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Science, Photography, and Trip Reviews


Southern Caribbean Cruise

Five-star cruising, great service, and great entertainment

Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Barbados

Martinique, St. Maarten/St. Martin, and St. Thomas/St. John

Holland America Ship Veendam.


Veendam pool.

Holland America's ship MS Veendam at port in Fort de France, Martinique.


Pool on the Navigation Deck.

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Holland America is five-star cruising

Cruising with Holland America is a five-star cruise experience. Service is especially good because the Filipino staff and the Indonesian stewards are graduates of a special school in Jakarta, Indonesia. There are more crew members per guest than on other cruise lines of the same or lesser class. Also, there is less crowding on a Holland America ship because they carry fewer passengers for the ship size and have staterooms that average 25 percent larger than on other cruise lines of the same or lesser class. Our stateroom was a nice size and the bathroom was large enough to have a bathtub.

Santo Domingo church.


Friends in the Lido Restaurant.

Within the Cathedral Santa Maria la Menor, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.


Friends enjoying the Lido Restaurant.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

We sailed out of San Juan, Puerto Rico on a seven night cruise. We were in a different port-of-call everyday but one. Our first stop was Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In this port there are a number of shore excursions including walking and motor coach tours, but we chose to just walk around Santo Domingo with friends near the docked ship. We found the Cathedral Santa Maria la Menor to be very attractive. It was the first Cathedral built in the Americas. Construction of this church began in 1514 by the Spanish. The Spanish made Santo Domingo their first base of operations for exploring the New World.

East coast of Barbados.


Northeast coast of Barbados.

East coast of Barbados.


Northeast coast of Barbados.


The second day was spent at Sea. When we docked we were in Bridgetown, Barbados. This island is the southern most island on the Veendam itinerary, and it is only 270 miles (435 kilometers) from the Venezuelan coast. Barbados gained independence from Great Britain in 1966, and is still very British in many ways. There are many shore excursions that explore the Barbados countryside and coasts. You can choose to tour by bus, land rover, helicopter, boat, submarine, or on foot. To be seen are mansions, plantations, gardens, beaches, caves, coral reefs, and other sights. We chose the Island Safari Adventure. It took us to some beautiful interior island sights and coastlines with stunning cliffs. The tour is conducted in four wheel drive land rover jeeps. Barbados is quite different from the other islands that we visited in that it is not of volcanic origin.

Java Cafe Lounge.


Work of art.

Java Cafe Lounge.


One of numerous works of art found on the ship.

MS Veendam

The MS Veendam is more beautiful than I can describe. As you walk around the ship you see beautiful works of art and antiques, which are featured on Holland America ships. They are of museum quality, and you can take a tour of the ship collection. The bars and lounges are all tastefully decorated and are great places to relax and enjoy the company of others. At different times there is entertainment including dancing. We especially enjoyed the Afternoon Tea in the Explorer's Lounge where music was provided by the Veendam Piano Quartet. The same quartet performs in the evenings and at other times. Those wanting to relax with a book can head for the Library, a lounge, or a favorite place on the outside decks. Many cruisers enjoy relaxing in the sun near a swimming pool. There are also jacuzzis.

Shipboard activities

There are more than fifty scheduled shipboard activities including craft classes, card playing, and bingo. You are likely to find many of your friends in the casino. Prior to going ashore in each port there are talks on what to see and buy. If you want to know more about buying a ring you can attend a gemstone seminar.

Las Vegas style entertainment

In the evenings there is Las Vegas style entertainment, and it was quite good. In fact, the ten Veendam cast performers were chosen from 900 singers/dancers that had auditioned for the positions. And remember, there is no extra charge for this entertainment since it is part of the cruise package.

Mount Pelee, Martinique.


Martinique landscape.

Martinique's Mount Pelee in the distance lost in the clouds.


Martinique landscape.


The third port-of-call was Martinique, and we docked at Fort-de-France. Martinique is under French rule, and its citizens vote in elections held in France. Martinique is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the islands in the Caribbean. It is also where you find Mount Pelee, which is famous for destroying the town of St. Pierre in 1902. In the volcanic eruption everyone in the town was killed except one prisoner, who was protected by the jail he had been placed in. There are a number of shore excursions which show off the beauty of the island. You can see lush vegetation, rain forests, mountains, and beaches. The tour we chose was the St. Pierre and Island Drive. We saw much beautiful scenery and visited the town of St. Pierre. There is an interesting museum that displays pictures of the town before and after the eruption. This would be a nice island to go back to and spend several days.

Rotterdam Dining room.


Formal dining.

Rotterdam Dining Room. Note view ofwater through windows.


Sunny and Rebecca enjoying formal dining in the Rotterdam Dining Room.


On the cruise there is a lot of food and a great variety of food. In the attractive Rotterdam Dining room five-course meals are served with a choice of selections for each course. If you prefer a less formal setting you can have dinner as well as breakfast and lunch in the Lido Restaurant. There are additional choices at the Lido Grill where the selections include tacos, pastas, and hamburgers. There is also an ice cream bar as well as late night snacks. Do not miss the Chocolate Extravaganza late night snack, which is impressive to see with all of the delicious desserts on display. All of this food is part of the cruise package, which is why cruising is one of the best bargains in travel.

Exercise - loosing those extra pounds

There are many ways to exercise and stay in shape on the ship. Walking four times around the teak Promenade Deck is a mile (1.6 kilometers). On another deck you can jog. You can also play tennis and volleyball. Exercise machines are found in the fitness center. A trainer is there to help you.

St. Maarten.


Philipsburg, St. Maarten beach.

St. Maarten, the Dutch side of the island.


Philipsburg, St. Maarten beach.

St. Maarten and St. Martin

Next we went to Philipsburg, St. Maarten. This is the Dutch side of the Island. The remaining part of the island is French, and it is called St. Martin. There are tours of both the Dutch and French sides of the island where you can visit the important towns and a butterfly farm. St. Maarten is a great place to shop. We found rings and watches at great prices. In fact, the great shopping is one reason why people go cruising. There are nice beaches for those wanting to swim or hang out there.

St. Thomas and St. John

The last port-of-call was St. Thomas. This island and St. John are two of the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were bought form Denmark by the U.S. in 1917. You can tour the islands by bus, helicopter, sea plane, sail boat, kayak, bicycle, or on a hike. To be seen are beautiful beaches, a marine sanctuary, lush vegetation, and historical highlights. But one reason why many people like St. Thomas is the great shopping that it offers.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

When we arrived back in the home port of San Juan, Puerto Rico I did not want to leave the ship. I look forward to sailing again on the MS Veendam or one of her sister ships. Puerto Rico is itself an attractive destination. We flew in a day early and stayed a day late to have time to visit Old San Juan. I recommend taking time to see this Historic District. The old forts are charming, there are interesting buildings to visit, and there is a nice walk along the Old City wall and shore. For those wanting to shop they will not be disappointed; there are many shops of all kinds.

Work of art.


Chocolate mermaid.

One of many works of art scattered about the ship.


Chocolate mermaid at Dutch Dessert Extravaganza.

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Photo of Sunny and Rebecca by Tom Williams. Remaining photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell prints and images.