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Cruise Views

What's Big, Brand-New and Floats?

May 19, 1996|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

Holland America Line's brand-new Veendam was delivered with fanfare April 23 from the Marghera shipyard in Fincantieri, Italy, and sailed the short distance into Venice with flags flying, the ship's horn blowing and the uniformed crew lined up on deck waving. The real work begins May 25 on its first scheduled sailing from Fort Lauderdale.

The newest ship for the 123-year-old Holland America Line is the fourth to carry the name Veendam. It is the last in the series of "S" class, 1,266-passenger, 55,451-ton vessels--Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam and Veendam.

Longtime Holland America fans, disappointed by news of next year's retirement of the line's much-loved flagship Rotterdam, will be cheered to hear that a new Rotterdam is already under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard. It will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 30, 1997. The new Rotterdam will be slightly larger, 62,000 gross registry tons, carrying 1,320 passengers.

The Veendam, like its sister ships, is lavish and comfortable. Overall, about $2 million worth of art and antiques decorates the vessel. One of the most appealing areas on board, as on the other ships in this series, is the Lido Pool with sliding glass canopy overhead. The cover rolls back to let the sun shine in, which makes it appealing in inclement weather. A large pool, smaller children's wading pool and two bubbling Jacuzzis are here, along with a chic bar with striped umbrellas, a nonskid terrazzo-like floor in turquoise, sand and rose, and, framing the pool, two whimsical chair sculptures and a clutch of leaping bronze dolphins.

Adjacent is the Lido restaurant with self-service buffet breakfasts and lunches, and on deck are a grill with hot dogs and hamburgers cooking, and a pair of cooking stations that offer stir fry, pasta or assemble-your-own tacos.

Overall, the Veendam has a sleeker and more contemporary air than her sister vessels. The Crow's Nest observation lounge, designed by ship architect Frans Dingemans, is attractive and utilitarian but lacks the whimsical charm of the Alaska-themed designs, by Joe Farcus, for this lounge on the sister ships.

The Veendam will alternate eastern and western Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale this summer, calling at Nassau in the Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the eastern program. It visits Cozumel, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and George Town in the Bahamas on the western schedule.

In late August, the ship repositions to New York for a series of 10-day eastern Canada sailings between New York and Montreal leaving on Aug. 29, Sept. 8, 18 and 28. One 12-day sailing leaves New York Oct. 8 and sails to Bermuda, then to New England for the fall foliage.

Caribbean seven-day cruises range from $1,378 to $5,028 per person, double occupancy, plus air fare, with 35% to 45% discount if you book early. (Closing dates vary by cruise.)

Ten-day Canada sailings range from $2,495 to $8,500 per person, double occupancy, plus air fare, and the 12-day voyage is $2,995 to $9,960 per person double occupancy. Save 20% with early booking.

To get a free color brochure, see a travel agent or call the line at (800) 426-0327.

Slater and Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears the first and third week of every month.

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