I have been on several cruises with other cruise lines and have always had great experiences. I was told that Holland America was a 5 star ship (Statendam) and booked a Christmas Cruise for my family (4 adult children and myself) from December 20, 2008 to December 27, 2008. This cruise was a disaster from the time we got on the ship.
There was a lunch buffet while we waited for our staterooms. Myself and my children had the buffet and were surrounded by dirty trays and dishes. I started collecting all the dirty dishes and trays and handed them to a waiter who was walking by our table and asked him to please take the trays. He looked at me and took the trays and put them right back down on our table and walked away.
At around 3:00 p.m. we were allowed into our staterooms. I had booked 2 rooms - one for myself and my 2 daughters and 1 room for my 2 sons. I had requested the rooms to be close together. The rooms were not even on the same floor. My son immediately called my stateroom and said there were 2 problems. The first problem was they had one bed not 2. The 2nd problem was our zip lining/water caving excursion had been cancelled.
I went to the front desk to get the bed changed to 2 beds and to find out why our excursion was cancelled since I paid for it in October. I was told there were political problems and they only found out a week ago. I asked why I was not contacted 8 days ago so I could have booked another excursion. There was no explanation given. I was told I could not get my credit card credited. My children and I spent the first 3 hours on the ship calling a friend in Illinois to go on the internet and find another zip lining excursion. We finally found one and booked it. I booked all excursions in advance so we could enjoy the cruise not spend our first 3 hours booking an excursion. This could have been avoided if we told been told a week ago when Holland America was aware of the situation in Belize.
Our first dinner on the ship was a wait of 2 hours. They tried to sit us at 2 different tables on 2 different floors. The waiter kept saying he had a table for us and we would walk through the dining room only to find people already sitting at our table. This happened twice. I told them that I booked this cruise to eat together as a family. Therefore we waited 2 hours to sit together. The food was mediocre at best. The service was terrible. Every night of this cruise, we would ask for more water and bread and would receive it half way through the meal. Usually we receive more water after the appetizers and salad.
The next day December 28th I made dinner reservations and we were taken upstairs and had to wait 1.5 hours. I ordered fish and my children ordered steak rare and medium rare. My fish came and an hour late the steaks came medium well. The steaks had to remade and arrived another hour later. I had finished my meal 2 hours ago. By this time we missed the 9:00 p.m. show that I had wanted to see with my family.
On Monday I told my children to have the snack at 4:00 p.m. in case we had to wait again for dinner. My daughter asked for the cheese queso dip that was empty. Twice she was told that it was coming. After 30 minutes it never did. I asked for chips since they were all broken in tiny pieces. I was told that the key was lost to the room where the chips were kept and therefore there would be no chips forthcoming.
On Monday we were lying on the deck chairs and could only get someone to get us a drink once. We went in and got our lunch and brought it out to the deck outside of the Crow's Nest. Seven and half hours later, the dirty dishes were still there sitting on top of the garbage can. I finally went to the front desk and asked them to be removed.
Dinner on Monday was another bad experience. We were given a wine list but had to ask twice to order wine. The meal was less than mediocre and there was no service. I asked for the head waiter and asked why the food and service was terrible. I was told that 1200 adults plus 200 children had booked the cruise and they were trying to accommodate everyone. I feel that Holland America knew how many people had booked the cruise in advance and should have been prepared to service all adults and children.
On Tuesday we had a shore excursion and had a wake call scheduled. We were never called. Luckily room service came with out breakfast so we woke up or we would have missed our shore excursion. Of course our room service for breakfast was not correct so I had to run up to the 11th floor for the items that were ordered and not delivered. The bacon that was delivered was barely cooked, wrong cereal, only 2 juices delivered, and the wrong milk delivered.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 the only reservation we could get was at 5:30 p.m. We did not get out of the dining room until 7:30. The service was incredibly slow and we sat with dirty dishes in between. Therefore we missed ½ of the show that night.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 room service was ½ hour late and we had cold eggs, cold toast and warm yogurt. This is the day that our shore excursion from Holland America was cancelled and we booked an excursion on our own. When we tried to get off the ship, we were told that people who had booked shore excursions off the ship were being let off first. Her tone and demeanor was not nice at all to me. I tried to explain that I had booked an excursion off the ship, but it was cancelled. I said we needed to get off the ship for an excursion that we had booked on our own. Again she said in a not so nice tone, that we would not be allowed off - only people with shore excursions stickers were being let off the ship. Therefore we were late for our excursion. Dinner again was mediocre, slow service, and my son tried twice to order wine.
December 25, 2008 was by far our worse dinner. We had 8:00 p.m. reservations and when we got there, it was formal night. Myself and my daughters were dressed up but my sons needed jackets. We were told we would have to rent jackets at $40.00 each. A cost for me at $80.00. Since we could not go to the dining room, we were told to go to the Lido Room. I took my family upstairs and the Lido Room closed at 8:00 p.m., so they told us to order room service. Merry Christmas to us! Furthermore the next day, we met people that were given a jacket in order to sit in the dining room!
The last night for dinner was the absolute worse! The waiter as he was pouring the salad dressing on my salad, poured part of it on my leg. I wiped it off with my napkin and all the waiter said was "hey, hey." Later the Baked Alaska was brought to our table. It was melted and it was a huge marshmallow mess. The waiter scooped it out from the middle and it all landed on my leg instead of my plate. There were no apologies or even an offer of a rag to clean it up. It took 4 cloth napkins and a trip to the restroom to clean off my pants. The waiter was beyond rude.
My daughter who is 25 pre-registered her credit card. Holland America put my son who is 17 on her credit card and put her charges on my credit card. My son tried to register his credit card and it went on my daughter's account. My son's fees were put on my account. This should not have happened as 3 separate credit cards were pre-registered.
The Teen Room closed due to lack of supervision.
If I had never been on a cruise before with several other cruise lines, I would never book another cruise after this terrible experience. I wanted to give my children this Christmas - a cruise of a lifetime - unfortunately it was a terrible experience.