Was really excited to go on the 9/15/13 sailing of the MS Oosterdam, had been looking forward to an Alaskan cruise for years. This was my trip to Alaska and my first time sailing with Holland America. I will definitely go back to Alaska, but I doubt I will ever set foot on a Holland America ship.
The cruise started out great. Embarkation in Seattle was easy and there wasn't even a line to wait in when we arrived at 1:30. Had some lunch and began to explore the ship. Overall the Oosterdam has been well maintained and there weren't any areas that jumped out as being out as being in need or an update (minus the decor that is).
Juneau and Tracy Arm were amazing, then things took a turn for the worse. There was some bad weather which forced us to cancel stops in Sitka and Ketchikan. I understand bad weather can happen, experienced a similar issue on Royal Caribbean but the difference is how a cruise line deals with it. Holland America failed on all aspects in dealing with the weather.
The makeshift entertainment, if you can call it that, was atrocious. The cruise director kept trying to make jokes about the weather that were not funny, they were really nasty comments about how miserable he felt being stuck on the ship. Honestly, the guy should be fired as he upset a vast majority of the people in the room watching the cooking demonstration they were 20 minutes late in starting. Additionally, the staff became sullen with having no real time off due to the changes. I can understand their frustation but their job is to provide customers with a positive experience not a feeling that they couldn't care less about what they were doing.
Bartenders need to be trained to make drinks consistently, it is a pet peeve of mine to order the same drink in different bars and have it made with different ingredients each time. This is kind of fundamental 101 stuff for cruise ship bartenders.
I wasn't happy with the 15% off of a future sailing that HAL offered but understood they are not responsible for the weather, however now that I am back home and have learned that Princess stopped in Ketchikan the Friday we were supposed to be there I am furious with them for their mismanagement of the situation and making us stay on the boat an extra day. In all honesty they should have offered a lot more for that screw up and the horrible response by the entertainment staff to the situation. But as I said above, I will never step foot on a HAL cruise and that is all due to the dining.
Food was good first two days, after that meals in the formal dining room were served cold, served a piece of mystery meat that was called a filet mignon, repeated menu items, and very poor reaction by the waitstaff to the problems encountered. After the third day the food was rather terrible and the service just as bad, this is my main reason for not wanting to sail on HAL again. This is exactly what happened with Princess when Carnival took them over. I heard several repeat HAL customers comment on how much worse the food was on this cruise in comparison to past cruises.
Overall, the few ports we made it to were nice but the onboard experience was lousy with the exception of our cabin steward and his assistant who were very nice and did a great job.