We just got off the newly remodeled Veendam. We were only on for three nights, from San Diego to Vancouver. On one hand, it was a nightmare. The ship was nowhere NEAR ready to come out of dry dock and there were problems with shower drains not draining- or leaking into the bathroom, toilets either not flushing or overflowing. One person was telling us their toilet 'erupted' in the middle of the night and rapidly flooded their room and the hallway outside their room. Something in the new aft addition was leaking into the 10 deck hallway (possibly the new pool?) and there were buckets in the hall to catch the drips and carpet dryers blowing almost constantly. It was still dripping when we left 3 days later! We were thrilled to learn we had been upgraded to one of the new aft veranda suites on the 10 deck, only to discover that it was a major construction zone. There were noisy power tools going on the other side of our wall (we were in the far starboard suite) all day, every day. There is a small deck area with stairs to the lido deck and it was packed with equipment and construction materials. There were workmen installing
the fire doors by the elevators until 10 PM every day. THAT is a major safety issue- and I am surprised they were even allowed to sail with missing fire doors. They had crew members trying to repair and/or install things that should have been dealt with by the contractors in dry dock. It was a zoo!
Along with having to skip Mexico ports for swine flu, several other ports were also skipped for various reasons- the folks that got on in Ft. Lauderdale were a very unhappy bunch!! I have to admit, I felt sorry for the front desk staff- they had their hands very full the last couple weeks!!
Food service was terribly slow. Part of the problem with the buffet was due to the extra precautions due to the flu, which was understandable. They had to serve everything, there was NO self serve at all. But even the dining room was incredibly slow- the consensus seemed to be lack of training with many new crew members coming on post dry dock. Room service was well done and timely.
I couldn't ever find a cabin steward when I looked, I am hoping that it was because of all the construction and not due to a decline in service. The hallway in front of our room was full of electrical cords, shop vacs, tool boxes, power tools and workmen- perhaps the stewards had difficulty working around the mess.
NOW, on the other hand!! Once they get the bugs worked out, the new aft addition is going to be wonderful! The aft suites are quite lovely and the new lido pool is nice- it is not a "swimming" pol, but a shallow pool to lounge in. Part of the pool actually has a row of lounge chairs IN the water. There is a HUGE screen TV for viewing in this area. The suites have flat screen TVs with DVD players (though the DVD player requires you to use the ONE and only available plug in the room- a multi-plug extention cord is a MUST!!) There are mini fridges and tons of closet space. The bathrooms have whirlpool tub/showers combos, though VERY minimal bathroom storage. There are very nice lighted magnifying mirrors on the vanity. The corner aft suites have larger balconies that wrap around to the side a bit- a very nice touch. There is an exit door in the hallway to a small covered deck area on each side of the ship. I do not know if this is going to be a public deck area or not- it was still a construction zone during our cruise. On the 10 deck, it would be a nice quick way up to the lido deck if it is eventually a public space, as there is a ladder right to the new pool area! Right now the doors are completely unmarked and there is a chain across the top of the ladder on the lido deck with a "No Access" sign.
This was our first HAL cruise and I tried very hard to be objective about what was post drydock disaster and therefore NOT be representative of HAL in general- and what might be ongoing problems. But- HAL putting this ship to sea against the advice of the captain who felt it was not ready, really put their reputation at risk. We spoke with many people who said they would never sail with Holland America again, and some of them had been long time passengers. I never saw a bunch of folks more anxious to get OFF a cruise!!