We started our 7day eastern Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam April 7th. The four of us were looking forward to a comfortable relaxing week as we had enjoyed in the past with Holland America. Embarkation took about 45 minutes as we checked our room couples. Our dining was confused. We had been wait listed for early dining. But received late dining. Each couple on a different floor of dining room Obviously a mistake. So right up to dining. Quite a long line. With many unhappy faces leaving podium Our friend has PD and we told maitre'd this is reason we needed early dining. Let alone. On the same floor. We stood there amazed as he said there was nothing he could do for us. We've had these problems before and they usually fix it right away. He was adamant and quite condescending. Telling us. We could dine in Lido at buffet or make reservations in their pay restaurants if available. I insisted to be wait-listed for early seating for my friends illness.
We left podium bewildered and very disappointed, hoping for a change
Next to our rooms! We had paid to upgrade to category "K". Large stateroom to have little extra room and sofa to watch tv from. We opened the door. And another disappointment! Room was so small with one chair at desk. And no tubs like all previous rooms on HAL. We couldn't believe this. We met one gentleman who said he did same thing and asked for measuring tape from front office to measure room but they couldn't accommodate him. Hysterical!! Well another lesson. No more inside cabins on HAL
Back to dining. We received message next day that we were still assigned to late dining. But at least we were on same floor. Well that didn't help. I called asking for any additional help. But to no avail.
I had read on roll calls that there was suspicion of big group on cruise. And it looks like its affecting quite a few venues. taking all of anytime dining , closing pool for private parties, and pulling staff to accommodate them. Only choice we had was to book pay restaurants. Which we usually don't do.
We enjoy dining in MDR n HAL. So we booked Pinnacle Grill ,Canalettos,and Tamarind-all for 5:30pm. And the rest of nights would have to be in Lido buffet. pinnacle was terrible service and overlooked steaks. But Canaletto was good with great service , Osso Bucco. Delicious!! Tamarind Restaurant was a delight. If I ever have to go to pay restaurant again. I would definitely choose this one. Setting beautiful service efficient and delightful staff. Food outstanding and presentations amazing. The rest of week felt like we were castaways. Not allowed to experience MDR at all. All our formal clothes seemed silly in buffet. Not a good experience!!
As far as ports our weather was beautiful but HAL. Put a kink in this too they gave us notice that we would be leaving an hour earlier from St Maarten. Wonderful. I had to reach Bernard's tours about our reservation. He said he could still take us since he had other HAL tourists as well. And would try to cut as little as possible agreeing to pick us up 1/2 hour earlier. Thumbs up for Bernard. As it turned out we did miss time at Maho beach. And time at Orient Beach also. not happy but at least he still took us. From what we heard on ship this also was affected by Farm Bureau Group. We'll never know??
Half Moon Cay was a beautiful day at the beach. And San Juan is always fun. We took the free trolley up to fort then to Cafe Mallorcas for pastry. Yummy!! (for LaBombanera fans. Sign over building saying will reopen. HOORAY!!! ) We walked Back to town. And stopped at Punto de Vista for lunch for BOGO mojitos. And mofongo. Everything was delicious(right across from port). In Nassau. We just took a walk around town. Since we've been here numerous times. And back to ship to enjoy empty pools. Another beautiful day!!
And the brightest part of our trip was the crew always taking care of us with a smile despite being short-staffed in many venues. And the entertainment. Was great. Especially " Matilda". Very funny. Should have second performance. All the singers and dancers. We're amazing and so much fun Big thumbs up to Brent,Jacob, and all their entertainment crew. A true asset to HAL
Lessons learned. Always try to find out if there is large group on board and avoid that cruise. It seems we have to watch out for the problem. Because HAL. Was just worrying about the money they were making with that group and I felt(not only us) they had just cast others aside.