This was my 30th cruise, 5th with Holland America, and 5th New Year's cruise. It was my 3rd time on the Ryndam. I had high expectations for food, service, and relaxation, based on past cruises, and looked forward to the highly touted ship renovations. Unfortunately it turned out to be my 2nd worst cruise experience.
We took advantage of early embarkation and boarded the ship around 12:30, although the staterooms weren't ready until 1:30. When we arrived at the stateroom, we were informed by passengers in the hallway that none of the toilets were working in our section, Main deck forward. The hallway smelled of sewage. Finally just before sailing at 5:00 the toilets were operational. On the last couple of nights, the hallways and gathering areas on several floors smelled of sewage.
Our cabin steward, name unknown, never introduced himself/herself during the entire cruise. The stateroom wasn't vacuumed for 4 days. Instead of changing visibly soiled sheets, the beds were just made. We had to specifically request that the sheets be changed.
What we had hoped would be a fun New Year's cruise turned into a nightmare when over 20% of the passengers were children. They were allowed to take over both of the swimming pools and lounge dance floors. They were allowed in the casino. Babies in strollers were parked in the bar adjoining the casino. Children were allowed to run loose throughout the ship, screaming and shrieking all the way. They were allowed to sit at entire tables by themselves in the dining room and throw food. They were allowed to run barefoot through the dining room. Babies in diapers were allowed to float in the swimming pool. Parents ignored their responsibilities, and some were heard to specifically plan disruptions by ignoring rules.
Bar, dining room, and Lido service were virtually non-existent. On the first night we waited for over 30 minutes for someone to take our drink order in the Crow's Nest. Our first night in the dining room, 2nd seating at Table 28, it took over one hour to receive soup. We waited for over 30 minutes before requesting bar service, and no one ever showed up. We left after an hour without receiving bread and before the salad course, and had to wait until the midnight snack for something to eat.
Despite being assured by the tour leader on a bus trip to El Fuerte that the food and water was safe at the hotel where we ate lunch, I suffered from Montezuma's revenge for 3 days afterwards. It was either that trip or food on the ship that caused the distress.
There were a couple of bright spots. We ended up eating dinner at the Pinnacle Grill for 5 nights and it was absolutely wonderful. Also, the Greenhouse Spa was very invigorating.
The Pinnacle Grill and Greenhouse Spa, however, were the only bright spots in an overpriced and stressful cruise. It was like a Carnival cruise experience except with a very high price.
Holland America, we would like to suggest that you limit the number of children on your ships and enforce your own rules for sanitary and sanity reasons. You are losing tried and true passengers in favor of younger people who don't know any better.