What a Difference a Year Makes. The October 25, 2009 seven-day cruise on the Westerdam to the Dutch Antilles came one year after a very enjoyable cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale on the Noordam. Embarkation was a breeze, just like it always is on Holland America. We had a deluxe high end suite that comes with a number of amenities including free laundry service, access to the Neptune Lounge and breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill.
We were not on the ship very long to see that things had changed during a year of recession and slashed fares on HAL. A week of talking to crew members revealed that about 25% of the service crew had been cut. The reduction in personnel quickly became obvious.
THE CABIN: My cabin steward, while not volunteering the information, did not lie and answered questions honestly. In the last year he had seen his duties increase from 9 suites to 21 suites. I have to admit that while the room was clean, such things as the comp bottle of champagne in your suite was not on ice and no fruit in the room until the second day. Certainly not horrors of travel, but below past experiences of HAL!
However, the fact there was a burned out light bulb for the entire week and a broken shower hose were things we had never experienced in the past on a HAL ship. The advertised CD player in the suite did not work. After a complaint was made, a day later someone came and removed the damaged CD player, but never replaced it. Again not something I would have expected on HAL.
THE PUBLIC AREAS: Times have change aboard this HAL ship. One hand sanitizer on deck 3 was empty for the entire cruise. I walked past it several times a day and made it a habit to check. If they are not going to fill it or fix it, they needed to remove it. Also there was a wall light in the Queen's Lounge that was burned out for the entire cruise. So much for attention to detail!
INSULTING TO THE PASSENGERS: The thing that bothered me the most during this cruise was the fact that Holland America lied to me every day! Two years ago the library on the Westerdam was moved from Deck 3 to Deck 10 next to the Crow's Nest. Every directory of the ship at every elevator showed the library being on Deck 3.
Every printed card on the ship showed the library was on deck three. Simple but attractive tape could have been added to the directories giving the correct location, but it was not considered. Instead we were told the signs would be changed later in 2010 (3 years after the library was moved) when the ship was updated. All the way to the final day of the cruise, people were complaining they could not find the library and asking where it was.
On the HAL website video tour of the Westerdam it also shows the library at the old location. Actually it appears as if the library was replaced on deck three with shops. Much like the food, it also appeared to have shrunk. On a positive note they had a full time librarian manning the desk, instead of a dancer being forced to play a role as a librarian. **, the librarian, was very helpful.
FOOD SERVICE: The service levels and food quality in the LIDO had taken quite a tumble in the last year.
LIDO: The much talked about removal of trays while you walked through the food service line continued. At a cocktail party held by crew staff for deluxe suite passengers, the head chef openly admitted the purpose behind the elimination of the trays was to cut food costs. When asked what percentage of food cost savings had been seen, he could not provide an answer. Also missing were the food service staff urging you to use hand sanitizers upon entering the Lido and the staff handing out trays and silverware.
The one problem that became evident with the removal of trays was one day during lunch when I was handed a painfully hot plate with nowhere to place if without stopping the service line. Next was the loss of quality in the food. Several meat items in the Lido were tough. Omelets were under-cooked and with the cheese not being melted.
Perhaps the worst insult was that the advertised fresh squeezed orange juice was not exactly fresh squeezed - at least for the peons at the Lido. When asked one staff member told me that the oranges did not taste right so they mixed fresh squeezed OJ with concentrate. Another staff said they were short on oranges so they decided to mix fresh OJ with concentrate.
This caused my wife and me to breakfast only at the Pinnacle Grill. Guess what? The omelets were delicious and the OJ was 100% fresh squeezed. HAL was known for the fresh OJ and I don't think they are doing themselves any favors by squeezing nickels when comes to squeezing oranges.
VISTA DINING ROOM: There appeared to be a few less waiters, but the service was pretty good. An assistant waiter remembered my wife ordered a cup of cappuccino on our first night after the meal and promptly delivered a cup every evening thereafter.
Food portions clearly had shrunk - possibly not a bad thing. However, there was more than one incident of false advertising. One night almost everyone at the table ordered the chocolate creme brulee, only to have some chocolate pudding with sugar sprinkled on top of it delivered. The head waiter refused to admit what was in front of us was not creme brulee. Several days later a staff member admitted they had run out of creme brulee and decided to improvise. That is fine, but don't lie to the customers.
One night the menu listed seafood pasta containing 'plump' scallops. My wife ordered it and when it was delivered, not only did it not contain any plump scallops, it didn't have any scallops at all. I asked the head waiter to give me back the menu, which he reluctantly did and I read the description of the entree and then asked, "where were the scallops?" (Not unlike Clara Peller asking, "Where is the beef?").
The head waiter saw 25% of his tip vanish for lying. Although I did feel for the guy, he was older and was stuck as a busboy on the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch. The steaks were pretty good and I continue to be amazed how 90-percent or more, the steaks on HAL ships arrive to order.
PINNACLE GRILL: The first thing I noticed was during our two dinners at the Pinnacle that the wait staff had too many tables, again more evidence of staff reductions. I was surprised to find that clam chowder was no longer on the menu. This had become a signature item in the Pinnacle. A number of staff members actually mentioned that they missed the chowder themselves. In the place of the chowder was a lobster bisque that tasted as if it was from a can and was exactly the same as the lobster bisque served in the Vista. Why pay $20 more for the same thing they are giving you for free?
Our first night at the Pinnacle at the table next to ours, diners waited and waited for their waiter to pass by to inform him he had delivered their soup, but there were no spoons let alone soup spoons on the table. 10 minutes later it happened to us. The second night at the Pinnacle the food was not quite as good, but the bill was the same.
The creme brulee at the Pinnacle was the real deal. We found the chocolate and vanilla souffles were outstanding. However, on our first visit no waiter mentioned that souffles were available. We decided not to order them due to the 20-minute wait. On our second visit we ordered them at the same time we ordered our entree, however we ended up waiting 20 minutes anyway. It was worth the wait.
One disconcerting moment was when the chef came out to talk to the customers. A couple at a nearby table asked what the star on his shirt was for and he replied it was for killing Romanians. He was busting on a nearby Romanian waiter, but the response was unexpected and somewhat unpleasant after a nice meal. During breakfast the omelets at the Pinnacle were as good as you could get anywhere. The wait staff was pleasant and engaging during breakfast and over stretched during dinner.
ENTERTAINMENT: ** and his cruise staff had also been cut, meaning fewer activities. But the staff was always up beat and did a nice job putting on activities. The house band was unusual as it had a number of American musicians. The Neptunes, consisted of a 60-plus (I am being generous here) pianist-singer with limited range plus two kids on bass and drums. The kids appeared to be serving a 5-hour sentence each evening as the trio did dance numbers using mostly American standards, but also including POP stuff like Sweet Caroline that they should have left to the piano bar entertainer.
PIANO BAR: The piano bar can be my favorite stop on a cruise or the place to avoid. Last year ** in the piano bar on the Noordam was actually one of the highlights. Laughs and fun every night for 14 nights! ** on past HAL cruises was also very entertaining. Avoid ** at all costs.
On the Westerdam, ** was on her very first cruise as a musician. She was a rocker from the 70s, with a ** voice but a sweet smile and twinkles in each eye. She had seven years experience playing for fat American tourists at Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans. She was good and when she could not hit a high note, she made up for it with a smile. She also did knock out versions of Scotch and Soda and Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, but would get the crowd going with hand clapping POP favorites.
STRINGS: HAL has not cut out the string quartet that does give the ship a certain Old World class regardless of how many New Yorkers in tank tops and flip flops are on board.
IN THE MAIN ROOM: Overall this cruise got a C- for the stage shows with one exception. **, a R-rated comic who has been on a number of cable shows, did just one 11pm set and was very good. She is apparently a regular on HAL ships, but it is the first time I have caught her over six years I have cruised with HAL.
ON SHORE: My wife and I avoided the ship excursions and found our own on shore. Actually we walked well beyond the pier and found a 60-year-old native Aburan cabdriver, who gave us a great tour of the island. If you asked him a question if there were any unique pastries on Aruba, he would pull into a bakery and we would try some. My wife and I have always had good luck finding guides and transportation on shore that were not connected with the ships - usually cheaper and always more interesting. If you are a baseball fan and remember former major league outfielder Eugene Kingsale, his brother drives Cab 83 on Aruba.
STAFF: One other thing that I noticed was that if seemed as if the English comprehension by a number of service staff people was off from other cruises. It was hard to know if a front desk staff didn't understand you or lied when they said a letter you asked to be delivered to a fellow passenger would be immediately taken to their room, when in fact it showed up the next day. But as usual the staff always had a smile on their face and seemed to want to help you.
DISEMBARKATION: Well if you have a deluxe suite, getting off the ship is sweet. We were allowed to put our luggage out at 6am instead of before midnight. Very easy getting off and saying hi to a customs officer! We highly recommend that you NEVER buy a transfer to the Ft. Lauderdale airport from the cruise line. Just walk outside and get into a cab. The price is almost the same and you are not crammed onto a bus for a short trip to the airport. Actually perhaps one of the highlights of the trip was on our way home on a Southwest Airlines flight with a flight attendant making hilarious PA announcements.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: If we did not have a Deluxe Suite, we would have had a disappointing trip. The reductions in staff and service were noticed throughout the ship, but were tolerated while getting an extra level of service even if it had been reduced. However, that said, most of the people we were doing activities with regular staterooms all noticed the changes but still had a good time.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- My wife and I decided to take our family on a cruise after Christmas for my youngest daughter's birthday (Dec. 29th) and for all the kids as their only Christmas present. We chose your cruise line because of its reputation for customer service. My children live in Florida so we decided to have them drive to Tampa on Dec. 23rd. Even though it was a 3 hour drive, when they flew to our home in Ohio their cars would be in Tampa when we got back to drive over to the ship (Delta flights during Christmas were $3000).
On December 26th, we were getting ready to drive to the Cincinnati airport for an 11:15 A.M. flight to Tampa. We received an automated call from Delta stating our flight was going to be delayed to a 1:50 P.M. departure. I tried to call Delta to check on other flights but was unable to get through. I then called the Holland America emergency line (206-301-5293) and explained our situation. I was told that “due to high winds the ship might be delayed on its departure” and we should come down.
We arrived at Tampa airport at 4:30 P.M. and called the emergency line again. We were directed to talk to the Holland America agents who were waiting in the baggage claim area for other customers that were on our plane. When we found the Holland America agents they said, “the ship has left and if we wanted to meet it in Key West the next day we could board there". We checked for flights with no luck, so we decided to rent two cars ($520) because it was all we could find to transport 5 adults and 7 pieces of luggage to Key West for a one-way car rental.
We would leave our cars at the long term car parking near the ship in preparation for our return ($30/day). My daughter ** spoke with an agent ** (1-800-628-4771) Sunday evening to confirm our rental cars and venture to Key West and gave her cell phone number. The agent, **, was instructed to contact us if anything changed. We decided to drive to our home in Marco Island Sunday, spent the night, and then left the next morning.
We called Holland America Monday morning around 7:30 A.M. and spoke to a ** at 206-286-3230 and ** from the day before, who told us that the ship would be at Key West in between 1 P.M. and 6 P.M. and we should proceed down there to board the ship. We again gave both agents our cell numbers to update us if there were any changes and they said they would call us. The agents also said that they would e-mail or notify the ship that we would be boarding in Key West. About 1 hour later ** called us on our cell to tell us that the ship was going to dock at the Navy Mole Pier instead of its usual location.
Feeling confident that we were being watched over by your cruise line agents, we embarked on a 5.5 hour drive with both cars (by the way my older daughter is 10 weeks pregnant). When we arrived at the Dollar car rental store located at the Key West Airport we turned in our cars and rented a Taxi Van ($100) to take us to the pier. It took us a while to get there because New Years draws about 70,000 people in Key West. When we arrived at the pier we saw the worst possible sight: there was a Carnival cruise ship that had come in at 1 P.M. but no Holland America. My heart sunk into my stomach.
We immediately called our contacts at Holland America to ask what happened to the ship. They told us the ship decided not to stop at Key West because of weather (it was flat as a pancake and there were plenty of ships and boats in the water). When we asked them what we were supposed to do and why didn't they call us on the long drive down, we were put on hold and transferred to another person over and over again. At that point I realized that the cruise was over and we were just another insignificant group of people to your company.
I have never felt so small or been treated so poorly in my life. We then had the Taxi drive us back to the car rentals. There was no car left that could get us all back to Marco Island for a one way drop-off. My Crohn's disease was now acting up and my pregnant daughter did not want to do the long drive back along with the rest of us. All the hotels were booked because of New Year's so we chartered a private plane ($1300) to fly us back to Marco.
I obviously cancelled my trip with your company, and the gentleman I spoke with was quite rude and short with me and said I would still have to pay the 10% since I had the insurance and the cost of the insurance which added up to around $1600 and that he would not be responsible for any of the other costs I incurred. All I could say was, "yes sir!" Today, Tuesday December 28th, I had to get my cars in Tampa, and rather than drive 3 hours each way I spent $1200 to fly two of us up there and drive the cars back.
Mr. Kruse I am exhausted and I feel sick. I am a medical doctor and specialize in plastic surgery. I know that customer satisfaction is as important as performing well during a procedure. Your cruise line dropped the ball on us when they did not update us on our drive down to Key West. I spoke with ** our personal cruise consultant today and he was the first pleasant person that I have spoken to. He agreed that it was terrible and would look into getting a full refund from the cruise and anything he could do to help us. It was a small token but at least it was something for the cost, and physical and psychological damage my family has incurred.
I feel I should be fully reimbursed and your company should cover all my costs I have incurred (I have all the receipts). Once again, if your agents would have given us a simple call like they said they would, we could have turned our cars around and went back to Marco and not wasted the time or money that we did. After receiving this letter they only offered us a discount if we returned on their ship for another cruise!
I have been waiting for nearly 25 days for ANY kind of response from Holland America regarding the long terrible problems on the Zuiderdam last month (July 2008) - so far EVERY response was "oh, who cares - we'll be in touch when we're ready" - what a terrible way to treat and lose a repeat customer.
Our entire group was to fly out of SFO to Venice and then return August 31 from Barcelona back to SFO.
And this is where the problems seriously began. Upon getting the travel documents, it was clear that something was wrong with the reservations. The HAL/Delta reservation person kept booking the various members of our party on different planes and it took extensive time to get them to accept four people traveling together did NOT want to be on separate planes. Yet upon their "final" version of reservations, it was clear there were serious errors. On the departure, we 4 were traveling together, BUT we could not secure seat reservations for me, John or Brian. Answer was that somehow we were booked as if the departing flight 150 went direct to Venice when in fact it stopped in JFK, required a change of planes and a transition to a new flight 150. Four separate supervisors and nearly 2 hours at JFK finally got this issue handled, but with NONE of us flying in adjacent seats, as we had long requested, during that long stretch. No apologies, no explanation, merely that HAL's representative got it wrong and the impression that it was our fault for working with an incompetent booking agent.
The madness around reservations was even worsened at departure out of Barcelona . Three of us, me, John and Brian were routed out of Barcelona to Atlanta and then to SFO. Georgie was forced into a much earlier flight sending her alone to JFK and then to SFO. At no time would anyone at HAL or Delta correct this problem, the entire attitude is that "oops, gee we're sorry, can't fix this one either".
There were also many problems with Delta professionalism and staff, but that is something we'll take up with Delta in separate correspondence with them. But know that the total non-concern from HAL on this area PLUS the "shut up and do what we say" attitude from Delta make a very poor impression and became a major problem for all of us during this time.
While hampered a bit by the inability of the Venice transport team to really speak English, we finally arrived at the terminal with luggage intact. Your check in process was the first smooth and easy part of the trip and it gave us fresh hope things were finally going to turn around. Yet, upon arrival at rooms 4130 and 4132, it was a new struggle. Compared to the rooms we had experienced on the Volendam earlier, these rooms were cramped, smelled old and clearly had furnishings that were tired, broken and scuffed so much that I was shocked to see them on a HAL ship. Room 4132 was the true disaster. The walls had multiple wide scars and scrapes and the wall near the bathroom had wide broken sections. I felt as if I had arrived at a low end Motel 6, NOT a high end luxury cruiseship.
Immediately I went down to the front desk and asked for assistance on correcting this either by shifting rooms or at least having someone look at the room to suggest other steps. Despite many assurances, and a note being taken down NOT ONE person followed up to this problem, and no one ever responded to my urgent request for assistance. You will hear this result many times Gary during the write up unfortunately.
We wedged into these rooms somehow, and waited for the professional response I assured my group would of course be coming from HAL (based on past experiences) - response that never occurred.
Upon returning from Catania , my son has purchased a faux samurai sword. Security said they needed to keep this, but would return it to us on the night prior to departure. What no one mentioned is that security ripped away the wrapping and dismantled the entire sword, breaking it and leaving it entirely unusable. What is even more astounding- when I picked up the sword, not one person told me about the damage or even referenced it when returning the sword to me. It was only upon returning to the room that the destroyed state of the sword was obvious - Christine of the Guest Relations team was contacted and she wrote a voucher for the cost of the sword. But cannot understand, why a team with X-Ray technology needed to destroy this item and knowing it had been destroyed give it to me without a single word of comment leaving it for me to discover on my own. It is not possible to replace and my son's disappointment colored the rest of the cruise.
Shore Excursion - ROME
We set up four shore excursions with you in this trip (plus had arranged four in our previous Volendam tour) but nothing prepared us for the terrible experience of the Panoramic Rome tour. The entire tour party (not just our group) was astounded to learn only upon arrival at St. Peter's that the tour would NOT include the Sistine Chapel- my whole life I understood the chapel is just off the main Basilica - yet due to some gerrymandering it was not included at all. This serious lack of information (as that the Chapel being excluded was never mentioned in any of the literature) was increased by the disappointing news that the tour was taking us to an unknown, isolated restaurant, where for nearly two hours we were forced to sit in a hot, steaming underground "C" level restaurant where plates of warm, brown salad with green ringed egg yolks were followed by cool, dry lasagna (only pasta and sauce) accompanied by stale bread and warmish wine that caused immediate headaches. One member of our group became seriously ill and vomited multiple times on the bus immediately leaving the restaurant.
The day worsened when the guide blithely said "no, we will not be stopping at any of well known sites during our drive by of the city" YET unannounced we were forced to stop for 45-50 minutes at an unknown church outside of the city walls. Surely if we had this time, more interesting locations might have been able to be viewed?
Furious about the massive misrepresentation and the horrible dining conditions, I filed an immediate complaint with Shore Excursion staff, at the direction of the front desk personnel. I was assured that someone would be in touch that day, yet day after day passed and NO ONE ever responded to this until I spoke to Christine on another matter. Even then, the response was so condescending and dismissive; it made the situation far worse rather than better. I am attaching the letter for the file, as I consider it one of the worse professional responses to a client that I've ever seen. When you have a valid set of issues and concerns someone sending a generic letter stating, "that tour is what we say - sorry you didn't like it" that in no way addresses any of the serious problems and concerns, shows all too clearly that guests don't matter and their concerns are not of interest.
In this area, we strongly felt and asked the entire excursion fee should have been refunded and we still are asking that this refund be issued as the only fair response to this major problem.
Room Condition - worsens
As we entered the last few days of the cruise, we found the air conditioning in 4132 was not working effectively, but given the total non-response from the crew, we just endured rather than asking for help. However, when the shower drains in the handicapped room totally clogged - resulting in soapy water flowing into the room, we did need to ask for assistance. At this time, I went again to the front desk and insisted on speaking to a senior staff member. Christine appeared and told me, as guest relations on board, she had never been told about any of our problems. Within an hour four execs were in our room, and each one was shocked at the conditions of the room in general, the state of the shower drain and especially the pronounced stink of mildew coming from the room.
The room continued to be uninhabitable for the remainder of the cruise. We were given access to room 8105 but any chance to truly enjoy the cruise had been destroyed by this point. While Christine did waive the fee for dinner at the Pinnacle our last night - it in no way replaced the vacation that the crew, staff and ship conditions combined to destroy for us on multiple levels.
What is most sad about this account is that these are only the MAJOR issues, and that at this moment we have no faith that anyone at Holland American truly cares about our ruined holiday or any of the issues raised above.
As mentioned earlier, the fact that the four of us were not allowed to travel home together was a major issue. This was compounded by many Delta staff and scheduling problems that we will address separately to that company, but of course even further lowered our opinion of your company, since YOU selected Delta as our flight carrier.
Lastly, and still a major problem, when the final three of us (myself, John and Brian) left the Zuiderdam to make our flight at BCN, we had seven items of checked luggage. Six suitcases and one white box (about 36" x 22 wide) that had my home address, cell number, Zuiderdam room # and our Blue 5 departure tag clearly visible). We collected all seven items at the terminal, and I personally escorted the cart to the bus and watched all items loaded onto the bus. YET upon arrival at BCN only the luggage was removed and the box was not delivered. Ground staff promised to contact the bus, yet that never happened in the hour we waited with the bus line representative. We filed claim 50904 (scanned copy attached) and have also spoken to staff at the Personal Property Claims Dept in Seattle . So far despite repeated calls all I get is "we have not heard back from Barcelona ".
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- The main reason we chose Holland America Line was for the ports of call. We had heard such good things from other travelers, AAA as well as AARP. Holland America's reputation for being the top of the line was the original draw because "they always get it right".
We had wanted to make this trip for 30 years. We saved for quite some time to pre-pay due to the expense. It required sacrifices and not being able to do other things with our expendable income. This was an East Coast to West Coast trip of a lifetime. I have to plan vacation trips 6 months ahead of time. We had limited available time in our schedule to travel this distance. I am a manager in customer service at a phone center.
Since we were to celebrate our 25th Anniversary (May 24th) during the dates of this cruise, we were excited to think we would enjoy it while on board the Oosterdam. With a trip of a lifetime to Alaska. I still think we had expectations that were attainable for Holland America, just not on our Anniversary. We chose this itinerary from Seattle to Seattle in an attempt to maximize our exposure to the wildlife and to see as much as we could have "Alaska" in the short time we had.
It was not long after our departure from Seattle that the announcement was made that due to inclement weather (30-foot seas) we would have to go the Inside Passage to make our trip more safe and smooth. I can only applaud the Captain's choice to do so; it was a wise decision. I was profoundly disappointed to hear we would have to shorten our time in Juneau, due to the late arrival. We spent ½ the time we were supposed to be able to visit Juneau (we had five hours) a short time for a port call in Alaska. That meant our excursion tour was canceled for Juneau.
We were unable to take our Helicopter tour of the glaciers and did not get to go on the dog sled adventure. I understand port clearances, port calls, schedules, travel time and sea conditions. I am okay with change and adapt to it daily at work. But while on vacation, I don't appreciate the hype of excursions being offered, then excuses for the cancellations.
Our next day at sea was enjoyable, the service and food were both very good. We were taken to Hubbard Glacier and given a spectacular view by the captain. It was so nice to experience the "real" Alaska that day. We next visited Sitka, which turned out to be beautiful and a whole lot more than you could have seen in several visits. We especially enjoyed a Wild Otter tour and trip to the Raptor center. Realizing that we had to be back timely for the afternoon sailing, we did not attempt other excursions.
The time in the Sitka port was extended (by the Captain) but we were not allowed off the ship again, as you now know; when it came (the scheduled hour) we should sail the anchor chain was jammed in the windless mechanism and kept us from sailing. So we sat on board the ship looking at Sitka from the deck unable to get back ashore, in preparation for getting under way.
The next announcement from the Captain was "We were each offered a glass of champagne as an apology for our schedule change due to the anchor problem". He also subsequently announced we would not get our time in Ketchican at all, due to the lack of birthing availability. When we heard Ketchican was off the schedule my wife based on the news became physically ill.
The next day when we arrived in Victoria, Canada and the Captain as a gesture of apology provided a free shuttle bus into town. I told my wife "I would not have booked the trip if Canada was scheduled in print for more than ½ a day. This was a port I could have missed and been just as satisfied, and we spent the most time there. The Captain's bus shuttle gesture/payment in Victoria was nice, but not enough. The original 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM in Victoria would have been enough. I asked my wife rhetorically, "How can you offer us Canada when we paid for Alaska?"
We ultimately had very limited exposure to what Alaska really is A portion of the attraction to go to Alaska were the flying excursions and that was unfulfilled. So we missed the unparalleled beauty that is Alaska. We are deeply disappointed and this has dampened the whole experience.
When we attempted to speak to your Front office employees on board the ship, their attitude was one of we are not going to do anything and we don't have to. We were left with a very negative impression and find it hard to believe the Dutch would not do a better job making up for this profound disappointment. As my comment card said before we left the ship we attempted to discuss the situation with the Front office employees. They were not interested in hearing what we had to say and offered no assistance. This is not the type of experience I remember from my travels in Holland.
When we have mentioned to family and friends the way our trip went, the first reaction has been "What did they offer to do to make up for it?" "At least you will be able to go back, since Holland America is paying for it right?" Other lines have things occur and they offer some kind of incentive to keep customers. Many hotels offer 100% satisfaction. I understand how your position may be one of "well, too bad". You legally and contractually can adopt that position, but it does not make it the right thing to do. I also know I have no contractual recourse. I hope that will not be your decision.
I am left with the feeling similar to having gone out to dinner, waited in line and ordered surf and turf but was told they only have rib eyes, so we accept it and go along. Then they tell us "we're sorry, this time our grill doesn't work. How about a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich?" That is why it has taken me almost a year to write this letter.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- On the second night of a 7-day cruise to Alaska, a pipe burst in "deluxe" verandah stateroom 7040. The smell of raw sewage was strong. The crew was not trained properly to handle the problem. Despite assurances that the room would be ready for us the next day, strong chemical odors remained throughout the week. Although another cabin was found for sleeping, it did not meet my disability needs. I had booked a deluxe verandah stateroom because it was fully wheelchair accessible.
In addition to problems with the stateroom, the key to my scooter was lost during the shuffle. When asked if there were spare keys on the ship, I was told "No." This was a lie! When the gentleman from Special Needs at Sea picked up the scooter, he told us that spare keys ARE left on the ship. I was denied disembarkation in Sitka "because of weather conditions." When I asked for a log of the weather conditions, I was told that I should have been allowed off the ship. Another lie!
What should have been a relaxing vacation was very stressful. I asked for a meeting with corporate guest relations in Seattle and was told that corporate did not meet face-to-face with guests. This says a lot about Holland America's guest relations! Holland America has refunded 37.5% of what I paid for the cruise. How was the amount determined? Do they I was satisfied 62.5% of the time?
In my communications with advisors to the president, my disability issues have not been addressed. My independence was taken away from me because of crew errors. I was told that "it would seem further communication would only serve to cause additional frustration and disappointment." Nobody tells a dying guy to shut up!
On November 4, 2007, we arrived in Tampa to board the Veendam for a 14 day cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We had received a mailer the previous July offering us a discount if we booked early. In the past, our experience with Holland America had been very positive, so we booked early trusting Holland America to provide us with the service we had experienced in the past.
Upon boarding the Veendam, the first thing we noticed were many elderly people being boarded early. Most were in wheelchairs and walkers. As I am a senior citizen myself, I hold no prejudice against older people, as a matter of fact I truly enjoy the company of older people. However most of these people appeared to be well into their eighties and nineties and needed assistance. One couple spent the whole cruise totally confused as to where their stateroom was located and seemed to be completely disoriented the whole cruise.
After a few days at sea, we learned that these people were offered the cruise for $400 a piece and came from a nursing home in Florida. This was the same identical cruise the my husband and I paid $7,000.00 to be on. If we wanted to visit a nursing home, I would have gone to one in my hometown.
The next thing we noticed was a stench that permeated the entire ship for most of the cruise. When I inquired, I was told that the smell came from some sort of cleaning agent and that there was nothing that could be done to eliminate the horrible smell. The odor was so bad that it caused nausea and dizziness not to mention the odor was completely distracting.
The final straw came one morning toward the end of the cruise, my husband and I were exiting the dining area when I noticed another odor, as I was commenting to my husband, wondering if a toilet had overflowed, I look down and there was a large pile of feces right in the middle of the floor of the eating area. The attendants started scurrying to clean it up and I couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way.
Next the Captain cancelled docking in the Cayman's due to weather, I suspect that he was worried about the safety of the old people disembarking due to choppy seas and the liability of Holland America. I feel his attitude the whole cruise was one of apathy toward the passengers. His daily announcements droned on an on and he showed none of the hospitality that we had been given by Holland America in the past. The staff seemed to be overworked, unhappy and tired.
This cruise experience for us spoiled any prospect for us to travel on Holland America ever again.
Every time I get junk mail from Holland America, I am reminded of the pile of feces in the dining area, the attitude of the captain, the fatigue of the workers, the inappropriateness of some of the old people and most of all the stench that we paid $7,000.00 to experience.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Nov. 7, 2010 We were on a Holland america line (boat) not a ship (MS Zaandam) 14 days round trip San Diego to Hawaii. This tug cash cow boat was filthy. Our room was very filthy - pills, etc. Left in and around our room by a past guest. The bedding was dirty - yellow stains? After many complaints to the front desk and no concern at all, here's the best part - the toilet was not working. We had to use the public area restrooms mostly to to raw sewage leaking from the wall at the toilet - with an awful smell they gave us headaches. They complained daily about this, the staff could not fix it.
After 12 days and many complaints, a plumber name ** came to our room with a large piece of equipment he called a flush valve. He said "this is why it's not flushing". We also noted that there was no toilet seat. So we had a toilet the last 2 days on this very filthy run down (boat). All lip service only, staff that after the cruise do not even acknowledge any of these issues, the food - poor quality. Another main issue nightly spaying chemicals??? I got sprayed by one of the guys in space type suits late at night when I opened my cabin door and they would not tell us what they sprayed on us.
The next we got very sick and what looked like many bug bites on us in severe pain all over. The front desk did not give a **. We went to the ships medical office - poorly staffed they gave us Benadryl and Calamine lotion. We complained to this joke of a medical staff many times about not being able to sleep due to the bugs and filthy room conditions, in pain from bites, etc.???? They couldn't care less about us. On my third third trip to the medical center I had observed two crew members with the same medical issue we have complained about. They were showing each other all the bites etc. On there bodies.
I ask them if they know what was causing this and they said that they do not know. When the medical staff saw that I was talking and taking notes of their names and issue of complaints, they were told not to talk about this issue with any of the guest on board. After nearly over a week there were notes left in our room form style (sorry for the toilet, etc. Problems?). Also another note left in our room saying that the bedding was changed!! This is a total lie. The bed had the same yellow stains in the same spot.
We took picture of this as well as the sewage leaking all over the floor, hairs and dirt on our bedding. We slept most of the time on our clothes on the couch due to the bugs, etc. On the bedding. This (boat!) was in very poor shape - run down, dirty, sticky smears on the walls of the room and not cleaned from the past guest in the room. Same bedding and medicines left in and around the bed, also theft from our room.
We have been on many cruises, all fantastic great. This cruise on a (Holland boat! Is the worst I have ever been on. I would rate it as a 1 star like a low level downtown motel. We will never do a Holland ever again after many complaints to Holland and being able to contact the CEO per Holland staff - we received a form type letter saying sorry but you enjoyed the shows, etc. And we are offering you a 75.00 future cruise credit. What a joke this is.
I'll never do one of these filthy rundown holland (boats!) ever. There were 12 other guest that was able to get off in Hawaii due to issue. We tried also tried and the staff said that it would be a mutiny on the high seas??? We were threatened with fines, etc. If we got off this (boat) in Hawaii. we are considering Youtube, etc. media documentaries about this cruise. Also may seek full legal remedy if we do not get compensation for what has taken place - we are out over 5,000 for this horrible (ride).
We are so disappointed in the customer relations of Holland America. We went on the Zuiderdam and the room was disgusting and the plumbing did not work. Burn holes in the furniture! Terrible and condescending service in the dining room. Finally they moved us on the 8th day of a 10 day cruise. Charged us for mini bar we did not touch! RUDE. And when we got home... they do not want to deal with you!
Wrote letter after letter, faxes and made phone calls. They do not even give you the courtesy of a return phone call!! Then finally they tell you.... you can have a 2 category upgrade on a future cruise. We wanted to speak to this about this accommodation.. Called 10 TIMES!! NO RETURN PHONE CALL. Holland America is rude and relentless about NO CUSTOMER SERVICE!!
We wanted to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on a cruise to Alaska, our first cruise. We chose Holland America but were terribly disappointed by their uncaring and unreasonable policies. We found out an immediate family member was dying weeks before the cruise. We explained the situation and requested re-booking on a later sailing. but since they already had our $4000, they were not one bit interested in doing one little thing to help us.... All they could say was "sorry, you didn't purchase cancellation insurance."
If we wanted to cancel I could understand... but we didn't want to cancel... Never once asked for money back. We only wanted a later sailing, but they were unyielding and totally uncaring. Even the way they dealt with us during this heartbreaking time was cold and uncompassionate. In contrast, Alaska Air was stellar, allowed for a change with a minimal change fee.. reasonable and very, very caring. We offered to pay Holland a re-booking fee which we would have expected, but they refused. So when Holland would not give us a later sailing, I requested at the very least to be able to give our paid cruise to our adult children... They even refused this request.
This was a cabin we paid over $4000 for and they wouldn't even let us give it to our children! I would never recommend them and my "cruising" friends are equally appalled by their callous and unfair attitude. We didn't wait until days before sailing. We called them weeks before.... and they wouldn't even allow us to give our paid cruise to our adult children??? When I wrote them about how unfair we felt they had treated us, I received back a form letter.. does that tell you something?
LANGLEY BC, WASHINGTON -- We had a Holland American Advertisement emailed to us. I decided to book the holiday for us and our friends. First they couldn't even come close to the advertised price. But after pursuing it a bit we managed to get close to what they had advertised. We booked a cruise from Venice to Barcelona, airfare included. I asked for the bottom line price and we paid in full on May 28th. A confirmation letter was emailed to us that our flight will leave on July 18th.
One week later on June 4th, we were left a message saying they couldn't get us on the flight and that we would have to incur a 750.00 extra cost for a hotel in Venice. We asked if we could find our own hotel. They said we would lose our transfer cost that we already paid for. I said we would be willing to fly out one day later, but since they are the ones that screwed up with the flight, they would have to eat the hotel cost.
After all, we had already paid in full and the service we paid for was a flight on the 18th as stated on the phone! After lengthy arguments with this company, I finally got fed up and cancelled. They then said we would get charged a 627.00 cancellation fee per couple. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and found out they had an unsatisfactory rating!!! I have written SEVERAL letters to Holland America and all have been ignored. After researching on the internet, it seems to be a common practice.
Not only that, on June 4th, after telling us that it would cost 750.00 more, they sent us ANOTHER confirmation letter with a clause three stating "a hotel charge could occur of which they are not responsible for". Isn't that interesting???? I would say that sending me a second confirmation with that little tid bit of information a week after the fact is a TAD BIT TOO LATE!!
These people are scammers! It is a way of luring you in at a certain price and then getting you to cough up more later. They have messed with the wrong person! We cruise twice a year, but NEVER will I ever cruise Holland America. Not only that. I will make sure I contact anybody and everybody!! DO NOT ever book a cruise with this company. And Holland America!! I am not done yet.