr. V is not use to dealing with differnet cultures. the cruise was wonderful and the weather was better than what i have i NY right now. Dinig room meals were also good and a wide variety of items to choose from,though the shows are not like what you would find in vegas they were entertaing and as for the dancers and cast i found them vvery talented. Veendam is a wonderful ship and the crew is one the best afloat on the water. enjoy yourself and the differnet cultures you will meet it's a great world out there enjoy it.....kruise53@aol.com
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Old November 8th, 2003, 01:32 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Veendam Alaska

Sloppy or what you say. I think the sloppy one is the one that left the cup.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old November 8th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Veendam Alaska

If I ever had anyone like you as a dinner companion I would find a new table.
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old November 9th, 2003, 01:08 AM
sarachan
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

We sailed on the Veendam this summer back to back first time on a cruise ship. I was nervous about doing a cruise. It was awesome. The staff and crew were outstanding. The ship was beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking. I can't wait to do another cruise. It was one of the best holidays I have ever had.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

I have never sailed on HAL..thinking Rotterdam for March to Panama...I have taken several Cruises with Princess..Very impressed with service. We usually look for the itenary then pick a ship/line. I also was suprised/shocked at the chain jewerly"dutyFree" shops in the ports in Alaska..the comment about these shops bring in their own people..that maybe but they still do contribute to the local ecomomy..they eat/pay some sort of rent..etc. As crusie passangers who want to support the locals we don't have to shop in these stores..to each there own.

A question..how does the Rotterdam compare to the Veendam..size, crew, age.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old November 13th, 2003, 07:38 PM
SF Sharon
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Default Re: Veendam Alaska

"A new low in cuisine: the version of Chinese food the Indonesian cooks made for a late night (11PM - midnight) buffet. Truly loathesome, gag me with a spoon. Much was inedible."

I'll raise you one. The sushi on the Celebrity Mercury last month (a ship with fine food in the dining room, with the exception of Caesar salad made with powdery "cheese") was the worst sushi of my entire life. I actually spit it out in my napkin. Gross. Hard, plasticky rice. It had obviously been refrigerated. Sushi must be made fresh and the rice should not see the inside of a refrigerator, period. There was no wasabi between the fish and the rice. The fellow who served it up at the cafeteria played around with the pieces constantly, as if he were deeply involved in a game of mahjong and the sushi were tiles.

On the other hand, curry on the Mercury beat the INDONESIAN food on the Veendam, which was extremely gummy.

The best Asian food we had on a cruise ship this year was actually on the Star Princess, in the Horizon Court buffet area. It was Chinese jook, as I recall. It wasn't great, but was soothing, and definitely beat out the other two ships' Asian offerings.

On second thought, the single best Asian item was the crispy spring roll served on the Veendam during the Indonesian lunch. Very hot and fresh. The Mercury's spring roll was of the soft variety, but at least it was described that way, too.
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