My husband and I are both retired and love travelling. Over the past five years we have visited a number of countries by organized land/bus tours, flying and cruising. Last year alone we took cruises to South America,the Greek Islands and Mexico. We usually chose the itinerary and not necessarily the cruise line.
We love Alaska having visited mostly by cruise ship but also on our own fly/drive tours. This year we booked another cruise, on the Zuiderdam, along with eight adult family members. This was our second cruise on this ship, the first a trip through the Panama canal five years ago.
Our stateroom was very neat and clean but the balcony ceiling had pockets of rust and the railing was very pitted.
The end of cruise survey asked about flower arrangements ..what flower arrangements. On previous cruises with Holland America corners were filled with huge beautiful bouquets, this ship had small bowls with so few flowers in them that the arrangements were easily missed.
Since most of our group had visited Alaska many times only one couple took shore excursions. My cousin and his wife took the train in Skagway. At the turn around station, avid bike people , they rented bikes and rode downhill through the cold rain and wind. In Ketchican this younger couple went fishing and snorkling. The older aunties didn't even get off the ship because of the driving rain. There were so few customers in the jewelry shops that you could get really good deals if you were in a buying frame of mind.
The dining room staff even though we had any time dining,each night gave us a large table for ten with a great view. One night we even got to watch a whale playing in the ship`s wake.The wait staff were very hard working but seemed to change nightly.
The staff on the Lido deck were not very friendly and seemed to only tolerate passengers. The plates on display did not match what you received. At one station you were given your sandwich and a handful of dry potato chips...day after day...no garnishes. It was also very hard to find a place to sit. As a group we never had lunch together, always having to split up into a couple or at the most four people. Just as you thought you found a seat you were pushed to the side by other more aggressive passengers.
I enjoyed the cooking classes put on by the ship's chefs. One chef was very entertaining telling us how to add value to the plates with a tomato slice or clive blade. Ever after my cousin would look at her plate hold up a garnish and say..extra $1.50.
I really like the musical production on the ship. My husband not so much but he will accompany me. Some cruises you cannot find seating in the theatre but this cruise there always seemed to be room. The entertainers worked hard but maybe the production numbers, lights etc were not well liked by the older audience.
For us disembarkation was speedy, but one family memeber needed wheelchair assistance and waited over an hour to be helped off the ship.
I now need to talk about the most disturbing part of this cruise. We were robbed. My daughter is a police officer and says ...call a spade a spade. We packed our cases then day before leaving the ship. I stupidly removed two pieces of jewelry from the safe and packed them in our carry on. We left the locked stateroom to go for dinner assuming everything would be secure. Our daughter says that we had every right to assume a locked room would be safe for our valuables. However, it was not and these two items worth $1000 were missing when we got home.
I emailed, then phoned Holland America in Seattle. I don't know what shocked me more the thefts or the response by head office. I was told that " items going missing never to be seen again" happens all the time. Most of these disappearances happen just before you leave the ship. You may be so distracted about leaving, flight times etc that you leave items behind. Our items went missing out of a suitcase in a locked room. We believe that some one with a key to our room searched our case and removed these items. Someone who we paid gratuities to and even left a further tip. Obviously it was not enough. Like most other passengers probably, we did not check the case before we left the ship..advantage to the thief or thieves. You are not aware that items are missing until you get home and if you flew, airlines then can be blamed.
HQ says we are at fault because we left the case unattended. Call your travel insurance....will also be happy to write you a letter for said insurance saying you filed notice of theft. Holland America has a missing items protocol. You describe lost items...they notify the ship who checks the lost and found and then they get back to you in a couple of weeks. Right like our item walked/fell and would be in the lost and found.
Will I ever travel on this cruise line again...probably not. We had already booked a trans-Atlantic cruise before this incident with Princess cruise line. Lucky or we might never have cruised again. I will also make a number of modifications. I will never carry good jewelry for formal nights. If I buy anything from the ships specialty shops I will never use their carry bags which could alert those wishing extra gratuities. I will also never take anything out of the room safe until I walk out that stateroom door for the last time.
I really hope that this theft will not continue to colour our cruise experience but I will never trust cabin attendants the same way again and I will warn any friend taking a cruise to be forever vigilant