We’re currently wrapping up our 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Westerdam, and we will never cruise aboard this or any other Holland America vessel again based upon our experience here.
It’s almost not worth mentioning the sum of little disappointments, like the filet burned beyond recognition to shoe leather for dinner at Pinnacle Grill, the surly service from bartenders and wait staff, or the fact that the ship is an absolute ghost town after 11 pm, with virtually all bars, the casino, and any other entertainment options closed for the night (the “zombie apocalypse” feel of seeing dozens of forty-and-fifty somethings wandering the ship at 11:30 pm looking for anything to do captures our “nighttime fun”).
Our cruise has been ruined because, since day three, the ship has been under semi-lockdown due to a reputed gastrointestinal illness that is present among a small number of crew members and/or guests (reputed because there have been no official explanations…the chirpy onboard announcements from the captain and cruise director ignore the reality on ship…guests can only gather information via individual conversations with staff). We’ve dubbed Holland America “Hauling Bacteria” based on the many services the cruise line has discontinued in a rash and reactionary way so out of proportion with whatever threat may exist. Pools and hot tubs have been closed, the spa public area has been shut down, the books and computers in the library are under lock and key, the casino closes at 11 pm for “disinfecting”, and even in-room DVD rentals have been suspended because it is a supposed sanitary risk for crew and guests to touch the disks. My partner is a physician, and he laughs at the notion that chlorine in a hot tub won’t kill a contact-based illness, or that handling DVD’s poses any realistic health risk. Ironically, the line has kept its onboard shops open and its merchandise sales promotions on schedule. Apparently, Holland America can bear the infection risk of passengers touching counters and rummaging through sale items so long as the cash registers continue to ring.
Regardless, Holland America’s mysterious decision to ruin 1500 passengers’ voyage to seemingly avoid bad press from the remote threat of a GI outbreak at sea is baffling and disappointing. We've cruised from Miami and Fort Lauderdale a dozen times, and this has been the worst experience by far. We won’t make the mistake of entrusting our vacation to Holland America again.