I’ve had the pleasure of day visiting Statendam and Zaandam in my homeport of San Diego, Calif., to produce video tours for my Popular Cruising website (www.PopularCruising.com) but had not yet sailed on one of Holland America Line’s smaller ships until now. Cruising this week aboard Veendam in Canada/New England has been a two-fold joy, to experience both the stunning itinerary and classic ship itself.
The breathtaking ports of call along our journey thus far have included Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Quebec City, Quebec, most identifiable by the architectural marvel that is the Chateau Frontenac hotel. As this is the first week of warming weather, the sunbathing locals were out and about among us.
In fact, my parents and I have just returned onboard after another pristine sunny day in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where we toured the Cabot Trail – a scenic drive that epitomizes everything that makes this famed area so vivid. Our coach meandered, climbed and descended the mountainous terrain as lush green timber swept by and cobalt blue bays stretched below.
Whenever we ventured outside, the air was a bit brisk but always refreshing. At a local beach, where the water surprisingly reaches upwards of 72 degrees in the summertime, an abandoned lobster trap sat atop the rocky shoreline, reminding us to soon try the local delicacy. The isolated Keltic Lodge and dramatic Highlands Links golf course perched high above beckoned us to revisit some day.
Back onboard Veendam, Holland America Line favorites like the exquisite cuisine (bread pudding at the Lido Restaurant included) and expansive Crow’s Nest observation lounge welcome us as new features spoil us as well. Most notably, the freshly introduced Dive-In at the Terrace Grill is serving some of the best hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches we’ve ever enjoyed at sea, and the house Dive-In sauce is a winner on everything.
The Culinary Arts Center, where you can learn how to cook signature Le Cirque dishes and more, is another treat we’ve had time to enjoy during this sailing, and Mix and its three unique bar experiences is another hot spot, if only to try your luck at the daily pub trivia. And while not a theme cruise with the celebrities along for the ride, Dancing with the Stars: At Sea dance classes and guest competitions, available on every sailing, remain quite popular.
With two full days remaining in our cruise, we look forward to next exploring Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Bar Harbor, Maine, before finishing up in Boston, Mass. Thus far, Canada/New England, delivered Holland America style, delights.