I'm an experienced cruiser who has been all over the world several times. This is my first cruise review. And I'm writing it because the experience I and my partner have had with Holland America is, in a word, sickening....
When we boarded the ship in Port Lauderdale, an announcement was made regarding the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders (GI) among the previous passengers and crew, and everyone was advised to take"necessary precautions." (I should add that after getting my doctorate, I studied at Harvard University's School of Public Health.) Despite taking all reasonable precautions, we were not unaffected and were holed up in our stateroom for a couple of days.
At the peak of our affliction, the ship decided to block the toilets, resulting in unwanted hours of anal retention, followed by a frenzied dash from floor-to-floor seeking a working WC, located, finally, only near the fitness center on the top floor. As you might imagine, this was an extremely unpleasant experience.
The cruise went downhill from there. One tour took us to the wrong island (St. John's instead of St. Thomas). The room was not cleaned for one entire day,
and another day the linens (soiled from coffee) were not changed. The food outside the specialty "Pinnacle" restaurant ranged from mediocre to inedible. The DVD player's volume control didn't work, was reported to the front desk several times, but was never fixed. And, in an effort to "cushion" the blow, the last night I went to the front desk to request a purchase of two pillows, my order was taken, a "promise" to deliver them was made, but they were not delivered. I returned to the front desk, which claimed no knowledge of any of the above.
So I spoke to a "customer relations" "supervisor," who said there was nothing she could do to "turn the cruise around for us," not even to sell us "used pillows," and referred me to your office. I discussed this with other passengers, who concurred that Holland America in general and the Maasdam in particular have greatly deteriorated since HAL's purchase by Carnival. But the destinations were great!;)Too bad we didn't fly to them instead of taking this boat (which was scheduled to depart Port Lauderdale only a few hours after
arrival, insufficient time in my view to secure the boat against the GI affliction).
Since the cruise, I have reported this matter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. They said the boarded the ship and were investigating the infection, which has been diagnosed as having been caused by the Norovirus.
In addition, I contacted the "Guest Relations" liaison person in HAL's office of the president in Seattle. Despite repeated email messages to HAL, it took over a month to get a reply! And HAL's reply was largely evasive happy talk, devoid of serious acknowledgement of the issues involved and an overall refusal to accept responsibility. I followed this up with other messages, which were met with equivalent evasiveness and lack of responsibility. Very disappointing and discouraging....
As a result of this experience, we're strongly disinclined ever to take another HAL cruise. I think you can understand why. Thanks for your attention.