November 2007 Destination:
We arrived (by air) from Toronto. When we arrived at the port in San Diego, we were told that the ship was being super-sanitized, because several cases of Norovirus had occurred during the previous voyage. Some of the passengers had been informed the previous day (even though the problem had existed well before the ship ended its last cruise). My travel agent never was informed. It seems that I get e-mails and postal mail from Holland America on a constant basis...........but they can't alert me when such a serious situation may change my plans? Instead of boarding for a leisurely lunch and tour, we were all kept (like cattle) in the embarkation terminal. Boarding took at least 3 additional hours to occur. Holland America offered a full refund of the tour cost if anyone did not wish to take the cruise. No one from Holland America would make any commitment as to air fare refunds. I had already spent over $1100 on air fare and to try to get a flight on Thanksgiving Day eve would have More
been impossible. There is no doubt, in my mind, that the 'offer' was purely legal protection, in case some got sick on our cruise. The ship should not have left the dock. Quarantine, for this gastrointestinal virus is at least 48 hours. We had enough passengers come down with the virus, that we were in "CODE RED" until 2 days before our 15 day cruise ended. Those who were confined to their cabins, as a quarantine measure, were paid $150 per day. We were not given the 'signature service' that we had paid for. Hot tubs were not opened. The Taco bar was not available. The library could not be used for any books. The 'tranquility spa pool was not available'. No self-service was available for meals. This meant ridiculous line-ups to get cutlery, milk, juice, coffee, rolls, ANYTHING!!! We could not have dinner rolls on the table in the dining room or salt or pepper shakers. We were asked to spray disinfectant on our hands, everywhere we went. The employees on the ship were expected to work extra time. Even spa people and pianists and wives of crew members were part of the serving teams in the LIDO eatery. It still did not alleviate the constant line-ups and confrontations. On shore, any bus shuttles that we took had to be sprayed down before any of us could enter. We received some negative reception from store personnel and other tourists. Some tours (agricultural, for example) were just plain cancelled. I could elaborate, but I think that you get the point that we did not get what we had signed up and paid for. What did Holland America do to compensate the passengers for the inconveniences (as well as the constant worry of potential infection)? They gave us each a $10 room credit. That is correct...........the decimal place is accurate.......TEN DOLLARS. This was apparently to pay for a lunch in San Diego on the first day (we missed the on-board lunch because we could not board). No one, who did go to eat in San Diego, could do it for $10! Holland America should have been pro-active. There should have been top people at the embarkation terminal to clarify their offer of a 'full cruise refund'. Those who chose to continue with their cruise should have been given a large credit. $10 is an absolute farce. We each paid $10 per day for 'gratuity charge'. This was even charged on the first day, when we could not even get into our room until early evening. In my opinion, this was a money-grab issue from beginning to end. The cruise should not even have started. CODE RED would be necessary for an 'at sea' ship, to enable it to complete its voyage. To start, and operate for 13 days, in CODE RED should be illegal, let alone grounds for a sizeable refund of fees paid. There needs to be some serious answers for the conduct of the Holland America company in this situation. Less
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