We boarded HAL Veendam in Ft Lauderdale in one of the smoothest and quickest embarkations we have experienced on ships of 1350 passengers and more. The baggage was delivered to our cabin promptly. We left for dinner, where service was slow, our request for a wine steward went 20-25 minutes before we left the table and complained to the dinning room manager. Our food was served lukewarm but the following night we waited 1 hr and 15 minutes for our entree and it was barely warm. The end of night one was we returned to a unprepared cabin. The towels had not been refreshed the suitcase mats were still on the bed, the curtains open.... Okay, we can make allowances.
During the next two days we repeatedly experienced a crew attitude of apathy toward passenger requests, lengthy service delays, and a standard for service that was less than what we had experienced on other HAL cruises. Next came a truly disastrous tender debacle, of 2+ hour waits to tender into Glouscester with no explanation. When waiting passengers asked the staff about the delay the response was "we don't have any idea what the delay is and we just have to wait for them to tell us something, they only tell us on a need to know basis and we apparently don't need to know".
At the end of Day 3 I requested a meeting with the hotel director where I explained our concern about our experiences. He expressed concern and agreed the tone of service is set by the Top Dog.
What we observed after my meeting was more attention to us, but fellow travelers, and new friends still expressed huge disappointment at the service and crew attitude. We witnessed one couple requesting different wine glasses, when the wine steward returned he made a huge display and statement about what a favor he was doing for these passengers. They were first time HAL cruisers and we know they will not be repeat customers.
This ship is older and there were numerous breakdowns, plumbing, elevators, electric supply, (all the ice cream melted). There was evidence of increased cost cutting, insufficient, untrained crew, pushing foods that were less expensive, making more expensive foods less available....
This cruise did not sell out and several we met on board said they came at the last minute because good rates were offered to Florida residents. We met a lot of people from Florida on this cruise, hopefully they got what they paid for.
We were very disappointed in the huge step down HAL has taken.