This was our first cruise and we had saved over 2 years for it. It was a late 40th anniversary cruise for us. We had been told many nice things about Holland America and were looking forward to the cruise and 2 week land tour of Alaska. This has been one of my wife's to see places on her "bucket list".
When we boarded the ship I noticed several large rust spots on the ship and primer paint around several of the portholes. The carpet was worn in several locations and the ship was just not very appealing. Where they had painted around the portholes the paint covered part of the window and there were several window on the ship that had paint droppings on them that interfered with your viewing. One wooden bench that also held life jackets had the lid broken on it so you could not set on it. This went the whole cruise without being fixed when all it needed was to have the hinge screwed back on.
After checking into our stateroom we noticed that there were the chocolate strawberries and a bottle of champagne. We had request a sparkling cider as we do not drink. We mentioned this to our steward and he told us it was not his job to talk to the front desk. He had just gotten through telling us if we needed anything to contact him. A little later we were by the front desk and I mentioned it to them and they told me I would have to bring the bottle to them as they were shorthanded and they would do something about it. The next day they told me that the cider was $5 more than the champagne and I would have to pay the difference. Must be real cheap champagne. Anyway they took the champagne and on the third day at sea brought us a few cans of Sprite.
The service in the dinning room and on the Lido deck was poor I had to ask several times to get my water glass filled, it took way too long to deliver the food, and where the staff spoke English most of them did not comprehend it so they did not know what you were asking for. My wife saw a meal she wanted on display and asked for it and 3 servers did not know what she wanted until one of them keyed on the word pasta and went and got the display and the sign and asked her if that was what she wanted.
Their coffee bar was nice and the attendant made very good drinks, however the first morning out we go to get a mocha, at 10am, and they were out of mocha. Now I know there was some in storage down below but no one went and got any and we had to wait till the next day for the coffee bar to be restocked, oh yea they were out of whip cream that day. Then the next day the machine was broken, only one on the ship. They got it fixed by the next day but were out of carmel that day. I am sure someone could have and should have gone and got those supplies so that we who paid so much for this cruise could pay even more for a coffee.
The sailing of the ship was fine and at no time did we feel that the ship was unsafe and sailed in a dangerous manner. However their service fell far short of the reputation that we were lead to believed they had and strived for.
The two additional weeks we spent on the HAL land tour did live up to the expectations we had and even exceeded them. This along with the nice excursions we went on during the cruise portion made up for the disappointing and poor service we received on the ship.
To sum up my feeling I will have to say that I was lead to believe and feel that I paid for a 5 star hotel and got a Motel 6 instead. I will not be cruising HAL anytime soon.