The service we received was generally fine.
Most of Veendam’s crew was Indonesian, and we enjoyed the connection to Holland’s colonial history they provide. They take pride in several cultural events on the ship, such as the Indonesian tea service one afternoon. Service was always friendly, though there were some communication issues with a few staff-members.
A gratuity of $11.50 per day, per guest was charged to our shipboard account (the gratuity is $12 per day for those staying in suites). The gratuity is shared by room stewards and waiters. Additionally, a 15-percent gratuity was automatically added to all bar charges and to wine purchases in dining rooms.
During the day, dress on Veendam was relaxed and casual. Holland America asks that shoes and a cover-up be worn over a bathing suit when passing through public areas inside the ship.
On our typical seven-night cruise there were two formal nights scheduled, with tuxedos, dark suit or jacket and tie required for men and suit, gown or cocktail dress for women. The rest of the cruise was defined as smart casual—slacks and collared shirts for men, casual dresses, slacks or informal evening wear for women. T-shirts, shorts, etc. were not allowed in public areas after dark.
The drinking age on our cruise was 21. Holland America allows guests to bring wine on board for private consumption; a corkage fee of $18 is applied to the bill for personal wine bottles opened in restaurants or bars. Hard liquor brought on board is stored and delivered to cabins the night before disembarkation.
Guests are automatically enrolled in Mariner Society membership after their first cruise with Holland America. Each day earns Cruise Day Credits which can be accumulated; services purchased on-board—such as spa treatments, dining at specialty restaurants and taking shore excursions—also count. The credits can be used towards a gourmet dinner, massage, shore excursions, etc. on future cruses. The more cruise day credits cruisers accumulate, the higher their “star” level. After 30 cruise days one attains 2-Star Mariner status; 75 days equals 3-Star Marine.; and the highest level—Four-Star Mariner—is attained after 200 cruise days.
Other perks of the Mariner Society, depending on star level, include a 10-15 percent discount on Holland America’s merchandize, a 50-percent discount on cruise fares for the third or fourth guests sharing your stateroom on certain sailings, waiver of air deviation fees; priority disembarkation, tender and check in, etc.
There were self-service laundry facilities located on three of the five decks with cabins—decks 5, 6 and 9.
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