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Every Holland America ship includes a host of familiar place names. The signature Crow’s Nest Lounge is probably the most recognized, what with its perch two decks above the Bridge (your view’s about as good as it gets on this ship)! Totally re-styled, the Crow’s Nest Lounge is often vacant by day, vibrant at night. And this is a good thing.

By day, the deep-cushioned, forward facing loungers provide a sanctuary for reading, taking in the scenery or maybe even a snooze. By night the room morphs into the disco!

Another Holland America hallmark is the Ocean Bar. Just off the topmost level of the Atrium, this lounge catches traffic along the busy Upper Promenade Deck. Explorer’s Lounge , yet another familiar landmark to Holland America loyalists, offers a slightly quieter sanctuary with a string quartet musical accompaniment.

Just around the corner is the Piano Bar, popular for sing-alongs. For poolside drinks and conversation, the Lido Deck Dolphin Bar is the place to be, day or night.

Reuben’s Lounge, the 600-seat main show lounge, offers comfortable guest seating in its two-levels. Choose from sofas, chairs, banquettes and the lower level; more conventional lounge seating is offered on the upper deck. A few columns break sight-lines but there’s usually sufficient seating to work around them. The ship’s Casino is relatively large, given the 1,258-guest count onboard. And it comes with a nice-size Casino Bar, as well.

What’s new (spring 2006) for the Veendam and her fleet mates is the Explorations Café. Think if it as a coffee house, library, Internet Center and game room mixed into one, free-flowing space. Anytime of the day there’s something going on here. There’s no live entertainment provided; passengers create their own.

Jigsaw puzzles, travel-related crossword puzzles, trivia games, sea-facing lounge chairs channeled for music, Internet stations (with free access to, and ahhhh…the coffee! Choose from various blends including the finest Indonesian blends and rich Kona.

Another new (spring 2006) venue is the Culinary Arts Center. If you’ve ever attended a cooking class then you know it is one part education, two parts entertainment! Though seated in the ship’s Wajang Theater, cameras and monitors allow you close-up views on the countertop goings-on up on stage.

For an extra fee, intimate-sized cooking classes are conducted during the cruise and Holland America often hosts celebrity chefs and culinary experts to conduct talks, demonstrations or seminars.

When not in use for culinary use, the theater returns to its usual Wajang Theater function: seminars, meetings and movies with fresh-popped popcorn! For small meetings and functions, the Hudson Room, just off Explorations Café, makes perfect sense.

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