Noordam Cruise Review by jakano: Little things add up to a disappointing customer experience
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Little things add up to a disappointing customer experience
We have only cruised 5 or 6 times, but we have experienced a number of cruise lines. We anticipated that Holland America would be at the 'high end' of cruise experiences but that wasn't our experience. I should say that many of the issues stated in other reviews were not issues for us - the air conditioning worked; we had an aft stateroom with balcony and no problems with soot, and only very slight vibration when the ship started up; our on-board credit was in the room etc etc. The staff were universally friendly and helpful. The decor is a little old-fashioned, but that isn't a major issue for us. The issues for us were: the food and the 'hard sell' atmosphere.
First, the food. We found the Lido buffet restaurant to be a very stressful experience. Waiting in queues; fighting through crowds; some of the food stations were not organised as we expected (baked beans on the Asian section?); lack of tea cups; my partner's order was overlooked and then everything he had ordered was More finished. The food itself was cafeteria quality, the carveries served grisly, cheap cuts of meat.
In the restaurant, the menu was good, but the delivery was often poor. Overall, the food was far too salty. Eventually, after complaining about this, my partner was offered a low sodium menu, which meant he had to choose his meal the previous night. Really, all that needed to happen was for the sauce to be served separately. The ingredients were not as expected and were inconsistent in quality. Steaks were not cooked properly; a 'New York' cheesecake was made with Ricotta which provided entirely the wrong outcome; a Bomb Alaska was served with egg whites which were not set at all. On the plus side, the bread rolls were superb.
The Cannelleto speciality restaurant was especially disappointing. We saw no sign of the Italian plates to share. My pasta was uninspiring, we were served Tiramisu made of some sort of reconstructed powder!
The Dive grill, next to the swimming pool, was the best option if you wanted fresh food!
We decided not to take the drinks package and to see what we spent. As it turned out, this was a wise move, even though we like wine with dinner and the occasional Pina Colada by the pool. However the drinks were very expensive and we found the on-board system of presenting prices without including the tax and service charges, misleading. The house wine was very acceptable, and was available at a fairly reasonable price. All other wine was very expensive.
My partner had booked me a massage as a birthday treat. This was very enjoyable, however straight after I was presented with the products that the masseuse recommended as if I was, of course, going to buy them - for $63 each! She had also correctly identified that I have trouble with my feet, and suggested I have a free footprint assessment after the massage. This I did, and my existing problem was correctly identified. However I was then offered two small shoe inserts for a special on-board price of $189! Is this hard sell? Well, I think some people might feel unable to say 'no' in these situations. I have trained myself to overcome my embarrassment and politely told him I was not going to buy them - a response that was politely taken. The price my partner had paid for the massage, unknown to him, had not included the tax and service charges. When it was added to our bill, there was an additional $20 to pay. This would be a nasty surprise for anyone who had been bought a gift and who then had to pay the service and tax themselves!
We have 4 children and like children to be happy. However the 'adult' pool is not an adult pool and is not monitored, so children engaged in forbidden activities like diving and bombing, shrieking as they did so. They were having a great time, however it was rare that the pool was OK for us to swim in and on one occasion it had to be closed due to - well, you can guess what for. The 'no reserving beds' policy is also poorly monitored, although the attendants did remove towels from beds when we told them they had been unoccupied for an hour.
These little things add up to influence your customer experience on an expensive cruise, and we had not anticipated that this would be the case with Holland America. However although we enjoyed the trip and the ports we visited, we find ourselves talking about the issues far more than the ports. I think we had been spoiled with Celebrity X - Solstice. Now that really was a wonderful experience. Less
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