We just finished 28 days on Holland America's Rotterdam. The cruise was a DISASTER. We have cruised with HAL for well over 100 days and have noticed a continual downward trend in quality for their ships and service. We have been on three of their ships within the past 14 months and our opinion is that the cruise line is getting worse by the day. We feel that the company is putting revenue as a priority over service to the passengers. They are asking their workers to do more with fewer personnel and the cruise experience reflects this. Ships are more dirty, workers are not as friendly and happy and services offered are geared toward selling HAL products instead of providing a pleasant cruise experience.
During the early part of our 28 days there were a lot of people getting sick with GI virus. This was the same problem the same ship had back in January of this year according to other blog entries. To solve the problem, they pulled a lot of the staff from around the ship and put them to work spraying cleaning solution EVERYWHERE. They had people walking around the ship with canisters of this solution strapped to their back. They sprayed everything in sight to include walls, windows, doors and floors. They had teams of people who went into the rooms when we were out to spray the floors and who knows what else with this solution. They never informed us of this but we caught them when we returned to the ship early one day. We had tooth brushes drinking glasses, and other personal items sitting out and I am sure the overspray got on everything. This could not be healthy for anyone. In fact the teams doing the spraying in the rooms were wearing gas masks and rubber gloves when doing the work. HAL never notified us about the spraying in the rooms or we would have protected ourselves by putting things away and not using the glasses in the room. This cleaning solution was applied to everything in common areas. There was so much on the tables that it dripped to the floor and everything became sticky. Plates stuck to the tables, our feet stuck to the floor and you could see on the walls where the solution had run down to the floor. Again, this could not be good for the passengers to be exposed to.
On two occasions I sat down on chairs that had a cloth pad on the seat and discovered it was soaked in cleaning solution. I had to return to the room, shower and change. One time I set a cloth bag on the table and discovered the table was covered with cleaning solution. The part of the bag that I didn't wash off good became bleached white. What was this solution?
They had so many of the staff doing the spraying and applying hand sanitizer in the Lido that they were not able to do the normal work items. There was usually food on the floor under the tables from meals earlier in the day. The windows throughout the ship were filthy from not being cleaned. In the Lido they did not have enough staff. We were not allowed to get anything for ourselves so we had to stand in line waiting for things to be put on plates for us. Often there would only be two people working the whole line and they had to run from end to end getting food that was requested. After waiting in line for hot food, you had to go to another line for salad, yet another line for a drink of water and if you forgot to get salt, it was back into line again. For 24 of the 28 days we ate cold food in the Lido. To make up for the poor circumstances on the ship they gave everyone staying on the ship after the first 14 days a bottle of wine. A nice idea but not for those who can not or chose not to drink alcohol.
The workers did their best to keep a smile on their face but you could tell it was wearing on them to do all the extra cleaning on top of their already heavy workload.
I blame Holland America Management for the problems. We have been on their ships many times over the past few years and things have steadily gone down hill. The entertainment is of poor to substandard quality. As an example, in the main showroom we had a soccer match shown on two nights. Another night they showed a silent movie in the showroom. On another occasion they showed a tennis match or some sporting event that we again had now interest in. The other activities were of little interest to most guests. In 28 days they had only one BBQ by the pool and one dessert buffet. Most other scheduled activities were sales pitches for their spa programs, shore excursion sales or future cruise options.
The production shows with singers and dancers has been degraded. They now have only two dancers for their shows. On the TV, they play the same movies over and over in a 14 day cycle. On the second 14 days they played the same movies on TV and in the theater. Whoever decides what they show, does not take their audience into account because they had several kids movies shown in the theater and there were only a handful of kids on the ship.
From what I have observed, HAL has put squeezing another dollar of profit in front of providing a quality experience for the passenger. My wife and I have only two votes but we will chose another line for our future cruise experience. I do not believe we are alone in our beliefs based on what we witnessed when disembarking from the ship. We were in line waiting to get off the ship and people started YELLING, BOOOOOOO, shame on Holland America. I was quite astonished to witness the crowd getting so agitated and frustrated with the whole experience.
I could go on and on with specific items that made the shipboard experience painful and mismanaged but anyone that has read this far gets the idea of just how horrific the experience was. The GI virus was only part of the problem but it put a spotlight on the poor management of thing throughout the ship.
The cuts HAL is making may well start cutting into their bottom line.