Archive for July, 2014

MS Veendam

     After a slow, trying & unpleasant boarding process we sailed out of Boston at about 6:00 PM on July 12, approximately an hour later than scheduled.  On the drive up we spent the night in New Britain, Connecticut, once known as the Hardware City of the World, where we ate dinner in a German restaurant with an accordionist dressed in a lederhosen outfit who, surprisingly, could really play.  His best number was the Cream song “Sunshine of Your Love,” which we had never heard on accordion before & probably never will again. In New Britain was a bookstore with a weird display of plastic duckies in the window that Mary couldn’t resist. We stayed Friday night at a hotel in Quincy which will board our car for the duration & had a nice (but very slow) dinner with a dozen other Veendam passengers.

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     With two sea days until our first port I thought I would show you a bit of the Veendam. This is our first trip on a Holland America ship other than Prinsendam and also our first that isn’t a Grand Voyage.  Veendam is about half again as big as Prinsendam (capacity of around 1350 passengers) but the ship itself doesn’t seem all that much bigger. In the picture below, our cabin is located on the deck below the lifeboats at the back of the last orange lifeboat.

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107.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock) 7-15-2014107.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014107.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014109.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock) 7-15-2014109.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014109.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014

     We are in Cabin 363, which is a Lanai cabin. This is an unusual kind of cabin only available so far as I know on a couple of Holland America’s ships. It is on the Lower Promenade Deck, which has an outside deck that you can walk all the way around the ship (a quarter mile for each circuit).  Instead of a window, a lanai cabin has a sliding glass door leading to the deck & there are two deck chairs outside reserved for the occupants. To answer some of the questions we had before booking this cabin: (1) the sliding door locks behind you automatically but you are provided with one plastic card that will open it from the outside, (2) lots of people walk by your door but it has a film on the glass that lets you see out through it but makes it look like a mirror from outside (except at night when you have to draw your curtains).

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Our room is near the middle of the ship (which means less turbulence, but a lot of noise on mornings when they lower the tenders early). The deck is pretty long, therefore, in both directions. Lanai rooms seem to be a little smaller than usual, although I’m not sure why since they are the same length as all the other rooms. Our room is definitely shorter & narrower than the ones we had on Prinsendam, but not by very much.  You quickly get used to it & the tradeoff for the door to the deck is worth it, even on a cold weather cruise on which use of the deck chairs is pretty limited. There is another door on the opposite side of the room opening to the interior hallway, with a very narrow corridor between the bathroom & the closets to get to it. It looks like storage space is pretty limited when you first arrive but it turned out we have plenty of space for all the stuff we brought.

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Like Prinsendam, Veendam has an extensive & diverse collection of art, only a small sample of which is shown here (some of the paintings are reproductions, but very good ones). In the center of the ship is a 3 level atrium with a blue & green glass sculpture reaching all the way up.  By contrast the huge Celebrity Eclipse we sailed on in March had a 10 story atrium lined with glass walled elevators. The Holland America ships are demure by comparison.

004.  On Veendam 7-13-2014009.  On Veendam 7-13-2014144.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014144.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014144.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014145.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014145.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014145.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014146.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014146.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014146.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014150.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014150.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014150.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-201406.  At Sea 7-18-201404.  At Sea 7-18-2014DSC00298DSC0029409.  At Sea 7-18-2014154.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014154.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014154.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014153.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014153.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014153.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014

There are several paintings of the Veendam, both the current one & two earlier incarnations from the 1920’s & the 1980’s.

148.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014148.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014148.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014152.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014152.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014152.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014151.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014151.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014151.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014

Three often visited venues. First is the Showroom at Sea, which is a theater hosting lectures, shows & other entertainment. It is also where you wait to board a tender boat when the ship is anchored rather than docked. The Rotterdam restaurant is where we eat almost every night. On this trip we are doing “open” seating, which means you come when you are ready & wait for a table (or make a reservation, although we have found that doesn’t work all that well). On prior Holland America voyages we have had assigned seating at the same table & time every night. We actually prefer the latter for several reasons, but we are travelling with friends we met on our South America cruise who prefer the open seating. Third is the Espresso Bar, located right by the library, so you have a nice place to sit and read while you drink your premium coffee. As part of a promotion, HAL gave us each a drink card that allows us up to $50 per day in beverages that cost $7.00 or less, so we visit the Espresso bar just about every day. The card also buys us wine with dinner & beer with lunch, but there is no way we can drink $50.00 worth in a day (you can’t use it to buy drinks for anyone else).

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The second-to-top deck contains the Lido buffet & the pool, which is covered by a retractable glass roof that comes in handy in these chilly climes. Near the pool is the Dive-In hamburger bar (where they don’t insist on burning hamburgers to a crisp as on Prinsendam) & a taco bar.  The buffet isn’t as accessible as on Prinsendam because they keep more of the food behind glass so you have to line up to get some rather than just taking it yourself. There is a performance stage near the pool, but there is music (often raucous) piped in to discourage conversation (apparently).

114.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014114.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014114.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014008.  On Veendam 7-14-2014115.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014115.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014115.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014139.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014139.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014139.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014

OK, that’s enough for now until we reach an actual port. As is now traditional on this blog I will close with some of the towel animals that our room steward leaves on our bed every night. Sometimes its a little ambiguous which animal is intended, so I label them with my best guesses.  If you disagree, your guess is as good as mine.

DSC00009011.  On Veendam 7-14-2014015.  On Veendam 7-13-2014157.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Dock & Veendam) 7-15-2014157.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Grand Morne Park) 7-15-2014157.  Corner Brook, Newfoundland 7-15-2014


Voyage Of The Vikings

We leave home tomorrow to drive to Boston for a cruise on the MS Veendam to see the northern route to Europe.  Here is the itinerary:

Map of itinerary for 2014 "Voyage of the Vikings"

Before you ask, no we cannot pronounce all of these names, but hopefully by the time we get back we will be able to do so.  Holland America calls this the “Voyage of the Vikings.”  So is this just advertising or does this route fairly reflect the Vikings’ western explorations? (Of course the Vikings also went a lot of other places, including Russia, which is named after a Viking group called the Rus, and the Mediterranean.)  It looks fairly representative of their western voyages to me, but judge for yourself:

Map of major western exploration voyages of the real Vikings

Anyway, welcome aboard. We will be posting to this blog intermittently during the voyage, which lasts from July 12 to August 16, because the ship internet is sometimes buggy & there is only time to write blog posts on sea days & some of the sea days on this trip will involve scenic cruising that will preclude blog work.  Last year it took months after our return before the blog of our Mediterranean trip was complete; this one will undoubtedly be unfinished when we return but I don’t think it will take as long to complete (at least I certainly hope not).

Immediately below this post is another called “About This Blog (Revised 2014).” It includes an explanation of how all the parts of the blog work, so you might find it helpful to read it through. In addition, at the very top of the blog (above the header with a new picture of us at Ephesus taken in April 2013), is a text button labeled “About.”  If you press that button at any time while viewing this blog it will always take you to the “About This Blog” post with the instructions. The button next to it, labeled “Home,” will always take you back to the most recent post.

One more thing that some folks have missed: if you hover your mouse over a picture (ie. without clicking it) a caption will pop up. It will usually contain at least some identifying information, but may also contain some additional information, if we know any.

There probably won’t be anything more here until after we get underway next week.  See you then!