I've watched the quality and integrity of Holland America decline dramatically over the years, and it's a sad thing to see.
Their latest gimmick is to hold cruise fares down as much as possible while compromising quality in hopes that no one notices. In order to do that and still operate the fleet, they've turned over control of the cruise line to their accountants in Miami and their bosses at the Carnival Corp. The "Revenue Department" sets up these little "bait and switch" deals because they don't think their customers are smart enough to know the difference, but we do. As one cruise review said about Holland America, "The Dutch have learned to lie with a smile", and it's true. I felt we were being deceived.
The ships now pull into Caribbean harbors at 7 am, and they leave port at 2:30 or 3. In Saint Martin and Half Moon Cay, everyone had to be back on board at 2:30 in the afternoon -- right in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. They've slashed port times to increase on board revenues. The ships crawl along at 18 knots instead of 25 as they're designed to do. Slowing down the ship saves fuel. Leaving ports early increases ship on board revenue in the peak afternoon hours. It's all about money, leaving the guests inconvenienced and annoyed. No one wants to get up at 5 or 6 am on their vacation to hurry and get off the ship. Who wants to go swimming at 7 am? It's still dark!
Since food quality and service have deteriorated in the main dining room, we ate in the Pinnacle Grill (for an extra charge), or we went up to the Lido deck cafeteria (which has no dining atmosphere at all). Dining in the main dining room is a joke! You'll wait 2 hours to get your entree, and if you need coffee or want to order to dessert -- forget it! They also eliminated most of the wine stewards, so you can't order wine either.
Service staff in every department throughout the ship has been deeply cut back. Our cabin steward had 31 cabins to clean, twice a day. The Indonesian crew is so exhausted from overwork -- they look like they're ready to pass out. I felt sorry for the crew. No one was looking out for their best interest, and all they talked about is exactly how many days they had until their contract was up. They were all terribly homesick. Every single crew member we came in contact with was visibly unhappy. How does this make the guests feel?
The entertainment at night is programmed for the 20-year olds who are in charge of entertainment. The music in the production shows is blaring too loud, and they keep repeating the same stale song & dance shows over and over. Holland America desperately wants a younger clientele on board, so they think if they program all the entertainment and activities to young people, this will make it so. The quests on board are still all 50 to 90 years old, no matter what ridiculous acts they put on stage, and no matter how outrageously loud they play the music. Why can't they place a mature entertainment director on board with entertainment that's appropriate for the age of the guests? Also, it would help if the entertainment department in Seattle was run by more mature people. It as if Holland America deeply resents the older population that they service.
We have over 200 sea days with Holland America. Up to this date, we've been loyal customers, but we're done. There are other cruise lines, comparably priced, that deliver a better product, more time in port, fresher food and better service.