But the worst incident concerned shopping at the two ports: Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Alison, the shopping expert, gave the shopping talk, which indicated several #1 rated and cruise line backed merchants. She was even in the stores herself to 'help' you spend your money. She touted great values and investment quality stones. 30 day buyers guarantee if you bought ONLY at the stores they endorsed. (You even had to turn in a sheet telling what you bought, the price and where, in order to 'activate' your guarantee! (and indicate the % Holland America got back?) When I realized the ring I bought in Grand Cayman, at Diamonds International was uncomfortable because of the design, we spoke to Alison on the dock in Cozumel the next day, on our way back to Diamonds International, to return the ring. She was of no help. It's between me and the store!! She sure was there to help us buy the day before! As we discovered,Diamonds International has a NO RETURN policy, which isn't mentioned at all in the ships' talk, and although the receipt says on the bottom, "returns must be accompanied by receipt", the back, which we were never allowed to see in the rush of purchase, says 'buyers remorse' is not covered. Call the 800 number. When you do, you get assigned a bogus claim number, and a callback from a blocked international call with a foreign sounding agent you can't understand. THERE ARE NO RETURNS FROM THIS COMPANY, DIAMONDS INTERNATIONAL, AND NOT ONE WORD OF HELP FROM THE SHIP!BEWARE! Do NOT shop at this store, anywhere. H. Stern and Columbian Emeralds are fine, ethical, established stores who actually care about customers. And don't believe that Holland America will help you. And ask the 'expert' first about minor details about returns. It's not like shopping at home. Better yet, stick to cheap souvenirs like t-shirts and vanilla.
To book another HAL cruise while on board, it is a $100p/p non-refundable booking fee! After the way we were treated on this one, why would we want to endure any more of this nonsense? We came home, and immediately started looking at Oceania, MSC and Celebrity. After 39 years of cruising and many many wonderful cruises on HAL, this 5 day cruise did us in. Perhaps we have grown up and they haven't. It felt more like a Carnival Cruise than anything else. When another reviewer said it was Motel 6, he was being extra nice.
I only hope that the complete renovation of the ship will help the physical features. However, the REAL problem is the staff and their horrible attitude. The crew, on the other hand, were just fine. Our cabin steward did his job. Even so, I was so enraged at the total cruise experience, that I went to the front desk and lowered the service fee they automatically add to your bill. I hope they get the message.