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?
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- I canceled my cruise prior to penalty and requested the full refund of my money back to me in the form of a check. I paid Holland America in the form of a personal check on 5-15-10 for a $600 deposit. Since canceling the booking, in the beginning of September 2010, they have refused to send me my deposit back as paid to them. They also have refused to contact me, in writing, and state why they are not returning my deposit. This is not right. Monies paid and that are fully refundable without penalties should be refunded as they were paid and in a timely fashion.
WASHINGTON -- Recently we were on a 12 day land/cruise tour of Alaska with Holland America. Sadly on day 2 of our trip we got news of a death in our family. We returned home. In time we contacted Holland America to see if in the future we could have vouchers to return to Alaska. We were told we had trip cancellation insurance, not trip interruption insurance and all they could do was upgrade us on a future trip. We also wrote a letter to the CEO of company and got the same response.
I am disappointed such a large corporation could not provide us with a spot on a future tour, plenty of cabins on cruise ships are empty and lots of food must go to waste. We also would be very likely to use them again in the future. Lessons learned, expect unexpected and buy adequate insurance not from cruise company which was very expensive ($269 each) but from travel agent.. and don't count on being heard for your particular circumstance.. general rules apply to all.
CALIFORNIA -- We traveled twice before on Holland America. We love to cruise and have been on large cruise ship lines and on riverboat cruises, and found the food on Holland America better than most. The complaint about the food being bland, is unfounded. There are salt and pepper shakers on every table, plus different condiments. We discovered that on Holland America ships, we did not end up with swollen ankles due to over salting, that usually is a covering up of poor quality ingredients, and poor cooking. good quality food products will not need masking with over-seasoning.
Our only complaint would be the choice of ports. Cruising from NY to Quebec, we found the stops in Canada not at all as interesting as Newport RI, or Boston. Would have loved to stay an extra day in Boston, and stop in Montreal, instead of Quebec city. Land excursion are too expensive, on all cruise lines. Loved them being inclusive on riverboat cruising, but was not always happy with selection of tour. Also once you have gone, the itinerary is always the same. Going twice to the same destination would not make sense.
Traveled recently on an 11 day land/sea package with Holland America. We were very pleased with the trip; food, service, handling, HAL people, etc. The problem comes with booking an extra room night in Anchorage because we could not arrive on time for the 1st day departure.
I was quoted an extra room night for $154. After arriving in Anchorage, I realized that they booked the extra room night as they would an excursion - $154 per person as if we had two rooms. The end result is that I paid $308 for a room for one night. When I inquired about the cost for a room at the hotel desk, a Saturday night stay in May, the normal charge is $139 plus tax = $154.
When I explained my issue of double booking for one room/one night, HAL Guest Relations stated the charge was for both nights. We proved through our invoice that the arrival night in the hotel was part of the excursion package. HAL Guest Relations quickly changed positions and stated that each guest had to pay $154 for the extra night. I calmly explained that I could have booked a room for 1/2 that price. However, their response was to say "contact your credit card company and complain".
Anyone reading this knows you can book a room in Manhattan for $300. But in Anchorage, that's an excessive fee. After reading some of the other complaints listed on this site, my conclusion is that Holland America doesn't do refunds regardless of their mistakes.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- We were the first to have our luggage placed aboard the Holland America Ship at Ft Lauderdale Port. But several hours later we were told our room was sold to someone else. "My husband (Holland Americans Boarding Official) said he her husband did not have a proper passport and papers so now you know how it feels." Having a red type official royal Dutch passport did not matter along with an American passport and driver's licenses. Being a US War Veteran, CEO with ID, Did not matter! We have yet to get an apology back from Holland America.
Fortunately shortly after, we Booked NCL where we had an enjoyable time. The Management at Holland America seems to not care. Other members of our travel group have said lately Holland America is not the same. In the last two years we have not had a glitch on the overseas tours we have taken just Holland America and the Ft Lauderdale people. This is an outrage to have your papers and not be able to board while the industry allows people to board Politically Correct with no papers because of sensitive nationalities paying cash. These internet reviews are very important. If we had seen all of the reviews on Holland America, we would not have selected them.
TAMPA, FLORIDA -- I have sailed on Holland America 3 times in the past and each time was very pleased with everything about the cruise. This January, however, that was not the case. My whole family (8 adults) went on the trip. My parents having a large verandah suite on the navigation deck and all the others have promenade deck rooms. The food was a terrible disappointment - it was bland, often overcooked, sometimes inedible. An example of the cheapening of the food was substituting milk for cream at coffee service, but calling it cream in every instance.
The table service in the dining room was so slow, and the food quality so low. We often chose to eat in the Lido -where the food was no better but at least you could leave sooner!!! The ports of call for this cruise were for the most part absurd. Key West was fun. When I first looked at the cruise it was scheduled to Cozumel. At booking, it didn't. One port was Belize City, where you could at least get off the ship and look around a bit. At the Guatemalan port, the port was a cargo port - nothing else. A small building had been set up simply to separate cruisers from their money.
Our final port, a Mexican one St Thomas - was canceled due to wind and high seas. No substitute port was offered. So we simply sailed around with bad food and bad service for and extra day. What fun!!!! I used to refer all my friends to Holland America, but my husband and I will most likely NEVER cruise on this line again - for the above reasons and many more I cannot begin to have the time to write.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- We traveled on the Holland America Oosterdam last December, and just returned November 1, 2008 from the exact same cruise. The menu and food quality was far below our last cruise. The escargot was bland. They substituted a bad tasting lobster thermidor for the normal broiled lobster tail. The cold tomato soup tasted like tomato juice poured from a can and left to sit a day. The Caesar salad was very dry and there was sparse dressing. Pasta dishes were heavy on the pasta with very little sauce. Pancakes in the Vista Room in the morning were cold.
A banana French toast chef special turned out to be fried horrid banana bread. Link sausages floated in water and looked unappealing on the Lido Deck. The special appetizer the last night of the cruise was dry and horrid tasting. Fortunately I did order the duck and smothered it in sauce and it wasn't too bad at all. The best food seemed to be the cheeseburgers and fries outside by the Lido pool deck. This is just a short description of a few of the many food disappointments we experienced.
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.