The MS Veendam is the newest of Holland America Line’s smaller S class ships, which was extensively refitted in 2009. Besides improvements in stability, this meant the introduction of new Lanai Staterooms with glass sliding doors leading directly onto the lower promenade deck, and Verandah Spa rooms that have a private verandah and include spa treatments at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon within the overall package. The Mix Lounge, with its three speciality bars, the Showroom at Sea nightclub, and The Retreat, a sophisticated resort-style poolside area including an outdoor cinema screen have also been added to conform to the standard of amenities in its sister ships.
The ship’s public rooms have the mix of old-world glamour and contemporary design that distinguishes all HAL cruise ships, with spacious public areas and staterooms, a huge atrium decorated with a distinctive sculptural centrepiece, the grand two-level main Rotterdam Dining Room, wide teak-wood decks and a magnificent display of art and antiques throughout the ship.
The ship’s range of restaurants and dining areas are designed for all occasions and to suit all tastes, whether you want a quick snack and a coffee, a family meal or a leisurely, romantic dinner for two. For children aged 3-12, there are supervised activities at the colourful Club HAL® play facility, and teenagers up to the age of 17 have their own places to relax and socialise in the intimate space of The Loft on the Sports Deck and the open-air Oasis up on the Sky Deck.
In the striking red and gold Rotterdam Dining Room, the continental dinner menu offers an excellent range of five courses that include a healthy Greenhouse Spa or vegetarian option. The Rotterdam also offers an extensive breakfast menu that includes kippers, various egg dishes and Belgian waffles.
The Pinnacle Grill is a more intimate restaurant, renowned for its fine seafood dishes and excellent wine list. You usually need to make a reservation. The Rotterdam Dining Room sometimes close for lunch during sea days and the Pinnacle Grill then takes over as one of the main sit-down lunch venues. The Canaletto Restaurant offers a fine Italian menu, while the Lido Restaurant serves a buffet-style menu cooked to order for all meals as well as afternoon and late night snacks.
While relaxing by the swimming pool, you can enjoy burgers and hot dogs at the Terrace Grill, or sample a range of ethnic dishes from the poolside takeaway stations.
The MS Veendam employs the new HAL activities programme, which is aimed at the more mature guest with the premise of using the cruise for personal improvement in the areas of health and fitness, culinary arts and new technology, plus presentations on the culture, history, shopping, wildlife, etc. of the ship’s various ports of call. For those who want to take it easy, drop into the Explorations Café, where you can linger over a coffee, read a book from the library or catch up on the news with the morning paper or the internet.
Traditional theatrical entertainment is to be found in the Showroom at Sea, which offers both tiered and cabaret seating. The décor changes to suit whichever show is playing, which adds to the atmosphere. In place of the big glitzy productions of yesteryear, these entertainments are smaller-scale and intimate, suiting the venue better and relying more on the talented performers than on spectacle.
The ship’s casino offers roulette, blackjack, stud poker, three card poker and slot machines. Nearby, at the Mix Lounge, entertainment in its bars include interactive games, big-screen TV and a live guitarist at Spirits & Ales, and a sing-along piano man at the Martini Bar. In the Ocean Bar, you can listen to live bands and dance the night away. The Champagne Bar is the perfect place for elegant relaxation and private celebrations. The Crow’s Nest, which offers magnificent views during the day, transforms into lively nightclub for drinking, dancing, socialising, karaoke and late night card games.